Light the Beacons: Investigating the Fortress Landscapes of Armenia

Tiffany Earley-Spadoni
University of Central Florida

October 29, 2019 @ 7:30 pm

Burpee Museum of Natural History, Auditorium
737 North Main Street
Rockford, IL 61103 United States

AIA Society: Rockford
Vartan Gregorian Lecture

Fire beacon communication is not simply an artistic invention of the Tolkien science fiction universe. Until quite recently in human history, people used systems of fire and smoke to communicate messages at the speed of light. The world’s oldest communications networks, however, originate in the fortress landscapes of the ancient Near East, and this lecture will discuss their invention and use in times of peril.

The Vayots Dzor Fortress Landscapes Project (VDFLP), an archaeological research project in Armenia directed by the speaker, is investigating fire beacon networks and other human responses to danger in a precarious alpine environment. In recent field seasons, the VDFLP team has performed regional survey and targeted excavations at major fortress sites. The ancient fortresses that dot the landscape date to both the Iron Age and the medieval Silk Roads periods, and the VDFLP is investigating the rise and fall of fortress culture during these two periods.

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

A blog post on the project by a participant:

A podcast (American Anthropologist) describing the research in progress:

Website for the Vayots Dzor Fortress Landscapes Project:

Infinite Armenias: Digital Storytelling as Public Archaeology:
Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
For more information, visit