Again and again: Tigranakert and the Tigranakert expedition under the blow of Azerbaijani propaganda

On August 22, 2022, the Azerbaijani "researcher" Rizvan Huseynov gave an extensive interview to website, in which he touched on a number of topics. Answering a journalist's question about the future destiny of Surb Hambardzum (Holy Ascension) church in Berdzor, Huseynov states that the church was built illegally during the "years of Armenian occupation" and therefore has no status. According to him, the future of the church will be determined in accordance with the legislation of Azerbaijan. Huseynov's statement that "Azerbaijanis are not a nation that destroys churches, even if they were built recently" sounds like a mockery.

Many destroyed, damaged, desecrated memorials and monuments in the occupied territories of Artsakh (since 2020 to the present day) can be mentioned - the shelled and blown up Kanach Zham Church in Shushi, the Cathedral of Ghazanchetsots in Shushi, the blown up Mekhakavan Church. It is also necessary to recall Azerbaijan's statements that they will destroy the newly built monuments - "symbols of the Armenian occupation."

The next target of the detailed interview given by Huseynov is Yerevan State University, which, according to him, is a center of extreme nationalism, sponsoring extremism, and nationalism. In particular, he points to the specialists from the YSU, who blind the Armenian people and lead them to destruction. Of course, there is no point in responding to these stupid thoughts.

First of all, we would advise not to spread extremism to the scientific and university community of Azerbaijan, part of which distributed photos of dead Armenian soldiers with clearly arrogant and hateful publications, during the 2020 war. Now the same people are talking about extremism. I would like to remind that deleting such publications and photos from social networks will not help: the data is documented and saved.

Huseynov's next target is Tigranakert of Artsakh. Preferring not to mention the delusional thoughts expressed by this person about the excavations of Tigranakert, we would just duplicate our answer (we hope he will read it), and remind about existence of numerous scientific publications on the excavations of Tigranakert, which are in the public domain. If he has any counterarguments, and if he considers himself a scientist, he can state his objections in the form of an academic publication written according to the rules established in science.

Gossip, slander, threats: these are provided as much as you want! And there are no counterarguments against Tigranakert. Instead, a repetition of the same nonsense: they say, the reliquary built into the altar of a small church in an early Christian square is "actually" a "hammam", or a bathhouse; and the early Christian sarcophagi, in which the remains of the dead are still present, are water cisterns of this bath (Fig. 1-3). Yes, we are really looking forward to finally seeing some archaeologist-specialist from Azerbaijan or an “international expert group” invited by them, so that they can finally visit the monument, get acquainted with the details, with the scientific publications written by the expedition about all this (read more: Politics, Ideology and Landscape: Early Christian Tigranakert in Artsakh) and after that present their counterarguments.

At the same time, they avoid the most basic and essential component of Tigranakert - the classical Hellenistic system of fortifications dated back to the first century BC (Fig. 4, 5), which is the most significant argument for the identity of the city. Azerbaijani "researchers" can’t see clearly the kilometer-long walls, round and rectangular towers; rustic ashlars weighing up to 1.5 tons, swallow-tail joints uncovered by excavations. They do not want to see these, because all this was impossible to create without the involvement of hundreds of specialists on architecture of Asia Minor and Armenian and building technology, without a powerful imperial initiative that could concentrate all this potential here. Tigran the Great did this by building a powerful defensive system at the entrances to the valleys of the Artsakh and the Utik rivers, protecting the highlands and controlling the steppes up to the Kura River (read more: Tigranakert of Artsakh).

In his interview, Rizvan Huseynov talks about the efforts that the Azerbaijani side is making in order to “present the real history of the region” to Armenians. We are closely monitoring the Azerbaijani "efforts" - their various interviews, discussions of "scientists", different videos, articles, etc. The main idea of all this is the “objective” history of Azerbaijan, which comes down to the fact that the Armenians are aliens in the region; they do not have their own history and culture. Their modus operandi is well known to us.

Interestingly, new characters have appeared who “enlighten” Armenians, for example, a certain Philip Ekozyants, whose idea in many videos is that the whole history of Armenians is a lie. According to the Azerbaijanis, we must accept this and abandon our history, and only after that they will interact with the Armenian community. In fact, Azerbaijani objectivity lies in the fact that Armenians should abandon their own history and culture and speak only about what is beneficial to Azerbaijan.

Rizvan Huseynov proposes to bring to justice all scientists engaged in scientific activities in Artsakh, to prevent their professional activities. Once again, let us remind the representatives of Azerbaijani propaganda that Armenians of Artsakh and the authorities of Artsakh are the only legal owners of the cultural heritage of Artsakh, who will independently decide how to study it and whom to invite for cooperation.

Finally, he mentions the political scientist Fuad Akhundov, who invited the Armenian researcher Stepan Stepanyants to Agdam, who spoke on the Internet about Tigranakert of Artsakh. According to Huseynov, the purpose of the invitation is to show what the real Tigranakert looked like. It is also hinted that if the Armenian side does not accept the invitation, then, in their opinion, this shows that the Armenians accept their lies and delusions.

Let us remind the Azerbaijani side, which fell into euphoria and illusions, that the fall is very painful. Armenian scientific thought has always been ready for academic discussions held within the framework of academic etiquette; scientists have never shied away from such proposals. The archaeological group of Artsakh of Tigranakert was also always ready for such discussions, as Hamlet Petrosyan, the head of the expedition, repeatedly stated. However, the whole question is whether the Azerbaijani side is ready for such discussions and meetings, or is it all just a cheap show, a performance whose main goal is to humiliate and ridicule the Armenian researchers. The Armenian side has never been engaged in research with the aim of proving something to someone. Armenian scholars have been researching their homeland, history, and various issues related to it.

If the Azerbaijani side wants to prove that the Armenians conducted incorrect research, falsified, etc., they can present their arguments and justifications within the framework of academic rules. Apart from cheap headlines, nothing has been said about Tigranakert for two years. No counterarguments, no justifications. The Azerbaijani side, it seems, is not used to speaking the language of facts and science. We advise Fuad Akhundov, before presenting his history of Tigranakert, to become well acquainted with the freely available scientific publications about the excavations of the city, which will help him. We advise the same to Rizvan Huseynov.

As for the proposal to come to Tigranakert, which is voiced as a manifestation of goodwill, we note that the arrogant behavior of the Azerbaijani side, which has been in euphoria for the past two years, speaks only of intolerance and extremism. We are seeing window dressing, not the adequate behavior of the scientific community. We are sure that just a show is hidden under the invitation, a cheap propaganda trick aimed at humiliating Armenians and aiming to assert itself, which is obvious regardless of any answer of the Armenian researchers.