Ancient Lchashen Fortress in Armenia

Ancient Lchashen Fortress in Armenia



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Ancient Lchashen Fortress in Armenia - History

Lchashen Fortress

Armenia is one of the territories of the ancient World, where fortification principles were born and developed. The whole Armenian territory is covered with cyclopean fortresses and town-fortresses. More than 100 old fortresses have been found in the territory of Sevan. One of them is Lchashen.

Fortress-settlement Lchashen is located 400 m south-east from Lchashen village. The fortress was built on the rugged hills and cliffs that make up the northern end of Geghama mountain range. Stony, difficult area had an impact on the plan and territorial decisions of the fortress-settlement. Standing at an altitude of 50-100 m, the fortress dominates over the surrounding territory.

On the eastern part of the village, on a hill, there's a preserved cuneiform of Argishti A, which tells about the conquest of Kiehuni city and about the achievement of Ishtikuni city.

The fortress and village were surrounded by high and wide walls made of big basalt pieces. Although the stones are unhewn, they are laid so that a relatively smooth surface is directed to outside. The walls were double-layered, three and a half meters thick, and in those places where the enemy could easily attack, and at the entrances of the citadels, the thickness of the wall reaches five or more meters. The space between wall layers is filled with small stones and rubble.

There were 6 citadels inside the fortress. As a continuation of each other, external fortress walls surround the whole territory of the settlement and create a single defensive system with an irregular plan. Lchashen fortress was built in the early Bronze Age, greatly expanded in the late Bronze and preserved until the late Middle Ages. This is evidenced by the artifacts found here- from Chalcolithic to the Late Middle Ages. In the times of the Urartian kingdom, only the northwestern part of the central citadel was restored. Here we can see the influence of Van Tushpa's constructional art.

During its centuries-old history, the fortress occupied different areas- from the settlement it turned into a fortress, then into a fortress-settlement, town, then into a medieval village. The excavations on Lchashen territory show that the settlement had a system of straight streets, from two sides of which dwellings with a round and rectangular base were built. As founded artifacts evidence, people here were busy with farming, cattle breeding, metal and wood processing, and with pottery.

During the excavations, about 800 tombs, in which the burials were mostly in the sarcophagus were found. The peculiarity of the burials in Lchashen is that burial chariots founded there were filled with horses and oxen. Also, rich utensils were buried with the deceased. Despite the burial and war chariots, bronze sculptures of bulls, a golden frog and more than 25 gold items that were made in the II millennium BC were found here.

Founded rich artifacts of Lchashen are kept in the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and in the History Museum of Armenia in Yerevan.


Ancient Hillfort of Lchashen – Armenia

The village of Lchashen is located on the northern steep slope of the Geghama Mountains, towering above the surrounding territory. In the eastern part of the village, there is a historical place, which is one of the most important archaeological monuments found in the territory of modern Armenia.

In the 1950s, as a result of the lowering of the water level in Lake Sevan, a field with ancient graves measuring 800 x 100 m was discovered. On the hills at the southern end of the field, there are the enormous fortress of Lchashen and the ruins of an ancient settlement.

Today, the inhabitants of ancient Lchashen and their lifestyle can only be researched by the multilateral study of artifacts found during archaeological excavations. These studies confirm that the settlement of Lchashen was founded at the end of the 4th millennium BC. In the middle of the 3rd millennium, it was turned into a fortress. The ancient settlement of Lchashen had a system of straight streets, on both sides of which there were dwellings with round and quadrangular bases.

The finds let archaeologists assume that the population of the settlement was probably engaged in farming, cattle breeding, and ceramics, woodwork, straw, and metal making.

Although Lchashen’s culture is often associated with the Kur-Araks’ culture, the items found here are extremely important and have a unique cultural value for this area, especially for the integrity of the idea of burial rituals.

Crypts discovered during the excavations (the grave field has around 800 graves and tombs, most of which have a form of stone cases) represent an exceptional collection of the culture of Bronze Age.

