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Zvartnots 8: Jars and Fertility Stones.

Jars and Fertility Stones

Located to the south of the palace are storage jars from the Bronze Age (3rd-2nd millennium BCE); a tapered phallus stone, and a round stone with large bowls carved on its surface.

The phallus (“fertility stone”), symbolizing fertility of nature and rebirth, was found during excavations and is typical of those that once predominated at worship sites throughout prehistoric Armenia (Lchashen, Metsamor, Shamiram, Karmir Blur, Oshakan and others). The phallus was considered sacred to pagan worshipers who connected the stones with fertility rites. This type of worship may have its origins in pre-tribal social order, later penetrating into Ancient Greece and Rome as well as Eastern countries. The worship of the phallus still exists in Hinduism and in the religion of some of the African peoples.

The stone is sometimes paired with the Stone Age-Neolithic Mother Goddess image uncovered at Armenian sites, suggesting that its origins may be on the Armenian plateau. The stone design, combining male and female aspects, represented more than fertility and birth. It may also have represented a balance between male and female energies and abstract principles of creation. In Hindu, Egyptian and archaic Greek temples the two symbols are often situated together.

The 'Mother Goddess' - endemic to the Armenian plateau - is a more complex image. She was not only a female figure who commanded fertility or a “Lady of the Beasts” who governed the fecundity of animals and nature - she was a composite image with traits from both pre-agricultural and agricultural eras. Throughout the Neolithic period her head is phallus-shaped suggesting an androgynous nature and so absolute power.

The text was edited by ICOMOS/Armenia NGO.