About Djulfa Blog
This Blog is part of the Djulfa Virtual Memorial and Museum, a project aimed at documenting the deliberate destruction of the world’s largest Armenian historical site.
In December of 2005, a film crew at the Iranian border videotaped military men in the Azerbaijani territory hacking away at intricately-carved artifacts with sledgehammers, using a crane to remove some of the largest stones from the ground, breaking the stones into small pieces, and dumping them into the River Araxes using a heavy truck.
These stones were the sacred burial monuments of Djulfa (Jugha/Jougha/Julfa/Culfa), an ancient Armenian cemetery in what is today the Republic of Azerbaijan. Considered medieval Armenia’s largest cemetery, Djulfa contained thousands of unique burial monuments known as khachkars or cross-stones.
More than 350 years before the videotape, a foreign traveller to Djulfa estimated 10,000 khachkars in the cemetery. By 1998, less than seven decades after a Soviet agreement with Turkey placed Nakhichevan (where Djulfa existed) under Azerbaijan, there were only 2,000 khachkars remaining while the entire Armenian population had disappeared.
According to eyewitness reports cited by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), Azeri authorities made efforts to destroy much of the Djulfa cemetery in 1998 and again in 2002.
By March 2006, photographs of the cemetery site showed that Djulfa had been turned into an army shooting range.
Even though an Azerbaijani journalist who visited Djulfa on behalf of the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting in April 2006 similarly found no traces of the cemetery left, Azeri president Ilham Aliyev told the Associated Press that the reports of the destruction were “an absolute lie, slanderous information, a provocation.”
International organizations, such as UNESCO, have largely failed to condemn the destruction or visit the cemetery site.