Statement on Medieval Armenian Heritage in the Region of Nagorno-Karabakh

Recent satellite information gathered by Caucasus Heritage Watch demonstrates distressing changes to the Armenian heritage of Nagorno-Karabakh, including threats to two 7th-century churches, destruction of 12th-century cross-stones (khachkars) in Shushi/Shusha, and the complete erasure of an 18th-century church. This erasure is met with another strategy: fake news. The government of Azerbaijan has repeatedly denounced medieval Armenian inscriptions as “fake” and deliberately misidentified Armenian heritage as “Caucasian Albanian” in a programmatic attempt to erase Armenia’s centuries-old past in the region.

The Azerbaijani government has already carried out the destruction of medieval Armenian sites in the nearby Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, a historically Armenian-populated area granted to Azerbaijan by the Soviet authorities in 1921. Between 1997 and 2006, the Government of Azerbaijan engaged in wholesale destruction of an estimated 89 churches; 5,840 cross-stones; and over 22,000 tombstones that comprised virtually every trace of Armenian Christian heritage in Nakhichevan. Azerbaijan insists that the monuments never existed to begin with. 

The Medieval Academy of America denounces the destruction of Armenian culture and the falsification of history and urges governments and international bodies such as UNESCO, Blue Shield, and ICOMOS to intervene before further evidence of a medieval Armenian past is lost to racial hatred.

–  The Medieval Academy of America Advocacy Committee

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