Armenian heritage in the UNESCO World Heritage List

Throughout the period of diversity of nature and lifestyles, the Armenian Highland, being the cradle of prehistoric mankind, has created many values that have been enshrined in the depository of the geographical position and history and traditions of our highland. Those national values are our wealth, the roots of the histories are deep, and the sources – pure. Many values considered Armenian brands have been included in the UNESCO list and will be included on the basis of submitted applications. Hayern Aysor presents the Armenian brands included in the UNESCO list and the list of new applications.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations established in 1945 with the goal to assist in solidarity and security through the promotion of international cooperation in education, science and culture for dissemination of universal respect and justice. The organization’s headquarters is located in Paris. The mission of the UNESCO is to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information. The main purpose of the organization is to contribute to the strengthening of peace and security in the spheres of education, science and culture. The spheres of activity of the UNESCO are education, natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities, culture and communication and information.

Armenian cultural values registered by the UNESCO

Armenia joined the UNESCO on June 9, 1992. Since October 1995, the Permanent Delegation of Armenia to the UNESCO has been led by Charles Aznavour. The National Committee of Armenia was established in October 1992 and has been chaired by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia starting from May 2008.

The UNESCO has included several Armenian national, cultural and religious values in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The cultural values and sites included in the UNESCO World Heritage List pertain to all nations of the world in spite of their location. The list includes monuments and memorial complexes of greater value for mankind. Every state can apply for only one cultural value or site that is within its boundaries.

Armenia is represented by the following values:

  • “Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin” (1996, 2000),
  • “Mother Cathedral and churches of Etchmiadzin (St. Hripsime, St. Gayane, St. Shoghakat) and the temple of Zvartnots” (2000),
  • “Geghard Monastery and Upper Valley of Azat River” (2000)

The following applications are in the upcoming/initial list:

“The basilica and archaeological site of Yererouk” (1995)

“The archaeological site of the city of Dvin” (1995)

“The monasteries of Tatev and Tatevi Anapat and the adjacent areas of the Vorotan Valley”

“The monastery of Noravank and the upper Amaghou Valley”

Cultural values outside of Armenia

In 2008, the Armenian monastic complexes of Saint Stepanos, Saint Thaddeus the Apostle and Dzor Dzor, which are located in the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran, were registered in the World Heritage List based on the application submitted by the Islamic Republic of Iran under the name “Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran”. In 2016, the ruins of Ani (the capital of the Armenian Bagratuntyats Kingdom located in modern-day Turkey) were registered under the name “The archaeological site of Ani”. The list also includes “Nemrut Dagh (Mountain)” (1987) and “Fortress of Diyarbakir and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape” (2015) (includes several Armenian historic and architectural structures).

Armenia is represented by the following elements in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage:

“Duduk and its music” (2008)

“Armenian cross-stones art. Symbolism and craftsmanship of Khachkars” (2010)

“Performance of the Armenian epic of ‘Daredevils of Sassoun’ or ‘David of Sassoun’” (2012)

“Lavash, the preparation, meaning and appearance of traditional bread as an expression of culture in Armenia” (2014)

“Kochari, traditional group dance” (2017)

The following applications have been included in the upcoming/initial list:

“Folk romance. Tradition, text and music of performance of Armenian folk art” (2014)

“Trndez. Celebration of newlyweds and spring in Armenia” (2016)

Destruction of Armenian cemetery of Old Julfa in Nakhichevan

As of December 2005, soldiers and officers of the Azerbaijani army have completely destroyed thousands of unique cross-stones and tombstones of the Armenian Cemetery of Old Julfa, putting an end to the state policy that Azerbaijan has been leading for the past two decades to eliminate the cultural heritage of Christian Armenians in Nakhichevan and throughout the territory of Azerbaijan.

During this act of vandalism, the medieval cross-stones and tombstones of the cemetery in Julfa have turned into a mass and thrown into the Arax River. A shooting range has been built in the premises of the cemetery.

Despite the several irrefutable proofs and evidence shown in photos and videos, to this day, no international organization, including the UNESCO has given an adequate evaluation of the vandalism organized and perpetrated by Azerbaijan. Statements on the issue of the cross-stones in Julfa have been made by various international organizations and during meetings.

Let us add that in 2000, Western Armenian was included as the most endangered language in the UNESCO List.

We are certain that many other Armenian brands will definitely be included in the UNESCO List since our land — created by the Creator — has had, has and has preserved pure and exclusive national values in all almost all spheres of life and in all branches of arts and crafts, including the ancient Armenian petroglyphs, which will become one of the unique “business cards” of the rich Armenian heritage in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Despite Azerbaijan’s ambitions and consistent advocacy efforts and falsehood (as a result of which the dolma was considered an intangible brand of Azerbaijan) and its efforts to consider Armenian traditional cultural and non-cultural assets as its own, the national values of Armenians find their worthy place in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Karine Avagyan

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