The research of Akçayöz on Ani complies the most intensive observations for many years and new findings in this field; I do not hesitate to label as unique the drawings and even the photos inside the book.



Less than a year after the first book, “The Mis- “Ani is full of secrets – Akçayöz writes – and the terious Face of Ani”, Vedat Akçayöz surprises more these are resolved the more misterious it be- us again by publishing this second work, “New comes”. Although some mysteries have actually been 

Discoveries in Ani”. The volume is not a simple ap- pendix to the previous one, but is equally full-bodied and equally rich in excellent and meaningful photo- graphs. The iconographic apparatus perfectly illus- trates both the grandiose natural landscape, jagged by the solitary ruins of the extended medieval city of Ani, and the innumerable underground structures that strongly characterize its surroundings. Both, the walled city and the excavated settlements, are placed in a scenario of great emotional impact: a boundless silent steppe, 1500 meters above sea level, surround- ed by precipitous canyons that mark today the border between Eastern Turkey and the current territory of Republic of Armenia. 

Akçayöz takes up again some of the themes al- ready dealt with previously, extending them still and integrating them with numerous new identifications of the hypogeal sites that the Ani tableland, the ad- joining valleys and the surroundings areas preserve in their rocky body constituted by tufaceous forma- tions. The nineteen chapters that make up the vol- ume describe in detail as many locations, with the specific intent to document the various rock-cut types (houses, pigeon houses, churches, tombs, transit and / or war works, water works, inscriptions), placing them in their landscape and historical context. 

unveiled by the author itself, we can only agree with him, knowing the site in person for organizing the 2004 Italian expedition in collaboration with the Hacettepe Üniversitesi of Ankara, to which Akçayöz does widely referring, retracing and updating some of the sites explored and documented on that occasion. The new initiative of my colleague “speleologist” Vedat, who has the not negligible fortune of living on the spot, has however greatly increased the knowledge of the anthropic cavities, locating many others, con- firming, if ever there was need, the exploratory potentials and the prospects for more in-depth investigations of this extraordinary archaeological site. 15 

My hope is that Akçayöz’s passion and resource- fulness will inspire, as he himself agrees, the inter- vention of Institutions and other researchers who will work to realize as soon as possible specific studies and complete plans of the more than 800 hypogean sites of Ani. Especially since the topographic docu- mentation of the enormous rock-cut heritage has re- mained the schematic and limited made by Kipshid- ze, during the Russian expedition of 1915 (published only in 1972), then partly integrated with more pre- cise instrumental surveys from the Centro Studi Sot- terranei only in 2004 (published in 2009 in the British Archaeological Reports-Archaeopreess of Oxford). 

Roberto BIXIO 

Honorary Inspector of Archaeology-Artificial Cavities Ministry of Cultural Herirtage, Roma (Italy) 



Ani is the most important site of cultural heritage in the Eastern Anatolian Region in Turkey. Situated within a very special topography with ideal condi- tions in terms of settlement and security due to the deep valleys to the east and west of the city, it has been an area inhabited since prehistoric times. Having been described as the “Pompeii of Armenia” by historian, writer and dip- lomat Luigi Villari at the start of the 20th century, this site was included by unanimous vote in the UNESCO World Heritage List, as a historically sacred place, located on the Silk Road extending from China to Europe, entrusted to our care. This decision was made during the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee, which met in Istanbul in 2016, taking into account its “exceptional universal value”. 

As one of the commercial and cultural towns situat- ed along the Silk Road, Ani is a point of convergence for Armenian, Georgian and wide-ranging Seljuk cultural tra- ditions, which are reflected in the architectural designs, materials and decorative details of the monuments found within. It is an uncommon example of artistic, architectur- al and cultural development in the Middle Ages, with its impressive fortress walls, and its mostly standing reli- gious and residential structures. The town owes its integ- rity to the walls surrounding it. The remains of multicul- tural life are clearly visible in Ani, in the use of architectur- al techniques and styles belonging to different civiliza- tions. In line with this, new styles coming into existence as a result of interactions between cultures have ended up creating nothing short of a new architectural language de- veloped in what we may describe as ‘the Ani architectural school’. The creation of this new language, reflected in the design, decoration and workmanship of the Ani monu- ments, has impacted a broad region ranging from Anato- lia to the Caucasus. As in all other cities carrying similar historical significance, the Medieval city plan and archi- tectural heritage of Ani too is not restricted only to the above-ground monuments that immediately meet the eye. There is more to it that a regular visitor, lacking adequate information and directions cannot easily perceive while touring around, and this is the invisible “underground city”, home to the hidden treasures of the town. 

In the Ani Village nearby there are caves, store rooms and tombs hewn out of rock, belonging to prehistoric times. These are a continuation of rock paintings and many similar artefacts or monuments spread across a very wide area all along the Arpaçay (Arpaçay1). Along with the slopes of the archaeological region, there are highly important chiseled structures on the western banks of the Arpaçay and Bostanlar Stream. An important portion of these are the many and diverse kinds of underground structures ranging from chapels, the seclusion rooms of monks, and tombs to storage spaces, living spaces, work- shops, stables and pigeon lofts all carved into soft rock. 

1t.n. The term “chai” is used here to describe a body of water, such as a creek, river, etc. 

These cave-structures constituting the most significant and valuable elements of the natural environment, have, in fact, formed an entirely other, invisible, second city un- derneath the above-ground Medieval town. In many cases, the city above and that below would communicate via nar- row passageways. Other than this, access to these under- ground structures was possible by passing beneath the city walls on the banks of rivers encircling the city. Viewed from the plateau, where the historic city is located and where many monks’ seclusion chambers have been carved into caves, Ani provides a magnificent view. 

All of these impressive underground structures situ- ated within the boundaries of a First Degree Archaeologi- cal Site, which is the most protected area in the country today, are no doubt among the main elements creating the “exceptional universal value” of the region. It is also be- yond doubt that these structures require more research, better protection, and greater emphasis on their excep- tional cultural value for them to be appreciated by wider audiences and receive more visitors in the future. 

The following recommendations (Istanbul, 2016) by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to the Govern- ment with regards to what should be prioritized are note- worthy: “.To increase efforts to research and document the urban development, architectural structures, un- derground areas and landscape in the Ani archaeologi- cal region and surrounding buffer zone in order to in- clude these in the management and preservation strat- egies and plans of the region.” 

This must indeed be the utmost priority in the up- coming couple of years. I strongly believe that this book, “The Mysterious Face of Ani”, comprised of invaluable texts and photographs, prepared by Vedat AKÇAYÖZ, Pres- ident of the Kars Association of Culture and Arts and member of the Historic City of Ani Advisory Board, shall serve exactly this purpose. This book is the product of pas- sion and resolve regarding work that has lovingly been carried out on the field for many long years in order to re- veal the mysterious beauties of the region. After old his- torical records kept by archaeologists N. Marr and D. A. Kipshidze at the outset of 20th century, and field examina- tion documents put together by a team comprised of R. Bixio, V. Caloi, V. Castellani and M. Traverso in 2004, this is the very first time that the magnificent and hidden world of Ani is laid out with photographs in such detail and clarity. 

“The Mysterious Face of Ani” an “New Discoveries in Ani” therefore makes a new and wholistic contribution to the civilizational history of eastern Anatolia. 

Prof. AlkiviadisPREPIS