YEREVAN (Armenpress)–An open-air carved temple and other buildings that form a 200-hectare complex dating back to the Bronze Age were discovered by the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography on the banks of the Amberd river in the Armenian province of Aragatsotn.
Excavation work on the site began back in 2001 with the financial backing of the Armenian branch of the American Gfoeller Foundation. The recently discovered temple is a part of a city that archeologists found on the site in November 2001. Hidden in the city were the remains of Early Bronze Age civilization’s culture.
The newly discovered historical monument is a multi-layered site; the archeologists found evidence that people had settled in the region beginning in 17 or 16 century BC and had stayed there through 18th century AD.
The head of the expedition archeologist Pavel Avetisian–said that a street with carefully planned and constructed buildings was discovered under a 5-meter cover of soil.
Silver coins with the portraits of Alexander the Great and Augustus Octavianos were also unearthed–along with remnants of works that confirm the existence of metal crafts.
Avetisian said that the architecture of the buildings is a fusion of that typical to the Ararat and Shirak valleys and foothill regions–and added that the newly unearthed site of worship is the oldest of its kind discovered–and is of extreme scientific and historical importance.
The head of the expedition also said that 40,000 artifacts have already been unearthed and registered; those considered most valuable will be studied and restored by specialists–and will be exhibited in relevant museums. The rest will be kept at the site.
The site is currently being transformed into an open-air museum. The Institute of Archeology–in cooperation with the Monument Protection Department–and the Mapping and Geodesy Center–will construct a building on the site to house the discovered artifacts; he added that President Kocharian has promised support to the archeologists after visiting the site.
The excavation work is being carried out by five units that include six archeologists–two assistants–geologists–architects and field workers.
The Gfoeller Foundation is assuming all expenses of the expedition–and is furnishing relevant tools and supplies.
Avetisian emphasized the importance of the presence of European archeologists at the excavation site–who will provide the opportunity to inform the scientific world of the newly discovered Armenian treasures.
Excavation work will be interrupted in 2004 to process the archeological and historical findings–and to produce a scientific description of findings.