The Late Bronze Age shrines at Gegharot discussed in the recent American Journal of Archaeology article by Adam T Smith and Jeffrey Leon have made it into the mainstream scientific (and not so scientific) news.
West Terrace Shrine at Gegharot
LiveScience originated the article–thanks to Owen Jarus for a thoughtful, accessible piece.
The article was picked up by YahooNews, DiscoveryNews, Fox News, NBC News, and the DailyMail. The latter news outlet gave the shrines its own unique spin, proving that even the Bronze Age can be sensationalized!
UPDATE: Sensationalized headlines from the Late Bronze Age:
DailyMail: “How Bronze Age rulers got HIGH to predict the future: Armenian shrines reveal bizarre practices of fortune tellers 3,300 years ago”
Ancient Origins: “Despite possible efforts to alter the future, a greedy ancient polity went down in flames”
UPDATE 2: An additional story ran in the Cornell Chronicle
Congratulations to Adam Smith and Jeff Leon, whose article “Divination and Sovereignty: The Late Bronze Age Shrines at Gegharot, Armenia” appears in the current issue (and on the cover!) of the American Journal of Archaeology.
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.