Ancient Structure at Agarak, Armenia

Ancient Structure at Agarak, Armenia

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Meghri (Armenian: Մեղրի ) is a town and the center of the urban community of Meghri, in Syunik Province in southern Armenia, near the border with Iran. As of the 2011 census, the population of the town was 4,580. According to the 2020 official estimate, Meghri's population is around 4,500. Meghri is located 376 km south of the capital Yerevan and 73 km south of the provincial capital Kapan.

As a result of the community mergers in 2016, the municipality of Meghri was enlarged to include the surrounding villages of Agarak, Alvank, Aygedzor, Gudemnis, Karchevan, Kuris, Lehvaz, Lichk, Nrnadzor, Shvanidzor, Tashtun, Tkhkut, Vahravar, and Vardanidzor. [3]


Armenia is a mountainous country characterized by a great variety of scenery and geologic instability. The average elevation is 5,900 feet (1,800 metres) above sea level. There are no lowlands: half the territory lies at elevations of 3,300 to 6,600 feet only about one-tenth lies below the 3,300-foot mark.

The northwestern part of the Armenian Highland—containing Mount Aragats (Alaghez), the highest peak (13,418 feet, or 4,090 metres) in the country—is a combination of lofty mountain ranges, deep river valleys, and lava plateaus dotted with extinct volcanoes. To the north and east, the Somkhet, Bazum, Pambak, Gugark, Areguni, Shakhdag, and Vardenis ranges of the Lesser Caucasus lie across the northern sector of Armenia. Elevated volcanic plateaus (Lory, Shirak, and others), cut by deep river valleys, lie amid these ranges.

In the eastern part of Armenia, the Sevan Basin, containing Lake Sevan (525 square miles) and hemmed in by ranges soaring as high as 11,800 feet, lies at an elevation of about 6,200 feet. In the southwest, a large depression—the Ararat Plain—lies at the foot of Mount Aragats and the Geghama Range the Aras River cuts this important plain into halves, the northern half lying in Armenia and the southern in Turkey and Iran.

Armenia is subject to damaging earthquakes. On December 7, 1988, an earthquake destroyed the northwestern town of Spitak and caused severe damage to Leninakan (now Gyumri), Armenia’s second most populous city. About 25,000 people were killed.

What’s an Ancient Roman Temple Doing in Armenia?

“Church fatigue?” my tour guide asked rhetorically, noticing my dragging feet and glazed-over eyes. I’d never heard the term, but after eight hours of monastery-hopping under the Armenian sun, it certainly resonated. It was only 3 o’clock, and we’d already hit St. Echmiadzin, Khor Virap, Geghard and Noravank, four spectacular sites that were starting to blur together in a fever dream of conical roofs, cruciform floor plans and dizzying frescoes. “Final stretch,” he said, patting me on the back, “and don’t worry, this place is nothing like the others.”

He was right. Here, 2,500 miles from Rome and 1,500 miles from Athens in a remote corner of the South Caucasus, sits an unmistakably Hellenic temple of colossal proportions—the only remaining standing structure of its kind in the former Soviet Union. I gazed, mouth agape, at its geometrically impeccable colonnade, reminiscent of the Maison Carrée in Nîmes or the Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis. Beneath it, double-height stairs wrapped around the entire foundation, and above it, triangular pediments rested on its capitals. Pedestals displaying carvings of Atlas, the Greek sky-bearing Titan, flanked the entrance. My mind was racing: How did a Greco-Roman architectural masterpiece end up in Armenia, and what was its purpose?

The leading theory is that the temple was erected in 77 AD during the reign of Tiridates I, who, 11 years prior, had been crowned by the Roman emperor Nero. The story goes that as a token of goodwill, Nero sent the Armenian monarch back east with a cadre of Roman craftsman and a generous sum of money, resources that were used to build the fortified city of Garni and its central temple, a shrine to the ancient Armenian sun god Mihr.

This hypothesis hinges on a Greek inscription found near the site that mentions the completion of an important construction project in 77 AD. But some scholars, like Elizabeth Fagan, an assistant history professor at Truman State University, are hesitant to jump to conclusions. “There’s no compelling reason to connect the Greek inscription to the temple,” she said. “The text in question seems to allude to the construction of a residential building, not a holy site.”

Another band of academics maintains that Garni isn’t a temple at all but rather the tomb of one of the Romanized Armenian kings of the 2nd century, based on architectural similarities between Garni and contemporaneous mausoleums in Asia Minor. (Fagan isn’t sold on this theory, either, since tombs—even prominent ones, according to her—were customarily erected outside the city walls Garni Temple was built well within them. She does pin the construction in this timeframe, though, the 2nd or 3rd century, based on the structure’s stylistic elements and drilling techniques.)

