October 1, 2008
Rog & Chris returned to UK with new visits to Armenia in their minds...
September 22, 2008
Chris Musson joined Rog. Two friends are again together in Armenia!
September 20, 2008
Our team went to Ushi and made some ground investigations there. Field walls on the south side of the hill were examined and appear to be part of a genuinely-old system with two walls showing cyclopean construction and a number of terraces appearing to underlie them. This would seem to date some of the fields to the time of the defensive enclosures on the hill top. Rog was glad that at last the fields that he first saw in 2001 are the real archaeological features that he had hoped they'd be.
September 19, 2008
After having an unlucky period of naughty wind and non-obeying paraglider, we managed to have a flight which took place in Kotayk province, near Charentsavan. New season, new pilot, new hopes!
This site became an object of Rog Palmer’s interest after trying Google Earth as a means of finding the places of archaeological interest in Armenia. The aerial photos which were taken that day let us see this hilltop more detailed. The team also got to the top of this hill in order to see it from the ground.
September 15, 2008
After 3 years of break, Rog came to Armenia. The main aim of his visit was spending his vacation, but we couldn't let him be just by himself, so we added "some WoA" to his visit.
September 10, 2008
On the 10th September, the second day of the AARG (Aerial Archaeology Research Group) annual conference, Anush presented “Wings over Armenia” short film, which is now available on-line. View the video
April 17-29, 2005
Rog Palmer and Antje Faustmann returned to Armenia to do more field checking of sites photographed in 2003 and 2004. The initial area for this was land within a 3 x 5km block west of Ushi within which we had photographed two defended hilltops, a deserted village and numerous smaller sites including what may be settlements, field systems and burial grounds. With Hayk Hakobyan’s expertise we were able to identify phases of construction at the ‘hillforts’ of Karagoush and Ushi (both showing late Iron Age, Urartu and Hellenistic structures plus an additional medieval wall and round tower at Karagoush). Both sites had internal features and a network external walls remaining from settlement foci and land division plus traces of associated burial grounds. A third defended site was examined. This was located on the east side of the gorge by Buravet and comprised fortified walls and internal structures dating from the early iron age with modifications and continuous reuse until medieval times.
The deserted village at Buravet survives in excellent condition with house walls standing over 2m high in places and streets clearly marked. Graves within the cemetery on the SE side of the village and show a latest date in the 1960s and include a group of small oval stone-marked burials that Hayk thought to be Hellenistic. Meetings with local shepherds allowed Tigran to confirm the date of desertion was in the mid-1960s when the population descended to a village in the plain.
Two additional sites that were examined north of our sample area. These had been photographed in low evening light in August 2004 as embanked enclosures. Both were identified on the ground as low features standing some 30cm above the field surface with banks that showed high concentrations of stones. It was agreed that the banks were formed by stone clearance from the small ‘fields’ they enclosed and a ‘not modern’ date (possibly 18th century) was suggested. Kurgans were found in the vicinity of both sites.
From many points in the landscape and on the approach from Yerevan, Karagoush hill is clearly visible and stands as an isolated peak that must have been a focus in past times. Karagoush and other defended sites are intervisible (from Ushi, for example, at least four defended hills can be seen) and may have formed part of a larger system that controlled and managed the area.
The April weather was not always helpful to us, with an initial two days of sunshine melting snow on Aragats to produce a raging torrent in the gorge east of Buravet that had to be crossed before the village and Karagoush could be examined. Two days of rain meant that we could not drive along some tracks and our final field investigations were dictated by our ability to reach specific areas.
During this visit we also discussed an outline for publication of this first aerial survey in Armenia. Our April 2005 and August 2004 work was financed by a grant from the British Academy and the April visit supplemented by funds from the Association of Cultural Exchange. April 2005 also marked the end of Roger Budd’s Directorship of the British Council in Armenia. Without Roger’s conviction that our project was a valid scientific endeavour, Wings over Armenia would have remained a dream and we are extremely grateful for his support.
August 8-23, 2004
Rog and Antje returned to Armenia for a mixture of research, teaching and pleasure. It had been arranged that Karan and the paramotor would be available for most of this time and we began flying on August 10, making ten photographic flights between then and August 19 th. This enabled us to photograph almost the whole of a 6 x 10 km area at least once and to add more detailed shots as features were identified. We again used a Nikon Coolpix digital camera but this time with a 1 GB card on which it was possible to store more than 700 images. Karen was taking 2-300 shots per hour of flying and we now have a lot of pictures to catalogue and examine.
Among the excellent photograph taken this season are a number of deserted villages, detailed pictures of a defended hilltop [ a ] which show it to have associated internal and external features. For the first time, photos of the Bronze Age enclosure at Ushi show it to be a two-phase structure [ b ] with rectangular towers in the walls.
