“Medusa” – like Ancient Settlement Discovered in Armenia

“Medusa” - like Ancient Settlement Discovered in ArmeniaThe archaeological monument of Arteni is difficult to notice from the nearby road. It is located on an arid slope of Mount Aragats, between the city of Talin and village of Arteni. And if not for the blue tent of the archaeologists protecting them from the heat, the monument would be virtually impossible to discover for those not involved in research.

The monument is so inconspicuous that it may seem like a fragment of the environment. Irena Kalantaryan, the head of an Armenian-French expedition, an employee of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, offers to observe the monument from above from a nearby hill.

According to Kalantaryan, unique archaeological monuments known as Desert Kite in archaeological circles have been discovered in the region.

The monument of Arteni is a unique object with two parallel walls, which at some point narrow down into a starlike triangle and then form a cup resembling a medusa. The walls are 1-1.5-meters high and several hundred meters long. The purpose of the walls remains unknown.

Similar “medusa” monuments were first discovered in Jordan in the middle of the 20th century. Then, “medusas” were found in Syria and Sinai as well. Their purpose hasn’t yet been determined. Some scholars think that they are hunting traps. The most ancient “medusas” emerged 7-10 thousand years ago and existed until Early Middle Ages.

In 2009, geologist A. Gharakhanyan found several “medusas” in Armenia. Since 2011, those structures have been systematically investigated in the scope of an Armenian-French project.

The “medusa” mentioned earlier was examined for its age. Radiocarbon analysis of the upper cultural layers of the monument dated it back to the Iron Age while lower samples belong to Late Bronze Age. However, investigations have demonstrated the existence of even deeper layers that could belong to Middle Bronze Age. All in all, this particular “medusa” seems to have been a settlement.

“This discovery is crucial for Armenia as well as the whole region because no Middle Bronze Age settlements have been discovered until now. Before, we have gathered data about the culture of Middle Bronze Age people from their burial grounds and cemeteries only,” said Irena Kalantaryan. She added that they hadn’t reached the deepest layers, so even older samples might be unearthed in the future.

At the moment, archaeologists could show us the excavated trenches, a semicircular wall, pits with remains of carbonated manure, a stone fireplace, and a large well. Also remarkable is the large quantity of bones and pottery, which could be related to the culture of Trekhk-Vanadzor. The latter have been sent to the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography for analysis.

According to archaeologists, the round walls around the settlement should have an exit, which still remains undiscovered.

Within the scopes of the Armenian-French project, archaeological teams investigate the proto- and pre-history of the region, including the Caucasus. On the French part, the project is financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France.

Անիվ կոչվող վաղ բրոնզեդարյան բնակատեղի Արտենիում. Կադրեր դրոնով


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