Armenia’s Ancient Ukhtasar Petroglyphs: A Journey Through Millennia of Art and Tradition

The discovery of rock paintings or petroglyphs in Armenia, dating back to the 5th to 9th millennium BC, reveals a fascinating and enduring connection to the past. These ancient petroglyphs, linked to undeciphered hieroglyphic writing known as Pro-Sumerian, offer a glimpse into the prehistoric world long before the Sumerian civilization. This article delves into the captivating history and significance of the Ukhtasar petroglyphs and explores the traditions and beliefs surrounding these ancient artistic expressions.

The Origins of the Constellations

English astronomer Olcott suggested that the people who first devised the ancient constellations’ figures lived between 36° and 42° north latitude, likely around Mount Ararat and the Euphrates River valley. This theory places the birth of these celestial depictions within the same region as the Ukhtasar petroglyphs, further highlighting their historical significance.

The Evolution of Rock Paintings

Researchers have found that the Ukhtasar petroglyphs were created over many years and different eras, with each period contributing its unique style to the stones. These rock paintings, colloquially known as “tsar,” span hundreds of kilometers along the slopes of Ukhtasar and can also be found in numerous other locations throughout Armenia, such as the mountains near Tzhuk (Mets Karakhach), the ridges of Vardenis, near the springs of Yeghegis (Mount Vardenis), and along the Arpa (Mount Khachatsar) and Vorotan rivers.

The Artistic and Symbolic Significance of Ukhtasar Petroglyphs

The rock paintings of Ukhtasar hold great artistic and symbolic value. These ancient depictions reveal the beliefs, rituals, and daily life of the prehistoric people who once inhabited the region. From hunting scenes to astronomical representations, these petroglyphs offer a window into the past and an opportunity to appreciate the artistic talents of early civilizations.

The Preservation of Ukhtasar Petroglyphs

Remarkably, the Ukhtasar petroglyphs have remained largely intact over the millennia. Only a small portion of these ancient artworks has been damaged due to strong winds or covered by earth near water sources. The majority of these petroglyphs continue to grace the rocky slopes, offering visitors an awe-inspiring look into Armenia’s rich cultural history.

The Navasard Tradition and Ukhtasar

Local elders recount stories of their ancestors gathering on Navasard, the ancient Armenian New Year, to celebrate the occasion at the glacial lake within Ukhtasar’s territory. The participants would sacrifice a lamb and greet the first rays of the sun, a crucial element of the ritual. Although the exact details of these practices have been lost to time, the ritual was performed annually.

A Timeless Treasure Worth Exploring

Ukhtasar’s petroglyphs stand as a testament to the rich cultural heritage and ancient traditions of Armenia. A visit to this remarkable site offers a unique opportunity to travel back in time and immerse oneself in the artistic expressions of prehistoric civilizations. The enduring beauty and profound symbolism of the Ukhtasar petroglyphs make them a must-see destination for history enthusiasts and curious travelers alike.

Vigen Avetisyan

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