The first information about this sculpture is given by literary and art critic Garegin Levonyan, who in one of the foreign magazines sees a picture of this sculpture, about which in his article (Garegin Levonyan, mysterious sculpture, Soviet art, 1941, No.2-3, pp. 69-70) expresses confidence that the bas-relief clearly refers to the ancient Armenian-Pagan times.

This is how Garegin Levonyan describes the sculpture: the picture is iconic, the whole family, the King, Queen and six children came to worship, they brought their gifts on the head of a bull mounted on a pedestal, the King and Queen brought branches of a tree, and the children-ritual oils in vessels. The bas-relief is made with great skill and art, it is made on stone (probably marble) and is not cast. All this, of course, is interesting, but it was surprising that under the sculpture belonging to these ancient pagan times, there are two lines of inscription with Armenian letters.

Despite the poor quality of the painting, the letters Ա, Գ, Ի, Ռ, Տ, Ն, a are clearly visible, although some letters do not seem to resemble Armenian, but I think that some decomposition of the sculpture and the quality of the painting do not allow the final reading of the inscription. The fact is that even medieval protocols, because of their antiquity and decomposition, can sometimes be impossible to read, and in this case there is a poor-quality photograph of the 1940s.

But for some reason, our art critic and literary critic professor believes that the protocol is probably false. If Garegin Levonyan assumed only falsification, then the next researcher of this painting, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor Ashot Abrahamyan in his book “Armenian writing and Scripture” explicitly states that the bas-relief is a fake. It is strange that the respected doctor professor seems to be sure that the Armenians really had a written language before Christianity, but he simply closes this question, stating. “From our archaeological research it turned out that this is a fake”

The most surprising thing is that the professor proves his statement with a very “weighty” argument: “The forger, apparently, did not know that the ancient Armenian script does not have a straightforward form””However, this weightier argument seems to be generally capricious, because how does he know that the ancient Armenian script does not have a vertical form. All the oldest known Armenian inscriptions of the V-VII centuries have been preserved, including the most important one -the inscription of the temple of Tekor, dated by Kafadaryan to the 5th century (Kafadaryan K. The inscription of the 5th century temple of Tekora, historiography. The magazine, 1962. 2), also vertically (see Figure 1.1.), that is, continued the old tradition.

Even if you believe the professor’s arguments relating to the protocol without logic, how can you believe that such a highly artistic bas-relief can be a fake?

It was this kind of archaeological research that closed the issue of the bas-relief, and the work of the best sculptor of his time, supposed by art critic Garegin Levonyan, was declared a forgery with a light hand, that is, it turns out that even our forgers were talented, leaving everything and deeds, created talented works and naively wrote the inscription with non-existent letters.

It turned out that there has been information about the sculpture since 1903. The material was sent to us by historian Artak Movsisyan, to whom we express our deep gratitude. In 1903, an Armenian from Irkutsk, Siberia (Armen) wrote the editorial office of the Armenian newspaper “Nor Dar” in Tbilisi. In Irkutsk, a man, our Armen, brings the sculpture under discussion and asks to read what is written under the sculpture (the proponents, of course, know that the inscription is in Armenian).Armen, who is so far the only person who has seen and touched the sculpture, notes that the inscription was in Armenian, but could not decipher, understand the words. Please note, Armen does not doubt and does not say that the letters were not Armenian, just notes that they were Armenian, and he expresses his surprise, because he understands that the sculpture is very ancient:. According to the person bringing the sculpture, it belonged to the merchant Jude, who purchased the product in Bombay and sold it. Armen suggests that it be bought and transferred to the museum of the Etchmiadzin Monastery, and also sends a photo (Unfortunately, the newspaper did not publish it).

Armen describes the sculpture in detail, from which it becomes clear that we are talking about our sculpture. It should also be noted that Armen also writes about the size of the sculpture: width 22 cm, length 26.4 cm and thickness 4.4 cm, marble stone.And the newspaper editorial office adds at the end of the article of this story that the photo is stored in the newspaper editorial office and interested specialists can contact them(Novy Vek, 1903, No. 135). This story is gradually turning into a tragedy, where the acting person is a fragment of an Armenian who escaped from the Christian genocide, who wanders the earth, got to distant Siberia, and from there to Europe and cannot return to his Homeland in any way. Another interesting fact is that our compatriot Armen from Irkutsk offers to transfer the sculpture to the museum of the Etchmiadzin Monastery, which is the same thing, so that an Armenian who escaped from the genocide would be handed over to today’s Turkish state, because they believe that today’s Turk is another Turk.

