Areni

Areni is a village, in the distance of 100 km from Yerevan. It is best known for its wine production. Natural habitats include semi-desert, calcareous grasslands, and juniper woodlands alternated with cliffs, canyons, and rocky outcrops. Vicinity of Areni community have been considered as a Prime Butterfly Area, where wide variety of rare butterflies. Also the area is interesting for bird observations. "Areni" is a name of a local endemic grape, which colour is dark purple-black. The local population makes wine from it for hundreds of years. Each October, since 2004, they are celebrating wine festival in Areni. There are wineries in this area, which have been established after the collapse of Soviet Union. Areni was an important stop on the way from Ararat plain to Artsakh via Selim caravanserai and Lake Sevan.

In 2007, an Armenian-Irish team decided to do test excavations in the cave site of Areni 1 (Birds' cave). Two test trenches in the front and rear galleries revealed Chalcolithic Age and Early Bronze Age layers dating back to 5000-4000 BC. Excavations during 2007-2008 uncovered 3 pot burials in the rear chamber of the cave. Each pot contained a Copper Age human skull with no associated grave goods. All skulls belong to sub-adults of 9–16 years of age. Remarkably, one skull contained a piece of a well-preserved brain tissue. This is the oldest known human brain from the Old World. Excavations also yielded an extensive array of Copper Age artifacts dating to between 4,200 and 3,900 BCE. The new discoveries within the cave move early bronze-age cultural activity in Armenia back by about 800 years.

Additional discoveries in the cave led to found metal knives, seeds from more than 30 types of fruit, remains of dozens of cereal species, rope, cloth, straw, grass, reeds and dried grapes and prunes were found. In January 2011 archaeologists announced the discovery of the earliest known winery, the Areni-1 winery, seven months after the world's oldest leather shoe, the Areni-1 shoe, was discovered in the same cave. Also the oldest woman dress was found here. The winery, which is over six-thousand years old, contains a wine press, fermentation vats, jars, and cups. Archaeologists also found grape seeds and vines of the species Vitis vinifera. It was a fact, that winemaking was already so well developed in 4000 BC suggests that the technology probably goes back much earlier.

Holy Mother of God Church (Astvatsatsin) of Areni is a single-nave two-aisled domed church completed in the year 1321. Two portals lead into the structure from the south and west. An effigy of the Virgin Mary is carved upon the tympanum in high-relief above the lintel of the west portal. This carving and many others that may be found on the church are considered to be masterpieces of artwork done by Momik, who according to inscriptions was also the architect for the church. He is best known for his high-relief carvings at the monastery of Noravank. Small vertical windows around the drum as well as small windows at each of the four façades let light into the main floor below.  Some interesting tombstones and khachkars may be seen adjacent to the church.
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