The Government of the Republic of Armenia approved Order # 1919 on the 21st of May, 2020. It states the support to the project of conservation of a unique early Christian site Yereruik located on the North-West of Armenia right on the border between Armenian and Turkey, next to the Anipemza settlement.
In this first phase of the project the National University Of Architecture
And Construction Of Armenia (NUACA ) in partnership with the experts from Milan Polytechnic, Bologna University and ROCHEMP Center will prepare the conservation project for the 5th -6th cc. Yereruik Basilica and the vault, a project of establishment of a museum in the house of culture of Anipemsa will be developed as well.

For this reason on September 16th, 2020 the experts of the National University of Architecture and Construction of Armenia with the staff members of ROCHEMP regional office for cultural heritage Conservation, Management and Protection have conducted a survey. The architect restorers Dr. Emma Harutyunyan and Nanar Kalantaryan implemented observations of disorders of the remains of Basilica, recorded the humidity level in the stone of the walls, took endoscopic measures using as their expertise, so new technological means.
The map of signage around the site, information panels, walking paths and all required arrangement for the visitors was drown.
The results of the survey will be used for the preparation of the Conservation project of the Yereruyk site.
In 2016, the archaeological site of Yereruyk and the near village of Anipemz have been inserted in the prestigious list of the 7 MOST ENDANGERED sites of Europe thanks to the nomination submitted by the Centro Studi e Documentazione della Cultura Armena (CSDCA).

Yereruyk is the historical site chosen by the scientific board of the ROCHEMP Center as the main site for the training on job of the Training for Cultural Heritage experts.

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The book presents the author’s historical and archaeological observations on a number of places and monuments, proposing some assumptions and suggestions that can serve as a guideline for further studies. The author referred to those places about which he had previously published studies.

The cover of the book

ARUCH – In the book, titled Aruch (Yerevan, 1987), Matevosyan K. assumed that the basilica which was excavated in the 1950s and considered to be part of the palace complex, is the ancient basilica church of Aruch (5th century), the western wing of which was later downsized and therefore the altar has not been preserved. This assumption was confirmed during the excavations in 2006.
Another assumption made in the same book has not yet been verified. It refers to the place of the entrance to the palace hall, which could not be determined during the excavations. Since the pedestal of the throne is on the eastern side of the hall, the entrance must have been from the western side, and if making excavations in a small area, the western wall of the palace and the entrance section can be opened.
From an archeological point of view, the 7th-century fortress of Aruch is also of great interest, the walls of which are currently in a state of disrepair.

Havuts Tar

HAVUTS TAR – A few years ago, in a 14th-century manuscript of the Matenadaran (Ms 3681) Matevosyan K. found the text of the spiritual leader of the Havuts Tar Monastery, Nathanael, about the history of the monastery. It is mentioned in this text that in 1002, Prince Gevorg built the Katoghike Church of the monastery, which had nine altars. The church is now in ruins, the area is covered with many church stones and architectural fragments. The gavit (narthex) of the monastery has been built in front of it, which is also currently destroyed. In the book, the author tries to restore the original plan of the monastery, showing the location of the Katoghike Church and suggests to make excavations in that area for discovering it.

ANI – the famous capital of medieval Armenia, the ruins of which are now in the territory of Turkey. It was especially famous for its numerous churches. Information about one of them, St. Stepanos, has been preserved only in the lithographs of other monasteries. In one of them it is mentioned that St. Stepanos was near the Kars Gate of Ani. In J. Orbeli’s Brief Guideline of the City of Ani it is mentioned under the number 20 – “the ruins of the big temple.” Therefore, it was the Church of St. Stepanos.
The Bekhents Monastery of Ani is famous for the two manuscripts copied and illustrated there which have come down to us (Matenadaran, ms. 5554, ms. 6288). Its exact location is unknown, but in the coastal part of the gorge of the Akhuryan River, where there are two more famous monasteries (St. Gregory built by Tigran Honents and the Kusanats Monastery), ruins and architectural fragments have been preserved, which allow us to assume that there were also a church and a monastery there. (Matevosyan K. made observations there in 2012-2013). It is possible that it was the Bekhents Monastery.


