ALMA to Host CYSCA Panel on Stone-Bronze Age Settlement


On site at Shengavit

WATERTOWN — On Friday, April 12, at 7:30 p.m., Vladimir Tshagharyan, director of Yerevan’s Shengavit Historical and Archaeological Culture Preserve, will present an illustrated talk about Shengavit at the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA.)

Tshagharyan will visit at the invitation of the Cambridge Yerevan Sister City Association (CYSCA). Two years ago CYSCA, with the support of generous donors, established a project to help with the preservation and renovation of the Shengavit site.

Tshagharyan will be joined in discussion by Dr. Mitchell Rothman, an archaeologist from Pennsylvania and head of Widener University’s anthropology department. Rothman has spent three seasons excavating at Shengavit and plans to write a book on the subject.

Dr. Susan Pattie, anthropologist and director of ALMA, will moderate the discussion. Tshagharyan will speak in Armenian and his comments will be translated into English.

The site, across Yerevan Lake from the US Embassy, dates to the fourth millennium BCE and contains remains of dwellings, stone and metal implements, bones of domesticated animals and remnants of grains grown nearby.

The site also houses the tombs of Shengavit’s early inhabitants. It is believed that the area was occupied for more than 1,500 years.

Researchers are currently studying Shengavit’s evolution from tribal societies to more complex social structures, as well as its role in the development of the regional culture and the evolution of human society in the Caucasus and the Middle East.

Shengavit is also home to a small museum that displays some of the artifacts recovered from the excavations.

The Shengavit or Kura-Arax culture was established in the Ararat Valley with connections as far away as western Anatolia, the northern Caucasus, southern Russia and northern Mesopotamia.

The earliest excavations were performed in 1936 by Joseph Orbelli (1887 -1961,) an expert on the history of the southern Caucasus, the director of Leningrad’s Hermitage Museum from 1934 to 1951 and the first president of the Armenian Academy of Sciences.

Along with Orbelli, scholar Eugeni Bayburtian, participated in studying the site until he was declared “an enemy of the people” by Stalin’s secret police. Bayburtian was arrested and never seen again.

Later Sandro Sardaryan and Yuri Tamanian studied the site. In 1967, Sardaryan published his English language study, “Primitive Society in Armenia.” There are few other studies of this site in the English language.

The site is a 10-15 minute taxi drive from the center of Yerevan.

This event is part of CYSCA’s participation in the Cambridge Science Festival. CYSCA is joined in this effort by ALMA and the National Association of Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR). More information on Shengavit is available at www.cysca.org.

ALMA is located at 65 Main St.