14.10.2016 change 14.10.2016

Gold harvest in Armenia - Polish excavations in Metsamor

Carnelian and gold necklace - the first such find dated to the early iron period (XI-IX BC) discovered in the settlement in Transcaucasia and fifteen other items made of this metal have been discovered by Polish archaeologists in Metsamor near Yerevan in Armenia.

Researchers from the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Warsaw (IA UW) and the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw (PCMA) have discovered gold objects both in the ancient settlement and the cemetery.

"The most valuable of these is a carnelian and gold necklace. Its owner probably lost it during the invasion of the Urartu King Argishti I in in the eighth century BC" - told PAP research leader Dr Krzysztof Jakubiak of IA UW, who is now finishing this year\'s research season.

During the excavations carried out in previous seasons, archaeologists stumbled upon the numerous layers of burning and ash and the remains of a woman with a split skull, which also confirms suspicions about the bloody invasion. Argishti I was king of Urartu, or the biblical Kingdom of Ararat in the Armenian Highland. During his reign the borders of the state extended to Transcaucasia, the region of today\'s Yerevan, where Metsamor is located.

This year, archaeologists found several objects made of gold in the cemetery, inside a vast burial chamber. According to the researchers it had been used for hundreds of years - from the middle Bronze Age to the early Iron Age (from approx. XXIV century BC to the IX century BC) Among the items were gold pendants in the shape of a crescent moon and gold beads, which once formed a few necklaces. In the burial chamber there were also bronze horse harness parts and nearly a thousand carnelian beads.

Archaeologists also unearthed a fragment of a large, rectangular building built with stone blocks. According to a preliminary assessment, it was built shortly after the fall of the kingdom of Urartu, so after the VI century BC. During that period, the areas of Armenia came under the rule of the Persian Achaemenid dynasty. Archaeologists have not yet been able to explain the purpose of the structure.

"Undoubtedly, it was a monumental structure, we estimate the length at about 30 meters. It is the largest building captured so far during excavations (in Metsamor - ed. PAP)" - noted Dr. Jakubiak.

Metsamor is one of the most famous archaeological sites near Yerevan. It has the status of archaeological reserve. During its heyday from the fourth to the second millennium BC the settlement occupied more than 10 hectares and was surrounded by Cyclopean walls. In the early Iron Age from the XI to the IX century, Metsamor had grown to nearly 100 hectares. In the central part there was a fortress, inside which there were numerous temple complexes. At that time, it was one of the most important cultural and political centres in the Araks Valley. From the eighth century BC, Metsamor became part of the Uraratu kingdom - the biblical Kingdom of Ararat.

Polish archaeologists conduct excavations in Metsamor since 2013 under the agreement signed by IA UW director - in consultation with the leadership of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw - with the Institute of Archaeology of the Armenian Academy of Sciences of and the Ministry of Culture of Armenia.

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