Numerous small enclosures and possible kurgans were recorded and traces of earlier field systems (terraces and walls) occur in several places [ d, f ]. A flight at last-light on August 15 showed at least two enclosures that appear to be embanked rather than walled [ j ] which we think to be new types of site.
In the second week we were working with five of Hayk’s students from the Yerevan State University [ h ] who were introduced to photo examination and also spent two days in the field checking some of sites photographed the previous week. In an area of about ½ sq km we identified 25 archaeological sites including kurgans (perhaps part of one large necropolis), walled settlements of Bronze Age and medieval date, and two ritual titlears. Each site was noted on photograph in the field [ i ] and its coordinates fixed by GPS. It is intended that Hayk and his students will continue to catalogue and examine the photographs over the winter months and will make field visits when possible. Hayk is already planning where to make his first exploratory excavations…
Hayk Balasanyan, Hayk Hakobyan, Anna Azizyan, Vanush Petrosyan
Diana Mirijanyan, Antje Faustmann, Rog Palmer, Anush Margaryan
This was an extremely satisfactory two weeks and has laid the foundations for what we hope may become a major research project to examine the development of the landscape in the area divided by the Kasach Gorge.
In early September Antje and Rog will be speaking about Wings over Armenia at the meeting of the Aerial Archaeology research Group in Munich.
28 April to 10 May.
Results include the recording of about 12 deserted settlements, two defended hilltop enclosures (probably bronze age), and the bronze age and medieval sites at Ushi plus their field system. Numerous smaller features (eg buildings, enclosures, mounds) have been photographed as have views and details of the modern landscape and some natural features such as erosion. Examples will be found in the Pictures page .
We are beginning to learn the operational limits of the paramotor and have found, for example, that some winds and thermik conditions do not allow a two-person flight and that turbulence can cause problems during take-off and in flight. One result of this is that Karen Martirosyan has been making solo flights using a video camera to record sites of interest. Karen is developing a good eye for identifying archaeological features and is being encouraged to fly as much as possible between our visits and to teach our other Armenian pilot, Edek Serobyan, to examine the ground in the same way.
Antje has been flying with a Nikon Coolpix 990 that has good resolution for these preliminary flights. Karen uses an ancient video camera which produces acceptable movies but gives poor single-image clips. Both could be replaced with higher-resolution equipment if any could be found that are of suitable size for paramotor flights. Most flights have been tracked using GPS.
On May 3 the British Council hosted a ‘media evening’ attended by 25 journalists at a field north of Ushi during which numerous interviews were given and a flight made (in superb lighting conditions) by Antje and Karen. Considerable TV and press cover resulted from this event – and even the farmer was persuaded to be happy.
Lilit Vanyan and archaeological members of the team designed a database to hold not only the photographic record but to have the potential to be used for scientific research in the future.
Bars Media Documentary Film Studio concludes shooting at archaeology sites and begins editing process of a demo (short documentary for demonstration purposes). The demo will be submitted to the Discovery Channel, BBC and U.K. Channel 4 and upon acceptance, Bars Media will produce a full-length documentary about the aerial archaeology project.
November 5 - 8, 2002
Rog attended a conference 'Space Applications for Heritage Conservation' at Strasbourg, France and presented a poster, called 'A poor man's use of Corona images for archaeological survey in Armenia', on some aspects of our work in Armenia. Several people were very interested, especially in our use of the paramotor. It seems as if we might be starting a new fashion for aerial survey in countries where there are problems with conventional flying and cloud-free skies.
November 1, 2002
Project team begins analyzing, describing and mapping photos taken from the air.
October 15, 2002
Rog Palmer gave a short lecture to students of the Faculty of History at Yerevan State University. He presented the background of aerial research, work, findings and prospects of Armenian project. The lecture ended with the premiere showing of part of the video film made of and from the paramotor.
October 13, 2002
The unlucky date speaks for itself. In trying to do impossible, to beat the impassable roads of Armenia, the vehicle of the project (VW Transporter, donated by the US Army) was damaged.
October 8-14, 2002
The slopes of Mount Ara were chosen as the area for the survey. The archaeological team checked the data from satellite images with encouraging results - finding terraces of earlier cultivation, fortifications and settlements dating back to XI-IX BC.
October 6, 2002
Rog Palmer took his first paramotor flight.
September 30, 2002
The team became complete when Chris Musson landed in Armenia for the first time on September 30. During the following week the archaeological team surveyed the banks of Kasakh gorge, while the pilots developed and practiced the tandem-flight technique.
September 27, 2002
News started to develop. First the paramotor arrived from Moscow. Our paramotor was purchased for us by the British Council and we wanted to begin flying in October when our British contingent arrived in Armenia. We had decided that operations should be made using a two-person paramotor and we could do this by combining a Canadian engine and a large wing from Germany. Rog Palmer arrived three hours later.
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