The historic homeland of the Armenians stretched from the Euphrates River in the west to the mountains east of the Arax River. The characteristic features of the elevated plateau of the Armenian highlands were mountains, deep valleys, rapid rivers, and both large and small lakes. Cold winters and dry hot summers sharply contrasted the seasons and made for a challenging natural environment.
Armenia was rich in natural resources and was one of the earliest centers of the discovery of metallurgy. Armenians were also likely the earliest cultivators of the grape and pioneered winemaking. Much as they became skilled in the use of metals, in a land amply supplied with all variety of stone, Armenians also became experts in working stone as sculptors, masons, and architects.
The adoption of Christianity in the early 4th century as the state religion of Armenia profoundly influenced Armenian cultural values and practices. The imprint of Christianity is most visible through the abundance of ancient churches across Armenian built in a distinctive style and nearly always roofed with a conical dome.