Back to home

Noratus 1: Village History


Noratus (also called Noraduz, alt. 1934 m.) is an ancient site, with numerous Bronze and Iron Age monuments. Today's village was founded in 1829 but in the Middle Ages Noratus was also mentioned, as a rural town. Some believe that it is the regional fortress-town founded by Gegham Nahapet (patriarch), who called it Noratuns (new home). Middle Age structures at the site date to the 9th-17th centuries.

Up to the 19th century Noratus was the administrative center for Ts'mak province. As part of 13th-14th cc Zakarian landholdings, the settlement became their Seat, their governor described in inscriptions as a “demetar” and “meporel” (leader). In the 16th century Prince Melik Barik of the Azarian dynast (one of four dynasties in Gegharkunik marz) moved his seat from nearby Gandzak to Noratus.

Among Noratus’ legends, one describes the invasion of the region by Ottoman Turks and their battle against the Armenian prince Gegham. Lacking soldiers, Gegham ordered his people to dress Noratus’ khachkars with uniforms to make his troops look like a large force from the distance. Falling for the ruse, the Ottomans ran in panic, allowing Gegham's forces to attack and defeat the retreating enemy.

Noratus has several monuments in the village and the nearby area:

St. Astvatsatsin (Holy Virgin) church (partially ruined), located in the village center, was built at the end of 9th century for Sahak Ishkhan (Prince) of Gegharkunik . The vaulted hall was built entirely of solid, finely hewn stone. The churchyard has numerous khachkars (stone crosses) and gravestones. The oldest inscription (996), found on one of the khachkars, is now exhibited at the State History Museum of Armenia in Yerevan.

St. Grigor or Doputs monastery is at the south edge of the village. Historically ascribed to the 13th century, inscriptions and its method of construction place the church before the 10th century, mentioned by an inscription on the W wall for a certain Prince Herak'gh (Heracles) Havnuni. According to the Catholicos Simon of Yerevan, its name was Daputs (from “Dapunts”; Tambourine) Cloister and was a convent.

Khachkars are scattered throughout the village. The oldest one relates to the construction of a bridge and is dated from 1211. East of St. Astvatsatsin church there is a cluster of khachkars, among a few gravestones, apparently the patrimonial cemetery of Jughayetsonts family (one khachkar is dated 1553).

A chapel, set on the hill about 2 kilometers NE of the village, was built from finely hewn stone which survive in the lower rows. The south wall is made from khachkars and the yard is surrounded by ruins of cells. The oldest inscription refers to 1560 but the oldest part of the chapel dates to the 13th century.

Original text edited by the International Council on Monuments and Sites-Armenia and the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences.