We had spent the night in Jermuk, in front of the Gladzor hotel, which we wanted to explore more. It was a sunny day, so we walked to the “giant deer” and took the “rope way” up the mountain.
We had spotted the deer from the town, and as it reminded us of the giant elk we had seen in Norway, we decided to climb up for a closer look. (Elk in Norway) Sadly it had been vandalised and there was a lot of dirt around it, but the view was great.
We took the modern cable car up the mountain, with the upper station at 2480 metres, from where we had a great view in all directions. We had a cup of coffee at the restaurant and then rode down again.
From Jermuk we returned to the main road leading south and after climbing up we reached the Vorotan pass with 2340 metres. For some reason Putin was looking at us sternly in front of the monument at the pass.
Near Sisian, we reached the Armenian stonehenge called Carahunge. The site is rich with stone settings, burial chambers and standing stones (menhirs). 30 chamber graves, some of which are very large, were discovered. The biggest one has the typical form of a Dolmen how we saw them in Spain and Portugal. It is surrounded by a circle of standing stones and still covered with small rocks. The entrance is closed with a big stone, but the roof is destroyed.
The burial ground was laid out in the Middle Bronze Age (20th – 16th centuries BC). The place was then used as a burial place with interruptions until the early Iron Age (12th – 9th centuries BC). The size and content of the graves suggest that primarily people of higher rank were buried here. The very large, centrally located stone chamber grave is dated to the beginning of the 1st millennium BC.
The burial ground was robbed a long time ago. That is why the capstones are missing from most of the graves today. The central stone chamber tomb was also looted, but kept almost all of its capstones. The five untouched graves from the Early Iron Age were excavated in the 1980s. They found grave goods in them, including clay vessels and necklaces, as well as earrings, daggers and bronze arrowheads.
The megaliths are made of basalt, have a height of 2–3 m and an estimated weight of up to 10 t. About 80 of the stones feature a circular hole, 37 of those are still standing. They have been of interest to archaeoastronomers who have suggested that the standing stones could have been used for astronomical observation. Seventeen of the stones were associated with observations of sunrise or sunset at the solstices and equinoxes, and 14 with the lunar extremes.
We were especially fascinated by the graves, which reminded us so much of what we had seen in Spain and Portugal. If you want to compare it: Dolmen near Antequera – the most impressive we have ever seen. Dolmen de Lácara – very informative. Near Évora in Portugal we found a dolmen and menhirs in different locations. Stonehenge of course was a completely different dimension.
Near Sisian the Shaki Fall was now calling us. The drive was easy and the hike short to get to a beautiful waterfall.
From Sisian we took the road along the Vorotan river. The Vorotnavank Monastery lies on a hill above the river.
We made our way to some incredible basalt formations near Vorotan. A bridge leads over the river next to a giant wall of basalt – fascinating!
Next we want to visit a cave town near Goris, where a long suspension bridge leads over the valley. More on our next post!