YEREVAN—The non-governmental organization Bnorran Historic-Cultural and the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of Armenia’s National Academy of Sciences are teaming up to study the mysterious Karahounge: the prehistoric archaeological site near the town of Sisian in the Syunik Province of Armenia, known as the Armenian Stonehenge.
The two institutions have long had conflicting opinions regarding the structure, and now they are joining forces to find out what Karahounge, aka Zorats Karer, was—an ancient astronomical observatory or a settlement that has a status of a mausoleum.
Bnorran Historic-Cultural NGO and the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography signed an agreement on July 30 to join forces.
Karahounge is often internationally referred to as the Armenian Stonehenge. The construction date of the structure is unknown—presumably sometime between the Middle Bronze Age and the Iron Age.
Bnorran Board Member, Arevik Sargsyan, believes Carahunge was an ancient astronomical observatory.
“We think Karahounge—where more than 200 stones with 80 holes are located—is an ancient astronomical observatory, which was studied by Paris Herouni, with other experts having made similar opinions prior to his,” noted Sargsyan while referring to the late physicist’s views. Dating the megalithic structure from 5,500 BC, Herouni argued that some of the stones mirror the brightest star of the Cygnus constellation—Deneb.
“According to another opinion, Karahounge isn’t an astronomical observatory. It is simply an ancient site. A settlement, which has a status of a mausoleum,” stated Sargsyan.
Director of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Pavel Avetisyan, and archaeological expedition team leader, Ashot Piliposyan, explained that not a single astronomical tool has been discovered during excavations at the site, and, moreover, some of the stones also have holes in the lower parts, which aren’t directed at the stars.
Piliposyan emphasized the uniqueness of the monument in the entire Transcaucasia.
“It requires studies in all aspects. We discussed many issues during the signing of the agreement. We even considered the idea of potentially building a museum near the monument to display materials linked to the ancient site,” noted Piliposyan.
Both parties have agreed to suspend excavations at Karahounge until a joint seminar of astronomers, archeoastronomers, archaeologists, ethnographers, naturalists, and many other experts takes place to develop an official plan and conduct research, which will lead to a more specific conclusion of the origins of the site.