2006 Season

In 2006, excavations continued at the multi-component sites of Gegharot and Tsaghkahovit. Excavations were also started at the site of Aragatsi-Berd and the Tsaghkahovit cemetery.

At Gegharot in 2006, work continued yet again in T02E (reaching a final extent of 194m2), as well as in T16 and T17. New excavations were inaugurated in T18 (50m2), 1m north of T17, and in T19 (75m2) on the western terrace. The 2006 investigations succeeded in finally exposing the initial Early Bronze I occupation levels that previously had only been hinted at by occasional ceramic sherds from disturbed layers. We uncovered well-preserved contexts from the early phase of the Early Bronze Age Kura-Araxes horizon (Elar-Aragats group) in operations T17 and T18 on the summit and T02E on the western terrace. Undisturbed by the later constructions of the Late Bronze Age fortress, the early Kura-Araxes occupations in operations T17 and T18 are represented by a well-preserved two-room complex in the western portion of the trench, constructed on bedrock. On the floor of this room were found in situ several whole and fragmentary ceramic vessels associated with a deposit of carbonized seeds, two clay andirons in the form of truncated pyramids, a small collection of ceramic vessels, three bone spindle-whorls, a cone shaped groundstone tool made from porous basalt, and a fragment of a horn-shaped andiron, a flint sickle blade, a bone arrowhead, and a bone awl, and a bronze spearhead. A collective tomb was also found in the lowest levels of operation T02E. The tomb was a square stone crypt which contained the multiple successive interment of three individuals. The artifact inventory of the burial included 4 ceramic vessels and 79 cylindrical and discoidal beads made of white paste. In Late Bronze Age contexts, two Mitannian Common Style cylinder seals, popular across much of ancient southwest Asia and the eastern Mediterranean during the fifteenth and fourteenth centuries B.C., were found in T20 and T2-E.

Tsaghkahovit excavations continued in the mid 1st-millenium B.C. western town, which testify that the structure was built as a single, semi-subterranean complex of interconnected rooms. Four trenches were excavated in 2006, covering the entirety of room H (WSH, 10m x 13m), room G (WSG, 10 x 13 m), two thirds of room I (WSI, 13 x 13 m), and half of room C (WSC3, 13 x 9 m) (figs. 30-31). In addition, twenty 0.5 x 0.5 m probes were placed at 5 m intervals along cardinal axes in room K (WSKa – t), to further test our hypothesis concerning the public function of this space. The ceramic inventory in these rooms, broadly speaking, consists of the complete repertoire of mid-1st millennium BC pottery, as it is known from other sites in Armenia. Larger jars and storage vessels were also recovered, including a jar discovered in situ, beneath the floor of room G. The oily ashy contents of the vessel suggest a possible cremation burial of a child. Among lithic finds was a gabbro-diorite plate, which is the first such vessel found in Armenia, but similar stone plates are known from Persepolis and possibly Qasr-i Abu Nasr. Other objects include a red-burnished rhyton, grinding-stones, polishing tools, and obsidian blades and flakes, iron tools, an iron knife handle, iron fibula, a range of bone artifacts including a pendant or toy in the form of a stylized quadruped. Excavations of Burial Cluster 12at Tsaghkahovit were also started with the excavation of four burials. Three of the cromlech burials contained the complete articulated skeletal remains of four individuals. Burials 2 and 3 also contained several Late Bronze Age vessels, and Burial 4, which contained 2 individuals, included a bone pin.

Excavations were also started at Aragatsiberd as a comparative Late Bronze Age site.