Tigranakert Intended To Be Pilgrimage Site

The ancient Armenian city, which dates back to 1 BC, is in Karabakh

The ancient Armenian city, which dates back to 1 BC, is in Karabakh

STEPANAKERT (Armenpress)—It has already been five years that the archeological excavations of the ancient city of Tigranakert begun in the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.

This year, the upper part of the church (basilica) was excavated, which, according to initial data, dates back to the sixth century.

Head of the excavation group Doctor of Historical Sciences Hamlet Petrosyan singles out the discovery of an agate stamp this year. Archeologists were unsure about the period to which the stamp belonged, but are opining that it was the Hellenic period.

Petrosyan said that stamp and early medieval clay stamps prove that Tigranakert played a significant administrative-trade role.

Excavations at the north wall of the citadel are also in progress, with

some 85 meters already excavated. It is one of the largest walls ever excavated in the South Caucasus.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Foreign Ministry told Armenpress that the excavations were financed by the Karabakh government; organizational tasks were being coordinated by the “Tigranakert Reserve” state non-trade

organization established by Karabakh’s Tourism Department.

A Museum of Tigranakert is being planned. At present reconstruction projects are being carried out in an 18th century castle, where the museum will be housed. Tigranakert is intended to become a pilgrimage site and a

“Land of Promise of All-Armenians,” said the foreign ministry.

As international mediators continue to seek a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, archeologists in the mountainous republic are searching for the remains of ancient Armenian cities in Karabakh, buried under the sands of time.

The Armenian specialists came close in 2005, when they found one of four Tigranakert cities built by Armenian King Tigran the Great on the liberated land of Aghdam, to the southeast of Martaket region.

“For me this is Troy, this is how I would assess it,” said Vardges Safaryan, member of the Tigranakert expedition. “We continue finding different items here, but it’s not the most important. What’s important is that the city once existed here,” 

According to Safaryan, the city, founded sometime in the 80s B.C., survived through the 15th century, which explains the presence of not only Hellenic monuments, but Christian ones as well. Among the findings were two main walls and the towers of the Hellenic styled city and an Armenian church built sometime between the 5th and 7th centuries, in which was found a clay, dish-like item with an engraving that reads “My, Vache, the slave of God.”

“This inscription dates back to the 6th-7th century, and it is the most ancient Armenian inscription found on Karbakh soil to date,” said Safaryan.

The authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh have attached a great deal of importance to the excavations of Tigranakert and the government has been financing the project for approximately two years now.

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