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Zorats Karer, the Armenian Stonehenge

Zorats Karer: The Incredible History of the 7,500-year-old Armenian Stonehenge

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Armenia is full of archaeological surprises. It is a country where mysterious stories appear at every corner and most of them still wait to be solved. However, one of the greatest stories of prehistoric Armenia relates to the Army Stones, a riddle hidden between a marvelous construction of megaliths.

Zorats Karer is also known as Carahunge, Karahunj, Qarahunj. It is located in an area of around 7 hectares and covers the site near the Dar river canyon close to the city of Sisan. The ancient site is often called the ''Armenian Stonehenge'', but the truth of what it is may be even more fascinating. According to several researchers, Zorats Karer could be among the world's oldest astronomical observatories , and is at least 3,500 years older than British Stonehenge. But not everyone agrees with that interpretation.

Zorats Karer in the snow. ( VitalyTitov /Adobe Stock)

The Controversy Surrounding the Site

There are two main groups researching the Zorats Karer site - Bnorran Historic-Cultural NGO and the Armenian Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography – and they have very different views on the purpose of the site. As Bnorran board member Arevik Sargsyan told Armenpress:

“We think Carahunge, where more than 200 stones are located, with 80 having holes in them, is an ancient astronomical observatory, which was studied by Paris Herouni, with other experts having made similar opinions before that. According to another opinion, Carahunge isn’t an astronomical observatory. It is simply an ancient site, a settlement, which has a status of a mausoleum.”

Although they differ on their views, the two groups are reported to have co-signed an agreement to work together to solve the enigmatic site’s mysteries. They’ve agreed to suspend their individual work until after a joint research plan has been decided upon by a team of astronomers, archaeoastronomers, archaeologists, ethnographers, naturalists, and other experts.

Suggestions of Prehistoric Astronomy at Zorats Karer

The site was rediscovered in 1984 by a team led by researcher Onik Khnkikyan. After a few months of work, Khnkikyan concluded that the site of Zorats Karer must have been an observatory. Moreover, with time, Armenian archaeologists, astronomers, and astrophysicists found that there were at least two other ancient sites that were important for prehistoric astronomy in the vicinity: Angeghakot and Metzamor.

In 1994, Zorats Karer was extensively analyzed by Professor Paris Herouni, a member of the Armenian National Academy of Science and President of the Radio Physics Research Institute in Yerevan. His expeditions revealed a great deal of fascinating information about the site.

First of all, his team counted 223 stones, of which 84 were found to have holes. They measured the longitude, latitude, and the magnetic deviation of the site. The researchers also created a topographical map of the monumental megalithic construction , which became the basis of further work.

A standing stone with a hole in it. ( Zaneta /Adobe Stock)

Finally, the main treasure of the site was unearthed – a collection of what many researchers believe are impressive and unique astronomical objects. The researchers decided that several stones were used to make observations of the sun, moon, and stars. They were located according to knowledge about the rising, culmination moments, and setting of the sun, moon, and specific stars.

The stones are basalt, somewhat protected by moss but smoothed by the rain and wind and full of holes and erosion. Many of the stones were damaged over time.

In ancient times, the stones were shaped and arranged in what are known as the north and south arms, the central circle, the north-eastern alley, the separate standing system of circles, and the chord. The stones are between 0.5 and 3 meters (1.64 – 9.84 ft.) tall and weigh up to 10 tons. Some of them are related to burial cists .

The researchers are almost sure that the site had at least two meanings – ritual and scientific. According to the Armenian tradition, the name of the site comes from two words car (stone) and henge (sound).

Zorats Karer, the ‘Armenia Stonehenge.’ ( homocosmicos /Adobe Stock)

The Speaking Stones of Armenia

Between the years 1994 and 2001, Zorats Karer was examined on several occasions by radio physicists. Even the famous archaeo-astronomer Gerald Hawkings arrived to see the fascinating site. A team of German archaeologists suggested that it is an impressive Middle Bronze Age necropolis or the remains of a Hellenistic city wall. These claims did not convince all the researchers.

Finally, a number of researchers concluded that the monument is at least 7,500-years-old, but possibly much more. It is believed to have been created for ritual reasons and the need to understand the movements of the sun, moon, and stars. The people who created connected their beliefs with the early science of astronomy.

