Hrazdan gorge

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The oldest 'town' in Armenia is a 90,000 BC Stone Age settlement found on the shoresof Lake Yerevan. From there through the Paleolithic period, proof of human settlement is scattered between cave dwellings and stone inscriptions on the Geghama Mountain Range. Suddenly, at the end of the Mesolithic period (between 9000-7000 BC), a complex web of cities and fortified settlements appeared throughout the Ararat valley. Only handfuls of which have been excavated, but enough to show a startlingly developed culture that rivaled those int he Mesopotamian Fertile Crescent.

Armenia’s ‘Fertile Crescent’ was located in two places: at the headwaters of the Euphrates and Tigris, and along the Arax River, its tributaries a series of liquid ribs branching off a central Ararat spine. Within the Ararat valley lies a smaller crescent of land, still bearing the marks of vast marshlands and forests that once covered the entire valley floor. As you wander through this area, you can spot sudden eruptions of the terrain, hills that seem to appear from nowhere. They do not ‘fit’ the contour of the land. These are the remains of the first urban civilization to leave its imprint on the ancient Armenian world: they are the sentinels of the Metsamor and Nairi Kingdoms, 'Armenia's Cradle of Civilization’.

Between 9000 and 5000 BC, cities appeared at evenly placed spots in this crescent, all of them built around the metal industry. The inhabitants were the first known to forge copper and bronze; and are the first recorded to successfully smelt iron. The metal ore mined in this area was among of the purest in the world, and its effect on urban life was tremendous.

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