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||This article needs attention from an expert in Armenia. (December 2012)|
|Stone circle of Karahunj, Zorats Karer|
|Region||Syunik Province, Armenia|
|Periods||Middle Bronze Age to Iron Age|
|History of Armenia|
The site is located on a rocky promontory near Sisian. In 2004, the site was officially named the Karahunj (Carahunge) Observatory, by Parliamentary decree (Government decision No. 1095-n, July 29, 2004).}About 223 large stone tombs can be found in the area.
Zorats Karer was explored by a team of archaeologists from the Institut für Vorderasiatische Archäologie, University of Munich who published their findings in 2000. They concluded that "In contrast to the opinion that Zorakarer may be called an Armenian Stonehenge, an exact investigation of the place yields other results. Zorakarer, located on a rocky promontory, was mainly a necropolis from the Middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age." The Munich archaeologists add that it may have served "as a place of refuge in times of war", possibly in the Hellenistic - Roman period (c. 300 BC - 300 AD). A wall of rocks and compacted soil (loam) was built around the site with vertical rocks plugged into it for reinforcement: today only these upright rocks remain.
About 84 of the stones feature a circular hole, although only about 50 of the stones survive. They have been of interest to Russian and Armenian archaeoastronomists who have suggested that the standing stones could have been used for astronomical observation. This suggestion was made by observers who noted four stone holes which could be claimed to be sighted at the point on the horizon where the sun rises on midsummer's day. Four others standing stones display holes which observers claimed point where the sun sets on the same day. However, this must remain conjectural as the holes are relatively unweathered and may not even be prehistoric in origin.
In the nearby city of Sisian, there is a small museum dedicated to findings in the area, including palaeolithic petroglyphs found on mountain tops in the area, and grave artefacts form the Bronze Age burial site with over 200 shaft graves.
Depiction by History Channel
In December, 2010 Carahunge was featured in an episode of the History Channel show Ancient Aliens, in episode 14 titled "Unexplained Structures". The theme was suggested by Mihran Vardanyan, following the recent discovery of more than 300 exoplanets by NASA’s Kepler planet-finding satellite in a small patch of sky in the Cygnus constellation, and linking this with Herouni's earlier observations concerning Deneb.
Mihran Vardanyan has suggested that Karahunj, along with Tatev Monstery, cave complexes and a rich collection of petroglyphs, offers opportunities for development of tourism in the region. The development program was also supported by Armenian company Gerezman Solutions. The overall program should cover construction of new roads, parking spaces, toilets, smoking rooms, information banners, lights, audio system, holographic 3d reconstruction of the monument and electronic tourist guides.
- "2000 Survey in Southern Armenia". Archived from the original on 2007-12-23. http://web.archive.org/web/20071223124346/http://www.vaa.fak12.uni-muenchen.de/Armenia/2000/Armenia-2000-Eng.html.
- Ruggles (2005), pp. 65–67.
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