16  11.09.16 - Treasures unearthed in Armenia: Karashamb (23rd-7th centuries BC)
Dead man’s chest

Dead man’s chest

Necropolis treasures in Armenian village

Excavations in village of Karashamb started in 1987. Since then, about 800 graves containing jewels, weapons, pottery and china items have been discovered. The findings shed light not only on the funeral practice of the ancient times but also on the way of life of that civilization.

PanARMENIAN.Net - An expedition from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography at the Armenian Academy of Sciences has been working in Karashamb since 2009. To know more about the process, PAN talked to Institute representative, archaeologist Varduhi Melikyan, who is responsible for the 2016 excavation round that started on August 1, and took photographs of priceless artifacts.

Ceremonial jar of the Middle Bronze Age (19th-18th century B.C.) resembling a sheep from one side and a bull from the other. The jar was found with one horn broken and was later restored.

Rescue works

A plan of rescue works by the archaeological group was submitted to the Armenian government and approved in 2009. The fact is that the necropolis of Karashamb which once covered a territory of up to 70 hectares has shrunk to some 3,5 hectares. The area that is now surrounded by numerous summer houses was littered with building rubble and domestic waste before the excavations. Some of the graves were damaged and stones have been taken to be used as building material.

Bronze hairpin of the Late Bronze Age; beads bracelet (14th-13th century B.C.)

In 1980s, the territory was given various organizations as farmland. However, archaeological remains were found as the construction started and specialists were invited to explore the area.

During the excavations, former Armenian ambassador to Germany Vahan Hovhannisyan (1956-2014), who was also an archaeologist, discovered the so-called king sepulcher of Karashamb, where numerous precious objects were found. An encrusted silver bowl with images revealing the details of Armenia’s spiritual and material culture of the Middle Bronze Age is among the most interesting findings.

A dagger of the Late Bronze Age, buttons of a mail (14th-13th century B.C.) About 7-8 tombs of warriors with relative military property were discovered in Karashamb.


The archaeologists have discovered 776 tombs, over 500 of which have been dug out since 2009. However, only a little bit more than 1 hectare of the 3,5-hectare territory has been explored. The remaining tombs still stay untouched. The excavations are underway.

Ceremonial jar of the Late Bronze Age (19th-18th century B.C.) found presumably in a priest’s tomb.

The necropolis is located in caliche, what significantly hampers the excavation process. The soil is sound, while digging with small tools takes a lot of time.

The oldest tombs date back to the 20th century B.C. According to experts, the necropolis existed during the period of 20th-7th centuries B.C.

The unearthed tombs and findings like the Karashamb cup belong to the so-called Treghk-Vanadzorian (Treghk was an area in Gugark province of Mets Hayk) in archaeological culture. The ancient structures of this culture date back to the 23rd century B.C. (Karashamb burial mound) while the later buildings were constructed in the 17th-16th century B.C.

Bronze bracelet of the Early Iron Age (carnelian); Bronze bracelet (11th-9th century B.C.)


In the framework of a special grant provided by the Fund for Armenian Relief, an electronic data base of the objects found during Karashamb excavations was created to become available at the beginning of 2017.

Bronze bracelet of the Early Iron Age; beads necklace; bracelet (11th-9th century B.C.)


The expedition consists of 5 people, who are assisted by the residents of Karashamb village. The excavation usually last for about 4 or 5 months in a year.

Kristine Kyurklyan / PanARMENIAN.Net
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