YEREVAN — An Armenian-French-Iranian archaeological expedition has discovered the most ancient street of Yerevan, the head of the Armenian part of the expedition Mikael Badalyan said on Thursday.
Speaking at a news conference he said the street is located in Erebuni fortress, one of several fortresses built along the northern Urartian border that was one of the most important political, economic and cultural centers of the vast Urartu kingdom. He said the 30 meter-long street paved with beautiful tiles is near the temple of Haldi and is estimated to be 2,700 years old.
‘This is a unique and unprecedented discovery that may change completely our idea of the Urartu civilization,’ he said.
“These excavations have solved serious problems: archaeologists were able to come up with their research, their scientific discoveries and we’ve been able to cooperate with French archaeologists. However, the most important issue at this point is preparing for the 2800th anniversary of Erebuni-Yerevan. Certain renovations should be carried out until 2018,” he said.
The head of the French part of the expedition Stefan Duchamp said the foundations of structures revealed at the site suggest there were three not two temples in Erebuni. According to him, the excavations in Erebuni revealed a lot of things which are important for the understanding the development of civilization in this region in the post-Urartu period.
“The excavations are important not only in terms of archaeology but also make it possible to organize the reconstruction of the Erebuni museum in a right way. I hope that a new excavation will start in 2017.” – Duchamp said.
Representative of the Iranian team, Reza Heydari noted that these excavations are an important cultural cooperation for both Armenia and Iran. “The excavations in Erebuni are very important. They shed light on the studies of the Moorish period”.
Erebuni museum director Gagik Gyurjyan said that these discoveries are the result of an eight-year long archaeological program implemented with the support of France.
“The program will end in a few days, but we have asked the French ambassador to Armenia to help keep it going. This joint program provides an opportunity not only for making important archaeological discoveries, but also paves the way for international cooperation, the importance of which can not be overestimated,” Gyurjyan said.
Erebuni was founded by Urartian King Argishti (785–753 BC) in 782 BC. It was built on top of a hill called Arin Berd overlooking the Araks River Valley to serve as a military stronghold to protect the kingdom’s northern borders.