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Pagan Cults of Pre-Christian Georgia (Ainina-Danina, Zaden )

Mariam Gvelesiani

My fourth-month research work carried out in the University of Chicago through Carnegie Research
Fellowship Program appeared far more fruitful than I might ever imagine. During this time, a great number of
the subject-related studies and visual materials have been explored laying a foundation for not only study of
the problem in question but for arising a whole range of topics for future research.
I have to express my deepest thanks to the Carnegie Foundation and NCEEER for giving me the
wonderful opportunity for research under fabulous conditions. I am very grateful for kind and most generous
assistance I was receiving from Ms. Dana Ponte, Ms. Shoshana Billik and Mr. Alexei Kharlamov all through
this period of time.
My special thanks are due to my mentor Prof. Bruce Lincoln who has given his kind assistance to me
as supervisor and with whom I had a privilege of discussing the matters treated in my study. Prof. Lincoln
carefully read some of my articles and I benefited from his remarks greatly, as sharing with me his ideas, he
pointed out errors and deficiencies1 which undoubtedly will be taken into consideration in my proposed
monograph devoted to the pagan pantheon of pre-Christian Georgia.

The subject I have chosen for my research may appear ambitious. For not only is the area vast,2 but
large traits of it are still unexplored and any kind of interpretation has not yet been found. But even the early
premature attempt to solve a problem may contribute something to the ultimate satisfying solution.
In my research project I was mentioning that the proposed research is a continuation of my thesis
devoted to study of the cult of Armazi, the supreme divinity of the kingdom of Kartli3 (located in the eastern
Georgia and referred to Caucasian Iberia by the Greeks and Romans) personification of which is expected to
be a clue to formulation of religious orientation of pre-Christian Georgia. His cult was established by the
king Pharnavaz,4 the founder of the kingdom of Kartli in the early third century BC, by setting up the idol of
Armazi on his name, the evidence speaking of deification of the king, the founder also of a royal dynasty of
Pharnavaziani. Although the question raised in the thesis about the connection of Armazi with the Iranian
Ahura Mazda has been widely shared and accepted by specialists, his definition doesnt give a full picture of
religious beliefs practiced in pre-Christian Georgia unless other divinities Ainina/Danina(Danana) and
Zaden are studied

Besides corrections and suggestions kindly offered by Prof. Lincoln Im noting below, there are a number of remarks not
discussed in this work, as they are made concerning my previous study related to the cult of Armazi.
One will find in this work an unusual quantity of references which is a natural result of multi-facedness of the problem.
The Georgians called their country Kartli after Kartlos, the mythical progenitor of the nation.
Apart from the pro-Iranian orientation with which Life of Parnavaz, the fifth-sixth century Georgian writing is
imbued, the Iranian theophoric names of the Georgian kings names: Pharnavaz, Mi(h)rvan, Pharnajom, Artag, Bartom,
Artavaz, Artaban, Amazasp, Mi(h)rdat, Bagrat etc. containing Iranian religious notions Farn, Art, Bag etc., speak of the
same tendency. Additionally, the name of the Georgian King Vakhtang Gorgasali is believed to have been originated
from the Iranian god Verethragna:Sagdukhtgave birth to her son, and named him in Persian Varan-Khuasro-Tang
called in Georgian Vakhtang - relates the Georgian historian Juansher (40, p. 143).
According to the Moktsevai Kartlisai (Conversion of Kartli), which is the earliest (9th-10th century)
surviving medieval Georgian historical compendium, independent from the Georgian Chronicles Kartlis
Cxovreba, the cults of these divinities had been introduced into Kartli by the successors of Pharnavaz:
Saurmag (Ainina), Mi(h)rvan (Danina) and Pharnajom (Zaden), while Life of Kings,5 composed no later
than fifth-sixth century and incorporated into Kartlis Cxovreba6 [Life (i.e. History) of Kartli written by
Leonti Mroveli in the eleventh century], and the Armenian adaptation of chronicles written in Georgian
before the thirteenth century, associate Saurmag with two idols, Ainina and Danana. The Georgian and
Classical evidence suggests that Phamavaz and his successors cultivated close relations with the Hellenistic
Seleucid kingdom in Syria and at times recognized its suzerainty. Indeed, Alexander's conquest of
Achaemenid Iran made it possible for several regions along the periphery of the Iranian Commonwealth to
declare their autonomy.
KC identifies Saurmag7 (r.234-159BC) as the son of Pharnavaz. Having quashed a revolt of
eristavis (literally, head of the people, synonym of duke), Saurmag ...pardoned [some], but he humbled
the descendants of Kartlos and made the aznauris (nobles) preeminent. He thus created a new class of men
directly dependent upon the Crown. He resided in Mcxeta, the city of Kartli and increased all the
fortifications of Mcxeta and Kartli ....and he made the two idols Ainina and Danana and set them up on
the road to Mc'xet'a. And he began to build up Armazi (Acropolis M.G.). Moreover, Saurmag, like his
father, was subject to the king of Asurastan [i.e., the Seleucids], and he married the daughter of the Iranian
governor of Bardavi. Having two daughters and no son, he adopted Mirvan, a descendant of Nimrod and
member of the Nebrot'iani Iranian royal dynasty. Mirvan married one of Saurmags daughters, while the
other daughter was supposedly wed to the son of the ruler of Egrisi (ancient Colchis, located in western
Mirvans son Pharnajom8 (r. 109-90 BC), the fourth in the Pharnavaziani line king of Kartli, is
reported to have added another idol, that of the god Zaden, to the Kartlian (Iberian) pagan pantheon, and to
have built a fortress by the same name to house it. His policy of importing foreign (Persian) religion is said to
have caused a general uprising: the king is supposed to have become fire-worshipper and consequently to
have installed Zoroastrian priests in the royal city of Mcxeta at a place called moguta, literally, of the
magi.9 The chronicle goes on to describe a great battle between Pharnajom and his nobles in which the king

Sometimes called in English Georgian Royal Annals.
Hereafter KC.
Saurmag bears a name based on a root from the O(v]si-Sarmatian-Alanic, i. e., "Northern lranic," languages (5, pp.130-
131; 492-493).
The root of Pharnajom, like that of Pharnavaz, phar comes from the Pers. word farnah (royal glory,
splendor), believed by the Iranians to mark a legitimate ruler.
As attested in Georgian special literature, in Georgian language a great number of religious notions are the Iranian
loan-words, eg: zorva (sacrifice), jojokheti (hell), tadzari (temple), kerpi (idol), aeshma (devil, the Evil One) martali
(righteous), tsru (liar, fibster), netari (beatific, blissful), peshkhveni (peshkhumi - chalice, vessel used in Christian
Liturgical service), zuaraki (offering), bagini (altar), dzuari (cross) etc (5, p. 34). It is be noted that Prof. Lincoln is
doubtful about derivation of some other loan-words from the Persian. I believe his arguments will contribute greatly to
Georgian linguists in re-examination of this very important issue, but without claiming linguistic competence, I should
like to submit for discussion the possibility that toponym Bagineti [the name of the mountain in Mtskheta on which
stands Armazistsikhe (Fortress of Armazi referred to by Greek classical authors as Armastica or Harmozica of Strabo,
Pliny, Ptolemy and Dio Cassius)] comes from the Iranian bag (god; deity by Lincoln) like as the sanctuary or altar in
is defeated and killed, and the crown given to his son-in-law, Arshak/Artaxias, son of the king of Armenia,
the rebels ally. Another account is given in the Life of Ioane Zedazneli describing worship of pagan deities
as a ritual performed for the nastiest demons on Mount Zedazeni, taken as toponym of Zeda Zadeni, i.e.,
Upper Zaden, nearby Mtskheta, where stood the idol of Armazi.
It has been suggested by scholars that the pre-Christian texts of MK' are dependent upon (the earlier)
LKings, this being most evident from the formers corruption of royal names which seem to have been more
accurately preserved in the latter. Whether or not ancient and late antique Georgians ever worshipped such
idols is a matter of scholarly debate. While the question is of great scholarly interest, it is the imagery of
LKings that is of more importance for this study: the kings, by virtue of their social status, were deemed
responsible for building idols.
As it may be seen, MK differs Ainina from Danana as to ascribing their installation to Saurmag and
Pharnajom respectively, whereas KC like as its Armenian adaptation associate both of them with the former
While apart from the names of the two idols Ainina and Danana/Danina we have no other textual
evidence to validate their interpretation, we know something a little bit more about Zaden, a report on which
is preserved in the ninth-tenth century narrative Life of St. Nino containing a reference to the functional
aspect of this divinity. Being coupled with the supreme God of Gods Armazi, he is described by the first
Christian King Mirian (the 4th century) thus: The great Gods, who command the world, who make the sun
rise, who provide rain, who make the bounty of the world increase (by MK the great Gods, who give

Georgian literary tradition is far from offering exhaustive answers to religious beliefs as well as
specific characteristics of deities,10 it only gives few hints indicating the way we should follow in our
inquiries. The Georgian Christian writers, like those in Armenia, are sole native sources on the pre-Christian
cult. A paucity of written accounts of Ainina (Danina/Danana) and Zaden has perhaps discouraged scholars
from attempting their study, like as from trying to connect them with archaeological evidence. Until recent
times, very little is known also about the cults and in common, religious systems of pre-historic Georgia,
since the archaeological researches, interpretations of this or that cult have been based upon single-
disciplinary, namely, ethnographic studies comprising itself only Georgian evidence without entering other
fields as well as civilizations outside Georgia, arising thereby a whole range of arguable hypotheses and
unwarranted assumptions.

an Armenian temple was called bagin, interpreted as place on the god (74, p. 385). As pointed out by J. Russell,
there are a number of toponyms from Iranian in Armenian with baga -god: Bagawan, Bagaran, Bagayarich, etc.
The common pre-Christian name for an altar or shrine was Arm. bagin, a MIr. form with the base bag-god (74, p.42).
The toponymic suffix eti denotes in Georgian the locality, e.g. Khevsur-eti is a district (region) inhabited by Khevsurs,
one of Georgian northern ethnic groups.

