Yet another possibility, and perhaps complimentary to some of the previously-mentioned theories, is that the Armenian patriarch Hayk himself represents none other than the Urartian principal deity Haldi. The relation between the two has been argued convincingly before by Kavoukjian, Hacikyan, Basmajian, Franchuk, Ouzounian, Nourhan (2000–2005) yet the most striking similarities, in my opinion, are rarely discussed.
So let’s discuss them here before we move on.
Mighty warrior of victory
First and foremost, both seem to have been deified champions or kings rather than the usual deities. Both are warriors with supernatural powers and related to victory and conquest. Hayk, with the victory over Babylonian Bel, and Haldi most of all was invoked by the Urartian kings when praying for victory. The temples dedicated to Haldi were adorned with weapons such as swords, spears, bows and arrows, and shields hung from the walls and were sometimes known as “the house of weapons”. In addition, Haldi is often called “Haldi the victorious” in the Urartian texts (P. Zimansky., 2012, Imagining Haldi). Like Hayk, Haldi too would fight alongside his troops on the battlefield and specifically take the frontal position.
The Armenian word-root for victory and conquest “hałt” or “hałd” (verb hałt-el) itself, likely derives from Haldi. Although, usually the Armenian “hałt” is given a different etymology, when the word for victory and the god of victory literally sound the same, I think its similarity has to be more than a mere coincidence. Especially considering that the Urartian word “to conquer, put-under, subdue” is also “ald”. Suggesting that Haldi might mean “conqueror” from which the Armenians derive “to win” (hałt-el).
Perhaps both Hay(k) and Haldi, are not names but titles for conqueror/warrior. This theory could be supported with the Urartrian word “ha(y)” for “conquer, take away”.
Perhaps Hayk and Haldi are simply synonymous titles of the same proto-Armenian champion/deity. Or perhaps Hayk is after all a later (medieval) corruption of Haldi, mistaken due to the confusion with the endonym of the country Hayq. Either way, the connection between Hayk and Haldi is hard to ignore.
From the south
Another striking similarity is that both Hayk and Haldi, are considered to have arrived to their ancestral lands in Armenian Highlands from the south. Hayk, according to saga, came from Babylon after he begot his son Aramane(ak). Haldi’s cult centre too was located in Ardini (known to Assyrians as Musasir), south of the Armenian Highlands near lake Urmia, bordering the Babylonian sphere of influence. Furthermore, both Haldi and Hayk are not known to have been venerated by any other cultures (including the Hurrians), which makes them both uniquely national deities/heroes. M. Salvini (2014) even goes as far as to assert that Išpuini who perhaps first introduced Haldi to the Urartian kingdom, could be considered as the second founder of the Urartian state.
As further proof of this situation we must remember that, in the Assyrian text of the “Sardursburg” by his father Sarduri Ist, there is no mention of God Haldi, nor in the other Assyrian sacral inscription in Van Kalesi quoted above which belongs to the same period. I am therefore convinced that the cult of Haldi, who was not an old Hurrian-Urartian god (unlike the weather god and the sun god), was introduced by Išpuini as the official cult of the state. The most meaningful and famous evidence of this is the open-air sanctuary of Meher Kapısı near Van, with its rock inscription (Fig. 14.14),(Salvini 1993–1997; Salvini 1994). This rock niche is covered by a long sacral inscription fixing the whole Urartian pantheon headed by the supreme triad, the national god Haldi, the weather God Teisheba and the Sun God Shiuini. It is a list of animal sacrifices offered to a long list of male gods, followed by the goddesses, which is connected with the seasonal works of the agriculture. It is clear that the presupposition for such a monument and its ideology was the conquest and the establishment of a protectorate over the city state and the sanctuary of Haldi in Muṣaṣir. Išpuini, introducing the cult of the national god Haldi, must be considered as the second founder of the Urartian state on a theocratic basis.M. Salvini (2014) Chapter 14, The Spread of the Cuneiform Culture to the Urartian North (IX–VII Century BCE)
If it looks like a duck…
When it comes to iconography it’s worth noting that both Hayk and Haldi have a lot in common as well. Hayk for example was described as a giant, a mighty archer with powerful arms. Haldi too is considered a mighty warrior giant with supernatural strength. Unlike popular belief, there is actually no consensus on Haldi’s iconography. There is to date only one unambiguous depiction of Haldi found labelled with his name (see the right side image). That depiction, however, looks nothing like the rest of the claimed depictions of Haldi (a winged man standing on a lion). Just like Hayk, however, the depiction of Haldi resembles a champion/warrior more so than a traditional Mesopotamian deity. For example, unlike other deities Haldi doesn’t have a horned crown (ancient symbol of divinity) nor is he standing on any animal, instead he looks like a soldier with a mighty bow and a spear (or a large arrow) covered in flames.
