At all times people became interested in history and if for some individuals this interest often was limited by the study of their own family tree, so in contrast to them peoples seek to unveil the mystery of their origin, their ancient history. And Armenians are no exception. Karabakh has been settled from times immemorial. The evidence of it are not only the architectural monuments, but also traces of different cultures and tribes, on the base of which the Armenian people was formed. Artsakh gives an opportunity in the literal meaning of the word to touch the origins of the history of the Armenian people. In summer month archaeological expeditions work in many corners of Karabakh and guests have an opportunity to watch as the ancient land of Artsakh reveals some of its secrets. Tourists are offered some most significant monuments that are interesting not only for scientists.
One of them is the city of Tigranakert, situated 36 km from Stepanakert, founded in the period of Hellinism (1st c BCE) by the Armenian king Tigran the Great (95-55 BCE).
As excavations have been conducted for several years, the archaeologists have already excavated part of the fortress wall, the watch-tower, terraces in citadel, and a section of the system of city water supply – the channel, cut through the rock. Now already one can certainly say that Tigranakert in its time (the city existed in Middle Ages, too) was prosperous and bright inhabited locality, that played an important role in the life of the region. The visitors can see and walk along the streets of not only the Karabakhian Pompeus; not far from Tigranakert there were discovered the early Christian basilica, burials, the rocky pagan temple in several kilometers, later turned into the church (the church was found in the mid of the 1st c CE and is one of the most ancient on the planet). Next to Tigranakert is a well preserved fortres of the 18th c, Shahbulakh, coaching inn, on the top of Vankasar mountain over Tigranakert is basilica of the 6-7th cc. All these monuments are included into the reserve of “Tigranakert”.
The next more interesting archaeological monument which is insistently recommended to see is the Azokh cave, situated 50 km away from Stepanakert, near the village of the same name on the North-South highway. The cave is one of the most ancient and famous sites of primitive man in the world. This monument has many entries and exits, six halls like labyrinth, the biggest of which occupies the area of 3000 sq. m. Here for the first time in the so-called Acheulian stratum of the archaeological culture there were discovered stone work tools and hunting tools of the primitive man that lived here more than 3000 years ago. Near the southern entrance to the cave at a depth of 7m the archaeologists found a big jaw-bone of a Neanderthal man. The discovered remains of the first owner of Azokh cave is surely a phenomenon of great importance. Before that the remains of Neanderthal man were discovered in four regions: in Sidi-Abd Eragman (Morocco), Steinheim (Germany), Spanocombe (England) and Sediadelle Diabolon (Italy). This finding is of great importance for the scientific world as it testifies that the territory of Karabakh has been settled from the ancient times. The discovered jaw of the Neanderthal man in Azokh cave got the 5th number in scientific literature. Now the electric light is being installed in the cave, inside the way is laid for tourists, in the nearest future all the necessary conditions for tourists will be created at the entrance to the cave. ”The cave of treasures” hasn’t revealed all its secrets yet.
This huge settlement of the primitive man has been systematically researched by an Armenian-English-Spanish archaeological expedition since 2003. The other amazing grit of the ancient history of the Armenian people are the barrows (the beginning of the 1st millenium BCE), excavated by the archaeologists at the city-fortress Shoushi – the pearl of Karabakh. Not far from Shoushi are the fortresses of Karkar and Shosh, where excavations are also conducted.
Now those who wish have an opportunity to see as the veil of mystery, covered the culture of Protoarmenian tribes, is lifted, to feel “the breath of history".