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.

Northwest Mound

Northwest Mound

Temple to the god of the sun Areg/Mher/Apollo/Hermes is located on the left bank of the Arax River, on the platform adjoining the hill next to Taperakan Bridge. The temple built during the construction of Artashat was one of the most important structures of the old city. Recent excavations uncovered the location of (the 5th century historian) Agatangeghos' “Yerazamuin”. 

Temple to Mythra

The temple traced to the Hellenistic era was destroyed in 59 by Domitius Corbulo, with a new platform and temple built during the reign of T’rdat I. Both the platforms and the temples were made of limestone, with different construction method used. Six wide steps (4.85m) leading to the sacred platform were discovered on the eastern side of the second platform. For a long time the locations of this site had been unknown and widely disputed.

Among the artifacts found were varying sizes and types of pottery, imported and local vessels including a remarkable find, a polished red lion-headed lug bowl. Also found was an eagle head made from limestone with eyes and neck painted dark red.  In ancient times the lion was the symbol of the summer sun, while eagle was the symbol of both the sun and a messenger of the gods. 

After Christianity was adopted as state religion the new temple which was adorned with high-relief designs was destroyed.

The Baths

Located to the south-east of the platform, the baths used the Roman hypocaust system to heat the rooms and water with the help of double walls and double floors resting on columns, as in the royal bath houses at Garni and Vagharshapat. Only 7 rooms have been uncovered. Hot air from the furnace penetrated to the spaces between the walls and the floors through vaulted openings and heated the rooms. The air in rooms heated this way was believed to be healthier.

Clay pipes brought water from the Arax River to the baths. A system of clay pipes was found in rooms six and seven. The sewage system was discovered here with toilet sinks.

The lower and the upper floors of the baths were coated with a waterproof mixture of concrete that was colored pink. Built at the end of the 2nd to the beginning of the 3rd centuries, the baths were ruined and rebuilt at the beginning of the 4th century. All rooms were covered with a stone mosaic floor made from felsite, the background in white with rectangular patterns made from black smalt (opaque colored glass cubes). This particular mosaic was found in the second and part of the fifth rooms, with other rooms showing fragments or small sections of the same design.

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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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