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Agarak 1: History


Agarak Historic Site is located in the southern foothills of Mt. Aragats on the western bank of the Amberd River and covers an area of 200 hectares, a portion of which (118 hectares) is located inside the Agarak Historic-Cultural Preserve. Excavations began here in 2001 by the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia.

Agarak's entire site and surrounding area is covered by gigantic rock and stone carved structures & complexes, most related to settlement in the Early Bronze Age. Using unique reliefs created by the area’s tufa flows, Agarak's ancient inhabitants transformed the landscape with considerable effort into a massive collection of stone structures.

For dozens of hectares downstream of the Amberd River you will find a continual line of tufa cliffs, passages, rock hills, natural plateaus and freestanding blocks of stone. Their surfaces bear traces of intensive stone work; sides of cliffs and platforms are carved with niches and stair-like platforms are among other man-made structures.

All of these structures - including an unbroken series of round, horseshoe-shaped structures linked by channels and trapezoidal "sacrificial altars," - transform an otherwise natural landscape into a massive monument; a collection of cultic structures with man-made ensembles around the plateaus and in the spaces between.

Before excavations at Agarak, no evidence existed on the Armenian Highland of a “Cult landscape” this large (200 hectares), though direct parallels are known at Central Asia Minor Hittite-Phrygian monuments (Khattusa-Boghazkyoy, “Midas city”, Pishmish Kale, Asar Kale, Kyohnyush Kale, Avdilas Kale, Yazlkaya, Osman-kayasi, Giavourkale, Beyikyoy and others).

Most of the substantial stone structures recorded at these monument groups repeat Agarak’s patterns exclusively. Researchers on the whole conclude that rock platforms rich with similar carvings are cult-worship structures. Moreover, some of them are considered to be Hittite and others Phrygian phenomena, correlated to Kibela worship – the Great Mother Goddess, ruler of mountains, forests and animals, insuring their inexhaustible fertility.

This text is provided by the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia.