Category Archives: ARCHAEOLOGY



Hagop M. Tcholakian

Key words – Hambushie village; Aramo villege, Lattakia’s region; villages with Armenian population; Catholicos Mkhitar Garnertsi; tower; lithography, lithographic fragment; bridge, fountain, stone-cutter rooms.

The article presents the content of Armenian migration in the Middle Ages in northern-western regions of Syria and speaks about the lithographic record drawn up at upper stone door of the tower of Hambushie by the Catholicos of Mkhitar Garnertsi, which complete copy has come to us by Zakaria vartabed of Zumurnia. Now, the village is completely cleared of the Armenians. The tower is completely destroyed and at the same in this area the mentioned lithographic fragment has been found on the wall of one of the houses built in the middle of the 20th century. Other Armenian relic of antiquity such as rocks, bridges, fountains is presented.



Murad M. Hasratyan

Key words – fortress-church; monastery- fortress; Middle Ages; defensive wall; fences; sacristies; pyramids; felting constructions, refectory

In Middle Ages in Armenia in addition to fortresses and monasteries separate churches were also used for defense. There are two architectural groups of fortress-churches in Armenia. The first group includes those churches, which were initially built for defensive purposes, for instance the one-nave basilica of Agarak (IV century), the church and the vestibule of the monastery of Arakelots in Ijevan (XIII century), a three-storied fortress-church of Sedvi (XIII century).]

The second larger group includes the churches that were converted into fortresses in the Middle Ages. the Ashtarak basilica (V century), the Tsiranavor church in Parbi (V century), the central-cupola church in Mastara (VII century), etc., were surrounded by walls without towers, while the churches of Kumayri (VII century), Jrapi ( VII century), Noragavita (X-XI centuries) Ashnak (X-XI centuries) were surrounded by walls with semi-circular pyramid towers. Over the roof of the Shirakavank cathedral (IX century) a room for the defenders was built.

In the architecture of the fortress-churches their genetic connection with the fortification art of medieval Armenia is definitely manifested and the innovation is that it is an original combination of the compositions of the cult building and the defensive structure.



Arsen E. Harutyunyan

Key words – Khachkar (cross stone), memorial inscription, church, arrangement, rosette, east, window, the front of altar bema, benefactor.

Khachkars (cross-stones) take a special place in a number of monuments of Medieval Armenia, about which numerous albums, researches and articles have been published. Our immediate reference is related to the khachkars placed on the walls of the churches dating from the 17-18th centuries and and created simultaneously with them. These khachkars have so far not been awarded any attention yet.

As shown by our research, the discussed khachkars are primarily distinguished by their compositional features. In particular, they are characterized by: simplicity of decorative ornaments, ornamental belt and cross in the form of braids, undecorated areas on the cross, the absence of a rosette at the base of the palmettes. The latter circumstance can be explained by the fact that the khachkars were usually built into the upper part of the church walls, and the church itself took the role of the rosette in this case. Similarly, the placement of the khachkars above the window is explained, when the window replaces the rosette forming the compositional unity with the cross, and, being conditioned by the semantics of light, obviously symbolizes Christ and the «star-light» coming of the cross.

The examined cross-stones primarily decorate the eastern walls of the churches, which symbolizes the idea of the direction of the Second Coming of J. Christ. Similar khachkars were also built in the central part of the outer walls, above the main entrance, into the base of the altar, etc. Apparently, this is explained by the perception of the khachkar as an intermediary between the God and the believer.

Some memorable inscriptions are often placed on the built-in khachkars. The latter transmit documentary information about the creation of the building, the customer and his relatives, the caretaker of the church, and sometimes the master-builder of the church.

The examined type of late medieval khachkars is distinguished mainly by its compositional, functional and memorable features, thanks to which the art of creating khachkars found its new and original manifestation also in the 17th-18th centuries.



Arsen E. Harutyunyan

Key words – epitaph, manuscript, copyist, ordination, customer, art of copying, monument, seal.

Archbishop Ghunkianos Ashtaraketsi, a cenobite of St. Etchmiadzin, a prominent clerk of the second half of the 18th century, the notary, encyclicalist of the catholicoses of Simeon I Yerevantsi (1763-1780) and his successor Ghukas I Karnetsi (1780-1799), the “det” of the city of Yerevan (controller, overseer), is one of the most proficient spiritual figures of the Armenian church. The literary merit of clerk Ghukianos is presented by around ten cursive manuscript writings (N 2, 1880, 2289, 2499, 2646, 2652, 3281, 7424, 10853) generally preserved at Mashtots Institute of Manuscripts.

The names of some of the initiators of the above-mentioned manuscripts prompt that Ghukianos used to be one of the most prominent and talented scribes of his time to whom the responsible work of writing the manuscripts was entrusted by the respective persons. For example, by the order and under the Catholicos Hakob V Shamakhetsi (1759-1763) Ghunkianos wrote the manuscript N 2646 in 1761 which the record of the manuscript testifies about.

The annals on ordaining Ghunkianos Ashtaraketsi spiritual degrees is best manifested in the ordination lists of the catholicoses Simeon and Ghukas of N 2882 manuscript of “Chronicle of ordinations” (N 2882) preserved in Matenadaran after Mashtots. Among them the register compiled by Catholicos Simeon is an important and trustworthy document in regard with the biographies of St. Etchmiadzin friary of the second half of the 18th century. According to the register Ghunkianos Ashtaraketsi was ordained a deacon under the Catholicos of Simeon Yerevantsi in 1763, a monk in 1771, a preceptor (abuna, vardapet) in 1772 and under Ghukas Karnetsi Ghunkianos he was granted a degree of an bishop in 1781. After three years in 1784, Ghunkianos, usually mentioned as a “clerk”, was granted an “ultimate wand” which is, perhaps, dignifying with a title of archbishop.

“Gavazanagirk” (chronicle of kings and patriarchs) is an inseparable part of a literary merit of Ghunkianos Ashtaraketsi continued by the latter on the order of Catholicos Simeon, a work commenced by Avetik Tigranakertsi still in the beginning of the 18th century and later replenished by Hakob Shamakhetsi (1743). Gyut Aghanyants took the ordination list of Catholicos Simeon from the mentioned work. N 1492 manuscript “Digest” of Matenadaran after Mashtots contains the very work of author-writers Avetik Tigranakertsi, Hakob Shamakhetsi, and then Ghunkianos: N 7424 manuscript of Matenadaran (written in 1743, 1751, 1763 in Etchmiadzin), as well as N 6243 manuscript later copied by the clerk of mahdesi (pilgrim of Jerusalem) Hambardzum Harutyunyan in Alexandropol in 1847 also have the same context.

The circular or octagon seal bearing the name of Ghukianos Ashtaraketsi has preserved in a series of manuscripts of Matenadaran mainly written in Etchmiadzin (N 704, 710, 874, 1100, 1546, 1576, 2182, 2289, 2340, 8763, 9563 etc.) on which it was usually mentioned: “SERVANT OF CHRIST, PRECEPTOR GHUNKIANOS” (ՔՐԻՍՏՈՍԻ ԾԱՌԱՅ ՂՈԻՆԿԻԱՆՈՍ ՎԱՐԴԱՊԵՏ); they are mainly dated by the years of 1760-1780. This fact also testifies about the high position and status of a leading notary in the face of Ghunkianos in the Holy See of St. Echmiadzin.

It is noteworthy that Ghukianos died at the end of the 18th century from the plague epidemic. According to the inscription of his recently found cradleform gravestone in the monastic cemetery of St. Etchmiadzin it took place on February 6 of 1798. His mother rests in the same cemetery and where, according to her gravestone epitaph, she is the mother of; “…the lord Ghunkianos, the clerk of the God-descended throne” «…պետին Ղունկիանոսի, Աս տուածաէջ գահիս գըրչի…».



Nzhdeh A. Yeranyan

Key words – menhir, the vishap stone stelae, anthropomorphic stone stelae, Artsakh, Utik, Scythian culture, Arjaq Qaleh.

The artistic treatment of stone in South Caucasian region has been known for millennia. There are various known menhirs, vishap stelae, phallic and anthropomorphic stelae, etc. This assemblage could be followed until various stelae of the medieval period. During this long chronological period, all forms of stelae changed morphologically, typologically and semantically, but, most probably, had certain ideological similarities. The anthropomorphic stelae of eastern regions of historical Armenia (Artsakh and Utik provinces) are of a special importance but still remain unstudied. In this article are presented these anthropomorphic stone stelae, problems of their chronology, iconography and ideology.

The mentioned stelae are flat and prolonged slabs, approximately rectangular in section, that are divided into three parts by two horizontal lines: the head, the body and the part below the waist. The stelae are 30-60 cm wide, 120-140 cm high and up to 20 cm thick. There are seventeen stelae of this type known in the mentioned region. Each stela will be described in our paper separately.

The stone anthropomorphic stelae, which were accidentally found in Artsakh and surrounding plain territories, judging by their iconography, morphological specifics as well as through comparison with famous parallels from the neighboring regions, could be dated back to VII-VI cc. BC. Despite the fact that monumental sculpture is widespread, has a long history and appears separately in each ethno-cultural group, we are using the data about similar anthropomorphic stelae in the region to discuss the ideology of the stelae under discussion, to reconstruct their importance and ethno-cultural environment as well as to interpret them. These anthropomorphic sculptures are similar to the Scythian stone anthropomorphic sculptures known from the Northern Caucasus, Black Sea basin, Crimea, etc. The Scythian stelae, as a rule, represent the Scythian warrior (probably an ancestor) and were placed on burials. Currently, there are 160 stelae of that type.

Similar stelae we meet also in Iranian steppes. Тhese stelae were first described during Charles Burney`s Meskinsahr survey in 1978 .

