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The Mortuary Landscape branch of the Vorotan Project is conducted under the direction of Dr. Jane Rempel, Sheffield University. One of the most salient features of the Armenian archaeological landscape is the presence of stone-built tombs of variable size and design (‘cromlechs,’ kurgans, flat rectilinear, etc.) and date (Early and Middle Bronze Age, Yervandid, and Medieval examples are already known in our study region).
These Armenian burials have tended to be studied in isolation, merely as building blocks for regional typology and chronology, but of course studies of mortuary landscapes elsewhere have shown the power of studying tombs in context, and over time. It’s clear that tombs can ‘speak’ to each other, that their relative locations are significant, that they are used and reused, that they have meaning over the centuries. Unfortunately, many have suffered robbing or other forms of destruction, and looting is becoming an especially troubling problem in southern Armenia.
During the course of the 2005 field season, Jane, along with several helpers, located approximately 150 tombs within our project area, and began to build a database with accompanying GIS information, that forms the foundation for a comprehensive study of the changing mortuary landscape through time.
Working through intensive and extensive survey techniques, Jane's research had identified over 300 likely burials by the end of the 2006 season. In the upcoming 2007 season, the goals of the ML team will be to further refine burial typologies; examine the burial groupings with criteria such as proximity, similarity of type, and/or construction; and to interrogate the data regarding the topographical locations and viewsheds of the burials.