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Amberd 3: The Castle (4). Water Supply (6). Bath (8)

The Castle (4)

The three-story building (1,500 sq. m) is made from rough hewn blocks of basalt, its tower walls inclined to make it easier to fire on attackers below. The floors are separated from each other with planks clinched on logs. The two lower floors had five rooms each, arranged in a row so one entered the next through the previous room with an irregularly shaped hallway separated from the three central rooms by an internal wall.

The upper floors held the reception areas and private apartments. The configuration is assumed to have been this way from the castle's creation with little change, except to the décor, which was lavish and comfortable for its royal inhabitants.

The inside of the castle would have been sumptuous. Fragments uncovered during the excavation showed a rich design; rooms were decorated with elegant carvings, oil-lamps and incense holders, the walls decorated with silks, brocades and bronze, gold and silver ornaments.

The castle was burned during a Mongol raid and left destroyed until an excavation in 1936 determined its plan.

Water Supply (6)

Medieval keeps such as Amberd placed crucial importance on maintaining constant water flow, and if possible, secret or internal supply so that if attacking armies destroyed the primary viaduct (in this case terra cotta pipelines laid 4-5 km to damned reservoirs that caught upper sources of spring water and melting snow) the inhabitants could not be forced out dying of thirst. Amberd had such a passageway, a secret covered pathway located in a cleft in the rocks within the Arkashen River fortifications, descending in heart-stopping steep steps to the river.

In addition the castle had a water tank and cistern (6), which has been preserved, along with two larger within the walls, one of which was built for animals.

Bath (8)

The bath was constructed south of the castle in the 10th-11th centuries and included hypocaust heating (heating of the floors from below) and luxurious bathing rooms. The twin domed inner rooms were heated by means of forcing heat from a fire under the floor through special pipes that also ran up and inside the walls while hot water reached the bathing room through metal pipes. This method of heat—originating in Roman times—was a feature of castles and wealthy households throughout Armenia's medieval period.