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ARARAT—ARASON

From the Armenian plateau, Ararat rises in a graceful isolated cone far into the region of perennial snow. It was long believed by the Armenian monks that no one was permitted to reach the “secret top” of Ararat with its sacred remains, but on the 27th of September 1829, Dr. Johann Jacob Parrot (1792-1840) of Dorpat, a German in the employment of Russia, set foot on the “dome of eternal ice.” Ararat has since been ascended by S. Aftonomov (1834 and 1843); M. Wagner and W. H. Abich (1845); J. Chodzko, N. W. Chanykov, P. H. Moritz and a party of Cossacks in the service of the Russian government (1850); Stuart (1856); Monteith (1856); D. W. Freshfield (1868); James Bryce (1876); A. V. Markov (1888); P. Pashtukhov and H. B. Lynch (1893). Mr Freshfield thus described the mountain:—“It stands perfectly isolated from all the other ranges, with the still more perfect cone of Little Ararat (a typical volcano) at its side. Seen thus early in the season (May), with at least 9000 ft. of snow on its slopes, from a distance and height well calculated to permit the eye to take in its true proportions, we agreed that no single mountain we know presented such a magnificent and impressive appearance as the Armenian Giant.” There are a number of glaciers in the upper portion, and the climate of the whole district is very severe. The greater part of the mountain is destitute of trees, but the lower Ararat is clothed with birches. The fauna and flora are both comparatively meagre.

Both Great and Little Ararat consist entirely of volcanic rocks, chiefly andesites and pyroxene andesites, with some obsidian. No crater now exists at the summit of either, but well-formed parasitic cones occur upon their flanks. There are no certain historic records of any eruption. The earthquake and fall of rock which destroyed the village of Arghuri in 1840 may have been caused by a volcanic explosion, but the evidence is unsatisfactory.

The name of Ararat also applies to the Assyrian Urardhu, the country in which the Ark rested after the Deluge (Gen. viii. 4), and to which the murderers of Sennacherib fled (2 Kings xix. 37; Isaiah xxxvii. 38). The name Urardhu, originally that of a principality which included Mount Ararat and the plain of the Araxes, is given in Assyrian inscriptions from the 9th century B.C. downwards to a kingdom that at one time included the greater part of the later Armenia. The native name of the kingdom was Biainas, and its capital was Dhuspas, now Van. The first king, Sarduris I. (c. 833 B.C.), subdued the country of the Upper Euphrates and Tigris. His inscriptions are written in cuneiform, in Assyrian, whilst those of his successors are in cuneiform, in their own language, which is neither Aryan nor Semitic. The kings of Biainas extended their kingdom eastward and westward, and defeated the Assyrians and Hittites. But Sarduris II. was overthrown by Tiglath Pileser III. (743 B.C.), and driven north of the Araxes, where he made Armavir, Armauria, his capital. Interesting specimens of Biainian art have been found on the site of the palace of Rusas II., near Van. Shortly after 645 B.C. the kingdom fell, possibly conquered by Cyaxares, and a way was thus opened for the immigration of the Aryan Armenians. The name Ararat is unknown to the Armenians of the present day. The limits of the Biblical Ararat are not known, but they must have included the lofty Armenian plateau which overlooks the plain of the Araxes on the north, and that of Mesopotamia on the south. It is only natural that the highest and most striking mountain in the district should have been regarded as that upon which the Ark rested, and that the old name of the country should have been transferred to it.

See also H. B. Lynch, Armenia (1901); Sayce, “Cuneiform Inscriptions of Lake Van,” in Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, vols. xiv., xx. and xxvi.; Maspero, Histoire ancienne des peuples de l’Orient classique, tome iii., Les Empires (Paris, 1899); J. Bryce, Transcaucasia and Ararat (4th ed., 1896); D. W. Freshfield, Travels in the Central Caucasus and Bashan (1869); Parrot, Reise zum Ararat (1834); Wagner, Reise nach dem Ararat (1848); Abich, Die Besteigung des Ararat (1849); articles “Ararat,” in Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, and the Encyclopaedia Biblica.

 (C. W. W.) 

