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Armavir region is located in the south of Aragatsotn Province and named in honor of one of the ancient capitals of Armenia. Located between Mount Ararat and Mount Aragats, this region is part of the Ararat Valley, the largest and most fertile of 40 valleys of the Armenian highlands. The territory of the region is located at an altitude of 850-1000 meters above sea level; the climate here is dry continental.

Lake Metsamor is the only water reservoir in the region. Even in prehistoric times the local architecture was at high level. Ancient ruins of cyclopean fortresses, burial sites and palace buildings have survived up to the present day. The history of Metsamor is over 7000 years old.

Four capitals out of twelve that have existed in the history of Armenia were located in Armavir region: Armavir, Ervandashat, Bagaran, and Vagharshapat. It takes 20 minutes to get from Vagharshapat. to Yerevan. After the adoption of Christianity in 301 A.D., King Tiridates III destroyed a pagan temple in Vagharshapat and established the Etchmiadzin Cathedral in its place. The name of the Cathedral comes from a legend according to which Gregory the Illuminator saw a vision of Christ who descended from heaven and showed him the place to build a church.
In the immediate vicinity of the Cathedral there are other temples: the church of St. Hripsime (618), the church of St. Gayane (630), the Zvartnots Cathedral (643-652). All three buildings are very impressive and considered the gems of the Armenian architecture.

The History of Armavir

Armavir, the most ancient city of Armenia and its first capital, is located on the left bank of the Araks River. According to the Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi, the city was founded by King Aramais, Hayk’s grandson, but there is no information on the exact time of its foundation.

Urartian cuneiform inscriptions found in the vicinity of Armavir tell us that in the eighth century B.C. Urartu King Argishti built here the fortress-city Argishtikhinili and the irrigation system with the use of the waters from the Araks River. You can learn more about this fortress-city from the archeological excavations of Erebuni since that time Urartu fortress-cities had similar fortification plans.

In the beginning of the fourth century B.C. Argishtikhinili was devastated and burned, the city went into decline. It was reborn in the third century B.C., under Eruande’s rule, who proclaimed himself the king of Armenia. The fortress was fortified again; the king’s palace and homes for people were built. That historical period also includes the references about Armenian pagan shrines and the sacred plane grove of the Armavir oracle who told fortunes basing on the palpitation of the leaves in the grove.

At the end of the third century B.C. the capital of the Armenian kingdom was transferred from Armavir to Ervandashat. Life in Armavir became provincial. That lasted till the beginning of the Common Era, and then the city quit the stage of history.

Some archaeological finds from Armavir can be viewed at the Historical Museum of Armenia. They mostly belong to the Armenian Hellenistic period (the third-first centuries B.C.). You can see karases or pithoi - ceramic containers with a small flat base, a very bloated middle part and a wide mouth; jars with trefoil figures; bowls-plates with rounded sides; lighting sets - plane-bottomed round cups with a smoke-black spout. There are also fine examples of painted pottery and glass items - beads, clasps, gems, and fragments of glass vessels made by Syrian and Phoenician craftsmen as well as glasswork from local glass blowers; gold medallions in the form of thin discs decorated with relief images of women's heads. Two bowls - a bronze one and a silver one as well as a gold pectoral with a lotus flowers pattern were also found there.

The archaeological finds from Armavir give us some insight not only into the Armenian culture of that period, but also into its connection with the Eastern Mediterranean and into its trade and exchange with close and far neighbors.


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