The town of Erebuni and its citadel were founded in 782 BCE by King Argishti I. The town lay around the foot of Arin Berd hill, where the fortress stood. The stronghold was built 65 meters above the town and covered an area of 3 hectares.


Karmir Blur

The choice of place for Erebuni was not accidental given Armenia’s ancient inhabitants’ decision to build strongholds on top of hills. Erebuni citadel, set on a hill called Arin Berd, ruled not only over a large city of the same name but also the area around it: the Ararat Valley and the Urartian cities Argishtihinili (today's Armavir) and Teishebaini (Karmir Blur), adjoining settlements and the connecting roads. 

Karmir Blur (named for its red clay soil) was built for the Urartian king Rusa II in the first half of the 7th century BCE, establishing a bulwark against northeastern Cimmerian and Scythian attacks. 

He founded the new administrative and military center on the left bank of Ildaruni (Hrazdan) River (in current-day Yerevan) and called it Teishebaini in honor of Teisheba, the Urartian god of storms and war.

The citadel for this fortress-city—surrounded by massive defensive walls, with storage buildings and its own irrigation system, was a two level structure. The lower level had 150 storage rooms, used as wine cellars, workshops, for distilling beer and wine and even a sesame seed oil press.  

The upper level held chambers and palace rooms for the governor, priests, military officials and other high ranking persons. Temples were also inside the citadel.  

We first learned of this wonderful ancient site when a cuneiform inscription was found by chance on the southeastern slope of Karmir Blur in 1936. It reads 'Rusa Argishti-hini' which translates "Rusa, son of Argishti", or Rusa II.

Systematic studies of the site were launched in 1939 unearthing a large settlement which had been buried under a thick layer of red soil for more than 2,500 years. Another set of cuneiform inscriptions found in the later excavation was carved in cuneiform with the words "Rusa Son of Argishti, fortress of the city of Teishebaini" which helped to date the Urartian layer and identify its patron.

The excavations are considered among the most important archaeological discoveries in the Middle Asia, Middle East and Asia Minor. Some of the findings include bone, stone and metal figurines, pottery and an astonishing variety of different metallic domestic tools and utensils, worship items, military equipment decorated with mythological symbols, forms and animals.

Also found were remnants of burned or charred grains and fragments of colored knitted items showing highly developed economy, arts and crafts in Urartu.

Teishebaini was destroyed as a result of the so-called Scythian arrowhead attacks that set the fortified city on fire.  Numerous archeological finds, such as watermelon seeds found in the stomachs of animals, remnants of grass reaped in the month of August and other discoveries helped to date the fall of the fortress and make the city's surprise attack a plausible theory.




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The Honorary Consul for Italy in Gyumri


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