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Originating in the Bronze Age, the settlement of Moz benefited by its location above the right bank of the Arpa River, inside what was then a rich natural area, with lush forests and a gentle climate. Moz was a famous trade center even in medieval times. The loss of the forests has resulted in the desert terrain you see now.
Today almost nothing is left of historic Moz, the result of a massive eruption that obliterated a once thriving metropolis and important stop on the Silk Road network. The city may be lost, but the ancient path is still used by modern “caravans”, large semi trucks plying the trail from Iran to Georgia.
Bronze Age Moz includes excavated graves (1978-1979, Hasmik Israyelyan, head of excavation), part of a large tomb field (mostly Iron Age) stretching across scattered stony hills 2-3 kilometers to the east of Moz. The graves show that people were buried in pairs, and dog skeletons and burned branches were found next to human ash.
Artifacts include clay and ceramic vessels, obsidian, bronze decorative pins and other objects. Vessel coloring and design allow archeologists to date the burials to the first part of the 2nd m. BCE.
Medieval Age Moz was a famous commercial and craft center with several thousand inhabitants in the 7th-8th centuries. The city disappeared during a volcanic eruption and earthquake in 735 and was replaced by the Siunik and Orbelian seat at Yeghegis.
Moz is mentioned by Stepanos Siunetsi, an early Christian martyr. From Kirakos Gandzaketsi's medieval History (trans. Robert Bedrosian):
“And lord Dawit' ordained Step'annos bishop of Siwnik', at the request of K'urd and Babgen, princes of Siwnik'. After occupying the episcopacy for only a year, [Step'annos] was slain by a whore from Moz district. His body was taken to a chamber in Arkaz; from there they laid it to rest in the monastery of T'anahat. The venerable Step'annos brought the writings to the bishopric of Siwnik'; three ranks for the bishops of Armenia were established.
“Now a certain cenobite named Noah (Noy), saw a vision in which Step'annos' breast was covered with blood as he stood before the Savior, saying: 'Behold this, Lord, for Your judgments are righteous'. Notifying the cenobites in the district about the coming wrath, he admonished them to pray. Then behold, from On High an impenetrable darkness enveloped the borders of Moz, and the place shook for forty days. Ten thousand people were buried [in the earthquake], for which reason the place was named Vayots' Dzor [Valley of Woes], as it still is today. For those in pain, and those who are ill, there is much healing in Step'annos' relics, for those who seek the intercession of the blessed man.”
Artifacts from Bronze and Medieval Age Moz are displayed at the Regional Museum in Yeghegnadzor.
Original text provided by Professor Onnik Khnkikyan.