Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Wartime violence uncovered at Armenia’s Metsamor

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 10, 2014

Archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw discovered evidence of destruction and capture of the ancient city of Metsamor, one of the most famous archaeological sites in the vicinity of Yerevan.

Krzysztof Jakubiak of the University of Warsaw and the head of the project unearthed evidence of the destruction and capture of the ancient city of Metsamor in Armenia in the eighth century BC. “In the entire area of research we found layers of burning and ash. The city was probably captured by the army of Argishti I, the ruler of Urartu,” he told Science & Scholarship in Poland.

Other findings of Polish archaeologists are evidence of the fighting and cruelty. Among them is a skeleton of about 30 years old woman, whose head was cut off, and of another person with a split skull. Their bodies had not been buried, but were found among the town’s buildings. Smashed pottery was also found on stone platforms in one of the city’s seven shrines. “We believe that both of them were killed during the attack on the city”, added Dr. Jakubiak.

The discovered remains were not buried in the tombs, only randomly scattered among the buildings of the so-called lower town. What drew the attention of researchers was a small amount of finds in the form of historical objects, which may illustrate the scale of predatory Urartu invasion.

The invaders did not spare the holy shrines. Archaeologists found a small, oval urban sanctuary, which had been looted during the invasion. Inside, on stone platforms, they discovered broken pottery and one vessel preserved in its entirety, made of stone.

Argishti I, the sixth known king of Urartu, reigning from 786 BC to 764 BC. was the king of Urartu, the biblical Kingdom of Ararat in the Armenian Highlands. During his reign, the boundaries of the state expanded to the Caucasus, the area of today’s Yerevan.

Argishti built the Erebuni Fortress in 782 BC, and the fortress of Argishtikhinili in 776 BC. He founded the citadel of Erebuni in 782 BC, which is the present capital of Armenia, Yerevan. He also expanded his kingdom north to the Lake Sevan conquering much of Diauehi and the Ararat Valley.

A son and the successor of Menua, he continued the series of conquests initiated by his predecessors. He was involved in a number of inconclusive conflicts with the Assyrian king Shalmaneser IV, he conquered the northern part of Syria and made Urartu the most powerful state in post-Hittite Asia Minor.

Some linguists believe that the name Argištiše has Indo-European etymology (Armenian). Compare Armenian արեգ (translit. areg) – “sun deity”, “sun”, Phrygian ΑΡΕJΑΣΤΙΝ (translit. Areyastin) – “epithet of the great mother” and Greek αργεστής (translit. argestes) – “shining”, “brilliant”, “white”, “bright”. He was succeeded by his son, Sarduri II.

In the early 6th century BC, the Urartian Kingdom was replaced by the Armenian Orontid dynasty. In the trilingual Behistun inscription, carved in 521 or 520 BC by the order of Darius the Great of Persia, the country referred to as Urartu in Assyrian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in Elamite.

Metsamor is a protected archaeological reserve. Excavations within the reserve have been conducted for almost 50 years. Previous studies have shown that during the heyday from the fourth to the second millennium BC, the settlement occupied more than 10 hectares and was surrounded by monumental walls.

In the early days of iron period, from the eleventh to the ninth century, Metsamor had grown to nearly 100 acres. The central part of the fortress was surrounded by temple complexes with seven shrines. At that time, it was one of the most important political and cultural centres in the Aras Valley. From the eighth century BC, Metsamor became part of the Kingdom of Urartu. The place was continuously inhabited until the seventeenth century.

Polish archaeologists began excavations in Metsamor in 2013. The project was possible thanks to an agreement signed between the Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw – in consultation with the authorities of the Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology UW – with the Institute of Archaeology of the Armenian Academy of Sciences of and the Ministry of Culture of Armenia.

Wartime Violence Uncovered at Armenia’s Metsamor

Discoveries of Polish archaeologists in Armenia

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