Karahunj, Carahunge or Zorats Karer – ancient megalithic observatory in Armenia

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    Karahunj or Carahunge (also known as Zorats Karer or Armenia’s Stonehenge) is an ancient megalithic site in Armenia, about 3,500 years older than England’s Stonehenge and 3,000 years older than the Egyptian pyramids (at least when it comes to their official age). The total area of the observatory is 7 hectares.

    The site consists of the following parts:
    – The central circle
    – The north arm
    – The south arm
    – North-East alley
    – The chord crossing the circle
    – Separate standing stones

    The central circle consists of 40 stones and is suspected to be a temple built in honor of the Armenians’ main God, Ari, meaning the Sun. Besides the temple, the area also contained a large and developed observatory, and also a university that makes up the temple’s wings.arms.

    The area contains about 220 stones in total. They are basalt (andesite) stones, eroded by time and covered with moss and lichen of many colours. Many of the stones have holes carved through near their tops, contributing to the theory of their use in observing the stars.

    It is believed that the site was created for ritual reasons, as well and was dedicated to the Armenian sun-god Ari, as well as for understanding the movements of the sun, moon and stars.

    The site was first investigated in 1984 by Armenian archaeologist Onik Khnkikyan. After a while he made a hypothesis that the site of Zorats Karer must have been an observatory.
    In 1994 Carahunge was thoroughly researched and analyzed by Armenian professor P. Herouni who concluded that it was the world’s oldest astronomical observatory. American astronomer Gerald Hawkins later confirmed P. Herouni’s conclusions and noted that he admired the accurate calculations and the careful work that his Armenian colleague had done.

    Herouni also proposed a further hypothesis that several holes on the stones point directly at the sunrise and sunset in midsummer. It was also noted that some stones point towards the biggest star of the constellation of Cygnus – Deneb.

    In addition to the megaliths, hundreds of ancient petroglyphs have also been found at the site, dating thousands of years before the megaliths, containing solar symbols and the depictions of extraterrestrial-like looking beings (source)

    A nice picture collection at wikipedia:

    Some sources:



    Beautiful site Lucia, another one to add to the enigmatic sites around the area commonly thought of as the ‘birthplace of civilization’.
    What you mentioned about Cygnus pricked up my ears – I’ve become quite fascinated with this constellation. Seems it was one of the main worshiped in antiquity, and along with Orion, was seen as one of the two portals to the milky way, a path that the soul took after death. Looking at this site I got a feeling for what it might have been like to watch the night sky turning, from special observation holes in gigantic rocks …



    Love seeing all these sites popping out everywhere around the globe – this one in particular has such a mysterious feel to it given its large size. Many interesting layouts and alignments of stones.

    I have never heard of Cygnus before, since of course my heart is set on Orion, but its interesting that it possibly holds a very significant story. Would be amazing I think to go to a site and connect with a star by watching it through an intentfully designed window. There seems to be something very intimate about it, as you could probably only squeeze in one person to see through the hole, in order to observe a particular spot in the sky. At the same time, I don’t think I could fathom the original intention of the design, as there very well may be more to it, but it does feel special to have that personal visual experience with the stars.



    Hey Olga,

    I first read about Cygnus in Gobekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods, by Andew Collins (really interesting book on the site!) From memory it was one of the most significant alignments or was one of the main constellations worshiped there – I believe it was seen as a great diving bird that goes down into the underworld/sea and brings back the beginnings of renewed life, in its cyclical movements ducking under the horizon and rising again. One of the carvings on the enormous megaliths at the site is of a bird holding a sun-shaped object, or head? Some think this is Cygnus and also relate it to a vulture – a bird related to death and with it transformation.

    Orion it of course the king of the sky, and the most enigmatic constellation for star-gazing, but in the summer skies Cygnus is similarly dominant, and beautiful, I find! It’s also close to the ‘great rift’, a dark patch in the milky way where it feels like you are peering through a tear in the fabric of space, and makes one point of the huge ‘summer triangle’. So overall, the constellation really is very interesting!

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