The uniqueness of Lchashen’s graves is that some of them had skeletons of horses and oxen harnessed to wagons as well as expensive utensils buried with a body. Such finds undoubtedly indicate that a grave belongs to a once rich person. Some of the deceased, probably for the purpose of preparing them for the afterlife, were buried in chariots and wagons in a pose that has seemingly resembled a journey to the next world.

Among the artifacts were two- and four-wheeled vehicles made of local oak and elm with carving. They are among the best in the world of this kind of carts. Burial of horses along with the deceased is also an evidence of the development of horse breeding and cultivation in Armenia.

In addition to two- and four-wheeled wagons, other valuable objects were found in the graves of Lchashen – bronze statuettes of oxen, a frog cast from gold, and 25 other gold items made in the middle of the 2nd millennium BC, possibly in Zod.

Another valuable find is colorful ceramic ware with dotted and ornamented patterns, which were later replaced with shiny black pottery. Wooden items (spoons, ladles, glasses, buckets, tables) are also of great interest to researchers in terms of studying the life of that period.

Finally, it is impossible not to mention the cuneiform writing of Urartian king Argishti I, in which he mentions the capture of the city of Ishtikuni. Some researchers believe that Lchashen and Ishtikuni are the same settlements.

26.11.14 / Հայաստանի առեղծվածները – Լճաշեն-ստորջրյա գաղտնիքներ

Artifacts of Lchashen are kept at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the History Museum of Armenia in Yerevan.


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Lchashen Settlement: General

Lchashen village is located in the Gegharkunik province of Armenia. It can be found on the Northern slope of the Geghama Mountains and has a higher location toward the surrounding. It will take around 1.5 hours to get to this village.

To the east of the village there is the settlement of Lchashen village, which is one of the most important monuments not only in Armenia but also in the territory of the Former Soviet Union.

LchashenSettlement: Ancient Necropolis

The ancient necropolis was discovered in 1950s when the water level of Lake Sevan dropped. On the southern end of the necropolis, on the hills there rises the cyclopic fortress of Lchashen as well as the remainders of the ancient city.

LchashenSettlement: Inhabitants

It would be simply impossible to make any conclusions regarding the inhabitants of Lchashen without a proper study of the things that had been found at the site. According to those studies, the settlement of Lchashen originated at the end of the 4th millennium BC. In the middle of the 3rd millennium BC it was converted into a fortress.

Excavations held at the site showed that the ancient settlement of Lchashen had a system of straight streets on two sides of which there were dwellings with round and square bases. As the findings suggest, the inhabitants of Lchashen were engaged in farming, cattle breeding, wood making, metallurgy, pottery making and so on.

Lchashen Settlement: Burial Ceremonies

The necropolis of the settlement includes 800 tombs. The burials performed in Lchashen were truly unique. It is explained by the fact that skeletons of horses and bulls that had been tethered to carts were found in the graves. Other than that, rather rich belongings were discovered next to the deceased. A funeral like that was beyond doubt performed for a rich person.

The rich and renowned were probably always buried in carts and in such a position as if they were traveling to the afterlife. Both two-wheel and four-wheel carts were uncovered. They were made of oak and elm trees and included inscriptions on them. Of all the similar carts found around the world these are one of the best.

The burial of horses with the dead is an important finding in regard to clarifying the development level of horse-breeding in Armenia and specifying their domestication issues.

Lchashen Settlement: Findings

Besides the two-wheel and four-wheel carts and chariots there were other valuable findings as well. Among them were the bronze statuettes of bulls, the gold-made frog and 25 other golden items, which were made in the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. In all likelihood, the gold was brought from Zod gold mine. Of interest are the colorful and decorated potteries of Lchashen that came to replace the simple and black potteries.

The wooden findings among them spoons, ladles, cups, buckets and tables are enough to draw conclusions regarding the routine of the Lchashen people.

And the last but not least important finding of the site is the inscription of great Urartian King Argishti I. The inscription mentions that Argishti I occupied the city of Ishtikuni. According to most researchers, Ishtikuni is the same Lchashen.

