Category Archives: ARMENIA

World’s oldest leather shoe which is 1,000 years older than the Great Pyramid.

World’s oldest leather shoe which is 1,000 years older than the Great Pyramid.

In a cave in Armenia, a fully preserved shoe has been discovered, 1,000 years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt and 400 years older than Stonehenge in the UK.

A team of global archaeologists found the 5,500-year-old shoe, the world’s oldest leather shoe, and their findings will be published in the online science journal PLoS ONE.

The cow-hide shoe dates back to ~ 3,500 BC (the Chalcolithic period) and is in perfect condition. It was made of a single piece of leather and was shaped to fit the wearer’s foot.

It contained grass, although the archaeologists were uncertain as to whether this was to keep the foot warm or to maintain the shape of the shoe, a precursor to the modern shoe-tree perhaps? “It is not known whether the shoe belonged to a man or woman,” said lead author of the research, Dr Ron Pinhasi, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland “as while small (European size 37; US size 7 women), the shoe could well have fitted a man from that era.”

The cave is situated in the Vayotz Dzor province of Armenia, on the Armenian, Iranian, Nakhichevanian and Turkish borders, and was known to regional archaeologists due to its visibility from the highway below.

The stable, cool and dry conditions in the cave resulted in exceptional preservation of the various objects that were found, which included large containers, many of which held well-preserved wheat and barley, apricots and other edible plants.

The preservation was also helped by the fact that the floor of the cave was covered by a thick layer of sheep dung which acted as a solid seal over the objects, preserving them beautifully over the millennia!

“We thought initially that the shoe and other objects were about 600-700 years old because they were in such good condition,” said Dr Pinhasi.

“It was only when the material was dated by the two radiocarbon laboratories in Oxford, UK, and in California, the US that we realised that the shoe was older by a few hundred years than the shoes worn by Ötzi, the Iceman.”

Three samples were taken in order to determine the absolute age of the shoe and all three tests produced the same results.

The archaeologists cut two small strips of leather off the shoe and sent one strip to the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit at the University of Oxford and another to the University of California -Irvine Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Facility. A piece of grass from the shoe was also sent to Oxford to be dated and both shoe and grass were shown to be the same age.

The shoe was discovered by an Armenian PhD student, Ms Diana Zardaryan, of the Institute of Archaeology, Armenia, in a pit that also included a broken pot and wild goat horns.

“I was amazed to find that even the shoe-laces were preserved,” she recalled. “We couldn’t believe the discovery,” said Dr Gregory Areshian, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, US, co-director who was at the site with Mr Boris Gasparyan, co-director, Institute of Archaeology, Armenia when the shoe was found. “The crusts had sealed the artefacts and archaeological deposits and artefacts remained fresh dried, just like they were put in a can,” he said.

The oldest known footwear in the world, to the present time, are sandals made of plant material, that were found in a cave in the Arnold Research Cave in Missouri in the US. Other contemporaneous sandals were found in the Cave of the Warrior, Judean Desert, Israel, but these were not directly dated so that their age is based on various other associated artefacts found in the cave.

Interestingly, the shoe is very similar to the ‘pampooties’ worn on the Aran Islands (in the West of Ireland) up to the 1950s.

“In fact, enormous similarities exist between the manufacturing technique and style of this shoe and those found across Europe at later periods, suggesting that this type of shoe was worn for thousands of years across a large and environmentally diverse region,” said Dr Pinhasi.

“We do not know yet what the shoe or other objects were doing in the cave or what the purpose of the cave was,” said Dr Pinhasi. “We know that there are children’s graves at the back of the cave but so little is known about this period that we cannot say with any certainty why all these different objects were found together.” The team will continue to excavate the many chambers of the cave.

The team involved in the dig included; lead author and co-director, Dr Ron Pinhasi, Archaeology Department, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland; Mr Boris Gasparian, co-director and Ms Diana Zardaryan of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, National Academy of Sciences, Republic of Armenia; Dr Gregory Areshian, co-director, Research Associate at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, University of California, US; Professor Alexia Smith, Department of Anthropology of the University of Connecticut, US, Dr Guy Bar-Oz, Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa, Israel and Dr Thomas Higham, Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, University of Oxford, UK.