The figure assumed to be Haldi is not represented in the same way as the other gods on the shield. He is on foot rather than astride an animal. He is the only one from whom flames radiate. In the published drawings, he is also the only putative god who is not wearing a horned crown, symbolic of divinity, but rather the conical helmet worm by mortal soldiers on the shield, both friend and foe.P. Zimansky (2012) Imagining Haldi
The difference between this central actor and the traditionally represented deities in the same composition, including the exalted Teišeba and Šiuini, compels us to recognize there is something special about his image. We may or may not know what Haldi looks like in anthropomorphic form, but we can be certain that he does not look like the other gods.P. Zimansky (2012) Imagining Haldi
Fun fact, apparently “the power of Haldi” or “Haldini ušmaši” in Urartian (cognate to Armenian “uzh” meaning “power, strength”) was highly venerated as well.
P.S. is Haldi the first ever depiction of a Super Sayan? 🙂
The holy lance
Urartians venerated not just Haldi himself but also a multitude of his attributes, like his radiance, his greatness, his gates, his troops, but most of all Urartians venerated Haldi’s famed weapon “šuri” (blade or lance). The Urartian word “šuri” has been identified with the Armenian “sure“ (meaning sword, blade, sharp). Not much is know about this weapon besides that it was highly regarded by the Urartians. In fact, there is even some debate as to what type of a weapon the “šuri” represents. Some Assyrian texts recount the theft of Haldi’s golden sword that he apparently wore at his side, but it’s hard to tell if this was the famed šuri or an additional weapon of the warrior god.
Interestingly enough, the memory of such a weapon (lance) might have been passed into (or inspired) the Christian era as well. Armenia, after all, is one of the guardians of the holy lance.
One of the most mysterious relics of the Armenian Church — a sacred object from the deepest roots of Christianity — is the Holy Lance of Geghard. Long associated with the monastery of that name, it is currently housed in the museum of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, and taken out on rare occasions for public veneration, or to be used in the most solemn church ceremonies — like the blessing of the Holy Muron. But perhaps this very tradition of veneration of the lance is much older than we realise, the medieval cave church Geghard it is associated with, after all, was built on the site of a much older pagan temple.
Now, why would the Urartians put so much emphasis on Haldi’s projectile weapon? Is it possible that Haldi’s lance (like Hayk’s famed three-winged arrow) was hurled at a tyrant in Babylon in a more distant past? Is it possible that perhaps Haldi’s hometown was at Ardini (Musasir), once part of the Babylonian kingdom? I think that this scenario is more than likely. It would explain well the Urartian obsession with Ardini (that’s located somewhat outside of the Armenian Highlands) as well as the veneration of a weapon that pierces enemies, like the tyrant of Babylon, and consequently established the Armenian nation.
On the above shield we can clearly see Haldi a (giant) warrior heading the attack with the rest of the gods advancing behind him. Lions and eagles (also Armenian national symbols, see Armenian coat of arms), are attacking the enemy and a projectile weapon (perhaps a spear or a large arrow) pierces high ranking enemies driving a war chariot. Could this very image, recorded on a bronze shield almost 3000 years ago, depict the very battle of Hayk and Bel that Khorenatsi was talking about? I think that’s quite likely and might even be alluded to in the Bible:
Set ye up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her [ie. Babylon], call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz; appoint a captain against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough caterpillars.Jeremiah 51:27
One final remark worth mentioning is the fact that some early authors (as I was recently made aware of by Deus Armenicus) have claimed that the toponyms “Ararat” and “Haikdi” (or Haikee) were used interchangeably in the antiquity. If there is merit to this theory, then the relation between Haldi and Hayk would only be more solidified. Bellow a few examples:
One more theory
I want to present one final theory regarding all these names. Recently, I’ve come across some interesting passages from Assyrian campaigns against the lands of Urartu that would highly suggest that all (if not most) of the mentioned toponyms and endonyms were already known in Armenia but seem to have been applied for various regions. From these passages one could easily conclude that Urartu, Armenia, Biaina, Hayk and even Nairi are either interchangeable toponyms or more likely regions of a Greater Urartu/Armenia. “Ayrarat” after all, was a region of the Greater Armenia too during the middle ages. Of particular interest are the records of Sargon II’s (reign: 722–705 BC) campaigns against Rusa of Urartu. Let us look at some notable passages and speculate for a second.
