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NAASR to Host Archeology Webinars in Armenia

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Lernakert excavations

National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) to host two webinars on archeology in Armenia, Benik Vardanyan “The ancient archaeological landscape of Lernakert in the region of Shirak” Saturday, November 13 at noon (EST), and that of Mariam Shakhmuradyan “” Desert kites “: mysterious prehistoric structures in Armenia” Saturday, November 20 at noon (Eastern Time). The programs will be accessible live on Zoom (registration required) and on NAASR YouTube Channel.

Both events are presented by NAASR thanks to the generous support of the Dadourian Foundation and co-sponsored by the Ararat-Eskijian Museum. These are respectively the second and third programs in a series of three archeology-related programs supported by the Dadourian Foundation; the first, a lecture by Dr Arsen Bobokhyan, took place in March and possibly viewed online.

The ancient archaeological landscape of Lernakert in the Shirak region

The study of settlement-fortresses, necropolises and their infrastructure is of paramount importance for the study of the archaeological landscape of Bronze and Iron Age Armenia. The investigation of the Lernakert archaeological complex on the north-western slope of Mount Aragats in 2020-2021, which was supported by grants from the NAASR and the Knights of Vartan Fund for Armenian Studies, revealed various data on the emergence of colonies-fortresses, the chronology of settlements and necropolises and the organization of the habitat of the shirak of the Bronze and Iron Age.

Recent surveys shed new light on the multiple uses and transformations of the ancient Lernakert landscape and promise new perspectives on prehistoric Armenia.

Dr Benik Vardanyan is a researcher at the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Armenian Academy of Sciences and director of the Lernakert excavations in Shirak in 2019-21. He obtained a doctorate in 2020 from the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography with a thesis titled “Social composition and funeral rite of the population of the northeastern part of the Armenian highlands according to the late bronze tomb and of the early iron age “. He is the author and co-author of numerous academic papers in Armenian and German and has participated in various excavations of Bronze and Iron Age sites in Armenia.

“Desert Kites”: mysterious prehistoric structures in Armenia

“Desert kites” are large-scale stone structures of various shapes, discovered in the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as in Armenia. They generally consist of two long rows of stones, several kilometers long, of an enclosure that can reach several tens of hectares. The enclosure can have various shapes: some are geometric while others resemble more complex shapes (including, in particular, a child’s kite).

Although kites have been studied by numerous scientific research centers around the world for nearly a century, their function as well as the place and time of their origin remain a mystery to archeology. The fact that there are more than five thousand of them in the world, that a lot of effort has been devoted to their construction, indicates their importance, and thus an entire page of the history of the ancient world remains to be discovered. Armenian kites offer great potential to shed light on these mysterious structures due to their high level of preservation and rich archaeological environment.

Mariam Shakhmuradyan graduated from Yerevan State University with a BA in Armenian Art History and Theory and went on to earn a Masters and Doctorate in Archeology. She worked at the Department of Ancient Archeology of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia as a junior researcher. She received a grant in 2021 from the NAASR and the Knights of Vartan Fund for Armenian Studies in support of her ongoing research on desert kites in Armenia.

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Founded in 1955, NAASR is one of the world’s leading resources for advancing Armenian studies, supporting academics, and building a global community to preserve and enrich Armenian culture, history and identity for future generations.

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