AGHTAMAR – King Gagik Artsruni made this island on Lake Van his residence, built a city, a palace, and the Church of the Holy Cross (915-921) there, which is famous especially for being completely decorated with reliefs from the outside. In the history ordered by the king it is said that in order to build the church, he invaded and occupied the Kotom fortress, destroyed the pagan temple there, and brought these stones to Aghtamar. First, Lydia Durnovo, then Asatur Mnatsakanyan, made the assumption that the reliefs of the temple presenting the images of animals, which form a separate ornamental belt, are quite protruding from the walls and differ from the other reliefs of the church in some respects. They were brought from Kotom and initially belonged to the temple situated there. The author of this book brings additional arguments in favor of this view.
The palace built by Gagik Artsruni on the Aghtamar Island has not been preserved and even its exact place is not known. When Matevosyan K. was in Aghtamar in 2012, he noticed a platform on the south-eastern side of the Church of the Holy Cross, on a high place, which was devoid of grass and was intentionally leveled. There are traces of walls on the northern and southern sides of the area. Taking into account these and several other circumstances, the author supposes that the Aghtamar Palace could have been in that place.

VAYOTS DZOR – This province of Armenia flourished in the late 13th and the first half of the 14th century. The University of Gladzor, having a pan-Armenian reputation, was founded here. In 1282-1338, it functioned at the Aghberts Monastery, the location of which is currently unknown. In 1338-1356, the university operated at the Hermon Monastery, which is now abandoned and in a state of disrepair.
Since the end of the 13th century, under the auspices of the Orbelian princes another high-class school functioned at the Upper Noravank in the Vayots Dzor province, the location of which was also unknown, but due to the recent studies (Discovery of Tigran Mkrtchyan) it was discovered that it is the nowadays famous Shatik Monastery. Matevosyan K. suggests to carry out corresponding archaeological and restoration works in these two monasteries, Hermon and Upper Noravank, which are far from the roads. Due to them, Armenology will be enriched with new data, the tombstones of some medieval educational figures will be discovered. At the same time, it will be possible to add these two monuments to the tourist map of Armenia as places of activity of the higher educational and scientific centers of medieval Armenia.

The book is published in Armenian with English conclusion.

Author of the book
Dr. Karen Matevosyan
Doctor of Historical Science, Professor
Deputy Director of Matenadaran

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In its role of bridging and supporting the institutions of Cultural Heritage in the country, ROCHEMP Center is partnering ICOM Armenia and the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports in the major project of support to the museums and museum reserves to overcome the COVID-19 crisis and to reopen to the public in a safe mode. The Guidelines for museums’ reopening in times of COVID-19 crisis in Armenian language has been carefully developed and adapted and can be downloaded and used widely. These guidelines are a result of research and analysis of the hitherto published articles, guidelines and programs, while taking into account the peculiarities of the country. As a main source for the guidelines was used the electronic publication by ArtNet news. The guidelines were published on Friday, June 20, 2020.

At a time of a global COVID-19 crisis, cultural institutions all over the world have faced the challenge of surviving and functioning in the extraordinary conditions. In this regard, Armenia is not any different. The Armenian cultural institutions also try to understand when and how they can reopen their doors to the visitors. It is obvious that after the reopening they will operate in new realities. Thus, for successfully restarting their activities they need not only to reduce the risks of virus transmission for visitors, staff and volunteers, but also inspire trust of these three parties.
The professional bodies American Alliance of Museums (AAM), Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), International Council of Museums (ICOM), International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art (CIMAM), have published their preliminary guidelines.
The instructions facilitate staff training process and assist to secure the employee well-being under given circumstances. Moreover, the instructions are developed to prepare facilities of cultural institutions for the reopening (in particular for understanding and developing an operational plan; installing protections and partitions; ramping up hygiene and cleaning), as well as to provide means and tools for the effective communication between the public and the cultural institutions in times of COVID-19 pandemic. The orienting and informing of the visitors about the procedures and safety rules by using signage, different visual and audio materials become even more important now. The instructions introduce the safety rules to be followed by visitors and implemented by staff such as ensuring protective coverings, taking body temperature, as well as compiling and tracking visitor information. The use of outdoor areas of the museums and other cultural institutions can be functional and can be used both for mitigating the in-flow and for the outdoor cultural activities, as well as for adapting parking structures and erecting temporary structures during the pandemic period. The practical instructions show how to enforce physical distancing, to establish one-way routing and to organize distancing in public areas and in the galleries.
ROCHEMP hopes that these guidelines will come in handy for Armenian cultural institutions in their efforts to reopen, and quite soon we they will be able to return to their pivotal mission—bringing knowledge, art and culture to their visitors all over the world.

