№ 1, Vol. 3 (2023): URBIS ET ORBIS



The Image of the City in Armenia: Anthropological Perspective


DOI: https://doi.org/10.34680/urbis-2023-3(1)-82-96


Viktorya Vasilyan

Institute of Archeology and Ethnography NAS RA, Yerevan, Armenia

[email protected]

ORCID: 0009-0003-0754-481X



Socially significant phenomena are usually personified and embodied in the images of ancestors, ethnarchs, and heroes. The anthropomorphic symbol in the fine arts was an integral part of ancient Greek culture from the very beginning. Accepting the traditional classification as natural phenomena (e.g. g. Earth, Sky, River), places (e.g. g. Region, Earth, City), time (e.g. g. Month, Time of Life, Season), emotions (e.g. g. Love, Fear), political concepts (e. g. g. Victory, Democracy, War), etc., the question of their deification remains a complex and difficult one. The image of the city in anthropomorphic form first appeared in Hellenic art, but its iconographic roots go back to earlier times. Social well-being can be associated with divine figures, such as Tyche or the successive heroes of state power. Artists depicted these characters as resembling heroes or demigods, perhaps deliberately placing them between the divine and human realms. One such heroic character for Armenia is expressed in the idea of “Mother Armenia, Capital, Hero”. However, the image of the “Mother City Goddess” went a long way in Armenia before it became a symbol of the capital. The polis (city) could be depicted as a male or female figure, with the female image being more predominant. The close association with the male figure of Demos reflects the ambivalent nature of urban culture. The polis can be seen as the basic unit of Greek society throughout antiquity. The personification of the polis, understood as a broad and diverse social, geographical, and political phenomenon, can be considered on the basis of the analysis of archaeological and written sources. Defining the polis in a heterogeneous Hellenistic society is a difficult task, especially when the socio-historical context is not directly reflected by individual archaeological findings and detailed historical data. A single definition may not be appropriate, since the meaning and function of the polis varied.


Keywords: polis, capital Artashat, Mother Goddess, Mother Armenia, Tyche, Cilicia, Van, classical, Tigranakert, urban anthropology, victory, monuments.






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Information about the author

Viktorya Hovh. Vasilyan

Cand. Sci. (Historical Sciences)

Research Fellow

Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography

of the National Academy of Sciences of

the Republic of Armenia

15, Charents St., Yerevan, 0025, Armenia


American University of Armenia

40, M. Baghramyan Ave., Yerevan, 0019, Armenia

ORCID: 0009-0003-0754-481X

e-mail: [email protected]



For citation:

Vasilyan, V. O. (2023). The image of the city in Armenia: Anthropological perspective. Urbis et Orbis. Microhistory and Semiotics of the City, 3(1), 82–96. https://doi.org/10.34680/urbis-2023-3(1)-82-96