Areni-1 Cave

Areni-1 Cave is a large karstic cave in the Vayots Dzor region of Armenia and it was primarily occupied in the Chalcolithic (4300–3400 cal BCE) and Medieval (7–14th centuries CE) periods. Areni-1 is known for its exceptional preservation of organic remains, which in the Chalcolithic occupation it is attested by large quantities of seeds and fruits, multiple leather shoes, animal dung, animal hair, claws, hooves, and horns. Excavations at Areni-1 took place between 2007 and 2011 and in six trenches inside and outside the cave. I have so far studied and analyzed faunal remains from Trenches 1–3, which are located inside the cave. Zooarchaeological studies have confirmed what has been observed by other scholars and specialists: the front of the cave were focused on domestic activities and craft production, including hide and fur processing, while areas deeper inside the cave were dedicated to food storage and votive and funerary practices.

Collaborators & Specialists

Boris Gasparyan – National Academy of Sciences, Republic of Armenia (project director)
Keith Wilkinson – University of Winchester (former project co-director)
Ron Pinhasi – University of Vienna (former project co-director)
Alexia Smith – University of Connecticut (archaeobotany)
Diana Zardaryan – National Academy of Sciences, Republic of Armenia (ceramics)
Nelli Hovhannisyan – Yerevan State University (ancient DNA)

Areni-1 Cave in the News


Areshian, G.E., Gasparyan, B., Avetisyan, P.S., Pinhasi, R., Wilkinson, K., Smith, A., Hovsepyan, R., Zardaryan, D., 2012. The Chalcolithic of the near east and south-eastern Europe: discoveries and new perspectives from the cave complex Areni-1, Armenia. Antiquity 86, 115–130.

Barnard, H., Dooley, A.N., Areshian, G., Gasparyan, B., Faull, K.F., 2011. Chemical evidence for wine production around 4000 BCE in the Late Chalcolithic Near Eastern highlands. Journal of Archaeological Science 38, 977–984.

Pinhasi, R., Gasparyan, B., Areshian, G., Zardaryan, D., Smith, A., Bar-Oz, G., Higham, T., 2010. First direct evidence of Chalcolithic footwear from the Near Eastern highlands. PLoS one 5, 1–5.

Samei, S. 2019. Herding in the Highlands: Pastoralism and the Making of the Kura-Araxes Cultural Tradition. Doctoral Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut.

Samei, S., Hovhannisyan, N., Gasparyan, B. 2020. Economic and symbolic role of animals during the Chalcolithic occupation of Areni-1 Cave in Armenia. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports 33: 102524.

Smith, A., Bagoyan, T., Gabrielyan, I., Pinhasi, R., Gasparyan, B., 2014. Late Chalcolithic and Medieval archaeobotanical remains from Areni-1 (Birds’ Cave), Armenia. In: Gasparyan, B., Arimura, M., Fujii, S. (Eds.), What’s Done and What Must Be Done: Recent Achievements of Stone Age Archaeology in the Republic of Armenia. Kanazawa University Press, Kanazawa, pp. 167–194.

Wales, N. 2012. Ancient DNA from Archaeobotanical Remains: the Next Generation. Doctoral Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut.

Wilkinson, K., Gasparyan, B., Pinhasi, R., Avetisyan, A., Hovsepyan, R., Zardaryan, D., Areshian, G.E., Bar-Oz, G., Smith, A., 2012. Areni-1 Cave, Armenia: A Chalcolithic–Early Bronze Age settlement and ritual site in the southern Caucasus. Journal of World Prehistory 37, 20–33.