It is conceivable that local pre-Christian records did exist, perhaps written in Georgian but using another script or even
in another language altogether (a local form of Aramaic called Armazic was used and some Greek-language inscriptions
have also been unearthed) and were subsequently destroyed by zealous Christians (68, p. 19; 49, p.192, Note 1),
Having familiarized with my preliminary investigation of the problem, Prof. Lincoln mentioned in his
remarks how problematic it must be to have so little information about ones deepest prehistory, and how
great is the temptation to work from shreds of evidence (sometimes no more than a name) by way of
comparisons to reach a fuller interpretation and where linguistic correspondences give me strong support (as
in the case of Georgian Armazi, Armenian Aramazd, Old Persian Auramazd, as he mentions and supports
such a connection), what kind of difficulties I may face when such evidence is lacking (or simply weaker). In
an attempt to remove the deities in question from their relative isolation and obscurity that I try to connect
them with data from elsewhere that are better known (Iran, Mesopotamia, Armenia) I might prefer, as Prof.
Lincoln suggests, to posit other sorts of relation, including diffusion, syncretism and parallelism of deities and
their cults.
I fully agree with Prof. Lincolns view and the way Im trying to follow in this research perhaps is the
same. But what encouraged me to enter into such a dangerous field, is the familiarization with special
literature and artifacts to which I have had access in the University of Chicago and various museums in the
US that enabled me to examine the problem in a new light, within the framework of surrounding Georgia
civilizations. This article contains a contribution to recent discussions in scholarly literature and expositions
of ideas circulating there. There are some proposals and ideas of my own in the study which are put forward
for discussion.
It is to be noted that one critical circumstance affecting an analysis of differing cultural influences is
the fact that we are very unevenly informed about the cults in question as they were practiced in Georgia (and
this is common with other ones worshipped outside), and what exactly their rituals entailed. Yet this process
is traceable only through the archaeological record; the figurative monuments, which have come down to us
in great numbers, make possible to approach the difficult task of reconstructing someway the deities in
question and thereby fill the gaps of our knowledge about the pre-Christian religion of Georgia. My
preliminary attempts at synthesis will await further additions and corrections. There are many ways in which
the pieces of evidence can be linked together and continuity in the Georgian religion can be established in a
variety of ways. I do not pretend to have been able to find the only possible ways but try to re-examine the
ways in which the divinities have been discussed and maybe this will lead me to consequent conclusions.

While examining the cult of the supreme god Armazi, the main determinant of the religious
(Zoroastrian) orientation of the kingdom of Kartli, my attention was drawn to the evidence given in the
LNino, which is pointer to the path I think we must follow in order to come closer to personification of
Ainina/Danana-Danina, of whom, as noted above, nothing is known except their names.
In this writing St Nino is referred to as the daughter of Armazi: appealing to the saint to heal the
sick Persian magus Khuara. King Mirian addresses her thus: .through Gods mighty power youre skilled
in healing, youre the daughter of Armazi.
As a final result of the examination and definition of the supreme divinity, the origin of Armazi from
the Iranian Ahura Mazda has been proved through a comparative study of Aramazd, the supreme divinity of
pre-Christian Armenia, which became a bridging link between Armazi and Ahura Mazda. The functional as
well as other aspects of these gods coincide with those of Armazi, to say nothing of the phonetic closeness of
the names Armazi, Aramazd and Ahura Mazda (Md. Persian Ohrmizd). It is notable that in the History of
Armenia by Movses Xorenaci, the Georgians god is referred to as Aramazd while St Nino is referred to as
Nun. The reference to Nun instead of Nino shouldnt be taken as an attempt of Armenization of the
Georgian religious realm as suggested by some scholars, but as proof that for Xorenaci the Armenian
Aramazd and Georgian Armazi are identical gods as both of them are connected with Ahura Mazda. Thus, the
reference to Armazi as Aramazd is obviously the Armenian transcription of Ahura Mazda (Hormuzd,
Ohrmazd), just as he calls St Nino Nun, which is an alternative form of the Sumero-Assyrian Nana,
Nanaia, Hebrew Nanea (Maccabees II, 1, 13, 15), and Armenian Nan.
The same Nan is mentioned in he History of Armenia by Agathangelos, who announces that: in
Tcil St. Gregory obliterated the temple of Nan, daughter of Aramazd [(Agath. 786), 73, p.59].
It thus becomes evident that there is obvious connection between Nino-Armazi and Nan-Aramazd. It
has been suggested that Nan (Nana, Nanaia) was worshipped in Armenia and, close to Georgia other
civilizations venerated her as the Great Mother Goddess. The reference to Nan as daughter of Aramazd,
like that to Nino as daughter of Armazi, need not be taken literally but figuratively. It may be compared, as
suggested by J. Russell, to the Yasht 17.16, dedicated to the yazata Ai, where the goddess is referred to as
the daughter of Ahura Mazda (73, p. 241).11 As Ai represents fortune, prosperity and fecundity, thereby
finding parallels with the cult of the Great Mother Nana (Nan), the goddess venerated across the Near and
Middle Eastern (Sogd) regions.
The names containing the root Nin, Nan are attested in Early Christian Georgian writings, apart from
St Nino and the first Christian King Mirians wife Nana, in the two goddesses Ainina and Danina/Danana, the
evidence which has raised a question in Georgian scholarship about derivation of the names of deities in
A century ago Bishop Kyrion (Kyrion Sadzaglishvili) studied the etymology of the name Nino and
equated it with Ur-Nina, whom he refers to as the goddess of the Georgian pagan pantheon. He suggests that
she is of Chaldaean origin, just as were the ancestors of the Georgians who worshipped the goddesses Ur-
Nina and Ur-Bau.12 K. Sadzaglishvili interprets the prefix Ur as slave13 but recognizes Nina and Bau as the
personal names of the goddesses (16, p.312).
L. Melikset-Bekoff suggests that the name Danina (resp. Danana) is close to that of the Armenian
goddess Anahit. He traces the name Nano in the refrains of Georgian songs (Harni-Arnano, Arnia-Arnano),
and recognizes it as the transliteration of Nina, the name with the most ancient origin. The root Nan is
contained, as pointed out by Melikset-Bekoff, in the words denoting mother (Nina, Nino, Nana, Nano,

The same evidence is attested in another cultural sphere: Anat, one of the principal Ugaritic goddesses of the West
Semitic realm, whose name probably reflects the Hanat known in Mari, was the daughter of the great god El (27, p. 79).
Although in neither Georgian textual sources nor other (ethnographic, folkloristic) materials have been known deities
by these names.
Given such a location of the deitys origin, Ur might well be associated with Ur of the Chaldeans from which
Abraham went to Canaan .
Nena, Neno, Nani, Nane, Ana) in Georgian as well as in the Armenian and Tatar languages,14 and Georgian
lullaby songs words Iav-Nana, Nanina are likely to have the same connotations (53, pp. 17-18).
N. Marr interprets Ainina and Danina as the two alternative names of one and the same goddess
worshipped as Anahita by Iranians and Nana by non-Iranians. He suggests Ainina to be a corrupted form
of Anahida and possibly enough, its last syllable da was attached to Na-na (Da-na-na) erroneously
by the manuscript copyist. In support of his argument, N. Marr refers to the study of Fr. Windischmann15
devoted to the Persian Anahita which provides, as he mentions such a wide range, of variations of this name
that it seems plausible to suggest Ainina as the Georgian but obviously a distorted form of the Persian
goddess. As to the name of the other goddess Nana, it finds parallel, as suggested by N. Marr, in that of the
Queen Nana, the wife of the first Christian King of Georgia, the evidence to be explained by the fact that the
royal names quite often are associated with the same of Georgian gods (50, p. 9).
Following the same line of thinking, M. Tsereteli admits the possibility of the establishment of the
cult of Anahit through Ainina and Danina, although differentiating them hypothetically (Ainina and Nina,16
the latter being the same Nana), suggests that in this case were seemingly dealing with the two names
of one and the same goddess known as Ishtar in Sumer and worshipped under varied names: Ninni, Ininna,
Inanna, Nana, among which the names Nana and Nina had been widespread throughout Asia Minor and
Georgia. (78, pp. 100-101).
Apart from phonetic approach referred to the names of deities in question there has never been any
further investigation in Georgia. As seen above, the etymology of the name Nino equated with Ai-nin-a is
supposed to have traced its origin back to the sphere of Sumerian, Asia Minor, Iranian and Armenian
goddesses, although this initial clue for the phonetic interpretation needs a further line of research based upon
additional evidence. The juxtaposition of the above-noted concepts makes clear the connection of Nin-o both
with the Iranian Anhit and the Sumerian Inanna, which is in full accord with the derivation of the Armenian
Nan (resp. Nino) from Inanna. Semitic peoples such as the Akkadians and Babylonians called the Sumerian
Inanna Ishtar or Astarte, the deity representing the oldest strain in Mesopotamian paganism. In the light of
this evidence, the problem of the interrelationship between Inanna-Ishtar and Great Goddess Nana widely
attested in pre-historic Georgian religious beliefs and suggested by scholars to be the solar goddess comes to
Therefore let us begin survey of the problem from the earliest times for tracing the ways of
transmission and adaptation in which these deities (or deity) share common ground in order to strengthen
threads of solely linguistic conjectures. The way the investigation is conducted is accounted for by
correlation of the two goddesses Anhit (Phl. Anhd, Arm. Anahid) and Nana (or Nanai, Arm. Nan), who

