MokhraBlur, Armenian Republic (4000 BC)
The excavation, led by Professor Alishian, uncovered 11 meters (36 feet) of earth before reaching the uppermost strata of the city’s development. A total of 12 levels or generations of the city’s history were uncovered before the excavation stopped. When you look at MokhraBlur, you are not looking at a hill, you are looking at what remains of more than 6000 years of continuous living on one spot. As each layer was uncovered, bones, pottery, jewelry and metallic artifacts were discovered, each older than the previous. Several levels were covered with blackened heaps of bones and broken objects, indicating a battle that destroyed the city. Like Troy, later generations rebuilt on top of the ruins of their ancestors.
One of the most remarkable things about MokhraBlur is its isolated location and the feeling you get of discovering it for the first time. Shards and fragments of pottery and bones litter the site, and one can scoop up history with each handful. The locals say that whenever there is a good rain, they can still find intact perfume flasks and pottery loosened from the soil. As you walk up towards the gate, you will pass a small swamp ("jahidj" ×³ÑÇ×), fed by spring water. This is what remains of the marshland that spread out in all directions around MokhraBlur 6000 years ago. The marshland formed an excellent natural protective barrier, as well as a reliable source of drinking water. The excavation site itself is the fortified center of the town. It served as the religious and military stronghold for the city. As in other cities of the era, townspeople lived outside the main walls. The entire city stretched to the edge of the village behind you, holding up to 10,000 inhabitants (which was a large city in those days).
As you walk up the hill from the gate, look towards your left at the top of the hill, and you can see an outline of a cyclopic wall ("pahrisp" å³ñÇëå ) that encircled the central fortified citadel in the 4th-3rd millennia. The wall was made from foundations of blocks of stone averaging 1-2 tons each. These stones were drug to MokhraBlur from sources 10-20 kilometers away. There is some thought that the stones may actually be the middle level of an older wall. Since excavation stopped before they could complete uncovering layers, the actual age of the city is possible another 1000 years older. If so, these stones were either drug on sleds from unheard of distances at that time, or--using a relic the excavators found at the lower levels of the dig as a sign--they were among the first to use the wheel. Unfired mud brick was used to complete the walls above the stone foundations, which accounts for the current mound shape of the site. At the top of the mound you will arrive on a large flat area with a series of holes in it. These are the actual digs.
The first pit on your right is shallow. You can see fired brick ("Aghius" ³ÕÇáõë) forming the top of an interior wall in a building constructed around 3500 bce. The rooms uncovered at MokhraBlur were not large or high. Skeletons uncovered in the area show that the average height of inhabitants was 4 ½ feet (1.35 m). All about you are fragments of pottery, in different colors. The black unglazed pottery is the first of its kind discovered in the ancient world. It and red pottery come from the earliest layers uncovered, ca. 4000 bce. Geometric patterns on some fragments depict wheat shafts, snakes and spiral designs, and come from a later period, late 4th millennium bce. The spirals are unique in that they are joined together in the center into a "V" shape, depicting a ram head. Before the discovery of the observatory at Metsamor, they were understand to be a symbol of a god, but are now also believed to be depictions of Aries the ram, one of the constellations of our galaxy. The glazed black pottery is 3rd millennium bce, but shows a sophisticated glazing process predating any other found in Asia Minor. And you hold these in your hands! Put them back now, since they cannot leave the site.
Earliest Use of Water Dams at Mokhrablur?
Opinions on negative and positive effect of dams on the environment. In order to balance the discrepancy between the natural water resources and the requirements for water (for the population, irrigations, industry), water dams had been built already in the history, created by valley dams (the El Kafara dam in Egypt of the year 2,600 B.C., the Armenian dam Mokhrablur from the 3rd-4th millennium B.C.). In Slovakia, in the vicinity of Banska Stiavnica, 54 dams and reservoirs have been built since the year 1510 A.D.
Mokhrablur: Earliest known example of monumental stone?
About four km S of Echmiatsin, about 150 m W of the main S road to Margara just before a railroad embankment, is a low hill behind a little hamlet, surrounded by an iron fence (gaps in NE side). This is the Chalcolithic (late 4th Mill. BC) through Hellenistic (4th-1st c. BC) site of Mokhrablur (“Ash Hill”). There are 8 meters of deposits representing 12 distinct habitation layers. Very little is visible, beyond one huge stone block and a wide range of pottery samples. The Soviet Armenian Encyclopedia makes the daring claim that Mokhrablur’s central temple, which they say dates to the 10th c. but actually seems to be of the 1st half of the 3rd millennium BC, was the earliest known example of monumental stone architecture in the Soviet Union