A researcher holds the ancient shoe at the Armenian Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography.

The research received funding from the National Geographic Society, the Chitjian Foundation (Los Angeles), US, Mr Joe Gfoeller of the Gfoeller Foundation of US, the Steinmetz Family Foundation, US, the Boochever Foundation, US, and the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA, US.

A Mysterious 3,000-Year-Old Castle Has Been Found Under a Lake in Turkey

A Mysterious 3,000-Year-Old Castle Has Been Found Under a Lake in Turkey

A story describing the ruins of an ancient castle buried underneath the picturesque waters of Lake Van, Turkey, has been proclaimed entirely real.

The preserved ruins of a castle dating back more than 3,000 years to the Iron Age under the civilisation of Urartu have been found by archaeologists from Van Yüzüncü Yıl University.

Tahsin Ceylan, head of the dive team, told the Turkish Daily Saba that “There was a report that there was something under the water but most archaeologists and museum officials told us that we’re not going to find it.” Instead, Ceylan and his team ended up uncovering a massive fortress spanning a kilometre over the lakebed.

A Mysterious 3,000-Year-Old Castle Has Been Found Under a Lake in Turkey
The 3,000-year-old remains of an ancient fortification have been discovered at the bottom of Turkey’s largest lake. Divers exploring Lake Van discovered the incredibly well-preserved wall of a castle, thought to have been built by the Urartu civilization

“Since the water of Lake Van is alkaline, the castle has not been damaged and has kept its characteristics underwater,” Ceyland added to the Hurriyet Daily News, referencing Van’s distinction as the largest sodium lake in the world.

“We have detected the castle’s exact location and photographed it and have made progress in our research. We now believe we have discovered a new area for archaeologists and historians to study.”

As shown in the video below, the fortress appears remarkably well preserved, with mortared rocks giving way to perfectly cut, smooth stone walls.

Visible sections span some 9 to 14 feet, with much of the rest buried under sediment.

A boon to archaeology and tourism

Lake Van has been subjected to dramatic rises and falls in water levels throughout much of its history.

During the Ice Age, the lake was more than 200 feet above its present level, while some 9,500 years ago it was nearly 1,000 feet lower.

Because the lake has no outlet, it is rich in sediment, with some layers estimated to be more than 1,300 feet.

This makes it extremely interesting to climate scientists, who estimate these sediments may contain the preserved climate history of the last 800,000 years.

According to Ceyland, the discovery of the submerged castle is not only a boon to the archaeological community, but also for tourists interested in learning more about the region’s rich history.

“Many civilizations and people had settled around Lake Van,” he said. “They named the lake the ‘upper sea’ and believed it had many mysterious things. With this belief in mind, we are working to reveal the lake’s ‘secrets.”

7,500 -years-old “Armenian Stonehenge” discovered at Carahunge (the Armenian Stonehenge)

7,500-years-old “Armenian Stonehenge” discovered at Carahunge (the Armenian Stonehenge)

Opposing research institutes have agreed to set aside their disputes over the nature of the so-called ‘Armenian Stonehenge’ to solve its mysteries for once and for all.

Made up of 223 stones, Carahunge has been argued to predate Wiltshire’s Stonehenge by 2,500 years — but its purpose has long been a bone of contention.

Although some archaeologists have argued that the prehistoric site was used as an astronomical observatory, others contend it was just a conventional settlement.

Opposing research institutes have agreed to set aside their disputes over the nature of the so-called ‘Armenian Stonehenge’, pictured, to solve its mysteries for once and for all

Made up of 223 stones, Carahunge has been argued to predate Wiltshire’s Stonehenge by 2,500 years — but its purpose has long been a bone of contention

Members of the Bnorran Historic-Cultural NGO and the Armenian Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography co-signed an agreement on July 30 to collaborate in plumbing the mysteries of Carahunge, which lies near Sisian, in Armenia’s Syunik Province. 

For the former group of researchers, the archaeological site — which some experts claim is 7,500 years old — represents the earliest-known observatory.

‘We think Carahunge — where more than 200 stones are located, with 80 having holes in them — is an ancient astronomical observatory,’ Bnorran board member Arevik Sargsyan told Armenpress.