Stay safe and positive!

First Phase is Concluded: ROCHEMP2020: training for cultural heritage experts

As part of the ROCHEMP Project, from 17th of February to 26th of June 2020, the theoretical part of pilot course “ROCHEMP2020: training for cultural heritage experts” was organized by ROCHEMP Center. The course is composed of classroom lectures, individual study and practical activities for 21 participants coming from different professional areas and institutions in the field of Cultural Heritage Management, Conservation and Enhancement from Armenia, Belgium and Georgia.
The course is in English and certificate of participation will be delivered to the participants upon the successful completion.

Launched in an auditorium at the National University of Architecture and Construction of Armenia this February, due to COVID-19 lockdown it was continued remotely via Microsoft Teams. Due to the professional skills of the University of Bologna Alma Mater Studiorum’s staff, the training course was carried out in the first-rate scientific environment and in the form of active discussions.

Professors and prominent scholars Alessia Zampini, Sara Fiorentino, Salvatore Napoli, Federico Fallavolita, Laura Vicci, Gaiane’ Casnati, Alessandro Ianucci, Simone Zambruno, Marco Pretelli, Anna Bonora have shared with the participants of the Course their knowledge and expertise on various topics related to the cultural heritage, such as the Evaluation of conservation projects, The implementation of technical drawings for decorative surfaces, Digital cultural heritage methods for tourism, Management and development plans for cultural heritage issues and case studies etc. The training course has united a very diverse and special team of professionals which made exchange of experience even more productive on a multidisciplinary level. We also hope that it will become a basis for new collaborations and projects.
And last but not least, a great acknowledgment is addressed to the scientific director of the ROCHEMP Project Dr. Prof. Mariangela Vandini and the Project Coordinator Dr. Tania Chinni for all their efforts and contribution to the development and implementation of this training course.


Wednesday May 27th
h. 19:00-21:00

Zoom (preliminary registration is required)

On 21st of May, 2020 the Government of the Republic of Armenia approved the support for the research and preservation of Ererouyk basilica (6th c.) and for the creation of a little museum in Anipemza, to be provided through the Service for the Protection of Historical Environment and Cultural Museum-Reservations. On this occasion, the Regional Center for Cultural Heritage Enhancement, Management and Protection – ROCHEMP – hosts a webinar on 27th of May at 19:00 Yerevan time, about the history of Ereruyk basilica and archaeological site. The webinar will be led by Dr. Patrick Donabédian, Associate Professor of Armenian Studies at the Université d’Aix-Marseille (Aix-en-Provence, France), who from 2009 to 2016 was the Director of the multidisciplinary archaeological investigation of Ererouyk basilica and archaeological site conducted by the Laboratoire d’Archéologie Médiévale et Moderne en Méditerranée (LA3M – AMU – CNRS) .

The webinar will be held in English in the ambit of the training course “ROCHEMP2020: training for cultural heritage experts” organized by ROCHEMP Center in the ambit of an international cooperation project co-financed by the Italian Agency for Cooperation Development (AICS), the Alma mater Studiorum of Bologna University and the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of the Republic of Armenia.

