Armenia – Country of Stones – Karastan

Armenia - Country of Stones - Karastan“An Armenian was born on a stone, lived on a stone, laid a stone on a stone, climbed stones, raised stones. A child grew up in stones, played with stones, recognized a stone, strengthened like a stone,” Raphael Israelyan, 1982.

“Many people call Armenia ‘Karastan’ – a country of stone. ‘Kar’ is a primordially Armenian word that means ‘stone’,” Hrachia Adjarian.

The Armenian Highlands is an ancient territory that formed as a result of a volcano eruption. Here, one would find stones of various sizes and shapes. The ancestors of Armenians from ancient times, living in a rocky country, used the stone almost in all fields of activity.

“There are many different stones in Armenia, but you will hardly find illiterate ones. Carefully step on this earth, carefully communicate with every stone, be it rough and pockmarked or covered with moss and lichen.

Carefully, because it is worth scraping off a piece of moss of it. On each of them, you will see a drawing by a primitive man, then the cuneiforms of the times of the Kingdom of Van or earlier countries like the Aramaic, Hittite, or Chaldean states.

On the stones, you can also find many ornaments or bas-reliefs. Since the end of the 4th century, the stones have featured strong and hardy letters similar to iron staples that would remain inseparable from them for more than 1600 years.

These stones are not just literate – they bear our signature, they are ours… On each of them, there is a seal of the identity of our people…” Gevorg Emin, 1979.

Wise leaders erected cities and settlements, built roads and palaces, temples and reservoirs, canals and fortresses. Is it possible to build a fortress without a stone?

Many geographical names of ancient Armenian cities include the root “kar” (“qar”), such as Karby, Korcheg, Qarchavan, Paytakaran (1785 BC), Tayots-Qar, Artsvaqar, Korchayk (30 BC), Qaramlug, Karin (1785 BC), Qariri (1785 BC), Kars, Qarchemish (1785 BC), Qar-Sipar (840 BC), Karmrashen, Kordrik, Korduk, Teishebaini (Karmir-Blur), Arabkir, Karakilisa.

It should be noted that the ancient cities were given names consisting of the name of the builder and the ending “kert”: Mashkert, Tsolakert, Tigranakert, Bakurakert, Vardanakert, Makhkert, Artakatnakert, Hunarakert, Nprkert, Manazkert. The areas around these cities were famous for their stone mining sites and the availability of various building materials.

It is characteristic that some of them were built on the banks of rivers such as the Kur, Araxes, and the Euphrates.

How should stones be transported over long distances for city building? Obviously, the best way is to load them onto ships or rafts and sail them along rivers, lakes, and seas. The first ships were built for this purpose.

The ancient Babylonians did not know the building properties of stones (bricks), but they knew how to burn them. And where did they learn this from? From the countries neighboring Mesopotamia where there are many stones, from the territories of the Armenian Highlands and Egypt.

An excerpt from the book “The Stone Chronicle of Civilization”, Grigory Vahanian and Vahan Vahanian

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