To this listing should be added the Persian dialects in which Nana means mother like as in Sanskrit (77, p, 137).
F. Windischmann, Die persische Anahita oder Anatis. Ein Beitrag zur Mythengeschichte des Orients. Abh. der philos.-
philol. Classe der Kn. bayer. Ak.d. Wisensch., VIII, 1858, pp. 87-128.
Such a treatment of the question seems reasonable if split the name Danana/Danina as Da-Nana/Da-Nina, for in
Georgian da is for and, grammatical conjunction. The ancient manuscripts quite often contain misspellings and
anachronistically inserted terms. Similar to N. Marr and M. Tseretelis view, S. Rapp supposes that the names Ainina
and Danana is a confusion of one and the same idol (68, p. 281).
share so many aspects, in neighboring Armenia and elsewhere, that it seems fitting to consider them together
(73, p.235). Furthermore, the connection between the main, supreme deities of Georgian and Armenian pre-
Christian pantheon determining the religious climate in favor of Zoroastrianism in the two neighboring
countries, tends me to seek parallels in the same way.
Georgia, like as Armenia, particularly before the conversion in the fourth century to Christianity, was
steeped in Iranian religion and culture; most of both Georgian and Armenian royalty had the ties of kinship
with the Iranians or belonged to branches of Iranian noble families and bore Iranian names. Like the Iranians,
the Georgians and Armenians of ancient times preserved the memory of heroes and great events in the form
of epic poetry which was orally transmitted by minstrels,17 Pth. gsn, Georg. mgosani (a synonym of
poet), Arm. Gusan (29, p. 181)
On the whole, it mustnt be unexpected that Georgia and Armenia, being historically, geographically
and politically within a common orbit, were of similar religious orientation, which at a certain stage of
historical development are believed to have been directed by their neighboring country of the Great Iran.
In his Zoroastrianism in Armenia, James Russell has shown the deep penetration of Zoroastrianism in
Armenia. Although it has not yet been subject to systematic research analysis in Georgia and elsewhere,
medieval Georgian texts and archaeological evidence indicate to the existence of this religion both in the two
kingdoms of Kartvelians (Georgians) Kartli and Colchis,18 and we should not forget that localized forms of
Iranian culture were embraced by the tribes of northern Caucasia, the Kuban, and the Bosphorus, although
both in Georgia and Armenia the practice of Zoroastrianism predominated, though this was diluted by other
cults; and other religions were also practiced.
In the light of these considerations, a question arises: shouldnt a striking correspondence between the
references made to the Armenian goddess Nan (Agathangelos) as daughter of Aramazd and to St Nino as
daughter to Armazi (anonymous Georgian writer) respectively, be the grounds for assertion about Nan and
Nino that we are dealing, in fact, with two correlate or one and same female deities and that at least, the
Christian Saints name had been associated with her pagan forerunner in the Georgian religious belief? If so,
it is the Armenian goddess Nan which is expected to become a clue to interpretation of the Georgian
goddess Nana, whose name, like that of her Armenian counterpart, as remarked above, comes to denote
mother in both Georgian and Armenian languages. Most likely for this reason, as we shall see, the two
deities shared many of the attributes of the Great Mother goddess.
Nevertheless, a caveat must be noted in the following discussion of these goddesses: although the
name of a deity such as Nana or Anhit appears over a wide geographical area, it cannot be concluded

For instance, the Georgian story of Tritino which is suggested to have originated from the Iranian god rataona,
and passed on by oral tradition; one of the most popular personages of the Georgian fairy-tales, Devi, the male giant of
demonic force similarly comes from the Avestan Dava, etc. (29, p. 181)
From the account on funeral ceremony of Colchs left by Apollonius Rhodius in his Argonautica it can be surmised that
in this respect they followed Mazdean tradition: never placing dead men into grave, Colchs used to wrap a corpse into
the bulls skin and hang it on a tree. Adherence to Mazdean funeral custom is also attested by cave sepulchers of the
Post-Achaemenid and Hellenistic epochs recently revealed at Uplistsikhe, Kaspi, Khornabuj.
necessarily that cultic practices are the same everywhere, since most often in the traditional popular religions
of antiquity, the power and expression of a deity are bound to the group and the place.19

But before I go farther, I would draw the reader's attention to the problem of attribution of the cult of
Great Mother Nana on Georgian evidence and compare the ways of her interpretation with those of the
mother goddesses worshipped elsewhere in order to establish possible links between them. These are brought
under review in this inquiry in an attempt to connect Nana with the divinity in question.
The information on the Great Mother Goddess Nana has been corroborated by ethnographic studies
conducted in the mid-20th century by V. Bardavelidze, who advanced the conception of a triad of gods
consisting of the supreme male god (Moon), Mze-Kali (Sun-Woman) and Kviria (Morning Star). Specialists
assumed the identification of the second-in-rank goddess Mze-Kali (Kal-Babbar, Nana) with Great Mother
Goddess Nana without any attempt at re-examination of reliability of the noted theory and it became firmly
established in scholarly circulation until now. However, it raises a question of which goddess is meant under
this name: is the Great Mother Goddess Nana, personified as such in connection of archaeological finds
having solar semantics (circular hearths, a bullock-cart wheel, discoid-shaped items, pierced cobble-stones
etc.), identical to the goddess known by the same name in ancient civilizations since the Paleolithic age, or is
she of Georgian, local origin? Furthermore, it is tempting to equate Nana with Nena, Nana meaning mother
in western Georgian dialects, although as mentioned above, this evidence was not unfamiliar to other
countries too.
As studied by specialists, the names of the Asia Minor Great Mother Goddess Kubaba (identical with
Cybele) such as Nana are considered to be lallwrter meaning mother (73, p. 235). Because of this very
fact the question raised above might seem unreasonable at first glance; moreover, if we take into account that
the worship of the Great Mother of nature, the goddess of fertility was common to various geographic regions
in prehistoric times, the evidence that has found visual expression in the Paleolithic Venuses presenting
themselves, together with other figurines of the Mother Goddess, as the earliest patterns both of religious
beliefs and plastic art. Thereby, generally the Great Mothers cult seems unlikely to have been distinguished
by sharply expressed characteristics peculiar to each region.
It is noteworthy that the anthropomorphic so-called naturalistic clay figurines of a woman, dated
back to the Chalcolithic Age (the 5th millennium BC) and recognized as the Great Mother Goddess having
protective power over nature, were unearthed at Khramis Didi Gora (Fig. 1), the evidence placing Georgia
together with Mesopotamia (Karim Shahir, Jarmo, Hassuna, Tel-Halaf, Arpachia), Iran (Tepe-Sarab), Asia
Minor (Tulin-Tepe, Norshun-Tepe) and Armenia (Shengavit, Mokhranblur) within a geographic area wherein

Like as, in spite of genetic and functional relations of Armazi with Aramazd, the spaces occupied by them in
historical reality of Georgia and Armenia appear to be not quite similar, since these two divinities differ from each other
in preconditions and formation of their cults as well as by their idolized images. Aramazd is described in the Armenian
writings as four Aramazd or four-faced divinity suggestive, as J. Russell supposes, of the tetrad of Ahura Mazda,
infinite Time, Endless Light and Wisdom (73 p. 161), while a great bronze image of Armazi is portrayed as a warrior
wearing an armor and holding a sharpened, rotating sword. As it will be seen, the anthropomorphic figurines of female
deities representing the mother goddesses worshipped supposedly under names Nan in Armenia and Nana in Georgia
together with commonalities, reveal certain differences in their iconography.
the most ancient layers of her cult worship have been attested through the archaeological records. Such a
connection has been widened by a new evidence that I have come across in the study of E. Herzfeld Iran in
the Ancient East featuring the clay figurines of female idols with cone shaped heads (p. 16. fig.9) finding
closest parallels with those from Khramis Didi Gora (Fig.2), and bearing thereby witness to cultural-religious
interaction between these countries.20
Thus, the universal rather than national character of the Great Mothers worship seems hard to doubt,
unless we survey the studies in Georgian scholarship sharing the concept of the solar character of the Great
Mother Nana, differentiating her completely, as the examination of the problem has shown, from the goddess
known by the same name in the aforementioned countries. The connection of the Great Mother Nana with the
archaeological objects taken as her solar attributes or symbols, hasnt been attested elsewhere, since the
studies devoted to this goddess worshipped outside Georgia contain no evidence linking them together.
However, this fact in no way lessens the indisputable value of V. Bardavelidzes works, although it should not
be arguable that the Christian rituals and liturgical chants in which the scholar rightly traces the elements of
paganism infiltrated into Christian worship, cannot nonetheless be a reliable clue to both reconstruction of
pagan pantheon and personification of a concrete deity.
As a consequence, the difficulties attending the interpretation of archaeological materials viewed as
cultic objects, are due, in general, to the premises and assumptions elaborated through single-disciplinary
studies which misleads scholars, in case with the Great Mother Nana, to connect her with solar-semantic
items whereas her association with the sun-goddess appears to be rather questionable. From the
methodological point of view, it would be more reasonable to treat any kind of data containable within a
single disciplinary framework (ethnographic in our case) as a supporting argument rather than key
determinant for interpretation of the deities. Moreover, that examination of such a wide-ranging, complex
and multi-faceted divinity as the Great Mother of nature, the goddess of maternal universality needs a cross-
disciplinary approach to the problem as well as comparative analysis of cultural-religious evidence from
Georgia and from the outer world.21
In her early study From History of the Most Ancient Belief of the Georgians V. Bardavelidze traces
the origin of worship of the Christian St Barbara attested in the religious rituals practiced by the Svans (a
North Georgian tribe) in that of the pagan astral cult of the sun-goddess Barbale, recognizing her as the
goddess associated with the Sumerian sun divinity Babar, so that we find there no notice of her connection
with the Great Mother Nana. In the following work Drevneishie religioznyie verovaniya I ovryadovoe