Free access upon registration. The link to Zoom will be sent to the all registered participants.


Patrick Donabédian

LA3M, UMR 7298, AMU/CNRS, Aix-en-Provence

The early Christian and medieval site of Ereruyk is located at the northwestern extremity of the current Republic of Armenia, on its border with present-day Turkey, a few kilometers from the remains of the medieval capital Ani. From 2009 to 2016 a French-Armenian archaeological team led by the LA3M laboratory of Aix-Marseille University (France) has submitted this site to detailed, multidisciplinary investigations.
The site contains the vestiges of several constructions among which the most impressive are the ruins of an undated, but obviously early Christian basilica, with unusual features. Its study led to revisit Armenian-Syriac relations in the early Christian period and to deepen our knowledge of “memorial” sanctuaries. The survey also concerned the dating of the basilica, its architecture, carved decor, its place in early Christian Armenia, as well as the hypothesis of a pre-Christian stratum. Most of the other components of the Ereruyk ensemble raise difficult questions relating both to their function and their dating. The site poses also more general questions concerning the nature of the complex and the reasons for its location, in a place nowadays particularly deprived, as well as several enigmas that appeared during the investigations. The multidisciplinary team set up by the LA3M of Aix-en-Provence and the Regional Museum of Shirak (the province where the site is located) strived to provide answers at least to some of these questions.
After the discovery, near the church, of a cemetery and a memorial area, the mission began to clear a field that until then was very marginal and even taboo in medieval Armenian archeology, that of funerary archeology. The detailed archaeological and anthropological study of more than seventy graves, and 29 dates obtained thanks to radiocarbon analysis of human bones, gave a first picture of the long evolution of a Christian cemetery in Armenia, from late Antiquity to almost today. A geomorphological analysis of a seasonal stream bordering the site was also conducted to try to better understand the place of this “wadi” in the past life of the complex. This was done in parallel with the study of ruined architectural structures located within its bed. All this allowed to reconsider the relations that Ereruyk necessarily had, around the year 1000, with the neighboring town of Ani.
The lecture will review the results achieved by the mission, the questions raised by its investigations, some answers that have been found, as well as the enigmas that still remain to be elucidated.

Patrick Donabédian
Born in Tunis (Tunisia) in 1953, Patrick Donabédian received his first training in Slavic languages, especially Russian, and in art history at the University of Provence (1970-74). Then he studied Armenian language, art history and architecture at the University of Yerevan, Armenia (1975-80). He obtained two doctorates in art history, one at the Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg (1981), the other at Paris-X-Nanterre University (1986). In 2004, he had an accreditation to direct research (HDR) in Armenology / art history at the University of Montpellier III. For more than forty years he studied with passion and professionalism the medieval art of Armenia and Georgia with a particular focus on architecture and decoration. In parallel to his scientific work, from 1992 to 2006, he served French diplomacy as a cultural advisor in Eastern Europe, notably in Armenia (1992-1996), before returning to the university sphere in 2006. Since that date, he has been in charge of the Armenian Studies Section at the University of Aix-Marseille (AMU), and a researcher at the Laboratory of Medieval and Modern Archeology in the Mediterranean (LA3M, AMU / CNRS). From 2009 to 2016, he led the Franco-Armenian archaeological mission of LA3M in Ererouyk (Armenia). P. Donabédian is the author or co-author of ten books, including Les arts arméniens (with J.-M. Thierry), Paris, 1987 (Prix 1988 de l’Académie française) and L’Age d’or de l’architecture Arménienne. 7th century, Marseille, 2008 (2008 Prize from the Institut de France – Academy of Fine Arts). He has published over two hundred scientific articles in specialized journals and collections. He is author of the book EREROUYK – UN SITE ARCHÉOLOGIQUE MAJEUR, HAUT LIEU DE L’ARMÉNIE CHRÉTIENNE (in French and Armenian language) that will be soon available in Yerevan (ed. Sarguis Khatchents, PRINTINFO).

