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Goris (pop. 25,000) older names (Kores, Kuris, Kurus, Zangezur) are listed in historic sources though its exact founding is unknown. Located in a gorge carved by the Vararakn River at 1400 meters above sea level, the area has a number of needle-stone formations that make up its unique geographic relief.
The area was settled in the prehistoric period. The first settlers used the area's extensive cave system (there are said to be more than 10,000 caves in Goris district). Artifacts include obsidian and basalt flakes and a large number of bifacial tools and weapons. Ceramic pottery and other objects, plus large tomb fields date to the Copper and Bronze Ages.
The old settlement spread from the riverbed to the left bank, on the northwest slope of Mt. Khut. In historic times the village was a part of the 'Haband' province of Siunik. Many researchers identify Goris with the Goru or Goraik village mentioned in 13th Historian Stepanos Orbelian's “History of Sisakan Province”.
In the 17th-18th centuries Goris was one of the landholdings of the rich and powerful Melik Huseniants family. The modern town (right bank) was founded in 1870 as the administrative capital of a new Zangezur district on the Russian province of Elizabetpol, reaching city status in 1885.
With majestic mountains, enigmatic needle stones, deep and treacherous canyons and hundreds to thousands of caves, the Goris relief is made of slices of terrain, including the Vorotan, Goris, Zorashen, Khndzoresk, Aghsu, Khosnavar and Tatev river canyons, each 200-800 meters deep. The Ishkhanasar mountain range lies to the northwest of Goris, topped by the region's tallest peak, the extinct volcano Mt.Mets Ishkhanasar (“Great Prince Mountain”, alt. 3,548 m). Sev Lich (Black Lake) is located at the foot of the mountain, and is 2,700 meters above sea level.