Vayots Sar – Volcano that destroyed a large city on the Silk Road in Armenia

The tragic tale of Pompeii, wiped out by Vesuvius, is famous across the world, yet few people are aware that in the ancient Vayots Dzor region of Armenia, a similar story unfolded. There once stood the city of Moz, which was obliterated by the eruption of Vayots Sar in the year 735.

Nestled in the province of Vayots Dzor, this volcanic mountain is found 6 km northwest of the village of Gerger and 3 km southwest of Karmrashen. The locals have given the mountain the unsettling nickname “Gizh,” meaning “Crazy.”

Mount Vayots Sar holds the distinction of being the youngest extinct volcano in Armenia. A devastating eruption 600 years before the recorded era saw the city of Moz, which had a population of 10,000, consumed by lava.

During those times, Moz was among the largest cities in the world and a significant stop on the Great Silk Road. This catastrophic event surpasses even the infamous destruction of Pompeii in 79 CE, both in the number of victims and the level of devastation.

Despite being dormant for over a millennium, the mountain’s menacing presence lingers among the local populace, still referred to by the ominous name “Bad, Crazy.”

The most recent eruption occurred in the year 735, an event that brought with it not just volcanic fury but accompanying earthquakes. The destruction wrought was beyond measure, impacting cities and villages alike.

Vayots Sar stands tall at 2581 meters, with a prominent volcanic crater at its summit. This crater, characterized by its slender cone shape, descends to a depth of about 125 meters. In a testament to the resiliency of nature and human adaptability, these once-ravaged slopes now serve as pastures.

The tale of Vayots Sar and the lost city of Moz is a compelling reminder of nature’s power and unpredictability. It’s a part of Armenia’s rich history and geological heritage that awaits exploration by those intrigued by the world’s lesser-known natural wonders.

Vigen Avetisyan

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