Lastly, the artifacts of the Lchashen Settlement can be seen in the History Museum of Armenia and the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.


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The museum was initially formed relying of collections of the Armenian Ethnographical Association of the Caucasus, Nor Nakhidjevan Museum of Armenian Antiquities, Museum of Antiquities of Ani and Vagharshapat Repository of Ancient Manuscripts.

In 1935 a decision to establish two separate museums was made. The decision was due to the museum’s collection, and as a result the present day National Gallery of Armenia with 1660 objects and the present day Museum of Literature with 301 objects and 1298 manuscripts were formed. Years later in 1978 the State Museum of Ethnography featuring 1428 objects and 584 photographs came to existence.

The museum includes 400,000 objects presented in four departments.

The museum gives a thorough picture of the ancient times. In line with that, Armenia’s culture from pre-historic times up to the present days is introduced. The museum’s collection is beyond a doubt a rare one with traces of such eastern countries in the Armenian Highland as Egypt, Assyria, Byzantine Empire and so forth. 3rd-2nd millennia BC bronze specimens are presented in the museum. Other than that, the museum features the following treasures:

  • cuneiform inscriptions, bronze statuettes, wall-paintings, painted ceramics, arms and weapons with sculptural ornamentation, unique specimens of gold from the powerful Armenian state of Urartu,
  • inscription of 782 BC stating about the foundation of Erebuni (Yerevan) by King Argishti I,
  • ancient evidences of the history of transport, 15th-14th century BC wooden carts and chariots, excavated from Lchashen, and their miniature models in bronze,
  • Miletian, Greek-Macedonian, Seleucid, Parthian, Roman, Sasanid, Byzantine, Arabic, Seljuk and other gold, silver and copper coins, circulating in Armenia,
  • Armenian coins, issued in Tsopk, Hayk Minor (3rd century BC – 150 BC), coins of the Armenian Artaxiad dynasty (189 BC – 6 AD), of the Kiurike kingdom (11th century) and Armenian kingdom of Cilicia (1080-1375),
  • specimens of transformation of the Hellenistic culture in Armenia, excavated from the archeological sites of Garni, Artashat and Oshakan,
  • architectural, sculptural and ceramic findings from the cities of Dvin and Ani, from the fortress of Amberd introducing the 4th-5th century Christian culture of Armenia.

The museum has published a number of significant works particularly regarding Armenian architecture, ethnography, history and of course archaeological excavations. Overall, the museum is but the documentary introduction of the history of Armenia, in this respect the museum trustworthily carries its name.

History Museum of Armenia is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 11 am to 18 pm. Note that once the clock has struck 17.15 pm you will not be allowed to enter the museum. So carefully plan your visit. Other than Mondays, the museum is closed on National holidays and memorial days as well. The general entrance fee costs 1000 Dram, with several exceptions for students and pensioners who should pay only 300 dram. A guided visit is available in 4 foreign languages Russian, English, French and German. This visit will cost you 5000 Dram, while a guided visit in Armenian will cost 3000 Dram.

If you would like to get to the museum without paying for the ticket, make sure you go there on the last Saturday of each month. The entrance is free on the second Friday of each month for school students and teachers accompanying them.

The museum also has its museum shop where you can find different books, posters and postcards and souvenirs and CDs. Note that the shop closes ten minutes before the museum is closed, so leaving the visit to the shop as the last destination of your visit to the museum is not the best option of course if you are interested in picking something from there.


History and Mission

Mission.

    The mission of the History Museum of Armenia is to preserve, replenish, study and publicize the Museum objects and collections, which represent the history and culture of Armenia and the Armenian people.

History.

