Erebuni excavation

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Erebuni 13: Wheat Flora. Urartian Agriculture

 Urartian Agriculture

Agriculture and livestock breeding was essential to the city's economic life. The Urartians built massive water canals, some of which are still in use to this day. Archaeological excavations have shown that vegetables, grains (wheat, barley, millet, oats), sesame hemp, legumes (lentil and chick pea), as well as fruit (apple, peach, walnut, pomegranate, cherry, grape and plum) were grown in the area. Grape seeds found here showed twelve varieties of grape from this period in the Ararat valley, among them Voskehat (Kharji), Mskhali (Ararat), Hachabash and some varieties of black grape. These ancient varieties are still grown in modern Armenia.

The grain varieties used to make beer stored inside the citadel – wheat, barley, millet, oats - are endemic to Armenia, one of the early areas of the world to cultivate plants. 9th century BCE cuneiform point to widespread cultivation of wheat across the Armenian plateau while archeological study indicate long-term cultivation of grains (wheat, barley, rye, millet, oats) used for flour, the round millet breads Urartians ate and the fermented spirits they drank.

What may surprise you is that among the wild flowers that still inhabit the slopes of this very hill, you cans till find wild barley, the prototype of double-row and six-row varieties. Locals have used these barley varieties to make beer from ancient times.


Iris elegantissima ,
Amberboa moschata ,
Scorzonera papposa,
Tomanthea aucheri,
Xeranthemum squarrosum,
Centaurea carduiformis,
Centaurea depressa ,
Centaurea erivanensis and 3 species of Triticum

Wild wheat (Triticum L.)

T. boeoticum Boiss.,
T. urartu Tum. ex Gandiljan*
T. araraticum Jakubz. *

* Species T. Urartu and T. araraticum first were discovered and described in Armenia.


Original text provided by Erebuni Historical and Archaeological Museum-Preserve and the Institute of Botany for the Armenian National Academy of Sciences, edited by the Armenian National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS-ARMENIA).