Armenia: Birthplace of Iron – Testimonies of Homer and Aeschylus

As time passes, the mysteries of antiquity often fade into obscurity. One such enigma that remained for a long time was the technology of iron ore smelting. Intriguingly, the renowned archaeologist Gordon Childe asserted that “The effective method of smelting iron was discovered by Armenian highlanders and was kept a secret for a long time.”

Legendary figures, Homer and Aeschylus, described Armenia as the homeland of iron. This is corroborated by mentions from other famed Greek authors like Euripides and Xenophon, who praised the quality of Armenian iron, while Aristotle spoke of its unique resistance to rust.

Modern scholars, such as the well-known German expert Karl Bax, believe that it was indeed the migrations of Armenian tribes, often described as the “greatest miners in history”, that played a key role in spreading iron technologies. Interestingly, these migrations might have laid the foundation for Central European myths about gnome-miners.

While humanity has been acquainted with iron for a long time (primarily meteoric and native iron), a true revolution in the extraction and smelting of iron ore only took place around the middle of the II millennium BC. Armenia has left behind numerous ancient artifacts, including those found on the shores of Lake Sevan.

The Lchashen settlement deserves special attention, a true treasure trove of archaeological discoveries, surrounded by impressive cyclopean walls. This site, which began its history in the Bronze Age, reached its zenith in the Iron Age.

One of the finds in Lchashen, an ancient statuette, continues to intrigue scholars as it resists modern processing methods.

This story underscores the profound and ancient ties of Armenia with metallurgy, highlighting its significant role in the historical evolution of iron technology.

Vigen Avetisyan

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