Dvin (Armenia)

In the shadow of Mount Ararat (Masis), where Noah's Ark is said to have stranded (Gen. 8:4), are the remains of Dvin, the capital of Armenia and See of their Catholicos until the earthquake of 893 AD:
Some distance southeast of Dvin, in the highlands north of the Ararat Plain, is Bird Cave where several caches of ceramic vessels, lithic tools and organic artifacts, dating 4500-3000 BC, were found:



Objective of visit:
  To help restart the archaeological excavation of Dvin and obtain samples of pottery for residue analysis.
Date of visit:
  August-September 2007
Fellow visitors:
  Dr. Gregory Areshian, Research Associate of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, and archaeologists of the Armenian Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, co-directed by Aram Kalantaryan and Nyura Hakobyan.
Three large trenches were opened and a small number of samples, both from Dvin and Bird Cave, were taken for future biochemical analysis (H. Barnard, A.N. Dooley, G. Areshian, B. Gasparyan, K.F. Faull (2011), "Chemical evidence for wine production around 4000 BCE in the Late Chalcolithic Near Eastern highlands," Journal of Archaeological Science 38: pp. 977-984).
Approximate position and date of the site:   Dvin is located about 40 km. southeast of Yerevan,  the modern capital of Armenia. The city was founded in 330-338 AD, on top of an ancient settlement, by Khosrov II, to replace the previous capital at Artaxata. After Armenia was conquered in 428 AD, Dvin became the residence of the Sassanid, Byzantine, Umayyad and Abbasid governors. Despite the fact that the city was repeatedly conquered by nearby  Christian and Islamic empires, and saw several Armenian uprisings, it remained a prosperous economic and cultural center. Major earthquakes in 863 and 893 AD all but destroyed the city and killed many of its 100,000 inhabitants. Although the city was eventually rebuilt, the move of the Catholicos (patriarch of the Armenian monophysite Christian church) to Echmiadzin (in Vagharshapat) combined with the changing geopolitical situation in the region made that it never regained its former splendor. Dvin was finally destroyed by Mongol invaders in 1236.
Short description of the site:   Dvin is standing above a fertile agricultural plain with abundant orchards, vineyards and vegetable gardens. The highest part of the site is formed by the remains of the citadel, surrounded by mud-brick defensive walls and a moat. Southwest of this are the remains of a large cathedral (30 x 58 m.) dedicated to Saint Gregory the Illuminator, built on an earlier pagan temple. Surrounding this are the remains of the palace of the Catholicos, built in the 7th century AD. Large parts of the former city are now under the modern agricultural fields and settlements in the area. Archaeological investigations of Dvin have been going on since 1937, albeit interrupted from time to time for political or financial reasons. Isolated finds indicate that the history of the site does go back as far as the 3rd millennium BC (Bronze Age), contemporary with the use of Bird Cave.
Additional remarks:
My work in Armenia would not have been possible without the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and Pavel Avetsyan, Director of the Armenian Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography.