In 2005, excavations continued at the multi-component sites of Gegharot and Tsaghkahovit, expanding to include the Middle Iron Age at Tsaghkahovit and a kurgan at Gegharot.
At the citadel at Gegharot, we initiated operations T15 (75m2) and T17 (50m2) on the western edge of the summit. On the western terrace, work continued in T02E and a new operation, T-16 (75m2), was set just to the north. Artifacts found within a midden in T-15 include a shattered Late Bronze Age pithos, a square carved tuff object (perhaps an idol or threshing stone), and an intriguing ceramic statuette that appears to depict a horned human figure with a cloak (or skin) covering its head and shoulders (height 6.6 cm). In addition, T02E produced two clay stamps, one circular and one square, with embossed stylized swastika motifs on their bases. T-17 appears to belong to the Early Bronze Age and the enlargement of operation T02E in 2005 to the west, toward the outer edge of the upper terrace, uncovered a Kura-Araxes level directly underneath the southwestern corner of the Late Bronze Age shrine. Excavations at Gegharot also included Gegharot Kurgan 1 on the northern slope of Mt. Vardablur. The western chamber contained sheep and goat skeletons, ribs and vertebrae of a large mammal, and 22 ceramic vessels and suggests a date from the MBA-LBA transitional period. At the bottom of the central chamber was the articulated skeleton of a 35-45 year old male on top of the partially preserved fragments of a child’s skeleton, horse skulls, ceramic vessels diagnostic of the Late Bronze I (Lchashen-Metsamor I) assemblage, a wide bronze ritual blade, bronze and obsidian arrowheads, and beads.
Excavations at Tsaghkahovit continued in the Southern Lower Town with the large scale expansion of the initial exposures of the lower town with operations SLT 4 and 5. Thus far, remains of three distinct constructions, Structures 1-3, have been uncovered within the SLT complex offering a rare glimpse of domestic life during the Late Bronze Age and subsequent reuse of the site during the Middle Iron Age. The range of Lchashen-Metsamor horizon forms from the settlement excavations represent the full spectrum of domestic processing and consumption activities including jars, bowls, cookpots, cups, pithoi, bread moulds, and fragments of thick clay ovens. Several samples were submitted for AMS dating and INAAanalysis. Additionally, a series of eight test trenches—WSJ (6 x 2 m), WSC (4 x 2 m), WSC2 (5.3 x 4 m), WSE (4 x 3 m), WSK (7 x 2 m), WSL (8 x 3 m), WSAR (2 x 2 m), WSM (3 x 3 m)—were laid across the west settlement area, which previous test excavations indicated dated to the the mid-1st millennium BC. Broadly speaking, the excavations testified to a single-occupation in the west settlement. Cultural deposits consisted of packed clay floors, as in WSL, WSK, and WSC, and well-made, basalt flagstone floors, as in WSC2 (3.0 m x 1.5 m) and WSM (3.0 m x 2.5 m).