  • The History Museum of Armenia was founded by the Parliament Law No. 439, September 9, 1919. It was called Ethnographic-Anthropological Museum-Library and had Yervand Lalayan as its first director.
  • started receiving visitors on August 20, 1921
  • was renamed State Central Museum of Armenia (1922), Cultural-Historical Museum (1931), Historical Museum (1935), State History Museum of Armenia (1962) and History Museum of Armenia (2003)
  • was formed on the basis of the collections of the Armenian Ethnographical Association of the Caucasus, Nor Nakhidjevan Museum of Armenian Antiquities, Museum of Antiquities of Ani, Vagharshapat Repository of Ancient Manuscripts (15,289 objects)
  • In 1935, based on the collections of this Museum, separate museums were established upon the order of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia: 1. The Museum of Art of the Armenian SSR (the present-day National Gallery of Armenia) was organized, based on the Museum’s Department of Art (headed by R.Drampian)- 1660 objects passed on to the newly-founded museum. 2. (the present-day Charents Museum of Literature and Art) was formed, based on the Museum’s – 301 objects and 1298 manuscripts to the newly-founded museum.
  • The State Museum of Ethnography, founded in 1978 received 1428 objects and 584 photographs.
  • is for 100% subsidized by the State, the owner of the collections and the building
  • is entrusted with a national collection of c. 400,000 objects in the following departments: Archeology (35% of the main collection), Ethnography (8%), Numismatics (45%), Documents (12%)
  • replenishes its collections by finds from excavations at archeologicalsites in Armenia, by purchases and donations
  • represents an integral picture of the history and culture of Armenia from prehistoric times (one million years ago) till our days
  • presents the rare traces of cultural interrelations with the countries of the AncientEast(Egypt, Mitany, the Hittite kingdom, Assyria, Iran, the Seleucid state, Rome and the Byzantine Empire) in the Armenian Highland:
  • owns an enormous and exceptional collection of bronze specimens of the 3rd-2ndmillennia BC, which belong to the world treasury of masterpieces
  • possesses the sumptuous historical-cultural heritage of Urartu, the powerful Armenian state in the Ancient East: exceptional cuneiform inscriptions, bronze statuettes, wall-paintings, painted ceramics, arms and weapons with sculptural ornamentation, unique specimens of gold, silver and bone, excavated from Karmir Blour, Arin-Berd and Argishtikhinili
  • possesses the cuneiform inscription of 782 BC about the foundation of the city of Erebuni (Yerevan), by the Urartian king Argishti Iowns a collection of the most ancient evidence of the history of transport, 15th-14th century BC wooden carts and chariots, excavated from Lchashen, and their miniature models in bronze
  • owns a rich collection of Armenian coins, consisting of the coins of Tsopk, Artaxiad dynasty, Kiurike kingdom and Armenian kingdom of Cilicia, also foreign issues of mints (Dvin, Ani, Yerevan, etc.), functioning in Armenia in different periods
  • presents valuable specimens of apeculiar transformation of the Hellenistic culture in Armenia: sculptures, architectural details, jewellery and pottery, excavated from the archeological sites of Garni, Artashat and Oshakan
  • presents the Christian culture of Armenia (4th-15th centuries)with the unique architectural, sculptural and ceramic finds, excavated from the cities of Dvin and Ani, from the fortress of Amberd
  • carries out conservation and restoration work
  • has published works on Armenian architecture, archeology, ethnography, history, series and reports on archeological excavations since 1948.

Mission.

History.

