Ancient Agarak, Armenia

The archaeological site of Agarak is located in the Aragatsotn Province of Armenia. The site contains some of the oldest large man-made structures carved into stone, dating to the Early Bronze Age (‘Agarak 1’ is dated to 3400 BCE). It is the earliest in the Caucasus (and also predates Egyptian pyramids by a millennium).

The ancient inhabitants transformed 200 ha of the rocky area according to their needs: rock wells, rock-cut stairways, corridors, residential areas, necropolis, etc. Some pits probably have had either metallurgical or astrological purposes. In the early Bronze Age, there already existed a town with a regular street plan.

Excavations have revealed an enormous quantity of ceramic fragments, terracotta statues, round and horseshoe-shaped portable hearths, and hearth stands (dated to 29th-27th century BCE).
The Agarak settlement is “multi-layered,” showing that people lived and build here in different historical epochs.

Artifacts from the period of the Araratian (Urartu) kingdom have been found in abundance on the southern side of the hill. The large quantity of wine presses and wine storage vats discovered in the excavated sectors indicates the predominant role of viticulture and wine-making in the economic life of the ancient inhabitants of Agarak.

The findings show a continuous settlement up to the end of the early Iron Age, and then to the fall of the Urartian Empire in the 6th century BCE.

In the 4th century BCE, Agarak became an urban center due to its location on the Aras Valley trade route. This is demonstrated by the discovery in burials of coins, as well as of signet rings from the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Based on some potsherd finds, Agarak was a village-level settlement in the early Middle Ages. There was also some sparse occupation during the 17th-18th centuries.

Merike Joosep

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