Excavations planned in more than 20 monuments in Armenia this year
YEREVAN, JULY 15, ARMENPRESS. On June 7 the presidency of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia elected Arsen Bobokhyan Director of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography. Arsen Bobokhyan has been working in the Institute since 1998. He has published 208 academic articles, 9 books. In an interview to ARMENPRESS, Mr. Bobokhyan told about the future plans and shared his concerns connected with the field.
The excavation period has already started in the Republic. Bobokhyan said that excavations are carried out in monuments of all ages, starting from the Stone Age to the Middle Age. “Currently, different excavations are taking place in monuments of stone age (Aghitu), bronze and iron ages (Karnut, Solak), ancient (Artashat), medieval (Tavush, Aruch). The excavations will intensify in the second half of July and especially in August (Dvin, Dashtadem, Artanish, etc). More than 20 expeditions will work this year, most of them are international. All monuments are important and could give an unexpected result”, he said.
Arsen Bobokhyan notes that archaeology of the 21st century is oriented not by findings, but by the excavation process. “Therefore, the excavations that are done methodically correctly are valuable. There are excavations which do not have outstanding findings, but they are carried out in such detail and care, that they could be considered highly effective. I highly value all excavations carried out by the Institute, there are just some excavations of a sensational nature. The tomb that was accidentally opened in Shahumyan village last year was like that, it dates back to 2800-2600 BC, and the bulk material with hundreds of metal objects and pottery is exclusive in its significance not only in regional context”, he said.
He informed that the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography carries out a lot of excavations, but the existing space is not enough for preserving that materials. “Now we are trying to give the findings of old excavations to museums, make a free space in the Institute, but the area is not enough again. The processing of archaeological material lasts long and archaeologists, including me, fail to do it quickly. Years are passing and we do not manage to repay our debts. But in case of existence of a space and opportunities, that process would have been gone faster. We have been promised to be provided with at least one or two floors in the building of the library of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia in order to transfer the Institute’s laboratories there. We are looking forward to that day”, he said.
As for the funding to the excavations, he said that the government provides them with respective funding, but they also have extra-budgetary programs provided by the Science Committee. “Foreign expeditions also make some investments. In particular, we have Armenian-American, Armenian-French, Armenian-Italian, Armenian-Israeli, Armenian-German and other expeditions”, he noted.
Asked how many archaeological sites of Artsakh have become under the control of Azerbaijan as a result of the 2020 war, and what is the Institute going to do for them, Arsen Bobokhyan said: “There are many lost ancient sites. We have a group of Artsakh in the Institute, which has created a website about the monitoring of Karabakh monuments in cooperation with American archaeologists. The presentation of the website will take place soon in the National Academy of Sciences. Quantitative data will be presented there. The main excavations in Artsakh were in Tigranakert, however, archaeological activities were also being carried out in other sites as Azokhi and Mirik. Several new books dedicated to various issues of Artsakh’s ancient and medieval culture have been published by the Institute recently and will be published.
He also talked about the fate of the findings from Artsakh’s monuments that were saved. “The material of Tigranakert has been mostly brought to Armenia. Many materials in Shushi Museum have been left. However, it was possible to evacuate and exhibit some materials, particularly some values from Shushi were displayed at the Erebuni Museum. Of course, there has been a major loss in cultural values. But this is not something new for our history. We are like a pottery that is constantly being broken and recovered”, he added.
The full version of the interview is available in Armenian.
Interview by Ani Danielyan
Photos by Hayk Badalyan