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Emergency Assessment of Threats to Heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh

An aerial view of a bombed-out cathedral

Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region comprising roughly 4500 square kilometres, is an area between two South Caucasian states, Armenia and Azerbaijan, where multiple cultural traditions exist. Both Christian and Muslim communities have enriched the cultural heritage of the region over the centuries.

While different cultural groups had lived peaceably together in Nagorno-Karabakh, with the demise of Soviet Union the contested ownership of the region led to a conflict.


The Project 

The first challenge is to create a baseline dataset (an inventory) covering archaeological sites and standing historic buildings in Nagorno-Karabakh that gives equal consideration to sites of all periods, and heritage of all communities that live or have lived in the region. We are also undertaking an assessment of the current condition of these places, using the methodology of the EAMENA project ( This is being undertaken primarily by the inspection of satellite imagery, but also with reference to available published sources that document the archaeological remains of the region. The result will offer a ‘snapshot’ of the extent and condition of heritage places in Nagorno-Karabakh as of 2022, and will provide a reference dataset that can be used to mitigate the impact of new development and infrastructure works upon the heritage of the region.

As part of our documentation efforts, we aim to collect key information for each site including: location, type, date, extent, current and recent conditions and key threats. As we collect our data by remote sensing, we must focus upon those types of damage that can be observed from the air.

The project is based in the Department of Archaeology, at the University of Durham (


The Team

Principal Investigators: Professor Graham Philip and Dr Dan Lawrence

Project Researchers: Dr Ruben Davtyan, Dr Kristen Hopper, Dr Will Deadman