Lapis lazuli is one of the most popular stones from the beginning of human history. Its deep, “cosmic” blue color is a symbol of royal persons and Gods, a symbol of honor, strength, spirit and vision. It is also a universal symbol of wisdom and truth.
The properties and value of the stone is lapis lazuli are really exceptional. In ancient times lapis lazuli was especially appreciated because of its beautiful color and the valuable ultramarine dye derived from it.
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“Lapis lazuli is a sky-blue color. A good one is that which has no veins and white spots, does not change color in fire and has golden specks “– wrote the Armenian historian of the 17th century Arakel Davrizhetsi.
Today this wonderful stone is considered semi-precious, but in the deepest antiquity and at least until the XVII century it was considered precious. “… this is a genuine precious stone ..” -testifies Arakel.
Even for 2-3 millennium BC, Sumerian queens proudly wore gold jewelry with lapis lazuli. Its color and golden specks symbolized the starry sky and, apparently, it was believed that possessing this marvellous stone is the same as having a piece of the starry sky. Even on their last journey, the queens wearing jewelry with the dominant presence of lapis lazuli, while the mourners pronounced the spell: “Your beautiful lapis lazuli does not split the cutter in the underworld!” (“The Descent of Innin into the Underworld”),
In the large Sumerian city of Ur, the lunar god was depicted in the form of a bull with a lapis lazuli beard.
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In the Sumerian temples, crypts, tombs excavated in the 20th century, many items, real works of art encrusted with lapis lazuli were found, even the signs of dominion and court in Sumerian epics literally meant: “a measuring ruler made of lapis lazuli.” And even here, we are able, through the Armenian language, to explain the real meaning of such a strange phenomenon, at first glance, as the fact that the measuring ruler is a symbol of dominion and court. The fact is that in Armenian, the word “ruler” is translated as քանոն (qanawn), which has another meaning “canon, law”, so it is not surprising that the ruler is a symbol of dominion and judgment, but why is the lazurite ruler? Yes, because the laws in Sumer came from the same place, from where lapis lazuli …
Many researchers quite reasonably believe that in Sumerians valued lapis lazuli more than any other precious stones. But not only due to this fact the stone of Sumerian queens is interesting.
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In the mythology of the Sumerians, the goddess Inanna (the predecessor of Aphrodite and Venus) travelled to the world of people with the help of lapis lazuli and measured the length of human lives. These crystals were considered to be a divine flesh, and according to the beliefs the Gods were crystalline beings.
Lapis Lazuli in epic poetry
As lapis lazuli very often mentioned in the Sumerian epic poetry, the stone became one of the main pointers in the problem of historical character. The fact is that neither in the Sumerian surroundings, nor anywhere else in the neighborhood with them, was possible to produce lapis lazuli, and even with such a magnificent quality. It follows from the same writings that the main suppliers of processed lapis lazuli to Sumer were the inhabitants of Aratta. The exact location of this country is still unknown. Various hypotheses are proposed and, as I have already said, lapis lazuli is considered one of the main indicators for solving this problem. For example, it is known that such high-quality lapis lazuli can be extracted only in the north of Afghanistan in Badakhshan and therefore a hypothesis arose ( according to author V.Sirianidi), who stated that Aratta was located exactly there, in the north of Afghanistan. This hypothesis relies mainly on the lines from the poem “Enmercar and the High Priest of Aratta,” which literally says the following: “..lapis lazuli are collected from at its deposits for her [the goddess Innin].”
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However, for a number of reasons, this hypothesis finds no evidence. There are many other hypotheses, mainly based on the idea of reexport of lapis lazuli, but I do not consider it possible and necessary to enumerate them. The only thing that exactly follows from all this, is the categorical rejection of the hypothesis according to which Aratta could be located somewhere in the territory of historical Armenia.
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Meanwhile, among the other things, what else we have to talk about this problem, the world of science will still have to pay attention to Armenia as a country where lapis lazuli production has been strongly developed since ancient times. If this were not so, then it would be very surprising to see why the ancient Greek scholars Theophrastus and Pliny II in their works called lapis lazuli “Armenian stone”. This state of affairs is possible only if Armenians have already monopolized Theophrastspheres of processing and trade of lapis lazuli for many centuries before Theophrastus, that is, long before the 4th century BC. It’s amazing why this fact has not been taken into account until now …
Moreover, according to the evidence of the Armenian historian Arakel Davrizhetsi, we can trace the ways in which lapis lazuli was transported from Badakhshan came to Armenia. With knowledge of this matter describing the characteristics of quality lapis lazuli, Araqel Davrizhetsi, writes that this quality “corresponds only to the stone mined in the mines of Badakhshan.” About stones from Kash and Shamishaide Arakel responds scornfully, calling them counterfeit, while about lapis lazuli from Badakhshan speaks with admiration – “This is a genuine jewel!” And a little further he pronounces the next, very important for us phrase – “We get it from Uzbeks, “that is, those very indigenous inhabitants of northern Afghanistan. In fact, in the 17th century, Armenians still had direct trade relations with one of the main ethnic groups of the population of northern Afghanistan, where Badakhshan is located. Certainly it is possible to assume that there is no reason to deny that this scheme of supplies of Badakhshan’s lapis lazuli was used from the deepest antiquity, when the sumerian cililisation existed and flourished.