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The Architecture of Ancient Fortress Garny
The Garny temple is the most distinguished fortification structure of the Armenian antique architecture.

It is situated at the foot of the Geghasar mountain (the Geghamic ridge), at 1400 m above sea level, in the southern part of the Garny village.

From the south, south-west and partially eastern sides the territory of the temple is encircled by nearly 300 m high rocks.

From the north, north-western and eastern sides the wall made of 14 towers, constructed in the antique period, encircles the fortress.

While from afar the temple blends with the fortress’ countours, its outlines and colouring harmonizing with thw picturesque landscape, close up it emerges in all its magnificencent composition.

Closer still fine relief details reveal themselves one by one. The temple’s ornamentation is vased on a variety of motifs in unique composition – a unity in multiformity.

The mosaic decoration of the bath-house floor of Garny temple is the only piece of pre-Christian Armenian art. The theme of the preserved part of the decoration is clearly mythological.

Against the green background representing the sea, mythological deities and creatures-ichthyocentauri, nereids, a variety of big and small fishes are pictures in different poses.

Greek inscriptions name the deites and nereids. The center of the mosaic is decorated with busts of a man and a woman. The floor is made uo of natural colored stones. The bath-house was boult at the end of the III c.

Artistic expressiveness of the Garny temple is achieved not only by pure architectural and constructional forms, but also by the symphony of its details.

The temple has always drawn attention of native and foreign investigators and travelers (J. Chardin, J. Morier, R. Ker-Porter, Dubois de Montpereux F., A. Muraviov, J. Telfer, B. Chantre, N. Marr, K. Trever and others).

All the investigators unanimously stress the remarkableness of the antique temple in the ensemble of Garny monuments. In this case a kind of Greco-Roman, general Hellenistic and local architectural-constructional art synthesis occurred, and the temple is a fine example of Armenian Hellenistic culture.

Historical background

The ancient period of Armenian architecture (VI c. B.C. – III c. A.D.) is not studied thoroughly. The existing monuments of ancient Armenia as well as the architectural art of the ancient Christian structures, native and foreign records, testify the existence of architectural art in pre-Christian Armenia which had achieved rather a notable degree of development.

As the true inheritors of the Hayasa and especially Urartu architectural-constructional art, the Armenian people created many architectural monuments.

Architecture was mainly developed in tows. Alongside with constructional works in the ancient cities such as Kummakha-Ani Kamah, Tuspa-Van, Arshakuni-Armavir, Erebuni-Yerevan, as well as fortresses and settlements, new capitals, sieges, numerous big and small towns were built in different parts of the country. Among them Arshamashat (III c. B.C.), Arakatiakert (not later than II c. B.C.), Yervandashat (III c. B.C.), Artashat (II c. B.C.), Zarishat (II c. B.C.), Zarehavan (probably III c. B.C.), Tigranakert (I c. B.C.), Mdzurn (I c. A.D.) and others.

Ancient authors refer to Artashat as “a nicely built… siege” (Strabo), “A big and a very beautiful city”, as “The Armenian Carthage” (Plutarch).

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Writer: News
Editor: Eugenia Melkonyan
 Date Added: Wednesday August 02, 2006 12:46:54 

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