Ethnographer Mariam Amiryan and anthropologist Hasmik Simonyan announced at a recent press conference that a mysterious ancient burial ground had been found in Artanish (a peninsula on Lake Sevan). During excavations in this territory, 14 human skulls, 3 children’s occipital bones, 10 lower jaws, many individual body fragments, and various utensils were discovered.
According to Amiryan, the burial ground under the name “Artanish-29” dates to roughly the 8th-6th centuries BC. The single burial “Artanish-23” dates to the 13th-11th centuries BC.
Amiryan said that the method by which the burial grounds had been found was first used in Armenia. In the future, she thinks that this method will allow probing the ground without any excavation.
“The innovation is that we tried to compare the results of biochemical analyses with the findings of archaeologists – that is, to clarify the authenticity of the data. And we really did – we can use subchemistry as an archaeological method,” she said, noting that the works had been carried out throughout the year and will be continued.
Amiryan added that a German team is to join further research on discovered artifacts and nearby settlements.
According to Amiryan, “Artanish-29” contains not only human but also animal remains – in particular, small cattle, pigs, and wolves. However, the ethnographer regretfully noted that it is not possible to reproduce the faces of people whose remains were found in “Artanish 29” because Armenia does not have the necessary 3D modeling technologies.
Anthropologist Hasmik Simonyan said that this burial ground is interesting because in addition to solid skeletons, separate fragments of bodies were found there, in particular, of children. Fragmented utensils were found as well, but they cannot be reassembled due to the absence of some fragments.
“We are collaborating with paleogenetic colleagues from abroad. At the moment, we have the genetic material of 6 people, and we are going to find out whether there are any family ties between them,” she said.
Specialists have several theories about this burial ground. Either it is a Zoroastrian burial, or it simply is a collective burial ground. While none of these assumptions have yet been confirmed, their study will continue.