Armenian mythology
Head and left hand from a bronze cult statue of Anahita, a local goddess shown here in the guide of Aphrodite, 200-100 BC, British Museum (8167358544).jpg
A bronze head of Aphrodite from Satala identified as Armenian Anahit
Created1st centuries BC [1]

Armenian mythology originated in ancient Indo-European traditions, specifically Proto-Armenian, and gradually incorporated Hurro-Urartian (also Armenians), Mesopotamian, Iranian, and Greek beliefs and deities.[2][3]

Formation of Armenian mythology

Side view of the Temple of Garni.
Side view of the Temple of Garni.

The pantheon of Armenian gods, initially worshipped by Proto-Armenians, inherited their essential elements from the religious beliefs and mythologies of the Proto-Indo-Europeans and peoples of the Armenian Highlands. Historians distinguish a significant body of Indo-European language words which were used in Armenian pagan rites. The oldest cults are believed to have worshipped a creator called Ar[4] (or possibly Ara), embodied as the sun (Arev or Areg); the ancient Armenians called themselves "children of the sun". Also among the most ancient types of Indo-European-derived worship are the cults of eagles and lions, and of the sky.[5]

After the establishment of Iranian dominance in Armenia in the 1st millennium BCE, Zoroastrianism had a major influence on Armenian religion. Until the late Parthian period, the Armenian lands adhered to a syncretic form of Mazdaism, which mixed Iranian religious concepts with traditional Armenian beliefs.[6] For example, the supreme god of the Armenian pantheon, Vanatur, was later replaced by Aramazd (the Parthian form of Ahura Mazda).[6] However, the Armenian version of Aramazd preserved many native Armenian aspects. Similarly, the traditional Armenian goddess of fertility, Nar, was replaced by Anahit, which may derived from Persian Anahita, although the Armenian goddess was entirely distinct from her Iranian counterpart.

In the Hellenistic age (3rd to 1st centuries BCE), ancient Armenian deities were identified with ancient Greek deities: Aramazd with Zeus, Anahit with Artemis, Vahagn with Heracles, Astłik with Aphrodite, Nane with Athena, Mihr with Hephaestus, Tir with Apollo.

After the formal adoption of Christianity in the 4th century CE, ancient myths and beliefs transformed to adhere more closely to Christian beliefs. Biblical characters took over the functions of the archaic gods and spirits. For example, John the Baptist inherited certain features of Vahagn and Tir, and the archangel Gabriel took on elements of Vahagn.

Basic information about Armenian pagan traditions were preserved in the works of ancient Greek authors such as Plato, Herodotus, Xenophon and Strabo, Byzantine scholar Procopius of Caesarea, as well as medieval Armenian writers such as Movses Khorenatsi, Agathangelos, Eznik of Kolb, Sebeos, and Anania Shirakatsi, as well as in oral folk traditions.

Pantheon

The pantheon of pre-Christian Armenia changed over the centuries. Originally native Armenian in nature, the pantheon was modified through, Hurro-Urartian, Semitic, Iranian and Greek influences.

One common motif that spanned many or all pagan Armenian pantheons was the belief in a ruling triad of supreme gods, usually comprising a chief, creator god, his thunder god son, and a mother goddess.

Early Armenian

These gods are believed to have been native Armenian gods, worshipped during the earliest eras of Armenian history (Proto-Armenian). Many, if not all, of them are believed to have derived from Proto-Indo-European religion. There is also likely influence from the indigenous beliefs of the Armenian Highlands.

Hayasan

While the exact relationship between the Bronze Age kingdom of Hayasa-Azzi and Armenians is uncertain, many scholars believe that there is a connection (compare Hayasa with the Armenian endonyms Hayastan and Hay). Not much is known about the Hayasan pantheon but some names survive via Hittite records. The triad may have comprised U.GUR, INANNA, and Tarumu.[20]

Urartian

The gods of the Urartian pantheon were mostly borrowed from Hittite and Luwian, Hurrian, Semitic, and possibly Armenian and Indo-Iranian religions.

