Celebrating the 15th anniversary of Project ArAGATS
Thanks to Roman Hovsepyan and his family, we had a fitting celebration for the last day of the 2013 field season, the culmination of Project ArAGATS’s 15 years. Happy Birthday Project ArAGATS and thanks to everyone who has shared in our work so far. Here’s to the next 15 years!
In the last day of the 2013 field season at Tsaghkahovit, trench supervisor Cynthia Gosselin recovered a remarkable artifact from Room S of the Iron 3 town. The object is a ceramic spout rendered in the form of what appears to be a bull. The execution of the nostrils combined with the incised arcs above the eyes are reminiscent of bull iconography in the art of the Achaemenid Empire, while the black burnished surface treatment of the vessel invokes the silver zoomorphic amphorae of the empire. The bull spout from Room S belongs to a wider corpus of animal handled vessels discovered at Tsaghkahovit (see 2010 field season).
Black-burnished ceramic bull spout from Tsaghkahovit
bull spout in profile
The artifact was found in a room with several internal features never before encountered at Iron 3 Tsaghkahovit, including stone lined cooking installations and various circular and rectilinear enclosures, perhaps for storage.
Southwest view onto Room S
Stone-lined hearth in the east corner
The last few days on Gegharot’s West Citadel have brought a flurry of new information about the Early Bronze Age occupation of the site. The complex stratigraphy is still being worked out but a series of superimposed floors, all with distinct hearth or hearth/oven features are helping us to put together a clearer picture.
Armine Harutyunyan and the 3 EB hearths of T30.
The upper most hearth has the distinctive tri-lobed form of many Kura-Araxes hearths (mid-distance on the left and below).
The remains of a tri-lobed Kura-Araxes hearth from Gegharot Operation T31.
In the middle layer, a round undecorated hearth on one side of the room (pedestaled at back of trench) operated alongside a sub-rectangular oven (near corner of room in photo). In the adjacent operation, an even deeper layer (not visible) revealed another circular hearth.
But perhaps the most eye-catching remnant of Early Bronze Age Gegharot that we encountered today was the obsidian spear point pictured below. The point is quite massive and similar to one we uncovered several years ago in T17.
Project ArAGATS co-founder Dr. Ruben Badalyan and an Early Bronze Age obsidian spear head found in operation T30.
Coming up: updates on kurgan excavations and continuing work at Tsaghkahovit.
Project Architect Lilit Ter-Minasyan and an assistant from the village of Gegharot map the features uncovered in Gegharot’s Operation T34
An unfinished operation on Gegharot’s East Citadel has already yielded interesting results. In an area not far from the East Citadel shrine that we documented in 2011 we have opened a paved stone floor dating to the Late Bronze Age. Adjacent to the floor were three surviving (and possibly two other unpreserved) curvilinear stone-lined features. The floor and features were later covered during the site’s first destruction episode. A new wall was then subsequently built atop the destruction debris.
Ethnographic analogies traditionally hold that narrow paved galleries such as the one we’ve uncovered served as pens for young animals. The small adjacent basins would then make sense as feeding troughs. What is perhaps most interesting about such a reconstruction is the room’s proximity to the shrine. Did young animals figure prominently in the ritual practices of the shrine? We are hoping that expanded excavations and faunal analysis might shed some light on the question.
Today is the fourth day of fieldwork for the 2013 Project ArAGATS excavations. We are working at three sites this year: Gegharot Fortress, the Gegharot Kurgans, and the town at Tsaghkahovit. The Gegharot fortress excavations are off to a quick start thanks to an operation on the east citadel that we closed at the end of the 2011 season just as things were getting interesting. As we suspected, after just a bit of cleaning, we appear to be moving into a well-preserved Late Bronze Age deposit reminiscent of other destruction levels that we have encountered on the site. Here is our first small find from the operation–a fitting testament to destruction.
A Late Bronze Age Obsidian Arrowhead from Gegharot Operation T34
At the Gegharot Kurgans, we are cleaning a relatively large burial adjacent to the tomb we excavated in 2005. These excavations will serve as pilot research for Hannah Chazin’s planned dissertation research on the circulation of animals in the Late Bronze Age regional political economy.
At Tsaghkahovit, work is concentrating this year in Precinct C in the shadow of the fortress hill.
We will continue to post updates on the progress of our work throughout the field season.
We are packing up and getting ready for the new field season. We will try to post regular updates on this site as the season progresses. If you are in Armenia this summer, feel free to come visit. In general, we will be in the field every day except Sundays from June 27-July 28. You can find us in Gegharot, Tsaghkahovit, or Aparan by just asking for the archaeologists.