A conference to present the latest findings was held on 15 June in the Archaeological Centre in Chukhur Qabala at the heart of the excavations. A representative of SEBA (Seoul-Baku) Azerbaijan- Korean Cultural Exchange Association, Irada Najafova, recalled that a joint Azerbajani-Korean Archaeological Expedition had been set up in 2009. It is studying the three historical sites of Qabala as well as material from the Paleolithic Age through to the early centuries AD. A combined team from the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Seoul National University, Chungbuk National University, Hanshin University, Hanseo University and other Korean institutes have made an in-depth study of the excavations at Chukhur Qabala.
During the event a group of archaeologists, journalists and representatives of SEBA and the Korean Embassy in Azerbaijan visited the excavation sites to see the work under way. Summarising the work of the joint expedition, Kim Jongil, a professor from Seoul National University, said that the main mission was to study Qabala’s northern gates and how they were built.
Choi Suk-inn, ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Azerbaijan, welcomed the work of the Azerbajan-Korea Archaeological Expedition.
I’m here not only as ambassador, but as a former history student. So I have great interest in archaeology. This is my fourth time in Qabala and it is a real pleasure to meet my former colleagues, professors from universities in Seoul, here. I have to say that this is a good example of the mutual cooperation between Korea and Azerbaijan. The joint expedition has enjoyed success. I think this cooperation will have a positive impact on other areas of relations between the two countries as well. And I’m always ready to support this process. Prof. Ilyas Babayev of Azerbaijan’s Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography said that much valuable material had been gathered from Salbir. Despite the fact that archaeological excavations started in Soviet times, he described the most recent period under SEBA’s organization as the most productive. The professor also gave interesting details of their discoveries about Caucasian Albania.
Another find highlighted by Prof. Babayev was the discovery of traces of roofing shingle in the excavations. The archaeologists were able to establish that roofing shingle was used in Qabala from the 3rd century BC and fired brick from the 1st century BC.
It’s very interesting because in China, for example, roofing shingle was not used until much later than in Caucasian Albania. Of no less interest is the wide use of coins. Yet the oldest coins found in Azerbaijan are coins from Alexander the Great. Caucasian Albania itself started to mint silver coins at the beginning of the 3rd century BCE, which were like imitation coins of Alexander the Great. Both local and imported coins were widely used in the markets of Albania.
(For more on this subject, see Prof. Babayev’s article, The Ancient Town of Qabala Revealed by Archaeological Excavation, in the March-June 2012 issue of Visions of Azerbaijan or on our website, visions.az)