Water sanctuary of Anahita found in Iraqi Kurdistan

"A lost royal city where worshippers prayed to a water goddess has been found, researchers believe. A team of scientists think they may have found the lost city of Natounia in modern Iraqi Kurdistan and whose existence was known only by its mention on ancient bonze coins. ... on the site of an ancient fortress in modern Iraqi Kurdistan that has been the subject of study for a decade. ... Situated on the flanks of Mount Piramagrun in the Zagros Mountains, the settlement boasted kilometres-long fortifications but also two smaller settlements for which it is named. ... Until now, the existence of Natounia on the Kapros, or alternatively as Natounissarokerta, had only been documented on seven bronze coins dating from the first century BC." ...

"Also found was a sanctuary-style complex where heavy rains would produce a waterfall into a monumental stone structure, with a staircase carved into the bedrock. Researchers say the prominence of water suggests a cultic link to the Zoroastrian Iranian goddess Anahita, who was venerated as a divinity of "the Waters".

They omit to mention that she was the Iranian great goddess. Ardvi Sura Anahita, “lofty, mighty immaculate one” appears to precede Ahura Mazda as the deity honored in the ancient fire temples, like the one at Istakhr, which survived into the 7th CE.

Anahita lives among the stars, is the guardian of creation, and rides in a chariot drawn by four white horses, called wind, rain, cloud and sleet. Aban Yasht (5th), an Avestan hymn, dedicated to Anahita, praises her for purifying semen and wombs, protecting mothers in childbirth and giving milk:

“life-increasing and holy, herd-increasing and holy, fold-increasing and holy, wealth-increasing and holy, the country-increasing and holy” …

“strong and bright, tall and beautiful of form, who sends down by day and by night a flow of motherly waters as large as all the waters that run along the earth, and who runs powerfully”
[Translation by Max Mueller, Sacred Books of the East, vol 23]

Anahita is represented conferring sovereignty on kings in rock-cut reliefs at various sites in Iran. Yasht 5 says Anahita wore a garment of 300 beaver skins, and her statue was dressed in golden robes. Her name means “Immaculate.”

In ancient times veneration of Anahita / Anahid spread to Asia Minor, especially Armenia, but also further west, where her name was hellenized to Anaïtis. In the Sassanian period, up to about 600 CE, silver ritual plates show her riding a griffin or simurgh, like shamanic steeds. These vessels have been found far to the north and west, in Russia and Bulgaria. 

Here's a very modern statue of Anahita at Fooman-min: https://arkeonews.net/persian-water-goddess-anahita/ The same site also has a photo of the rock-cut relief of her at Taq-e-Boston in the Sassanian period.

"In Persia, Anahita was the deity assigned to water, as well as fertility and prosperity. Anahita is a Protector of Women. The Lady of the Waters and the Lady who rides four horses named wind, rain, clouds, and sleet in her chariot.

"Described as a beautiful maiden, strong, tall and pure, she is depicted as wearing a mantle embroidered with gold and holding the baresma (sacred plant) in her hand. Her holy animals are the dove and the peacock. Anahita is sometimes considered as Mithra’s consort.

"“Great Lady Anahita, glory and life-giver of our nation, mother of sobriety, and benefactor of humanity,” Armenians called out to Anahita. Modern academics believe Anahita was also revered in Kangavar, Qadamgah, and Bishapur, where sanctuaries that may be recognized as water temples have been discovered.

"Temple of Anahita in Kangavar [shown below] is the largest stone building in Iran after the Persepolis, which dates back to the ancient times of the BC era."

From Susan Gaviri – Anahita in the Ancient Iranian Mythology:

“…it must not be forgotten that many of the famous fire temples in Iran were, in the beginning, Anahita temples. Examples of these fire temples are seen in some parts of Iran, especially in Yazad, where we find that after the Muslim victory these were converted to Mosques.”


Temple of Anahita in Kangavar, the largest stone building in Iran after Persepolis

Anahita at Sarab-e-Qandil

High relief of Anahita with Khosro II and Ahura Mazda, at Taq-e-Bostan

Anahita on a relief at Narseh, Iran

Anahita standing on a lion, like Ishtar and Ashtart and so many other goddesses in SW Asia.

Anahita with fiery crown, on a dinar coin of Khusrau, 611 CE (above) and another the following year (below)

Anahita with fire altar on a coin of Shapir II, circa 240 CE

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