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.
Artifacts of Lchashen are kept at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the History Museum of Armenia in Yerevan.
Photo by: www.armenianheritage.org