  • The History Museum of Armenia was founded by the Parliament Law No. 439, September 9, 1919. It was called Ethnographic-Anthropological Museum-Library and had Yervand Lalayan as its first director.
  • started receiving visitors on August 20, 1921
  • was renamed State Central Museum of Armenia (1922), Cultural-Historical Museum (1931), Historical Museum (1935), State History Museum of Armenia (1962) and History Museum of Armenia (2003)
  • was formed on the basis of the collections of the Armenian Ethnographical Association of the Caucasus, Nor Nakhidjevan Museum of Armenian Antiquities, Museum of Antiquities of Ani, Vagharshapat Repository of Ancient Manuscripts (15,289 objects)
  • In 1935, based on the collections of this Museum, separate museums were established upon the order of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia: 1. The Museum of Art of the Armenian SSR (the present-day National Gallery of Armenia) was organized, based on the Museum’s Department of Art (headed by R.Drampian)- 1660 objects passed on to the newly-founded museum. 2. (the present-day Charents Museum of Literature and Art) was formed, based on the Museum’s – 301 objects and 1298 manuscripts to the newly-founded museum.
  • The State Museum of Ethnography, founded in 1978 received 1428 objects and 584 photographs.
  • is for 100% subsidized by the State, the owner of the collections and the building
  • is entrusted with a national collection of c. 400,000 objects in the following departments: Archeology (35% of the main collection), Ethnography (8%), Numismatics (45%), Documents (12%)
  • replenishes its collections by finds from excavations at archeologicalsites in Armenia, by purchases and donations
  • represents an integral picture of the history and culture of Armenia from prehistoric times (one million years ago) till our days
  • presents the rare traces of cultural interrelations with the countries of the AncientEast(Egypt, Mitany, the Hittite kingdom, Assyria, Iran, the Seleucid state, Rome and the Byzantine Empire) in the Armenian Highland:
  • owns an enormous and exceptional collection of bronze specimens of the 3rd-2ndmillennia BC, which belong to the world treasury of masterpieces
  • possesses the sumptuous historical-cultural heritage of Urartu, the powerful Armenian state in the Ancient East: exceptional cuneiform inscriptions, bronze statuettes, wall-paintings, painted ceramics, arms and weapons with sculptural ornamentation, unique specimens of gold, silver and bone, excavated from Karmir Blour, Arin-Berd and Argishtikhinili
  • possesses the cuneiform inscription of 782 BC about the foundation of the city of Erebuni (Yerevan), by the Urartian king Argishti Iowns a collection of the most ancient evidence of the history of transport, 15th-14th century BC wooden carts and chariots, excavated from Lchashen, and their miniature models in bronze
  • owns a rich collection of Armenian coins, consisting of the coins of Tsopk, Artaxiad dynasty, Kiurike kingdom and Armenian kingdom of Cilicia, also foreign issues of mints (Dvin, Ani, Yerevan, etc.), functioning in Armenia in different periods
  • presents valuable specimens of apeculiar transformation of the Hellenistic culture in Armenia: sculptures, architectural details, jewellery and pottery, excavated from the archeological sites of Garni, Artashat and Oshakan
  • presents the Christian culture of Armenia (4th-15th centuries)with the unique architectural, sculptural and ceramic finds, excavated from the cities of Dvin and Ani, from the fortress of Amberd
  • carries out conservation and restoration work
  • has published works on Armenian architecture, archeology, ethnography, history, series and reports on archeological excavations since 1948.

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Contents

The fortress was built during the Ottoman rule in 1582–83 by Serdar Ferhat Pasha. [1] [2] [3] The fortress was destroyed by an earthquake in 1679. After the earthquake, the Safavid governor of Erivan, Zal Khan, asked the Shah for help to rebuild Erivan, including the fortress and the Palace of the Sardars.

On 12 July 1679, the Safavid vice-regent of Azerbaijan (historic Azerbaijan, also known as Iranian Azerbaijan), Mirza Ibrahim, visited Erivan. He was directed to recover the fortress, the seat of the governor of Erivan. Many villagers from Ganja, Agulis and Dasht (Nakhchivan) were moved to Erivan to rebuild the fortress. The forced labor continued until winter. Later, the Shah allowed everyone to return to their homes. The reconstruction of the Erivan Fortress was not finished. It was continued and finished in the following years. In October 1827, during the Russo-Persian War of 1826–1829, the Russian army by the leadership of Ivan Paskevich captured Erivan and the Erivan Fortress was not used for military purposes since then, until its complete destruction in 1930s. [ citation needed ]

