ARENI, ARMENIA. As caves go it’s not the sort to attract attention. There are no souvenir shops on the approach and no dramatic lighting within intended to highlight the kind of fantastic calcified structures that are so beloved of spelunker-wannabe tourists. There is only a vertical opening like a nasty unhealed wound in this ancient rock face in the mountains of southeast Armenia not far from the border with Iran.
The otherwise nondescript cave made big news, however, in 2011 when a team of archaeologists led by Professor Boris Gasparyan, co-director of the Armenian Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, announced that they had discovered in it the remnants of a winemaking facility dating back more than 6,000 years.
I knew about the cave and had written something about it in 2012, so was amazed when the opportunity came to visit it. I was even more thrilled to discover that our guide that day would be Professor Gasparyan himself.