Armenia looks to protect cultural artefacts amid conflict with Azerbaijan
Ever since rockets started falling over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a team of historians has worked to bring hundreds of ancient Armenian manuscripts to safety for fear they might be destroyed by artillery or vandalism.
Behind a thick vault door at the Matenadaran-Gandzasar cultural centre in Armenia’s capital Yerevan, troves of Armenian manuscripts – some dating as far back as the 13th century – can be found. They have been moved there from their sister complex in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh as Armenia’s reignited conflict with Azerbaijan threatens their existence.
“We saw the rocket fire fall on the Gandzasar cathedral in Shusha, since the Matendaran is located next to the monastery complex of Gandzasar. For reasons of security, we decided to temporarily move everything to the Matendaran in Yerevan,” explains Aram Torosyam, director of the centre.
But he is not just worried about rocket fire. “The manuscripts were removed, given how the destruction of monuments is an ongoing phenomenon for these terrorists – Azerbaijani, Turkish groups, they have this tendency to destroy monuments.”
The manuscripts are an important part of Armenia’s cultural heritage, many documenting its deep and often troubled relationship with its neighbours.
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