By Peter Tase
Numerous archaeological monuments of the early Iron Age in Nakhchivan, a province of the Republic of Azerbaijan, have an indispensable contribution towards shedding more light on the cultural, archaeological and agricultural developments that have taken place throughout various centuries before and after Christ, in the outskirts of Europe.
Archaeological assents and sites located within the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan, require a highly detailed attention by international scholars who dedicate much of their time to the study of archaeological artifacts, trends of ancient architecture and analyze valuable objects throughout Europe and Asia. Archaeological sites such as Ilikligaya, Ilikligaya Monument, Irinchoy Ancient Site and the Sanctuary of Iydali Piri in Kangarli region, are unique archaeological sites that ought to receive a greater attention by international scholars who dedicate most of their research to the study of pre-historic archaeology, ancient European history and conduct expanded global research focused on the discovery of new clues that pertain to European civilization as well as to one of the world’s ancient tribes that were indigenous to the territories of Azerbaijan and have been living for centuries in the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan.
Ilikligaya Necropolis is an archaeological monument located in the South East part of Tivi Village in Ordubad Region. Over many years during the harvesting season the landscape of this ancient Necropolis has been destroyed, however local scientists have found an immense collection of archaeological items that were used during the last Bronze and early Iron ages. The ceramic artifacts speak volumes about the importance that Ilikligaya has played in the region’s ancient trade and agricultural inventions. Some of the items discovered are: pitcher, cup, tea pots, dishes, differently shaped vases; agricultural tools, remnants of horse caravans, pieces of vases and clay dishes that were perfectly burned in grey color. Based on the discoveries over the last two decades, the items found take this settlement back to the end of II and beginning of I Millennium BC.
Another ancient monument is the Irinchoy settlement, an archeological site that covers two high hills, including their slopes, in the South East parts of Shahbulag Village, in the region of Sharur. It has a territory that spans over 1,500 square meters, Irinchoy is home to many archeological materials and sources that make Sharur (one of the regions of Nakhchivan) a location with enormous significance in the study of late Middle Ages at a global scale. The brick structures that were explored recently with a stone foundation maintain special characteristics for the region and they require a more detailed investigation that could help expand on the importance that Irinchoy embodies. This settlement was built by large stone walls. Within the ruins local archaeologists have found unique ceramic items that were burned in pink color and consist of clay plates and other shapes. According to local sources the structures of the settlement are built by big stones and preserve a distinguished style of architecture. The discovered ceramic products burnt in pink color consist of tableware pieces that are irregularly shaped. The ceramic products found in the area are a characteristic of the Late Middle Ages.
The Babek region is another significant location where International Scholars could find significant responses to many unanswered questions. Babek is host of the Ishiglar Settlement which has been built in the Middle Ages, at the North East side of Jahri Village, with a territory that spans over 46,000 square meters. In the center of this settlement is located the “Khartanli Spring”. Jahri village still has the remnants of creeks called “aryks” that come from Janichay; their water was used earlier for agriculture and farming purposes. The thickness of its cultural layer is visible and has been a point of attraction to many international scholars who study the archaeological parks of Eurasian landmass.
In some places the thickness of the walls in this monument is three to five meters. On other sections the walls have square shaped holes and remnants of old architecture can be appreciated until today. A large part of this settlement (about 16,000 m2) has been covered by ash layers. Pottery and clay artifacts are discovered over the ash layers. Ishiglar has been included in the Nahajir Middle Age settlement. Based on the current observations the ash layers (heaps) have been caused by the pottery activity in the area. According to the archaeological sources, Ishiglar Settlement has taken shape during the III-XVII centuries.
The artifacts discovered in this settlement could be separated into two periods. Discoveries of the first period consist of pieces and platters burnt in grey, black and pink colors. They belong to the Early Middle ages. The cultural materials that can still be observed today belong to a later period of the Middle Ages. Such objects were mostly baked in pink color and designed with renowned geometric and natural ornaments. During the designing process such items (plates and other artifacts) were covered with limpid and non-limpid glaze. The necropolis of this settlement is located on a lower hill that is located south of the center. Due to atmospheric intrusion, most of the Muslim graves have been destroyed. Moreover, the name of this settlement has been linked to an old Turkish tribe.
Shakhtakhti Village, in the region of Kangarli, has a noteworthy sanctuary named Iydali Piri, a strategic location of the Middle Ages. This sanctuary is situated in the natural hollow of a rock (cave). Around it were built rock pieces in a square shape. In some places the height of the walls reaches 50-60 cm. and in other sections there exist remnants of rocky structures that have been repaired over time. Iydali Piri is a very popular place, constantly visited by locals and has deep roots in the religious history of Nakhchivan. Visitors will find a water spring around the sanctuary. Additionally there are traces of the walls around the sanctuary. Over the years, ceramic artifacts have been found; they date back in the Classical and Middle Ages. Iydali Piri embodies the deeply rooted significance of water and fire, mythological beliefs of the Azerbaijani People. This sanctuary is thought to have been built approximately on the II-I Centuries BC.
Nakhchivan is a treasure of world archaeology, its cultural monuments, religious sites and ancient archeological riches have transformed the birthplace of Heydar Aliyev into a highly valued location that carries a special contribution in the world’s ancient and medieval history.