‘Prehistoric’ is the go-to label for the unknown moments in early human history.
And the ancient stone circle at Zorats Karer in Armenia, is a good example of runaway prehistoric speculation.
Like most people, I assume it to be a Stonehenge-kind-of-thing.
You know, a structure of spiritual significance based on astronomical and seasonal events. Basically, an ancient party place.
But the site also includes what seems to be a tomb.
Is Zorats Karer a ceremonial and burial site?
However, when one browses the Internet – suddenly the the stone circle becomes a UFO site, well, at least in the eyes of “Ancient Alien” theorists.
Others dismiss this star symbolism and say it’s simply an ancient graveyard. Some say, the ruins of a fortress village.
Whatever the possibilities, it seems the stone circle of Zorats Karer could be 7500 years old.
Meaning: well beyond most man-made structures on earth, including Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt.
Armenians have a few names for this site, including Army Stones or The Stones of the Powerful. (Zorats Karer).
Another name is Karahunj:“… Interpreted as deriving from two Armenian words: Kar, meaning stone and hoonch, meaning sound. This interpretation is related to the fact that the stones make whistling sounds on a windy day, presumably because of multiple reach-through holes bored under different angles into the stones in prehistoric times.”
But others claim that these bore-holes are from more recent times.
The most convincing theory for this “Armenian Stonehenge” is offered by Paris Herouni, an Armenian scientist of radio astronomy.
He says Zorats Karer is “the world’s oldest observatory”.
And “The Oldest Observatory” claim was later supported by a research expedition by Oxford University’s Royal Geographical Society.
The stones are arranged in line to signal the summer solstice, and for other ritual reasons, as they “reflected the stars of Cygnus or the Swan-Vulture constellation, which in certain cultures it was believed to be the door to the sky world.”
Not only is Zorats Karer a 7500-year-old observatory, but it is thought, to also comprise of a school and a temple.
Yet, no one knows what culture built it.
And so, much guestwork remains, for now.
On a bleak afternoon, snowy mountains surround, I explore Zorats Karer, alone.
Away from icy winds I shelter, seated behind standing stones, swigging a bottle of red.
Contemplating the stones.
Zorats Karer – TRAVEL ADVICE
GETTING THERE: Mini-buses ply the highway between Meghri and Yerevan and many go to Sisian (I arrived from Goris). This drab, rundown industrial city is the closest base for Zorats Karer, about 6 km away, and back towards the main route.
ACCOMMODATION + Eating: There a few choices. A clean and friendly hotel in the center is Dina@ $12 for a single room with bathroom and wifi. Decent food is available there or nearby.