Some additional information
In 2016, the archaeological site of ERERUYK and the near village of ANIPEMZA have been inserted in the prestigious list of the 7 MOST ENDANGERED sites of Europe thanks to the nomination submitted by the Centro Studi e Documentazione della Cultura Armena (CSDCA), an association that since 1970 is supporting local experts and stakeholders in the implementation of different actions aimed to the safeguard and enhancement of Armenian cultural heritage. In May 21st 2020 the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Armenia deliberated to support the preservation of the basilica and the of little mausoleum of Ererouyk and the creation of a little museum in the House of Culture of the village of Anipemza.

The 7 Most Endangered programme identifies the most significant and threatened monuments, sites and landscapes in Europe and mobilises public and private partners at all levels to find a viable future for these heritage gems. It was launched in 2013 by Europa Nostra with the European Investment Bank Institute as founding partner and the Council of Europe Development Bank as associated partner. It has received the support of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union since 2014, as part of Europa Nostra’s network project ‘Mainstreaming Heritage’. See:

©The photos of Ereruyk are by the photographer Tigran Hayrapetyan

Culture as a developmental driver for Italy in the post-Covid scenario

15 May 2020 / 15.00-18.30 CEST / Remote participation

Cultural and creative sectors are among the most affected by the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis

Immediate measures are needed to support the cultural institutions, people and firms that will enable the culture sector to weather the crisis and thrive. At the same time, the crisis provides an opportunity to rethink and reposition the role of culture as a competitiveness driver for countries, cities and regions.

Italy, whose national image is greatly associated with culture, could seize the opportunity by launching a new cycle of strategic design. Such a process needs to involve public administration, industry, cultural players and professionals, and civil society.

The purpose of this webinar, organised by the OECD Venice Office for Culture and Local Development and Cultura Italiae, is to contribute to this process by convening some of the most authoritative and experienced representatives from cultural and creative sectors and policy makers to debate the role of culture in Italy’s competitiveness model and the ways to foster culture-led local development in the recovery and beyond.

Join the discussion

To participate, please register via this online form by Wednesday, 13 May 2020.

Registered participants will receive the link to connect one day prior to the event.

The webinar will start at 15.00 Paris time, please check the time difference with your place.

Working language: English.

Cultural genocide or cultural cleansing

 Cultural genocide or cultural cleansing is a concept that lawyer Raphael Lemkin distinguished in 1944 as a component of genocide. The Armenian Genocide Museum defines cultural genocide as “acts and measures undertaken to destroy nations’ or ethnic groups’ culture through spiritual, national, and cultural destruction.

The concept of cultural genocide was not included in the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

In 1912-1913 the Armenian Patriarchy of Istanbul presented an account of the churches and monasteries in Western Armenia (Eastern Anatolia) and in the Ottoman Empire. More than 2300 were accounted for including the early unique Christian monuments of IV-V centuries. But most of them were looted, burned and destroyed during the genocide.

In 1974 UNESCO stated that after 1923, out of 913 Armenian historical monuments left in Eastern Turkey, 464 have vanished completely, 252 are in ruins, and 197 are in need of complete repair.

Armenian architectural buildings are consistently being demolished with dynamite explosions and used as targets during Turkish military training exercises; the undamaged stones are also used as construction materials. In some rural places, Armenian monasteries and churches serve as stables, stores, clubs and in once case, even a jail. On many occasions the Turkish government converted Armenian churches into mosques.

On June 18, 1987 the Council of Europe adopted a Decree demanding from the Turkish government to pay attention to and take care of the Armenian language, culture and educational system of the Armenian Diaspora living in Turkey, also demanding an appropriate regard to the Armenian historical monuments that are in modern Turkey’s territory.

Source official web site of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of RA

Horomos Monastery, 10th-11th centuries

The view of the Horomos Monastery before 1965
The view of the Horomos Monastery 1998 (photo S. Karapetian)

Sourb Prkich (Holy Saviour) Church of Ani, 11th century

The view of the monument in 1910s
The view of the monument in 2000 (photo S. Karapetian)