Ani is full of secrets; and the more these are re- solved the more mysterious it becomes – so very reserved and secretive Ani is. For as long as I’ve known myself the magic of history and of the unknown has enchanted me into following in its trail. This is also what has fed my unending curiosity and impulse to research and discover, which has fueled me for twenty years and has given life to this book you hold.
The structures that still remain standing in the archaeological site have been what have mainly stood out in Ani, which is a place that has attracted the attention of researchers and explorers since the past century, and the region has hence achieved fame under the name “City of 1001 Churches”. Having been shaped by the existence of multiple cultures through- out history, in Ani nature has also adorned its full abundance as if competing with the achievements of humanity and even spiting them. The generosity of the volcanic landscape has on the one hand allowed for people to carve out cave dwellings, construct liv- ing spaces, churches, monasteries, pigeon lofts, tun- nels within the soft layer of tuff in the slopes of deep valleys carved out by rivers such as the Arpaçay (Ar- pachai) / Ախուրյան (Akhuryan) and floodwaters, and on the other hand it has created a fairytale land ani- mated by fairy chimneys, waterfalls, natural caves, mountains, valleys and plains. These structures and natural prosperity constituting the other face of Ani make up the main area of interest of this book.
Rendering all that I have accumulated as a result of my 20-year-long efforts of discovery and documen- tation with regards to the prosperity that is one of the main factors leading to the inclusion of Ani in the UN- ESCO World Heritage List, yet has still not become the topic of academic or other kinds of publications, into a
written and published document in order to prove that Ani is not only an archaeological site but more, to cre- ate a basis for future scientific studies and to contrib- ute to the cultural and economic wealth of our country also meant paying my debt of gratitude to Ani.
Yet both in my work in the field and in my docu- mentation and archival work I made effort to create a basis that scientists would be able to use for their benefit. I present the findings of this work in a manner as free of prejudice as possible, and attempting as best I can to reflect the multiculturality of Ani. In the following text you shall read, I made a point of using a plain yet narrative voice befitting the mysteries of Ani.
My aim was to share with you the known yet ig- nored or completely forgotten mysterious world of Ani in line with the research and study I have conducted on the matters I have mentioned above. Along with this, I have also tried to use as much as I could the names given by the local folk to the natural and cultural as- sets that have survived from past to present, which I came to know as a result of my field work.
It has not, however, been possible to convey all the information and documents I collected in one sin- gle book. I shall present the other portion of my work, what can be termed the oral history of this mysteri- ous world, in its entirety in another book. This book in question shall be comprised of tales, legends and stories that have been passed down over generations by word of mouth, and of information and documents including visuals I have gathered over the past twen- ty years through research both within the country and abroad, taking advantage of foreign resources as well. I believe that the mythos and logos of this city that have existed for centuries must be interwoven and told in a fantastic and epic language inspired by Ani’s enchanting history.