Officials of the Ararat Home of Los Angeles are transforming a winding, tree-shaded sidewalk at this 10-acre retirement home and cultural center into an etched timeline spanning 5,000 years of Armenian history.
The $30,000 timeline, framed by red, blue and orange tiles representing the colors of the Armenian flag, documents Armenian history from the Bronze Age to the present. It will stretch 350 feet and contain 168 entries and graphics commemorating religious events, battles, scientific discoveries and more when completed in June, officials said.
On a recent morning, amateur historian Hagop Arshagouni, who conceived and designed the project, and other officials of the Ararat Home watched as workers used a high-powered machine to etch the timeline into the concrete.
"You know that Copernicus said the sun is the center of the universe in the 16th century. Well, Anania of Shirag had proposed the same thing in 610, 1,000 years earlier," said Arshagouni, proudly pointing out the entry.
For Arshagouni and the other Ararat officials present, one date on the timeline stood out. That date, 301 AD, marks the year the Armenian state became the first in the world to adopt Christianity, Arshagouni said.
The Ararat Home was founded in 1949 as a retirement facility for elderly Armenians. The Mission Hills complex, built five years ago, includes a 99-bed nursing facility, a chapel, ballroom and a modest museum as well as a retirement home. An additional 99-bed nursing facility is under construction and scheduled to open in September.
Robert Shamlian, an Ararat Home trustee, said the center will actively encourage local Armenian students to visit, not just to see the timeline and learn about their heritage but also to be with residents of the facility.
"We want to make sure that our elderly always have young people around them and this will help us to do that," Shamlian said.