THE ROCK-CARVED PICTURES OF THE GUEGHAMIAN MOUNTAINS
During the last hundred years tens of thousands of rock -carved pictures and other monuments of archaic art have been discovered in the different countries of Europe, Africa and Asia, even in the lifeless sandy deserts now existing; they have reached us in great abundance from nearly all the hearths of the remotest history of human society, wherein has stepped the prehistoric hunter, the first thoughtful animalbreeder and husbandman.
The Armenian highlands as an integral of the ancient world, as one of the initial cradles of human culture, are extremely rich with marvels of prehistoric art, original and multifarious rock-carved images, about which numerous informations and reports have been published during almost 60 years. According to these, on the great many mountain peaks of Armenia, on the alpian slopes, in the caverns, on the bare mirror of the rocks and even on the flat surface of the volcanic protuberances in the lowlands, on tens of hundreds of kilometers, are spread extensive agglomerations of prehistoric rock-carved images, extending from the skirts of the Aragats to the Armenian Taurus, unto Assyria, till the frontiers of Palestine and Iraq. There are especially large groups of rock-carved pictures on the peaks and the slopes of the Gueghamian, Vardenis, Djermouk and the Siounic mountains. Among these are particularly remarkable the picture collections of the Gueghamian mountains, the great majority of which has been studied during the years 1966 - 1968 by a special expeditional party of the Academy of Sciences of the Armenian SSR.
The few dozens of volcanic crests and intermediate which configurate the Gueghamian mountains, from the sources of the river Hrazdan up to the peak Gundasar, border the high mountain barrier of the lake Sevan from the west and close the Small Caucasian ring over there. During the late quaternary and the Holocene periods their beautiful slopes get covered by alpian luxuriant grasslands and massives of large-stemmed trees. Dozens of small pends appear in the craters of the volcanis cones; rivers, creeks and frozen water-springs take their sources in the mountain- peaks. Owing to them, more and more animals, originated long ago, are raised on the Gueghamian mountains, new animals appear and multiply, the high-mountain ponds are filled with variegated flocks of water birds. While pursuing them, the prehistoric hunter, the early animal-breeder and husbandman move unto the summits of the Gueghamian mountains. Due to the natural and climatic, life giving conditions, to the luxuriant and profuse vegetation, as well as to the inimitable, contemplative beauty of the animal world and of the nature, these areas become important microregions of chalcolithic-bronze age economy and of prehistoric culture development, with specific types of archaeological remnants, summer resort settlements, small groups of sepulchres, huge caverns of dragon-fishes, assemblages of wonderful rock-carved images lying upon natural concavities and protuberant stones, all of which were the cherished sanctuaries of the prehistoric hunters and animal-breeders, (r)temples of ancient art and worship. In these sanctuaries, everything has been expressed by different men, in different times and for different purposes, by means of three to four thousand compositional, simple or complex figures representing humans or animals, isolated or assembled, which are remarkable for the adequately generalized expression of the distinctive particularities of the objects depicted, in spite of their geometrical, stylized forms and the diversity of their styles.