This idea is partly based on the work of the physicist Paris Herouni, who had argued that the ancient complex dated back to around 5,500 BC.

Some of the stones, he suggested, had been deliberately positioned in order to align with Deneb, the brightest star in the constellation of Cygnus, along with the positions of the sun and the moon at certain times in the year.

‘According to another opinion, Carahunge isn’t an astronomical observatory,’ Ms. Sargsyan said.

For them, she added, ‘it is simply an ancient site, a settlement, which has a status of a mausoleum.’

In this theory, the stones form the structural remains of a city wall, in which the rocks supported piles of rubble and loam that have since been removed from the site.

This is the opinion held by researchers at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, who have long disagreed with the astronomical interpretation of Ms. Sargsyan and her associates.

Not a single astronomical tool has been unearthed from the Carahunge site, institute director Pavel Avetisyan and archaeological expedition team leader Ashot Piliposyan reportedly told Armenpress.

Furthermore, they noted, some of the holes in the stones — which are often cited as evidence in support of the site- have been an astronomical observatory — are located on the lower parts of the basalt rocks and thus do not even point at the stars.

Although some archaeologists have argued that the prehistoric site was used as an astronomical observatory, others contend it was just a conventional settlement
For members of the Bnorran Historic-Cultural NGO, the archaeological site — which some experts claim is 7,500 years old — represents the earliest-known observatory

Holes in the stones are often cited as evidence in support of the site having been an astronomical observatory, but some are located on the lower parts of the basalt rocks and thus do not even point at the stars

For the moment, both academic groups have agreed on a temporary suspension of their excavations and research at the Carahunge site.

Investigations will resume once a jointly-held seminar of experts from various disciplines — including archaeologists, astronomers, and ethnographers — has been held to determine a shared research plan for the ancient stone feature.

‘It requires studies in all aspects,’ said Dr. Piliposyan, who argues that the site is unique across the whole Transcaucasia region

‘We discussed many issues during the signing of the agreement, we even considered that maybe in the future it will be possible to build a museum near the monument to display all materials regarding the ancient site.’

Investigations will resume once a jointly-held seminar of experts from various disciplines — including archaeologists, astronomers and ethnographers — has been held to determine a shared research plan for the ancient stone feature

Burial of an ancient female warrior discovered in Armenia

Burial of an ancient female warrior discovered in Armenia

A teenage Armenian woman was at the frontline of a war more than 2,000 years ago. Now her newly discovered remains allow archeologists to see how ancient societies lived and died on the battlefield.

The skeletal remains, which have sustained a number of injuries. Jewelry discovered with the skeleton indicates that the woman was of high status.

In 2017 researchers excavated the poorly preserved remains and found the woman buried on her side with flexed arms and legs and her head oriented to the northwest.

Her skeleton was “fragmented and incomplete,” with cracks and fractures occurring on her bones in the thousands of years since her burial.

An analysis of her dental wear, cranial sutures, and other indicators of trauma allowed for an understanding of the type of injuries she suffered just before her death.

A metal arrowhead was found buried in her femur likely shot by a bow, strongly suggesting that the woman was injured in some type of combat.

Healing around the site of the arrowhead indicates that she lived for some time with the injury before dying, possibly from an additional sword or hatchet blows to the pelvic bone, femur, and tibia in a “rich array of traumatic lesions.”

“During the combat, the woman had been most likely exposed to direct blows to the defensive shield (the power transmitted from the end of the shield to the ulna), or direct blows when the forearm was used to ward off the blow,” study author Anahit Khudaverdyan told daily mail.

It was determined that the woman died aged between 20 and 29. Radiocarbon dating of the artifacts located in and around her grave indicates that she was likely a woman of stature.

“We know nothing about her social position, but the burial with rich inventory testifies to high status.

Though the overall position of women was lower than men, yet, on the whole, the position of woman was good,” write the authors of the study published in International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, noting that upper-class women enjoyed the freedom and were generally well-respected.

Archaeologists also discovered injuries to her thigh likely caused by a long-range weapon

During her time, the Kingdom of Urarti (Urartu), or Bianili, was an “uncommon developed culture” flourishing in the Armenian Highland from the 9th century BCE to 585 BE.

