Areni village

Areni is a village in the Vayots Dzor Province of Armenia. It is best known for its wine production, although the majority of wine produced locally is from the nearby village of Getap. The church of S. Astvatsatsin is a single-nave two-aisled domed Armenian church completed in the year 1321, and is located atop a plateau overlooking the Arpa River and Areni.

Region։Vayots dzor
Distance from Yerevan:77 km
Above sea level։990 m

Areni is a village in the Vayots Dzor Province of Armenia. It is best known for its wine production, although the majority of wine produced locally is from the nearby village of Getap. The church of S. Astvatsatsin is a single-nave two-aisled domed Armenian church completed in the year 1321, and is located atop a plateau overlooking the Arpa River and Areni. It was designed by the architect and sculptor Momik Vardpet who is best known for his high-relief carvings at the monastery of Noravank (located approximately 6 kilometers southeast from Areni). Nearby are also the 13th century ruins of lord Tarsaitch Orbelian of Syunik’s palace, moved from Yeghegis to Areni during that time. Ruins of a 13th century bridge built by Bishop Sarkis in 1265-1287 are to the northeast of the church one kilometer. At the same location are the remains of an older bridge.

In 2007, an Armenian-Irish team decided to do test excavations in the cave site of Areni 1. Two test trenches in the front and rear galleries revealed Chalcolithic Age and Early Bronze Age layers dating back to 5000-4000 BCE. Excavations during 2007-2008 uncovered 3 pot burials in the rear chamber of the cave. Each pot contained a Copper Age human skull with no associated grave goods. All skulls belong to sub-adults of 9–16 years of age. These are currently being analyzed by the team’s biological anthropologist. Remarkably, one skull contained a piece of a well-preserved brain tissue. This is the oldest known human brain from the Old World.

The cave has also offered surprising new insights into the origins of modern civilizations, such as evidence of a wine-making enterprise and an array of culturally diverse pottery. Excavations also yielded an extensive array of Copper Age artifacts dating to between 6,200 and 5,900 years ago. The new discoveries within the cave move early bronze-age cultural activity in Armenia back by about 800 years. Additional discoveries at the site include metal knives, seeds from more than 30 types of fruit, remains of dozens of cereal species, rope, cloth, straw, grass, reeds and dried grapes and prunes.

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