Ancient Armenia

A deliriously fun descent from Selim was the first order of the day and with Handel's Trumpet Concertio pushing away thoughts of my frozen feet I could concentrate on soaking up the beguilingly hazy views offered up by every twist and turn.

Working my way down the valley I watched as winter fell away replaced by the last of autumns leaves and the beginnings of pretty riverside orchards.

The bulk of my day was then spent negotiating the ups and downs of the main highway running east-west along the 'Valley of Woes' so named for the many earthquakes that have beset the inhabitants.

Fleeting half glimpses of a striking gorge some kilometres to the south always just out of view were frustrating but any woes I harboured were dispelled by my infectiously fun lunchmates.

Stray dogs I have discovered tend to be much more friendly than their territorial farm dog  counterparts and a small foody bribe gains a friend for life. Or at least lunch.

One hard pass later and I was descending towards Sisian and the heart of the south Armenian Highlands.

The world's first christian country this may be but the history here goes much deeper than 301BC. This region in particualr shows traces of settlemets all the way back to the Neolithic Era. In this hard land the world's earliest leather shoe(3,500 BC) straw skirt (3,900 BC) and winemaking fascility (4,000 BC) have been found.

When we think of the fertile crescent as the primordial ooze of humanities brief aspirations towards civilization it should perhaps be the orchards of these highlands which come to mind rather than the humid river planes of the euphrates.

With the sun begining to dip behind the surrounding mountains I reached my next romantic destination for the night.

Zorats Karer - The Warrior Stones

Also known as Carahunge or the 'Armenian Stonehenge'.

Some extravegantly claim it to be 3500 years older than Stonehenge. That I was utterly alone to enjoy the stones and it was free gave it an undeniable edge over its British counterpart. Whatever the extent of it's antiquity it certainly made for thrilling spot to camp.

With the sun setting I wandered between the stones gathering wood and kindling to make a fire in a handily situated fire pit the better to fight the fridgid night to come.

I was inordinatley proud of my modest flames which allowed me to make dinner in some small measure of comfort and to marvel as a moonless night unfurled above.

Perhaps 50 of the 200 odd stones have holes through them which many specualte may correspond to celestial movements. True or no it allowed me to weave between the stones after dinner that night lit only by the soft glow of the Milky Way and a luminous Venus peering through holes like a lost peeping tom druid.


  1. Hi Tom Pleased you are back and continuing your journey east. Fantastic pictures which warmed me on this cold day here but you are experiencing much cooler days and nights than us. Keep your spirits up, parcels await in Tehran. Lost of love Chrissie

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