Erebuni excavation

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Erebuni 6: Defense walls


Look around and try to imagine the same view Urartian guards saw from this point, erasing Yerevan's modern high-rises and replacing them with a large settlement of low mud brick houses ringing the hill. The citadel had a commanding view not only of the lower cramped town with a warren of small houses and narrow streets, but also of the entire Ararat valley and the second north stronghold Teishebaini (Karmir Blur) and Argishtikhinili (Armavir). That was its first defense.

As a second defense, it was common practice in Urartu, like elsewhere in the ancient Near East, to surround settlements and cities with defensive walls or include a fortified citadel in order to survive protracted sieges. Such fortifications served other purposes; some were built to protect the land and its population, others as administrative centers or base stations for military campaigns.


The citadel's massive walls include both original (lower) and reconstructed (upper) stones. The foundation of the original wall was 2 meters high, laid with huge rough-cut stones, whereas the upper part was made of large rectangular and square mud-bricks. The outer walls were up to 3.5 meters thick, and the inner walls were 2.1 meters thick. Due to the hill relief the height of the walls ranged from 6 to 12 meters.

The abutments of the outer walls not only turn the fortress into a monumental structure, but made it seismically resistant, which was a key factor given the strong earthquakes typical of the Armenian highland.

The massive walls were finished with watch-towers, especially at the gate, which not only provided a clear view of the city below, but also helped to communicate with other fortresses in the region through bonfires and beacons.

In order to insure the citadel’s impregnable defense, the walls included a unique Trap-Wall  built in three rows which allowed sentinels above to attack invaders caught in the narrow corridor below.


Original text edited by Erebuni Historical and Archaeological Museum-Preserve and the Armenian National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS-ARMENIA).