In the same respect, very contributive appeared the richest collection of the Near Eastern cultic female and male
figurines housed in the Museum at Oriental Institute of Chicago which to great extent enlarged my understanding of
common principles of their iconography and visual expression enabling me to collate some of them with Georgian
archaeological records.
The same one-disciplinary-based research led scholars to misinterpretation of Armazi being identified erroneously with
Asia Minor moon god Arma through solely phonetic closeness of their names, the conception supplemented by the
only argument of migration of the Mushk-Moskhs from Asia Minor into Kartli, the tribes recognized as the
predecessors of the Georgians, who are suggested to have brought there their cultural-religious traditions, dispite the
fact that neither textual nor archaeological records bear witness to such a connection at least by the time of foundation of
the kingdom of Kartli.
graficheskoe iskusstvo gruzinskikh plemen (The Earliest Religious Beliefs and Ritual Graphic Art of the
Georgian Tribes) published in 1957 in Russian, V. Bardavelidze introduces the Great Mother Nana for the
first time into scholarly circulation, referring to her twice as the hypostasis of the sun-goddess Kal-
Babarwithout bringing forward any evidence for such an identification and any parallel to the goddess
known by the name Great Mother Nana in other countries.
V. Bardavelidze suggests that the Georgian lullaby refrain Iav-Nana, Vardo Nana, Iav Naninao
(Violet-Nana, Rose-Nana, Violet Nanina) is connected with the cult of Nana. She also mentions that the
evidences for Nanas function and nature can be found in Georgian fairy tales and legends, whereas her cult
worship elements have been preserved in nursery rituals carried out in the treatment of persons suffering from
infectious diseases (smallpox, measles, called Batonebi in Georgian). She points out that in the Batonebi
departure ritual, the astral nature of the Great Mother Nana, her connection with the sun in particular, is
evidenced by circular motion of the ritual performers around the sick person, as well as in dancing in a ring.
The fact that in the Georgian highlanders religious texts the earth is defined as one owned by the sun, that
is, by the goddess Nana (Barbale, Mzekali), as suggested by V. Bardavelidze, like the saying I swear by your
sun referred to in the proof of the same connection, together with all above-mentioned considerations, is
neither reliable nor sufficient evidence for an explanation of why the sun-goddess is called the Great Mother
In her next study Kartvel tomta astralur ghvtaebata panteonis ganvitarebis ert-erti udzveles
saphexurtagani (One of the Most Ancient Stages of the Development of Astral Divinities Pantheon of
Georgian Tribes) published in 1959 in Georgian, V. Bardavelidze formulates the concept of the triad of
deities worshipped by the Pshav-Khevsurs (the eastern highland tribes), but no longer making any note of any
kind of the relationship between the triads second divinity and Great Goddess Nana.
That is, basically and in brief, all our knowledge about this goddess built upon Georgian ethnographic
data. The investigation of this question has shown that the goddess worshipped under name Great Mother
Nana across Near and Middle Eastern civilizations, opposite to this interpretation, is credited with associating
her with the moon rather than with the sun, the evidence which may help to establish some thread of
consistency in my line of thinking about personification of Ainina/Danana.

As studied by scholars, the name of the Great Mother goddess,22 whom the Romans called Magna
Mater, is encountered most frequently in Asia Minor as Kubaba or Cybele.23 The cult of the Mother Goddess
traces its origin to the Paleolithic Age. Her worship seems to be as old as the archaeological record: a figurine
from Chatal Htiytik depicts her as potnia thern, "Lady of the Beasts" (83, p. 15; Figs. 4, 5)
The goddess is usually shown enthroned, flanked by two lions. It is suggested that lions signal her
command over wild creatures, and implicitly over tame ones, too (39, p.104) One of her titles seems to have

Scholars have assumed there is just one archetypal Goddess, variously termed Great Goddess, Mother Goddess or
Earth Mother.
The name by which the Great Mother became commonly known to the Romans and which is the usual modern
designation, Cybele, occurs first on an altar near Prymnessus, inscribed Matar Kubil (75, p. 232)
been the lady,24 as attested in North Syrian theophoric name Alli-Kubaba, meaning Kubaba is the lady
[(17th-16th centuries B. C), vermas. 24]. Mother of all, Cybele was the ruler, not only of the land, but of the
life-giving waters. In the legend of Cybele and her son and lover Attis, Nana is mentioned as the daughter of
the River Sangarius.
The goddess Nana is probably to be identified with Nan, patron goddess of the Sumerian city of
Uruk, whose name in Sumerian, Innin or Inanna, means Lady of Heaven. In the Mesopotamian glyptic art
and statuary she appears often armed with arrows or a mace, carrying flowers or a scepter, standing on a lion,
or lions, accompanied by the planet Venus whose astrological forces she embodies (71, p. 85).25
Nan was principally a goddess of fertility and she seems to have adopted the attributes of Cybele;
this is evidenced by the image of Nan shown likewise Cybele accompanied by a lion,26 as on one of the
Sumerian cylindrical seals dated back to the 3rd millennium BC. Nana is also depicted together with other
animals or pairs of animals (73, p. 235).
This iconographical trait seems not unfamiliar to the goddess known under different name: on the
terracotta relief from Sardis is shown the winged goddess holding two lions by their tails. Here the evidence
of Lydian inscription makes it plain that the Lydian Artemis (Artimu) is intended and she is probably the same
native goddess as, as suggested by G. Hanfmann, Cybebe Kubaba, whose worship was widely spread in
Anatolia in the second millennium BC (31, p. 65).
As the name of the moon divinity of the Sumerian city of Ur, Nana reveals closeness to Inanna, it has
been suggested that in prehistoric times they were one and the same divinity or had a common origin. More
frequently Inanna is taken in the Sumerian period as the moon god Nanas daughter
(28, p. 94), but endowed with masculine power, the evidence being reflected in her androgenic nature
Inanna, just like Assyro-Babylonian Ishtar, is the goddess of both love and war (11, p. 29). An unmistakable
symbol of Inanna-Ishtar was the eight-pointed star or rosette, which signified her identification with the planet
Venus28 (87, p. 176; 32, p. 230), the morning or evening star venerated by the Babylonians as Ishtar and
called by the Persians Ana-hiti-s meaning undefiled.

As we shall see below, the same title was applied later in Zoroastrian an d Armenian texts to Anhit
In tablets found in the temple of Marduk at Babylon, Nana was described as: Lady of Ladies, goddess of goddesses,
directress of mankind, mistress of the spirits of heaven, possessor of sovereign power; the light of heaven and earth,
daughter of the Moon God, ruler of weapons, arbitress of battles; goddess of love; the power over princes and over the
scepter of kings (71, p. 85).
Like as Hebat or Hebit, the chief goddess of in the Hurrian pantheon is shown standing on a panther or lioness in the
Yazilikaya bas-reliefs in Anatolia (36, p.86). As mentioned by M. Vermaseren, a purely oriental form of the cult was
never popular with the Athenians, but her associations with Deo, Rhea and Demeter facilitated her introduction (83, p.
32). A Mistress of Animals, the goddess flanked by two lions is shown on the seventh century BC Boeotian amphora
(Fig.3 ), with dismembered bovine and birds in the background, testifying that this iconographic trait was likewise
known in the pre-Hellenistic Greece (33, p. 264).
In a hymn of praise to Ishtar, composed for the King Ashurbanapal, the equality of the goddess with the great
Assyrian god Ahshur is quaintly expressed by the phrase, like Ashur, she wears a beard; this is probably only a
fantastic expression of the idea that Ishtar is the compeer in power of the god, and has much of the masculine
temperament (20, p. 58).
As pointed out by T. Green, Al-Uzza, one of a triad of Arab goddesses, whose original functions cannot be clearly
determined, was later identified with both Venus and Astarte [the Greek form of the name of a goddess as known from
Northwestern Semitic regions, cognate in name, origin and functions with the goddess Ishtar in Mesopotamian texts (28,
A significant symbol of Inanna was also a hook-shaped twisted knot of reeds or a wheatear - the sign
with which her name was always written is easily recognized and goes back to an archaic pictograph
representing a gatepost of the storehouse [and thus fertility and plenty (27, p. 73, Fig.25 in the text and Fig. 4
in attached file)].
The Persians, according to Herodotus (1.131), sacrificed to the Heavenly Goddess, whom later
Greek writers called Aphrodite Anaitis or simply Anaitis. As regards to Aphrodite, most scholars regard her
as coming to the Greek people from the Semitic area of Astarte cult (20, p.97). As pointed out by B.
Mukherjee, like Inanna, the Persian Anahita was the warlike goddess, to whom the Achaemenian kings and
princes probably addressed prayers for victory over foes. Like as in Mesopotamian art Ishtar is regularly
represented as carrying weapons, apparently the Iranian Anahita was conceived as similarly equipped, for
later on, on the Kushan coins she appears, as Nanaia, armed with what looks like a sword or club ( 51, p.
From early times, Inanna and Ishtar became increasingly identified, until, by the period of Sargon the
Great (about 2300 B.C.), they were so similar that in discussing them scholars usually treat them as one deity
In Goddess movement literature, the goddess Inanna is said to be the Great Mother:
[her] title Queen of Earth and Heaven reveals lineaments of the Neolithic Great Mother .:. For Inanna,
is, above all, a lunar goddess who gives life as the waxing moon and then withdraws it as the waning moon ...
she is incarnated in the morning and evening star and in the star Sirius ... The light and dark dimensions to her
power, the horned headdress and serpent staff, her dying and resurrected son-lover, who annually descends to
the underworld and rises again from it - all suggest a lunar mythology (27, p. 72).
In the Hellenistic period Nana was frequently assimilated with the Greek Artemis in Mesopotamia. A
temple of Artemis-Nana was built in the middle of the city of Dura-Europos in Roman times where a dedicatory
inscription identified Nana as the chief goddess of that city. The Images of Aphrodite, winged victory, and
Tyche or Fortuna which were erected in the temple of Nana at Dura, indicate that the celestial Mesopotamian
Nana combined the functions of all those Graeco-Roman divinities. (6, p. 537).

The Georgian scholars M. Khidasheli and L. Pantskhava have exhaustively and convincingly examined
the ways of Ishtar-Artemis-Dali (the Svan goddess of hunting) connection with the zoomorphic images of stags,
whose astral symbol is the moon. In this respect, one pattern of the openwork buckles (termed as Caucasian
bronze buckles) found in Ghebi (western Georgia) is a subject of special interest. It shows the image of the
goddess standing between two figures of fantastic stags (Fig.5). M. Khidasheli considers the female figure to be
the Great Mother connected with the moon (42, pp. 58-86; 63, pp. 40-45), referring to the study by F. Hanar
and other in which semantic relationship between the moon and the goddess riding a two-headed animal or pair
of animals is carefully examined. However, not discussing about the existed conception on Georgian Great

p. 90)]. The wide range of variants in the cult of the mother goddess most appropriately demonstrates a process of
religious assimilation and articulation.
Mother Nanas connection with the sun in the light of this evidence, the studies of M. Khidasheli and L.
Pantskhava leave reliability of such an assumption still under question, whereas, along with other evidences, the
same trait has been attested, as noted above in the iconography of the goddess Nana, like as Cybele.29
On the Kushan coins the lion-riding goddess depicted with crescent moon above her head is titled
Nano [(15, pp. 75-77; 77, p. 137) Fig.6], while reverse shows the image of the bull which is unlikely to be
random: the particular sacrifice offered to Nano/Nana was the cow or bull, perhaps because of the connection
of the animal with fertility.30 Along with the coins of the Kusano-Bactrian kings Kaniska and Huviska, Nana is
found on a Kushan intaglio: she is shown seated on a lion, and there is a crescent above her head with the horns
pointing upwards to either side (71. p. 84, Fig.10).

