Achaemenid ceramics from the site Beniamin II (Shirak, Armenia): the end of the 6th to the mid 4th centuries BC


  • François Fichet de Clairfontaine
  • Stéphane Deschamps



Achaemenid, ceramics, clay, catalogue of productions, petrography, morphology, red slip ware, brown burnished ware, black common ware


In Beniamin, not far from Gyumri, Armenia, at the foot of a hill on which an Achaemenid palace was built, several semi-excavated constructions dating back from the 6th-4th centuries BC were found. Hosting metallurgy workshops at the beginning of their existence, they were later the seat of a livestock activity. From artisanal iron workshop to long-house, they offer a double interest: They concern the economy of an Achaemenid palatial domain, and present a typical architecture of the Armenian plateau, very similar to the houses described by Xenophon in the 5th century BC, in the Anabasis, the epic of the Ten Thousand. Finally, six main periods of occupation were highlighted by the analysis of stratigraphic data and archaeological artifacts discovered. Continuing the first article devoted to architecture and its evolution, this contribution aims to present the catalogue of the productions collected in the Achaemenid levels of periods I to V. The evolution of these productions clearly attests the function of the buildings demonstrating essential similarities to that of the contemporary site of Tsaghkahovit. After the rapid disappearance of coarse and often decorated common forms (decorated black pottery – group 1A), the present catalogue of Achaemenid ceramics is mainly characterized by productions with red slip (Type 3), black common wares (Type 1b and C), with special predominance of productions of brown burnished ware (clear or polished – type 4). Painted ceramics are almost absent from the catalogue of productions.


Avetisyan, H.G. 1999-2000. Urartian ceramics from the Ararat Valley as a cultural phenomenon (a tentative representation). Iran & the Caucasus 3-4: 293-314.

Avetisyan, H.G. 1992. Biajnskaja keramika iz pamjatnikov Araratskoj doliny (Biainian Ceramics from the Sites of the Ararat Valley). Yerevan (in Russian).

Avetisyan, P.S., Bobokhyan, A.A. (eds) 2012. Archaeology of Armenia in Regional Context. Proceedings of the International Conference Dedicated to the 50th Anniversary of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Held on September 15-17, 2009 in Yerevan. Yerevan.

Badalyan, R.S., Edens, Ch., Kohl, Ph.L., Tonikyan, A.V. 1992. Archaeological investigations at Horom in the Shirak Plain of the Northwestern Armenia, 1990. Iran 30: 31-48.

Badalyan, R.S., Edens, Ch., Gorny, R., Kohl, Ph.L., Stronach, D., Tonikyan, A.V., Hmayakyan, S., Zardaryan, M. 1993. Preliminary report on the 1992 excavations at Horom, Armenia. Iran 31: 1-24.

Badalyan, R.S., Kohl, Ph.L., Stronach, D., Tonikyan, A.V. 1994. Preliminary report on the 1993 excavations at Horom, Armenia. Iran 32: 1-29.

Badalyan, R.S., Kohl, Ph.L., Kroll, S.E. 1997. Horom 1995. Bericht über die amerikanisch–armenisch–deutsche archäologische Expedition in Armenien. AMI 29: 191-228.

Biscione, R., Hmayakyan,S., Parmegiani, N. (eds) 2002. The North-Eastern Frontier: Urartians and Non-Urartians in the Sevan Lake Basin, I. The Southern Shores (DocAs 7). Roma.

Çilingiroğlu, A., Matthews, R.J. (eds) 1999. Anatolian Iron Ages 4. Proceedings of the Forth Anatolian Iron Ages Colloquium held at Mersin, 19-23 May 1997 (AnSt 49). London.

De Meyer, L., Haerinck, E. (eds) 1989. Archaeologia Iranica et Orientalis. Miscellanea in Honorem Louis Vanden Berghe, vols I-II. Gent.

Deschamps, S., Fichet de Clairfontaine, F. Mutarelli, V. 2012. Beniamin (5-4th centuries BC): A palace and its dependencies during the Achaemenid period, in Avetisyan, Bobokhyan 2012: 197-207.

Deschamps, S., Fichet de Clairfontaine, F. with collaboration Ter-Martirossov, F., Mutarelli, V., Azizyan, A., Gagbrielyan, A., Melikyan, V., Khachatryan, H., Yeganyan, L. 2022 (forthcoming). Achaemenid habitats in Beniamin II (Shirak, Armenia ) from the end of the 6th century BC to the end of the 4th century BC, in Grekyan, Bobokhyan 2022.

Dusinberre, E.R.M. 1999. Satrapal Sardis: Achaemenid bowls in an Achaemenid capital. AJA 103/1: 73-102.

Dyson, R.H., Jr. 1999. The Achaemenid painted pottery of Hasanlu IIIA, in Çilingiroğlu, Matthews 1999: 101-110.

Dyson, R.H., Jr., Muscarella, O.W. 1989. Constructing the chronology and historical implications of Hasanlu IV. Iran 27: 1-27.

Dyson, R.H., Jr. 1999. Triangle-Festoon Ware reconsidered. IA 34: 115-144.