The most curious thing is that our academic scientists even considered the inscription on the sculpture in Georgian, in 1963, Melik-Pashayan’s book “the worship of the goddess Anahit” was published, where the author writes under the photo of the sculpture: “Worship of the lost hedgehog (from the Caucasus) in Ancient Armenian and Georgian script”.

So, after the Armenian scientists called this protocol a falsification, this protocol was forgotten, and no one else paid attention to this bas-relief, because in our country it is so accepted that Armenians had no written language before Christianity.

This 1700-year-old falsification of the Christian church has become so established and entrenched in the brain of an Armenian Christian that even if a pre-Christian structure with Armenian script is discovered in the central square of Yerevan, it will probably immediately will be described as a Post Christian structure, or at least falsification will be declared.

Now about the bas-relief: I think the bas-relief was really made with great skill and high taste, both the king and the queen and the children, all express very pronounced emotions, inspiration and concentration, the sculptor not only managed to create a spatial picture on one plane, but also managed to express infinite inspiration and feeling even on the faces of the youngest participants. On the depicted pedestal lies the head of the ears with skin, limbs and tail, judging by the animal’s still undeveloped horns, it can be assumed that this is probably a calf sacrificed to the mother goddess Anahit. That is, the picture shows the altar of the temple of the goddess Anahit, where the head of the animal sacrifice is already installed, on the right and left sides of which are burning chandeliers.

One misunderstanding should be noted here, almost all researchers believe that in the image we are dealing with the cult of the bull, but I think that the rite does not refer to the cult of the bull, but only to the sacrifice of a calf in the temple of the Mother Goddess, and the king and queen sacrifice cedar cedars (see Fig.1). 1.2) and the children brought aromatic oils, which are placed on a special pedestal. This is a unique and wonderful sculpture, a cult ritual, one of the sacraments of our Sacred faith, which were so cruelly destroyed by the church. And how do our doctors and professors differ from this church, and do we really have many preserved beautiful bas-reliefs, one of which could easily be withdrawn from circulation, declaring false.

Naturally, if the sculpture is Armenian, it should have parallels in our culture and ritual images. It turns out that we have many similar examples from ancient times to the present day. Here are some examples: it is interesting that we see a similar picture in a medieval Armenian miniature (see Fig. 1). The painting is one of the pearls of the Armenian miniature, the royal family of Cilicia -Queen Levon II and Kera with their children (The Gospel of Queen Keran, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, ruk. No. 2563, 1272). At the same time, in particular, the internal fragments of the images are identical, which depict Manrankar, King Levon II of Cilicia, standing at prayer with his wife and children and on the sculpture, one of the Armenian pagan kings also with his family (see Figure 2: 1).

These cult rituals of sculpture and miniatures differ from each other only in their periods, but are so identical and close to each other that no one doubts the same ethnicity of the two families.Even the art of execution is identical. It is known that the elders were sacrificed to the Armenian Goddess Anahit, at whose temples herds of heifers with a floral front were singing freely (Plutarch Kerovatsvoi Parallaksherk, khat. G, Venice ” 1833, p. 562). 

The Mother of God Anahit has occupied an exceptional place in Armenian mythology, this is understood from the scant information of our Christian historians about pagan religion. “Especially to this great Goodness Anahit, who is the glory and vital activity of our people, who is revered by all kings. He is the mother of all vigilance, the benefactor of all human nature and the daughter of the great brave Aramazd” (Agatangehos, 53). “As well as the Great Anahit, who lives in our Armenian land” (Agatangegos, 68). These words are spoken by King Trdat. From the following words of Trdat, it is clear that the goddess Anahit was given branches of a tree. “The King gave an order to Gregory to present crowns and clay branches of trees to the Anahit statue” ” Agatangeghos, 49). It is very interesting here that Agathangegos himself is an indication that the king ordered Gregory to give Bagin a statue of Anahit-an ancient tabernacle on the altar (as shown in the sculpture).

