Erebuni Museum

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Erebuni Museum Hall 1 - Display 3

 The demand for trained horses for cavalry and chariots furthered state policy to boost horse-breeding, especially around Lake Urmia's eastern shores. Ulduri-Etiuni (the Lake Sevan basin in modern Armenia) was a major cattle and equine center. It was from these highland valleys that the Urartian king Sarduri II confiscated 214,000 sheep and goats, 40,353 cattle and 3,500 horses.

There is a remarkable inscription by King Menua, found in Van, which tells about a horse race in which the king mounted his horse Artsibi (Artsiv means Eagle in Armenian) and made a long jump of 22 cubits (approximately 11.4 m).

Gardens, orchards and especially vineyards were well-developed in Urartu. This is shown by the discovery of seeds, stones, pits and charred remains of plums, grapes, pomegranates, apples, apricots, cherries, walnuts and watermelons. Viticulture was especially developed around Van, Aratsani Valley, Lake Urmia and Tigris river basins and the Ararat Valley. Some of the dozen-plus grape varieties still cultivated in the Ararat Valley – Voskehat (Kharji), Mskhali (Ararat), Hachabash and other varieties of black grapes – were also grown in Urartu. The survival and application of viticulture and wine-making traditions practiced in the Armenian Highlands contributes to the argument of an Armenian link with the ancient inhabitants of Urartu (Van Kingdom). 

Viticulture is inevitably linked with wine and Urartians were well versed in that process. They stored their wine in gigantic half-buried jars with hieroglyphs and cuneiform marks on them showing the amount inside. Cuneiform inscriptions tell us about units of measurement used in Urartu –“akarki” (240 liters) and “terusi” (1/10 or 1/9 akarki). The average capacity of the jars unearthed during excavations range from 750 to 1,500 liters. The total capacity of eight wine cellars found in Teishebaini (Karmir Blur) amounted to over 400,000 liters. Besides wine, similar jars also stored oil, flour and grain.

Urartians were also familiar with brewing spirits as shown by the unearthing of a brewery during 1958 Karmir Blur excavations, including a large tufa basin used for soaking barley or millet, pipes for draining fluids and more than 40 oblong vessels for storing beer. A number of historians wrote about beer in the Armenian Highlands including the Greek historian Xenophon who described the beer he drank in the land of Armena:

“There were stores within of wheat and barley and vegetables, and wine made from barley in great big bowls; the grains of barley malt lay floating in the beverage up to the lip of the vessel, and reeds lay in them, some longer, some shorter, without joints; when you were thirsty you must take one of these into your mouth, and suck. The beverage without admixture of water was very strong, and of a delicious flavor to certain palates, but the taste must be acquired