In 1853, the fortress was ruined by another earthquake. In 1865 the territory of the fortress was purchased by Nerses Tairyants, a merchant of the first guild. [3] Later in 1880s, Tairyants built a brandy factory in the northern part of the fortress. The fortress was completely demolished in 1930s during the Soviet rule, although some parts of the defensive walls still remain. [4]

The Erivan Fortress was considered to be a small town separate from the city. It was separated from the city with large and unwrought space. The fortress was rectangular with a perimeter of about 1,200 metres (4,000 ft). It was walled on three sides on the fourth (western) it was flanked by the Zangu River gorge. The gorge on the north-western part of the fortress had a depth of 300 sazhen (640 meters). As it was considered inaccessible it was not walled. The earth mound was considered as a wall. [ citation needed ]

The Erivan Fortress had three gateways on its double line battlements: Tabriz, Shirvan and Korpu. The walls had towers like old eastern castles. Each wall had an iron gate, and each one had its guard. The garrison had about 2,000 soldiers. There were 800 houses inside the fortress. The permanent residents of the fortress were local Muslims only. Although Armenians were allowed to work in the markets during the day, they had to lock up and return to their homes in Shahar (the main town) at night. [ citation needed ]

Sardar's Palace Edit

The palace was in the north-western part of the fortress. The palace hanged on the Hrazdan gorge. It was a square wide building with many sections. The harem was one of the biggest sections, it was 61 metres (200 ft) long and 38 metres (125 ft) wide. It was divided into many rooms and corridors. This palace was built in 1798 during the reign of Huseyn-Ali khan's son, Mahmud. [5]

All palaces built previously had been destroyed whenever the khans built a new one. The last was built in 1798 in Persian architectural style, containing "Shushaband-ayva" ("A Hall of Mirrors"), whose cornice was covered with colorful glass. The ceiling was decorated by the pictures of sparkling flowers. And in the walls of the hall were eight images drawn on the canvas: Fat′h-Ali Shah, Huseyn-Ghuli and Hasan, Abbas Mirza, Faramarz, etc. [6] [7]

After the capture of Erivan by the Russians, in one of the halls of the palace, Aleksandr Griboyedov's famous comedy, Woe from Wit, was performed by the military garrison with stand by of the author. A marble memorial plaque which commemorates the performance is in the Yerevan Ararat Wine Factory, which currently occupies the location where the fortress once existed. [8]


Contents

The early Armenian history Movses Khorenatsi connected the name of Gegharkunik with Gegham, a 5th-generation Haykazuni King and one of the descendants of the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation Hayk. [5] Gegham was the father of Sisak (founder of the Siunia dynasty), and Harma (grandfather of Ara the Beautiful). The Gegham mountains and the Lake of Gegham (currently known as Lake Sevan) were also named after Gegham.

The region of Gegharkunik has been connected to Uelikuni/Uelikuhi, attested in Urartian sources as one of the local "kingdoms" conquered by Urartu in the eighth century BCE. [6] The word "Uel" is believed to be an early (proto-Armenian) version of "Gegh" (proto-Indo European u corresponds with g in Armenian, l corresponds with the Armenian gh). [6]

Armenian gull is the symbol of the province. It is depicted on the Gegharkunik coat of arms adopted on 4 May 2011, flying over the Lake Sevan and its peninsula, surrounded by the mountains of Sevan. The wheat ears on both sides of the coat of arms represent the agricultural characteristic of the province, while the opened book at the bottom represents the intellectual and cultural heritage of the region. [7]

Gegharkunik Province occupies the east of the central part of modern-day Armenia. With an area of 5,349 km 2 (18% of total area of Armenia), it is ranked first among the provinces of Armenia in terms of the total area.

Gegharkunik Province is situated at the east of modern-day Armenia, surrounding the Lake Sevan. Within Armenia, it has borders with Tavush Province, Kotayk and Ararat provinces from the west and Vayots Dzor Province from the south. The Dashkasan, Gadabay and Kalbajar districts of Azerbaijan form the eastern border of the province. Shahumyan Region of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic was bordered from east between 1993 and 2020.

