Masisis an isolated soaring massif with conical pair peaks located in the Southern part of Ararat Valley. The highest peak of the massif (Mother mountain) is called Masisor GreaterMasis, andthe lowest peak – Sis or Lesser Masis. Masisis also called Ararat. As per Bible, Ararat is represented as a shelter for Noah survived from global flood, and then a cradle of humanity. “In the twenty-eighth day of the seventh month, the ark has landed on the Mount of Ararat” (Gen. 8.4). For this reason, Masis is also called Noah Mount, Noah Ark’s Mount, Savior Mount, and Holy Mount. The main massif has circumference of 130km and the area of 1200 km2. Noble peaks, the distance between which is 10km, are separated by individual pass (the height is 2727m) and form a harmonious unity. Ararat Valley and nearby mountains create natural range of that conformation. Masis and Sis are extinct volcanoes. Masis has 5165 meters height and Sis – 3925meters. The rocky peak of Masis, which occupies an area of 12 sq. km, is covered with eternal snow. This snow cover feeds over 30 glaciers; and the greatest one is called by the name of St. Hakob. Slopes of the mountain are fragmented by radiate-form ravines and gulches.
Sis is located in South-Eastern side of the Mt. Masis, the peak segment is rocky; and stony slopes are steep and fragmented. AraYakarHamavi, the13th century Arab historian, presented graves of the peak of the Mt Sis. A few years later, he climbed and explored those graves. While observing the total area of the peak segment, unique piles of stones can be seen as well. It’s assumed, that the temple of Arevi Ar God was there.
Ararat is located at the earthquake prone active zone of Armenian Highland and did not stay apart from natural disasters. The gorge generated on the North-Eastern slope of the Mount, which is known with the name of Masiats abyss, stretches about 10km from the peak to the foot and has more than 1000m depthin the sub-summit segment. According to MovsesKhorenatsi (thefather of Armenian history), the creation of Masiats abyssis connected with the occurrence of earthquake in 139. Earthquakes are reoccurred in 1319, 1679, 1840, and 1887 as well. The most catastrophic one was Akori earthquake occurred in 1840, in the result, a huge massif ripped from upper part of the gorge totally destroyed and buried Akori village and St.Hakob church. Only one shepherd stayed alive after earthquake, who took animals to graze at the foot of the mount in that time. After survival, he left Etchmiadzin and became a priest. Today, there is only this cemetery from the village ispreserved with its 107 khachkars and arks; crosses crafted on the rocks can be found in the abyss, preserved from middle ages. Unfortunately, nothing is preserved from the St.Hakob Monastery.
From ancient times,Masis, with its skyscraper height, picturesque appearance, earthquakes, glacial-slides, terrifying rumbles, had mysterious impact on the surrounding population. It has been a mountain of worship for Armenian people; therefore there are lots of talks and myths related to it. According to legend, Armenian King Artavazd was chained in the abyss of the Mount Masis, and attempted to get out from there with the help of his faithful mastiffs and dominate the world.
French naturalist Piton de Turnefori has a great role in the process of scientific study of the Mount Masis. With the purpose to find and study exclusive plants, he climbed up to the edge of eternal snow cover in August 1701 and described physical characteristics and flora of the Mount.
Friedrich Parrot, the professor of Dorpat University (now- Tartu City of the Republic of Estonia) and Khachatur Abovyan have reached the summit of Mt.Masis for the first time in September 1829 with guidance of 2 peasants and 2 Russian soldiers. Later, many expeditions have reachedthe summit ofMasis, and carried out several studies, among which, the expedition of German geologist, academician H. Abikh(July 29, 1845) had its worthy contribution,translator P.Sharoyan and other two Armenians were in the team of expedition.
On 23 September, 1991, a group of RA mountaineers has reached the summit of Greater Masis (A. Aghababyan, G, Taturyan, H. Tonoyan, A.Mailyan).
In general, Mt. Ararat is rich in historical monuments, old settlements, cemeteries and etc. It is worth to mention Tsolakert, one of the First Armenian Christian temples (we failed to find any trace of Tsolakert), Korhan castle and ruined church, Akori Cemetery, settlement of cyclopean era preserved on the western slope and cemetery of later period with its numerous khachkars, as well as khachkars not far from the foot of the Mt Sis and etc.
During many trips and climbs, we try to find and share information on any object, cemetery, castles, churches, settlements and etc. of Armenian origin.
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