In 2003, reconstruction works began along the entire perimeter of the Republic Square in Yerevan, Armenia. After the top layer of the asphalt was removed, the remains of stone walls, tiles of black and red tuff, pieces of clay jugs, and clay water pipes appeared before the gaze of the builders.
The head of the Middle Ages Study Department of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences Grigor Gharakhanyan and employees Aghavni Zhamkochyan and Frina Babayan conducted on-site archaeological research.
As a result of the work carried out on the territory of the square and the nearest streets, well-preserved fragments of the 17th-century cellars, which were destroyed at the beginning of the last century, were discovered under the layer of asphalt.
As archaeologists assure, on the basis of the received materials, it can be concluded that the structures found under the building area have been a part of 17th-century buildings, which have been depicted by the French travelers Jean-Baptiste Tavernier and Jean Chardin in their panoramic drawings of Yerevan.
These findings show that Yerevan of the 17-18 centuries was not just a regular city but a trade and economic center. However, the full and thorough examination of this historical treasure did not succeed. The group of archaeologists managed to carry out study on three sites only.
According to Frina Babayan, as a result of hasty works to bring the square into a decent condition, the famous mosaic was built. “The territories we discovered were covered with earth and sand, and yet these buildings represent an important epoch of town-planning art, which we have hardly studied.”
By the way, Narek Sargsyan, the former chief architect of Yerevan, commented on this event, “Firstly, these are not monuments but the cellars of the destroyed houses of the old Astafyan street. Secondly, they were not destroyed but only covered with sand for future generations.”
Ten years later, a competition for the redesign of the Republic Square was announced, one of the main goals of which, according to Sargsyan, is the underground urbanization of the square. What will then remain for the next generations is not yet clear.