Obscura Day 2015: Ancient Armenia - Atlas Obscura
Join us on an Atlas Obscura Trip in 2019 »

Yerevan, Armenia

Obscura Day 2015: Ancient Armenia

Copper Age artifacts, cave-dwellings and 4th- century Christianity....

Join Hyur Service on Obscura Day to explore the wonders of Armenia, from Saint Gregory's pit to the remains of the oldest winery in the world and the ancient cave dwellings of Khndzoresk!

We'll begin our excursion with a visit to Khor Virap (Armenian for "deep dungeon") Monastery, a famous pilgrimage site that once imprisoned the man who would become Saint Gregory the Illuminator in a pit for 13 years before he helped turn the country into the first Christian nation in the early 4th century. We'll then travel on to the Armenian town of Areni in the Vayots Dzor province to explore the Areni-1 Cave Complex. First investigated by archeologists in 2007, the Areni caves consist of a number of burial sites dating back to 5000 - 4000 BCE. Among the astounding artifacts uncovered in the caves were a series of clay pots, each containing the skull of a pre-teen corpse. One of these ancient skulls still held a piece of well-preserved brain tissue, making it the oldest example of the Neolithic brain ever discovered. The Areni caves were also the site of the discovery of the oldest sewn leather shoe, dating back to the Copper Age, and an ancient wine press, making the caves the oldest known wine-making site ever found.

Our final destination is Khndzoresk, a network of caves that was the biggest village in Eastern Armenia right up until the 20th century. Given no level ground on which to build, the ancient population of Eastern Armenia dug into the sloping hillsides, creating a village of both natural and manmade caves. At the inhabiting community's height, some estimates suggest that population grew to as many as 15,000 people. Since many of the dwellings were carved out over and around each other, a complex system of ropes and ladders were required for people to reach many corners of the community. The cave dwellings were inhabited until as late as the 1950s at which point it is said that Soviet officials forced the remaining villagers to leave.

Join Hyur Service this Obscura Day and explore Armenia's many hidden wonders on a full-day excursion to a few of our favorite locations.

Saturday, May 30; 9:00am - 9:00pm
Ticket Cost: $45.00 (Meals not included)
Meet-up will be in front of the fountains of the Republic Square
Yerevan, Armenia