Karahunj (Carahunge) that is also called Zorats Karer is an Armenian pre-historic archeological site that is the alternative to British Stonehenge.
Armenia is one of the oldest countries of the world. During centuries, the struggle for the survival formed the creative talent, traditions and the commitment to high ideals of the Armenian nation.
Without these factors, it would be impossible to create such a strong culture, to develop and transmit it to future generations. Armenia is full of many beautiful and memorable places, archeological surprises. However, each visitor will forever remember the most majestic and original archaeological site, that is called Zorats Karer, also known as Karahunj or Carahunge.
Karahunj (Carahunge): Background of the Pre-Historic Monument
Zorats Karer, also called Karahunj (Carahunge) is the most interesting archeological landmark in Armenia. It occupies a territory of about seven hectares.
This pre-historic monument consists of the following parts:
- The central circle
- The north arm
- The south arm
- North-East alley
- The chord crossing the circle
- Separate standing stones
The monument is a complex of vertically fixed and very unique stones. All stones, which are surprisingly well arranged, are of basalt. The most interesting part is that some of the stones have holes on them that are accurately corresponding to the alignment of stars of the era that they were founded.
According to P. Herouni, a member of the Armenian National Academy of Science and President of the Radio Physics Research Institute in Yerevan, there are about 220 stones from which 85 have holes on them in this complex.
The heights of the stones range from 0.5 to 3 m and weight up to 10 tons. This monument srved as an observatory. There is also and information, that is was used as a worship center as well.
The site’s common name is Zorats Karer (literally translated from Armenian as Army Stones or Worrier Stones). In 1985 famous astronomer E. Parsamyan offered to call it Karahunj. Now it is also famous by this and some other interpreted names.
There are many views, often contradictory and opposing to each other, about the age of this pre-historic monument Carahunge. So far, a deeper study of the age of this megalithic monument has done academician P. Herouni. According to his astronomical, physical and mathematical calculations, Karahunj was built more than 7500 years ago.
Karahunj: Tourist Information
Carahunge is located near the town of Sisian, in the Syunik Marz of Armenia. It is 200 km south from Yerevan, on latitude of 39° 34′ and longitude of 46° 01′ on the mountain plateau having altitude 1770 m.
If you are interested in visiting this mystical place and want to know more about the means of transport, therefore here is some information for you.
It’s easy to get from Yerevan to Sisian by a minibus and it will cost approximately 2.000AMD. Karahunj is only 4KM away from town. In Sisian you can find some guesthouses to stay during your journey.
One of them is “Qarunge hotel”, that is very convenient for those who are planning to visit the ancient observatory Karahunj, as it is less than 2 km away from the hotel. The hotel offers to its guests double, triple and luxe rooms that have all necessary facilities and are comfortably furnished.
Another comfortable option for staying in Sisian is Basen Hotel, which consists of 23 rooms. Besides prices for the rooms are pretty much affordable (9.000AMD- 24.000AMD).
Also, they have traditional Armenian restaurant where guest can entertain themselves by making Armenian lavash in “Tonratun” bakery. Moreover, they have services of guided walking and driving tours for groups. We guarantee that they will make your experience more interesting and pleasant.
Not far away from Sisian, there is also a small museum dedicated to Zorats Karer that includes some findings, Paleolithic petro glyphs, found on mountain tops in the area. There are also grave artifacts form the Bronze Age burial site, with over 200 shaft graves.
It is a real gift for those who appreciate and admire the ancient art and culture, want to learn more about it, to improve their outlook and enrich their inner world.
Karahunj: Armenian Speaking Stones
Zorats Karer is considered to be the equivalent and the Armenian answer to British Stonehenge and is often called Armenian Stonehenge. The most astonishing and fascinating fact is that Zorats Karer is 3.500 years older than England’s Stonehenge and 3.000 years older than the Egyptian pyramids.
Armenian scientists believe that there is some connection between the name of Stonehenge in England and Karahunj, as translated from Armenian “stone” means “kar” and “henge” sounds similar to Armenian “hunj” which means sound, voice, echo.
Karahunj: Famous Investigations, Hypothesis and Conclusions
The site was first investigated in 1984 by Armenian archaeologist Onik Khnkikyan. After a while he made a hypothesis that the site of Zorats Karer must have been an observatory.
In 1994 Carahunge was profoundly researched and analyzed by Professor P. Herouni. His expeditions led to much disputed conclusion that Zorats Karer is the world’s oldest astronomical observatory.
Afterwards, American astronomer Gerald Hawkins confirmed P. Herouni’s similar conclusions and noted that he admired the accurate calculations, the careful work that his Armenian colleague had done.
During the years of 1994 to 2001 the site aroused interest among renowned archeologists and radio physicists. According to German investigation this site “was mainly a necropolis from the Middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age”.
They also added, that it may have served “as a place of refuge in times of war”, possibly in the Hellenistic – Roman period.
It is believed that the site was created for ritual reasons, as well and was dedicated to the Armenian sun-god Ari, as well as for understanding the movements of the sun, moon and stars.
Herouni proposed a further hypothesis that several holes on stones indicate directly at the sunrise and sunset in midsummer. It was also noted that some stones point towards the biggest star of the constellation of Cygnus – Deneb.
Regardless of disputes connected with the date and purpose of this marvelous construction of megaliths and the riddle hidden between them, Zorats karer is, without any doubt, very enigmatic and mysterious archeological site.
Armenians should be very proud of having such an old and valuable monument. Furthermore, it is one more weighty argument for tourist to visit Armenia!
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