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Garni 4: The Garrison and khachkars

The Garrison and khachkars

Royal Garrison

To the right of you on the low hill is a series of 3rd-4th cc foundations, used as service buildings and to house the king's garrison. The main building has a similar composition to the summer palace next to the temple, with wooden pylons dividing the single nave room into sections and pilasters on the outer walls supporting the barrel vaulting.

The garrison protected the royal family while they were in residence and in times of threat. .


Abutting the foundation hill are a number of khachkars (stone crosses) and stones found during excavations. They include a tall example that is believed to have originally been a Bronze Age Vishap (dragon stone). Vishaps were an important part of pre-Christian worship practices, the tall stones situated at water sources and carved with the likeness of fish-like creatures with long sinewy tails. The carvings also included snake, ox, sheep, stork and sometimes other animal imagery.

When early Christians began the conversion of the country, they destroyed most of the country's Vishap stones, cutting some down into altar bases and erasing the dragon figure from others by obliterating their image, replacing it with an early form of khachkar.

The khachkars on this row represent the period of khachkar development from the early Christian era through medieval period.

The text was edited by ICOMOS/Armenia NGO.