Strategically located between Europe and Asia, it is likely that the society had contacts with major empires of the ancient world. The defensive architecture suggests that the city likely experienced warfare and fear of assault.

As soon as they passed eight or 10, boys rode on horseback and hunted deer, buffalo, and mountain goats in much the same way that they used for defensive purposes.

“For the people of the Armenian Highland, bows, and arrows turned into an efficient weapon to be used against the intruders, particularly when shot from horseback.

Research shows that both men and women rode horseback while participating in battles and hunting. This is evidenced by female warrior graves discovered in many parts of the Caucasus,” wrote the authors.

Her remains are the second burial discovered in Armenia that provides evidence on female warriors.

As Khudaverdyan notes, evidence suggests that Urartian kings fought with the enemy along with their wives, potentially serving as the “prototype of the Amazons,” the Greek myth of the tribe of warrior women that supposedly came from the Caucasus, which Armenia is part of.

She probably died as a direct result of subsequent battle scars including to her pelvic bone and finished off with a hatchet as seen in this artist drawing
Her injuries suggest she was struck by a sword and died in battle. Studies of her bones suggest she was hit in the pelvis

This 5,500-Year-Old Leather Shoe is the Oldest Ever Discovered

This 5,500-Year-Old Leather Shoe is the Oldest Ever Discovered

The oldest leather shoe known to archeologists was discovered lodged in a sheep dung pit in a cave in Armenia, and is about 5,500 years old, according to a BBC article. The so-called Areni-1 shoe is an example of early, simplistic footwear which may have influenced the creation of other types of shoe design in the ancient world.

Anthropologists believe that humans started wearing shoes around 40,000 years ago contributing to anatomical changes in human feet and limbs. However, we have very little idea of what these prehistoric shoes might have looked like.

Entrance to the Areni-1 cave in southern Armenia near the town of Areni. The cave is the location of the world’s oldest known winery and where the world’s oldest known leather shoe has been found.

Entrance to the Areni-1 cave in southern Armenia near the town of Areni. The cave is the location of the world’s oldest known winery and where the world’s oldest known leather shoe has been found.

Several pairs of rope sandals discovered by archaeologists in a cave in Oregon are thought to be the oldest footwear ever discovered, dating to approximately 8,000 BC. However, the oldest shoe, made from leather and featuring a closed toe, was found in a remote cave in Armenia in 2008.

The shoe was excavated as part of a project led by archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia.

The team was exploring a cave known as Areni-1, in the Vayots Dzor region. Areni-1 contained a number of Neolithic and Copper Age remains, including food containers holding barley, wheat and apricots.

The shoe itself was found inside a pit, perfectly preserved in the cool, dry conditions of the cave. It was cemented in with several layers of sheep dung, which acted as a seal, protecting the contents of the pit from the air and water.

The Areni-1 shoe was made from a single piece of tanned leather from the hide of a cow. It was seamed at the front and the back and tied together with leather cords, and appears to have been made to measure.

According to National Geographic, the leather was probably wrapped around the foot before stitching to ensure a tight fit. It corresponds to a size 7 (US) in modern footwear, and so could have conceivably been worn by either a man or a woman.

The archaeological site of Areni-1 in 2012.

The shoe was also found stuffed full of grass. The archaeologists could not determine whether this was intended as a way to ensure that it held its shape while not being worn, or whether it was insulation designed to keep the wearer’s feet warm.

The Areni-1 shoe was carbon-dated to around 3,500 BC, making it the oldest footwear of its kind ever to be discovered. Shoes would have been particularly important to the Copper Age inhabitants of the cave, as the area around the site is well known for its rocky terrain, with sharp, pointed rocks and thorny plants.

The shoe itself showed considerable signs of wear and tear, particularly at the heel and ball of the foot, suggesting that the wearer habitually walked very long distances. This assumption is further supported by the other items discovered in the cave including obsidian, thought to have been brought from a site over 75 miles away.

According to National Geographic, the Areni-1 shoe appears to be an example of the earliest leather footwear designs, creating a basic prototype that would be exported throughout the region.

