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|Elevation||3,597 m (11,801 ft)|
|Location||Gegharkunik Province, Armenia|
|Parent range||Armenian Highlands|
Azhdahak (Armenian: Աժդահակ) is a volcano in Armenia, the highest point of Gegham mountains. It has an elevation of 3,597 m above sea. It is part of the Ghegam Ridge volcanic field, which last erupted at 1900 BC ± 1000 years.
There is lake in the crater of volcano Azhdahak that is formed from melting snow. From the top of the mountain opens pictorial landscape of mountains Ararat, Hatis, Ara, Aragats, Lake Sevan, the whole Gegham mountains and Kotayk valley.
The compound slag cone Azhdahak figures as a large strewn structure up to 1600m in diameter and about 370m high. The total area of volcano lavas, partly eroded and overlapped by the streams of Tar is around 8 square km. The cone is formed with slags, lapilli, sands, ashes, debris, lava boulders, slag, twisting, composite and spindle-shaped volcanic bombs.
Fauna and Flora
Bird fauna of Gegham Mountain Range includes about 250 species, what makes 70% of all Armenia’s avifauna. Stony slopes are an irreplaceable habitat for birds of prey, such as:
- Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
- Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus)
- Cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus)
- Imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca)
- Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus)
- Bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus)
On the snow-covered slopes traces of brown bear (Ursus arctos) are often found.
For the area of Gegham Mountains and surroundings of Azhdahak are typical following plants
- Jurinea moschus
- Arabis caucasica
- Catsfoot diclinous (Antennaria dioica),
- Gentiana pontica
- Red everlasting (Helichrysum pallasii),
- Lady's-mantle (Alchemilla grossheimii),
- Alpine cinquefoil (Potentilla crantzi),
- Sibbaldia (Sibbaldia parviflora),
- Merendera Radde (Merendera raddeana),
- Oxytrope Lazica (Oxytropis lazica),
- Vavilovia Oshe (Vavilova aucheri)
A great number of petroglyphs - rock-carvings has been found in the surroundings of volcano Azhdahak. Most images depict men in scenes of hunting and fighting, as well as astronomical bodies and phenomena: the Sun, the Moon, constellations, the stellar sky, lightning, etc.
Settlements near Azhdahak
In Gegham mountains in cattle breeding are engaged Yazidi - one of national minorities of Armenia, who move to the mountains for the summer and live in tents with families and even with infants. The Yazidis - an ethno-confessional group, whose main identity is religion – Yazidism or Sharfadin. Nomadic stockbreeding is their major occupation. The Yazidi society is a caste system including three main components: the Shaykhs, the Pirs (clergy) and murids (laymen).
Tourism and hiking
The beauty of the Azhdahak surroundings have long attracted tourists from the whole world. However, the probability of running across each other different hiking groups is insignificant. It depends on the remoteness from the civilization, orientation complexities, that aggravate with weather condition factors, such as: thunder and lightning, hail and snow, fog with visibility down to 2-3m.
- Top-pliocene of quaternary volcanos of Armenia SSR, Volcanoes of Gegham and Vardenis volcanic areas, A.E. Kocharyan, K.G. Shirinyan.
- The Ethnic Minorities of Armenia by G. Asatryan and V. Arakelova.
- Handbook of Birds of Armenia by Martin S. Adamyan and Daniel Klem, Jr., and article “Khosrov forest reserve” by Martin S. Adamyan.
- The Alpine Vegetative Cover of Armenia by S.A. Baloyan.