Iranian influence

Zoroastrian influences penetrated Armenian culture during the Achaemenid Empire, though conversion was incomplete and syncretistic, and the Persians and Armenians never appeared to identify with each other as co-religionists[2] despite both referring to themselves as "Mazda worshipers."[3]

Post-Alexandrian influences

Monsters and spirits

Aralez on the battlefield.
Aralez on the battlefield.

Heroes and legendary monarchs

Shamiram stares at the corpse of Ara the Beautiful (painting by Vardges Sureniants, 1899).
Shamiram stares at the corpse of Ara the Beautiful (painting by Vardges Sureniants, 1899).

These figures are mainly known through post-Christian sources, but have belonged to the pre-Christian mythology.[36] Many seem to be derived from Proto-Indo-European mythologies and religious traditions. It is suspected that Hayk, Ara, and Aram were originally deities, possibly from the oldest Armenian pantheon.[40]

Bibliography

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Armen Petrosyan argues that both Armenian Aram and Indic Rama derive from a "common" Indo-European myth about a hero whose name means black (PIE *h₂reh₁mo-) defeating a foe named "bright, white, silver" (PIE *h₂erg-).[43]

References

  1. ^ "The Satala Aphrodite". British Museum.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x "Armenia (Vannic)" by A.H. Sayce, p.793-4; "Armenia (Zoroastrian)", by M(ardiros). H. Ananikian, p.794-802; in Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, ed. James Hastings, vol. 1, 1908
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Russell, James R. (15 December 1986). "ARMENIA AND IRAN iii. Armenian Religion". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  4. ^ Herouni, Paris M. (2004). Armenians and old Armenia: archaeoastronomy, linguistics, oldest history. Tigran Metz Publishing House. p. 127. ISBN 9789994101016.
  5. ^ Boettiger, Louis Angelo (1918). Armenian Legends and Festivals. University of Minnesota.
  6. ^ a b Mary Boyce. Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices Psychology Press, 2001 ISBN 0415239028 p 84
  7. ^ Martirosyan, Hrach Origins and historical development of the Armenian language (2014). pp. 13.
  8. ^ a b The Cambridge Ancient History: III Part 1: The Prehistory of the Balkans, the Middle East and the Aegean World, Tenth to Eighth Centuries BC. Cambridge University Press. 1971. p. 335.
  9. ^ Petrosyan, Armen The Indo-European and Ancient Near Eastern Sources of the Armenian Epic (2002). pp. 68.
  10. ^ Martirosyan, Hrach. Origins and historical development of the Armenian language (2014).
  11. ^ Martirosyan, Hrach, An Armenian theonym of Indo-European origin: Ayg ‘Dawn Goddess’. In: Aramadz: Armenian Journal of Near Eastern Studies (2014). pp. 219-224.
  12. ^ Petrosyan, Armen, Indo-European *wel- in Armenian mythology. In: Journal of Indo-European Studies (2016). pp. 132.
  13. ^ Marciak, Michał (2017). Sophene, Gordyene, and Adiabene: Three Regna Minora of Northern Mesopotamia Between East and West. BRILL. pp. 43–4. ISBN 978-90-04-35072-4.
  14. ^ Petrosyan, Armen, Indo-European *wel- in Armenian mythology. In: Journal of Indo-European Studies (2016). pp. 132.
  15. ^ Petrosyan, Armen. The Indo-European and Ancient Near Eastern Sources of the Armenian Epic (2002) pp. 29.
  16. ^ a b Movses Khorenatsi; Thomson, Robert W. (1976). History of the Armenians. SUNY Press. p. 493. ISBN 978-0-87395-323-8.
  17. ^ Kavoukjian, Martiros Armenia, Subartu and Sumer [1] Montreal. (1987) pp. 71-72
  18. ^ a b "Vahagn" in Facts on File Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition, by Anthony Mercanante and James Dow, Infobase, 2009. p.991
  19. ^ Martirosyan, Hrach (2018). "Armenian Andndayin ōj and Vedic Áhi- Budhnyà- "Abyssal Serpent"". Farnah: Indo-Iranian and Indo-European Studies: 191–197.
