Near the modern town of Armavir, the administrative center of Armavir Province, lie the ruins of ancient Armavir – the capital of the Kingdom of Ayrarat since 331 BC when the Orontid (Yervanduni) dynasty of Armenia restored the country’s independence. The city was the capital of Armenia until the 2nd century BC.
In the Armenian tradition laid out by Movses Khorenatsi, the city was founded by Aramayis, the grandson of Hayk (the legendary ancestor of the Armenian people). But according to the official version, the city’s story began in 776 BC when King Argishti I founded the city of Argishtikhinili in its location.
Armavir has been part of the Kingdom of Ararat (331 – 190 BC) and Greater Armenia (190 BC – 428 BC), at times being under occupation by the Romans and Parthians. At the beginning of the 4th century AD, King of Greater Armenia Trdat III transferred the city to the Kamsarakan family to serve as the center of the Arsharunik district.
After the fall of Greater Armenia in 428, the city became part of the Sassanid state. In 645, it was conquered by the Arabs.
Armavir long housed one of the main temples of the deity Anahit along with a temple in Yerez, even after Yervandashat became the capital of Armenia. In Armenian mythology, Anahit was the mother goddess, the goddess of fertility and love, and the daughter (or wife) of deity Aramazd.
In the ancient Armenian state, Anahit was considered the chief goddess and the patroness of the Armenian king. King Trdat I praised the Great Mistress Anahit, calling her “the glory of the nation, giver of life, a chaste mother, and the daughter of the great and valiant Aramazd.”
Anahit has been often portrayed with a baby in her arms and dressed up in the traditional attire of an Armenian woman (doesn’t this remind you of anything?).
According to ancient Greek philosopher and biographer Plutarch, the temple in Yerez was the richest and most magnificent temple in Armenia. During the military campaign of ancient Roman commander Marc Anthony in Armenia, the Yerez temple was looted, and the golden statue of the goddess Anahit was cut into pieces by Roman soldiers. In 31 BC, the fragments were delivered to Rome.
However, the desecrators of the statue of goddess Anahit were punished by the angry deity – very soon, Marc Anthony was defeated near Alexandria by Emperor Octavian Augustus and together with Cleopatra committed suicide on August 1, 30 BC.
By the way, a gilded bronze bust of goddess Anahit found in Yerinj near Erzurum (modern Turkey) in the 1870s is currently kept at the British Museum (why not request a return?). Its copy is exhibited at the Museum of History in Yerevan, Armenia.
After the adoption of Christianity in Armenia as the state religion in 301, the worship of the goddess Anahit transformed into the worship of the Mother of God.
Alexander Bakulin, photos from Surik Asmaryan.
Read also: The Aryan Goddess Anahit Reached The Four Sides of the World, Great Mother Anahit – Pantheon of Gods of Ancient Armenia, Aratta, the Home of Anahit (Inanna), Will the Armenians Manage to Return the Statue of Goddess Anahit to Armenia?, The Goddess of Love and Fertility Anahit – Ancient Armenia Preface