Armenia is a land of rocks and mountains. From time immemorial agriculture was concentrated in its valleys and livestock rearing in its mountains. The Armenian Plateau is not only picturesque but has a wealth of mineral resources, including building materials such as tufa and basalt, copper and iron ore, and excellent pottery clays. The hot climate is good for cotton growing, and the rich mountain pastures encourage sheep-breeding for wool. The availability of all these materials facilitated the growth of various handicrafts such as pottery, stone carving, smithing, goldsmithing, weav-ing, carpet-making, embroidery, and lace-weaving.
Situated on the crossroads between East and West, Armenia was repeatedly ravaged by invaders. The troops of Rome, Byzantium, the Arab Caliphate, the Seljuk Turks, and the Tatar Mongols devastated the country, arresting its cultural development for long periods, sometimes for centuries. Despite the vicissitudes of history, Armenians always remained faithful to their national artistic and cultural traditions. Folk art figured prominently in the preservation of traditions. Its permanence and continuity of skill, passed from generation to generation, proved to be a unifying force and a breeding ground for all Armenian decorative arts. It is largely for this reason that a certain stylistic affinity is demonstrated by such diverse Armenian arts as architecture, stone carving, book illuminating, carpet-making, lace-weaving, and embroidery.