In a recent dig at Metsamor, Armenia, a Polish-Armenian team of archaeologists stumbled upon an illustrious ‘golden tomb’ housing two skeletons, believed to be a couple. Surrounded by three gold necklaces, this burial, from the era of Egypt’s Pharaoh Ramesses II, offers a glimpse into ancient Armenian wealth.
Metsamor, 35 kilometers west of Yerevan, sprawls over 200 hectares and is a key archaeological site from the V-I century BC in the Armenian Highland and the Ancient Near East. It encompasses a Bronze-Iron Age settlement complete with a citadel, city sectors, and an astronomical observatory. Its importance is further solidified as it previously yielded Armenia’s oldest known gold jewelry.
The recent discovery was of a cist grave type, characterized by chambers lined with sizeable stones. Within, besides the skeletons, remnants of a wooden burial bed were found. Professor Krzysztof Jakubiak from the University of Warsaw, who heads the project, remarked on the peculiarity of their death, as evidence suggests they died simultaneously and the tomb was undisturbed thereafter. Both individuals, with slightly bent legs, were estimated to have died between ages 30 and 40.
This untouched tomb also revealed over a hundred beads, gold pendants resembling Celtic crosses, numerous carnelian pendants, and a dozen intact ceramic vessels. A unique faience flask, believed to be of Syrian-Mesopotamian origin, further emphasizes Metsamor’s connections with distant lands.
While identifying the residents of Metsamor during the latter half of the 2nd millennium BCE remains a challenge due to the absence of texts, its grandeur is undeniable. As Professor Jakubiak notes, the fortified settlement’s scale and importance were unmatched in the region.