Historical – Cultural

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Agarak historical-cultural reserve is located in the administrative districts of Agarak and Voskehat rural communities of Aragatsotn province, on both sides of the Yerevan-Ashtarak-Gyumri highway, on the right shore of Amberd river, on a rocky promontory constructed on volcanic tuff protuberances. One of the main features of the monument (state index 2.4.1 is that the whole area and surroundings of the settlement are completely covered with huge complexes carved in stone, most of which are interconnected with the Early Bronze Age settlement of Agarak. There are niches carved in stone, stairs leading to these niches, and structures with other meanings. Due to all these constructions, as well as circular, horseshoe-shaped, cellular cuts, streams interconnecting those cuts, three-top or table-like places for sacrifice, the natural landscape has become a giant monument.

            Such an example of a ritual landscape having ​​200 hectares area was not documented in the Armenian Highlands until the excavations at Agarak. According to the unanimous opinion of archeologists who have been studying those monuments, the rocky plains, with such shapes, are ritual structures. Moreover, some of them are considered to be Hittite, and a considerable part are Phrygians, especially associated with the Great Mother of Gods, the ruler of the mountains, forests and animals, with the cult of the goddess Kibela, who sponsored fertility.

Taking into consideration the unique role and significance of Agarak ancient settlement-monument in the study of socio-cultural issues of the earliest period of Armenia, the Government of Armenia, based on the decision, N 1305 of December 29, 2001, granted “Agarak” ancient settlement a status of a museum-reserve. Also, according to the decision № 1204 of November 24, 2016, the territory of “Agarak” historical-cultural reserve was designated 118,2 hectares, was transferred to the category of predominantly protected lands, and was granted to the Service for the Protection of Historical Environment and Cultural Museum-Reservations SNCO for an open-ended and non-repayable usage.

The large number of excavated pottery, bronze statuettes, remnants of round and wooden hearths, pedestals allow this area of habitation to be attributed to the middle phase of Shengavit or Kur-Araks archeology dating back to 29-27 BC. The presence of the Urartian cave tomb, Urartian cave burial and pottery with the Urartian seal on the south side of the platform allow to conclude that the ancient site of Agarak was also inhabited in the 8th-6th centuries BC. After the collapse of the Van kingdom, Agarak was a large urban-type settlement.

The large caverns of wine that were opened in the excavated squares testify that viticulture and winemaking had a special place in the lives of the farmers. Being one of the most important knots of the trade route from Ayrarat to Shirak and Ani, the economic and commercial life of this settlement flourishes especially from 4th-3th to 2nd-4th centuries BC. This is evidenced by the silver plating of Alexander the Great and Augustus Octavianos, found in layers of colored pottery characteristic of the urban culture of the Hellenistic and Late Antiquity, and a few fragments of late Hellenistic rock cave burials.

The last stage of the settlement of Agarak is presented with typical materials from 17th-18th centuries (pottery, hearths, copper coins issued by the Khanate of Yerevan).