Temple Garni is a first century Hellenic temple near the Garni, Armenia. It is the only pagan temple in Armenia that survived the Christianization of the country in 301 AD.

The first traces of human occupation date back to the 3rd millennium BC. In the 8th century BC the area was conquered by the King Argishti I. The first literary testimony to the existence of a fortress on the spur crowning the site of Garni comes from the Roman historian Tacitus and dates from the middle of the 1st century AD. The results of excavations shown that it was a summer residence for the Armenian royal dynasties. Several constructions and buildings have been identified within the enclosed area, including a two-storey royal summer palace, a bath complex, a church built in AD 897, a cemetery and the site's most famous and best preserved edifice, a peristyle Greco-roman temple. Of particular interest is the bathhouse located in the northern part of the site. It is a well preserved hypocaust and one of its floors is decorated with a mosaic reproducing a well known late Hellenistic iconographic type. It bore depictions of Greek mythological figures and personifications. The accompanying inscription, written in Koine Greek, ΜΗΔΕΝ ΛΑΒΟΝΤΕΣ ΗΡΓΑΣΑΜΕΘΑ ("we worked without receiving anything") implies that the artists responsible for the construction of the mosaic received no fee for their labour.

The actual building is a peripteral temple resting on an elevated podium and was most likely dedicated to the god Mihr. The entablature is supported by 24 Ionic columns resting on Attic bases. Unlike other Greco-Roman temples, it is made of basalt. According to a different interpretation of the extant literary testimonial and the evidence provided by coinage, the erection of the temple started in AD 115. The pretext for its construction would be the declaration of Armenia as a Roman province and the temple would have housed the imperial effigy of Trajan. In recent years another theory has been put forward. It has been suggested that the building must actually be identified as the tomb of an Armeno-Roman ruler, probably Sohaemus. If that is the case, its construction would be dated in AD 175. The temple was eventually sacked in 1386 by Timur Lenk. In 1679 it was destroyed by an earthquake. Most of the original architectural members and building blocks remained at the site until the 20th century, allowing the building to be reconstructed between 1969 and 1975. After the adoption of Christianity some churches and a katholikos' palace were also constructed at the fortification site, but these are now in ruins like most of the other buildings except the temple.


  • Kotayk Region in Armenia.
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