We are delighted to announce that MASC: VDSRS is embarking on a second season of research in Vayots Dzor, with support from the RA NAS Institute of Archaeology and the Social Sciences Research Council InterAsia Program. Our work this year is centered in the town of Areni, famous for both the wine grapes grown in the ancient beds of the Arpa River, and for its rich archaeological landscape. In addition to continuing survey which will contribute to our progressing understanding of the medieval landscape of Vayots Dzor in relaiton to the wider Silk Road ecumene of the late medieval period (and the results of which will be accessible online) our primary focus is directed at the site of Areni/Arpa, which MASC/VDSRS will excavate for the first time this year.
Areni and the site of Areni/Arpa, viewed from the Aghavnadzor plateau (the site is at the base of the cliffs in center frame)
The project will be excavating contexts related to the late medieval settlement of Areni/Arpa, contemporary with the occupation of this site by Tarsayich Orbelyan, one of the most influential members of the Orbelyan Armenian princely dynasty. The exploits of the Orbelyans are known from the historical writings of one of their own, Stepanos Orbelyan (son of Tarsayich), and from the epigraphic record tied to the numerous churches, caravanserai and other buildings they founded, reconstructed, and patronized. We are excited to explore the material remains of this rich period in the history of this region, when the towns and cities of the Caucasus were oriented between Central Asia, Persia and the Mediterranean.
An early modern bridge over a tributary of the Yeghegis river, south of Shatin