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Teishebaini (Karmir Blur), Yerevan, Armenia

Karmir Blur hill is situated in the south-west end of modern city Yerevan, Capital of Armenia, on a left bank of Razdan (ancient Ildaruni) river. The hill is famous thanks to an ancient Urartian fortress Teishebaini located on it. The name “Karmir Blur”, which is translated as “red hill”, the site got because of its reddish hue. It became red after Teishebaini fortress town was set on fire and the upper walls made of red tufa stone fell and crumbled and the hue of the hill became red.

The fortress was built in the first half of the 7th century BC (685-645) by Urartian king Rusa II, son of king Argishti II, to strengthen north-eastern borders from barbaric Scythians and Cimmerians tribes. The fortress was named Teishebaini after Urartian god of war, thunder and storms Teisheba. Teishebaini was located in a strategically favorable site and Rusa II transferred there all the riches of Erebuni Fortress (was founded by the King Argishti I in 782 BC).

In 1936 geologist Demekhin found a fragment of stone with cuneiform inscription which mentioned “Rusa Argishti-hini” which means “Rusa, son of Argishti” which is known as Rusa II. This discovery entailed a series of archaeological excavations curried out by expedition of ASSR Academy of Sciences with participation of State Ermitage and the Material Culture Institute (modern Archaeology Institute) of USSR Academy of Sciences.

Ruins of ancient pre-Urartian settlements of Neolithic Age and the early Bronze Age were also found (13th-8th centuries BC) during the excavations. The constructions of that period were rectangular or secular. The archaeologists found ancient dwellings with huge antropomorphous stone divine statues and grain holes. To all appearances pre-Urartian settlements were destroyed under the rule of King Argishti I, during Urartian kingdom expansion into Transcaucasia.

Archaeologists thoroughly examined two-storied citadel of Teishebaini fortress town once surrounded by mighty walls. There were storage facilities, wine-cellars, breweries, creamery, and various workshops on the ground floor. Apartments of Governor-general, military leaders, pagan priests and other high-ranking officials occupied the second floor. The walls of reception-rooms were decorated with frescoes.

Agriculture was essential to Teishebaini economy and the Urartians built irrigation system is still in use today (after 26 centuries!). The fortress city had its pagan temple the ruins of which were found during excavations. According to the inscriptions on the fragments of the base stone, the temple was built by Argishti`s son Rusa (Argishti II`s son Rusa II). Another inscription lists Urartian gods and oblations which the Urartians ought to make for them.

The northern and eastern fortress facades joining precipitous slopes of the hill were stepped and crowned with a number of turrets. The fortress had two entrances with the main situated in the southern part. The southern gates were a well-fortified complex with two massive towers and inner rooms. The second entrance located at the north-western corner was rather small. The walls were laid with raw bricks. The upper walls were crowned with trimmed stone cornices. The rooms were high (10m.) and long (prior to 30 m.). The windows were usually situated under the ceiling. The rooms in the fortress had different levels. As it was located on the slope of the hill the fortress was stepped-structured, its central part was higher than the side ones. The rooms had different levels and were communicated by wooden and brick stairs.

During the excavations a large number of unique items were found which later were concluded in one of the most valuable collections of artefacts. It includes weapons, bronze and metal tools, swords, helmets, jewelry sets, the utensils etc. Weapons, arrows, helmets, swords of Urartian kings have great artistic and historical value in particular bronze helmet of king Argishti.

Prior to collapse of Urartu, Teishebaini fortress-town was a stronghold of Urartian regime in Transcaucasia. The fortress was burnt down by local tribes, the Scythians. They failed to seize the fortress and they burnt it.

By Natalia Ghukasyan,



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