Thunderstorms, hail, lightning strikes, and Soviet land amelioration strategies have not kept the KVAS from achieving some great results already this summer. We are four weeks into the 2016 season and several new sites and finds–from both north and south of our base in Aparan–have come to light.
A kurgan cluster recorded this year by the KVAS survey team on the banks of the Kasakh River.
In the upper valley we have recorded a number of intriguing Paleolithic sites, as well as a major kurgan cluster overlooking the Kasakh gorge itself, likely a Bronze Age cemetery. Looking southwards, an Early Bronze Age hilltop site in the vicinity of Vardenut Village connects this landscape to material acquired by the National Museum nearly 100 years ago without exact geographical attribution. Finally, we have also recorded, overlooking Aragats Village at the southern edge of the survey area, and a 4-hectare settlement much closer to Aparan, both of which likely date to the later Medieval era.
A fortress provisionally named “Tsaghka Berd” and recorded this year by KVAS high on the slopes of Mt. Aragats. One extant wall over 2 m high is shown in this photo.
Over the second half of the field season we plan to continue our work in the southern portion of the survey area, recording sites on the slopes of Mt. Aragats from Aparan south to the villages of Shenavan and Hartavan. We’ll post more here as the site inventory expands through early August.
This summer Project ArAGATS is continuing our preliminary survey of the upper Kasakh River valley, performing systematic pedestrian survey, aerial photography and photogrammetry, geophysical analysis, and test excavations between the villages of Alagyaz, near the Kasakh headwaters, and Kuchak, at the Aparan Reservoir.
Survey walkers in the upper Kasakh River valley. Mt. Aragats in the distance.
Survey walkers have been traversing the ridge tops and upland slopes of the Tsaghkunyats Range and Mt. Aragats, the broad Kasakh flood plains, and the river’s deeply cut gorge as it wends it way south, ultimately joining the Araxes River in the Ararat Valley. We record remains of human activity from the Paleolithic through the early 20th century, photographing and mapping architecture and cemeteries, collecting surface materials, and evaluating Soviet-era land management practices and their impact on the archaeological record.
Surveyors talking a break amid some ancient architecture in the upper Kasakh River Valley.
The upper Kasakh Valley survey will be an ongoing project, so look for updates over the next several years!
This past Monday, Project ArAGATS performed its first excursion of the
season to Armenia’s Tavush Province and the alpine monasteries of
Goshavank and Haghartsin. Both complexes, built in the 12th and 13th
centuries AD, have either undergone recent restoration or are in the
process of receiving important conservation efforts.
Aragatsiner on their day off at Haghartsin Monastery.
Project members enjoyed the
ancient architecture, the beautiful highland settings, and the fog that provided
some additional dramatic background.