For the past three weeks Republic Square in Yerevan
has looked more like a corral than a public meeting
place. Large strips of metal construction fencing
have closed off the popular dancing fountains,
sidewalks and thoroughfares in the heart of the
Not since Lenin's statue was removed about a decade
ago has the Square seen such activity. But that
renovation had little to compare to what is going
The Square is not simply being renovated but
totally rebuilt, redecorated, re-clothed as it
were, at a cost of $1 million Lincy Foundation
The 3,776 square-meter oval in the center is
being turned into a mosaic carpet of seven different
Armenian stones. Footpaths will become wider and
will include ornamental decoration. Streetlamps
will get marble-faced, contemporary replacements.
The oval center will become a mosaic of seven
types of Armenian stone.
Project director Eduard Bezoyan says the Square
is expected to be completed at the end of October.
But the renovation took an unexpected turn last
week when an operator made a startling discovery
while running his earth mover.
Pulling away the asphalt and dirt has turned
the construction zone into an archeological dig,
as part of an ancient complex has been unearthed,
spreading from the right side of the oval to the
front of Armenia Hotel.
Members from the Memorials Preservation Committee
have been called in to look at the site and are
saying the buried structure is an arched construction
two or three hundred years old.
"At this moment we can express our opinion
based on naked eye observations," says archeologist
Husik Melkonyan. "But we have 10 days to
make a final decision about the research. And
then we will be able to define to which period
of time this construction belongs, what kind of
construction it is and to whom it belonged."
It turns out some archeologists knew about these
secrets of the Square. Mikael Manaseryan, who
was a child when the Square was being built (from
1926-58) remembers that during construction children
were entering an underground building in the evenings
looking for treasures.
The work must be completed by the end of October.
But first, archeologists want to know what's
"Of course we didn't find anything. But
those ancient monuments were buried under the
soil in one night and nobody had time to examine
them," Manaseryan says.
Deputy head of the Memorials Preservation Committee
Samvel Mosoyan confirms that during Soviet times
no one was allowed to conduct research in the
Bezoyan says if the discovered construction is
an ancient memorial, conditions for underground
works will be created, but the surface has to
"Regardless of the value of the discovery
we have to meet the deadline of the international
contract. Otherwise financing will be ceased,"
So while archeologists study the relic of the
past, some 300 construction workers continue the
Square's facelift, facing their million-dollar