Erebuni Museum

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Erebuni Museum Hall 1 - Display 1

 A number of cuneiform inscriptions show that construction of canals and reservoirs was a key part of Urartu's (Kingdom of Van) economic structure. The Urartian king Menua was especially renowned for constructing an extensive irrigation system that carried both potable and agricultural water from the Khoshab River to Tushpa – his capital in the modern city of Van. Menua's canal (80 km long, 4.5 m wide, and 1.5m deep) still supplies water to irrigate fields, orchards and vineyards around Van and 25 neighboring villages.

Another canal that functions to this day is the Umeshini canal built in the Ararat Valley by the Urartian king Rusa II. It flows from the Ildaruni (Hrazdan) River and runs along the Yerevan – Echmiadzin highway.

Irrigation was one of the most important prerequisites for Urartu's economic growth, enabling Urartians to develop agriculture, cattle breeding, gardening, viticulture, etc.

Urartians cultivated wheat, barley, millet, hemp, lentil and chick pea, plus sesame processed for oil. Charred remnants of these were unearthed during excavations in Karmir Blur (Teishebaini, 7th c. BCE). The grains were crushed with special tools in basalt mortars, and then ground into flour with rectangular and boat-shaped stone querns. They were then stored in granaries, the capacity of each measuring several thousand Kapis (a measurement unit). For example, the total capacity of Teishebaini granaries was about 750 metric tons.

The Assyrian king Sargon II left records of Urartian storehouse wealth. During his victorious raids into Urartu in 714, he found “full storerooms”, “immeasurable amount of barley” and “aromatic wine flowing like a river”.

The land of Aza (the Ararat Valley) was a major agricultural center in Urartu. The granaries in Argishtikhinili (now Armavir), Teishebaini (Karmir Blur) and Erebuni are noteworthy.


Cattle and other stock-breeding were Urartu's main economic engines, along with crops.

Numerous finds bear this out, including the remnants of sheep, swine, goat, cattle and other domestic animal bones; wild goat and hare bone remnants; ornaments made from bone; remnants of woolen fabric and dairy residue on bowls. Animal breeding is also included in Urartian and Assyrian religious and military cuneiform inscriptions. Urartians hunted and scenes depicting the hunt are well preserved in citadel murals and on bronze belts found in a tomb field at the bottom of Arin Berd.