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8 November 2010
Copper Age history of Armenia revealed

Several new finds have given scientists insight into life in Armenia during the Copper Age, 6000-3500 years BCE. In the Arenia-1 cave, Pavel Avetisian and his team from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography have uncovered a fragment of a reed skirt that may be 5,900 years old. It is the same location where a 5,500 year-old leather shoe and a 5,900 year-old mummified goat were also found. According to Boris Gasparian, another Armenian archaeologist on the dig, the gost is at least 1,000 years older than any mummified animals found in Egypt.
     While the mummufication process in Egypt was a deliberate attempt to preserve bodies for the afterlife, the mummification in the Armenian cave was a natural process. The goat remains will allow scientists to study the domestication of animals in ancient times.
     Another interesting find in Armenia is that of funerary vessels containing adults and children, dating from 6,000 BCE. The children's bodies were originally placed in the jars intact, while the adults were dismembered. The remains of one of the children has a piece of well-preserved skin and hair which may provide DNA for sequencing. The high cost of such a genetic analysis may be a problem for the scientific team, according to the head of the expedition, Boris Gasparyan. "It is difficult for the archeologists to find such sum of money. Now we have to decide together with our entire nation whether or not we want to observe the whole genetic code. If we want it, we have to pay. This kind of opportunity is given once within the whole history."

Edited from News.am, The Washington Post, Aysor, Associated Press (26 october 2010)

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