(rparys / iStock) (SeregaYu / iStock) (Boyce Fitzgerald / iStock) (Jose Coso Zamarreño / iStock)

If everyone can agree on one thing, it’s that Garni Temple is pre-Christian, making its existence today somewhat miraculous: When Armenia adopted Christianity as its national religion in the 4th century—one of the first nations in the world to officially do so—King Tiridates III’s regime razed virtually all of the pagan temples. It remains a mystery why the temple at Garni survived.

It almost didn’t, for more natural reasons. In 1679, a violent earthquake toppled the temple and reduced it to rubble, and for three centuries the structure sat in utter disrepair. It was only in 1975—following the imprimatur of the Soviet Union—that the edifice was fully, meticulously restored to its former glory. It may seem odd that the U.S.S.R. would fund the restoration of a supposedly holy structure, given their crackdown on religion generally, but as Christina Maranci, professor of Armenian art and architecture at Tufts University, explained, “The Soviet aesthetic often prized classical forms, so Garni Temple was an inspirational place.” While most of the stones you see today are original, any missing fragments were purposely replaced with blank gray rock, so as to differentiate between the new and old materials.

Today Garni Temple welcomes some 136,000 visitors each year, and a handful of those are Armenian Neopagans, who call the site their spiritual capital. Armenian Neopaganism is a relatively new grassroots religious movement that aims to reclaim the pre-Christian Armenian faith. “The movement officially began with the first celebration of the birth of Vahagn, the ancient Armenian god of fire, at Garni Temple in 1991,” said Yulia Antonyan, assistant professor of the Department of Cultural Studies at the Yerevan State University. “So that tells you how important this site is to their identity,” she added. “To this day, Armenian Neopagans congregate there on their holidays to practice ceremonial dancing and ritual prayer and sacrifice—though a new law forbids them from actually slaughtering animals on-site.” Tour the site on Navasard (August 11), the Neopagan New Year, or Khaghoghorhnek, their Day of the Dead, and you’ll likely happen upon a congregation of praying Neopagans. (Visitors can observe these rituals but aren’t generally welcome to participate in them.)  

Regardless of how visitors choose to experience Garni Temple today—as a primeval shrine to pagan gods or simply an enigmatic archaeological site—this ancient structure, with its many untold secrets, is sure to spur everyone’s imagination long into the future.

About Benjamin Kemper

Benjamin Kemper writes about the food and history of the places that make him hungriest with a certain predilection for the Caucasus, Portugal, and Spain. He's based in Madrid.

When Texas Was at the Bottom of the Sea

It’s 12:30 on a November afternoon, and I’m  sitting on top of Guadalupe Peak, the highest mountain in Texas, eating trail mix. The sun is bright, the sky without a cloud, and the view is huge. In front of me—I am facing roughly south—I am looking down on the jagged spine of El Capitan, a mountain that sits at the front of the range like the prow of a ship. Beyond it, I can see at least 70 miles across an arid plain sprinkled with rows of smaller hills. The road to El Paso and the border with Mexico is a gray scratch across the landscape. It’s gorgeous.

But the view I came for is the one I’m sitting on. The rock beneath me, which looks almost white in the glare of the sun, is full of fossils. Zillions of them. Back when these life-forms were alive� million years ago or so—the Guadalupe Mountains were underwater, part of a flourishing reef that once stretched about 400 miles around the edge of a long-vanished sea.

Reefs are a fascinating fusion of biology and geology. They are, after all, made of stone—but built by life. Moreover, although the individual life-forms involved are typically tiny, the results of their activities can be gigantic, resulting in a massive transformation of the landscape. As usual, Charles Darwin put it better than anyone. Writing about corals, he said: “We feel surprise when travellers tell us of the vast dimensions of the Pyramids and other great ruins, but how utterly insignificant are the greatest of these, when compared to these mountains of stone accumulated by the agency of various minute and tender animals!”

The marine ecosystem of 265 million years ago at Midland’s Petroleum Museum. (Chris Howes / Wild Places Photography / ALAMY) The marine ecosystem of 265 million years ago is now an arid place with more than 1,000 plant species . (Bryan Schutmaat ) (Bryan Schutmaat ) Plate tectonics raised up the fossil reefs 10 to 15 million years ago. Then ice age waters helped carve the canyons. (Bryan Schutmaat ) (Bryan Schutmaat ) (Bryan Schutmaat ) About 95 percent of Permian life-forms were wiped out, including ancestors of mollusks, sea urchins and snails. (Bryan Schutmaat ) (Bryan Schutmaat )

Mountains built by life. Literally. To give a couple of examples, the volume of coral built up on the Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands is around 250 cubic miles. This is equivalent to building the Great Pyramid of Giza more than 416,000 times. And that’s just one atoll: The Earth has scores. The Great Barrier Reef, which runs for more than 1,800 miles along the northeastern coast of Australia, comprises about 3,000 reefs and 900 islands. It is the largest structure built by living beings in the modern world.

But today’s reefs, being underwater, hide their scale. To appreciate the full extent of a mountain of life, I decided to find an ancient example.

The Earth is littered with ancient reefs. Indeed, the pyramids were built mostly of limestone quarried from one. But the Guadalupe Mountains of west Texas and New Mexico are one of the best examples of an ancient reef anywhere. In honor of this, they were made a national park in 1972. They even have a time interval named after them: “Guadalupian” refers to the epoch from 272 million to 260 million years ago, when the reef was being built. And so, as I made plans to go, I began to see the trip as a pilgrimage. I was going to commune with vanished life-forms, marvel at the edifice they built and contemplate immense spans of time.

I began the journey in somewhat crazy fashion: After landing in El Paso, I drove five hours to Midland, Texas, which is about halfway between El Paso and Dallas—not particularly close to the Guadalupe Mountains, nor on the way. But Midland is home to the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum. And there I could see a diorama of the reef as it looked when it was alive. 

The first part of the drive took me southeast along the border with Mexico, through a landscape of low hills. From time to time, I saw border patrol vehicles once, I had to go through a roadblock. When I finally turned east, I entered a flat plain that stretched as far as I could see: the Permian Basin, the largest petroleum province of North America and the source of much of the Texas oil wealth. 

Since the time of the global landmass called Pangea, Texas drifted 2,000 miles north. (Map: Guilbert Gates (source: Ron Blakey / Colorado Plateau Geosystems Inc ™))

The roads were empty and fast. The light was harsh. The air was warm. I turned on the radio whether in English or Spanish, the airwaves were full of the Bible. While I drove, I pondered the irony of so much religion in a place named after a period of geologic time. The Permian Period ran from 299 million to 252 million years ago—the Guadalupian is a slice from the middle of it—and ended with a great cataclysm. In the sea and on land, most species then alive were wiped out forever. It was, by far, the most catastrophic extinction on record.

No one knows what caused it. The prime suspects are a group of volcanoes in what is now Siberia. But whatever it was, the seas became stagnant the average air temperature shot up the rain became acid. And in the space of just a few tens of thousands of years, the rich and diverse ecosystems of the Permian world collapsed. Afterward, it took more than ten million years for life to recover.  

The radio switched to an energy report. I listened while the announcer reeled off prices of oil. As I got nearer to Midland, the landscape began to fill up with metal. Pumpjacks, or “nodding donkeys,” pulling oil from the ground. At first, it was one here, one there. But soon, I was passing whole herds of them.

At the museum, a man at the front desk enthused about an exhibition of antique oil drilling equipment, informed me I could buy a copy of Spoiled , a movie that he said “puts right a lot of the myths about the oil industry,” and explained that the Permian Basin is rich in oil because of the seas that have come and gone, and the reefs that were built here. I asked for the diorama, and he pointed me beyond the Hall of Fame—portraits of petroleum industry bigwigs, including both Presidents Bush—toward a doorway guarded by a giant, coiled ammonite, cut in half and smoothly polished. I passed a display of local dinosaur tracks, which were being excitedly examined by a group of schoolchildren, and an array of stone cores lined up against a table of geological time, showing how different rocks formed during different periods. So—the diorama should be here. No. This is a model of a 1920s oil town. Ah. Here it is.

I stepped into what could, at first glance, be mistaken for a walkway through an enormous aquarium tank. Wow. An amazing reconstruction. If it wasn’t for the stillness of the animals, I’d almost think it was real. Behind the glass, a shark appeared to swim in the distance a couple of jellyfish seemed to pulsate nearby. In the foreground, the reef was full of colorful fish, snails, sea urchins, starfish and sponges. It was a thriving place: Fossils from at least 500 species have been found here. As I walked to the next window, the scene came to life in my mind’s eye. Fish began to dart about. Fronds began to sway. Sure, there were some odd animals that you don’t see anymore—such as tentacled creatures that looked like squid, but bearing long, pointed shells. Apart from that, however, it all looked broadly familiar. Yet despite the apparent similarities, this reef of 265 million years ago is fundamentally different from the reefs on Earth today.  

