Armenian–Polish Archaeological Mission Metsamor
Type of site:
City, fortress, cemetery
– Late Bronze Age (15th–12th century BC)
– Iron Age I (Early Iron Age: 12th–8th century BC)
– Iron Age II (Urartian period: 8th–6th century BC)
– Iron Age III (post-Urartian and Achaemenid periods: 6th–4th century BC)
– Iron Age IV (Hellenistic and Roman periods: 4th century BC–3rd century AD)
Most interesting finds:
– Massive building from the post-Urartian period
– Building burned during the raid of the Urartian king Argishti I
– Vessel with an engraved trident
– Stone molds
– Necklace with a preserved arrangement of beads
– Jewelry made of gold and semi-precious stones, tin and bronze
– Engraved jewelry made of bone and horn
History of research:
Dates of PCMA mission’s work:
Type of research:
Krzysztof Jakubiak (Faculty of Archaeology, University of Warsaw)
Ashot Piliposyan (Service for the Protection of Historical and Cultural Environment and Museum Reservation, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia)
– Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw
– Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw
– Service for the Protection of Historical and Cultural Environment and Museum Reservation, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia
Archaeological research in Metsamor has been conducted since 1965, and all the finds are delivered to the museum built on the site.
Description of the site and research:
The site of Metsamor /Fig. 8/ is a settlement complex consisting of a fortress surrounded with Cyclopean walls, a lower city adjoining it from the north and south, as well as a nearby cemetery.
The area was inhabited intermittently from the Chalcolithic period (5th millennium BC) to the 17th century AD. Metsamor reached its heyday in the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (15th–8th century BC) when it became an important economic (developed metallurgical production) and religious center. Five small temples with clay “cascading” altars formed a large religious complex on the southern slope of the hill. The prosperity of the inhabitants is attested to by their rich burials. Large burial chambers located under earthen kurgans yielded many objects made of precious metals as well as imports from Mesopotamia, Syria, and Egypt. The most famous finds include gold necklaces /Fig. 10/, gilded belt fittings with depictions of hunting lionesses, a cylindrical seal with a hieroglyphic inscription, and a weight with a Kassite inscription written in cuneiform.
The research of the Polish-Armenian mission brings new data on the history of the site. The work focuses on determining the extent and layout of the lower town in the Iron Age as well as on exploring the nearby cemetery. The project aims to locate graves from the turn of the Bronze and Iron Ages, which could provide new information about the elites ruling the city in the 15th century BC.
In the 2016 season, the team discovered 15 objects made of gold /Figs 4, 5, 6/ and a necklace made of carnelian and gold /Fig. 7/, left behind probably during the raid of the Urartian king Argishti I. It is the first such find from a settlement in Transcaucasia dated to the Early Iron Age (11th–9th century BC). A burial chamber, in use from the Middle Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age, yielded gold half-moon pendants and gold beads, which would have made up several necklaces.
The raid of the Urartian king Argishti I’s army at the beginning of the 8th century BC put an end to Metsamor’s prosperity. Both the lower town and the fortress were burned and destroyed.
Season by season – “PCMA Newsletter”:
Information about each season is available on the project’s website.
Leaflet (2016) Metsamor
2022-03-23 Excavations in Metsamor – information for UW students
2016-09-06 Conference on the archaeology of Armenia
2016-09-28 Inauguration of the European Heritage Days in Armenia (in Polish)
2014-10-23 Exhibition on PCMA research opens in Armenia
Jakubiak, K., & Bigoraj, K. (2020). Metsamor: The Early Iron Age/Urartian settlement in the Aras Valley, Armenia. Antiquity, 94(378), E33. doi:10.15184/aqy.2020.212
Jakubiak K., Zaqyan A. (2019). Metsamor: topography of an archeological site near Metsamor River, in: Pieńkowska, A., Szeląg, D., Pieńkowska, A. (eds), Stories told around the fountain. Papers offered to Piotr Bieliński on the occasion of his 70th birthday, Warsaw: PCMA, WUW, 271–286.
Jakubiak K., Iskra M., Piliposyan A., and Zaqyan A. (2018) Metsamor (Armenia) after five seasons of excavations, 27/1, 229–444.
Jakubiak, K., Iskra, M., Piliposyan, A., and Zaqyan, A. (2017). Preliminary report on the 2016 season in Metsamor (Armenia). Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 26/1, 570–578.
Truszkowski, M. and Bagi, O. (2017). Aerial survey of the necropolis and the surrounding fields at Metsamor. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 26/1, 557–569.
Jakubiak, K., Piliposyan, A., Iskra, M. and Zaqyan, A. (2016). Metsamor. First preliminary report of seasons 2013, 2014, 2015. Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 25, 553–574.
Select site bibliography:
Khanzadyan, E. (1995). Metsamor 2. La nécropole 1: Les tombes du Bronze moyen et récent (=Civilisations du Proche-Orient. Hors série 1). Neuchâtel: Recherches et Publications.
Khanzadyan, E., Mkrtchyan, K., and Parsamyan, E. (1973). Metsamor: Usumnasirut’yun 1965–1966t’t’. Peghumneri tvyalnerov. Yerevan: Akademiya Nauk Armianskoe S.S.R.