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Aghtsk 1: Map, Introduction

 Map, Introduction 

The architectural and historical complex of Aghstk includes a 5th century church reconstructed in the 19th century as well as a 4th century crypt housing the bones of the Arshakuni kings.

According to 5th century historian Pavstos Buzand, troops of the Sassanid king Shapuh II destroyed the Arshakuni ancestral burial place at Ani-Kamah and “captured the Arshakuni Kings' remains, failing only to open the burial vault of King Sanatruk which was an enormous and incredibly strong and ingeniously built structure.”

The remains of the other kings were carried to Persia in an effort to dispirit the Armenians and according to legend thereby eclipse their power. The Sparapet Vasak Mamikonian (ca. mid 4th century), after defeating the Persians in battle, retook the bones and carried them to the newly built mausoleum church here, where they were reburied, pagan kings separated from Christian in the lower chamber, thus restoring the prestige of the kingdom.

The mausoleum continued to be used until the 5th century when the line of Arshakuni kings ended. It eventually fell to invasions and earthquakes and the later historian, Movses Khorenatsi, wrote that a decision was finally made to inter them in Vagharshapat (Echmiadzin).

Text edited by ICOMOS-Armenia, approved by the Ministry of Culture for the Republic of Armenia.