Syunik Travel Guide

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Carahunge 3500 BC

Carahunge 3500 BC

Dan Kablack

The south marz (province) of Syunik is high plateau, and very ancient. Entered from the west through the Gates of Syunik (don't forget to honk), the road descends past an alpine reservoir on the right, and over a treeless plateau.

On the left is Ughtasar Mountain, whose top stone is etched with literally thousands of petroglyphs, many with hunting scenes carved 10,000 BC, and including now extinct animals and herding scenes.

On the right before the turnoff for Sissian, is a guarded intersection still semi-open to Nakhichevan. A short distance east is a turnoff to the must-see of Syunik: Carahunge. Literally a stonehenge of standing rocks, but much broader (30+ stone circles) than the UK version, and several thousand years older. In the summer, student volunteers both explain the site, and guard it from vandals and New Agers.

It is one of the most advanced astronomical sites in the IV-III Millenium period, with rocks carved with 90 degree 'holes' and obsidian mirrors, for viewing stars directly overhead, as well as on the horizon.

If you make your way around Sissian, there is a martyr's memorial on a back road to Noravan village, and further south a hot springs below a 500 foot cliff in the valley village of Uruyt.

To follow the road east (and dodge Iranian lorries), you will pass through the eastern city of Goris, one of the few treed respites in the high contry, as it is in a well-watered valley. To go east of this university/military garrison town, one approaches the Lachin corridor. The last Armenian town, just after the turnoff is Tsegh, a former cave village, whose caves are now used for livestock. Two km farther, and there are no people or livestock, though the far cliffs to the north are again peppered with caves, some with buldings over the cave entrance. One descends on a very modern highway, to the western hinge of Nagorno Karabagh, the cliff side village of Lachin, still bearing the bombed out, roofless look it gained in the 1991-1993 war. From there there are only a scattering of settlements on the Diaspora-financed highway to Shushi fortress, and then the Karabagh (Artsakh) capital of Stepanakert.

Southwest of Stepanakert, in the occupied province of Fizuli, there is Azukh Cave, where 900,000 year old Neandertal artifacts have been found; but that is another journey...


Part or or all of this text stems from the original article at: DRK

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