In the world, there are not so many caves like Azokh. It is unique by its location on the pathway of ancient migrants.
The Azokh cave is one of the most famous sites of the Near East from Stone Age. It was mentioned more than once by ancient Armenian historians. During the Mongol-Tatar invasions here, in the Azokh cave, the lords of Amaras hid the treasures of Artsakh.
The cave has long been shrouded in mystery, and archaeologists have only begun to study it since the 60s. This ancient monument had entrances and exits from six labyrinthine halls.
The largest hall occupies an area of three thousand square meters. The walls of the huge round hall have a strange surface – it is like snakes are attached to them.
With strong electrical illumination, natural ornaments shine so brightly that it seems you are in an amazing palace. A special attraction to the miraculous palace is attached by huge stalactites and stalagmites reminiscent of icicles.
Here, for the first time in the cultural layer of the so-called Acheulian time, fossil remains of plant and animal life, traces of primitive art, stone tools of at least 700 000 years of age have been discovered.
From this hall, the corridors stretch in different directions. Eastern corridor connects the big hall with the next one. It appears that this corridor has always been kept in order at the time.
The end of the hallway is marked by the beginning of another hall. Decorated with stalactites, high arches divide the hall into several parts. The floor is uneven. You can even see some ponds on it.
In the cave, you can see plenty of stalagmites, carved stairs and passages. Various clay products, hewn stones, hundreds of animal bones have been found here.
It turns out that the first inhabitants of the cave had a rather rich diet. Among food remains, scientists have discovered bones of animals that have long been extinct.
Unlike the rest, the floor of the next, fourth hall, is smooth. It is quite dry as the groundwater does not leak here. The hall has only one entrance and, interestingly, the traces of human labor are most distinctly traced here.
It is very likely that this hall served as a cache or a kind of storage facility. From here, the corridor turns to the southwest and goes to the southern exit of the cave. At the entrance at a depth of 7 meters, archeologists found a fragment of the upper jaw of a Neanderthal, who lived in the Mousterian period.
The fragment, both in its structure and the location of the teeth, differs markedly from the jaw of a modern human. A detailed study showed that the jaw retained parts of the wisdom tooth and two other teeth. The discovery of the jaw of the first inhabitant of the Azokh cave is undoubtedly of great scientific importance.
Before that, the remains of Neanderthals were found in four places – Sidi Abdurahman (Morocco), Steinheim (Germany), Spanocomb (England), and Sedia del Diabolone (Italy). The jaw of a Neanderthal found in the Hadrut district of Artsakh is the number 5 in the scientific literature.
The Azokh cave is of paramount importance not only from the point of view of restoring the anatomical appearance of the Neanderthal man. It confirms that the territory of Armenia was part of the anthropogenesis and early human settlement. In addition to the four halls described, two more were subsequently found here. The length of the “paths” passing through the mysterious cave is 300 meters.
In the cave, more than 20 thousand bones of 43 different kinds of animals, about 6 thousand stone tools, and other items were found. Now, not all its secrets are revealed. This extensive primeval site, which has functioned for many millennia, is regularly studied and constantly presents the researchers with new discoveries.
Azokh, Artsakh: an Archeological Trove