The decay and destruction of Artsak's monuments

November 11 2004 at 4:20 PM

6 Nov 04

Are Monuments of Artsakh Under Control?

Slava Sargsian, head of Department of Monument Preservation and Study
of Nagorno Karabakh Republic, thinks that the state of the monuments
of Artsakh is far from being satisfactory. The reason is that the
department is not well equipped to take necessary care for the
monuments, according to Sargsian. Difference between Armenian and
Artsakh Departments of Monument Preservation is that in regions of
Artsakh employees of this service are subordinated to the regional
administrations but not to the Department itself. That is the reason
why they fail in carrying for and studying the monuments. It turns out
that the whole territory of Artsakh is supervised only by 3 employees
of the Department. In addition to this, the small sums assigned for
the Department by the state.

Slava Sargsian says that there are around 10 thousand historic
monuments in Artsakh, and they need years to register all of them. A
map drawn under his supervision includes only the important
monuments. He confessed that some of the monuments are located in far
sites and they fail to reach them.

Time and nature slowly destroys the monuments, and they lose their
original appearance or else disappear. Around 200 monuments were
repaired since 1988. Most of them were repaired by the Artsakh
diocese of the Armenian church. Sargsian complains of the quality of
He thinks that the monuments should (nb: this may be a translation error - I think he means "should not") be repaired partially
because of money shortage and the absence of specialists. Often
repair changes a monument's look alienating it from its historic roots
or even making it into an ultramodern building.

If Armenian historic monuments were being eliminated by the Azeris
during the 70 years of Soviet Union, today they are often knocked down
by our hands. Sargsian tells that monuments often get damaged as a
result of road construction works. According to the republic's laws,
workers should inform proper institutions while running into historic
monuments during excavations. Organization carrying out construction
works has to financially support in examination and can continue the
works after scientists go out. It seems that they are unaware of the
law or pretend so. It is easier for them to ruin a monument than to
abort their work and finance researches. But there are still workers
who consider it a duty to inform Department about a discovery. For
instance a coffin dating back to 2-1 centuries B.C. was found lately
in Martuni. Department began excavations, and the coffin went to the
Museum of Martuni.

Historic monuments of Artsakh are also an immensely important argument
demonstrating to whom Artsakh belonged historically. Sargsian
complained that we don' t declare of the monuments to the world
whereas Azerbaijan is successfully manipulating with Artsakh's
cultural background.

By Kim Gabrielian from Stepanakert

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