Among the earliest and biggest towns there was Erebuni situated on Arin-berd hill (the south-eastern outskirt of what is now Yerevan), a major administrative and economic centre of the northern part of the country. According to the Khorkhor cuneiform record and two other identical records found in the citadel, Erebuni was built by Argishti I in 782 B. C. (this date is considered that of the foundation of Yerevan). In honour of founding the city, a painted wooden figurine of an armed warrior was made, with a cuneiform inscription on a bronze pedestal. This confirms the signif-cance of Erebuni is an important military stronghold of the country. This small sculpture is an interesting specimen of Urartu art.
Erebuni, built after the pattern of Urartu settlements, had a rather clear-cut layout. Town neighbourhoods were situated at the foot of a nearly 65-m high hill crowned with the citadel which was the architectural dominant of the sur¬rounding locality. The citadel commanded a full view not only of the cramped town layout, but also of the Ararat plain with its settlements and the main roads leading to Erebuni.
The configuration of the hill top determined the triangular shape of the citadel's plan. The blank 12-metre high walls, which were built flush with the steep slopes of the hill and fortified with regularly spaced rectangular buttresses, gave the citadel a formidable and forbidding appearance. The entrance to the citadel was on the southeastern, more gently sloping, side. At the entrance, the walls were erected in two and three rows, which split the monolithic exterior in this part of the citadel and livened up its severe appearance to a certain extent.
Another element of variety was a six-column portico which stood left of the road and accentuated the entrance to the citadel. The portico was painted with colourful frescoes, and the stairway which led up to it was flanked with bronze figures of winged oxen with human heads.
Various stages of the construction of the citadel have been ascertained. After the town of Teishebaini had been built nearby, Erebuni lost its importance but was not destroyed when the state of Urartu fell in the seventh century B.C. Life in it resumed under Akhemenid viceregents in the fifth -fourth centuries B.C. The layout of the citadel shows the thoroughly planned arrangement of premises around the inner yeards, which goes all the way back to Khett and Assyrian traditions. The reconstructed parts of the complex shows that Urartu architects had refined artistic taste.
The citadel comprised palaces, houses of worship and service premises situated at various levels, depending on the hill surface, and interconnected by stairways. This, as well as the varying heights of palaces and service buildings, im¬parted to the citadel of Erebuni a stepped silhouette characteristic of such structures on the Armenian upland.
The main entranceway led to the central yard which was reserved for all sorts of ceremonies and for the parades of the personal guards of Argishti I and of the fortress' garrison.
In the south-western part of the yard there was the temple of god Khaldi - an oblong large hall with an auxiliary room and a staircase leading to the roof of the tower, and an open 12-column portico, with columns in double rows, where the garrison was probably drawn up. The walls are lined with benches for notables and, at the left end wall, there is an altar for sacrifices. In this temple, developed along its transverse axis, the openwork colonnade contrasted with a powerful ziggurat-like tower built in accordance with the Mesopotamian tradition.
The temple was richly ornamented. Its walls were painted with colourful representations of human figures and gods, with geometrical and floral ornaments. The composition of the murals was two dimensional and based on the alternation of the horizontal strips of the ornament with the figures of animals and people. Of special interest is the representation of god Khaldi standing on a lion, with a warder in his left hand and with a horned tiara on his head; it is similar to the bas-relief representation of god Teisheba in Adildzhevaz and many others known in the art of Urartu and that of the ancient East. Next Page >>