  20. ^ a b Petrosyan, Armen The Indo-European and Ancient Near Eastern Sources of the Armenian Epic [2] (2002) pp. 130.
  21. ^ Petrosyan, Armen The Indo-European and Ancient Near Eastern Sources of the Armenian Epic [3] (2002) pp. 128-131.
  22. ^ a b c d Petrosyan, Armen The Indo-European and Ancient Near Eastern Sources of the Armenian Epic [4] (2002) pp. 106.
  23. ^ Matiossian, Vartan (2009). "Azzi-Hayasa on the Black Sea? Another Puzzle of Armenian Origins". In: Hovannisian, Richard G (ed.). Armenian Pontus: the Trebizond-Black Sea communities. UCLA Armenian History and Culture Series. p. 77.
  24. ^ Kavoukjian, Martiros Armenia, Subartu and Sumer [5] Montreal. (1987) pp. 136
  25. ^ Zimansky, Paul (2012). "Imagining Haldi". Stories of Long Ago: Festschrift Fur Michael Roaf: 714.
  26. ^ Piotrovsky, Boris B. (1969) The Ancient Civilization of Urartu: An Archaeological Adventure. Cowles Book Co. ISBN 9780214667930
  27. ^ Yervand Grekyan. "Urartian State Mythology". Yerevan Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography Press. 2018. p. 34. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/351107801_Biaynili-Owrartu_Astvacner_tacarner_pastamunk_BIAINILI-URARTU_GODS_TEMPLES_CULTS
  28. ^ "Mihr" in Facts on File Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition, by Anthony Mercanante and James Dow, Infobase, 2009. p.671
  29. ^ a b c "Santamaret" in Facts on File Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition, by Anthony Mercanante and James Dow, Infobase, 2009. p.861
  30. ^ Coulter, Charles Russell. Turner, Patricia. "Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities" McFarland & Co., Routledge, 2012; pg. 438.
  31. ^ Herouni, Paris (2004). Armenians and Old Armenia. Yerevan. pp. 8, 133. ISBN 9789994101016.
  32. ^ "Tiur (Tur)" in Facts on File Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition, by Anthony Mercanante and James Dow, Infobase, 2009. p.959
  33. ^ Petrosyan, Armen The Indo-European and Ancient Near Eastern Sources of the Armenian Epic [6] (2002) pp. 36.
  34. ^ Petrosyan, Armen The Indo-European and Ancient Near Eastern Sources of the Armenian Epic [7] (2002) pp. 41.
  35. ^ a b "Nane (Hanea)" in Facts on File Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition, by Anthony Mercanante and James Dow, Infobase, 2009. p.703
  36. ^ a b c "Armenian Mythology" in The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, by David Leeming, Oxford University Press, 17 Nov 2005, p.29
  37. ^ A History of Armenia by Vahan M. Kurkjian
  38. ^ a b c d "Chapter 11. Armenian Mythology". Archived from the original on 2008-11-19.
  39. ^ a b Petrosyan, Armen, Indo-European *wel- in Armenian mythology Journal of Indo-European Studies.[8] (2016). pp. 134-135.
  40. ^ Petrosyan, Armen The Indo-European and Ancient Near Eastern Sources of the Armenian Epic [9] (2002) pp. 57.
  41. ^ "Aram" in Facts on File Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition, by Anthony Mercanante and James Dow, Infobase, 2009. p.96
  42. ^ Petrosyan, Armen The Indo-European and Ancient Near Eastern Sources of the Armenian Epic [10] (2002) pp. 73.
  43. ^ Petrosyan, Armen. "Armeno-Indian Epic Parallels". In: Journal of Indo-European Studies (JIES). Volume 45, Number 1 & 2, Spring/Summer 2017. pp. 174, 178-180 and footnote nr. 4.
  44. ^ a b "Hayk" in Facts on File Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition, by Anthony Mercanante and James Dow, Infobase, 2009. p.452
  45. ^ Petrosyan, Armen Problems of Armenian Prehistory. Myth, Language, History [11] (2009) pp. 7, 12
  46. ^ Petrosyan, Armen The Indo-European and Ancient Near Eastern Sources of the Armenian Epic [12] (2002) pp. 58.
  47. ^ Hoogasian-Villa, Susie. 100 Armenian Tales and Their Folkloristic Relevance. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. 1966. p. 506.