The European Commission and Europa Nostra today announced the winners of the 2023 European Heritage Awards/Europa Nostra Awards.
The annual EU prize for cultural heritage rewards 28 best initiatives and personalities from 20 European countries representing the latest developments and priorities related to heritage policy and practice in Europe.
The Armenian-French joint project ‘Scientific-Archaeological Studies for the Preservation of Ererouyk’ is among the winners of the ‘Research’ category. Ererouyk is an early Christian and medieval complex, located in Shirak province of Armenia. It consists of remains of a 6th-century basilica, ancient mausoleum and cemetery, ancient village and dam. The researchers succeeded in dating the basilica and conducting a detailed analysis of its carved decoration. Through comparative research, the project also highlighted the particularities of Armenian Christianity and funerary customs.
This research project was carried out between 2009 and 2021 by the Laboratory of Medieval and Modern Archaeology in the Mediterranean of Aix-en-Provence (LA3M), France, the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Armenian Academy of Sciences, and the Shirak Regional Museum in Gyumri, Armenia, alongside several experts of different nationalities.
Annual missions lasting almost a month were carried out every autumn, complemented by a programme of analysis, elaboration and interpretation of the data collected at the associated institutions. Ererouyk was conceived as a training site for local and international students; and a full-day conference was organized each year at Aix-Marseille University to present the progress of the research to students and the public.
Among the concrete results achieved, the researchers succeeded in dating the basilica and conducting a detailed analysis of its carved decoration. Through comparative research, the project also highlighted the particularities of Armenian Christianity and funerary customs. Also notable is the assessment of the place and role of the site of Ererouyk in the life of the region and in particular in its relationship with the city of Ani. The publication of numerous papers gained the recognition of the international scientific community and provided concrete elements for the study of the basilica, allowing for the design of a conservation project respectful of its authenticity. The results of this comprehensive research project raised the visibility of the site at a European level, contributing to its listing among the 7 Most Endangered heritage sites in Europe in 2016 by Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute.
This project serves as an outstanding example of how the collaboration between experts of different nationalities and the implementation of a rigorous historical and scientific method can provide new insights and knowledge on cultural heritage sites.
“The extensive documentation generated from this research is crucial for the future preservation of Ererouyk. The cooperation between France and Armenia is commendable; future efforts will focus on enhancing the on-site presentation, with funding support from the French Embassy; this aspect of the project is particularly encouraging”, the Awards’ Jury commended.
“The challenging circumstances and context the site finds itself in also serves as a testament to the perseverance and dedication required to undertake research in such circumstances. Notably, the development of an intriguing glossary of Armenian architectural terms further showcases the project’s commitment to international cooperation and its valuable contributions to the field of research and architectural understanding”, the Jury concluded.
he award ceremony will take place on 28 September in Venice, at the European Cultural Heritage Summit 2023.
The Grand Prix laureates and the Public Choice Award winner (vote online) will be announced during the ceremony. These are chosen from this year’s winning projects and are both entitled to receive €10,000 each.