Discovery at Kaps: Another Early Bronze Age Site Unearthed in Shirak

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By Yeranuhi Soghoyan
YEREVAN (Armenia Now) — The early Bronze Age monument at Kaps was discovered back in the 1980s during construction work on a reservoir some two kilometers from the village.
A settlement and burial field dating back to the Kur-Araks epoch was unearthed. No archeological studies were carried out at the site in the years that followed.

In 2008, Hamazasp Khachatryan, who heads archeological expeditions at the Gumri Geological Museum, and archeologist Larisa Yeganyan, collected some earthenware vessels at the site. Convinced that they belonged to an early Bronze Age culture they petitioned the RoA Monuments Preservation Agency to have the site protected.

This year, a joint expedition by the RoA National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Archeology and the Gumri Geological Museum carried out a study of the site from July 2 to August 1. The expedition successfully unearthed one complete burial mound and discovered three graves with materials intact.

“One of the bodies discovered was that of a woman with a round bronze ring on her finger. The other two were males,” explains Larisa Yeganyan. “The woman lay in a normal prone position and the males were buried in a seated position. A sacrificial ceremony could have taken place there. Such rituals are characteristic of the period and it was also performed by Armenians.”

The archeologists were able to extract one complete clay vessel from the site. During the dig, a round stone cover for grain storage well was discovered as well as numerous shards of pottery.

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Expedition leader Levon Petrosyan, a leading researcher with the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Archeology, stated that the construction work performed twenty years ago severely damaged the site. As a result, it is difficult to exactly fix its boundaries. He also says that the team found some of the crypts damaged as well.

“Despite all this, our work wasn’t for naught. First of all, the existence of a settlement dating back to the first half of the third millennium BC was proven. With the discovery of the

Kaps site the series of monuments belonging to the Kur-Araks culture in Armenia, particularly in the Shirak Marz, has been completed, Petrosyan said.

Other monuments also discovered in Shirak include the sites at Keti and Harij. Archeological teams have worked at Voskehask, Karmrakar and Byurakan, where human settlements dating back to the same period have been discovered.

Levon Petrosyan said that they would be temporarily preserving the Kaps site until next year. “There are many archeological sites in Armenia that need to be investigated but our financial and manpower resources are quite limited,” complained Petrosyan, adding, “I am hopeful that we can continue our work at Kaps next year. Whatever we unearthed this year has been preserved for later on.”

The archeologists point out that the Kaps site is luckily far from the nearest rural communities and thus has been spared human defilement. The experts see little threat of this in the future as well.

Residents of the rural areas where the archeological digs took place are careful when construction work is carried out. In fact, just two days ago a family from the village of Shirakavan telephoned the Gumri archeologists and invited them to their village.

It turns out that the residents of Shirakavan had unearthed a flat stone layer during the construction of a new toilet outside. Thinking that it might be a burial chamber, residents called in the archeologists. The experts arrived and got to work excavating the entire site, discovering, in the end, that it was a false alarm. It was the local residents who came out on top. The archeologists had excavated the entire site for the new bathroom for free.