Carahunge: The Stonehenge of Armenia

Located near the city of Sisian in the province of Syunik, the megalithic composition of Bronze Age tombs and over 230 standing stones called “Zorats Karer” (also known as Carahunge) is one of the ancient archeological sites on the territory of Armenia. We arrived here on a windy November day, hitchhiking from Vayk. Our drivers told anecdotes and funny stories of which I remember only one: “The sign ‘thumb up’ on the road in the US means someone’s asking for a ride; the raised middle finger means he won’t get it”. They dropped us off at the turn to the historical complex, and as we walked along the rocky road another car stopped for us. Turned out that the driver, a young guy named Andranik, owns the little souvenir shop at Carahunge. He and his friend Samvel invited us for a cup of coffee and told the story of the stones.
A panoramic view of the stones of Carahunge

This ancient site sits on a mountainous plateau 1770 meters above sea level on the left side of Dar river gorge and occupies about 7 hectares of land. Although many researches were made, up to know there is no consensus among the scientists related to the age and the origins of Carahunge. While some claim that the complex is a necropolis built not earlier than the 3-rd millennium BC, others think it was built during 4-th millennium BC.
Tombs and and standing stones at megalithic complex of Carahunge, Armenia
Our new friend Andranik himself was an adherent of another theory, according to which “Zorats Karer” is an ancient observatory 7500 years old. The author of this theory is the Armenian scientist Paris Herouni, who also suggested the name “Carahunge”. Radio-physics, radio-engineering, and radio-astronomy expert, Herouni used four telescopic methods to analyze the complex and claimed to have proven that Carahunge dates back to 5500 BC. In 2004, Paris Herouni published a book called “Armenians and Old Armenia”, in which he talked about his claims.
Standing stones at megalithic complex of Carahunge, Armenia
In 2010, the University of Oxford and the Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain explored “Zorats Karer” and concluded that the megalithic complex is probably one of the oldest observatories in the world, placing Carahunge in one row with Stonehenge in England and Carnac in France. The holes on some of the stones that are thought to be connected to astronomical observations, seem to support this idea. Nevertheless, the most common theory today is that the complex is an ancient necropolis.
Standing stones with holes at megalithic complex of Carahunge, Armenia
The name Carahunge was put in use by Paris Herouni. His suggestion was based on the name of a village Carahunge that according to a 13th-century Armenian historian Stephen Orbelian existed nearby the archeological site. In Armenian, “car/kar” means “stone”, and “hunge” stands for “sound, or echo”. Armenian scientists believe there are links between megalithic complexes of Carahunge, Stonehenge and Carnac, the names of which seem to have the same origin.
Standing stones at megalithic complex of Carahunge, Armenia
Andranik showed us the book written by Herouni and quoted the scientist frequently. He then took us for a tour around the archeological site, telling funny stories about journalists visiting the place in search of hot topics. “There was a young journalist who came here to interview me. She asked if Carahunge could be considered a site of some power and energy. I told her yes, sure, if you come here in the evening, you can find many cars around, couples like to visit the place, such a strong energy is here. I was joking, but you know what? She published this in her article,” Andranik said and laughed.
Standing stones at megalithic complex of Carahunge, Armenia
Whether Carahunge is an observatory, or just a necropolis, we leave it to scientists to decide. As for me, while wandering around the standing stones, I felt powerful vibes all around the site. Soon dark clouds covered the sky and strong winds began to blow, making it impossible to stay outside. We rushed back to the cabin that hosted the souvenir shop. We took our backpacks, crossed the vast fields and walked away, pursuing more adventures on the Road.
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13 thoughts on “Carahunge: The Stonehenge of Armenia

  1. I’d read about Carahunge (I think). Isn’t it the site that was discovered pretty recently? A few years ago or something? Interesting place however! And the story about the journalist is pretty hilarious too :P.
    Loved the photographs!

  2. Pingback: Armenia’s Silk Road Trip – 2012 | On The Road

  3. Carahunge looks very nice indeed. I’ve been to Stonehenge and I was disappointed I couldn’t get close enough to the rocks and walk through them, I mean I understand the reasons, they want to preserve them and avoid any more damages. This place in Armenia looks not spoiled by the tourists, am I wrong?

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