Zorats Karer (Zorac‘ K‘arer, Zorac Qarer, Zorakarer, Zorakar Armenian: Զորաց Քարեր), also called Karahunj, Carahunge or the Armenian Stonehenge) is an archaeological site near the city of Sisian in the Syunik province of Armenia. The site is located on a rocky promontory near Sisian. About 223 large stone tombs can be found in the area. It was explored by a team of archaeologists from the Institut für Vorderasiatische Archäologie, University of Munich who published their findings in 2000. They concluded that “in contrast to the opinion that Zorakarer may be called an Armenian Stonehenge”, Zorats Karer “was mainly a necropolis from the Middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age.” The Munich archaeologists add that it may have served “as a place of refuge in times of war”, possibly in the Hellenistic – Roman period (c. 300 BC – 300 AD). A wall of rocks and compacted soil (loam) was built around the site with vertical rocks plugged into it for reinforcement: today only these upright rocks remain – Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zorats_Karer)
A new study into Armenia’s Carahunge stone circle complex, has shown that it is arguably one of the oldest known megalithic sites outside of Turkey, dating to around 5500 BC. Moreover, investigations by Russian prehistorian Professor Paris Herouni indicate that Carahunge (car means “stone” in Armenian, and hunge means “voice” or “sound”), located some 200km from the Armenian capital Yerevan, not far from the town of Sisian, was created as an astronomical observatory marking the movement not only of the sun and moon, but also the stars.
Key hole to Cygnus
More significant is that Carahunge’s principal stellar alignment is towards Deneb, the bright star in the constellation of Cygnus the swan. A number of the standing stones bear smooth angled spy holes that are 4 to 5cm in diameter, each one being angled towards different points on the horizon or ancient targets in the heavens. A key stone had a hole that was focused due north towards the meridian. This suggested that it targeted a bright star at its culmination – i.e. the highest or lowest point it reaches as it revolves around the north celestial pole.
According to Andrew Collins, “Herouni ran the angle of the stone through various astronomical programmes and found that it was aligned to Deneb at a date of around 5,500 BC, suggesting that this was the time frame in which Carahunge was in use by an advanced society of astronomer priests. It was this alignment that provided the key to finally dating the site, which was expected to have been constructed during this distant epoch. It is even now being claimed by Professor Herouni that Carahunge is the oldest stone obervatory in the world, although surely the stone setting at Nabta Playa in Egypt’s Libyan desert is at least as old as Carahunge, and arguably older. Plus there are my own findings with respect to the orientations of various Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) sites in southeast Turkey, including the 12,000 year old Gobekli Tepe. In The Cygnus Mystery (2006) I demonstrated that, like Carahunge, they seemed to be orientated towards Cygnus’s brightest star, Deneb”.
The importance of Professor Herouni’s findings regarding Carahunge is that in a time frame little different to the Neolithic city of Catal Huyuk in neighbouring Turkey, there was an astronomical observatory in Armenia not just aligned to the sun and moon, but also to the stars, and Cygnus in particular. I suspect that the interest in this star group goes back beyond the PPN sites of southeast Turkey to the Palaeolithic age, and the peoples who created the amazing cave art in Western Europe. Representations of Cygnus certainly exist in the Lascaux cave in the Dordogne region of southern France, and I suspect it is present in various other painted caves as well.
So why was Cygnus important?
Primarily it is because of its use as a time marker, its stars being so close to the north celestial pole they move very little across hundreds of years. Then there is its position on the Milky Way, exactly where this starry stream bifurcates to form what is known as the Cygnus Rift or Dark Rift. Universally, this area of the sky has been seen as the point of access into the sky-world, as well as a place of cosmic birth and death. It was also the place where the souls of the dead traveled in the afterlife, very often accompanied by, or in the form of, a bird, seen as a psycho-pomp, a soul carrier. Very often the identity of these birds corresponded with how the stars of Cygnus were represented in regional mythologies – a falcon in Egypt, a vulture on the Euphrates and a swan in Hellenic Greece and Turkey.
I am not surprised that Carahunge is aligned to Cygnus, although it is always pleasing when one’s theories are shown to be real. I think that in years to come we shall find a lot more about the cult of the swan, and its relationship to the earliest sky-religions of the ancient world. I also think there is much more to learn about the prehistoric beliefs of the proto Armenians, and how they held true age old beliefs that went back all the way to Palaeolithic times. I also made another surprising observation, the name Carahunge is also spelt as Karahunge (where Kara means Stone and Hunge refers to Voice/ Sound).
Based Upon :: Research work by Russian pre-historian Professor Paris Herouni and Andrew Collins
Other Critical Inputs