Saturday, 23 November 2013

Temples and monasteries in Armenia

As I mentioned in a couple of earlier posts, my wife recently went on a work trip to Armenia. While she spent most of her time talking astronomy with fellow scientists, she did get to go on a few excursions. Two took her to old houses of worship. The Hellenic scene you see above is a view of an ancient Mithraeum, a temple to Mithras, who was an eastern deity whose worship was open only to men, especially soldiers.
Since Mithraic rites were secret, not much is known about their beliefs, but there are many similarities between Mithraism and Christianity, such as Mithras being born on December 25 to a virgin, and having died and resurrected for humanity's salvation. Mithraists also practiced baptism and communal meals. The similarities were so numerous that early Christian writers claimed the older religion was invented by the Devil as a cheap imitation of Christianity to subvert their faith!
Christianity eventually won out in Armenia in the early fourth century AD. Soon monasteries and churches were cropping up everywhere. This is one of them.


Some of the early monasteries were cut into living rock, like those in another early Christian state, Ethiopia.
I love the carvings on these Khachkar stones, one of the hallmarks of medieval Armenian religious art.


Photo copyright Almudena-Alonso-Herrero.

7 comments:

D.G. Hudson said...

I definitely like those shots of the monasteries carved into stone. Wow. Great photos, and thanks to your wife for taking them so we could see.

I'll always come to see travel photos, Sean.

Sean McLachlan said...

Stay tuned for Vienna the week after next!

Sean McLachlan said...

That will be me this time. :-)

Almudena Alonso Herrero said...

Jealous about Vienna!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Amazing some of those doors are in the cliff side like that.
Makes you wonder if the two religions weren't really the same?

Sioux said...

The incredible art they created, with just their sweat and primitive tools.

Amazing. (And thanks for not talking more about your NaNo win. I am not going to make it, but my novel is further along than it was on Nov. 1.)

Sean McLachlan said...

Sioux,
Don't worry about NaNo. The point is you wrote a bunch that you wouldn't have otherwise. Have you read the latest pep talk?

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.