ABOUT THE BOOK
This book is addressed to those readers and visitors who want to know better the ancient heritage of Armenia and aims to highlight the archaeological, architectural, art historical, cultural and historical significant value of the Ererouyk complex and its peculiarities, as well as to the greatest extent elucidate the reason for the establishment of this complex in a place which today is in a miserable and isolated state. The current publication also attempts to make comprehensible the factors by which is conditioned the development and preservation of the complex, comprised of totally different structures dating from the ancient times to the end of the Middle Ages. For that reason, two sources of information were used in this book: the first is the accumulated knowledge about this site during the twentieth century and at the turn of twenty-first century, the second are the results of the research conducted by the Armenian-French expedition of the Institute of Archaeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia and Shirak Geological Museum in collaboration with the Aix-Marseille University (France). Finally, this book succinctly presents a new program of the enhancement which is a proposal for fostering the touristic potential not only of the Ererouyk site but also for learning about, adjacent to the complex, the modern architectural heritage of the village of Anipemza.
REGARDING THE EREROUYK AND ANIPEMZA PROJECTS: TOWARD A NEW CENTRE OF THE REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
From 2010 the complex which includes the remains of Ererouyk and the village of Anipemza was the objective of several significant projects of the preservation and enhancement, oriented not only toward the issues of national heritage, but also toward the development of tourism and economy, pursuing a specific mission – improving living conditions of the local population.
The first phase was initiated by the Ministry of Culture of Armenia in 2012 with the support of foreign partners the Laboratory of Medieval and Modern Archaeology in the Mediterranean (Aix-en-Provence) and Center of Studies and Documentation of Armenian Culture (Milan-Venice). Due to the efforts of the Ministry, the Armenian government approved the program of the site’s managing and improvement of the road accessibility. The Ministry has also started an action for including Ererouyk in the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
The second phase was in 2015, again with the support of the Laboratory of Medieval and Modern Archaeology in the Mediterranean and the Polytechnic University of Milan, was initiated the research, preservation and tourism importance project by Gaiane Casnati, the architect of the Centre of Studies and Documentation of Armenian Culture. In 2016 Europa Nostra Association and European Investment Bank Institution classified Ererouyk-Anipemza complex in the list of “Seven most endangered sites”. This classification became a starting point for launching a funding campaign for a program that included the creation of a group of the international experts (including the author of these lines) and initiation of a funding campaign for making the project into reality. Two university and scholarly institutions – the Polytechnic University of Milan and the Laboratory of Medieval and Modern Archaeology in the Mediterranean have joined the project.
The goals of the project are: a) to deepen the study of archaeological remains; b) to ensure the protection of destroyed monuments with conservation of their some extremely endangered parts; c) to create conditions for good preservation and presentation of rich collection of stones nowadays dispersed on the site; d) to promote the site’s managing by supporting Armenian government in the processing of the enhancement program; e) to establish a regional center for tourism with the active involvement of a local population in the village of Anipemza. Such a project definitely seems ambitious and its implementation can occur only in phases. However, if it receives a stable support of Armenian authorities and this way arouses interest of local, national and international players, its implementation in average time frame seems quite possible.
With respect to this last point, it is proposed to restore some of 1920s-30s significant buildings of Anipemza and to place several exhibition spaces there. In one of them can be displayed the collection of sculptured stones – this would allow to represent the history of the architectural complex and at the same time of the early Christian architecture, of its decoration and cross-bearing stele. Another exhibition hall through the documentation and photographs would present the public the life of the village in the Soviet period. The creation of this kind of center would become an important factor for the stimulation of the economy of Anipemza and its surrounding.
For a long-term perspective, in case of favorable political conditions, it is planned to give this center a cross-border significance, making Anipemza an important place for international tourism which would open a door for the exploration of the ancient, medieval and new periods rich heritage of Shirak on two sides of the Armenian-Turkish border. Along with Ani, it can become a cross-border archaeological park, the creation of which would correspond to the endeavors of the scholars, and among them first of all of Adriano Alpago Novello, who have already dreamed about it for a half century.
The inclusion of these two sites in the UNESCO World Heritage List: the city of Ani (obtained on 15th of July, 2016 by the efforts of Turkish authorities) and Ererouyk (listed in the “Tentative list”) should facilitate the implementation of such a project. The current publication is intended to contribute to the fulfillment of these aims.