On Thursday, January 26, 2012, Professor Levon Yepiskoposyan delivered a lecture on the "Azokh Cave, Nagorno-Karabakh: Searching for our Caucasian Ancestors" at the Cultural Hour of Haigazian University. Dr. ArdaEkmekji, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, opened the event with some welcoming remarks and shared her appreciation for caves as "great preservers of antiquity" and "open books for study."
Professor Yepiskoposyan, co-director of the Azokh Cave excavation team, began his presentation by stating the underlying importance of Azokh Cave, located at a crossroad between Asia, Europe and Africa, where a 400,000-year-old human bone was discovered in 1968. Although excavation activities ceased in the 1980s, Yepiskoposyan and his team worked hard to begin their own excavations in 2002.
Being a geneticist and anthropologist, Yepiskoposyan described the evidence of Homo Neanderthal presence in the cave, showing images of various stone tools that they found. In addition, he provided details about the geological condition of the cave and discussed the painstaking methods that he and his team of specialists use to uncover fossils and work on them in the lab.
Apart from the international specialists that have come from various parts of Europe, the project has also involved interested young men from the local village to provide needed manpower, and Yepiskoposyan was proud to show images of them at work.
He concluded with a brief description of their future plans, including the publishing of their findings and the organization of an exhibition, as well as finding a more permanent station for the team to work in. Yepiskoposyan added that their aim was to "preserve this site for future generations" and they have already initiated measures to protect the various fauna and flora of the area.
The lecture was followed by a Q&A session and refreshments.