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Armenian cuisine is as ancient as the history of Armenia, a combination of different tastes and aromas.The food often has quite a distinct smell. Closely related to eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, various spices, vegetables, fish and fruits combine to present unique dishes.
Throughout history, Armenian cuisine has had cultural exchange with the cuisines of neighboring countries, i.e. Persian, Greek, Russian, Turkish, and Arab. Armenian cuisine has a lot of features, which are conditioned by the different historical, geographical, climatic and even historical and political factors.
In Armenian Highlands formerly was located Urartu State. In Armenia have been preserved the monuments of material culture of that ancient state, the material evidences of our land, nation, history, and Armenian cuisine has also incurred the effect of that periods.



Today, we live in that place of the Land, where in 9th century BC and 29 century of us has been put the basis of Armenian civilization. In the mid-9th century BC, one of the most powerful states of the Ancient Near East, known as Urartu from Assyrian inscriptions, came down to the historic scene in the Armenian Highland. The Urartians called their country Byainili. It is mentioned as Araratian Kingdom in the Bible and its capital was at Tushpa (modern Van). The documented history of Urartu begins in 1275 BC, and ends early in the sixth century BC. There is no need to prove, this story is known by 600 texts written on stone, clay and bronze.

The Kingdom of Urartu/Ararat is regarded by history as an earlier incarnation of Armenia. In Urartu was manifest not only the indomitable fighting spirit of the later Armenians, but also the same tendency towards development of a higher culture. Urartu was "no obscure dynasty which slept secure behind the mountains, but a splendid monarchy which for more than two centuries rivaled the claims of Assyria to the dominion of the ancient world." Ancient Armenian state has had powerful kings, army, prosperous cities, handicraft and art, ritual and religious independent system. Near Van the proceedings called ’’Mher’s door’’ gives a full understanding of Ururartian mythology in memory of Khldi, Teyshebaini, Shivini Gods.
The "birth certificate" of Yerevan
in Erebuni Fortress

a cuneiform inscription left by King Argishti I
of Urartu on a basalt stone slab about
the foundation of the city in 782 BC
        Mher’s door
Cuneiform inscriptions
of King Menaus of Urartu Civilization
The explanatory notes, maps and chronological tables referring to the presented objects bear witness to a highly developed civilization of ancient Eastern type with a stable state system, literature, peculiar ritual-religious system, prospering towns, crafts and arts. The Kingdom collapsed in 585, in the struggle against the Medians, Babylonians and Scythians. After the decline of the Urartian statehood, the kingdom of the Armenian Yervandids (Orontids) was formed on the same territory.
An exceptional selection of about one thousand finds from the archeological excavations on the territory of Armenia carried out since 1937 to our days is displayed, among which are:

Exceptional finds from the Fortress of Teishebaini (Karmir Blour) excavated in 1940-1970 under the guidance of academician Boris Pyotrovsky, as well as from the Urartian and other monuments on the territory of the Republic of Armenia: Erebuni, Argishtikhinili-Armavir, Lori berd, Bjni, Geghovit, Dvin, Talin and Tavush.

Specimens of metal-working, jewellery, ceramics and murals, highly artistic statuettes of bronze, clay and wood, various kinds of arms and weapons bearing the names of the Urartian kings Menua, Argishti I, Sarduri II, Rusa I and others.

Cuneiform inscriptions, also the one, which states that the city of Yerevan was founded in 782 BC, also brief texts of worship, letters and arrangements carved on stone or tablets of burned clay.

Seals of stone and bone with the images of trees of life, winged creatures, scenes of worshipping deities, dragon-headed lions, winged horses and stellar symbols.

The history is before us: there have been discovered more than thousand exclusive findings during the excavations in Armenia.


Agriculture have ancient traditions in Armenian Highland. According to the archaeological evidence agriculture was practiced in that region since the Neolithic, at least from the 3rd millennium BC, and was well developed by the time of the Urartu Kingdom. Agriculture and livestock breeding was essential to the city's economic life. Most cultivation tools were made of iron and the area was well irrigated.The Urartians built massive water canals, some of which are still in use to this day and which were stimulate the agriculture and ensure its development.

Archaeological excavations have shown that vegetables, grains (wheat, barley, millet, oats), sesame hemp, legumes (lentil and chick pea), as well as fruit (apple, peach, walnut, pomegranate, cherry, grape and plum) were grown in the area.Grape seeds found here showed twelve varieties of grape from this period in the Ararat valley, among them Voskehat (Kharji), Mskhali (Ararat), Hachabash and some varieties of black grape. These ancient varieties are still grown in modern Armenia.

