Khor Virap Monastery

Khor Virap stands on the left bank of the Arax River, in Ararat Valley, in the shadow of Mt. Ararat (5165 m. and 3925m.). It is located at the site of a pagan temple to goddess Anahit, on hill 6 of the upper city of Artashat.

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Hills

City Prencincts: Hills

The city walls were more than 10,000 meters long 5,000 of which were discovered during excavations in 1970-1986. The walls were 2.6-3.5 meters thick, with the inner wall topping out at 20-25 meters in height and the citadel walls at 50-55 meters.

Hill 1

This hill is to the farthest northeastern side of the complex, most easily reached by taking the northern road from the cemetery and car park. It had a purely military and defensive purpose by guarding the northern gateway of the citadel. The hill which has been completely excavated is protected by a triangular set of walls. The excavations uncovered the northeastern and northwestern streets and the triangular square. On three sides the walls and the square are surrounded by residential structures and blacksmith-armory workshops. Discovered on this area were over 3,000 arrow-head spears, swords, daggers, a marble statue and fragments, pottery, glass work, metal pieces and other artifacts.

Districts

Hill 5 was a residential area. Excavations uncovered traces of large stoves and residential houses. It is possible that a custom house and market square were located here. Hills 7 and 8 were inhabited by a mixture of ordinary and middle-rank citizens of Artashat, along with craftsmen; discovered were evidences of pottery, lime, metal works and glass workshops.

Artashat Coins

Artashat was a famous center for trade. The Peutingeriana map illustrates how it was connected to Iran, Mesopotamia, Eastern Mediterranean and Greek cities on the Black Sea, cities on the Aegean Sea and other trade centers of the ancient world.

Because Artashat was a major trade center, excavators found not only coins of the Artaxiad dynasty, but also gold, silver and copper coins from other trade capitals. The coins struck in the historic city have the Greek inscription, “Artashat the Capital”.

Seals

Many of the 8,000 clay seals found at Artashat date to 180s BC to the year 59 and were found on the 5th and 8th hills.  Around 30 of them held inscriptions and monograms in Aramaic and Greek. These artifacts have unique value in the study of the history of Armenia’s trade and economic relations. 

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This text was prepared with the assistance of Professor Zhores Khachatrian, Head of the Ancient Archeology Department of the Archeology and Ethnography Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia.

 


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    How to reach From Yerevan drive 44 km to south. The trip will approximately take 40 minutes.

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