The Artsvashen Armenian exclave of Gegharkunik Province is currently occupied and controlled by Azerbaijan.

Gegharkunik has a mountainous landscape. The territory is dominated by the Gegham mountains from the west, the mountains of Vardenis from the south, Sevan mountains from the east, Miapor mountains from the northeast and the Kenats mountains from the north. The height of the mountains ranges between 2500 and 3500 meters.

The highest point of the province is mount Azhdahak of the Gegham mountains with a height of 3597 meters at the western part of the range. Lake Sevan occupies the central part of the province, lying at a height of 1900 meters above sea level and covering an area of 1260 km 2 . [8] (around 23.5% of the area of Gegharkunik).

Gegharkunik is separated from Vayots Dzor by the 82 kilometers-long Vardenis Mountains, where the highest point is Mount Vardenis at 3,522 meters.

The climate of Gegharkunik is cold and snowy in winter, while the summer is characterized with warm and humid climate. The annual precipitation level ranges between 500 and 600 mm at below 2000 meters, while it may reach up to 1000 mm in the mountainous areas. [9]

Lake Sevan is the largest body of fresh water in Armenia and Southern Caucasus. With a volume of around 32.92 billion m³ of water, Sevan is of a major environmental importance for the entire region.

Getik, Gavaraget and Masrik are the main rivers of the province.

Historically, the current territory of the province mainly occupies the Gegharkunik and Sotk cantons of Syunik province of Ancient Armenia, along with parts of Mazaz and Varazhnunik cantons of Ayrarat province.

From 1930 until 1995, modern-day Gegharkunik was divided into 5 raions within the Armenian SSR: Sevan raion, Kamo raion, Krasnoselsk raion, Martuni raion and Vardenis raion. With the territorial administration reform of 1995, the 5 raions were merged to form the Gegharkunik Province.

After the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, the length of the province's border with Azerbaijan increased. Starting on 12 May 2021, Azerbaijani troops advanced into Gegharkunik province and established positions near the villages of Kut and Verin Shorzha, precipitating a border crisis between Armenia and Azerbaijan. [10] [11] On 25 May 2021, an Armenian soldier was killed by Azerbaijani fire in Gegharkunik, and two days later on 27 May, six Armenian soldiers were captured by Azerbaijani forces in Gegharkunik while carrying out engineering work near the border with Azerbaijan. [11]

Population Edit

According to the 2011 official census, Gegharkunik has a population of 235,075 (119,180 men and 115,895 women), forming around 7.8% of the entire population of Armenia. The urban population is 71,423 (30.4%) and the rural is 163,652 (69.6%). The province has 5 urban and 87 rural communities. The largest urban community is the provincial centre of Gavar, with a population of 20,765. The other urban centres of are Sevan, Martuni, Vardenis and Chambarak.

With a population of 9,880, the village of Vardenik is the largest rural municipality of Gegharkunik. Vardenik is also the largest rural community in Armenia.

Ethnic groups and religion Edit

Gegharkunik Province is almost entirely populated by ethnic Armenians who belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church. The regulating body of the church is the Diocese of Gegharkunik, headed by Bishop Markos Hovhannisyan. The Holy Mother of God Cathedral in Gavar is the seat of the diocese.

In 1992, the Artsvashen exclave was occupied by Azerbaijan and resettled by Azerbaijanis.

The villages of Chkalovka (formerly Aleksandrovka) and Semyonovka were founded by Russian Molokans during the 1st half of the 19th century. Currently, very few Molokans still reside in the two villages.

The regions of Vardenis and Chambarak used to have a significant minority of Azerbaijani population. However, after the break-out of the First Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1988, the Azerbaijanis were expelled and replaced by Armenian refugees who were displaced from several regions of Azerbaijan.

