Armen was born in 1988, trapped in a collapsed building the night of the earthquake, and has spent much of his life working to improve conditions in his hometown of Gyumri. He studied in both Armenia and the US, receiving degrees as an interpreter, in journalism and in public relations. In 2015, he became administrative coordinator for Gyumri Project Hope. This nonprofit was founded to analyze existing challenges and opportunities for the city and find solutions that target development and economic growth through tourism, urban renewal, and cultural development.
Armen founded Travel Gyumri, which provides the latest information on Gyumri and the Shirak province. He is also an avid photographer and is working on a photo documentary initiating empowerment for young rural women who are bound by untouched traditions and strict rules. Armen works for the City of Gyumri, currently in the Mayor’s office. He is AiP's onsite project partner.
Interpreter, Guide & Project Coordinator
Art Conservator/ Building conservator
Narek graduated from Gyumri’s polytechnic university and is trained in the sphere of arts and restoration. At Mariam and Yeranuhi Aslamazyan gallery he is engaged in preserving and resorting art works, as well as preserving historic building features.
Inga Avagyan was born in Gyumri in 1976. She graduated from Gyumri State Pedagogical Institute with degrees in history and philology. After earning a scientific degree, as well as a PhD in Philosophy of History, she actively started research in the archaeology of the Bronze Age period.
Inga works at the Shirak Center for Armenian Studies, where her research includes ethnographic customs of Gyumri and the Shirak province. She has written 30 scientific articles on ethnography and archaeology of Shirak. Since November of 2018, she also serves as the director of the Kumayri Museum-Preserve.
Join the National Assoc. for Armenian Studies and Research and become a corporate sponsor. Action is needed NOW to save Gyumri’s last remaining economic resource.
Join us for one adventure in preservation, and you’ll receive a 10% discount on all subsequent adventures.
Additional Cost Information
Costs are per person.
Your fee includes:
All ground transportation, including airport pick-up and drop-off
All participants are responsible for:
Airfare to Yerevan, Armenia
Visa if required
Travel health insurance, including emergency evacuation coverage. Send AiP proof of purchase.
Any additional costs generated by individual changes in planned activities or accommodations will be born by the individual.
KUMAYRI CULTURAL MUSEUM-PRESERVE
HISTORIC CITY CENTER
Linking Archaeology with Preservation in Armenia
May 24-june 6, 2020
Learn archaeology along with building conservation skills as you uncover the past and save historic architecture that holds the key to Gyumri’s economic future.
Thirty-two years ago, the Spitak earthquake rocked Gyumri. 25,000 people died, 140,000 were injured and 16,000 were rescued from collapsed buildings. This disaster was paired with the collapse of the Soviet Union, which brought industry to a halt and eliminated most jobs. The impact of these events is still a factor that drives current events in Gyumri today.
Archaeology and preservation are key to revitalizing Gyumri through heritage tourism.
Project and Need
AiP began building conservation efforts in Gyumri in 2011. We continue to expand our ambitions and strive to make a greater impact on the extensive needs of Gyumri and surrounding rural communities. The focus must be on changing residents’ perspective while creating jobs that provide a sustainable income.
Gyumri’s 18th and 19th century architecture is beginning to generate tourism, boosting the sluggish economy and creating much-needed jobs. Join AiP as we continue work at the Gallery of Miriam and Yeranuhi Aslamazyan. Jammers will take on conservation of the beautifully detailed 1834 wrought iron entrance – removing rust and old paint, and repainting to restore the gate to its original beauty.
Miriam and Eranuhi Aslamazian were strong advocates of the women “libbers” movement in the 1950s, revered in Armenia and claimed by Moscow where they lived during the height of their careers. The architecturally significant gallery houses their valuable art collections and provides educational and hands-on programs for school children and the public. In 2017, roughly 4200 students and community members were served. The Gallery had 10,180 visitors.
I was able to learn so much more than I ever would in a classroom and I can’t wait to share what I learned.
— Jason Mulvey 2017
The second week, we move a half-mile to an archaeological dig near the Black Fortress, where you will help uncover fascinating glimpses into a world seldom recorded. Excavations recently uncovered remarkable artifacts from the Kingdom of Urartu (or the Kingdom of Van), a civilization that developed in the Bronze and Iron Age of ancient Armenia from the 9th century BCE. Artifacts uncovered in Gyumri are from the 6th-3rd centuries BCE.
