An early Bronze-Age culture in the area is the Kura-Araxes culture, assigned to the period between c. 4000 and 2200 BC. The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain; thence it spread to Georgia by 3000 BC (but never reaching Colchis), proceeding westward and to the south-east into an area below the Urmia basin and Lake Van.
The earliest forms of the word Hayastan, an ethonym the Armenians (Hayer) use to designate their country, might possibly come from Hittite sources of the Late Bronze Age, such as the kingdom of Hayasa-Azzi. Another record mentioned by pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) as the people of Ermenen, and says in their land "heaven rests upon its four pillars". However, what all these attestations refer to cannot be determined with certainty, and the earliest certain attestation of the name Armenia comes from the Behistun Inscription (c. 500 BC).
Between 1500 and 1200 BC, the Hayasa-Azzi existed in the western half of the Armenian Highland, often clashing with the Hittite Empire. Between 1200 and 800 BC, much of Armenia was united under a confederation of kingdoms, which Assyrian sources called Nairi ("Land of Rivers" in Assyrian").
The Kingdom of Urartu flourished between the 9th century BC and 585 BC in the Armenian Highland. The founder of the Urartian Kingdom, Aramé, united all the principalities of the Armenian Highland and gave himself the title "King of Kings", the traditional title of Urartian Kings. The Urartians established their sovereignty over all of Taron and Vaspurakan. The main rival of Urartu was the Neo-Assyrian Empire.
During the reign of Sarduri I (834–828 BC), Urartu had become a strong and organized state, and imposed taxes to neighbouring tribes. Sarduri made Tushpa (modern Van) the capital of Urartu. His son, Ishpuinis, extended the borders of the state by conquering what would later be known as the Tigranocerta area and by reaching Urmia. Menuas (810–785 BC) extended the Urartian territory up north, by spreading towards the Araratian fields. He left more than 90 inscriptions by using the Mesopotamian cuneiform scriptures in the Urartian language. Argishtis I of Urartu conquered Latakia from the Hittites, and reached Byblos, and Phoenicia. He built the Erebuni Fortress, located in modern-day Yerevan, in 782 BC by using 6600 prisoners of war.
In 714 BC, the Assyrians under Sargon II defeated the Urartian King Rusa I at Lake Urmia and destroyed the holy Urartian temple at Musasir. At the same time, an Indo-European tribe called the Cimmerians attacked Urartu from the north-west region and destroyed the rest of his armies. Under Ashurbanipal (669-627 BC) the boundaries of the Assyrian Empire reached as far as Armenia and the Caucasus Mountains. The Medes under Cyaxares invaded Assyria later on in 612 BC, and then took over the Urartian capital of Van towards 585 BC, effectively ending the sovereignty of Urartu. According to the Armenian tradition, the Medes helped the Armenians establish the Orontid dynasty.