Anahit

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Armenian stamp with the image of the cast bronze head (mid-4th century BC), larger than life-size, once belonging to a statue. It was found in the 19th century near Satala, located close to the Armenian district of Erez/Yerznka. It is usually interpreted as representing either Anahit or Aphrodite. Now held in the British Museum.

Anahit (Armenian: Անահիտ) was the goddess of fertility and healing, wisdom and water in Armenian mythology.[1] In early periods she was the goddess of war. By the 5th century BC she was the main deity in Armenia along with Aramazd.[2]

Temples dedicated to Anahit[edit]

In Armenia, Anahit-worship was established in Erez, Armavir, Artashat and Ashtishat.[2] A mountain in Sophene district was known as Anahit's throne (Athor Anahta). The entire district of Erez, in the province of Akilisene (Ekeghiats), was called Anahtakan Gavar.[2]

According to Plutarch, the temple of Erez was the wealthiest and the noblest in Armenia. During the expedition of Mark Antony in Armenia, the statue was broken to pieces by the Roman soldiers. Pliny the Elder gives us the following story about it: The Emperor Augustus, being invited to dinner by one of his generals, asked him if it were true that the wreckers of Anahit's statue had been punished by the wrathful goddess. No! answered the general, on the contrary, I have to‑day the good fortune of treating you with one part of the hip of that gold statue. The Armenians erected a new golden statue of Anahit in Erez, which was worshiped before the time of St. Gregory Illuminator.

The annual festivity of the month Navasard, held in honor of Anahit, was the occasion of great gatherings, attended with dance, music, recitals, competitions, etc. The sick went to the temples in pilgrimage, asking for recovery. The symbol of ancient Armenian medicine was the head of the bronze gilded statue of the goddess Anahit.[2] A mountain in Sophene district was known as Anahit's throne (Athor Anahta). The entire district of Erez, in the province of Akilisene (Ekeghiats), was called Anahtakan Gavar.[2]

Historians about Anahit[edit]

Commemorative coin issued by the Central Bank of Armenia devoted to Goddess Anahit

According to Agathangelos, King Trdat extolls the: great Lady Anahit, the glory of our nation and vivifier . . .; mother of all chastity, and issue of the great and valiant Aramazd. The historian Berossus identifies Anahit with Aphrodite, while medieval Armenian scribes identify her with Artemis.[citation needed] Though according to Strabo, Anahit's worship included rituals of sacred prostitution, “there is absolutely no proof, however, that this sacred prostitution was characteristic of the Armenian Anahit throughout the country, especially as native Christian writers do not mention it, although they might have used it to great advantage their attacks upon old religion”.[3]

Relation to Avestan Aredvi Sura Anahita[edit]

The name corresponds to Avestan Anahita (Aredvi Sura Anahita), a similar divine figure.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The heritage of Armenian literature, Volume 1, стр. 67, Agop Jack Hacikyan, Gabriel Basmajian, Edward S. Franchuk, Nourhan Ouzounian
  2. ^ a b c d e Hastings, James (2001). Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics: Algonquins-Art. Elibron Classics. p. 797. ISBN 978-1-4021-9433-7. Retrieved 2010-12-19. 
  3. ^ Hastings, James (2001). Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics: Algonquins-Art. Elibron Classics. p. 797. ISBN 978-1-4021-9433-7. Retrieved 2010-12-19. 

    We have absolutely no proof, however, that this sacred prostitution was characteristic of the Armenian Anahit throughout the country, especially as native Christian writers do not mention it, although they might have used it to great advantage their attacks upon old religion.

External links and references[edit]

http://www.armenian-history.com/Armenian_mythology.htm