The village of Agithu is located 4 kilometers south of Sisian, on the left bank of Vorotan River. It is particularly known for its 7th-century tomb structure. Not too far from it is a set of several unique caves that have grabbed the attention of Armenian and German scientists.
And since 2009, an Armenian-German expeditionary group has been investigating the caves near the Agithu village in Syunik Province, Armenia. Researchers have already collected data about the ancient people who lived 40,000 years ago.
Archaeologists have examined 7 caves, the most remarkable ones being the Agithu-3 and Agithu-7. A correspondent of the media agency “Golos Armenii” (“The voice of Armenia”) has lately interviewed the co-director of the expedition, a researcher from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of Armenia Boris Gasparyan. What he told was truly astonishing – after all, the caves belong to times where there haven’t been any nationalities, not to mention sovereign states!
“The Agithu-3 cave is a unique archaeological monument that provides us with rich data about the life and activity of the ancestors of modern humans,” said Gasparyan, “Its oldest layer is dated at Late Stone Age and has an age of 15,000 years. Here, we have not only found traces of ancient humans but signs of volcanic eruptions as well.
The cave has a complex layout, but ancient people have managed to adapt to it in the most reasonable way. Agithu-3 had a large number of animal bones, obsidian tools, arrowheads, knives, a 26,000 years old bone needle, and necklaces made from shells that had presumably originated in the territory of the Persian Gulf.”
Among other cultural layers were antique (ca. 1st century BC) and medieval (13-14th centuries AD) layers. According to Gasparyan, if ancient people have dwelled in this cave, it has been used as a shrine by them. The tomb is a further testimony to this. Several years ago, archaeologists discovered a skull with 7 coins in its mouth, which has apparently been some kind of a payment to get to the other world. What’s most remarkable about Agithu-3 is that it gives us a wide range of data about the activities of ancient civilizations which once inhabited the territory of Armenia.
As for the Agithu-7 cave, it also has a plethora of mysteries and riddles. Excavations here began in 2017. Just like Agithu-3, researchers discovered three cultural layers in this cave – Paleolithic, antique, and medieval.
“We have discovered an unclear cultural phenomenon,” said Gasparyan, “I personally assume that unknown sects have held religious rituals here in the 13th-14th centuries. Initially, we had been investigating the cave to discover traces of Stone Age humans, but we decided to not progress further until we understand what the very upper layer means.
The phenomenon of caves as sacral locations isn’t fully studied by itself. It is furthermore unclear why this cave continued to remain a sacred place even in the Middle Ages when people had already been building temples, cathedrals, and churches. We could note that Jesus Christ was born in a stable resembling a cave. He was also buried in a cave. As you can see, there is still a lot of unanswered questions.
By the way, we have gathered a lot of scientific material over the years. Some of it has already been published in prestigious science magazines while the rest will be published by our German colleagues this year. Then, we will continue the investigation of the caves.”