The grain varieties used to make beer stored inside the citadel – wheat, barley, millet, oats - are endemic to Armenia, one of the early areas of the world to cultivate plants. 9th century BCE cuneiform point to widespread cultivation of wheat across the Armenian plateau while archeological study indicate long-term cultivation of grains (wheat, barley, rye, millet, oats) used for flour, the round millet breads Urartians ate and the fermented spirits they drank.
Urartian endemic grains - wheat, barley, millet, oats         Urartian tools for cultivating grain
Grains were used for baking bread and brewing beer, and sesame was processed for vegetable oil. Analysis of bread found near Teishebaini suggests its baking method was similar to that still in use in some Caucasus villages.Grains were ground manually or with water mills, and Urartian tools of cultivated grain have been founded during the excavations of Argishtikhinili and Erebuni cities. The most common grains were from the genus Panicum, whereas wheat, barley and Hordeum grains were rare and were grown for the king, barter trade and breweries.

Wild types of wheat were found in Shorbulakh wheat field of Armenia. Only Pyramid of Cheops from Seven Wonders of the World has been preserved, and Shorbulakh wheat field, which is older than Pyramid of Cheops for 5000 years, from grain plants.

On the basis of all these we may say that the homeland of wheat is Armenia and first people who eat bread were Armenians. So it is natural that Armenian Cuisine is based on pulses, grains and granular.


In ancient times, especially in the period and era of Urartian kingdom (BC 9-6 centuries) the nation living in Armenian landscape was busy with agriculture, cattle-breeding and also they were adopting agricultural products into ready-made organic products. During the1958 Karmir Blur excavations a lot of ancient things were found such as huge barns, pots filled with wheat, special containers to brew and keep beer, more than 40 oblong vessels for storing beer.

Analyzing all this we come to a conclusion that the nation in Urartu was cultivating also a huge quantity of barley: However it was a fact that in those days brewing beer was widely spread all over, besides as a raw material they used to have not only barley, but also millet.

The Greek historian Xenophon during his trip in Armenia (BC 5-4 centuries) had given to us the following description about the local nation living in this country. “… The goats, the sheep, the cows and the birds were living in the houses together with their pups. In the same house the wheat, barley, vegetables and wine were kept in the chimney. In the bowls there was beer and nearly as much as the beer there was barley floating on the surface and some big or small sized cane were inside the bowls of wine without any loop. The one who wanted to drink beer could do it very simply by taking the cane into the mouth and thus drink beer.”
Since the ancient times in the land of the Urartians the culture of grapes was widely spread. The Urartian cuneiform protocol tells us about the highest level of grape cultivation and wine production.

Since ancient days Armenia was famous for the wine makers where original traditions were kept until these days. This can even be notified from such philosophers, such as Herodotus and Strabone. In 401-400 BC, when the Greek troops led by Ksenofon were passing through the country Nairi (the ancient name for Armenia), in their homes they were treated by beer and wine, those wines were stored in deep underground storages in special clay jars "karases". It's interesting, that in karases with beer have been inserted reeds which served for our ancestors as saltcellars.

In 19-20th centuries the excavations done by academician Petrovski confirmed the fact that this country which has got a birth in 9th BC located in the interaction of The East and The West was a developed wine-making country.

Archeologists have found out in fortress Teyshebaini wine storehouse with 480 karases, in which could makespace for 37 thousand decilitres of wine. During excavation in Karmir Blur (one of the ancient settlements in Armenia where first signs of life are found) and Erebouni (city-fortress in the territory of present Yerevan, built 2800 years ago which became the capital of Armenia in 2700) had been found 10 wine storehouses in which were 200 karases.

Gardens, orchards and especially vineyards were well-developed in Urartu. This is shown by the discovery of seeds, stones, pits and charred remains of plums, grapes, pomegranates, apples, apricots, cherries, walnuts and watermelons.

Viticulture was especially developed around Van, Aratsani Valley, Lake Urmia and Tigris river basins and the Ararat Valley. Some of the dozen-plus grape varieties still cultivated in the Ararat Valley – Voskehat (Kharji), Mskhali (Ararat), Hachabash and other varieties of black grapes – were also grown in Urartu. The survival and application of viticulture and wine-making traditions practiced in the Armenian Highlands contributes to the argument of an Armenian link with the ancient inhabitants of Urartu (Van Kingdom).
Viticulture is inevitably linked with wine and Urartians were well versed in that process. They stored their wine in gigantic half-buried jars with hieroglyphs and cuneiform marks on them showing the amount inside. Cuneiform inscriptions tell us about units of measurement used in Urartu –“akarki” (240 liters) and “terusi” (1/10 or 1/9 akarki). The average capacity of the jars unearthed during excavations range from 750 to 1,500 liters. The total capacity of eight wine cellars found in Teishebaini (Karmir Blur) amounted to over 400,000 liters. Besides wine, similar jars also stored oil, flour and grain.

Yet the ancestors of Armenians, who are the inhabitants of Urartu one of the ancient States of the world, have been occupied with viticulture. In the chronologies have been preserved statements about that, that in such an ancient country of the world like this a special attention was given to the viticulture and fruit-growing. In the reached historical information there are mentioned various technological tricks of wine and beer preparation.
Wine production traditions are carefully preserved for many years. It is impossible to deny the fact that even today many villagers as 3 millennia ago are reprocessing grape and get wine in special buildings as wine-press.


