Ancient Caves In Vayots Dzor Province – Armenia

Dozens of man-made caves have been found in Vayots Dzor Province. Some of them are tombs carved into the rocks that were turned into chapels in the Middle Ages.

According to the director of the Institute of Archeology of the Academy of Sciences of Armenia Pavel Avetisyan, the institute plans to begin a thorough study of the “doors of Mher” and other caves in the Vayots Dzor region of the republic.

The monument is located in the village of Yelpin, on the highway from Yerevan to the town of Yeghegnadzor. A rectangular depression in the form of a large door is carved into the rock, and a niche of three to four meters has been cut behind it.

The monument was named after the hero of the national epic “David of Sasun”. The son of David, Mher the Young, retired from worldly life, unable to bear its injustice, and is waiting for the day of his return and the creation of the kingdom of good.

The main “door of Mher” is located in Western Armenia, in the mountains near Lake Van. Near it, rock inscriptions of the Urartian king Ishpuini (grandfather of Argishti, founder of the Erebuni fortress) have been preserved.

The rock door itself was dedicated to the cult of deity Khaldi. In several other places of the Armenian Highlands, there are similar structures, which, by analogy, are also called “the door of Mher”.

“One of these has been preserved in Yelpin. We have already begun excavations there and will continue them in the summer. We work slower than we could because we have to dig right in the middle of the village, by the road,” Avetisyan explained.

Archaeologists will try to compare in detail this “Mher door” with the one that remains in the mountains near Van.

In general, in Yeghegnadzor Province, archaeologists have recorded unexpectedly many rock structures, many of which are attributed to the kingdom of Urartu. In the Middle Ages, under the Orbelian princes, the Urartian tombs carved into the rocks turned into Christian chapels. But some of them were built in the 13th-14th centuries.

In some caves, the remains of water mills were also found.

“In Vayots Dzor, around the town of Yeghegnadzor, in every gorge, one can find such man-made caves, and many of them resemble the Urartian ones,” Avetisyan said.

Needless to say, the caves were not cut in basalt or granite – there were no tools strong enough for processing stone in those times. But even for rocks of medium hardness, high-quality chisels would still be needed. Following the traces they left on the stones, scientists will try to figure out what they have been made of and in what shape.


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