Archeologist raises alarms over Azerbaijan’s shelling of ancient city

October 7, 2020 – 14:25 AMT

PanARMENIAN.Net – Archaeologist Hamlet Petrosyan says a major Hellenistic and Armenian archaeological site, Tigranakert, has been shelled several times in Azerbaijan’s ongoing attack on Nagorno-Karabakh ().

In an interview with Hyperallergic, Petrosyan explains that he learned that Tigranakert, “the best-preserved city of the Hellenistic and Armenian civilizations” of the Caucasus “is in the area of intensive war activity” and “has been shelled several times.”

Petrosyan, who heads the archaeological expedition in Tigranakert and is a department chair at the State University, stated that “as of four days ago, the [onsite] museum has not been damaged.”

Due to the ongoing fighting, the archeological team is finding it largely impossible to get regular assessments of the sites, though they maintain contacts with individuals who have infrequent access to the locations.

“The Tigranakert of Artsakh is one of the cities founded by Tigranes the Great in 95–55 BCE,” explained Petrosyan. The city has ancient fortifications that occupy seven hectares, surrounded by sophistically-planned urban districts of 70 hectares. According to him, Tigranakert was built to guard the eastern frontiers of ancient Armenia “to prevent invasions by [east-of-Kura] Caucasus tribes.”

Azerbaijan, with help from Turkey, launched a large-scale offensive against Karabakh (Artsakh) in the morning of September 27, shelling Armenian positions and civilian settlements with large caliber weapons and rocket systems. Armenia and Karabakh have introduced martial law and total mobilization. The Armenian side has reported deaths and injuries both among the civilian population and the military. International and local journalists too have been injured in Azeri shelling of towns and villages.

Donations can be made to Hayastan All-Armenian Fund, which has launched a fundraising campaign to support Karabakh amid Azerbaijan’s aggression.

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