Encyclopedia >> Encyclopedia of Armenian Culture >> Armenian culture in VI-IV centuries BC

 Armenian culture in VI-IV centuries BC.  After the fall of the  kingdom of Ararat the culture of the following three centuries hasn’t been studied properly because of the lack of archeological materials and sources.

Columnar courtyard of Erebuni built in the reign of Argishti I in 782 BCWe can make judgments about the architecture based on the construction activities in the citadel of Erebuni during the period of Achaemenid Empire.  The  temple built in VIII BC was reconstructed  into a columnar hall. It was probably for receiving the guests, as well as for the discussions and meetings. Such kind of columnar halls are typical for the architecture of Achaemenid Empire, there are columnar halls in Pasargadae and Persepolis. After the reconstruction the central part of the palace of Erebuni citadel became the place where the sacred fire was kept. In the eastern part of the palace remnants of the ash were found, which was probably the temple of the fire.

The hall for receiving the guests and the temple of the fire give us a reason to think that the city became the administrative center of the satrapy of the 18th century under theThe portico of the entry of Erebuni citadel built in  the reign of Argishti I (782 BC) reign of Achaemenid Empire.

Greek military leader and historian Xenophon gives the description of rural houses of the century, who visited Armenia in 401 BC.

The houses in Southern Armenia, unlike the houses of central parts of the country, had towers, which was, probably, for the defensive intentions. This was not typical for the houses in the central and northern parts of Armenia. The houses of these regions were subterranean and had two entries. The first entry was for the people and the second one was for the animals.  These houses were the prototype of glkhatun-գլխատուն (Armenian national house).

XenophonThe excavated materials represent the material culture of the period. The fictility was represented by jugs, jars and goblets, alike those in neighboring regions of Armenia (Asia Minor, Transcaucasia, Iran).  The metallurgy was represented by arm products and jewelry. Various silver dishes, as well as rhytons (these are horn like containers, which were popular in the Achaemenid period) were found in Armenia.  

The researchers divided the excavated materials into two groups, based on the research of material culture.  The first ones were the objects, which were for everyday use. The second group of excavated objects was for elite’s everyday use. It is noteworthy that these two groups of objects characterize the unique way of the development of culture. The everyday objects used by common people are connected with the Bronze Age and early Iron Age culture of the Armenian Highland, they continue the cultural traditions of the previous century, as well.

The objects for elite’s everyday use were connected with the culture of Achaemenid Empire. There were various cultural connections with Asia Minor, eastern part of Mediterranean Sea and the Greek world.

Juliano Zasso - The dead body of Ara Geghetsik (the Beautiful) brought to SemiramisThe legends, Armenian epic and the ancient religious beliefs were important parts of the culture of the period. The legends reflect preliminary world-view, conceptions on nature and society; these are one of the types of ancient literature.

One of the well-known Armenian legends is the legend about Hayk and Bel. It was depicted in the «History of Armenia» by Moses of Chorene and in the works by Anonymous historian, which was represented as an introduction to the «History» by Sebeos. The legend was reflected in the works by Anania Shirakatsi. In these works Hayk is freedom-loving and rebellious, who refuses to obey Bel the ruler of Assyria. Hayk kills Bel   in the battle and in this way he establishes the independence of his homeland: Armenia. The legend about Ara Geghetsik (the Beautiful) and Semiramis was represented in the historical poems mentioned above. This legend was so well-known that some of its parts were reflected in the works of antique writers, especially in  «The Republic» by distinguished Greek philosopherVardges Surenyants - Semiramis by the body of Ara the Beautiful Plato. Moses of Chorene wrote down the legends about Aram and Tork Angegh as well. 

The ancient episodes of the history of Armenia was represented in the national epic. 

It depicts the historical events with chronological deviations and very often these events were interwoven with legends. It underwent changes by writers and gusans-գուսան (Armenian national singers).One of the ancient Armenian legends is the legend about Tigranes Orontid and Azhdahak, which depicts the relations between the Armenians and the Medes.

These legends and epics are valuable sources for the study of the ancient Armenian religious beliefs and Armenian pagan deities.

The Armenian ancient god is Hayk, the worship of this god dates the period of tribal system in Armenia. At first Hayk was a giant and a hunter. The constellation Orion was named after him. In the period of early tribal system in Armenia  Hayk was the symbol of the struggle of the Armenian nation against the foreign tyranny for the liberty and independence. 

The worship of the Armenian god Tork was spread among the tribes of Asia Minor. This Juliano Zasso - Legendary Armenian patriarch, Hayk defeats Bel of Babylon with his arrow god was known as Tarku  in the kingdom of the Hittites. In the legend written down by Moses of Chorene Tork  was called Angegh, i.e. «tgegh-տգեղ» (ugly), but in ancient times, probably,  «angegh-անգեղ» ment «descendant of Angegh». Angegh was an ancient Armenian pagan deity, his name is of  totemic origin and it is always connected to the word «anggh-անգղ» («vulture» in Armenian).

Tork Angegh  was as an ancient Armenian masculineYeghishe Tadevosyan - Tork Angegh (sketch). National Gallery of Armenia. deity. At first his worship was connected to the agriculture, sowing and the flora. The worship of the dying-and-rising nature was spread in Ancient East, and god Ara had his equivalents in the culture of ancient nations. Under the influence of ancient East Ara was depicted with Semiarmis. Semiramis was the goddess of fertility and love in the Assyrian pantheon. She was well-known for her voluptuousness. She was worshipped in Armenia too.  Aralez  were worshipped in Armenia too. They were popular gods of ancient Armenia,  They were dog-like creatures with powers to resuscitate fallen warriors and resurrect the dead by licking wounds clean. 

Moses of Chorene wrote down the legend of the birth of Armenian pagan deity  Vahagn.


                                                                                           Margaryan H.


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