Expedition Unearths Unique Crypt at Ancient Site in Artsakh

Images of excavated structures, unearthed at the ancient site of Tigranakert

STEPANAKERT—Excavations in Tigranakert, an ancient Armenian capital in Artsakh (one of four historical sites throughout the Armenian Highlands with the same name), has revealed a unique early Christian crypt, Tert.am reports, citing the archeological expedition’s head.

“We found only one polished stone in the square of Tigranarkert. This year, we are excavating a crypt; it is a very large and unique structure with powerful architectural solutions,” said Hamlet Petrosyan, a doctor of history and the head of the Yerevan State University’s Cultural Studies department.

According to him, the group last year unearthed the city’s second Armenian church, which later revealed clues that led to the crypt.

“Under this church’s altar, we opened this crypt; it is probably one of the first of its type. We knew only two crypts of this kind before this discovery, one being the royal crypt of Aghktsk and the other the St Grigoris chapel-crypt of Amaras. This is actually the third with similar architecture and seems to look more original than the other two,” Petrosyan said, without giving further details.

Petrosyan said that the crypt is an underground building of hewn stones, with niches for remains of saints.

“Although we have not yet completed excavations, the building adds a unique appearance to this silent square. We are now excavating pillars and the layer beneath them to find out the depth,” he said.

The expedition continues excavations under the northern wall of Tigranakert.

Excavations at Tigranakert began in March 2005, when the ancient site was first discovered, and are currently ongoing under the directorship of Dr. Hamlet L. Petrosyan of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Armenian Academy of Sciences. Archaeologists and historians have managed to date the oldest structures at the site to the 120’s to 80’s B.C., during the reign of either King Tigranes I or his son and successor King Tigranes the Great.


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