ARARAT, a municipal town of Ripon county, Victoria, Australia, 130 m. by rail W.N.W. of Melbourne. Pop. (1901) 3580. It lies at an elevation of 1028 ft. towards the western extremity of the Great Dividing range. It is the commercial centre of the north-western grain and wool-producing district and is also noted for its quartz and alluvial gold-mines. Excellent wine is made, and flour-milling, leather-working, brick and candle making and soap-boiling are the chief industries. The district also yields the best timber in great quantity. Granite, bluestone, limestone and slate abound in the neighbourhood.

ARAROBA POWDER, a drug occurring in the form of a yellowish-brown powder, varying considerably in tint, which derives an alternative name—Goa powder—from the Portuguese colony of Goa, where it appears to have been introduced about the year 1852. The tree which yields it is the Andira Araroba of the natural order Leguminosae. It is met with in great abundance in certain forests in the province of Bahia, preferring as a rule low and humid spots. The tree is from 80 to 100 ft. high and has large imparipinnate leaves, the leaflets of which are oblong, about 1½ in. long and ¾ in. broad, and somewhat truncate at the apex. The flowers are papilionaceous, of a purple colour and arranged in panicles. The Goa powder or araroba is contained in the trunk, filling crevices in the heartwood. It is a morbid product in the tree, and yields to hot chloroform 50% of a substance known officially as chrysarobin, which has a definite therapeutic value and is contained in most modern pharmacopoeias. It occurs as a micro-crystalline, odourless, tasteless powder, very slightly soluble in either water or alcohol; it also occurs in rhubarb root. This complex mixture contains pure chrysarobin (C15H12O3), di-chrysarobin methylether (C30H23O7·OCH3), di-chrysarobin (C30H24O7). Chrysarobin is a methyl trioxyanthracene and exists as a glucoside in the plant, but is gradually oxidized to chrysophanic acid (a dioxy-methyl anthraquinone) and glucose. This strikes a blood-red colour in alkaline solutions, and may therefore cause much alarm if administered to a patient whose urine is alkaline. The British pharmacopoeia has an ointment containing one part of chrysarobin and 24 of benzoated lard.

Both internally and externally the drug is a powerful irritant. The general practice amongst modern dermatologists is to use only chrysophanic acid, which may be applied externally and given by the mouth in doses of about one grain in cases of psoriasis and chronic eczema. The drug is a feeble parasiticide, and has been used locally in the treatment of ringworm. It stains the skin—and linen—a deep yellow or brown, a coloration which may be removed by caustic alkali in weak solution.

ARAS, the anc. Araxes, and the Phasis of Xenophon (Turk. and Arab. Ras, Armen. Yerash, Georg. Rashki), a river which rises south of Erzerum, in the Bingeul-dagh, and flows east through the province of Erzerum, across the Pasin plateau, and then through Russian Armenia, passing between Mount Ararat and Erivan, and forming the Russo-Persian frontier. Its course is about 600 m. long; its principal tributary is the Zanga, which flows by Erivan and drains Lake Gokcha or Sevanga. It is a rapid and muddy stream, dangerous to cross when swollen by the melting of the snows in Armenia, but fordable in its ordinary state. It formerly joined the Kura; but in 1897 it changed its lower course, and now runs direct to the Kizil-agach Bay of the Caspian. On an island in its bed stood Artaxata, the capital of Armenia from 180 B.C. to A.D. 50.

ARASON, JON (1484-1551), Icelandic bishop and poet, became a priest about 1504, and having attracted the notice of Gottskalk, bishop of Holar, was sent by that prelate on two missions to Norway. In 1522 he succeeded Gottskalk in the see of Holar, but he was soon driven out by the other Icelandic bishop, Ogmund of Skalholt. His exile, however, was brief, and some years after his return he became involved in a dispute with his sovereign, Christian III., king of Denmark, because he refused to further the progress of Lutheranism in the island. Then in 1548, when a large number of the islanders had accepted the reformed doctrines, Arason and Ogmund joined their forces and attacked the Lutherans. Civil war broke out, and in 1551 the bishop of Holar and two of his sons were captured and executed. Arason, who was the last Roman Catholic bishop in Iceland, is celebrated as a poet, and as the man who introduced printing into the island.