Replica of the footwear worn by Ötzi The Iceman (about 5000-years-old) found in Alps.

The shoe closely resembles other ancient shoes discovered in the Middle East and North Africa and even draws a comparison with traditional clothing from the Balkans and North Africa, which are still worn in festivals today. In particular, it bears close similarities to the opanke, a form of traditional Balkan footwear.

The second oldest leather shoe discovered by archaeologists was found on Ötzi “the Iceman”, a mummified corpse uncovered in the Austrian Alps and dating from between 3,400 and 3,100 BC.

Reconstruction of Otzi the Iceman.

Ötzi’s shoe was significantly more sophisticated, comprising a bearskin base and deerskin side panels, pulled tight with a bark-string net. Dating just a few hundred years after the Areni-1 shoe, Ötzi’s shoe represents a significant leap forward in footwear design and technology.

Nevertheless, the Areni-1 shoe provides an important and extremely rare insight into the clothing and footwear worn by the Copper Age inhabitants of Armenia. Today it is on display in the History Museum of Armenia in Yerevan.

The world’s oldest sword? 5,000-year-old Anatolian weapon discovered in Armenian Monastery of Venice

The world’s oldest sword? 5,000-year-old Anatolian weapon discovered in Armenian Monastery of Venice

In a monastery on the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni, in Lagoon Town, a 5000-year old Anatolian sword was found.

Vittoria Dall’Armellina, a Ph.D. student at the Ca ‘ Foscari University in Venice, accidentally found a small sword among a number of medieval items in a display cabinet.

The sword she saw was not like a medieval weapon, according to Dall’Armellina, but instead a much older sword, similar to those she had already met in her studies.

An Anatolian sword resurfaces after millennia.

The sword did, in fact, look very similar to those found in the Royal Palace of Arslantepe (Eastern Anatolia), dating back to five thousand years ago and considered to be the oldest swords in the world. The name of Arslantepe is derived from the lion (“Arslan” in Turkish) statues excavated at the location.

Arslantepe – an important Hittite settlement during all ages of the Hittite period and later became a major site as a Neo-Hittite city-state – was even inhabited much earlier since the Chalcolithic Age. The area was also a residential area for the Romans until the 5th to 6th centuries A.D. and used as a necropolis by the Byzantines until the 11th century.

As to the latest discovery of the Anatolian sword, the same type of sword – coming from the Sivas region – was also found inside the Tokat Museum (Turkey). Indeed, this weapon shows quite a few similarities with the San Lazzaro one.

After confirming that the sword had never been recorded in the catalog of Near East antique objects belonging to the Saint Lazarus Island museum and having received the approval of her Ph.D. supervisor Elena Rova, professor of Archeology at the Department of Humanities, Dall’Armellina carried forward with the investigation to assess whether her intuition was correct and in doing so, she managed to shed light on many puzzling aspects of the discovery.

Father Serafino and Ph.D. student Vittoria Dall’Armellina, in a monastery on the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni in the Lagoon City.

The scientific analysis confirmed her suspects: the sword doesn’t just resemble the most ancient weapons in the world, but it was also forged around the same time, around the year 3000 b.C.

An Anatolian weapon casually reappears in Venice, resurfacing from the darkness that engulfed it for millennia.

How did it come to the monastery and what could have been its ties with the Armenian monks?

Who did it belong to and which far away lands had he explored?

Who wielded the weapon? Or was somebody buried with it?

Ansa.it reports that “the research was carried out by consulting Father Serafino Jamourlian, of the Mekhitarist Monastery of San Lazzaro, who was able to partly solve the question by consulting the archives of the museum.

The sword arrived from Trabzon to Venice, donated by an art merchant and collector, Yervant Khorasandjian, in the mid-1800s, according to an envelope. It was found with other objects in an area called Kavak. Ghevond Alishan, a famous poet, and writer who was friends with John Ruskin, a monk with the congregation and a researcher, died in Venice in 1901. It is thought, therefore, that this episode dates back to the last decades of the 19th century.”

