How much interesting can be discovered on the slopes of the mountains in Armenia, what it reminds of, and how it differs from finds in other countries.
Since the early 1970s, the world has been discussing the mysteries of tens of thousands of geoglyphs on the Nasca plateau in southern Peru in the form of drawings, geometric shapes, and amazing lines and stripes. These figures on an area of 50 sq. km – from simple straight lines going for many kilometers and going beyond the horizon, to gigantic and complex drawings of animals and insects, attract the attention of researchers for several decades.
Perfectly straight lines and stripes go beyond the horizon, crossing dried-up river beds, climbing hills, and yet not deviating from their direction, although even modern geodetic methods do not allow drawing a straight line up to 8 kilometers long in such a way that the deviation does not exceed 0.1 degrees.
Their main mystery is that they are only visible from a great height, that is, they can only be seen from an airplane. And the local Nasca culture, which is believed to have created all this, dates between 500 BC and 500 AD.
It is clear that the ancestors of the Indians did not have balloons, let alone airplanes. So for whom were they created and how were they made? So far, neither archaeologists nor geologists have come up with any clear explanation for this phenomenon. Moreover, even parts of the mountain peaks are cut off with a quite even cut, which is impossible to explain either by natural causes, because such things do not happen in nature, or by artificial ones, since the ancients simply could not have the technology for such results. But the results, as they say, are visible to the naked eye.
It is also virtually impossible to do this by hand. Moreover, despite the fact that the desert surface here is such that a car, even if it has driven through it once, leaves tire tracks, there are virtually no trail traces on the Nasca plateau. That is, all these numerous people who carried out earthworks to make stripes hundreds and thousands of meters long, did not even leave traces of their feet and trodden paths anywhere.
Cultural layers around the Nasca lines have also not been found, so it was not possible to date their creation, as well as the cutting of mountain peaks. In general, a mystery upon a mystery. And the more, the better. There are not so many similar artifacts in the world, sometimes some resemblance to Peruvian figures is found, but not on such a scale and quantity. But, despite their such large size, even the figures of the Nasca plateau are indistinguishable to the naked eye from the ISS.
It should be noted that Armenia, as a highland, has a lot in common with Peru. Russian researchers, who have visited both places, have noticed a lot in common, and once in Syunik, seeing llamas from Peru in a private zoo, they stated that the similarity is complete.
Take, for example, the “Doors of Mgher” — “Gate of God”. The Peruvians have their own analogs, they call them Aramu Muru (also the Gate of Gods), which strongly reminds the name of one of the legendary Armenian kings (King of Urartu Arame (Aramu) – ed.), which is still given to boys.
Moreover, if our memories of the “Doors of Mgher” have remained only in tradition, then modern Indians still hold certain rituals at their sanctuaries, which researchers believe are related to altered states of consciousness.
In general, there are quite a few interesting and difficult to explain coincidences, but there is one that doesn’t exactly resemble the Nasca lines in appearance but surpasses them in scale. These are the remains of cyclopean fortresses on the slopes of Aragats, not only of the mountain itself but also of the mountain range around it. Today only the foundations of these ancient fortresses in the form of remnants of the lower rows of masonry remain, but the most striking thing is not so much that they also stretch for thousands of meters, but that they are visible from Space. Therefore, anyone can view them in Google Earth.
The classification of ancient fortresses in the Aragats mountain area was first carried out at the end of the 1920s by the famous architect and archaeologist, a researcher of the history of Armenian architecture, Toros Arutyunovich Toramanyan (1864—1934). He attributed the most ancient fortresses even to the Neolithic. In the Near East, the Neolithic began about 9500 years BC and lasted until the 4th-5th millennium BC. But Toramanyan’s conclusions were not universally accepted later.
Cyclopean fortresses, like the Nazca geoglyphs, hold many mysteries in and of themselves. It can even be said that what we know about them pales in comparison to what remains unknown. Even their dating is very approximate and averaged. Archaeologists explain this by the absence of organic remains, without which it is impossible to apply the radiocarbon dating method. Or, the found organics, which are dated, for example, to the Bronze Age, may be much later than the time of construction.