Today, reefs are built mostly by corals. But 265 million years ago, the main builders were a suite of less familiar life-forms. Chief among them were sponges, including the gloriously named Gigantospongia —a creature that could grow to be more than eight feet across, and which seems to have provided shelter for many other beings under its great expanse. (Not all sponges are soft like bath sponges: Many, like Gigantospongia , have skeletons that are strengthened with a limestone scaffold. These can play an important role in reef building.) There were also bazillions of foraminifera—“forams” to their friends—single-celled life-forms that live inside shells. Whereas most single-celled beings are speck-of-dust-size or smaller, some forams reach lengths of around four inches. For a single-celled life-form, that is colossal.

I had hoped to arrive at the mountains before the ranger station closed for the night. My plan was to camp at the foot of Guadalupe Peak, and set off early the next morning. At first I was hopeful: I could see the mountains from over 70 miles away, a jagged silhouette against the horizon. But as I drove, I realized I wasn’t going to make it: I had stayed too long at the museum. I didn’t get to Carlsbad, New Mexico—the largest town near the park—until dusk. The moon was setting over Walmart, and I tried to find a hotel room.  

Impossible. Carlsbad is part of the fracking boom, and during the week the hotels are sold out. I eventually found a room in Whites City—a tiny hamlet between Carlsbad and the park that boasts a motel, a restaurant, a campground and an information-center-cum-T-shirt-shop that for some reason had two large green sculpted aliens standing out front. I tumbled into bed, and dreamt of foraminifera.

The next morning, I was at the ranger station when it opened at 8. I discussed the trails with the ranger behind the desk, paid for my campsite, and took a quick look at the exhibition of how the reef had formed. But I didn’t linger: I was anxious to get to the reef. 

The air was cool the sky was clear the hike was strenuous. But by noon, I had arrived at the top of Texas, as Guadalupe Peak is affectionately known. All 8,751 feet of it. Eating my lunch, I was sitting on rocks composed of the shells of heaps upon heaps of large forams about the length of my little finger. I ran my hands over the stone, feeling the ridges and whorls of life from 265 million years ago.

Two hundred sixty-five million years. Easy to say. Hard to imagine. Think of it this way: Dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago, but when this reef was built, they had not yet come into being. Back then, there were no birds, and no birdsong. No ants or bees. No mammals. No flowers, no fruits, no grasses. The shores of this ancient lagoon had no coconut palms.  

Which isn’t to say the Earth was barren: It would have been full of plants and animals. Some would have been recognizable—lichens, mosses, ferns, monkey-puzzle trees. Dragonflies would have flitted around. There would have been plenty of cockroaches. Something like a grasshopper might have been singing. But other life-forms would have seemed strange to us—such as amphibians several feet long. In the sea, the trilobites were shortly to vanish, their astonishing 300 million-year tenure on the stage of life about to come to a close.

But many of the evolutionary events that would produce the life-forms of our times were still millions of years in the future. Even the night sky was different: Star clusters such as the
Pleiades had not yet come into being.

Two hundred sixty-five million years ago, the continents were smashed together into one giant landmass, Pangea, surrounded by a global ocean, Panthalassa. The bit of Texas I’m sitting on was down near the Equator: Its current position of 32 degrees north latitude is the result of a long, slow drift. The sea that allowed the reef to form was an inland sea, connected to Panthalassa by a narrow channel. This channel was soon to be cut off the sea would evaporate the reef would be covered by sediments. In another 150 million years or so, another sea would come but this too would disappear. Then there were upheavals: Although much of the original reef still lies buried, tectonic forces pushed the rocks bearing this piece of it upwards. Softer sediments washed away, exposing the harder limestone. Exposing the edifice built by living beings long, long ago.

Such thoughts were in my mind the next day, as I hiked through McKittrick Canyon, another segment of the reef. The leaves had turned on the trees, yielding beautiful hues of red and orange. A couple of tarantulas were strolling around a lizard was sunbathing on a rock. After about three and a half miles of flat and easy walking along a clear, burbling stream, the trail became steep and narrow. I scrambled up and up and up, until finally I passed “the notch”—a point that allows you to look into another part of the canyon—and sat down to rest. I took off my boots and massaged my feet. This time, the view was not across a plain, but of the steep and rugged walls of the other side of the canyon.

The place was immense. Vast. And—though just a few miles from the trailhead—remote. Sitting there, I felt small. Alone. And suddenly: terrified.

It was as if the scale of the place was too much the sense of time needed to construct it, too huge the number of beings that lived and died in its making, too incredible. With rising panic, I jammed my boots on and pelted back the way I’d come.

