On Black Rocks
The representatives of the cat family have inhabited the Armenian plateau since ancient times. The largest ones, such as lions and leopards, were the most desired trophies of the first hunters. Not every member of the community however had the right to be the last to spike these wild cats, which were then associated with power and might. The future symbol of absolute rule, the heraldic status, probably appeared as a result of such tribal taboos. Most of the Armenian dynasties had at least one of those predators on their family coat of arms. Today the Prosoasiatic leopard still lives in Armenia, in Meghri Region bordering Iran. This wild animal, which is listed in the Red Book and is now guarded in Khosrov and Shikahogh Nature Reserves, lives in the mountains with deep gorges, in scrubs or rock conglomerations on the precipices of the mountain steppe plateaus. Armenia’s petroglyphs are extremely rich in images depicting scenes of hunting. One can often come across separate drawings of leopard couples, which are particularly widespread in Sisian Region, on the black rocks of the Serpent Mountain. A whole gallery of rock drawings lies at an absolute height of 3000 m. The preparation of the coming hunt, accompanied by meditative-rhythmic dancing and conjuration, was held around these very drawings. It is only possible to reach this magnificent site by an off-road vehicle accompanied by a guide.