Zorats Karer (Karahundj)

Zorats Karer archeological site sits on a massive promontory located 3 km north-east of Sissian town and covers an area of about 13.5 hectares.


Zorats Karer (Karahundj)


Zorats Karer archeological site sits on a massive promontory located 3 km north-east of Sissian town and covers an area of about 13.5 hectares. To the west of the site lies the deep and almost inaccessible Dar river canyon, to the east is the road to Sissian which runs from Yerevan-Goris highway.

The site is also known as “Zorakarer”, “Dik Karer”, “Tsits-Tsits Karer”, “Ghoshun Dash”, “Karahunj”, the names used to describe the surviving standing stones (menhirs), with soldiers believed to be buried just below them.

Excavations at the site were implemented by Ye. Lalayan, S. Lisitsyan, M.S. Hasratsyan. V. Haru­tyu­nyan. St. Yesayan and others. Middle Bronze Age artifacts include bronze swords, fragments of beads made from antimony, potsherds, etc. traced to the first quarter of the 2nd millennium BCE. They were uncovered in the sepulcher discovered by chance during the 1930s excavations. The excavations carried out in 1967-1981 by Gr. Areshyan and O. Khnkikyan dated the settlement to Kura-Araxes (Shengavit) archaeological culture, with the grave field traced to the Middle Bronze Age.

The Early Bronze Age site is situated in the center of the group of monuments, set on a triangular promontory. Throughout the site and stretching northeast, south and southeast there are Middle Bronze Age grave fields.

The basalt menhirs erected in the center are positioned upright, in the shape of the letter C, with the two stone cists originally covered with tumuli. Some of the surviving stone cists lie outside the south-east part of the group of monuments, with several standing stones bearing 6-8 cm diameter holes carved into their upper parts or right into their tops.

The standing stones are 1-1.5m thick and 1-2m wide. Some of them are 2.5-3 m tall and up to 10 tons in weigh. To the west of the row of stones lie ruins of dwellings and structures with rectangular, square and trapezoidal floor plans (the walls laid without mortar in some parts are up to 1.8m tall), with spaces in and between them having Iron Age sepulchers erected. The surviving underground stone cists are 3-5 m long and 2 m tall. The walls are laid with large stone, the pointed tops jutting out.

A careful research and scientific analysis still need to be conducted at the site, with further excavations likely to prove the existence of artifacts dated to earlier and later periods. 

By the decree of Armenian government issued in 2009, a cultural-historic preserve was created in the territory of Zorats Karer site.  

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