The town of Erebuni and its citadel were founded in 782 BCE by King Argishti I. The town lay around the foot of Arin Berd hill, where the fortress stood. The stronghold was built 65 meters above the town and covered an area of 3 hectares.


Temple Precinct

Erebuni citadel was not just a fortress, it was also a living city, a combination of three main complexes, each with its own sophisticated use of space uniquely constructed for very special purposes: the Service Quarter, the Palace and the Temples.

Temple to Khaldi is in the southwest portion of the central square, and was dedicated to an Urartian god.  Its design followed the custom by which Urartian fortresses were built at the highest points. The temple boasted two parts: a tower-shaped structure and a column hall made from two rows of 6 columns with brick benches along the walls.

Only the foundations of the tower-shaped structure survive.  An altar for sacrifices was located on the southern wall.  A cuneiform inscription marking the temple's construction was found while uncovering the roof of the structure in 1968.  

The temple's service quarters (storage rooms and wine cellars) lie to the south of the tower-shaped structure and column hall. The walls of the temple—like other buildings in the citadel—were decorated with colorful frescoes and large, intricate bronze and cuneiform shields.

One of these frescoes depicts a bearded human figure standing on a lion (probably the god Khaldi).  His right hand is raised with an upward palm and his left hand is stretched out in front clutching an object. 

He has a crown upon his head typical of those worn by Assyrian kings.  The composition and choice of details closely match other ancient frescoes in the Near East.

In the late 7th century BCE, following the collapse of Urartu and ascendancy of the Achaemenids, Erebuni became the center of one of their satrapies and was rebuilt. 

The 12 column hall from the 8th century BCE temple became a 30 column hall. This new hall was called an Apadana in old Persian but still retains its prototypical form from Urartu.

Judging from surviving column bases, the columns were arranged in five rows of six columns each which supported a flat roof.  The purpose of the hall also changed after reconstruction, turning a worship space into a secular room for official receptions, festivities and assemblies. 

Among the many examples of the Apadana are those in the Achaemenid capitals of Pasargad and Persepolis.

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