THE mythology of ancient Armenia is a rich blend of indigenous traditions with imported ideas from neighbouring cultures and migrating peoples added over the centuries. The legends and stories helped to explain natural phenomena, provide an explanation of the nation’s origins, and commemorate key historical events such as wars and invasions.
The religion of Armenia’s first recorded state, Urartu, which was itself a confederation of smaller kingdoms, flourished principally in ancient Armenia from the 9th to 6th century BCE. The Urartu civilization was a unique mix of indigenous, Hurrian, and Mesopotamian gods and symbolism. The pantheon was headed by the trinity of Haldi (god of war), Teisheba (god of storms), and Shivini (the sun god), who were the principal beneficiaries of sacrifices and temples built in their honour. There were others, as attested by a 9th-century BCE inscription discovered in a niche in the mountains near the capital Tushpa (Van). The list, inscribed in duplicate, mentions 79 gods.