Armenia voices territorial claims against Azerbaijan at UNESCO conference

    POLITICS  19 September 2023 - 09:23

    Armenia has once again demonstrated its ongoing territorial claims against Azerbaijan.

    Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry's Spokesperson Aykhan Hajizada said the recent claims of Armenia for the Azerbaijani lands came at the UNESCO conference on September 18.

    Today, during the 45th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Riyadh,  Armenia spoke against the inclusion of Azerbaijan’s Azykh & Taghlar caves into the tentative World Heritage List," Hajizada wrote on X, according to Caliber.Az.

    He added that although the attempt failed, this attests to Armenia’s continuing territorial claims against Azerbaijan.

    The Azykh cave remained under Armenia's occupation for nearly three decades following the capture of the Khojavend district on October 2 in 1992. Khojavend is located in the Nagorno-Karabakh (Daghlig Garabagh) region, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani army retook the Hadrut settlement and dozens of villages of the Khojavend district, including home to the Azykh cave, the Azykh village in the Guruchay valley, as part of the counter-offensive operations in the country's Karabakh region from September 27 through November 9.

    The Azykh Paleolithic cave is the largest of its kind in the entire Caucasus region and is considered to be a site of one of the most ancient locations of proto-human presence in Eurasia. The first scientific exploration of the cavern was conducted by an archaeological expedition led by prominent Azerbaijani archaeologist Mammadali Huseynov from 1960-1968. Huseynov's expedition discovered 10 layers in the prehistoric cave that consisted of eight 600-meter-long corridors.

    The major finding of the archaeological digs in the Azykh cave was the fragment of a human jaw. The low jaw bone was identified to be related to a Neanderthal type of human. A further in-depth examination of the finding proved it to belong to an 18-22-year-old woman who lived 350-400 thousand years ago and was scientifically classified as Azykhantrop. According to archaeology experts, the jawbone found in the Azykh cave is the fourth oldest of its kind in the world after similar archaeological findings were discovered in Tanzania, Kenya and France.

    In addition to the jaw bone, over 3,000 stoneware, remnants of more than 45 various animals, and multiple prehistoric campfire traces have been found in the Azykh cave. The scientific examinations proved the primitive handmade instruments to date back to 1-1.5 million years ago.

    Scientists summarized the life and habits of the inhabitants of the Azykh cave as the Guruchay culture given their proposed dwelling primarily along the same name valley in the territory of Azerbaijan. Comprehensive researches show that the lifespan of the Guruchay culture in Azerbaijan is estimated at 500,000 years from 1.2 million to 700,000 years ago. Due to its lifetime proximity, this culture is only compared to the 1.5 million-year-old culture found in the Olduvai camp in Tanzania.

    After Khojavend's occupation in 1992, Armenian occupants organized multiple illegal expeditions to the Azykh cave without the consent of the Azerbaijani government. The Academy of Sciences of Armenia invited specialists from Italy, Spain, and Great Britain to conduct explorations and excavations in the prehistoric human settlement of Azerbaijan. As a result of serial excavations in the Azykh cave, the expedition team has found various valuable materials of scientific significance and transferred them illegally to the museums of Armenia and Western countries to showcase them as the so-called "traces of their ancestors."

    Azerbaijani scholars believe that the Azykh cave should be nominated by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee as a world heritage site from Azerbaijan. Historian-archaeologist Aida Ismayilova says the material-cultural findings from the prehistoric cavern proved Azerbaijan as an ancient human settlement and have been recognized by the world community, which set grounds for suggesting the inclusion of the Azykh cave in the UNESCO World Heritage List.


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