Uxtasar – Petroglyps

Uxtasar – Petroglyphs

Mount Uxtasar, with an elevation ranging from 3000 to 3300 meters above sea level, is located in the Syunik region. Its name translates as “Camel Mountain” (“uht” meaning “camel,” “sar” meaning “mountain”). At its peaks, near a small glacial lake, there lies a field strewn with huge flat stones adorned with numerous enigmatic petroglyphs. Scientists estimate the age of these petroglyphs, discovered in 1968, to be between 4000 and 7000 years. Locally, they are known as “itsagir” – “goat letters,” as images of goats are most commonly found here.

Petroglyphs represent a unique source for studying ancient Armenian civilization. Although they attracted the attention of some researchers in the early 20th century, thorough examination of them was never conducted. Interest in these artistic works significantly increased in the first decades of the 20th century when historian and archaeologist Ashkharbek Kalantar began studying them. Unfortunately, much of the material he collected has not survived. During his research, archaeologist Sardaryan discovered numerous petroglyphs at the foot of Mount Aragats and Gegam. Several petroglyphs were also found in Western Armenia.

In 1966, a rich collection of stone slabs with carved drawings was discovered in the historical region of Syunik. In 1967-1968, an archaeological expedition team from the Archaeological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of Armenia began studying them, surveying numerous drawings on thousands of stones in Syunik, mainly in the areas of Sisian, Yeghegnadzor, and Azizbekov. This collection of petroglyphs is of great interest to specialists from various fields of knowledge, especially archaeologists. Today, the collection contains only a small portion of the material collected in Syunik, predominantly findings made at the foot of Mount Uhtasar. Recently discovered stone artworks occupy territory along Mount Tsghuk, on the slopes of Uhtasar, at the foot of the Vardenis Mountains, and at the sources of the Yeghis, Arpa, and Vorotan rivers. The petroglyphs discovered in our time are so numerous that even the most interesting of them cannot be described in a single book.

Over 2000 decorated stones were found on Uhtasar in the Sisian area. Here, on alpine meadows where herds graze in summer, you will find the remains of destroyed dwellings, cromlechs, and cemeteries. Petroglyphs can only be studied in summer; for about nine months of the year, they are covered in snow. Most of them are on tombstones located at the foot and on the slopes of mountains. The drawings depict various actions and can be placed horizontally or vertically on flat brown or black stone fragments. Composite drawings, consisting of 10-50 images, include hundreds of figures.

The petroglyphs of Uxtasar and Jermajur fully represent the diversity of Armenian fauna. Here, you can see both wild and domesticated animals, including goats, mouflons, gazelles, deer, horses, wild boars, dogs, wolves, jackals, panthers, bears, lions, and bulls. Hunting scenes are often depicted in the petroglyphs: with bows and arrows, spears, darts, and shields, ropes, and traps. Images of bison pushing plows, carts, plows, and even astronomical objects can also be seen here. Bird images are less common. These stone drawings in Syunik reflect not only hunting activities but also the everyday life of that time, creating a comprehensive picture of the lives of ancient societies.

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