[ Autumn, 2005 ] After spending the cold night in the Armenian mountain, we went to Karahunj ( alias Zorats Karer), which is called ‘Armenian Stonehenge’. Here I saw two picturesque shepherds working with cows…
Karahunj, Zorats Karer, Qarahunj, Carahunge and Caranish are the many different names for a truly unique place in Armenia which is sometimes also referred to as the “Armenian Stonehenge.”
This fairy-tale place is situated on a plateau at an altitude of 1,770 metres covering an area of around 7 hectares. It is close to the town of Sisian which is in the province of Syunik in Armenia.
The number of basalt megaliths in the area have been registered at 223 but there are many others scattered around which, sadly, have been badly damaged over time and therefore, have not been classified.
The stones range in height from 0.50 centimetres up to nearly 3 metres and their weight can reach up to 10 tons.
The site is laid out in different sections with the central part in the shape of a circle from which two rows of stone emanate, one towards the north and one towards the south. Then there are two parallel lines stretching for about 50 metres that point towards the north east and another which crosses the central circle.
Around 80 of these megaliths feature a circular hole, 37 of which, with forty-seven holes in total, are still in their original position. When it gets very windy, these holes make sounds which is where the name of Carahunge came from as in Armenian, this means “the talking stones.”
A team of archaeologists from the University of Munich, in the process of doing more detailed research into the prehistoric sites in Armenia which was carried out in 2000, established that Karahunj was a necropolis during the period that covered the middle of the bronze age up to the end of the iron age as they uncovered large stone tombs dating back to this period of history.
Starting with observations and on the spot studies, the archaeologists eventually arrived at the conclusion that these large stones were probably nothing more than the remains of the original walls of a prehistoric city.
However, this may be only one of the answers to the puzzle as there is also a hypothesis that the stones could be astronomical observation points and this has been supported by Russian and Armenian archeoastronomy studies.
This hypothesis was reached after studying the position of the stones. It would appear that 17 of these Menehirs are placed on the axis for sunrise and sunset on the days on which the solstice or equinox fall and a further 17 stones are placed in correlation with lunar phases.
There have been numerous scholars who have studied the site with their teams and not all of them are in agreement with the conclusions reached in the Russian and Armenian studies which has resulted in much discussion about the calculations that were carried out in these latter studies.
Leaving aside any scientific conclusions or disputes, it is incontrovertible that Karahunj is a truly magical place which stimulates the visitor’s imagination leaving everyone who visits this site, utterly fascinated by what they have seen.
On the 29th June, 2004 as a result of a parliamentary decree, the site was renamed The Karahunj Observatory.