Fichet de Clairfontaine, F. (ed.) 2007. Dans les Montagnes d’Arménie, 500 000 ans d’histoire avant notre ère. Catalogue d’exposition, collectif d’auteurs. Musée archéologique de Saint Raphaël (12 janvier-19 mars 2007), Musée départemental des Antiquités – Rouen (3 avril – 23 juillet 2007), Exposition organisée avec le soutien d’« Arménie mon amie », année de l’Arménie en France.

Fichet de Clairfontaine, F., Deschamps, S. 2012. La céramique ourartéenne et post-ourartéenne du secteur du temple de Haldi de la forteresse d’Erebuni (milieu VIIe – début VIe siècle avant J.-C.). AJNES 7/1: 105-143.

Goff, C. 1985. Excavations at Baba Jan: The architecture and pottery of Level I. Iran 23: 1–20.

Grekyan, Y.H., Bobokhyan, A.A. (eds) 2022. Systemizing the Past. Papers in Near Eastern and Caucasian Archaeology Dedicated to Pavel S. Avetisyan on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday. Oxford.

Haerinck, E. 1978. Painted pottery of the Ardabil Style in Azerbaidjan (Iran). IA 13: 75-91.

Haerinck, E. 1989. The Achaemenid (Iron Age IV) period in Gilan, Iran, in De Meyer, Haerinck 1989: 455-474.

Karapetyan, I.A. 2003. Hayastani nyut‘akan mšakuyt‘ǝ m.t‘.a. VI-IV dd. (Material Culture of Armenia in the 6th-4th Centuries BC) (HHH 19). Yerevan (in Armenian).

Khachadourian, L. 2008. Social logics under empire: The Armenian highland satrapy and Achaemenid rule ca. 600-300 BC. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Michigan.

Khachadourian, L. 2014. Empire in the every day: A preliminary report on the 2008-2011 excavations at Tsaghkahovit, Armenia. AJA 118/1: 137-169.

Khachatryan, H. 2002. A propos de questions relatives à l’utilisation des céramiques pour la cuisson du pain, in Shirak Center of Armenian Studies, Research Papers 5: 103-110 (in Armenian).

Kleiss, W. 1980. Bastam, an Urartian citadel complex of the seventh century BC. AJA 84/3: 299-304.

Kosyan, A., Petrosyan, A., Grekyan, Y. (eds) 2010. Urartu and Its Neighbors. Festschrift in Honor of Nicolay Harutyunyan on the Occasion of His 90th Birthday (AJNES 5/1-2). Yerevan.

Kroll, S. 1976. Keramik urartäischer festungen in Iran. Ein Beitrag zur Expansion Urartus in Iranisch–Azarbaidjan. (AMI (Erg.) 2). Berlin.

Kroll, S. 2010. Urartu and Hasanlu, in Kosyan et al. 2010: 21-35.

Martirosyan, A.A. 1974. Argištixinili (HHH 8. Urartskie pamjatniki/Urartian Monuments 1). Yerevan: Izdatel’stvo Akademii nauk Armjanskoj SSR (in Russian).

Petrosyan, L.A. 1989. Raskopki pamjatnikov Keti i Voskeaska (III-I tys. do n. é) /(Excavations of the Sites Keti and Voskehask (3rd-1st Millennia BC)/) (Arxeologičeskie raskopki v Armenii 21/Archaeological Excavations in Armenia 21). Yerevan (in Russian).

Petrosyan, L.A. 1999. Širakavani amroc‘ǝ (The fortress of Shirakavan). Shirak Centre of Armenian Studies, Research Papers 2: 7-19 (in Armenian).

Smith, A.T., Badalyan, R., Avetisyan, P., Zardaryan, M., Hayrapetyan, A, Minc, L, Monahan, B. 2004. Early complex societies in southern Caucasia: A preliminary report of the 2002 investigations by project ArAGATS on the Tsakahovit Plain, Republic of Armenia. AJA 108/1: 1-41.

Stronach, D., Ter-Martirossov, F., Ayvazian, A., Collins, W., Demos, C., Ghanimati, S. 2009. Erebuni 2007. IA 44: 181-206.

Summers, G.D. 1993. Archaeological evidence for the Achaemenid period in Eastern Turkey. AnSt 43: 85-108.

Ter-Martirossov, F. 1999. Širak v époxu klassičeskoj antičnosti (Shirak in period of Classical Antiquity). Shirak Centre of Armenian Studies, Research Papers 2: 32-46 (in Russian).

Torosyan, R.M., Khnkikyan, O.S., Petrosyan, L.A. 2002. Hin Širakavan (hnaguyn bnakavayrn u dambaranadaštǝ) /(Ancient Shirakavan (The Oldest Settlement and Cemetery)/) (Hnagitakan pełumner Hayastanum 23/Archaeological Excavations in Armenia 23). Yerevan (in Armenian).



How to Cite

Fichet de Clairfontaine, F., & Deschamps, S. (2022). Achaemenid ceramics from the site Beniamin II (Shirak, Armenia): the end of the 6th to the mid 4th centuries BC. ARAMAZD: Armenian Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 15(1-2), 202–250.