Karkar Town (archeological site)

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Archeological excavations are being undertaken at the site of the town of Karkar in Karabakh.

Karkar Has Gradually Begun To Reveal Itself

http://karabakh-open.info/en/societyen/2425-en511 Monday, 19 November 2012 15:18

It is two years the Department of Tourism and Historical Environment Protection adjunct to the NKR government has carried out exploration activities in the location of the newly discovered town of Karkar.

Karkar is the only medieval town of the province of Artsakh, Mets Hayk, the name of which is mentioned in Armenian as well as in Arabic and Georgian sources. We tried to find out how it was discovered and what results have been recorded during these two years from head of the expedition examining the monument archeologist Gagik Sargsyan.

- Mr. Sargsyan, first of all how was the citadel discovered and how did you make sure that it was Karkar?

- In June, 2011, when we were carrying out exploration and sanitation activities at St. Saribek sanctuary of Dashushen village we made inquiries among the local inhabitants concerning the famous local archeological sites. 70-year-old inhabitant of the village Vazgen Aghajanyan said that in the plateau on the opposite side of the river Karkar which they call "King's place" ancient walls could be traced out the stones of which had been used by the inhabitants of Shosh village as construction material in the 1960s and 70s. We visited the site accompanied by Aghajanyan and this was the beginning of the discovery of Karkar, the one-time major town of Artsakh and its second birth.

The town is located between the towns of Stepanakert and Shoushi up the afforested slope of the military unit on the right side of the north-south highway.

After the visual examination of the site we found out peculiarities typical only of a town, such as the large territory occupied by it /50 ha/, the length of its northern wall /1100 m/, the citadel surrounded with walls, traces of monumental buildings, handmade embankments, the system of gravity flow water supply and some other distinguishing features which prove that the discovered location is neither a village nor a castle but a real town, the pottery found on the ground belonged to the early medieval period. A question arises: what medieval town could be found in this location? The answer to this question was best substantiated by historian Alexan Hakobyan, "This is definitely the town of Karkar."

- What can you say about the results of the activities carried out this year?

- The most important discovery is the heathen temple which, as we know, is the fireplace of the pagan faith where eternal fire was burning. It must be distinguished that in the 6th century Artsakh was under the influence of Sasanian Persia and pagandom was the religion of the ruling clique which had nothing to do with the people's faith.

It is a unique building, in Armenia only Dvin had a temple of fire worship, and that was a building made of clay, while this one is a stone building in a clay-made room. The room is wholly dug into the land, deep in 2 metres with a long slanting entrance. In all probability there was another stone building nearby which was pulled down with a tractor and the temple was filled with building refuse.

The wood coal from the fire place was sent to the radio examination to find out the real age of the heathen temple.

In the second exploration site we discovered the Cyclopian wall which belonged to the Stone Age. In one corner of the wall there was a rectangular room partially covered with paving stone with a stone hearth in the centre which evidently proves that this is an apartment.

Next to it another room of the same sizes but of economic significance was discovered with two jammed jars lying out under the walls.

The first exploration site is remarkable for its two round towers over the northern wall which appear to be quite new constructions as compared with the wall itself. The ancient Stone Age wall of the town was cut and the two towers were inserted in which points to the fact that the town was reconstructed and the old walls adapted to the early medieval fortification demands.

Among the discovered stuff there must be mentioned the small iron knife, beads and numerous pieces of pottery with the overwhelming majority of them belonging to the antique or Stone Age periods. The discovered pottery include fragments of the small jewellery box, a small black pot and the handle of a big jar made in the form a chamois's head. The horns of the latter could not be found while its mouth and the beard were not damaged.

Thus, the town has begun to reveal itself and we can state for sure that we deal with a very serious, big and valuable monument. It was unfortunately destroyed by human beings to use it as a construction material source, it was mostly damaged when installing the gas pipeline and planting an artificial forest here.

Karkar was the second Tigranakert of Artsakh for its significance and its historical role as well as the historical capital of Artsakh and the ancestor of the NKR present-day capital Stepanakert.

- And how significant is Karkar for you?

- All my life I have been engaged mainly in the search, discovery and examination of historical monument. Karkar is the greatest, the most valuable and the most remarkable of the numerous monuments I have discovered and put in scientific circulation. Karkar is the logical haven of my professional activity, my pride and joy.

Armine Hayrapetyan

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