Two of the world’s earliest color photographers separately documented ethnic Armenian inhabitants of Ottoman Turkey just before the religious minority was largely wiped out over a century ago.
1. This image of a group of ethnic Armenian children in today’s Istanbul, Turkey, was taken by French photographer Stephane Passet in September 1912.
2. An image of the mostly ethnic Armenian town of Artvin, as photographed by Prokudin-Gorsky in April 1912.
Prokudin-Gorsky was on a years-long mission backed by the Russian tsar to photograph the Russian Empire using a complex early color photography technique.
3. A photo of Armenian women and girls in today’s Istanbul in 1912, photographed by Passet.
Passet was in the Ottoman Empire on behalf of the Archives of the Planet project to document the world using the French autochrome color photography technique.
4. Ethnic Armenian prisoners of war guarded by Serbian soldiers in Belgrade’s Kalemagdan Fortress in 1913. The Armenians had probably been fighting for the Ottoman Army during the first Balkan War in which Ottoman Turkey lost most of its European territory to an alliance of the Christian kingdoms of Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, and Montenegro.
5. The ruined Armenian quarter of Izmir in 1922.
Amid the razing of Izmir, at least thousands of Armenian and Greek residents of the city were killed. Turkish sources claim Armenians and Greeks started the fire to tarnish the reputation of the Turkish military.
Today just a few tens of thousands of Christian Armenians remain in Turkey.
Amos Chapple is a New Zealand-born photographer and picture researcher with a particular interest in the former U.S.S.R.