Was this an experience of the sublime? A dizziness at nature’s ungraspable proportions? A degree of awe so great that it left me cowering? I think it was. Though I had not expected it to happen—nothing like that had ever happened to me before—it was, perhaps, what I had come for.

That night, I woke around 3 a.m. and stepped out of the tent. Brrr. Cold. The sky was clear and full of stars, yet the air had an inky quality, the darkness around me impenetrable without a flashlight. For a moment, a shooting star blazed above me. As I stood on the slopes of that ancient reef, the silence was profound, broken only by the distant howl of a coyote.      

About Olivia Judson

Olivia Judson is a science writer and evolutionary biologist. Judson is the author of the international best seller Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation and has written for the Economist and the New York Times.


On the subject of feasts, food is a large part of the Armenian culture-a time for socializing-be it with friends, relatives, or even strangers knocking on the front door. Almost effortlessly, a table topped with food platters will appear before the guests. Armenians will express the importance of food among friends by saying: "we have bread and salt among us." That is to say that we have sustenance of life among us: friendship, bread, and salt.

Rh-Negative Blood Lineages

One population which contains an unusually high frequency of the gene for the Rh-Negative blood type are the Basques from northeastern Spain. The Basques have the highest incidence of the gene out of any population in the world. The Basques also speak a non-Indo-European language and have genetic markers that pre-date the rise of agriculture. This has led to speculation that Rh-Negative blood is related to Cro-Magnon ancestry going back to the upper Paleolithic period in Europe.

Among the more exotic theories is the idea that the Rh-Negative gene represents a separate branch of humanity that intermarried with the branch that came out of Africa. One blogger has gone as far as to say that those with Rh-Negative blood are descendants of the Hyperborean race, which they believe to be the original human race. Followers of this idea believe that this race was blonde-haired and blue-eyed and included most major spiritual teachers in history, including Jesus.

Some people who are not satisfied with the idea that those with RH- blood are another form of humanity have suggested that the trait originates from extraterrestrials either interbreeding with humans or creating humans through genetic engineering.

Secret underground tunnels of ancient Mesopotamian cult under Ani ruins

For the first time in history, the academic world is paying attention to the spectacular underground world of Ani, a 5,000-year-old Armenian city located on the Turkish-Armenian border. Hurriyet Daily News reports that scientists, academics, and researchers have just met at a symposium in Kars titled ‘Underground Secrets of Ani’ to discuss the city’s underground world mentioned in ancient parchments as the location of an ancient Mesopotamian esoteric school.

Located on a hilltop near the bank of the Akhuryan River, Ani is the most famous among the Armenian capitals. Renowned for its splendour and magnificence, Ani was known as ‘The City of 1001 Churches’ and ‘The City of 40 Gates’. At its zenith, Ani rivalled the likes of Constantinople, Baghdad and Cairo in size and influence. By the 11th Century Ani had grown to over one-hundred-thousand people. It would later become the battleground for various contending Empires, leading to its destruction and abandonment. Today, hundreds of ancient churches, Zoroastrian temples, and other buildings, most of them in ruins, remain scattered across the rugged and desolate landscape.

Excavations have revealed that the area has been inhabited since ancient times, from at least as early as the Bronze Age, but the first historical records that mention ‘the Fortress of Ani’ trace back to the 5 th century AD. By the end of the 8th century Ani, with its nearby estates, got under the control of Bagratid dynasty. Ani began growing since 961 AD, when the Bagratid king Ashot III transferred his capital from Kars to Ani. During the period of only 40-50 years Ani transferred from a little fortress town to a big medieval city.

Illustrations of Ani, the capital city of medieval Armenian kingdom of the Bagratuni dynasty (961 C.E.) Image source .

It was in the 1880s, that ‘Underground Ani’, as locals call it, was first discovered. George Ivanovic Gurdjieff, who spent most of his childhood and youth in Kars, was with a friend named Pogosyan, when he noticed a disturbance in the soil. They began digging until they came across a narrow tunnel. It was the beginning of an incredible discovery – secret water channels, undiscovered monk cells, meditation rooms, huge corridors, intricate tunnels, traps and corners were found under the ruins of the ancient Armenian town of Ani.

In one of the rooms, Gurdjieff found a scrap of parchment in a niche. Although he spoke Armenian very well, he had great difficulty reading the writing in the parchment. As it turns out, the text was written in an ancient Armenian language, the first sign that the underground world of Ani was very, very old.

One of the entrances to the underground world of Ani. Image source .

