3,300-Year-Old Prophecy Shrines Found in Armenia

A shrine excavated at the entrance of a fortress in Gegharot in Armenia. (Photo: Prof. Adam Smith)

GEGHAROT, Armenia—Archaeologists have unearthed three shrines dating back around 3,300 years in Armenia.

Discovered in a hilltop fortress in Gegharot, Armenia, experts believe that the shrines were used by rulers at the time to make predictions about the future.

Each of the shrines consisted of a solitary room which contained a clay basin full of ash and ceramic vessels, Live Science reported.

Artifacts such as stamp seals, clay figures and animal bones — knucklebones of cows, sheep and goats — with markings were found at the locations.

It is thought by the discoverers, Adam Smith of Cornell University and Cornell graduate Jeffrey Leon, that the rulers and mystics may have burned some of the items and imbibed in alcohol to blur their minds during the divination practices.

Smith and Leon recently wrote in the American Journal of Archaeology: “The logic of divination presumes that variable pathways articulate the past, present and future, opening the possibility that the link between a current situation and an eventual outcome might be altered.

The duo found evidence of three different types of divination at the shrines, including osteomancy – the reading of the future through rituals involving burned animal bones.

Smith told Live Science: “You would roll them and, depending upon whether the scorched side or the marked side came up, you would [get] a different interpretation.”

Evidence that the diviners used stones to try and predict the future was also found at the site.

It is thought that the shrines were in use for about 100 years until the fortress was destroyed.

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