Could this district of Armariyali (or Armarili) be related to the exonym Armenia? Could Ayale be pronounced as Hayale? Remember, the Assyrian cuneiform did not contain a sign for the “H” sound so it was often left out. Could Siniunak be Syunik? Remember, “Unak” meant city from Sumerian UNUG. Could the mentioned Arna be the (previously mentioned) Arne the royal city of Arame (hence the name of the district Armariyali)? Could Ubianda be related to Biaina? Remember, the Assyrians used the same Sumerogram “KUR” for mountain as they did for land.
It seems that the royal hometowns of Arbu and Riyar were inside the Armariyali district of Urartu.
Land of Ayadi could have been pronounced as Haya-di. Remember, Assyrians did not have a sign for the “H” sound. Could this be the district related to the Armenian endonym Hay? “Bit” in Assyrian means house. Bitaya could have meant “House of Haya”. That would make sense since it’s inside the (H)ayadi district. Notice the many uses of “Ardi” in the names of cities. Ardi-unak (Unak meaning city). Could Baniu be Van (or related to Biaina)? After all these cities are said to be set up along the shores of the sea on the slopes of mountains (reference to Lake Van). Ayaṣun, yet another name containing (H)Aya-. And Šaruardî, another place name containing -Ardi. Remember, Šarruma was a Hurrian mountain God, likely the source of Armenian “Sar” meaning mountain. Therefore, the name of the city could perhaps be etymologized as “Mountain of Ardi”
In this passage the Nairi district is mentioned again with Hubushkia which lie near Lake Van as was previously mentioned by King Shalmaneser III (reigned 858-824 BC)
Now let’s look at a few other notable excerpts from Assyrian records:
Could Hargia be the Armenian Hark (as mentioned by Movses Khorenatsi)? Hubushkia and Gilzanu are regions often contested between Urartu and Assyria. Arardi, an interesting name that again contains -Ardi.
Could Arinu be related to Arin-berd (at least etymologically)? Aisa could have been pronounced Haisa or Hayasa. Remember, Assyrians didn’t have a sign for the “H” sound. They also used the same sign for land as they used for mountain. Some scholars therefore have translated Aisa not as a mountain but as Country of Aytsa (see bellow).
Land Haria has been identified with Armenian Hark (legendary settlement of Hayk Nahapet) by Dr. Martiros Kavukjian. There is again mention of (H)Aia, this time supposedly a mountain. As Assyrians used the Sumerogram KUR for both mountain and land it could also be read as land of Aia.
With all the above in mind, we can safely make the assumption that most of Armenia’s exonyms and endonyms for that matter (Armenia, Urartu, Ararat, Biaina, Nairi, Hayq) are likely references to provinces or certain districts of the Armenian Highlands. It’s usage perhaps depending on the the dominance of a district and its royal houses during a certain period.
We can find clues in support of this thesis in Urartian inscriptions as well. One such passage in particular from Rusa I’s inscriptions at Ayanis clearly speaks of the Urartian “regions” separately from the Biai(na) lands. Effectively, suggesting that Biaina is another (perhaps large) district rather than the name of the entire country.
On behalf of the god Ḫaldi, on behalf of the gate of the god Ḫaldi may there be life, joy, greatness and strength of a lion, favor and protection for Rusa, son of Argišti, for the regions and for the Bia lands.Royal inscription of Rusa, son of Argišti (A 12)
My best guess would be that Nairi was most of all a geographical term referring to the region of the headwaters of the great rivers of Tigris and Euphrates. Urartu (or more accurately UrArdi), was most of all referred to as a Kingdom or a state polity. Biaina, endonym was probably the name of the heartland (around Van) district of the main Urartian royal houses. Hayq, the self-designation of the people for their country either referring to a certain district or perhaps initially meant “land of the forefathers”. After all, “att-Ardi” itself meant “forefathers” in Hurrian. So perhaps UrArdi just like Hayk from Hayrk/Hark could indeed be etymologized as the “land of the forefathers”. Perhaps the patriarch warrior/conqueror Hayk was corrupted from Haldi/Haykdi or interchangeably used. And finally Armenia was probably most of all an ethnonym referring to the general ethnicity of the people of the Highlands by the Persians and the Greeks. Hence why the Behistun inscriptions actually speak of the “Arminiya” (the Armenians) as a people rather than a country. I hope to have presented, in this section, satisfactory evidence for several plausible theories rarely discussed anywhere else.