Tigranakert was presented in All Italian 1st conference on Public
archaeology (Archeologia Pubblica. Il primo congresso di archeologia
pubblica in Italia. Firenze, 29 - 30 ottobre 2012) organized by
University of Florence in Pallazzo Vecchio.The head of Tigranakert
Archaeological Mission, professor of Yerevan State University Hamlet
L. Petrosyan on Monday 29th of October hold a presentation in Pablic
Archaeology all Italian conference in Florence. Bellow there are some
quotations from his presentation.

"The Hellenistic city of Tigranakert is located in the internationally
unrecognized republic of Nagorno Karabagh, which has proclaimed its
independence at the beginning of the 90s of the last century after
the Armenian-Azerbaijani war. The discovery of Tigranakert is one of
the most successful undertakings of the Armenian cultural heritage
in terms of inclusion of this heritage into the current cultural
processes. Before the archaeological research only legends are known
about this city. The initiative to discover the city was a civic
initiative to reveal to the Armenian and international scientific and
political circles, that "historical excursus" of Azerbaijan about
the idea the Armenians came to Nagorno Karabagh only in the 19th
century, was a political hoax, via ignoring the presence of Armenians
during last two thousand years in Nagorno Karabagh and surroundings,
witnessed by many Greek and Roman (Strabo, Pliny the Elder, Plutarch,
Ptolemy, Dio Cassius), Armenian, Arabic, Persian, Georgian historians,
several thousands of Armenian inscriptions of the 7th-18th centuries,
and so on.

During the first stage of the research I have collected all the
bibliographical data about the location. The comparison of this
data with the folk legends as well as with travelers' portrayals
made possible to assert that Tigranakert was located on the border
of merging of Karabagh mountain range with steppe, on the road from
Armenia to ancient Georgian kingdom of Iberia, in the current river
of Khachenaget. Based on this research in 2005 an expedition was set
for an archaeological research of the area. The mission examined the
territory with radius of 10km where Khachenaget gets out into the
steppe. As a result of this in the south-eastern slope of Vanqasar
mountain, an ancient settlement were verified. The traces were in the
form of foundations of a fortification walls 200m in length, dug into
the rock, as well as large depositories of Hellenistic pottery. This
data was sufficient enough for systematically excavations, as a result
of which during 2006-2012 uncovered some parts of almost 60 hectares
of a city: the Hellenistic Fortified area with foundations dug into
the rock and walls with "swallow-like" ties, the single-domed basilica
church of the Central area, Early Christian necropolis, Hellenistic
necropolis and Hellenistic Quarter, Early Christian Cave sanctuary
complex, and the Canal dug into a rock. We are trying to preserve the
landscape look of the monument, which means exclusion of installation
of any modern object on the whole territory of the monument, if it
could disrupt the landscape perception of the monument.

The next component of this cultural initiative is the publicity efforts
that include organization of almost a dozen exhibitions in Karabagh,
Armenia and one exhibiton in Switzerland, publications, including in
Russian, French, Inglish and Spanish, hope soon in Italian, creation of
a website, creation of Facebook page, several dozens of TV and radio
interviews, 7 documental movies, organization of cultural events, and
finally the establishment of archaeological museum of Tigranakert on
the territory of the monument. As a result, today Tigranakert is the
most known to the public and most visited monument in Karabagh. In the
course of two years the museum had 45 thousand visitors, for comparison
Armenia's largest and the most visited museum - the State Museum of
History of Armenia, has approximately 40 thousand visits a year.

Despite on the fact that Nagorno Karabagh is not internationally
recognized country and a lot of governments advice their citizens
against visiting the region, almost eight thousand five hundred
visitors of the museum were diasporas Armenians, while four thousand
five hundred were non-Armenians, mostly citizens of Switzerland, USA,
Canada and France. Unfortunately Italy has a very modest position in
this list with only 150 non-Armenian citizens.

Tigranakert not only facilitates the publicity of the cultural
heritage of Nagorno Karabagh, but also reinforces the pride of the
local population, connecting them further to the environment, becoming
the holly center for the people who live in the region. The examination
of the Azerbaijani responses is noteworthy in this context. It can be
characterized from silliness to sobriety, from neglect of facts to the
process of acceptance and interpretation. The first is efficiency,
in 2006 right after the excavations the Azerbaijani media and
websites reported about the excavations. This is true today as well,
from financial support to duration of excavations, to conclusions
of the expedition, although with obvious avoidance to use images
that show the monument in full, for example today you will not find
a Azerbaijani website that has a photo of the full fortress walls
that are widely popular on the Internet. At the beginning there were
only jokes, disparagement. Then they were trying to get serious and
find political answers in our undertakings. The Azerbaijani academy
joins with a special decision about Tigranakert, which has been also
placed on the website of the National Security of Azerbaijan. Today
the results of the recent excavations of Tigranakert are presented on
different websites with dozens of comments among hundreds of images and
structural photos. And it is difficult for an Azerbaijani researcher
to state that there is no city there, it is impossible to assert that
this is not an ancient city, furthermore they write articles today that
the city of Tigranakert existed but it was not an Armenian settlement
and was located in a different location, etc. Meaning they accept
that Armenian archaeologists have discovered a city built during
the era of Tigranes the Great which is not Tigranakert. Azerbaijani
opponents often mention that foreign researchers and scientists
do not cooperate with us because they do not trust our scientific
integrity. Azerbaijani colleagues of course realize that the lack
of cooperation is pure political, the international organizations
that deal with cultural heritage and appropriate state institutions
of certain countries avoid this cooperation because Nagorno Karabagh
is not internationally recognized state.

UNESCO's Moscow office has rejected to submit two of my proposals to
create a neutral, pure vocational Internet portal with the database of
all the monuments located in the liberated territories, specifically in
the surrounding areas of Tigranakert, which will contain all monuments,
including those of Muslim origins with only one reasoning, the heritage
of these territories cannot be accepted for discussion.

One can resume, that the political situation deprives the people
of Karabagh from the right to live a cultural life, a right that is
stated in the Universal human rights convention a component of which
is transformation of the cultural heritage into a part of everyday
life. The cultural policy in the recent decades is shifting its meaning
and direction in the world. The cultural right of a human being and
the perception of cultural democracy as a policy are getting wide
attention. In this context the largest result of the discovery and
research of Tigranakert is the wide publicity that this monument
has, it is the stream of thousands of people that come to see the
monument disregarding if it is a part of the state policy or how
serious arguments pro and con of the scientist. A lot of them care
about the return of their cultural heritage. Today Tigranakert is a
location where diplomas and medals are granted, competitions are held,
concerts and festivals are organized.

The population of the surrounding villages brings their guests to
Tigranakert, sends books, images and brochures about Tigranakert to
their relatives who live abroad, etc. And isn't the increase of the
role of cultural heritage in shaping of the identity the main goal
of a cultural policy? At the beginning the discovery of Tigranakert
for me and my friends was an initiative to prove wrong the president
Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan who stated that Armenians have moved to
the territory of Karabgh in the 19th century. Today, after witnessing
the regard toward the monument of the thousands of people, the pride,
I think it is one of the components of the current cultural development
and identity making and attesting in Nagorno Karabagh".

31.10.12, 23:26