Supporting Azerbaijan’s cultural heritage

7 April 2018

BP as technical operator of the South Caucasus Pipeline Company (SCPC) and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate in the full analysis of the significant archaeological findings discovered during the South Caucasus Pipeline expansion (SCPX) works.

The findings have been encountered in the archaeological excavation area (SCPX KP 247) in Karpijlitapa of the Goranboy district. 

On Saturday, 7 April, Abulfas Garayev, Minister of Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Gary Jones, BP AGT Regional President visited the archaeological site to witness the progress made since the MOU was signed. 

The MOU underpins the intention of both parties to cooperate in support of the “Azerbaijan Cultural Heritage Project” related to the discovery in Karpijlitapa.  This is also in line with SCPC’s commitment made in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for SCPX to address significant archaeological finds during construction activities.  

The work-scope to be undertaken in the area includes two months additional excavation work to be conducted by a team of six archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences supported by twelve labourers. 

It is expected that the work will result in a 3-D model of the archaeological site which will help dissemination of the information to be obtained. All discovered artefacts will be processed and preserved.  

The work will be funded by the SCPC.

Additional information about archaeological findings

In October 2016, a medieval archaeological site of importance was discovered at KP 247 ahead of SCPX construction.   The project moved construction activities around the area [at a cost to the project of c. 1.5M AZN] to enable the site to be studied and excavated in line with project commitments and a scope agreed with the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography (IOAE).  Given the recognized importance of the find, the project took a decision to route around the site to preserve it for future generations.  A route to the south was determined to be the only feasible option for both technical and safety reasons and is currently being implemented.    

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MOCT) and IOAE (who have been present throughout the excavation at the site) have been engaged and updated throughout the process.

In December 2017, an MOU was signed between BP and MOCT for an additional 2 additional months of work to be undertaken by 12 labourers with the work overseen by 6 IOAE archaeologists. These two months and resources were based on IOAE’s own assessment of time needed to further excavate and understand the site.
  
Consultation with IOAE and international project archaeologists have determined the medieval site was likely a castle/fortress (Figure 1). During Excavation 1 SCPX used international best practice in excavating the site by conducting detailed documentation and thorough archaeological investigations followed by hand excavation of the pipeline trench area and wider RoW area (total area excavated of 12m wide x 56m length).  

During excavations, the remains of walls built from river stones, clay ovens and heating stoves, two installed ovens, a large furnace intended for making bricks and ceramics, numerous whole and established ovens, water wells and household wells were found. 

In addition,  many enamel and un-enamelled ceramic dishes and their fragments, copper coins, fragments of glassware and bracelets, clay beads, details of iron and bone products and stone tools for labour purposes were revealed.

Remains of buildings, earthenware and numismatic materials indicate that this monument dates back to the late 10th - early 13th centuries. The architectural styles used in the construction of the monument, the abundance of elegantly made samples of ceramics and the discovery of a large number of coins suggests that the monument was a residential centre of its time.