Exploring the Caves of Armenia by the First Official U.S. Caving Expedition (2007-2013)





expedition, survey, caves, cave plan, church, tourism, photo-documentation, cave map


The first U.S. caving expedition to Armenia, the South Caucasus, by NSS cavers took place in August 2007. Subsequent expeditions took place in 2010, 2011, and 2013, with additional trips planned for the future. The goal is the exploration and photo-documentation of the caves of Armenia, and to increase awareness of its underground realms. Although, in the past, there had been a few known caving expeditions to Armenia, overall little information existed.  In addition, Armenia’s local caving community is small in number.  As a result, this topic was studied and the first official US caving expedition to Armenia was organized in 2007. During the first expedition, four of Armenia’s significant natural caves were explored in the province of Vayots Dzor: Mozrov Cave, Arjeri Cave (Cave of the Bears), Mageli Cave, and Karmir Cave (Red Cave). Man-made caves were also visited.  Subsequent trips to Armenia in 2010, 2011, and 2013 included (1) further exploration of Mozrov, Arjeri, and Mageli caves, (2) a cave trip to the neighboring independent Armenian Republic of Nagorno-Karabagh to explore Azokh Cave, and (3) the exploration of several caves in the northeast Armenian provinces of Tavush and Lori. Natural caves consisting of limestone, conglomerate, and lava were explored during these expeditions.  Also, a number of man-made caves were visited, some of which were used as churches in centuries past.  This article summarizes the four expeditions and discusses both the natural and man-made caves of Armenia. I beleive the article will be interesting to builders, gas pipelines and road engineers. In practice, it can be used by travel agencies and individual tourists, as well as by all lovers of underground monuments of nature and culture.


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Author Biographies

Charles G. Chavdarian, AstraZeneca, Cambridge

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Chemistry (United Kingdom, Cambridge) - AstraZeneca, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Smbat Davtyan, Brusov State University

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Geodesy, Cartography and Cadastre (RA, Yerevan) - Brusov State University, Lecturer at the Chair of Tourism and Service

Samvel Shahinyan, National University of Architecture and Construction of Armenia

Doctor of Science (Architecture) (RA, Yerevan) - National University of Architecture and Construction of Armenia, Head of the Chair of Geoecology and Biosafety


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How to Cite

Chavdarian, C. G., Davtyan, S., & Shahinyan, S. (2023). Exploring the Caves of Armenia by the First Official U.S. Caving Expedition (2007-2013). Journal of Architectural and Engineering Research, 4, 38–50. https://doi.org/10.54338/27382656-2023.4-004