International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property

Armenia


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General Country data

The main cultural assets of Armenia

The Armenian Highland is the cradle of the Armenian people. After thousands of years inhabiting this territory, the Armenian tribes were formed as a nation, they established their kingdoms, ancient civilizations, created unique and bright culture. References concerning Armenia and the Armenian ethnicity, which lived on that territory for several millennia, are preserved in Sumerian, Assyrian, Persian, Egyptian and other texts of ancient peoples. Nowadays the Republic of Armenia is located in the North-Eastern part of the Armenian Highland and occupies its 1/10th part. Archaeological and architectural masterpieces from the Lower Palaeolithic to the High Middle Ages comprehensively reflect the path of the origins and development of the Armenian people. Rich archaeological heritage of Armenia encompasses around 2 million years: Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Chalcolithic Ages, Bronze and Iron Ages, Hellenistic period, Middle Ages, etc.

The Armenian petroglyphs are exceptional in the context of the Near Eastern culture both by their number, varieties, styles and contents. There are over 30 000 petroglyphs located in the different regions of the Republic of Armenia. Huge monolithic basalt statues up to 6 m high called Vishaps (Dragons) are very peculiar and characteristic only to the Armenian Highland. They were erected in the sources of the natural and artificial lakes and springs and symbolized the unruly nature elements, awakening of the nature, fertility and profusion.

The period (9th-6th cc. BCE) of the Kingdom of Van (also known as Urartu) is another important cultural layer for Armenia; at that time an immense amount of cultural heritage was created including big fortress-settlements, exceptional architectural and engineering structures, mural paintings etc. In the Hellenistic period of Armenia, like elsewhere in the Near East town building was developing, alongside with ancient cities like Van, Armavir and Erebuni (nowadays Yerevan) Armenian Kings established dozens of towns called after their names – Samosat, Artashat, etc. These were populous and prospering cities on the trading road which extended from China and India to the Mediterranean basin as testified by a number of Greek and Roman historians.

After the adoption of Christianity as a state religion first in the world in 301 AD, in the 4th-7th cc. AD religious buildings were predominant in Armenian architecture. During two decades being the first and the only Christian country in the world, the Armenians started elaborating types of church buildings that had no parallels in the neighbouring countries; many types of churches created by the Armenian architects are characteristic only to the Armenian building art (Cathedral of Echmiatsin, Ereruyk, Mastara, Hripsime, Zvartnots, etc.). Armenian architects of the 4th century elaborated completely new compositions of domed and especially central domed churches, having the Armenian national corbelled timber cover of “hazarashen” described already by Xenophon as a prototype of the stone dome.

After the restoration of the Armenian statehood in 885 AD fortresses were real achievements of military mind and high knowledge of building art. Their space-volumetric resolutions were conditioned by the landscape peculiarities and their localization was realized in the strategic points of the country.

During the High Middle Ages, the new raise of the Armenian architecture not only continued reproducing the early mediaeval types of churches, but also perfecting them bringing them to a new level (Sanahin, Haghpat, Marmashen, Kecharis, Noravank, Geghard, etc.).

A khachkar, also known as an Armenian cross-stone is a carved, memorial stele bearing a cross, and often with additional motifs such as rosettes, interlaces, and botanical motifs; the khachkar is a typically national Armenian phenomenon, unique in the art world and culture.

Currently, there are more than 24 000 monuments in the state list of monuments of the Republic of Armenia, and the number is growing year by year due to new scientific research.

The legal framework on cultural heritage conservation

Preservation of cultural heritage, including tangible and intangible cultural heritage, is one of the main directions of the state cultural policy of the Republic of Armenia, which is regulated by the RA laws and international conventions.

The RA Law “On the Preservation and Use of Immovable Monuments of History and Culture and the Historical Environment” was adopted in 1998; it defines the legal basis for the protection and use of monuments and regulates the relations arising during that activity.

The RA Law on Intangible Cultural Heritage was adopted in 2009. It regulates the legal relations arising during the processes of safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, including the processes of inventory of intangible cultural heritage, identification, documentation, research, application, restoration, preparation of the lists of elements, etc. A number of legislative acts have been adopted to regulate the legal field of the sphere, which provide an opportunity to regulate the legal relations of the communities that create, maintain and transfer tangible and intangible cultural heritage, international cultural cooperation, etc. In order to ensure the viability and continuity of intangible cultural heritage, cultural programs aimed at the development of folk art and crafts, popularization of folklore heritage, development of traditional performing arts, protection of the viability of traditional national life and international popularization of intangible cultural heritage are being implemented across the country. The implementation of cultural programs is especially important in the communities that contribute to the safeguarding of traditions, vitality and intangible cultural heritage transmission from generation to generation in their local environment.

The following list highlights the main Laws on Cultural heritage conservation of the Republic of Armenia:

The cultural and natural sites on the World Heritage List

Currently the Republic of Armenia has 3 nominations inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List: “Cathedral and Churches of Echmiatsin and the Archaeological Site of Zvartnots” (2000), “Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin” (1996, 2000), “Monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley” (2000). There are 4 more nominations in the Tentative List: “The archaeological site of the city of Dvin” (1995), “The basilica and archaeological site of Yererouk” (1995), “The monastery of Noravank and the upper Amaghou Valley” (1995), “The monasteries of Tatev and Tatevi Anapat and the adjacent areas of the Vorotan Valley” (1995).

Within the framework of the process of preserving the values of the Armenian intangible cultural heritage, the following 6 applications from the Republic of Armenia were registered in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List:

  • Duduk and its music, 2008 (Video 1) (Video 2)
  • Armenian cross-stones art. Symbolism and craftsmanship of Khachkars, 2010 (Video 1) (Video 2)
  • Daredevils of Sassoun or David of Sassoun, 2012 (Video)
  • Lavash, the preparation, meaning and cultural expressions of traditional bread in Armenia, 2014 (Video 1) (Video 2)
  • Kochari, traditional group dance, 2017 (Video 1) (Video 2)
  • Armenian letter art and its cultural expressions, 2019 (Video)


Adhesion to ICCROM

Armenia is a Member State of ICCROM since 05/05/2004

Within ICCROM

Mandates in ICCROM Council since 1958:

No mandates in ICCROM Council

ICCROM Staff since 1959: - None -

Involvement of Armenian Nationals

Activities in/with Armenia since 2002


Activities details

Activities details


  • 2012 - 1 Mission(s)


External links