Archaeologists and civil society organizations in Armenia face a daunting task in the wake of the ceasefire agreement in Nagorno-Karabakh. Heritage sites are under threat direct threat. Project ArAGATS stands ready to help. In the meantime, The Aragats Foundation has launched a project to compile evidence of heritage destruction posted on social media. If you see something, please tweet it to @aragatsfound so we can follow up.
The Aragats Foundation, the non-profit, charitable arm of Project ArAGATS, has joined with the HALO Trust to help with humanitarian relief in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The resumption of hostilities in the region has provoked a massive humanitarian crisis ranging from thousands of displaced persons to unexploded cluster bomb ordinance strewn across cities and villages. We are partnering with HALO to help raise funds to address these urgent needs. So far, we have raised over $10,000, which the Aragats Foundation will match alongside another anonymous donor.
Following the field season in 2018–the 20th anniversary of the project–ArAGATS entered a new phase of materials analysis and publication. Work proceeds on publication of the Kazakh Valley survey, analyses of materials, and the second volume in the ArAGATS monograph series. The latter will provide the full results of our investigations into the Bronze Age on the Tsaghkahovit Plain.
ArAGATS co-director Lori Khatchadourian has initiated a new program focused on the ruins of socialist modernity. She is conducting ethnographic and archaeological fieldwork in decommissioned and underused Soviet factories across Armenia. To learn more, visit the project website and watch the interview with Urbanista below.
Camp Aragats, an archaeological camp for girls, kicked off its second season this year. Learning from last year’s pilot program, we expanded the camp to 15 children in order to broaden our impact, and diversified the group by opening it to girls from different towns and villages. Campers from Aparan, Gegharot and Yerevan discovered the science of heritage through hands-on sessions on excavation, architectural drawing, drone flight, ceramic restoration, zooarchaeology, bioarchaeology, paleoethnobotany, and more.
We had another fruitful season on Project ArAGATS this year, with the continued excavation of a semi-circular complex at the Early Bronze Age settlement of Gegharot, and new trenches elsewhere on the western slope that appear to have uncovered segments of a terrace walls and a rectilinear room. Meanwhile the lab team was busy studying human skeletal remains and conducting zooarchaeological and archaeobotanical research. See the Field Season 2018 page for further details.
From July 17-20, the Aragats Foundation organized an archaeological summer camp for young girls from the town of Aparan. The mission of Camp Aragats is to offer children the opportunity to experience archaeology, learn the ancient history of their region, discover the excitement of science and history, and participate in an educational activity during the summer. The pilot project, organized by Lori Khatchadourian and Armine Harutyunyan, was a great success. More photos can be found on the Aragats Foundation’s Facebook page.
Project ArAGATS always welcomes visitors on site, of all ages. On July 16, an Armenian girl’s camp organized by World Vision stopped by the archaeological site of Aparani Berd, where we’ve been conducting excavations this summer. The children had a crash course in archaeological methods, and learned about the ancient past in their own town.
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.
The U.S. Ambassador to Armenia recently toured an archaeological field site in that country, spending time with co-directors Adam T. Smith, professor of anthropology and Lori Khatchadourian, assistant professor and Milstein Sesquicentennial Fellow in the Department of Near Eastern Studies.
John A. Heffern, U.S. ambassador to Armenia, visited the excavations of Project ArAGATS at Gegharot Kurgans, Gegharot Fortress and Tsaghkahovit. After his visit, he tweeted: “Nice get together tonight of @cornell archeology team, Armenia Arch Institute, World Bank, @amap, @USAIDArmenia @IDeArmenia. Great team.”
Project ArAGATS is a collaborative archaeological research program dedicated to the exploration of southern Caucasia’s rich past and the preservation of modern Armenia’s diverse cultural heritage. It was founded in 1998 by Smith and Ruben S. Badalyan of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Yerevan.
The work of Project ArAGATS is made possible by past and present grants from:
The National Science Foundation
The National Endowment for the Humanities
The Wenner-Gren Foundation
The National Geographic Society
The Social Science Research Council
The Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund
The Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of Armenia
Cornell University Institute of the Social Sciences
Cornell University Einaudi Center
Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies
President's Council of Cornell Women
The University of Chicago Lichtstern Fund
Stanford Archaeology Center
American Research Institute of the South Caucasus
The generosity of the Friends of Project ArAGATS.
And by the warm hospitality of the people of the Tsaghkahovit Plain and Aparan Valley, Armenia.
To find out how you can get involved with and contribute to the work of Project ArAGATS, write to us at email@example.com