Urartian Stelae in Late Antique and Early Medieval Armenia

In: Iran and the Caucasus
Felipe Rojas Brown University Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World and Department of Egyptology and Assyriology USA Providence, RI

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This article concerns how Armenian communities throughout the 1st millennium A.D. reinterpreted and redeployed cuneiform inscriptions originally carved in the Iron Age as meaningful traces of the local past. It focuses on the deliberate re-use by early Armenian Christians of Iron-Age stelae bearing Urartian cuneiform inscriptions in the region around Lake Van. Scholars have noted such re-use in passing since the 19th century A.D., but there has been no concerted effort to collect or interpret relevant evidence holistically. The article distinguishes several distinct trends in Armenian engagements with cuneiform (and hieroglyphic) inscriptions in their native territories over the course of the 1st millennium A.D. Combining literary and archaeological evidence, it contextualizes cases of re-use as clashes of historical consciousness, expressed via material culture, in dynamic situations of colonial contact and religious conversion.

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