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Temple of Ḫaldi (Ayanis) Socaciu, Dan


The Temple of Ḫaldi located in Ayanis is one of the best examples of an Urartian susi temple. It is also the most comprehensively excavated and published Urartian religious building. It was built during the reign of Rusa son of Argišti, the last Urartian ruler who left a tangible mark both in the archaeological record and in the textual one. The temple complex measures 30 x 30 m, divided by the rest of the settlement by mudbrick walls. Inside the open courtyard, the susi temple measures 13 x 13 m and abuts the eastern courtyard wall. In front of the temple, four monumental pillars supported a portico around the northern, western and southern walls. Outside the courtyard, additional building connected to the temple complex have been excavated on the northern and eastern sides. The temple itself has a standard rectangular structure, with buttressed corners. The lower structure of the temple was made of andesite blocks, placed directly onto bedrock, and supporting mudbrick walls of a considerable, albeit unknown, height. Inside the cella, the floor was covered with alabaster slabs, and the andesite blocks were carved and inlayed with a softer stone. The motifs included winged figures and animals, rosettes, plants, and geometrical designs. A long monumental inscription, divided into eight sections is carved either side of the entrance to the temple, and on the two walls of the short corridor leading to the cella. Although probably in use for less then half a century, the Ayanis temple is the final stage in the evolution of Urartian cultic buildings. There is little variation in susi temples once set in this form by Minua at the end of the 9th century BCE. However, with Rusa son of Argišti we see decorative elements previously unknown, and we find the temple at a centre of a complex on which we have little information from other sites.

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