Wednesday, 31 December 2008

A fire-Altar beneath Echmiadzin Cathedral, Armenia

Participating in the conference "The Middle East and the Caucasus: History, Realities and Perspectives" in Yerevan, Armenia, I had a chance to visit Echmiadzin Cathedral on Friday, November 07, 2008. The excursion was arranged by the conference organisers, the Institute of Oriental Studies of Armenian National Academy of Sciences. By the kindness of our Armenian host, we were able to see a Mazdayee/ Zoroastrian construction, a fire-altar, beneath the main altar of the cathedral. Unearthed in 1950, The fire-place is surrounded by a wall, and there is a kind of complicated carved design facing it on the opposite wall. The existence of such a worship place goes with the legend that Christ came down from heaven with a hammer to destroy a pagan temple and show where the church has to be built. The place is closed to ordinary visitors.

Fortunately, I was able take some photos and shoot two short movies, though not in good quality, by my digital camera. I upload them here. A photo shows the entrance to the construction, while the other looks to the entrance from inside. The design on the wall opposite to the altar is shown in the third one. While narrating the scene, I made a mistake, corrected shortly afterwards, by describing the design on the wall as a "Lotus flower", an ancient Persian symbols carved on many historical remains.
The three photos and two movies © Jalil Nozari
More information in Wikipedia which has a reference to this construction under "Archaeological traces" (click here).

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