Gegharkunik Province is currently divided into 57 municipal communities (hamaynkner), of which 5 are urban and 52 are rural. [12] [13] [14]

Municipality Type Area (km 2 ) Population
(2017 est.)
Centre Included villages
Chambarak Municipality Urban Chambarak Antaramej, Artsvashen, Aygut, Barepat, Dprabak, Dzoravank, Getik, Kalavan, Martuni, Ttujur, Vahan
Gavar Municipality Urban 16 19,500 Gavar
Martuni Municipality Urban 10 12,200 Martuni
Sevan Municipality Urban Sevan Gagarin
Vardenis Municipality Urban Vardenis Ayrk, Azat, Geghamabak, Jaghatsadzor, Kut, Nerkin Shorzha, Norabak, Shatjrek, Shatvan Verin Shorzha

Rural communities and included settlements:

During the recent years, many rural settlements in Gegharkunik became abandoned, including the villages of Chapkut, Chichakli, Karakoyun, Karmirkharab, Kizilkharaba, Nshkhark and Zariver.

There are cultural palaces and many public libraries in the urban settlements of the province. A geological museum operates in Sevan on the basis of the Sevan Botanical Garden. Gavar is home to a history museum as well as drama theatre.

The cuisine of Gavar is closely related with the oriental cuisine elements, characterized with various spices, vegetables, fish, and fruits combination. One of the famous sweets of the town is the Kyavar baklava which is a many-layered pastry with tissue-thin sheets of phyllo dough, filled with nuts and sugar and finished with a dousing of hot honey.

The summer presidential residence of Armenia is located at the Sevan Peninsula.


Lchashen

One of the most important archaeological sites uncovered in Armenia.


An Ancient City at the Bottom of Lake Sevan

At the bottom of Lake Sevan, there are ruins of an ancient city with an age of more than 12 thousand years. It was recently found by the experts of the Ayas underwater research club.

Lake Sevan is one of the largest highland lakes in Eurasia. Due to its geographic location, its water level often rises. While 5 years ago it was 1899 m, today, it is already 1900.4 m. The researchers suggest that that’s why the mysterious city went underwater 12 thousand years ago.

It is still unknown what kind of city it was. However, according to Rafayel Mkrtchyan, the head of the department of the Ayas club, the finds suggest that the city was the residence of an ancient royal dynasty.

“In the flooded city, we found cave paintings, inscriptions, precious stones, as well as flat concrete slabs that very much resembled a road,” Mkrtchyan said.

Among the interesting finds on the bottom of the lake was a 9-kilogram basalt mortar. As it is known, mortars and pestles were an essential household tool.

With the help of it, the grain was ground into flour, which was then used to bake bread. In addition, ancient people prepared various mixtures and medicines by mixing herbs and plants with it. According to archaeologists, this is not the first find of this kind and today, they are honorable exhibits in the museums of Armenia.

In addition to underwater research, experts conducted an expedition on the shores of Sevan. As the deputy of the scientific center of the historical and cultural heritage Hakob Simonyan told, a wooden cart, chariot, royal burial places, and gold ornaments, all more than 3,500 years old, were found near the village of Lchashen.

“After research on the coast of Sevan, we conducted excavations in the Lchashen Fortress and found exhibits with an age of at least 3,500 years. Among the most unusual finds are the bones of a bison of the Ice Age. It’s just a stunning discovery,” Hakob Simonyan said.

Let us note that archaeological excavations are still being carried out in the village of Lchashen. According to experts, the received data shows the connection of the Armenian Highlands and Central Asia since the Bronze Age.

“Besides finding a bison’s bones, we found many remains of wild and domestic animals,” Hakob Simonyan said, “In addition, precious stones such as pomegranate and turquoise have been discovered. There is a possibility that they had been brought from Central Asia. We can’t currently tell what kind of relations had been between those regions”

Today, the search for answers continues, but soon, the researchers plan to conduct more than a hundred expeditions and invite scientists from other countries to surely dispel all doubts about the mysterious ancient city at the bottom of the lake.

Archeologists find ancient town submerged underwater on Lake Sevan

26.11.14 / Հայաստանի առեղծվածները – Լճաշեն-ստորջրյա գաղտնիքներ


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