Armenian News Network / Groong


Conversation on Groong

Preserving Armenian Heritage



June 30, 2021


     Christina Maranci

     Lori Khatchadourian


     Simon Maghakyan

Produced by

     Asbed Bedrossian



Hello and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong, I’m Asbed Bedrossian.


In this Conversations on Groong episode, we’ll be talking about the continuing degradation of Armenian heritage sites in historic Armenian lands, and the problems of preserving our monuments and cultural sites against the erosion of time, and the threat of destruction by anti-Armenian neighbors.


To discuss these issues with our guests, our host today is:


Simon Maghakyan, who is an independent researcher of cultural destruction and lecturer in International Relations at the University of Colorado Denver.

This episode was recorded on Wednesday, June 16, 2021.


Preserving Armenian Heritage


All these stones are fake. This is Armenian forgery,” proclaimed Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev on March 15, 2021, while visiting a medieval Armenian church that recently came under Azerbaijan’s control, following the latter’s Turkey-backed battlefield success. In the fall of 2020, Azerbaijan and Armenia fought over the internationally unrecognized Armenian republic of Artsakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh. Antique and medieval Armenian cultural sites, which President Aliyev considers “fake” (because he asserts, Armenians didn’t exist in the region until the 19 th century), have now come under Azerbaijan’s control on lands ethnically cleansed of Armenians. To say that these sacred heritage sites are at risk would be a monumental understatement, especially in light of the same Azerbaijani government’s erasure, in 1997-2006, of nearly 28,000 medieval Armenian monuments in another region, Nakhichevan. But what exactly is at risk of erasure? And how much do we know about Artsakh’s cultural heritage and its ongoing destruction?


To talk about these issues, we are joined by:

Christina Maranci, who is Arthur H. Dadian and Ara T. Oztemel Professor of Armenian art and architectural history and Chair of the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at Tufts University.





Lori Khatchadourian, who is Associate Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University and co-director of the Caucasus Heritage Watch satellite monitoring project.







      Lori, what has come under Azerbaijan’s control?

      Christina, what is Armenian art and architecture? What are its period highlights? And where does Artsakh’s heritage fit in the larger picture of Armenian culture?

      Lori, tell us what the Caucasus Heritage Watch is doing and what you have uncovered so far?

      Lori to Simon: Tell us about your recent findings regarding Agulis

      Christina, tell us how your advocacy and research of Mren has transformed its preservation

      Lori, what can international organizations do for Artsakh?

      Christina, tell us what our listeners can do for cultural preservation

Background Info

      17th century Armenian church on preservation list demolished in western Turkey - Stockholm Center for Freedom

      UNESCO to send fact-finding mission to Karabakh - Aysor

      Armenian FM, UNESCO head discuss preservation of Armenian heritage in Nagorno Karabakh - Armenpress

      All previous attempts to involve UNESCO in preservation of cultural heritage in Karabakh have failed – Armenia MoD - Public Radio of Armenia

      EU shares Armenian concerns over preservation of Artsakh’s cultural heritage – Ambassador Wiktorin - Armenpress

      Baku Undermines Armenian Cultural Preservation, Says Yerevan - Asbarez

      KHACHKARS: Documentation, Preservation, and Continuation - NAASR event

      When an Enemy’s Cultural Heritage Becomes One’s Own - NY Times

      UNESCO ready to support preservation of cultural goods in Nagorno Karabakh - Armenpress

      New Discoveries at Ani Cathedral - NAASR

      Art History Under Lockdown: Tufts Art Historian Maranci Discovers Ani Cathedral Wall Paintings and More - MirrorSpectator

      Ancient Roots of Armenia - Dr Christina Maranci - Michabo

      Christina Maranci references

      Christina Maranci: Save Mren Cathedral from collapsing – call for action

      Heghnar Zeitlian Watenpaugh Wins NEH Grant for Book on Ani - Asbarez

More recently:

      Cultural Heritage in the Crosshairs Once More - WSJ

      Important archeological materials discovered during renovation of Armenian kindergarten in Jerusalem - Armenpress - Federal Register - Armenian Prelacy - The Art Newspaper - The Art Newspaper



That concludes this Conversations On Groong episode. As always we invite your feedback, Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel on YouTube, Like our pages and follow us on Twitter. On behalf of everyone in this episode, we wish you a good week, thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you soon.


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Simon Maghakyan, Christina Maranci, Lori Khachadourian, Armenia, Artsakh, Nagorno Karabakh, Nakhichevan, Cultural Monuments, Heritage Sites, Preservation, Destruction, UNESCO, Azerbaijan, Khachkars, Turkey, Ani, Mren, Dadivank, Vankasar, Kashatagh, Shushi, Agulis, Ilham Aliyev,