This article discusses the origins and ongoing research of the Vayots Dzor Silk Road Survey (VDSRS), a collaborative archaeological project that for the last three years has focused on the recording, research, and management of the medieval landscape in Vayots Dzor, Armenia. The VDSRS was created in a space opened by the commitment and support of the Armenian Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC), an Overseas Research Center supporting research in and about Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. We discuss the ways in which the support structure of ARISC has shaped both the potential for and the nature of research in Armenia. As we will explore, the “soft power” of institutional support has enabled a critical shift in the demographics of who leads research as well as an opening of possibilities for questions asked about the past and the accessibility of archaeological data.

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