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YEREVAN. - The Culture Ministry of Armenia hasn’t got priorities straight in the issue of leasing caves, head of the excavations in Areni 1 cave, Boris Gasparyan, told Armenian News –, referring to the contest announced by the ministry for leasing four caves and a cave group for five years for the purpose of tourism.

“Overall, I don’t consider bad the initiative of leasing certain monuments, even being one of the authors of the idea. But my heart isn’t in the ministry’s proposal in its current form,” Gasparyan said.

The world-renowned Areni 1 (Birds’ cave) was found by Boris Gasparyan, worker of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of Armenia, in 2007. The now world-renowned ancient footwear, which is estimated to be 5500 years old, was found here in 2008.

“It turns out we found the cave, carried out excavations there for so many years, and now someone will come and bring to naught our entire work,” Gasparyan noted.

“That is, the use of the cave is prioritized. I think the priority should be to continue the scientific work, while tourism can be included as a small fragment,” the expert noted, adding that it would be appropriate to implement a pilot program, within the framework of which for instance, Magelan’s Cave will be leased, and then find out the pros and cons of the initiative.

Trchunneri (Birds') Cave is situated in Areni in Vayots Dzor Province, 105 km far from Yerevan (Armenia). The cavern is a collection of small caves with a total area of about 400-600 square meters. Based on the results of radiocarbon examination, samples taken from these layers) are traced back to late 5th- early 4th millennium BC. A more recent excavation uncovered evidence of wine production from the Chalcolithic period,which is one of the earliest known sites for wine fermentation in the world (4th millenium  BC). The oldest footwear of the world was found here, which is about 6000 years old.



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