The archaeological finds unearthed in 1951 in Building No. 1 of the earliest settlements at
Katlanikhevi, located near the cave town of Uplistsikhe in Georgia include the clay head of a woman sculpted
in high relief (Fig.7). D. Khakhutaishvili suggests it is a ritual object representing the image of the Great
Goddess Nana, dating to the 1st millennium BC (41, pp. 19-29).
The sculpture, which has obsidian-encrusted eyes, seemingly had been attached to the clay wall,
through which it finds parallel, as D. Khakhutaishvili suggests, in the painted clay head of the goddess Ishtar,
attached to a temple wall of the Jemdet-Nasr period (3100-2900 BC) in the same manner. In addition, the
heads typological-iconographic traits (middle-parted hair rendered with a thickened layer of clay) reveal a
formal closeness with the well-known sculpture of the goddess from Uruk (Fig. 8), identified in some studies
with the goddess Inanna.
Among the objects discovered on Building No. 1s floor (fragment of a clay model of a bull-calf,
pottery pots and discs made of their pieces, damaged figures of animals, a bullock-cart wheel, pierced cobble-
stones, etc., Fig. 9) D. Khakhutaishvili interpreted the discoid-shaped items as representing a material
emanation of the solar cult. He thereby recognized Building No. 1 as a shrine of the Great Mother Nana [the
same Mze-Kali (Sun-Woman), Barbale].
In his attempt to examine semantic meaning of the bull-headed altar found in Building No. 3 at
Katlanikhevi D. Khakhutaishvili points out the ethnographic evidence of religious belief recorded by V.
Bardavelidze in Svaneti (northern Georgia) that the reproduction of cattle depends greatly upon having offered
bulls to the sun goddess. Thus, it is understandable that D. Khakhutaishvili connects the bull cult attested in
Katlanikhevi with the sun goddess, whereas, even putting aside other evidence, the connection of the bull with
the moon, widely known in ancient cultures, has been likewise reflected in the Ancient Greek Orphic Chants,

As pointed out by Vermaseren, the top of the entrance to the cella of a temple at Rhyzonia (Prinias) near Gortyns in
Crete, dated 626-600BC, is decorated with the two figures of Cybele, represented symmetrically opposite each other.
One is shown as accompanied by three panthers, the other by three deer (83, p. 71, Fig.26).
As it has been known, correlate to Nana the goddess Cybele's most solemn ritual was the Taurobolium, a sacrifice of a
bull. Referring to F. Cumonts study, Patterson suggests the Taurobolium must have existed in the temples of Anahita, in
Cappadocia ( 64, p. 28).
wherein the crescent moon is addressed thus: the luminous Selene, bull-horned moon. (62, p.18). In the
Persian religious thought, the sole-created Bull, the progenitor of the animal world, is invoked along with the
moon (Sr. I. 12; 2. 12; 18, p. 214).
As Khakhutaishvili suggests, a terracotta figurine of a bull with four holes on its back supposedly for
attaching something, which was found together with the Katlanikhevi anthropomorphic figure in Building No.
1, can be paralleled with the seal of the Jemdet-Nasr period showing a bull with an altar attached to its back
(Fig. 9). The scholar confines his observation solely to this detail, not pointing out the element of special
significance in this case: it seems more essential that the altar is crowned by the symbol of Inanna (a
wheatear) rather than the altar itself. Regrettably, the scholar has overlooked the evidence for reasons we can
If follow the line of thinking given above, then Khakhutaishvili would find in this evidence a direct
argument for taking the bull figurine as a sacrificial animal offered to the goddess who could well be named
Inanna or the Great Mother Nana as mentioned above, the bull was an animal sacrificed to Inanna/Nana. This
consideration is proved by archaeological evidence from the Oureki burial: together with the figurine of the
goddess with a child discussed below, a terracotta figurine of a bull (Fig. 10, Nos. 9, 10) was unearthed, which
T. Mikeladze connects with the Great Mother goddess, like the images of bulls on the reverse of 4th-century BC
Colchian coins, as their front side shows the image of this deity. T. Mikeladze supports his opinion with a
successful argument: in the same burial were also found figurines of lions or leopards (Fig.10, Nos. 13, 14), the
animals connected, as we saw above, with the Great Mother goddess Nana/Cybele (55, p. 67); scholars usually
assume that the animal figurines found in shrines may be regarded as attributes of the deities, rather than as
symbols of the god and goddess themselves (52, p. 78).

Let us turn to the problem of worship of the goddess known under name Nana-Nanaia.
In ca. 1700 B.C. the Elamite King Kuter-Nahhunte carried off Nans statue from of Uruk (Erech) and set it
up in Susa, where it remained, the object of veneration until Assurbanipal seized it in the seventh century and
restored it to Erech (76, p. 140; 11, p.31; 73, p. 237). Nans cult continued nevertheless to flourish in Susa,
where the cult of Nana had been introduced from Mesopotamia as early as the third millennium B.C. and the
goddess was named as the principal deity of that city. However, despite her importance among the native
population of Susa, Nana is not named on Seleucid coins from Susa, whereas Greek gods occupied an exclusive
position in the official cult of the Seleucids, oriental divinities with whom they were assimilated at an early
date, reappeared in the official pantheon of the city of Susa in the Parthian period. Thus Nana's astral aspect and
her function as a city goddess were assumed by Artemis with whom Nana was assimilated at Susa in the
Parthian period. The rayed halo and polos crown of Artemis represented on coins of Mithradates II, issued
around 110 B.C. at Susa (6, p. 538, Fig. 2), thus transferred Nana's functions to the syncretic cult of Artemis-
The cult of Nana which even reached Athens and Alexandria in the west, also spread to Armenia, the
Iranian plateau and the remote east. G. Azarpay argues that in Bactria where Nana was not assimilated with
Artemis, the iconography of the goddess remained strictly Near Eastern. The Kushan Nana whose image and
symbols appear on Kushan coins (one of them referred to above) of the second to the fourth century, was
obviously modeled after the Mesopotamian Nana who was the iconographic prototype for several female
divinities of the Indo-Iranian pantheon. Thus the Iranian Anahita, who was ultimately a river goddess, later
assumed the functions and manifestations of the Mesopotamian Nana (6, 539).31
According to II Maccabees I.13, the Seleucid king Antiochus IV (mid-2nd century BC) sacked the temple
of Nanaia in Persis, providing evidence that the cult of the goddess persisted in eastern Iran. This has been
proved by archaeological record: R. Ghirshman suggests that the thousands of the mother goddess figurines
found in Near East sites, particularly in Susa attest her cult worship, supposedly under name Nanai, from the
territory of Asia Minor to Susa. As pointed out by him, in Susa was venerated Nanaia which is the Semitic
name of Anahit (25, pp. 102-103)32
R. Ghirshmans view has been supported by M. Boyces opinion: Ishtar was worshipped there (in Susa
M.G.) also, and it seems that Persians identified both goddesses with their Anhiti and used the name Nana as
a by name for their own divinity, possibly because it sounded to Persian ear like a word for mother and hence
seemed an appropriate epithet for a protective female divinity (11, p. 31).
Referring to the landed property recorded in the documents from Nisa as yzn nnystnkn (yazan, Old Pers.
yadana) temple of Nanai. R. Fry suggests that this evidence favors the view that Nanai was identified
with Anahita (23, p. 274) Perhaps, it is not accident that the latter name (Anahit M.G.) is not referred to in
the documents from Nisa (23, p. 274).
As pointed out by J. Russell: It is difficult to separate the cult of Anahit from that of Nan (who was
worshipped also in Iranian lands, in Parthian times, as far east as Sogd), whose name, ultimately from Sumerian
Inanna, Lady of Heaven in later ages must have understood merely as a Lallwort for Mother (74, p. 372).
As noted above, in the Parthian period, Nana was widely venerated. An image of Artemis in Greek dress,
depicted on a tessera from Palmyra, actually identifies the Greek huntress goddess as Nanaia, as she is labeled
there as NNY. (6, p. 537; 73, p. 238). The Roman writer Tacitus calls Anhit the Persian Diana [(Annals
III.63), 73, p. 245]. The movement, characteristic of the Hellenistic time-period, was a great expansion of
syncretism, the equation or fusion of one god with another as being alike forms of the one divinity behind. The
consort of Zeus of Damascus and Zeus of Heliopolis (Baalbek) at Damascus and Heliopolis Atargatis, Lucian's
Syrian goddess, was originally a pointed stone (betyl), but had long since become a woman under the
influence of the invading Persian goddess Anahita (Anaitis); subsequently she often became a Greek city-
goddess (76, pp. 341-342) It should be noted here that Artemis is the daughter of Zeus (like as Nan and Nino
of Aramazd and Armazi respectively) who in the process of the syncretization of divinities in the Hellenistic

For a review of the literature on this question, see J. Rosenfield, The dynastic arts of the Kushans, pp. 83-91.
As pointed out by Russell, the hypothesis has been advanced that the names of the principal goddess of the ancient
Iranians and Armenians. ardv sr annhit, Damp Powerful Unblemished were at first cult epithets of the Avestan
river goddess Harakhvaiti (attested as the name of a province, Gk. Arachosia), cognate to Skt. Sarasvati. In Western Iran
and Anatolia, the goddess came to be known as Anahita or Anaitis (74, P.435).
epoch and even earlier33 became the equivalent of Ahura Mazda, the Iranians supreme divinity. Agathangelos
refers to Anahita as the daughter of great, manly Aramazd (Agath. 53).
In Armenia the temple of Nan, the goddess whose name is taken as of Mesopotamian origin, was in
the village T cil of the province Ekeik, facing the village Eriza, the center of the cult of Anahit, on the opposite
bank of the river Gayl. As suggested by A. Petrosyan, the proximity of the sanctuaries might have also reflected
some relations between the two deities (65, p.176).34 In modern scholarship is corroborated the view about that
the two goddesses were very similar, or equated, it seems, in their principal characteristics (73, pp. 235-253; 74,
p.282; 81, p. 33535).

