Bronze Head Of The Armenian Goddess Anahit (British Museum, London)
Every Armenian who has visited the famous British Museum in London, in numerous halls, first of all tries to find two exhibits – the Babylonian map of the world, where Armenia is marked, as well as the bronze head and hand of a woman clutching a cloth, signed as “Head from a bronze cult statue of Anahit”, which dates back to 200-100 BC.
According to some features of the bronze, scientists attributed the statue as belonging to the late Hellenistic period. The head is made in accordance with Hellenistic traditions and is certainly very impressive from a purely artistic point of view.
On the territory of ancient Armenia during the period of paganism, the cult of the Goddess Anahit flourished. Anahit – in Armenian mythology, the Mother Goddess, the Goddess of Fertility and Love. Temples of Anahit were located in Bagaran, Erez, Armavir, Artashat and Ashtishat.
According to historian Movses Khorenatsi, the tradition attributed the construction of the Anahit temple in Erez (the same Erznka, not far from which the head was subsequently found) to Tigran the Great. According to the ancient Greek philosopher and biographer Plutarch, the temple in Erez was the richest and most majestic in Armenia.
A fragment of the statue was found by a Turkish peasant in 1872 on the territory of modern Turkey, near the town of Sadak (ancient Satala), not far from the modern city of Erez (also known as the ancient Armenian Erznka).
Apparently, the peasant sold the fragment to a local collector, then changing hands for some time, the bronze head ended up with the famous Italian collector Alesandro Castellani, who sold the work to the British Museum.
Some time later, the gallery was presented with the left hand of the statue, squeezing the fabric. In 1874, the British excavated at the same place, but neither the rest of the bronze sculpture nor traces of a temple dedicated to the goddess were found.