The goal of this project is to clarify issues connected with the ethnography and archeology of Gyumri. Experts are working to assign dates to artifacts found within the city’s ancient settlement. Work promotes the study of tribal history, helping to identify tribal leaders represented in Urartu inscriptions still remaining at various sites in the Shirak province.
Join us as we uncover the land of Eriakhi – current day Shirak.
Sunday, May 24: Travel by van from Yerevan to Gyumri; settle into hotel; enjoy tour of several sites in Kumayri historic district.
Mon.-Thurs., May 25-28: Repair and preservation of gallery wrought iron gate.
Friday, May 29: Excursion to region’s ancient sites.
Sat.-Thurs. am, May 30-June 4: Archaeological dig.
(If you prefer building conservation work, you may continue at the gallery.)
Thurs. pm, June 4: Excursion to region’s ancient sites.
Friday, June 5: Travel to Yerevan by van; visit several historic sites; check into Yerevan hotel.
Sat., June 6: Depart for home.
Breakfast at your hotel is followed by work on site from 10am-5pm, with a break for lunch. From 5-7pm you may relax at the hotel or explore Gyumri’s market and historic district. For dinner, we visit a variety of Gyumri’s excellent restaurants.
My trip to Armenia was the most unique thing I’ve ever done. It gave me a new perspective on the world. While volunteering I got to meet many local families. They have suffered so much yet maintain their strength of spirit and generous attitude.
— Lisa Harper 2016
Flights to Armenia arrive in Yerevan at Zvartnots International Airport where a local project partner will meet you. Flights transiting through Paris arrive around 8:30pm; flights through Vienna, Qatar, Moscow, etc. generally arrive around 3am. If taking the Paris flight, plan to arrive Saturday evening. Hotel arrangements will be made for you, but the cost of Saturday night is not included in your project fee.
Transport to Gyumri via van leaves at 9am Sunday morning, May 24.
A visa may be required depending on your country of origin. In 2019, travelers from the US did not need a visa. Be sure to check the visa requirements for your country, as requirements may change.
At the end of the project, you will spend your final night, Friday June 5, in a hotel in Yerevan. A taxi will be arranged to take you to the airport to depart on June 6.
Bring clothing that is appropriate for the weather and also protective while working. Layering works well. Sturdy close-toed shoes are required for working. Rain gear is recommended.
A detailed Itinerary and Packing List will be sent when you register.
Armenia is one of the safest countries for travelers
Gyumri elevation 4952 feet.
Daytime highs average between 60F and 75F
Walking is on cobblestone and uneven pavement
Expect a moderate chance of rain in May
Lodging and Meals
In Gyumri, lodging is provided at one of the local hotels, conveniently located within walking distance of the Kumayri Historic District, the outdoor market, restaurants, museums, and historic churches. Rooms are spacious with private baths, although may be short of some creature comforts you’re used to.
Breakfast is provided at the hotel. Lunches will be brought to the work site or eaten in local restaurants. For dinners, we will experience a variety of local restaurants that create delicious meals from fresh local produce and meats. Vegetarians have ample tasty options.
After settling in on Sunday, we will enjoy a leisurely walking tour within Gyumri’s historic area. Special activities and short excursions are planned during the workweek.
A day-long excursion is scheduled following four days of conservation work at the gallery. A day and a half of excursions is planned following work at the archaeological site.
Experience ancient sites, from a walk through the 3rd millennium BCE citadel to10th century Marmashen monastery to the remains of a Silk Road caravanserai!
Your tours will be led by a trained tour guide from Gyumri Travel. Our travels end in Yerevan on June 5. Departure is June 6.
If you’d like to explore even more of Armenia, AiP’s partner – Armen Hovsepyan – is a remarkable tour guide with a wealth of knowledge. He offers a variety of 1-4 day Optional Tours, ranging from monasteries to wine & cheese to music & art. Immerse yourself in one of the world’s ancient cultures. Book now.
Contact us if you have additional questions.
If you would like assistance with travel arrangements, contact Peace Frogs Travel/Outfitters, AiP’s partnering travel agency.