Ancient Karabakh


Karabakh, which is an integral part of Azerbaijan, is one of the territories where the human civilization first emerged. The major reason is the presence of moderate and appropriate natural living conditions here. The results of archaeological excavations in the territory have shown that ancient people who lived in Karabakh traveled an honorable path of creation and created numerous cultural pieces, one of which is architecture.
As a result of archaeological research carried out in Karabakh, a camp of primitive men who lived in the Paleolithic period was found in the Azikh cave which belongs to one of the most ancient states of civilization. Along with the remains of primitive man and tools, the foundation of a residential site built from large rocks was found in the cave as well. It is believed that the site is one of the most ancient samples of human civilization.
Such reconstruction work carried out by primitive men in natural caves resulted in the creation of artificial caves later. Like natural caves, artificial caves were arranged on steep rocks and mountain slopes high above the surface of the earth.
Such homes which started from artificial caves traveled a long path of historical development and are known in the history of architecture under the name of Qaradan. Since Azerbaijani territory had various natural-geographical conditions and climatic zones, the qaradans built here were gradually adapted to local climatic conditions and had different architectural-planning particularities. Domestic animals were also usually kept in such houses. According to historical information, qaradans were used in Karabakh until the early 20th century.
In general, Albanian buildings built in Azerbaijani territory before and after the arrival of Islam played an important role in the development of architecture. Of these monuments, the Albanian church in the village of Qarakand in Nagornyy Karabakh's Khojavand District (1st century), Albanians temples in the villages of Sos (4th century), Iatsi (four temples belonging to the 5th, 7th and 8th centuries), Taqaverd (675), Albanian temples in the village of Guneychatar (1236), Aterk in Agdara District (5th century), Kolatag (614), Qochoqot (672 and 698), in the former village of Dostahir (713), Qasapet (718), Chaldiran (12th century), as well as in the villages of Susanliq (4th-6th centuries), Vanq (9th century), Trakhtik (1094), Tsakuri (1131), Mammadadzor (1147), Tug (1197) and in the villages of Shushikand (905), Chanaqchi (1065 and 1100), Khachmach (1100), Khantsk (1122) and Khndrzistan (1202) are still being protected.
Research into historical and scientific facts shows that the Karabakh region was populated in the pre-Christian period by Turkic and Albanian tribes engaged in cattle-breeding, agriculture and craftsmanship. The works and historical sources of Herodotus, who is regarded as the "Father of History", and other antique authors contain enough information on this issue.
When Christianity started to spread in the South Caucasus under the influence of the Byzantine Empire in the early 4th century BC, the Christian religion became the official state religion of Caucasus Albania. In this regard, churches and temples in the Christian architectural style were built in the country. After the Arabs occupied Caucasus Albania in the 7th century, they tried to spread Islam among Albanian tribes. As a result of uprisings against Arab invasions, the invaders resorted to punitive measures and destroyed Albanian churches and temples. When the Mingachevir hydroelectric power station was built in the 1940s, archaeologists found the remains of destroyed Albanian temples there. Not everyone converted to Islam despite pressure and persecution. Some Albanian tribes, especially tribes living in the mountainous part of Karabakh, remained loyal to the Christianity. Although a number of Albanian Christian monuments in Karabakh seem bizarre to people who are unaware of this historical truth, they belong to the national culture of our people. Among them, we can highlight the Khojavand monastery complex in Kalbajar District (6th-7th centuries), the Agoglan monastery complex (9th century) and the Amaras monastery complex (4th, 9th and 12th centuries) in Lachin District, the Holy Elisee temple (5th-14th centuries) etc. According to scientists who have researched into the architectural monuments of Caucasus Albania for many years, such monuments are different from Armenian religious architectural monuments for many of their characteristic features and architectural design.
There are many monuments belonging to the Christian period in the territory of Lower and Upper Karabakh, which were an integral part of Caucasus Albania. These monuments were built both before Azerbaijan adopted Islam, i.e. before the 7th century, and during the period of renaissance in the 12-13th centuries. Many of these monuments stand in a line along the Tartar River. One of them is the Holy Yelisey Monastery. Even the name of this monastery is related to Albanian history. Albanian King Vachagan III was buried in this monastery, but his grave was subsequently destroyed by the Armenians and relocated to a different place.
Another monument is the Holy Jacob Monastery. It is one of the most ancient monasteries founded in Karabakh in the 4th-6th centuries AD. Another Albanian monument is called Khudavang. Armenian researchers have appropriated this monument, calling it Khotovanq. The monument which is in fact called Khudavang was founded in the 1st century AD. It played a very important role in the merger of Albanian principalities. Near this monument stands a very old monastery – Amares. They are all architectural monuments that are closely related to the history of Albania. It is to be regretted that like the monuments in Shusha, these ones have also been occupied and captured by the enemy.