The Excavations of Tigranakert of Artsakh

The Excavations of Tigranakert of Artsakh

In 2017, another stage of archaeological excavations in Tigranakert of Artsakh was completed. It has lasted 40 days.

According to the head of the expedition Hamlet Petrosyan, for such an enormous project, 40 days is too short. Nevertheless, a lot has been done during this time – excavations were carried out at 2 sites. 2 epochs of the heyday of the city were studied – one is the period of the foundation of Tigranakert and the other the early Christian times.

A new part of the fortress wall was found in the fortified quarter. Here, the architecture is very expressive and provides plenty of information about the high level of craftsmanship of the past.

According to architect Lyuba Kirakosyan, the excavations show that the architecture of the city was developed and designed in advance. It should be noted that from the point of view of building art of that era, the city is a classic, reference model.

In the early Christian square, archaeological works have been carried out in the western (urban) part of a large church, and it should be said that it occupies a substantial territory. It is the size of this territory that suggests that there should have been traces of large administrative structures.

According to Hamlet Petrosyan, such excavation sites require large amounts of work, and the insignificant fragments discovered every year not always provide an idea of the big picture.

Excavations in the early Christian area were carried out at 2 spots – the first is the tonirs (type of oven) dating to the 12th-13th centuries and part of the foundation (columns) located nearby, while the second spot is the neighborhood of the western entrance to the city.

Archaeologist Tatyana Vartanesova, the head of the archaeological excavations in the early Christian square, notes that this place is particularly noteworthy because the archaeological layers here begin from the 3rd century and reach as far as the 12th-13th centuries.

Each layer has its own features. Moreover, it’s noteworthy that the chronology hasn’t been interrupted, and although there is some confusion, the general line nevertheless remains.

This year, right next to the fortress wall in Tigranakert, red burial vessels were discovered. They date back to the 2nd-3rd centuries and are notable in that they contain important material about the spread of the Armenian element and open up a wide field for research.

Given the political changes of the era, we conclude that there were periods of decline and prosperity in the area. And this is a very common occurrence which can also be said about the early Christian square, said Hamlet Petrosyan.

Any monument – historical, cultural, or archaeological – involves popularization. In addition to excavations, the expedition is also engaged in the activities of the academic popularization of the monument, and there are also successes here.

It is for this purpose that it is envisaged to photograph the city also from above, which will provide a more complete picture of the city. Being a reference city, Tigranakert also interests foreign specialists, but their involvement in the archaeological works requires financial resources.

In historical and archaeological terms, Tigranakert still has many unsolved secrets, and only time will tell what other mysteries are kept in its depths. But one thing is clear – this small part of our homeland has become a favorite place for many of us.

Armine Hayrapetyan, “Azat Artsakh”

Արցախի Տիգրանակերտը/Tigranakert of Artsakh (Karabakh)

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