Written by MARIKA KAZIMIERSKA for The TRAVEL England’s Stonehenge is one of the most famous ancient sites in the world, […]
England’s Stonehenge is one of the most famous ancient sites in the world, but why aren’t more people talking about a prehistoric site in Armenia that might predate the Wiltshire stones by a whopping 2,500 years?
The Zorats Karer, also known as Carahunge or simply, “Armenian Stonehenge,” is a mysterious ancient site that is made up of over two hundred large stone monoliths with eighty having distinctive well-polished holes in them. Like England’s Stonehenge, there is an unraveling mystery behind their exact use or what the site used to be. With experts claiming that the Armenian Stonehenge may have been built as far back as 7,500 years ago, we might never know their purpose.
There have been multiple theories about these massive stones, but the one that has caught people’s attention the most was that the stones were used as an astronomical observatory. It might even be the world’s oldest observatory. To this day, experts still cannot unravel its use.
Here are 20 fascinating points about the Armenian Stonehenge that will intrigue you, proving that it deserves way more attention.
20. ARMENIA IS FILLED WITH ARCHAEOLOGICAL MYSTERIES
Some of the world’s oldest things were found in Armenia. From the oldest shoe to a wine-making facility over thousands of years ago. However, nothing is quite as mysterious as Zorats Karer, famously known by tourists as the Armenian Stonehenge, located in the nation’s southernmost province. Here, you’ll find over two hundred large stone monoliths, eighty which have distinctive, well-polished holes in them, Smithsonian Magazine states.
19. ZORATS KARER HOLDS INCREDIBLE HISTORY
Most people have heard about Stonehenge in England, but the incredible stones in Armenia should receive just as much attention. According to Armenia Discovery, the history of the site dates back 7,500 years. Experts have theorized that Zorats Karer was built as an astronomical observatory and is one of the oldest observatories in the world, however, there have been unyielding debates on what exactly the site was for.
18. THE SITE STILL HOLDS MANY SECRETS
Scholarly accounts suggest that the stones were used for prehistoric stargazing. Archaeologist Onnik Khnkikyan believed that the well-polished holes in the stones, which are two inches in diameter and run up to twenty inches deep, were used as an early telescope for looking at the sky.
17. THESE LARGE STONE MONOLITHS HAVE INTERESTED PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD
Not everyone agrees with the interpretation that this prehistoric site was used to look up at the sky. According to Ancient-Origins, experts believe the site is just an ancient settlement, having a status of a mausoleum, and was a “multi-use monument.” But, tourists who visit the site are more intrigued by its use as an astronomical observatory.
16. SEVERAL STONES ALIGN WITH THE SUNRISE AND SUNSET ON THE DAY OF SUMMER SOLSTICE
This impressive site was investigated by astrophysicists that believed the positions of the holes according to an astronomical calendar has aligned perfectly with the sunrise and sunset on the day of the summer solstice. Researchers also unearthed several stones that were used to make observations of the sun, moon, and stars.
15. IS THIS A MERE SETTLEMENT OR THE WORLD’S FIRST ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY?
According to Ancient-Origins, in ancient times, the stones were shaped and arranged in several parts known as the north and south arms, the central circle, the north-eastern alley, the separate standing system of circles, and the chord. Researchers suggest that the site had at least two meanings: ritual and scientific.
14. CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS THE STONES
While most would suggest that the stones were used to study the sun, moon and planets, others still believe that the site was nothing more than a settlement. The mystery is still unraveling about this ancient site, however, Daily Mail writes that instead of feuding about the use of the site, two opposing research institutes have agreed to work together to solve its mystery.
13. DEBATES ON WHAT THESE STONES WERE USED FOR CONTINUE TO THIS DAY
Also known as the Carahunge, members of the Bnorran Historic-Cultural NGO and the Armenian Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography co-signed an agreement to study this ancient site together. Instead of stating that the site is the first-ever astronomical observatory or just a mere settlement, the two groups will converge and study all of the site’s aspects.
