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Azerbaijani social media spreads story of khachkar forgeries

Social media from Azerbaijan has been actively promoting a story that claims the Azerbaijani army recently uncovered a site where forgeries of medieval Armenian cross stones, or khachars, were produced. To accompany the story 3 pictures accompanied the claim.

The claim circulating on Twitter has been that Arzerbaijani forces identified a workshop where carved stones were made and then treated with various substances, including vinegar, to give them the patina of the medieval era. Khachkars are very distinctive carved memorial stele that Armenian communities of the 9th-14th centuries AD used to mark grave sites. The claims regarding a khachkar forgery manufacturing site are false. The images accompanying the picture have all been accounted for and all come from known khachkar sites within Armenia itself.

These two images come from khachkars near Martuni, near Lake Sevan, cataloged on this travel photo site:

The third image is from a stock photo showing khachkars located beside the stairs to Sevanavank Monastery on the Sevan Peninsula:

Various revivals of the sculptural tradition have ensured that awareness of the distinctiveness of the form to Armenian artistic practice has been repeatedly well documented. Khachars have traditionally been included in large museum exhibits of Armenian art and archaeology as their style is so distinctive of medieval Armenian communities.

The claims advanced of khachkar forgeries represents an effort by Azerbaijan to legitimize the erasure of large fields of Khachkars that mark the antiquity of the Armenian presence across much of what is today Azerbaijan. The most notorious of these efforts was the well-documented destruction of the extraordinary khachkar field and cemetery at Djulfa in Azerbaijan's Nakhichevan province. In addition to the excellent journalism on the destruction, which secured video footage of Azerbaijani soldiers hacking the site to pieces, there was also a substantial report by the American Academy for the Advancement of Science that used satellite reconnaissance to document the destruction of the site.

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