Khor Virap

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Khor Virap 4: City Precincts: Hills. Districts. Artashat Coins. Seals

City Precincts: Hills

The city walls were more 10,000 meters long 5,000 of which were discovered during excavations in 1970-1986. The walls were 2.6-3.5 meters thick, with the inner wall topping out at 20-25 meters in height and the citadel walls at 50-55 meters.

Hill 1

This hill is to the farthest northeastern side of the complex, most easily reached by taking the northern road from the cemetery and car park. It was protected by a triangular set of walls and is the best preserved part of the project, completely excavated. The hill has the remains of the citadel and palace, a square, and the foundations of a main street, side streets and building foundations that can even be seen from satellite photos taken from space. Buildings include residential structures and blacksmith-armory workshops. Discovered on this area were 3,000 arrow-head spears, swords, daggers, a marble statue and fragments, pottery, glass work, ornamental metal pieces and other artifacts.


The other hills of the city were adapted to different uses; Hill 5 was a residential area. Excavations uncovered traces of large stoves, residential houses and the remains of a private archive. It is possible that a custom house and market square were located here.

Hills 7& 8 were inhabited by a mixture of ordinary and middle-rank citizens of Artashat, along with members of craft trades; discovered were evidences of pottery, lime, metal works and glass workshops.

Artashat Coins

Artashat was a famous center for trade. The 1265 AD Peutingeriana map [Figure 1] illustrates how Artashat was connected to Iran, Mesopotamia, Eastern Mediterranean cities and Asia Minor, Greek cities on the Black Sea and other trade centers of the Greek and ancient world.

Because Artashat was a large trade center, excavators found not only coins of the Artashes dynasty, but also gold, silver and copper coins from other trade capitals. Those struck in Artashat are interesting; on their obverse side, on the right, there is a depiction of Anahit-Artemis with a crown in the shape of a tower. The coin has the Greek inscription, “Artashat the Capital”.


Many of the 8,000 clay seals found at Artashat date to 180s BC to the year 59 and were found on the 5th and 8th hills. The number and origin of the seals show how far-reaching commerce was in Artashat; two archives were found along with around 30 types of seals with inscriptions and monograms in Aramaic and Greek.

This text was edited by Professor Zhores Khachatrian, Head of the Ancient Archeology Department of the Archeology and Ethnography Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia.