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The Bronze Head of Anahit in the British Museum

The British Museum in London houses a remarkable artifact from ancient Armenia: the Bronze Head of the Goddess Anahit. This artifact, dating back to the 2nd-4th centuries BC, is a significant representation of the late Hellenistic period.

Anahit (Armenian: Անահիտ) is the goddess of fertility, healing, wisdom, and water in Armenian mythology. In early periods, she was also the goddess of war. By the 5th century BCE, she became the main deity in Armenia alongside Aramazd.

 

The bronze head of Anahit was found in 1872 by an old man named Youssouf, who was digging in his field with a pickaxe, at a depth of around 2 feet (0.61 m), near the village of Sadak. The man uncovered fragments of a bronze statue, including the head and a hand. The head was acquired in Constantinople by Savas Kougioumtsoglou, a Greek antiquities dealer, who passed it to another dealer, Photiades Bey, then the Ottoman ambassador to Italy. Photiades took it to Rome, where it was sold to the art dealer Alessandro Castellani, an Italian goldsmith and collector, who, in turn, sold it to the British Museum in 1873.


The Bronze Head of Anahit

 

In a landmark agreement between the Museum of the History of Armenia and the British Museum, the head of the Goddess Anahit will be exhibited in Yerevan for the first time in September 2024. This event marks a significant moment in the appreciation and study of Armenian heritage.



Anahit on a 5,000 Armenian dram banknote, in circulation from 1995 to 2005

 

The Bronze Head of Anahit is not just an artifact; it’s a testament to the rich history and cultural heritage of Armenia. Its journey from Sadak to the British Museum, and soon to Yerevan, is a story worth telling and retelling.

 

 

 

 

 

 Gallery

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