Tigranakert: The Heart of Artsakh

Tigranakert of Artsakh

Most of us live in a bubble, remaining blissfully unaware of what is happening outside of our own country. Hell, most of us have no idea what is going outside of our own city, let alone anywhere else in the world.

And this needs to change.

There are countries across the globe that face death and destruction on a daily basis. Countries that are full of people suffering in silence, that have remained unheard and unhelped for centuries.

Countries like Armenia, for example.

Armenia is a small country that shares its borders with Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. Known for its interesting culture, beautiful architecture, and stoic people, it is a place that should be well recognised around the globe.

Especially when you consider that Armenia was one of earliest Christian civilisations on the planet – making it home to numerous incredible religious sites and structures.

Sites and structures that are now in danger.

Armenia’s history is full of bloodshed. 

It faced numerous invasions over the course of centuries before eventually surrendering to the Soviet Union in the 1900s. Then, after finally regaining independence in 1991, it was quickly drawn into war with Azerbaijan. 

Now its many religious sites are facing destruction.

Including the amazing City of Tigranakert.

The City of Tigranakert

Tigranakert (also known as “Tigranakert-Artsakh” in certain sections of the world) is a ruined Armenian city that dates all the way back to the Hellenistic period.

Named in honour of the Armenian king Tigranes the Great (who ruled from 95–55 BC), various scholars believe that Tigranakert may have actually been founded by Tigranes the Great’s father, Tigranes the first, who ruled between the years 123 and 95 BC.

This amazing city occupies an area of about 50 hectares and is located approximately four kilometres south of the Khachinchay River.

This city was an integral part of the Republic of Artsakh until November 2020 when it was taken over by Azerbaijan.

Tigranakert: A History

Historians first mentioned Tigranakert in the seventh century, describing it as a vast city of religious wonder – however, archaeologists have since managed to date its founding back to sometime between 120 and 80 BC, during the reign of either King Tigranes the first, or his son and successor King Tigranes the Great. 

This makes it one of the oldest religious sites in all or Armenia.

One of the reasons for Tigranakert’s fame comes down to the fact that it was the site of a battle held during the spring of 625 AD, between the Byzantine emperor Heraclius and a Sasanian force. The battle was won by Heraclius, and the locations name was etched in history.

Whilst the next part of Tigranakert’s history is murky, it appeared to have met its doom in the early Middle Ages, likely due to the invasion of a neighbouring country.

Whilst its name was recognised for hundreds of years after its destruction by Armeinain locals, little was known of its history until 2005.

The Excavation of Tigranakert 

The covered ruins of Tigranakert were discovered early in the 2000s, and is excavation began in March of 2005 – excavations that are currently ongoing under the directorship of Dr Hamlet Petrosyan of the Armenian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography. 

Archaeologists have uncovered two of the main walls of the city, as well as Hellenistic style towers and an incredible Armenian basilica which date back to the fifth to seventh centuries. 

Despite getting off to an excellent start, the excavation team began to face funding issues in 2008. This was rectified by the authorities of the Republic of Artsakh, who promised to allocate 30 million drams to continue further research. 

During the excavations of 2008–2010, silver coins dating back 57 BC were found, providing insight into the true age of this amazing city.

In June 2010, a brand new museum dedicated to the study and preservation of artefacts unearthed from Tigranakert’s ruins was opened in the Shahbulag Castle, near the former city of Agdam.

It provides one of the few ways to see the religious history of Armenia in full.

Tigranakert faces its Doom

Since escaping the reign of the Soviet Union in 1991, Armenia has been in a bloody civil war with Azerbaijan – and, as part of ceasefire agreement that was put in place in 2020, the city of Tigranakert was handed over to Azerbaijan.

Handed over to a nation that intends to wipe out Armenians amazing Christian history, and its amazing monuments, with it.

There is a genuine possibility that Tigranakert will never return to the care of its people. A chance that it will remain unexcavated, gathering dust, its story forever half told.

And although Armenia has surprised the world with is strength and stoicism in the face of danger time and time again, this threat may be to much for them to face alone.

To retake Tigranakert they need the help and faith of the world.

They need your help, and your faith.

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