This is easy to understand with a simple example: if someone in the 18th century made, say, a barbecue near Erebuni, then when discovering organic material in the form of remnants of a feast, that is, bones, one cannot conclude that Erebuni itself was built at the same time, and it is only 300 years old when it is well known that it is over 2,800 years old. The same problem is everywhere.
Several hundred of the oldest fortresses in the Armenian Highlands belong to a relatively poorly studied category of monuments. They are commonly referred to as Cyclopean fortresses. These are the earliest examples of Armenian fortresses. The main type of stonework of the Cyclopean fortresses was laid almost universally without mortar.
The only exception, where the oldest masonry was applied with mortar, is a small structure in Goshavank, which even visually sharply differs from all the surrounding medieval structures.
In the Gegham Mountains and on the slopes of Mount Aragats, there are many semi-ruined Cyclopean castles. They are scattered over a fairly large area to the south and southwest. A multi-year international expedition led by the famous archaeologist Boris Gasparyan discovered them on the southwestern end of the Aragats massif, near the village of Dalarik in the eastern part of the Armavir region, 58 km west of Yerevan and 20 km from the Armenian-Turkish state border.
The Dalarik-1 cave is located nearby, which was discovered by an Armenian-Japanese joint expedition in 2018 in the canyon of the Mastaraghehagat River (a tributary of the Araks River). There, 130 stone artifacts from the Acheulean period and remnants of fauna were found. The age of the Acheulean layer there ranges from 600 to 500 thousand years.
It is clear that the fortresses surrounded and protected ancient cities and settlements. But nothing of them remains today. This fact, as well as the fact that only the lower rows remain from the fortresses themselves, has a simple and banal explanation. Stones, as a building material, the local population has been dispersing for their needs for thousands of years. These areas have been densely populated since ancient times, and why let the resources go to waste. From the remains of the walls, it is difficult to conclude what they looked like in ancient times. But there are places where a little more has remained from the ancient structures.
Megaliths of Aragats
On the slope of Mount Aragats, on the south side, in the vicinity of the village of Avan, there are also many ruins of Cyclopean settlements and fortresses, and even a semi-ruined ancient road 5 km long, leading to the distant village of Khusik at an altitude of about 2000 m, where virtually no one lives today.
Further, a couple of kilometers up, there is the megalithic fortress of Dzunaberd, which historians attribute to 3000 BC. It stands on an elevation and is built of large boulders weighing several tons at the bottom and relatively small stones at the top. Many of them are scattered around by frequent earthquakes.
The fence consists of 2 concentric rows of large blocks. The large size of the blocks in the outer layer of masonry surprises researchers, as it is unclear why the builders used such large stones when there are plenty of small ones around. Probably for the strength of the foundation, but then it is unclear how weights weighing many tons were dragged for the collection of such masonry. It’s hard to work with such weight even on plains, let alone in the mountains – it’s almost impossible. Probably that’s why they were not dispersed afterwards, they simply could not.
In general, here, as on the Nazca Plateau, the result is obvious, but how it was achieved is unknown. And its purpose can only be guessed. From the building on the top of the hill, almost the entire Ararat valley is visible, so it could serve not only for protection but also for observing movements in the valley. Inside, you can see something like a dolmen burial and a “fire altar” for sacred rituals.
We still do not know exactly what the fortresses on the slopes of Aragats looked like originally and when they were built, but there is evidence that they may be much older than the traditional Bronze Age dating. This is all gradually being clarified. Thanks to new data in geology and paleoclimatology, the conclusions of Toros Toramanyan, who attributed the most ancient fortresses to the Neolithic, are being confirmed today. These discoveries deserve a separate story.
The author thanks Boris Gasparyan for the provided photos.
Translated by Vigen Avetisyan