Basing upon these data, and, particularly, the suggestion offered by M. Boyce about the motivation of
preference given by the Persians to the name Nana as to associating her with mother, with which J.
Russells opinion is in full accord, it seems plausible to think that the same must be held true for the Georgians
for whom Nana has the same meaning and to whom the worship of the Great Mother Goddess had been
known from the earliest times, as the archaeological records suggest, from the Chalcolithic era. The reason for
introduction of the cults or cult of Ainina/Danana into Georgia seemingly follows the common pattern - closely
related both geographically and culturally to Iran, Seleucid kingdom and Armenia, Georgia exhibits a wide
range of cultural and religious evidences in common with them, and whether or not the textual data concerning
the installation of the idols of Anina/Danina by the king Saurmag can be taken for reliable evidence, it can be

The Greek writer Aeschylus (525 B.C. 456 B.C.) in his Persia refers to Zeus instead of Ahura Mazda. Ahura Mazda
was a supreme god, who could become the universal god of all peoples V. Lukonin, touching a problem of syncretization
in the Seleucid and Parthian epochs, mentions: Rulers of the Empire - both of the late Seleucids and Parthian try to
receive their heavenly reflection through single divinities, and almost each of religious systems of the East in that time
applies for a role of world religion. A common religious language arises already in the early Hellenistic time. The cult of
a solar deity, called different names - the Semitic god Bel (in Elam), Aphlad (in Syria), the Iranian Ahura Mazda and
Mithra appears to be spread all over the Parthian Empire...It is necessary to mention that some Iranian deities at this
particular time receive anthropomorphic image.... [underline mine M.G; (48, p. 88)] J. Russell implies the same
phenomenon when writing: It seems that the religious tolerance and political stability of the Achaemenian Empire, and the
influence of the cult of a single, supreme god Ahura Mazda, encouraged the development in the northern Semitic world of
a trans-national monotheism. The syncretistic philosophies of the Hellenistic period, in which the various gods of different
nations were often regarded as the same divine personage possessing merely different names, can only have strengthened
such a trend (48, p. 171).
A Greek temple at Persepolis, that was used for the worship of the old gods after the conquests of Alexander, preserves
votive inscriptions, which are written not in Old or Middle Persian, but in Greek, the gods' names are Zeus Megistos
instead of Ohrmizd; Apolton and Helios for Mithra; Artemis and Q,ueen Athena for Anahit whose name is Lady.(35, p.
As pointed out by Russell , the Armenian Feast of the Transfiguration, Vardavar, celebrated on the seventh Sunday after
Pentecost, is a holiday of the waters, and, as such, retains aspects of the cult of Nane and Anahit (74, p. 469), the latter, as
we have seen, is preeminently the yazata of the waters in later Zoroastrianism. In Dersim until recent times, calves born
with a half-moon or star on their foreheads (both, presumably, were regarded as symbols of Venus) were sacrificed on
Vardavar, and offerings of flowers and branches were made to the Holy Mother of God. K. Kekelidze and M. van
Esbroeck associated the Georgian "Vardoba" (Athenagenoba) with the Armenian "Vardavar" and conjectured that the
word came into Georgian practice in the period of religious unity of Armenians and Georgians. On the basis of the
Georgian Polycephala, taking into the consideration the oldest Georgian and Armenian sources and Georgian ethnographic
materials, T, Mgalobslishvili suggests that Georgian "Vardoba" and Armenian "Vardavar" have the same source - the great
pagan feast of Asia Minor (54).
Nane (Armenia, Babylonia, Sumer). also known as Anahita, Nanea, Nana .
safely asserted that it was in this contexts that the figure of such a divine being or beings emerged in the
kingdom of Kartli.
Given the fact that Anahita has been equated with Nana (Nane, Nanaia), if follow the line of the
linguistic interpretations of the names of deities in question, the hypothesis about identification of Ainina
(Anahita) and Da-Nana (Nana) seems reasonable, since it may be considered as an adequate testimony of the
melting-pot of religious ideas and currents around the times of Saurmags reign.
Therefore, we should admit the possibility that the deities referred to in Georgian writings under the
names Ainina/Danana are in fact one and the same, or interchangeable divinities, of course, if accept the
conception of their identification with Anahita and Nana, for attestation of which let us look for broader
parallels both in textual sources and iconography.

It is conceivable that the Mother Goddess was venerated as Nanai later too, in the Sassanian era, which
is evidenced by one historical document: Akbalach, the Christian nobleman who was a contemporary of
Shahinshah Bahram (388-399 B.C.), son of Sapur II, narrates that Sapur transferred ninety families from the
southern district of Mesene to Mesopotamia and settled them in the village which was named Ninety after
number of the families that were transferred together with their idol Nanai: they venerated Nanai whom they
had brought from their native land. (66, p. 45).36 In the 4th century AD, the same Sasanian king Sapur II
commanded a general named Mucain or Mucin, a recent convert to Christianity, to worship the Sun, Moon, Fire,
Zeus, Bel, Nebo and Nanai the great goddess of all the world (73, p. 238). The cult of the latter had also been
established in remote Sogd Nanai was the city goddess of Panjicant, and was called the Lady.
Placed in the very heart of the cradle-land of the agricultural civilization of Western Asia, the Iranian
plateau hardly could fail to make its contribution to the development and diffusion of this goddess cult, which
was firmly established in the peripheral regions of ancient Persia.

I should like to mention here, for I shall not return to the subject, certain archaeological data which
point to resemblance to the cult figurines of female deities of Georgia and to those of unearthed outside
exhibiting inter-cultural relation between them. A closer look at these deities in context and the evidence for
their origins follows and similarities in deities attributes and iconography between periods or between cultures
may lead us to the conclusion that we are dealing with the same deity.

This event finds a striking parallel in the KC: Azo, a legendary ruler of Georgians immigrated thousand
houses of commoners (mdabioy) and ten noblemen (mtavari)) houses from his original homeland Arian-Kartli
(identified with Iranian Kartli) and settled them and himself in Mtskheta where he set up two idols Gats and Gayim
referred to in Georgian writings as the deities of the Georgians ancestors. The precise location of Arian-Kartli, the date
of its foundation, and the identity of its rulers cannot be determined by means of surviving documentary evidence. On the
basis of Classical sources we may reasonably infer, however, that the ruler of Aryan Kartli owed his position to the Great
King of Achaemenid Iran.
Herodotus mentions that the nineteenth satrapy included the Moschi [cf. Mesxis], Tibareni [cf. Iberians], Macrones,
Mossynoeci, and Mares. Herodotus adds that Gifts were also required of the Colchians and their neighbours as far as the
Caucasian mountains (which is as far as the Persian rule reaches, the country north of the Caucasus paying no regard to the
Persians) ... . (Herodotus, III, 89-97). Arian Kartli, Kartli and the entire zone of eastern Georgia was integrated into the
expansive Iranian Commonwealth under the Achaemenids, and then, in late antiquity, under the Sasanids. Although
Colchis/Egrisi had close ties to the Mediterranean world of the Greeks and Romans, the influence of Zoroastrianism was
also traceable there (49, pp. 241-275; 79, pp. 11-70; 80, pp. 115-124).
A terracotta statuette of a mother suckling a child, presumably Nana and Attis was found at Koy
Krylgan Kala in Chorasmia; the same scene is shown on a medallion of greenish glass mounted in silver with a
ring at the top for a neck-chain, from Balalyk Tepe, also in Chorasmia (22, pp. 96, 119).
In Armenia, large number of terracotta figurines at Artaxata and Armavir represent a lady enthroned,
dressed in robes and wearing a veil suspended from her high tiara. To her left stands a naked little boy. These
figurines have been suggested to be the cult statues of Great Mother and her child Attis, and it is likely that
the goddess was called by the name Nan (73, pp. 241-242), as the goddess likened to the Great Mother (74,
The terracotta mother-and-child figurines of the type elsewhere termed Isis lactans, were found in
Armenia and they are suggested to represent Nan and Attis, the legend of which is associated with the same
of the young king Ara the Beautiful and the Assyrian queen Semiramis narrated by the Armenian historian
Moses Xorenaci.37
Terracotta figurines of a naked woman with a child dated back to the first half of the Early Iron Age and
recognized as the Great Mother Cybele and Attis, widely attested both in the Eastern and Aegean worlds from
Neolithic time through the Hellenistic period, find a parallel in the small-scale bronze sculpture unearthed in
No. 3 burial at Oureki, in the region of ancient Colchis, which has been interpreted by T. Mikeladze as
representing the Great Mother goddess [(Fig. 10, No. 4), 55, pp. 63-66]. The iconography of the seated figure of
a naked woman holding a child with both hands, is very similar to that of discovered at the Heraion on Samos.
Some of the types of votives may assist us in understanding the nature of the deity worshipped at this
Scholars have tended to argue that the production centre of some bronze figurines found in the
sanctuary of Hera on Samos must have been in Colchis, where almost identical pieces came to light at several
places (55, p.65). These early contacts with the Greek world rose sharply in the sixth century BC, when the first
Greek settlers reached the eastern shore of the Black Sea.
A number of examples of female riders seated side-saddle on a quadruped (horse or donkey) and
holding a baby from the eight to seventh century BC tombs at the sites of Oureki and Mukhurcha38 have
attracted attention both of Georgian and Western scholars.39 The example illustrated by Lordkipanidze and
Mikeladze provides the closest known parallel to the Samian bronze (46, p. 44, Fig.8).
The view about the provenance of such type figurines has been shared and further developed in the
study of M. Voyatzis Votive Riders Seated Side-Saddle at Early Greek Sanctuaries,40 where has drawn quite
considerable conclusions that the Samian bronze rider seated side-saddle, as well as other Caucasian bronzes
from the Heraion on Samos suggest that some links with the Caucasus went back to the eight century BC. The

For this question see 73, pp. 45, 400, 415; 74, pp. 282, 439
I express my thanks to Dr. R. Papuashvili for giving me the opportunity to access to unpublished archaeological
materials unearthed at this site.