After some time, Gurdjieff managed to piece together the meaning of the unusual script. He learned that the parchment was a letter written from one monk to another monk. According to the parchment, there was a famous Mesopotamian esoteric school in the place where they found the letters. Gurdjieff recorded his discovery in a journal . He writes:

We were especially interested in one letter in which the writer referred to information he had received concerning certain mysteries….Towards the end, one passage particularly attracted our attention. It said: ‘ Our worthy Father Telvant has at last succeeded in learning the truth about the Sarmoung Brotherhood. Their organisation actually did exist near the town of Siranoush, and fifty years ago, soon after the migration of peoples, they also migrated and settled in the valley of Izrumin, three days journey from Nivssi. ’ Then the letter went on about other matters. What struck us most was the word "Sarmoung", which we had come across several times in the book called "Merkhavat". This word is the name of a famous esoteric school which, according to tradition, was founded in Babylon as far back as 2500 BC, and which was known to have existed somewhere in Mesopotamia up to the sixth or seventh century AD but about its further existence one could not obtain anywhere the least information. This school was said to have possessed great knowledge, containing the key to many secret mysteries.”

“Gurdjieff’s discovery, nearly 135 years ago, could not have been confirmed until the excavation works of 1915. Years later, an Italian excavation team confirmed that there was a monastery,” said history researcher Sezai Yazıcı, who spoke at the symposium.

Since this time, new underground structures have come to light in Ani. Yazıcı said among the most important underground structures were the Giden Gelmez Tunnel, Yeraltı Anisi (Underground Ani) and Gizli Kapılar (Secret Doors). In total, there are currently 823 underground structures and caves that are known about in Ani today, including dwellings, stores, food shops, tombs and monasteries, chapels, mills, stables, and reservoirs.

Yazıcı argues that it is time for the world to learn about the underground city of Ani and for further research to be conducted on this unique location. The recent symposium on the subterranean world of Ani was the first step towards achieving this aim.

Featured image: Top left: An abandoned church in Ani. Top right: A cave room near Echmiadzin Cathedral, Ani. Bottom left: An entrance to one of the underground tunnels in Ani. Bottom right: Wall paintings found in one of the underground chambers.

Major studies of Armenians

Kristian J. Herrera, Robert K. Lowery, Laura Hadden, Silvia Calderon, Carolina Chiou, Levon Yepiskoposyan, Maria Regueiro, Peter A. Underhill, and Rene J. Herrera. "Neolithic patrilineal signals indicate that the Armenian plateau was repopulated by agriculturalists." European Journal of Human Genetics (November 16, 2011).
Figure 2 tells the "Y-haplogroup phylogeography within Ararat Valley, Gardman, Lake Van and Sasun." It's useful because it lists the Y-DNA haplogroups found in each region. Haplogroup R1b1b1* was found to be the most frequent haplogroup in all four regions a total of 115 men out of the 413 tested possessed it. Haplogroups J2a* and G2a* were also fairly frequent, among others. Haplogroup J2a2a was unevenly distributed, with a number of holders of it from the Ararat Valley and Gardman but only one from the Lake Van region and none from the Sasun region. Haplogroup R2 was found in 18 of the 104 tested men from the Sasun region but only one from the Lake Van region and absolutely none from the Gardman and Ararat Valley areas. Haplogroup R1a1 was not very frequent in any of the four regions. Excerpts from the abstract:

Robert K. Lowery, Kristian J. Herrera, Dianne A. Barrett, Rosa Rodriguez, Laura R. M. Hadden, Ashot Harutyunyan, Ashot Margaryan, Levon Yepiskoposyan, and Rene J. Herrera. "Regionalized autosomal STR profiles among Armenian groups suggest disparate genetic influences." American Journal of Physical Anthropology. First published online on August 8, 2011. Abstract:

Michael E. Weale, Levon Yepiskoposyan, Rolf F. Jager, Nelli Hovhannisyan, Armine Khudoyan, Oliver Burbage-Hall, Neil Bradman, and Mark G. Thomas. "Armenian Y chromosome haplotypes reveal strong regional structure within a single ethno-national group." Human Genetics 109:6 (December 2001): pages 659-674.
734 Armenian males were sampled for their Y-DNA markers and their genetics were compared with other populations. Excerpts from the abstract:

Robert K. Lowery, Kristian Herrera, Gabriel Uribe, Maria Reguiero, and Rene J. Herrera. "Sub-population structure evident in forensic Y-STR profiles from Armenian geographical groups." Legal Medicine (December 3, 2012, published online), doi:10.1016/j.legalmed.2012.10.003 Excerpts from the Abstract:

David Tarkhnishvili, Alexander Gavashelishvili, Marine Murtskhvaladze, Mariam Gabelaia, and Gigi Tevzadze. "Human paternal lineages, languages, and environment in the Caucasus." Human Biology 86:2 (May 2014): pages 113-130.
Y-chromosome STR (short tandem-repeat) markers of Armenians were compared with those of Georgians and other Caucasian peoples. The Y-DNA haplogroup R1b is found in a "relatively high proportion" of Armenian men, whose language is Indo-European. The researchers were able to associate R1b with Indo-Europeans in general.

