Volcano Azhdahak – Ancient Armenia

Volcano Azhdahak – Ancient ArmeniaAzhdahak is an extinct volcano, the highest point of Gegham mountains with elevation of 3597 m (11801,18 ft) above sea. The volcanic field of Gegham mountains last erupted at 1900 BC ± 1000 years. Azhdahak is the third highest mountain on the territory of modern Armenia after mounts Aragats and Kaputjugh.

Azhdahak is particularly notable for the lake in the crater on its peak, formed from melting snow. From the top of the mountain opens a landscape of mountains Ararat, Hatis, Ara, Aragats, Lake Sevan, the whole Gegham mountains and Kotayk valley. Another crater lake, Akna, with elevation of 3032 m (9947,51 ft) above the sea is situated 6 km (3,73 mi) away from Azhdahak.

The lake has a surface area of 0.5 km2 (0,19 sq mi), volume of 2500 m3 (2,03 acre-ft), max depth of 15 m (49,21 ft). Akna’s inflows are snow melting and precipitation. Directly next to the lake are montane grasslands. Southeast slopes of Gegham mountains intersect with Khosrov Forest State Reserve.

Fauna of Gegham mountains is quite reach, consisting approximately of 250 types of birds in particular, which is 70% of local avifauna. Stony hills are the irreplaceable habitat of predatory birds such as the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), the cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus), the eastern imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca), the griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus), the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus).

Another inhabitants of the mountains are brown bears, trails of which can be found on the snowy surface. Flora of Gegham mountains is remarkable for its various plants, including Jurinea moschus, Arabis caucasica, Catsfoot diclinous (Antennaria dioica), Gentiana pontica, Merendera Radde (Merendera raddeana), Oxytrope Lazica (Oxytropis lazica).

Surroundings of Azhdahak mountain feature a plurality of petroglyphs – stone carvings. Images mostly depict scenes of hunting, contests and fighting, as well as astronomical bodies and phenomena such as the Sun, the Moon, constellations, bolides, comets and lightning.

In Armenian mythology, Azhdahak ((Armenian: Աժդահակ)) was a man-vishap (man-dragon). Vishaps are believed to live in high mountains, big lakes, in the sky and in the clouds. According to beliefs, vishaps roar and sweep away everything in their path and cause earthquakes by belowground movement. It is believed that a thousand-year-old vishap can absorb the whole world.

View of Azhdahak
View of Azhdahak
View of Azhdahak
Dragon stones (vishapakars) and petroglyphs of Azhdahak volcano
Lake Akna
Cinereous vulture


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