You are here: Home Eastern Europe Armenia EGHEGIS, [EGHEGIZ, YEGHEGIS, ELEGIS:, Siwnik]

Alternate names: Yeghegis, Alagyaz, Alayaz, Artabuynk', Erdapin, Yekhegis, SIWNIK or SIWNIQ PRINCIPALITY . 39°52' N 45°22' E, 50.0 miles ESE of Yerevan in the Siwnik region. In 2000, a team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem excavated on the S side of the Yeghegis river opposite the village (road that winds under the damaged Azeri cemetary and cross the footbridge) a Jewish cemetery with 40 gravestones with Hebrew inscriptions inscriptions from 1266 and 1497. .[July 2009]

Bishop dreams to build museum, or a culture center about Jews in Armenia. Bishop Abraham Mkrtchyan wants to start a Jewish culture center next to the Yeghegis medieval Jewish cemetery along the banks of a Yeghigis River. The cemetery was discovered in 1996. The village is 112 km. north of Iran. ."[Feb 2013]

"The pillars uncovered turned out to be the elegant tombstones of about 40 graves: They bore Hebrew inscriptions, quotations from the Bible and various Hebrew names, and constitute "a tremendous find," according to [Michael] Stone. The researchers have concluded from them that there had been a Jewish settlement in the area during the Middle Ages, which was associated with the rulers of the region. Presumably, it was not isolated but part of a larger community settled in the surrounding region. ... Niftar baba dar David behodesh Tamuz shnat aleph-taf-resh - dokhran tav lenichot nafshata" read one inscription, which marks the death of one of the members of the community in the year reckoned by the calendar used by the Jews of the East (and still used by the Jews of Yemen) which is equivalent to the year 1289 CE. In Aramaic, the inscription wishes the deceased "good memory and rest for the soul." In another epitaph, a father mourns his young son and expresses his belief in the eternity of the soul, citing passages from Isaiah's prophecy on the resurrection of the dead. On a third tombstone is cited a blessing of Aaron the priest from the Temple, in beautiful Hebrew. After the tombstones had been exposed for many years to the depredations of the weather, the inscriptions on some of them were eradicated." Source: Daphna Lewy, "The Lost Jews of Armenia", Ha'aretz [February 4, 2001]

"In the bank of the flour mill two women's tombstones were discovered ... The following are very provisional decipherments:

Inscription no. 1:

Side 1: "The engaged woman Esther, daughter of Michael; may her portion be with our matri[archs ŠŠŠ. her pure tomb Š."

Side 2: "Grace is a lie and beauty is vanity. The woman, God-fearing, and moreover give her Š Written on the 18th of the month of Tishre in the year" (date, ca. 1250)

Inscription no. 2:"Blessing of ??? ABBREVIATION. Amen." Geometric ornaments including an inscription on one side cover the marker. "Rachel daughter of Eli; may her repose be in the Garden of Eden".Source: Hebrew University Armenian Trip 2001, [May 7, 2001]

"The number of oblong gravestones, curved on one side and flat on the other, has risen to over 60. Most lie in a grassy area bordered by gnarled walmut trees at the foot of soaring, basalt cluffs... But not all the tombstones are in the 1,550-square-meter area that comprises the cemetery. Aside from the smooth stones first noticed by [Abraham] Mkrtchyan in the river, eight more help support a rickety footbridge crossing it, and others form part of the foundation of a nearby ruined 14th-century mill. Still others are believed to be in the walls and foundations of villagers' homes. ... The Hebrew, and sometimes Aramaic, inscriptions carved into the basalt gravestones make it possible to sketch an outline of a Jewish community of perhaps 150 people from the mid-13th century to 1337 on the edge of Eghegis, which was then a prosperous Armenian city." Source: Frank Brown, "Stones from the River", The Jerusalem Report [September 24, 2001]

"These stones, which were shaped from granite into oblong cylinders, contain Hebrew and Aramaic inscriptions ... The community existed contemporaneously with Jewish communities in neighboring regions like Georgia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Dagestan, the Crimea, and Ukraine. ... To date, over 62 Jewish gravestones have been located at various sites in Eghegis -- including the Jewish cemetery, the foundation of a mill, and the lower support of a foot-bridge. At the cemetery, some of the stones are positioned on open graves while others are on sealed graves. A number of the stones had magnificent ornamentation. Some of the symbols on the Jewish gravestones -- like a spiral wheel -- were also in use on Armenian Christian stonecrafts around the same time. ... It is evident from the gravestones that many typical Hebrew names were in use among the Jews of medieval Armenia." Source: Kevin Alan Brook, "The Unexpected Discovery of Vestiges of the Medieval Armenian Jews", Los Muestros: The Sephardic Voice [December 2001]

"Aside from Hebrew and Aramaic inscriptions, the stones also have several graphical designs depicting an ox, an eagle, a lion, and two slightly different wheel of life designs. Based on Jewish and Armenian iconographic tradition, Dr. Stone concludes that the gravestones, although inscribed by Jewish artisans, were quarried at the same mines and had their pictorial decorations applied by the same craftsmen who made contemporary Armenian gravestones, such as those of the Orbelian family on the other side of the village." Source: Gerald E. Ottenbreit, Jr., [February 4, 2002]

"A letter was published yet in 1912 in a little-known Russian Journal Khristianskij Vostok (Christian Orient) by a leading Russian orientalist Prof. N[ikolay] Marr about a similar monument found in 1910. The stone (size 1.6 x 0.4 m) was found in the Muslim-Turkish village of Alagaz near historical Eghegiz in Voyotz-Tzora province of Armenia. The inscription has four lines, two lines on one side of the stone include a name of the deceased and two lines on the opposite side include a blessing, in a similar manner to the inscriptions found recently. ... Russian Hebraist Prof. P[avel] Kokovtsov translated it from Hebrew: "... Passed away young, pious, and modest Mr. khawaja Sheraf-ed-Din, son of old khawaja Sabay, let his end be in good. Let the King of Dignity lay him in peace with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And let fulfill over his grave 'your dead will resurrect, my corpse will stand up' etc. (Is. 26:19) Year 1808 (=1496/1497 CE)." ... Muslim names and titles in the inscription are remarkable: Sharaf-ed-Din, Sabay, Baba, khawajah (Mister or Teacher). The word khawajah is of Persian origin and it probably indicates that the Jews who settled in Eghegiz came from Persia and kept Persian as their spoken language. Biblical quotations and Talmudic formulas are evidence of a high learning standard in the community." Source: Michael Nosonovsky, "Medieval Jewish Community in Eghegiz, Armenia", Zametki po evreyskoy istorii [March 3, 2002]

"The tombstones, made of local basalt, were rounded on one side and flat on the other. Most contained no inscriptions but those that did were inscribed in clear Hebrew script. "The use of standard Jewish funerary formulae and abbreviations, as well as the familiarity with rabbinic sources, show that the Eghegis community cultivated a tradition of Jewish learning," Stone and Amit wrote in a preliminary report. "They show a relatively high standard of Jewish culture." ... The cemetery's discovery has led to a reexamination of Armenian historical sources which has turned up references to Jewish communities at several other locations in Armenia." Source: Abraham Rabinovich, "Jewish Evidence in 'Jewless' Armenia", Jerusalem Post [April 11, 2002]

For further Information about the EGHEGIS Cemetery: Khazaria. [April 2002]

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