Zorats Karer, also called Karahunj, is a prehistoric archaeological site near the city of Sisian in the Syunik Province of Armenia. Zorats Karer is frequently referred to in international tourist lore as “Armenian Stonehenge”. In total registered 222 standing stones which are up to 2,8 meters tall and approximately 10 tons heavy. About 84 of the stones feature a circular hole.
The phrase Zorats Karer is translated from Armenian as “Worrier Stones” or “Stone Army”. The name Karahunj is interpreted as deriving from two Armenian words: “Kar”, meaning stone, and “Hunj”, meaning sound. Thus the name Karahunj means “Speaking Stones”. This interpretation is related to the fact that the stones make whistling sounds on a windy day, presumably because of multiple reach-through holes bored under different angles into the stones in prehistoric times.
In 2010, the University of Oxford and the Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain explored Zorats Karer and concluded that this megalithic complex is probably one of the oldest observatories in the world, placing Karahunj in one row with Stonehenge in England and Carnac in France.
The Russian and Armenian archaeoastronomists have suggested that the standing stones could have been used for astronomical observation. This suggestion was made by observers who noted four stone holes which could be taken to be sighted at the spot on the horizon where the sun rises on midsummer’s day. Four others standing stones display holes which observers claimed point where the sun sets on the same day.
The team of archaeologists from the Institut für Vorderasiatische Archäologie, University of Munich, concluded that “in contrast to the opinion that Zorats Karer may be called an Armenian Stonehenge”, Zorats Karer “was mainly a necropolis from the Middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age.” The Munich archaeologists add that it may have served “as a place of refuge in times of war”, possibly in the Hellenistic-Roman period. A wall of rocks and compacted soil (loam) was built around the site with vertical rocks plugged into it for reinforcement: today only these upright rocks remain.
On December 2010, Karahunj was featured in an Episode 14 of the History Channel show “Ancient Aliens”, titled “Unexplained Structures”.