The cave, located near the village of Azokh, is one of the most famous ancient shelters of prehistoric man in the world.
Artsakh is full of secrets, and, at first sight, unremarkable area can give humankind sensational discoveries. The astonishing village of Azokh, situated in the Hadrut region of Artsakh, is one of such places. The complex of six caves is situated on the left bank of the river Kurachay, at an altitude of 1400m above sea level, surrounded by dense forests. According to incomplete data, the length of the “paths” through the enigmatic cave exceeds 300 m. According to Armenian chronicles, during the Mongol-Tatar invasions, the lords of Amaras concealed Artsakh’s treasures here.
The Azokh cave was first discovered in 1960. During research and excavations, it turned out that this is one of the ancient sites of the archaic man. Although it has not yet been thoroughly investigated, the studies have already led scientists to significant scientific discoveries.
One of the spectacular finds is a remnant of the Neanderthal jaw, found at the entrance, at a depth of 7 meters. In the history of world archeology, such a find is the fifth in a row. The Azokh cave is of eminent significance, not only for the so-called restoration of the external structure of the Neanderthal but also as a confirmation of the opinion that the territory of Armenia was part of the circle of anthropogenesis and early human settlement.
The discovered bear bones are also impressive - there are scratches on the bear’s skull, which are components of the ancient art of man. Among the finds, there are also stone implements, fossil remains of flora and fauna, evidence of ancient cave art, stone tools that are more than 700,000 years old, and so forth. Further research drove to the conclusion that the first people had a somewhat varied food. In the remains of food, scientists discovered the remains of extinct animals.
Overall 6 cultural layers with material remains of the medieval, bronze and Eneolithic periods, the Middle Paleolithic era, as well as the ancient, middle and late Acheulean culture of the Paleolithic period were found in the cave sediments. The investigation team of archaeologists, according to the findings, suggested that people in Artsakh lived about 2 million years ago.
From the colonization of Asia and Europe, the Azokh cave complex holds an essential position in prehistoric migration from Africa, as it is placed within the geographic corridor, which may have served as a critical passage between Africa, Europe, and Asia, both for the ancestors of modern man and for prehistoric, European and African fauna.
The results of the research are presented in the book “Azokh Cave and the Transcaucasian Corridor,” published in a large edition in English by the publishing house “Springel.” The book is distributed on various international platforms.
Archaeological research in the cave is continuing to this day, and perhaps many more exciting discoveries await us. Currently, the cave is available to tourists. Inside, lighting and paths for visitors are set.