In his study devoted to the bronzes from Samos, Jantzen argues that the bronze rider of Samos is the most interesting of
all the Caucasian imports to Samos (38, n.10, 80-4, B 452).
Im deeply indebted and thankful to Dr. M. Voyatzis for providing me with the referred to study.
enigmatic Samos rider thus appears to possess a mixture of traits, but has a predominantly Caucasian
appearance. This apparent combination of influences speak for a workshop situated somewhere, where Greek,
Orientalizing and Caucasian elements were all present, possibly on Samos itself....The Samos bronze may
initially have been influenced by Olimpian rider or another rider statuette, but is clearly the product of a
different tradition and is apparently meant to portray the Caucasian Great Mother (84, p. 272).
The archaeological excavations carried out in Tsaishi (ancient Colchis) during last two years have
furnished new material which is of special importance for our study. This diverse and rich collection of objects
reflects a strong and active cult over a long period of time with a concentration in the eighth and seventh
centuries BC., or sometimes, even earlier. It is pleasant to mention that the number of the above-mentioned type
of female riders have been enlarged to a considerable extent through the finds from this site which needs
further line of study and which once more confirms the suggestion about their Georgian provenance.
Amongst the small-scale sculptures found in Tsaishi a votive bronze figurine of a female nude with her
hands clasped on her breast (Fig. 11) finds the closest parallel with that of from Tegea of an earlier date (the
12th century BC) which, as suggested by scholars, may represent an Eastern goddess type who later became
associated with Aphrodite (27, p. 139, cf. Fig. 63).
All of these archaeological records, beginning with most ancient women figurines from Khramis Didi
Gora and other districts indicate to unbroken and continuous chain of the worship of the Great Mother goddess
in Georgia, which exhibits correspondence in common trends to that of practiced in other countries, to say
nothing about the existence of the sculptured image of Rea41-Phasiane (Cybele),42 holding a tympanum in her
hand and standing together with two lions at the River Phasis in Colchis as described by the second century AD
Roman writer Arrian: 43
At the entrance to the Phasis, to the left stands Phasian Theos. Judging by its appearance this is Rhea;
and indeed, she holds a cymbal in her hands, and lions are at the throne; and she is seated like [Rhea] of Phidias
in the Metroon of Athens44 (Arr., Periplus, 11).

The fusion of Rhea, Mother of the gods, with the Great Anatolian (i.e. Phrygian as well as Lydian) goddess Cybele,
Mother of the gods, men, beasts and all of nature is known to be universally acknowledged. The time for the Greek
colonization was probably the period when the Anatolian goddess Cybele was combined with the goddess Rhea, the
Mother of the Gods, who represented the type of Great Goddesses, numerous in the Eastern Mediterranean. These
goddesses possessed specific characteristics like giving and protecting all forms of life, domination over the nature and the
wild beasts as potnia thern and had their residence on the big mountains (60, p.23) A striking evidence is encountered in
the study of G. Showerman The Great Mother of Gods about that Neanthes of Cyzicus (a disciple of Philiscus of Miletus,
lived about 241 BC) attributed founding of the cult of Rhea (meaning the Phrygian Great Mother) in his city to the
Argonauts (75, p. 230), who traveled to Colchis in pursuit of magical Golden Fleece. A further investigation of this issue
perhaps will impart new strokes to the goddess attested in Georgian realm.
It is the generally accepted opinion, based on very strong evidence, that the Cretan Rhea and the Phrygian Cybele are
one and the same goddess of the earlier Anatolian populations, and we may believe that they were merely a double growth
from the same root (20, vol.3, p.299).
V. Bardavelidze rightly recognizes her as the Great Goddess Nana. Although she offers this identification without
entering into discussion and bringing forward any kind of proof, however, this is the only evidence through which we can
understand that the Great Goddess Nana discussed in her studies is not imagined by the scholar as the product of local,
Georgian religious thought.
It is interesting that the coin ascribed by Babelon to a king of Sophone or Commagene of the second century BC,
represents on the reverse a goddess seated frontally above and between two winged, leonine creatures. The goddess is
suggested to be a figure of Nan (73, p. 242).
It is noteworthy that the statue in the Athenian Metroon which the Phasiane Theos resembled, and which Arrian called
Discussing about the goddess Rhea Phasiane, O. Loedkipanidze argues that Phasiane must probably be
considered to have been one of the local names of Rhea/Cybele, derived from the name of locality, and
consequently Phasiane Theos ought to be translated the Goddess Phasiane, denoting the goddess
Rhea/Cybele or the Great Mother at Phasis. Contrary Boltunovas assertion about that the name of the goddess
at Phasis remained unknown to Arrian and he called it Phasiane Theos, O. Lordkipanidze argumentatively
suggests that it was not Arrian, who invented this name; it doubtless existed prior to Arrian and was the local
name of the Great Goddess or Mother of Gods Rhes/Cybele, like Pessinuntis, Dindymene, Sipylene, Plakione,
Tolypiane, and the like. Further he argues that the religious and mythical image of Phasiane Theos that had
become one of the chief deities of Phasis, may possibly go back to the cult of local, Colchian goddess, close in
her essence to Cybele: ...such may be the cult of Great Mother, revered by many peoples from ancient times.
Most of the archaeological finds related to the cult of Great Mother in Colchis a bronze sculpture of a woman
with an infant, seated on the throne, with miniature sculptures of birds, a bull, a panther and a chamios found in
a burial complex in the village of Nigvziani (25 km south-east of Poti former Phasis) should be considered
one of the most striking. The goddess with an infant, seated on a throne, and surrounded by birds and animals, is
undoubtedly the Great Mother. The cult of the Great Goddess or Great Mother is attested in most diverse
manifestations archaeologically in various regions of Colchis. Colchis was certainly once considered to have
been one of the seats of the Great Mother/Rhea/Cybele. (45, pp. 91-92)45
Thus, as it may be seen, the theory of connection of Great Mother Nana with the sun grounded itself
upon ethnography-based doubtful approaches and assumptions, in no way finds support in that of corroborated
about the deity known under this name across Near and Middle East, since the Georgian both textual and
archaeological evidences of her worship fall in the context common to them. Furthermore, we have no reason to
suggest that Georgia was exception in this respect, but quite to the contrary situated at crossroad of Eastern
and Western worlds, the country had been a bridge for cross-cultural interactions over its long history, the
evidence, most clearly reflected in archaeological finds furnishing extensive information both on eastern and
western influences.

There is an archaeological evidence in Georgia which is of crucial significance four our study as it
appears, as suggested, the place where a memory of Anahitas cult survived, contributing thereby independent
evidence to the solution of our question about identity of Ainina and Anahita, the conception corroborated till
now by solely linguistic approach.
Amongst the archaeological remains bearing the traits of influence of the Iranian architecture46 is an
enormous sanctuary unearthed at the Dedophlis Mindori (Queens47 Field) by the archaeological expedition

Rhea, is elwhere called Magna Mater (Plin., NH, XXVI, 17) or Meter Theos (Paus., I, 3,5).
According to Strabo, some assert that the Titans gave Rhea armed attendants, Corybantes, who came from Baxtriana,
others say, from Colchis (Strabo, Geo. X, 3,19).
It has been suggested by scholars that a certain group of the structures discovered at the archaeological sites of
Gumbati, Samadlo, tsikhia-Gora represent the Iberian (Kartlian) version of Zoroastrian fire temples.
Denoting queen, the Georgian word dedophali literary means mother-mistress. Although we should probably be
careful with associating dedophali with lady (kalbatoni, woman-mistress), there is some evidence in favor of this point:
instead of the Lady applied to Inanna, she sometimes is referred to as Queen Inanna (see p. 6), like as, it seems, in
initiated by I. Gagoshidze in the seventies of the last century. It has attracted the attention of several scholars
over the years because of its distinctive appearance and uniqueness.
The Dedophlis Mindory territory which covers 6250 acres in the Kareli district, is located in Kartli.
The huge temenos (255X150m) consists of the main temple surrounded by the immense yard and nine minor
temples. Exhaustive examination of architectural structures and details, the objects discovered within the
temenos and its near vicinity as well as the toponym of the site suggest I. Gagoshidze to date the sanctuary to
the late second-early first century BC48 and attribute the main temple as a Zoroastrian fire temple49 typical of
the Parthian epoch, which must have been consecrated to the Iranian Ardvi Sura Anahita or Anahitas type
local goddess. Basing upon written sources I. Gagoshidze assumes that the site must have been fallen within
the kings domain in its times, that is, the Parthian epoch, and it is the most impressive size and grandiosity of
the architectural complex that associates its construction exclusively with the Kartlian king and which favors,
as I. Gagoshidze suggests, with the existence of royal cult there. The kings and queens of Kartli are supposed
to have had considered themselves as the earthly representatives of the gods worshipped in the kingdom of
Kartli. As studied by I. Gagoshidze, the mediaeval period records make clear that the land of Dedophlis
Mindory was once subjected to the Georgian queens and it is highly probable that this tradition comes from
the pre-Christian times, when the main temple of Anahita, a heavenly prototype of queens was constructed.50
Amongst the objects discovered in the vicinity called Dedophlis Gora (Queens Hill) a golden belt
merits special attention. It shows womans head, worked in high relief and crowned with crescent and adorned
with a diadem, earrings and necklace (Fig.12). Her iconography is very similar to that of the goddess Anahit
widely known in the Parthian epoch, a period of acquiring the supremacy in the Zoroastrian Trinity (Ahura
Mazda, Mithra, Anahit) by her.
It is highly tempting, as noted by I. Gagoshidze, to suggest a fine pestle and mortar discovered in the
main temple, to be the vessel used for preparing the holy water Haoma. Another argument supporting the
scholars line of thinking is the etymology of the villages located nearby-Aradeti, Eredvi, the roots of which -
Ard, Erdv seem to be connected with the goddess name. It is noticeable that there is a spring nearby the main
temple called Dedophlis Ckaro (Queens Spring) as well as the early tenth century AD Christian church
in which the vestige of a pagan rite connected to fertility and childbirth is traceable: while reciting prayers for
fertility, women who are barren or have lost milk for their newborn babies, use to rub oil into the grape