The exceptional role and significance of the goddess Anahit in the Armenian world is also proved by the abundance of temples and shrines dedicated to the goddess in the Armenian Highlands, which were destroyed by the Christian Church, later on the site of almost all temples built churches named after Theotokos Mariam, the excessive number of which the Christian Church explains the “great love” of the Armenian people for Theotokos Mariam. It is for this reason that the churches of the Most Holy Theotokos are the most common in the Armenian Highlands. As shown in our bas-relief, the head and skin of the sacrifice of the Mother of God were laid on the altar, and the king and queen gave cedar trees. It turns out that the image of the head and skin lying on the altar has been common since ancient times in the Armenian Highlands, the same picture is reflected by some of the monuments called vishapakars, here are some examples of them (see Fig.1). 3).

As you can see, the Bagin or altar of our sculpture is T-shaped, like this pillar of Portasar and other sculptural pillars. I think the columns of Portasar were also set up as altars.

 Surprisingly, despite the huge difference in the growth of sculptures, animal skins, in our sculpture and Portasara, are carved almost the same (see Fig. 1) which indicates the antiquity and importance of the rite. 

Different animals were sacrificed in different temples, and, of course, the fur of the sacrificial animal was laid on the altar of this temple. If our sculpture clearly shows the head and fur of a calf, then the fur depicted on the altar of the umbilical cord is a completely different animal. The habit of leaving the fur (as well as the legs and head) of a sacrificial animal in the sanctuary persists in Armenia to this day, in any Christian sanctuary we often meet with the sacrificed fur of a ram or the legs and head of a rooster.

Historian Artak Movsisyan also drew attention to the bas-relief under discussion in his book “Armenian literature. The talented Armenian scholar not only does not consider the sculpture to be falsification, but also compares it with a similar painting, which is considered Urartian. Unfortunately, Movsisyan does not write anything about the protocol of the bas-relief (I think because of the protocol), but comparing the hat of the image of the hats of the Satraps of Armenia (see Fig. 1). 5.), expresses the opinion that the bas-relief is probably VI-IV centuries BC (Artak Movsisyan, Armenian inscription, Yerevan 2003, p. 95). 

Now about the inscription on the sculpture.

The question of the existence of the written language and literature of pre-Christian Armenia has long been disputed in Armenian studies. Some Armenologists claimed that there was writing in the pre-Mashtots period, but this opinion found serious opponents such as Abegyan, Yerevan, Malkhasyan St., Ed. Aghayan group and other group of philologists (K. A.), but therefore Harutyunyan, G. Harutyunyan Alishan, N. Besedaryan, Leo, A. Garagashyan, G. Orbeli, A. Artur Abrahamyan, Selo Khreshchyan, S. Sargsyan and others) believed that in the pre-Mashtotsian period we had both writing and literature. All these scientists justified their opinion with various provisions. Not to mention these provisions, we will only note that the Armenians from time immemorial had a patron of writing, writing and literature, God, who was also the writer of the Armenian Creator God Aramazd. Naturally, it was impossible to have God for anything, that is, Armenians have had writing and literature since time immemorial (Egiazaryan V. The history of ancient Armenian literature, Yerevan 2014, page 11-12.

The presence of pre-Mahstotsian writing is also indicated by an ancient Armenian riddle, which is attributed to David Anakht. 

            «Չափ հասակի իմոյ երկիցս երկոտասան,

            Այժմ եմ երիցս երկոտասան»

(before the letters were 2×12 = 24 pieces,

after the prong 3×12 = 36 pieces).

“None of the old or later authors explained the 36 digits of the letters of our alphabet on the principle of 3×12 = 36.

That is, this riddle is not a fabricated theory of some literate and has no book origin.

This is pure folklore and, thus, more expensive…” (A. Davtyan, Armenian Star Mythology, E., 2004, pp. 234-235).

This extremely important folklore riddle is commented on and supplemented by linguist Leyla Stepanyan, who considers Armenian to be the basis of Polynesian languages dating back 40 – 50,000 years.

The linguist believes that the riddle contains a precious clue, if the fact is realized that the letters of the Armenian alphabet “are the 12th”, then it is quite logical to assume a situation of 1×12 = 12, which will reflect the initial state of the Armenian alphabet․ Since it is unclear how one can justify the idea of patency in comparison with two different alphabets, that is, the riddle actually originally had to be about at least three alphabets․

Previously, the letters were 1×12 = 12 pieces

After 2×12 = 24 pieces, 

At the end 3×12 = 36 pieces․

The linguist is also sure that this folklore pearl could not belong to a foreign alphabet. this indicates the path of the Armenian alphabet that we have traveled, especially, if we take into account  of Premashtotsian, Danielyan 24-26 mentions. This is exactly what we find preserved in Polynesian languages, the number of sounds of which varies between 12-15 (Stepanyan L. M.). Armenian-Polynesian linguistic and cultural communities, Yerevan 2015, pp. 67-68).

