The forgotten city.




Human remains from the Stone Age have been uncovered in the area and substantial settlements at the site date back to the early Bronze Age, commensurate with other Metsamor-Kura cultures on the Ararat valley (Metsamor, Mokhra Blur, Ada Blur, etc.). The early settlements thrived on trade, and metallurgy, given the large number of stone, copper and bronze objects found indigenous to the area and the outside world.

A rather remarkable prehistoric find are the large number of fertility figures displayed at the site, some believed to date back to the pre-bronze era. Dvin has a large collection of phallic stones excavated at the site, which in ancient times was located in a delta of mountain streams, so it is not unusual for a cult of fertility to have arisen there, though the more modest tourists might be a little shocked at the resulting phallic stones.

In the 3rd millennium BCE, a cyclopic stone fortress was erected at the site, which had grown into a significant regional center of trade and production. Even at the earliest, Dvin was already an important stop on an expanding network of trade routes that linked Anatolia and the Mediterranean coast with Central Asia. Like Metsamor, the site had a walled citadel (acropolis), where the palace and temples were located, surrounded by a necropolis of residential homes and services buildings. Ceramics and metal works had reached a sophisticated level of development; black and red earthen ware with cosmic and water imagery is found here several hundred years before they became widespread in Anatolia and in the Mediterranean world.

By the Iron Age, the walled compound had been enlarged, especially by the Urartians, who used the fortress as a key defense in the Ararat valley, itself an Iron Age “super highway” for trade and invasions by neighboring tribes.

At the same time that Artashat was built, a Hellenistic settlement also appeared at Dvin, suggesting that, if it was not yet the capital, it at least had the pretensions and the means to imitate the great city to the south. Its purpose was still defensive, though, the fortress used to protect entry to the capital.

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