Zorats Karer Stone Circle Armenia Mountain Panorama

Zorats Karer – Armenia’s Stonehenge


‘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.

Standing Stones at Zorats Karer in  Armenia
Amid the stone circle are 222 standing stones, the tallest is 2.8 meters, weighing up to 10 – some say: 50 – tons.

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.

Zorats Karer Valley Armenia Panorama

The stone circle sits on a rocky plain, overlooking this ravine (with a frozen stream), surrounded by mountains.

Is Zorats Karer a ceremonial and burial site?

However, when one browses the Internet – suddenly 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.

Zorats Karer stone circle in Armenia amid a snowy mountain panorama.
The entrance to a prehistoric tomb at the stone circle of Zorats Karer?

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.”

(source: Wikipedia)

But others claim that these bore-holes are from more recent times.

Village Against Snowy Mountains in  Armenia
Village away in the distance from Zorats Karer

Paris Herouni offers the most convincing theory for this “Armenian Stonehenge”

This Armenian scientist – of radio astronomy – says that Karahunj is “the world’s oldest observatory”.

And a research expedition by Oxford University’s Royal Geographical Society later supported “The Oldest Observatory” claim.

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.”

Source: Tasting Travels + Ancient Origins

Not only is Zorats Karer a 7500-year-old observatory but also comprises a school and a temple.

Yet, no one knows what culture built it.

And so much guesswork remains, for now.

Sunset at Zorats Karer Stone Circle in   Armenia

Not much of a sunset on this winter’s day at Zorats Karer in Armenia.

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.


The mystery.

Beer In Warm Bar Sisian Armenia
After a chilly afternoon at Zorats Karer, I walked the several km back to Sisian to eat and drink and ponder … I have no answers.

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.

ACCOMMODATION + Eating: There are 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.

Travels in Armenia – 2011

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