BELMONT, MA — The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) will host two webinars on archeology in Armenia, Benik Vardanyan’s “The Ancient Archaeological Landscape of Lernakert in the Shirak Region” on Saturday, November 13 at 12 noon (Eastern), and Mariam Shakhmuradyan’s “‘Desert Kites’: Mysterious Prehistoric Structures in Armenia” on Saturday, November 20, at 12 noon (Eastern). The programs will be accessible live on Zoom (registration required) and on NAASR’s YouTube Channel.

Both events are presented by NAASR through the generous support of the Dadourian Foundation and co-sponsored by the Ararat-Eskijian Museum. They are the second and third programs, respectively, in a series of three archeology-related programs supported by the Dadourian Foundation; the first, a talk by Dr. Arsen Bobokhyan, was held in March and can be viewed online.

The Ancient Archaeological Landscape of Lernakert in the Shirak Region
The investigation of fortress-settlements, necropoli, and their infrastructure is of key importance for the study of the archaeological landscape of the Bronze and Iron Age Armenia. The investigation of the Lernakert archaeological complex on the northwestern slope of Mt. Aragats in 2020-2021, which has been supported by grants from NAASR and Knights of Vartan Fund for Armenian Studies, has revealed various data on the emergence of the fortress-settlements, the chronology of the settlements and necropoli, and the organization of the habitat of Bronze and Iron Age Shirak.

The recent investigations shed new light on the multiple uses and transformations of the ancient landscape of Lernakert and promise further insights about pre-historic Armenia.

Dr. Benik Vardanyan is a researcher at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Armenian Academic of Sciences and the Director of the excavations at Lernakert in Shirak in 2019-21. He received a PhD in 2020 from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography with a thesis entitled “The Social Composition and Burial Rite of the Population of the Northeastern Part of the Armenian Highland According to the Late Bronze-Early Iron Age Tomb.” He is the author or co-author of numerous academic articles in Armenian and German and has taken part in various excavations of Bronze and Iron Age sites in Armenia.

‘Desert Kites’: Mysterious Prehistoric Structures in Armenia
“Desert kites” are large-scale stone structures of different forms, discovered in the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as in Armenia. They usually consist of two long rows of stones, several kilometers long, of an enclosure that can reach several dozen acres. The enclosure can have various forms: some are geometric while others resemble more complex shapes (including, most notably, a child’s kite).

Although kites have been studied by many scientific research centers around the world for nearly a century, their function and the place and time of their origin remain a mystery to archaeology. The fact that there are more than five thousand of them in the world, that a lot of effort has been put on their construction, indicates their significance, and thus a whole page of the history of the ancient world remains undiscovered. Armenian kites yield great potential to shed light on these mysterious structures due to their high level of preservation and rich archaeological environment.

Mariam Shakhmuradyan graduated from Yerevan State University with a BA in History and Theory of Armenian Art and went on to receive an MA and PhD in Archaeology. She has worked at the Department of Early Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia as a junior researcher. She was the recipient of a grant in 2021 from NAASR and the Knights of Vartan Fund for Armenian Studies in support of her ongoing research on desert kites in Armenia.

For more information contact NAASR at [email protected].

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