The sword is made of a type of copper and tin frequently used before the Bronze age, according to the analysis on the metal’s composition has been carried out in collaboration with Professor Ivana Angelini and (Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerca Studio e Conservazione dei Beni Archeologici, Architettonici e Storico-Artistici) Ciba at the University of Padua.

The Saint Lazarus Island sword shows the strong resemblance to the twin swords of Arslantepe, retrieved in a well-documented context, and has allowed the experts to determine that the sword dates back to around the end of 4th and the beginning of the 3rd-century BC.

Saint Lazarus Island and the Mekhitarist Monastery where the sword was discovered.

This type of sword was common in a relatively small region in Eastern Anatolia, between the high course of the Euphrat and the South shore of the Black Sea. The sword, contrary to some of the Arslantepe specimens, is not decorated: there are no visible inscriptions, embellishments or distinctive features. Due to the less than optimal conservation conditions, it was not possible to detect any traces of usage.

Consequently, the sword could have been a real offensive weapon that was actually used in combat, a ceremonial sword or part of some grave goods. A likely hypothesis is that it was part of a burial -casually retrieved by some local townsfolk – whose grave goods were then scattered, as it often happened until a few years ago.

Indeed, the sword was forged during a period of time in which Anatolian and Caucasian burials began to be adorned with a rich array of grave goods, with weapons and jewels, a sign of the emergence of a new warrior elite. The sword’s real story is still unknown; the researchers hope to shed some light on the artifact’s distant past.

The world’s oldest rug was made in Armenia

The world’s oldest rug was made in Armenia

The area covering the Ukok plateau in Siberia is huge. The Altai Mountains and the Ob River are home to the territory of Altai Krai, which is harsh in winter.

The plateau descends into the Pazyryk Valley, which contains ancient kurgans (burial mounds) in the style of the Scythian peoples who inhabited the area in over two thousand years ago.

The area was started digging in the 1920s by archeologists and uncovered a wealth of historically important objects that offered an intriguing insight into the little known ancient Pazyryc nomadic tribes.

Image Of The Pazyryk Rug – The Oldest rug In The World

Mummies, clothes saddles, a big chariot, decorative or devotional figurines as well and cannabis seed with an inhalation tent.  

When the tombs were unearthed, it was found that they had been remarkably preserved in ice since the 5th century BCE.

The mummies that were found were so complete that they still had their tattooed flesh and hair.

Pazyryk Mummy Of The Ukok Princess the “Siberian Ice Maiden”

One of the most remarkable finds was the Pazyryk Carpet.  To our knowledge, it is the oldest piled rug still in existence and is housed at St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum.  

The museum’s website description of this ancient rug is as follows: “Its decoration is rich and varied: the central field is occupied by 24 cross-shaped figures, each of which consists of four stylized lotus buds.  

This composition is framed by a border of griffins, followed by a border of twenty-four fallow deer.

The widest border contains representations of workhorses and men.”  What the website does not mention is the ambiguity of the carpet’s origin.  

The Pazyryk Valley was located between active trade routes spanning the ancient world, with China to the east and Central Asia to the southwest.  

One of the mummies discovered–called the Siberian Ice Maiden–was clothed in a wild silk tunic that likely originated in India.  Some of the figurines were gilded, and gold is not native to the area.

The Pazyryk Carpet most likely came from Central Asia, though it is really a tossup between Persia or Armenia.  Both nations have traditions of carpet weaving spanning thousands of years, and the horses represented on the ancient carpet are nearly identical to horsemen on a frieze in the ancient Persian city of Persepolis.

The possibility that the rug was produced by the Pazyryks is extremely slim because the sophistication and elegance of the design are indicative of a settled and cosmopolitan civilization, unlike the nomadic Pazyryks.

The Oldest Carpet In The World – The Pazyryk

Based on a study of ancient artistic development, textile expert Ulrich Schurmann has reached the conclusion that the rug is of Armenian origin.  

The Persians also claim it as their own, believing that it’s an artifact from the Achaemenid Empire.

Pazyryk Valley Ancient Kurgans (burial mounds)

For now, the exact origin of the Pazyryk Carpet will remain a mystery, but its significance and beauty is forever eternal.

This rug blog about the oldest rug in the world – the Pazyryk Carpet, was published by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs in NYC.