Ashkharbek Kalantar

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Ashkharbek Kalantar (11 February 1884, Ardvi, Armenia – June 1942) was an Armenian archaeologist, historian. He had important role in founding of archaeology in Armenia. Born in Armenian noble family of Loris-Meliks, he graduated St.Petersburg University in 1911 under Nicholas Marr. He was a member of the Archaeological Institute, of Russian Imperial Archaeological Society and the keeper of the Asiatic Museum in St.Petersburg.


Already being a student, since 1907 Kalantar participated the archeological excavations of Nicholas Marr in Armenian medieval capital Ani, in 1914 was appointed the head of the XIIIth Ani Archaeological excavation campaign. In 1918 he organized the evacuation of about 6000 items from the Ani Museum, which are currently in State Museum of Armenian History in Yerevan. He was the last archaeologist to describe monuments, mostly in Ani region, which did not survive.

Ancient irrigation systems and Urartian inscriptions[edit]

In 1910s Kalantar studied the ancient monuments in Lori and Surmalu region, the basilica in Zor, headed the excavations in medieval monastery Vanstan (Imirzek) in Armenia and revealed its epigraphic materials. In 1917 with Nicholas Adontz he participated the II Van Archaeological expedition and studied the Urartian inscriptions there. In 1918-1919 he lectured in Transcaucasian university in Tiflis, in 1919 he becomes one of seven founding members of the Yerevan State University, the founder of the chair of archaeology. With architect Alexander Tamanian and painter Martiros Saryan he was one of founders of the Commission of Ancient Monuments in Armenia. During 1920-1938 he organized over 30 expeditions in Armenia. In 1920s he revealed the existence of a pre-Urartian irrigation system on Mt.Aragatz and Geghama range in Armenia, studied the rock carved figures.

In 1931 Kalantar directed the excavations in Old Vagharshapat. In 1930s with Alexander Tamanian acted to save the two basilica churches, Katoghike and Poghos-Petros in Yerevan (both were finally destroyed by the ruling regime).

In 1938 Kalantar was arrested, among other professors, as an ‘enemy of nation’ (‘the professors process’); the precise date and place of his death in Russia are unknown.


  • Ashkharbek Kalantar, Armenia: From the Stone Age to the Middle Ages, Civilisations du Proche Orient, Se´rie 1, Vol. 2, Recherches et Publications, Neuchâtel, Paris, 1994;ISBN 978-2-940032-01-3
  • Ashkharbek Kalantar, The Mediaeval Inscriptions of Vanstan, Armenia, Civilisations du Proche-Orient: Series 2 - Philologie, Vol. 2, Recherches et Publications, Neuchâtel, Paris, 1999;ISBN 978-2-940032-11-2
  • Ashkharbek Kalantar, Materials on Armenian and Urartian History (with a contribution by Mirjo Salvini), Civilisations du Proche-Orient: Series 4 - Hors Série, Neuchâtel, Paris, 2004;ISBN 978-2-940032-14-3

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