The comments are wonderful, but the riddle and the linguist’s comments contain more expensive advice. If this riddle is the completed path of the Armenian alphabet, then no one could come up with the Armenian alphabet just like that, it went through a long-term development path, and in the V century it had already existed for a long time, and Mesrop Mashtots simply restored it because it was banned by the church.

In their research, supporters of the presence of pre-Mashtotsian inscriptions cite many references to the Armenian script, but the object of the investigation is the only one who gives concrete grounds for studying the antiquity of these books.

As you can see from the drawing on the bas-relief, at the bottom it has two lines of inscription, where to a certain extent they are noticeable in Armenian letters. It is also noticeable that the protocol is a unity with the bas-relief, that is, it is not a further increase. Having destroyed the culture, including all Armenian-language books and ancient magazines, the church banned the Armenian script in the Armenian world, destroying in detail both the existing books and magazines and the inscriptions of temples on the walls. Agatangelos notes that the temples were destroyed to the ground, his goal, of course, was to destroy the existing Armenian-language protocols. And the books and magazines preserved by the people could be destroyed by law, namely: when a book or piece of parchment was found, someone’s throats were cut off at the feet of the lord, and his entire family was expelled on board.

After everything was destroyed in the future, the church declared that there was no written language in Armenia and was used Greek or Assyrian script. In some historical circumstances, the church was forced to restore the ancient Armenian script through a dedicated servant of the church (Mesrop Mashtots), who declared that he found this book through a divine vision.

However, using these letters, first of all, for the translation of the Bible, in a strange way, the strict correspondence of these newly created letters to the Armenian language was noticed, which caused some subsequent researchers to doubt whether they were created by Mesrop Mashtots, or they were from the most ancient times. The only question was that if the Mesropian letters were ancient and used by Armenian priests, why are they not in the excavations, the church destroyed them, destroying the temples to the ground, but it was then that the more ancient monuments were destroyed, which were already covered with earth. I assume that these ancient Armenian scripts were rarely used by the priests, only in extremely important writings or sacred ritual images, such as this temple bas-relief, the inscription under which, we are convinced, is the glorification of the Mother Goddess by our ancient sacred letters.

The inscription on the bas-relief is actually in Armenian, so far it is the only virtually priceless evidence that the Armenian alphabet was much older, it is impossible to read it in this state, mainly because of the authenticity of the painting, this argument, of course, will immediately be understood by specialists who have already deciphered the ancient inscriptions. Unfortunately, the author who discovered the bas-relief, art critic Garegin Levonyan, did not refer to the source, noting only “one of the foreign magazines”, one can only assume that it could be a German magazine, because Levonyan studied in Germany, but it is possible that he will be in another European country. 

So we have two pieces of information about the sculpture in question:

1. In 1903, the newspaper ‘New Century’ published information about the sculpture, which, however, remains almost unnoticed.

2. In 1940, Garegin Levonyan published a photo of the sculptor in the Soviet magazine Art, which was declared false.

And recently (in 2020) we receive new information, one of Fesbukyan’s friends (Guillaume Aral) reports that he found the best and high-quality photo published in one of the books of the Congregation of Mkhitarists on the island of Kazar in Venice – “literary history and beauty” by Simon Yeremyan, Venice 1915, In the book (see Fig.1). 6.).

Unfortunately, the author posted the photo in the book as a photo of an interesting and beautiful sculpture and does not give any information about this photo. The photo is really incomparably high-quality, but the last letters of the two lines of the protocol are poorly visible (about 10-12 letters).  Yeremyan’s source is unknown, where did he get the photo from? However, it is obvious that the available photo will make it possible to decipher the protocol.

The sculpture and the inscription to it raise a lot of questions, it craves serious archaeological, archaeological, art studies, of course, to study and decipher the protocol, the presence of the original or at least high-quality and modern photographs will be extremely necessary and important. And we will talk about the content of the protocol in the next article.

In any case, since the bas-relief is becoming very important for the origin of the Armenian script and other issues, we urge all our compatriots living in European countries to be attentive to such museum materials, to identify this very important sculpture.

Hovhannes Azizbekyan