Urartian Cult of the Stelae and New Discoveries at Aznavurtepe and Yesilalic (Ashotakert)

Kuvanc R., Isik K., Genc B., Konyar E.

JOURNAL OF ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN RELIGIONS, vol.22, no.1, pp.55-88, 2022 (Journal Indexed in AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 22 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1163/15692124-12341327
  • Page Numbers: pp.55-88
  • Keywords: Urartu, stelae sanctuaries, pulusi, tiribisrtizi, Aznavurtepe Fortress, Altintepe, Yesilalic, Kayalidere


The Urartian Kingdom is recognized for its idiosyncratic religious architecture and ritual practices. Tower-temples (susi) at the peak of citadels, dedicated to the "national" god Haldi constitute the most essential element of religious architecture. Additionally, cult areas with an altar and uninscribed stelae on pedestals, best known from Erzincan/Altuitepe, demonstrate that there were different types of sanctuaries in the Urartian world. Veneration of stelae is also known from depictions in seal-impressions. Recent discoveries of an open-air sanctuary with stelae at Varto/Kayandere and uninscribed stelae at Aznavurtepe and Yesilalic bear witness to the wide distribution of this cult. Although discoveries at Altintepe and Varto/Kayandere led to an association of stelae with funerary cults, inscriptions that speak of Haldi worship in front of stelae (pulusi) strongly suggest that stelae sanctuaries on the slopes of citadels must be related with the Haldi cult, in whose name susi and temple complexes (E.BARA) were built in citadels.