Armenia too, where the great goddess, assuming national character among Armenians, was referred to as Queen Anahit
(4, p. 35).
The radiocarbon dating of this structure suggests a date between the second half of the third and the first half of the
second centuries BC, although because of some technical moments I. Gagoshidze expresses reservation in dating it
earlier the beginning of the second century BC.
Being a subject of scholarly debate in past, recently this view has been supported by specialists.
I cannot judge the felicitousness of this assumption as it seems more plausible to connect the toponym Dedophali with
the Goddess epithet I. Gagoshidze discusses about (see below), rather than associate a historical queen with the sites
name, which needs a further line of special investigation, but in general, such a view has its grounds: a parallelism
between heavenly and earthly kingship can be seen on the palace reliefs in Persepolis and on a great number of
Achaemenian seals on which the king, depicted usually in the ring, is shown, like the soaring figure of Ahura Mazd
above him, encircled by the world ring with his right hand stretched out in the gesture of omnipotence (44-A, p. 93, Fig.
65b; 29, p. 179.). In this double-picture we find an expression of the true Eastern conception of the relationship between
heaven and earth, of the reflection of heavenly kingship in an earthly figure, but the question arising here is whether not
kings, but queens might be associated with the goddesses.
bunch-like figures carved on the capital of the column, with which I. Gagoshidze associates the multi-breast
image of Artemis of Ephesus, a well-known goddess of fertility and childbirth.51 Such an association would
seem more plausible if take into account the sculls of stags, goats and wild bears more than hundred in
number unearthed at the main temple, in which a great majority are those of stags, the animal sacred to
Artemis (Anahita), thereby they might be offered to the goddess in whose honor the main temple was
dedicated. All of these evidences encourage I. Gagoshidze to conclude that the native population, as well as
the royal family and the noblemen in the central Kartli were worshippers of the Iranian gods, who might well
be merged with local astral divinities52 acquiring thereby somewhat modified forms.
Although in my opinion, there is no unevenness surrounding the attribution of the Dedophlis Mindory53
sanctuary as to be consecrated to the goddess Anahita, we can understand the reason why the author of this
important study hasnt forged a connection between the textual evidence of the establishment of the cult of
Ainina (Anahita) and the archaeological record of Dedophlis Mindori, which would be unquestionably most
supporting argument for reliability of his assertions. While discussing about the dissemination of the cult of
Ardvi Sura Anahita as the goddess rightly equated by him with the Semitic Nanaia and Atargatis, the Greek
Aphrodite and Artemis and the Asia Minor Cybele, I. Gagoshidze remarks that the worship of Anahitas
cult in Georgia traces back to that of ancient and developed goddess of fertility venerated there as the sun-
goddess, the Great Mother of gods (24, p.113). However, referring to the image of Anahita shown with
crescent on the belt, I. Gagoshidze consequently fails to expose concrete correspondences between her and
Great Mother goddess being attributed by him in such a manner. The examination of the noted goddesses not in
their entirety but with the preconceived idea has led him to unsuccessful attempt to connect someway Anahita-
Artemis lunar character not to her prototype Great Mother goddess but quite unexpectedly, to the moon god54
as a divinity uniting in himself a female hypostases, overlooking thereby direct connections of the syncretic
goddesses in terms of their lunar aspect discussed above.
It is due to a lack of consistency in study of the Great Mother goddess on Georgian evidence that some
archaeological records had not been noticed by I. Gagoshidze: together with the belt, there were unearthed two
objects at the site of Dedophlis Gora. One of them is eight-pointed gold star, the symbol of Inanna-Ishtar, the
existence of which would serve as a visual indication of identity of Inanna-Ishtar-Anahita-Nana and the second
one is a gold crescentic pendant once more associating the goddess with the moon. It is conceivable that if not
the firmly rooted in Georgian scholarly circulation conception on solar character of the Great Mother goddess,

This evidence strikingly corresponds to the tradition of the Kurdish tribesmen of Dersizm, who spoke of a Spring of
Anahit whose water they called mothers milk (73, p. 252)
It should be mentioned that the problem of local astral divinities is imbued with total obscurity.
At the foot of Mt Arnos in Vaspurakan in Armenia, is Nanenic j or of "Valley of Nane-ankc and it has been suggested
that the valley was named after a temple of Nane which may once have stood there (73, p. 241).
We shall remind the reader the conception on the triad of divinities headed by the moon (male) god corroborated in
Georgian scholarship which needs further revision and supplementation, as it seems as doubtful as the correlation of the
Great Mother Goddess with the sun.
Although it is true that in the later period of Greek religious thought Artemis was regarded as a lunar divinity, and in the
latest Graeco-Asiatic religious system she came to be closely associated with the Phrygian moon-god Men (21, p. 486) this
evidence in no way supports I. Gagoshidzes approach to the problem.
he wouldnt face difficulties in tracing the ways of transformation and diffusions these goddesses had
undergone through millennia in various civilizations under various names, with which Georgian evidence
exhibits, as it might be seen, apparent coincidence.
On my side, I should submit additional evidence in support of both I. Gagoshidzes observation focused
on reflection of pagan custom viewed in connection with fertility being associated with Artemis and the identity
of the latter with Anahita. In his History of Zoroastrianism M. Dhalla notes that as Zoroastrian texts (Ys. 65.2;
Yt. 5. 2, 87; Ny. 4. 3; Yd. 7. 16) allow us to think, Ardvi Sura Anahita bestows fruitfulness to women; she
purifies the seeds of all males and the wombs of all females for bearing. She, as a divine bestower, gives easy
childbirth to all females, and gives them right and timely milk (18, p. 227).
These reinforcing parallels inclines us to suggest that the traces of Anahita or, as referred to by I.
Gagoshidze, Anahitas type goddess worship in Kartli hardly seem doubtful, and thereby this archaeological
evidence provides a clue to our line of thought centered around identity of Ainina/Danana and Anahita/Nana,
whose names found in our texts evidently represent the same admixture of divine attributes and functions that
have become so intertwined in near to Georgia countries by the period of introduction of their cults (I would
say, cult) into Kartli. But the absence of systematic study of divinities on Georgian evidence has regretfully
tended I. Gagoshidze to misleading conclusion: carefully associating the construction of the sanctuary with the
King Pharnajom or possibly, his successor Arshake, he makes no reference to the textual evidence related to the
installation by the former king the idol of Zaden which, whether he is or not of the Persian origin, has
indisputably no points of connections with Ainina/Anahita. The arguments offered by the author on this point
most likely are based on somewhat close parallels in chronological terms between the periods of the sanctuary
construction and the two kings reign, although the sites both radiocarbon and stylistic dating hardly
contradicts to that of the reign of Saurmag (r.234-159BC), during or shortly after which the main temple of
Anahita or Anahitas type goddess might easily be constructed in the kingdom of Karti, where the
Zoroastrian religious orientation had been determined by the worship of Armazi, the divinity without a doubt
related to the Iranian Ahura Mazda.
Our conjecture about that the Dedophlis Mindori main temple might be named after the alternative names
of one and the same deities Ainina/Danana, is expected to be strengthened by the fact that at Susa, classical
sources frequently refer to a temple of Nanaia-Artemis-Diana, a sanctuary which, as pointed out by J.
Rosenfield, ....have been virtually a temple-state,...where the worship of the goddess (and not goddesses
although being referred to under different names M.G.) can be traced to unbroken tradition back to the third
millennium BC (71. pp. 86-87).55 As suggested by the scholar, although the identification of the Kushan Nana
as Anhit should not be made without caution, ...however, speculatively, there is no obvious reason why

In the same respect should be mentioned the evidence submitted by J. Rosenfield in his study: discussing about the cult
of Inanna-Ishtar-Astarte persisted into the Parthian epoch, he mentions that at Dura-Europos there was a vast temple-
complex, its early phases dated roughly to the third and second centuries BC. In inscriptions there, the deity was called
both Nanaia and Artemis, as she was in classical literary sources...In the coins of Kanishka, the goddess was given two
names...but instead of Artemis she was called Nanaia in the Western version and Nana in the Eastern one (Ros. 85). It is
striking that in Mingrelian (western Georgia, former Colchis) old folk songs Nanaia Nana occur together.
It is to be noted, that in the temple of Artemis-Nanaia, at Dura-Europos was discovered the bust of Nana depicted inside a lead patera
which shows her with a bejewelled crown and encircled by a laurel wreat (6, p. 537, Fig.1)
Nanaia and Anhit could not have been combined syncretically, because the religious value of both was very
similar. Classical sources used the rubrics Artemis and Diana and Aphrodite to describe both and there are even
some suggestions that Anhit herself might have been an ancient offshoot of the Inanna-Ishtar cult which had
spread onto the Iranian plateau in pre-Zoroastrian times and adopted certain Iranian features...and the spirit of
her cult lies closer to the Mother Goddess in the Near East (71, p. 88). As it may be seen, the scholars view is
in full accordance with the indications discussed above in this respect.
This evidence, in our opinion, once more makes clear that Ainina and Danana, resp. Anahita-
Nana/Nanaia-Artemis might have been the goddess to whom the sanctuary associated by I. Gagoshidze with the
cult of Anahita had been consecrated and who appears thereby the bridge providing a significant link between
Georgian textual and archaeological records.

Although any of the problems I have stated here still invite further research which may considerably
modify our theories, basing upon all the indications by which an attempt has been made to achieve a
comparative survey of the goddesses, Im inclined to think that there is a ground which justify the linguistic
identity of Anahit/Nana and Anina/Danana.
J. Russell in his studies notes that the pagan worship of Anahit and Nan, the two goddesses who seem to
heva derived many of their characteristics from the Great Mother goddess of ancient Asia Minor, may in part
survive still in the reverence paid by Armenian Christians to the Virgin Mary (73, p. 235).

One is inevitably reminded of the epithet applied to the Virgin in the mediaeval Georgian chants: the
Mother of God, thou are the Moon perhaps, echoing that of the most remote Great Mother goddess.....

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