Thus, as a result of the study of these stelae, we could gain some idea about the beliefs, ideology and history of the people who created them. It allows us to understand the history of artistic phenomena and of the historical environment in which this art was formed. It is possible that the stone anthropomorphic stelae under consideration depicted the dead or heroes, soldiers or high-ranked males. These monuments “immortalized” the memory of the deceased and were objects of memorial ceremonies devoted to them.



Astghik A. Babajanyan, Artavazd S. Zaqyan

The complex of Selim caravanserai was built in 1332 by prince Chesar Orbelyan according to the bilingual inscription. It consists of the main three-nave hall, the antechamber and the building adjacent to the antechamber.

In 2012 the joint expedition group of the Institute of archaeology and ethnography NAS RA and “The Service for the protection Historical Environment and Cultural Museums Reservation” Non Commercial State Organization of the RA Ministry of Culture carried out excavations in the territory of the Selim caravanserai. The aim of the excavations was to ascertain the functional role of the building adjecent to the east of antechamber as well as to check the durability of building foundation.

The excavations disproved the identity of the adjacent building as a chapel (which had been known in extant literature), and likewise disproved the presence of the door in the south side as it was marked in past measurements. The entry was found in the west side of the building, which is connected with the antechamber.

The majority of the found artifacts are pottery of the XIII-XIV c. which has parallels in ceramic production of simultaneous monuments of Armenia. A collection of metal artifacts was found, consisting of a large needle, fragments of a door lock, shoes for oxen and stone working tools, as well as a fragment of an obsidian knife blade.

As the results of excavations several versions were raised regarding the functional meaning of the adjacent building (refectory, staff apartments, hall for commercial exchanges, guardhouse) which will be supported or contradicted by further excavations. The new excavations revealed various previously unknown facts, enriching the historical-cultural description of the Selim caravanserai.



Arsen E. Harutyunyan

The writer and miniaturist of the 18th century Yeremia archbishop Oshakantsi is buried in the monastic cemetery of St. Echmiatsin. His prolific activity was particularly remarkable during the reign of the Catholicos Simeon Yerevantsi (1763-1780), as it is also evidenced by the epitaph.

Some manuscripts painted by him are kept in the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts “Matenadaran” (N 1056, 1817, 2646, 2891, 2892, 10677). These were studied by art specialist A. Gevorgyan. The miniatures of Yeremia Oshakantsi are especially distinguished by their painting peculiarities: here the bright colors and gold are predominant.

The data about Yeremia Oshakantsi is preserved in the publications of Maghakia archbishop Ormanyan and Gyut senior priest Aghanyants. The epitaph, which is represented in this article, accomplishes and verifies the existing facts about his life and manuscript activity.



Hamlet L. Petrosyan

The anthropomorphic relieves of the Artsakh khachkars are the unique manifestation in the culture of khachkars. It is not occasional, that young Hovsep Orbeli paid special attention to the suc composistions during his scientific trip to Khachen in 1909, and he wrote the separate article dedicated on this matter. The researcher only decribed thirteen setips, and tried to find out the sources of their origination, time, as well as the images’ identity considering them as the unique display of the Armenian culture. However, later, while studying the sculptural images again, Orbeli tried to display them as manifestation of the “Albanian” culture. This circumstance was taken by Azerbaijani researchers as a chance for their attempts to “albanization” the khachkars of Artsakh.

In the present aricle the ceration chronology, the main themes and images and the folk roots of the anthropomorphic composition are presented on base of examination of the more than hundred khackars, as well as the reasons of considering them as “Albanians” by Orbeli are revealed.


Preliminary observation according to the information of the field investigations in the basin of the river of Aghavno


Gagik M. Sargsyan, Artak V.Gnuni, Aleksan H. Hakobyan

Though the investigation of the eastern Syuniq (the territory of Qashatagh Region of NKR) began in the XIX century, there are many unsolved problems in the history of the region. In particular, ancient settlements and fortresses of the region still have not been sufficiently examined. By the comparison of Google Earth Map’s data and field investigations, more than 30 fortresses dating from II-I mil. B. C. were fixed. In this period there was the system of fortified settlements along the river of Agavno and its inflows as well as the main roads.



Arsen E. Harutyunyan
Stephanos Lehatsi is one of the famous clergymen, theologians, philologists and philosophers of the 17th century. He was born in Lvov. Since 1630’s he arrived to Vagharshapat. Stephanos was ordained archimandrite by Philipos Catholicos (1632-1655) and he began religion activity. He translated a number of scientific, theological works from Latin and Polish into Armenian.

Tombstone of Stephanos Lehatsi is situated on the eastern side of St. Hripsime Monastery, but the date of death is almost illegible in the epitaph. Due to that reason a number of researchers noted the date of death approximately, especially in 1680-1699. Taking into account the above-mentioned facts, the gravestone was cleaned and the epitaph was investigated thoroughly. In the end of the investigation it was found out that exact date of death of Stephanos Lehatsi is 1689.