Erebuni

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.

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Quarters and storage

Servant Quarters

Servants were housed immediately adjacent to the palace in rooms that opened onto courtyards.  The palace kitchen and workrooms also opened onto a courtyard.

Sentry and Garrison Quarters 

Similar to servant quarters, these were also built around a courtyard, in the northeast part of the citadel, along the defensive wall. Five similar rooms figure among them, reserved for Urartian palace guards.

Store rooms and cellars

Cuneiform inscriptions by Kings Argishti I and Sardur II tell us that Erebuni citadel was periodically expanded and renovated, adding new premises in the palace and service quarters, among them large storerooms and granaries and wine cellars.

Urartu's successful expansion and powerful state was due in large part to its organizational capacity, which like other slaveholding states of the Near East included a sophisticated inventory process and the ability to store large amounts of food and drink over long periods of time.  Simply put, Urartu grew because it could feed large populations.

An inscription attributed to the Assyrian king Sargon II mentions the storerooms in Urartian fortresses.  One in particular, dated 714 BCE and during his victorious campaign in Urartu when his armies ravaged settlements and fortress-cities, he found “full storerooms” with “immeasurable amount of barley” and “aromatic wine flowing like a river”.

At Erebuni storage vessels included huge conical clay jars with lipped mouths, decorated with tracery and carved triangles.  The jars had small cuneiform and hieroglyph marks on their sides near the top showing how much could be stored inside. 

Liquid measuring units were “akark” (equal to 240-250 liters) and “terus” (22-24 liters). The vessels found in Erebuni stored up to 750-1,500 liters of liquid.   Granary capacity was measured in “kapi”, mentioned in a number of inscriptions about household goods.   

Along with grain and wine, other products were also stored in clay vessels of different sizes.  

Ancient Beer in Urartu

Oblong vessels for storing beer were also found at Teishebaini (Karmir Blur) fortress and are of special interest.  

There were several eye-witnesses to the existence of beer in the Armenian highland, among them the 5th century BCE Greek soldier and historian Xenophon who described the “barley wine” he sampled during the Greek army march through the Armenian highlands in his “The Anabasis or the March Up Country”:

“There were stores within of wheat and barley and vegetables, and wine made from barley in great big bowls; the grains of barley malt lay floating in the beverage up to the lip of the vessel, and reeds lay in them, some longer, some shorter, without joints; when you were thirsty you must take one of these into your mouth, and suck.

The beverage without admixture of water was very strong, and of a delicious flavour to certain palates, but the taste must be acquired.”


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