Siiri Rootsi, Natalie M. Myres, Alice A. Lin, Mari Järve, Roy J. King, Ildus A. Kutuev, Vicente M. Cabrera, Elza K. Khusnutdinova, Kärt Varendi, Hovhannes Sahakyan, Doron M. Behar, Rita Khusainova, Oleg Balanovsky, Elena Balanovska, Pavao Rudan, Levon Yepiskoposyan, Ardeshir Bahmanimehr, Shirin Farjadian, Alena Kushniarevich, Rene J. Herrera, Viola Grugni, Vincenza Battaglia, Carmela Nici, Francesca Crobu, Sena Karachanak, Baharak Hooshiar Kashani, Massoud Houshmand, Mohammad H. Sanati, Draga Toncheva, Antonella Lisa, Ornella Semino, Jacques Chiaroni, Julie Di Cristofaro, Richard Villems, Toomas Kivisild, and Peter A. Underhill. "Distinguishing the co-ancestries of haplogroup G Y-chromosomes in the populations of Europe and the Caucasus." European Journal of Human Genetics 20 (2012): pages 1275-1282. First published online on May 16, 2012.
426 Armenian males included in this research, updated from a previous study by Yunusbaev et al., and 12% of them had a G haplogroup. Supplementary Table 1 tells us about the G subclades among these Armenians: 2.1% in G-M406, 1.6% in G-M285, 1.6% in G-P303, 1.4% in G-P15, 1.4% in G-U1, 1.2% in G-P16, and all others under 1% each. For G1 haplogroups the Armenian frequency was 2.6%. Excerpts:

Viola Grugni, Vincenza Battaglia, Baharak Hooshiar Kashani, Silvia Parolo, Nadia Al-Zahery, Alessandro Achilli, Anna Olivieri, Francesca Gandini, Massoud Houshmand, Mohammad Hossein Sanati, Antonio Torroni, and Ornella Semino. "Ancient Migratory Events in the Middle East: New Clues from the Y-Chromosome Variation of Modern Iranians." PLoS ONE 7(7) (July 18, 2012): e41252.
938 males from 15 ethnic groups living in Iran were tested on their Y-chromosomes. Among those tested were 34 Armenians from the city of Tehran. The study notes that "the present-day [Armenian] community [in Iran] is a Christian minority of no more than 100,000 individuals who mostly live in Tehran and the Jolfa district of Isfahan". 8.8% of the study's Armenians from Tehran carry the paragroup J2a-M67*. About 24% of the Armenians carry the haplogroup R1b-M269. The researchers provided a "Principal component analysis (PCA)" diagram showing the affinities and clusters between the different ethnic groups studied in comparison with non-Iranian peoples from Africa, Europe, and Asia. Their Y-DNA frequency data let us see that Armenians from Tehran cluster close to the Lur people of Lorestan and fairly close to the people of all regions of Turkey. Excerpt:

Levon Yepiskoposyan, Anahit Hovhannisyan, and Zaruhi Khachatryan. "Genetic Structure of the Armenian Population." Archivum Immunologiae et Therapiae Experimentalis 64: Supplement 1 (December 2016): pages 113-116. Also electronically published on January 12, 2017.
A review of "studies on the genetic structure of both modern and ancient inhabitants of the Armenian Highland".

Oleg Balanovsky, Marina Chukhryaeva, Valery Zaporozhchenko, Vadim Urasin, Maxat Zhabagin, Anahit Hovhannisyan, Anastasiya Agdzhoyan, K. Dibirova, M. Kuznetsova, Sergey M. Koshel, E. Pocheshkhova, I. Alborova, Rosa Skhalyakho, Oleg Utevska, The Genographic Consortium, Kh. Mustafin, Levon Yepiskoposyan, C. Tyler-Smith, and E. Balanovska. "Genetic differentiation between upland and lowland populations shapes the Y-chromosomal landscape of West Asia." Human Genetics 136:4 (April 2017): pages 437-450. First published online on March 9, 2017. Excerpts from the Discussion section:

Miroslava Derenko, Galina Denisova, Boris Malyarchuk, Anahit Hovhannisyan, Zaruhi Khachatryan, Peter Hrechdakian, Andrey Litvinov, and Levon Yepiskoposyan. "Insights into matrilineal genetic structure, differentiation and ancestry of Armenians based on complete mitogenome data." Molecular Genetics and Genomics 294 (August 1, 2019): pages 1547-1559.
This haplogroup study has 536 mtDNA sequences drawn from 8 populations of ethnic Armenians, including those from Armenia and Turkey. Excerpts from the Abstract:


Tzelentzchik is wrong spelling of city name Gelendzhik

This comment is very well thought out. I, too, believe that dolmens must have been "survival structures", because there is no way people would have gone to all the effort to put a several ton roof on something just to protect themselves from something such as the weather.