It seems that the main functions of the observatory, which was also a temple, were to serve in the cult of the sun god of early Armenians, to provide protection through cultivating the Armenian god of science, to serve as a school, and to function as an observatory.

The methods used in the observatory were based on the laws of nature and changes of the Earth's axis precession. It seems that the observatory was in use for more or less 5,500 years.

Prehistoric Zorats Karer site near Karahunj village in Armenia. (VitalyTitov /Adobe Stock)

Zorats Karer Today

Artifacts discovered on the site of Zorats Karer are now held in a small, local museum. Among them are stones with petroglyphs and grave goods from Bronze Age cist burials. The researchers believe that the site still contains many secrets. However, due to a lack of funds, excavation work cannot be continued as intensively as the archaeologists would like.

Many people continue to visit the site searching for answers related to astronomy. They bring telescopes and choose the dates which are the best to observe planets, the moon, and certain stars. It seems that the site of the Zorats Karer remains to this day a perfect place to observe the sky.

Top Image: Zorats Karer (Carahunge) - Prehistoric Megalithic site in Armenia . Source: VitalyTitov /Adobe Stock

By Natalia Klimczak

References:

Karahunj stone circle, available at:
www.wondermondo.com/Countries/As/Armenia/Syunik/Karahunj.htm

Zorats Karer: The Stones of the Powerful, available at:
http://www.tastingtravels.com/zorats-karer-the-stones-of-the-powerful/

Zorats Karer in Armenia, available at:
http://www.thecandytrail.com/zorats-karer-stone-circle-armenia/

Karahunj (Carahunge) or Zorats Karer – One of the oldest observatories in the world, available at:
http://traveltrends.info/2011/05/karahunj-zorats-karer-observatory/ 

Comments

Gary Moran's picture

Sigh! So many questions, so few definitive answers. One thing we do know for certain – groups of people countless years ago saw the need to move very heavy rocks and place them in specific places. Whether they were moved because of their desire to track the seasons, or their need to observe or worship something, they believed it important enough to do it. 

So many ancient constructions make me believe that our ancient ancestors utilized very different methods (call them technologies if you will) to accomplish things that we do not understand and cannot duplicate even with our supposed ‘superior’ knowledge and capabilities.   

It is especially not suprising giving the stories that ancient peoples told about Mt. Ararat, and the likelyhood of this geographic area being the landing place for the sumerians after the deluge. Scientific evidence about where and when we began using seed bearing plants also correlates to these areas.

GT is correct in his glassy wisdom, the best key to unlocking the time tables for these things being built, and to understand their meaning, is to understand their correlating astronomy. Many people tried to discount the links between Orion and the Giza plateau structures, to their own dismay. The same has happened with Gobeki Tepe (which is also RIGHT there) and the Draco constellation. At the time that any of these structures were built, all of them fell under the nation of Armenia. :)

People somehow are tended to see in ancient megalithic monuments cult sites - prehistoric observatories. We can be sure that SOME megaliths served for this purpose but definitely not all of them. Contemporary megaliths in Indonesia and some parts of India have no connection to astronomy and even - cult purposes.
Zorats Karer seems to be an important site for prehistoric people but it should be seen in context with other wonderful megalithic monuments in the surrounding landscape. There certainly is interesting story behind it - hope that we will learn it one day :D

If one runs across practically any site of unhewn stones, it is quite likely Israelite. In ancient times they were commanded by God to make altars of unhewn stone. No other people were commanded by God.

It is not surprising to find a Megalithic worship sites in Armenia. This is where Semiramis queen of Babel fought battles after Nimrod's death. She wanted King Ara of Armenia to be her boyfriend but he refused because she had a reputation of a black widow spider in the untimely deaths of her lovers.These megalithic sites are found mainly in Europe, but are found all over the world. They channel electromagnetic fields used by demonic spirits to contact those practicing witchcraft. Semiramis was Gaia the mother of the Titans also known as the Nephilim. Legend says she was taken up in an egg shaped craft to meet the pagan gods and had offspring from them the same as the mother of Alexander the Great. She is known by many names including Estate which is worshipped at Easter and symbolized as a rabbit (fertility goddess) and the egg shaped UFO.

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