Armavir Ruins

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The Hellenistic city of Armavir, capital of the Orontid dynasty from the 4th-2nd c BC, was centered on the taller, steeper volcanic hill about 2 km further E. Easiest approach is, from modern Armavir, crossing the overpass and then jogging left and (after 100 m) right toward Haikavan (signposted "Margara"). About 300 m after the road bears left, a right turn will take you to the S side of the hill. Though Armavir was replaced as capital first by Yervandashat and then by Dvin, it maintained substantial habitation through the Medieval period, judging from the glazed pottery fragments still to be found. There is a substantial temple platform on the summit, and extensive house walls on the W side. Somewhere on the S slope outside the wall, 7 inscriptions in ancient Greek were carved into two rock faces about 12 meters apart, a reminder of Hellenistic influence on the Orontid kings. These inscriptions, probably carved around 200 BC, include a snatch of poetry regarding the Archaic Greek poet Hesiod, a pastiche of lines from Euripides, a list of Macedonian months, and some fragmentary letter texts. At the base of the hill is a small, modern cave-shrine marked by an iron cross.

Source: Rediscovering Armenia Guidebook

From a translated Soviet Brochure (still needs heavy editing)

Ancient Armavir

In the western parts of Ararat plain, once belonging to ancient Aragatsotn region, 50 km from Yerevan, not far from modern villages of Armavir, Ailavan and Jrashen of Hoktemberian region a rocky reddish hill rises. On top of it once stood the citadel of Armavir, to the west of which the urban blocks were built. The Araks River which in those days flowed through the western outskirts of the town, not only supplied the town with water, but also favored its defense.

The halo of antiquity constantly surrounded the capital of ancient Armenia- Armavir.

You see, Aramais- grandson of Armenian’s mythic ancestor Haik- settled down here. Here lived his descendants: Amasia, Aram, Anushavan-Sosanver.

The latter was dedicated to a platan (type of tree) grove belonging to Armavir’s oracle, where fortune-telling was told by rustling of leaves. The ancient Armenian legend says so, which got to us thanks to the father of Armenian history- Movses Khorenatsi.

But the true history of the town began when tourists and scholars, historians, archeologists, philologists and architects started visiting it.

In the last millennium some cuneiform of Urartu’s kings were found on the slopes of Armavir hill and in neighboring villages: Argishti I, Sarduti II, and Rusa III, which are now kept in the Museum of Armenian History.

As the inscriptions tell us, in 776, that is 6 years after the foundation of Erebuni, king Argishti built a new city- Argishtikhinili, one citadel of which was situated on the east hill, and the other- on the west (on the hill of Surb David).

On Armavir’s hills archeologists excavated a Urartian defensive wall, built of raw bricks on stone fundations. Basalt and volcanic stone blocks were roughly processed, sometimes well trimmed. On the northern steep slopes of the hill a wall was erected on the rock, which is cut in the form of a ladder with a row of stony walls on it. The trenches dug in the rock served to take away??? water from the fortress.

In the eastern part of the fortress in old times two huge buildings of five and three rooms stood, the remainders of which are now the stony foundations. The two buildings are separated from each other by a passage.

Water from melted snow and rain were taken out by a narrow ditch built of tuff slabs, which as is a custom in Urartu’s building art went out by the channel hollowed out in rock under the foundation of the wall.  ???IS THIS RIGHT???

On the top of the hill a Urartian temple was built, which was later reconstructed and used in ancient Armenian Hellenistic times. Changes in the temple were made in the Middle Ages too, so from the original constructions only the platform, from which the temple rose and beautiful processed massive blocks typical to Urartian architecture, are left.

To the west of the temple, lodgings and a pretemple corridor to the complex were built, which were built of raw bricks and were connected to each other by a number of door openings.

In the western side of the citadel oblong lodgings were situated which served as storehouses for grain.

The entrance to the temple was in the northwestern side, and the rows of the same type of rooms served for housing the garrison guarding the fortress.

In the beginning of IV BC Argishtikhinili was awfully devastated. The signs of violence and fire can be easily seen. The town fell into decline, and the water-supply system broke down. Only in the eastern part of Argishtikhinili life normalized little by little.

When Akhemanid’s power fell under the blow of Alexander Makedonski ‘s army, the ruler of the country Yervand proclaimed himself the tsar of Armenia and constructed a capital city in Armavir. The Urartian defensive wall and the buildings were still good and could be used.

As a palace complex for kings of the Yervandid dynasty became a many-roomed building on the eastern slope of the hill. The Urartian temple then is reconstructed and made the king’s temple of Sun and Moon. In order to fortify the entry to the temple from the north-west side, a half-rounded turret is built down the slope, the stones of which are connected with each other by iron clamps which have the form of swallow’s tail.

In the West side of the fortress between the two fortress’ walls lived rather modest people, the foundations of whose houses still remain.

At the southern foot of the hill on two rocky blocks king Yervand ordered Greek inscriptions, which give an account of political matters at the end of III bc, the worship of the God of the Sun in Armzvir, and the innovations of the Hellenistic world

Owing to the change of course of the river to the south Yervand moved his capital city to his newly founded city Yervandashat, situated by the Akhuryan and Araks rivers confluence. But life still went on in Armavir. The eloquence - evidence of which are the beautiful examples of painted ceramics, metal agricultural implements and weapons, fragments of stony dishes, and clay statues. The town itself stretched till the rocky mountain ridge, situated west of present Armavir.

A king’s farmstead???? of Hellenistic times was founded here, the dwelling houses of which were heated by fire-places, and in the agricultural side of the buildings they had a special place for pressing the vine, and other agricultural implements.

Life in the town little by little died away in the beginning of AD. Armavir was already an abandoned fortress in king Arshak’s time (IV AD). Life returned here in the middle of the century.

During Bagratid’s power a small settlement existed with its own dwellings and agricultural halls, which functioned till the Mongols’ invasions, after which the hill was consigned to oblivion.