Active since 1998, Project ArAGATS has conducted survey and excavations at an array of sites across the Tsaghkahovit Plain.
From 1998-2000, the primary focus of our research was on an intensive pedestrian transect survey of the highlands surrounding the plain. These investigations are reported in the first Project ArAGATS monograph entitled: The Archaeology and Geography of Ancient Transcaucasian Societies, Volume I: Regional Survey in the Tsaghkahovit Plain, Armenia (forthcoming from the Oriental Institute Press). The entire database from this survey is also now available on-line.
Alongside our regional survey, we also conducted a series of test excavations at several major and minor sites in the region, including investigations of several fortresses, settlements, and burial clusters. Our goal was to define the chronological sequence of occupations and hiatuses that would allow us to draw the survey data into a wider account of regional (pre)history.
Excavations have been under way at Gegharot fortress since 2000. The extraordinary preservation of both Early Bronze Age and Late Bronze Age levels at the site have contrubuted to a number of ongoing debates in the archaeology of the South Caucasus from the chronology and nature of life under the Kura-Araxes horizon to the constitution of political authority in the region’s first complex societies.
Excavation in 2005 of a single kurgan below Gegharot fortress provided a remarkable view into the foundations of Late Bronze Age communities in the region. With one chamber dating to the Middle to Late Bronze Age transition and a second more firmly to the Late Bronze Age proper, this remarkable assemblage has provided suggestive new leads on the foundations of authority in the region and the endurance of Middle Bronze Age traditions of charismatic martialism.
From 2000-2002, our investigations focused primarily on intensive investigations atTsaghkahovit Fortress. These investigations centered on the citadel and terraces of the site, revealing substantial stratified deposits from Late Bronze Age and the Iron 3 period.
Tsaghkahovit’s Late Bronze Age Lower Town
Ian Lindsay’s research explores the evidence for Late Bronze Age grassroots communities living outside the walls of the fortress. Excavations conducted beneath the southern slope in 2003 and 2005 formed the basis for both his dissertation and his continuing examination of the possible Late Bronze Age lower town at the site.
Tsaghkahovit in the Iron 3 Period
Lori Khatchadourian’s investigations center on the extensive Iron 3 town at Tsaghkahovit. Excavations in the precinct A from 2005 to 2010 have uncovered a broad view of the local constitution of social life during the era of Achaemenid imperialism.
Alan Greene’s dissertation research centers on the articulation of ceramic production techniques with regional systems of exchange. In order to augment the picture acquired through Instrumental Neutron Activiation Analyses of materials from Tsaghkahovit, Gegharot and Hnaberd, he plans to conduct continue the test excavations at Aragatsiberd Fortress begun in 2006.
Maureen Marshall’s dissertation work examines the bioarchaeology of mortuary practices in the Late Bronze Age. Her work will investigate the osteological and archaeological evidence for changing mortuary rituals and social orders attendant to the emergence of complex societies. Her work will involve new fieldwork in theburial clusters immediately surrounding Tsaghkahovit Fortress as well as reanalyses of extant materials from nearby sites.