Animal breeding was practiced on the Eastern Anatolia Highland since the Neolithic. It was a major occupation of the pre-Urartian tribe Nairi– the main purpose of Assyrian raids on Nairi settlements in the 2nd millennium BC was stealing cattle.
Although animal breeding became secondary to agriculture during the Urartu period, it remained an important branch of economy, and was also used for regular sacrificial services in Urartian religion.

The animals bred included cattle (close to Bos primigenius), bull (Bos taurus), buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), sheep (Ovis aries), goats (the East Caucasian tur, Capra cylindricornis) and Capra domestica), pigs (Sus scrofa domestica), Persian gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa) and zebu (Bos indicus). Archeological finds indicate the presence of milk processing and cheese making in Urartu. Unlike cattle, horses had a strategic military importance and were used for chariots.Horse breeding was a major occupation in Urartu, and, owing to abundant alpine meadows, was better developed than in nearby countries.


Urartian culture, art and crafts formed and developed on the basis of ancient deposits of Bronze Age Culture of Armenian Highland. Urartian art was relatively poorly characterized until the 1950s, when major archeological work was started at the ancient Urartian cities Teishebaini and Erebuni and many Urartian cuneiform tables were deciphered.

Urartian bronze and stone small sculptures, which are found in Van and Karmir Blur, give us the most complete understanding about Urartian Sculpture. Bronze statues have been parts of thrones and handles of ritual boilers and depict Gods standing on the imaginary animals, lions, oxen, as well as winged lions, oxen, birds like human face.

Secular and religious Mural Painting also occupied a unique place in the Van or Urartian culture. The palace and temples in Erebuni Citadel were richly decorated with multicolored and highly artistic frescos. The dominant fresco colors were black, white, red, blue and yellow. This palette was preserved in Armenian Medieval miniature painting.

Urartian Sculpture         Urartian applied and decorative arts

Unique samples of Urartian applied and decorative arts uncovered during excavations include large engraved bronze shields, helmets, quivers, belts and armors with bas relief depictions of oxen and lions; fragments of palanquin (a raised seat with poles carried on shoulders) adorned with the images and sculptures of Trees of Life, soldiers, chariots, gods and legendary creatures; snake-headed bracelets and bone and stone stamps and boxes with scenes of hunt and sacrifice.

Agriculture and cattle breeding in Urartu is reflected in the development of its metalwork. This is illustrated by quite sophisticated metal tools unearthed during excavations: plows, sickles, pitchforks, axes, hammers, chisels, adzes and saws. The rich veins of iron ore at Van, Mush and Bitlis regions were for the very first time processed in Urartu and Urartian metalwork was exported to the North Caucasus, Syria, Mesopotamia, Iran and western Asia up to the Aegean Sea. Besides iron, Urartians also processed bronze, copper, tin, silver and gold, as shown on its arms and shields, utensils, applied arts and luxury items found during excavations. They are also mentioned in cuneiform inscriptions. Urartian masters such as blacksmiths and goldsmiths were highly skilled in molding techniques, as well as gilding, engraving, carving and imprinting; they were also masters in the art of mounting gems.

The soil has kept not only the memory, but also specific memories:idol-statues, 1200 liter wine ritual karases, ritual vessels, arrowheads, lances, shieldes, gold earrings and bracelets, beautiful necklets. During excavations in the castle of Teyshebaini there have been found 97 bronze bowls into the great karas. On the cups made of high-quality with the mixture of bronze and tin are pictured the cuneiform inscriptions of Urartian four kings Menua, Argishti, Sarduri and Rusa I.There are carved the images of castle tower into the ritual cups.

Among Urartian trades, stone masonry reached a particular level of sophistication and development. Stone was largely used in construction, in the household, for everyday life and in the arts.We find this in excavated stone artifacts: inscriptions, querns, mortars, pestles, burnishing stones, grindstones, bowls, idols and adornments (jewelry). Masons from this region were famed for their processing skills, for their expert knowledge and understanding of the nature(and power)of stone and its importance in various spheres of life.
Based on rich pottery traditions in the pre-Urartu period, Urartian pottery reached a sophisticated level of development and became the leading trade in Erebuni and Teishebaini. Widely used, pottery penetrated into all spheres of the economy and everyday life, including religion. Most ceramic products in Urartu were simple, without the painting typical of many other ancient cultures. Only items used in palaces and in religious ceremonies had some ornaments. Ceramic pots were widely used to store and cook food, whereas stoneware was relatively unpopular.

Rhytons or drinking horns were common in the Near East during the Achaemenid period, coming from a long lineage of type. It is thought these drinking horns are the descendents of clay zoomorphic (animal representations of gods) vessels common in West Asia. Most probably they have a religious connotation.

All the mentioned culinary, household items, meals, food, dairy,vegetables and fruits are now forming special part of rural and urban population food in Armenia.

Many features of Urartian art were preserved in the neighboring countries after the fall of Urartu in the 6th century BC. Observations by Boris Piotrovsky suggest that decoration and production techniques of Scythian belts and scabbards were borrowed from Urartu. The Urartian way of decorating cauldrons spread over the ancient world, and it is believed that Armenian art were partly based on the Urartian traditions.