Amberd midcentury fort-city


Amberd was a midcentury fort-city. It was built during the 10th century, 7 km. to the north of Byurakan village, of the historical Aragatzotn district (on the southern wing of the Aragatz mountain). It was situated in the triangular cape where the rivers Arkashen and Amberd were joined, at an elevation of 2300m. height.

The mansion and some parts of the fortress’s wall were constructed in the 7th century. In the 10th century it was the military defense center of the Bagratuni and Pahlavuni kingdoms. In the 11th century it was invaded by the Selghuks and became their military center. In 1196 the united Armenian-Georgian army, under the leadership of Zakare, freed Amberd from the Selghuks. And once again in 1236 the Mongols invaded the fort and nearly ruined it. At the end of the 13th century the Vachutyan’s once again reconsructed the fort.

The ruins of the Amberd’s fortress including the walls, the church, the bathroom and other sections were preserved. The fortress had an irregular triangular shape. The most accessible section from the outside of the three-storey mansion was located at the north-western section of the fort-city, and it streched for approximately 1500 km. On the southern side of the mansion, which faced the center of the fort window, openings of the upper storeys were preserved. For defense reasons, the lower story did not have windows, instead it had a small entrance hidden by a sliding stone door.

The mansion’s storeys were separated from each other by wooden boards attached to timbers. Each storey had a table-type room. Amberd’s church was built in 1026 by Vahram Pahlavuni. It is the first church constructed with double entries from all four corners of the cross-wings. In order to lighten the weight of the roof, several large clay jars were used to support it. The church has a few inscriptions (one is inside) on the northern wall.

To the south of the mansion preserved in good condition, was a bathroom (10-11th centuries) and a stone construction with a small cloakroom. The water was transported to the bathroom through clay hoses, and the hot water for the pool through iron pipes. The steam from the furnace passed beneath the floor, heating it and the walls. Amberd’s water came from a distance of 4-5 km. through the clay pipes. In the mansion and in the central fort, pools of water were collected. During excavation, weapons, decorations, coins and other such items of metal were discovered.

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