12. STONES DATE BACK OVER 7,000 YEARS
Some experiments claim that these massive and heavy stones were brought from the nearby gorge along the river called Dar, explains Armenia Discovery. They added that people actually transferred the stones with the help of animals and ropes.
11. COMPARISONS HAVE BEEN MADE WITH STONEHENGE IN ENGLAND
The rocks at the Armenian site resemble those at England’s famous Stonehenge, but researches believe Carahunge is much older than its Wiltshire counterpart. According to one theory, England’s Stonehenge was built as a burial site and monument to the dead, while Armenian Stonehenge was used to look up at the sky. Still, both famous sites are covered in mystery.
10. WERE THESE STONES THE OLDEST ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORIES?
Armenia Discovery writes that the site is if not the world’s oldest astronomical observatory, than among the ancient observatories. It is located on a mountain plateau in the Syunik province not far from the city of Sisian. As mentioned before, 80 of the stones have holes that guarantee the “accuracy and stability” towards the direction of the sunrise and sppytunset.
9. OR IS IT JUST AN ANCIENT SITE?
One theory suggests that the stones form the structural remains of a city wall, where the rocks supported the piles of rubble that have since been removed from the site. This opinion, that the stones are nothing more than an ancient settlement comes from researches at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography.
8. THERE ARE A TOTAL OF 223 STONES
According to the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, not one astronomical tool has been found from the area, adding that some of the holes that are reportedly used for stargazing, are located on lower parts of some of these stones and do not even point at the stars.
7. WELL-POLISHED HOLES WERE BELIEVED TO BE USED FOR PREHISTORIC STARGAZING
Holes in the basalt rocks have led researchers to believe that they were used to look up at the sky, proving that the site was an ancient observatory. Armenian physicist Paris Herouni stated that the stones were deliberately positioned to align with Deneb, the brightest star in the constellation of Cygnus.
6. RESEARCHES BELIEVE THE SITE HAS TWO MEANINGS: RITUAL AND SCIENTIFIC
More investigation about this ancient site has been on hold but will resume once a “jointly-held seminar of experts,” including, archaeologists, astronomers and ethnographers come together to figure out a shared research plan for the site. It may possibly put the mystery of the stones to rest.
5. EXPERTS BELIEVE THE STONES WERE JUST A MULTI-USE MONUMENT
Between 1994 and 2001, the site was studied heavily by radio physicists with famous archaeo-astronomer Gerald Hawkings visiting. During this time, German archaeologists made their own impression of the ancient site and suggested that is is a Middle Bronze Age necropolis or the remains of a Hellenistic city wall. But, many researchers still hold on to the observatory theory.
4.LACK OF FUNDS HAS MADE IT DIFFICULT TO CONTINUE RESEARCH ON THIS ANCIENT SITE
According to Ancient-Origins, the site may remain a mystery because there is a lack of funds that would help in continuing the excavation of the site by archaeologists. However, people from around the world visit the Armenian Stonehenge, even bringing their own telescopes to observe the sky.
3. TRAVELERS VISITING THE SITE SEARCH FOR ANSWERS RELATED TO ITS ASTRONOMICAL USE
Many people visit the site, believing that it is indeed an ancient astronomical observatory. Tourists bring their telescopes and choose the dates which are best to observe the night sky, the sun, moon, certain stars and even the planets at this location. Even though the mystery of the stones is not yet solved, people are sticking to the notion that the stones were used to look at the sky.
2. THE MYSTERY IS STILL BEING SOLVED
To this day, Zorats Karer remains a place to look up into the sky. There is even a small museum nearby with artifacts discovered on the site, including stones with petroglyphs and grave goods from Bronze Age cist burials. According to Ancient-Origins, researches still believe there are more items yet to be discovered here.
1. THE ARMENIAN STONEHENGE REMAINS A PLACE FOR PEOPLE TO OBSERVE THE SKY
Will the mystery of the Armenian Stonehenge ever be solved? Was the site used as an observatory for the stars or just an ancient settlement? Hopefully, experts will put their difference aside to come together and start unraveling what exactly this prehistoric site really was and what it was used for.