A structure like this would not protect someone very well from other humans, because humans could just do something like build a huge fire around the structure and kill everyone inside with the heat and the smoke humans are much too clever to be thwarted by this kind of defense.

The near complete lack of artistic carvings in the inner and outer walls of the dolmens also points toward their just being made for survival.

I personally think it is naive to assume that the structures were actual dolmens (burial structures) just because a lot of them have human remains inside. To me, the human remains just signify that people died inside the structures. Also, the device which blocks the entry to the "dolmen" is always on the inside, which would not be the case if people were buried in those structures by other people.

There must have been a lot of large predators in that area at the time.

I do not believe that humans coexisted with dinosaurs millions of years ago. There simply aren't any fossils of ancient humans, even though fossils of dinosaurs abound all over the world.

It is interesting to note that interposed human/dinosaur tracks have been found in several locations. Hard to explain these tracks if they didn't "co-exist." Which, in turn, suggests that man is either much OLDER than conventionally assumed, or the dinosaurs died off much LATER than conventionally assumed. Take your pick. pretty much has to be one or the other. With interposed tracks, there is no "middle ground" here!! Things like this will drive ya to drink!!

History is nowhere near as well known as we think it is.

First, the random dating of 25,000 years is just not supported by known RC site test. General RC results put most dolmens on both the Korean Peninsula and Caucuses Region at about 7K YBP (which collectively contain about 60% of all known dolmens).

Second, if Buckminster Fuller's axiom that "form follows function" is relevant to folks that lived in a primitive society, then design specifics tell us a lot about use characteristics.

It is instructive to note the four basic forms of dolmens, because each, when looked at through the lens of the above axiom, defines a general use that varies in application,

The one significant standard to all dolmens, is that they are all 'capped' or covered with large over sized slab stones or boulders. The stone 'roofs' are heavier than any other part of the building.

Now lets apply primitive survival thinking to moving very heavy stone slabs to cover a small (less than room sized) area. Sometimes, particularly in the Caucuses, the heavy stone covering sets over a tightly enclosed "room" with a very small (about 20") round entry-exit hole. That is just large enough to allow an average human of that time (about 5'6" for males) to enter and exit relatively easily.

To me, what that suggests is the dolmens are a 'survival imperative' structure. A 'safe room', as it were at the time. They certainly were not to protect against human attackers, as the stone slab "roofs" serve no specific purpose in that regard. So the predators were very large and muscular and could move or root out stones and coverings that were not at least several tons. (dinosaurs, very large flyers, anyone?) They were not designed to protect against ground predators like giant cats and bears, as those animals also cannot move large stone boulders.

I wasn't there, so I can't make definitive statements, but I have lived in a primitive social structure,, and I know from personal experience how survival imperative works.Nothing including labor is lost or wasted. Every breath, step, process or procedure is related to immediate survival, in not only the harshest or marginal survival zones, but in moderate climate zones as well.

So, in my considered opinion, dolmens are 'survival imperative" structures, built to defend against several different large predators.

I make the case in my book, "Earth Epochs" that a major global cataclysm occurred at almost exactly 7K years before present, taking out a very large worldwide population, and reducing remnant populations to harsh primitive survival technologies.

Absolutely all ancient written history, as well as folk tales and legends tell us that in the ancient past a major catastrophe occurred that destroyed the planet, sank whole continents, and raised others. Those same references tell us that man lived along side a number of different dinosaurs up until our fairly recent past. (within the last 1,500 years).

Now before a bunch of you "incremental gradualism" devotees get to howling too loud, just go look at the evidence and give me an explanation that covers all the dolmens, and representations of dinosaurs on rock wall art and pottery, and give me a better explanation that explains those collective anomalies (as a group).

My book is online and FREE wherever books are sold or given away particularly Google Books. "Earth Epochs" by John Jensen

Watch the video: Evoca Drone Light Show in Yerevan


  1. Vien

    It will be last drop.

  2. Zululrajas

    Charming question

  3. Rodrick

    In my opinion, this is a big mistake.

  4. Natalio

    the Incomparable phrase, I like :)

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