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Located on a hilltop near the bank of the Akhuryan River, Ani is the most famous among the Armenian capitals. At its zenith, Ani rivalled the likes of Constantinople, Baghdad and Cairo in size and influence. By the 11th Century Ani had grown to over one-hundred-thousand people. It would later become the battleground for various contending Empires, leading to its destruction and abandonment.
Today, hundreds of ancient churches, Zoroastrian temples, and other buildings, most of them in ruins, remain scattered across the rugged and desolate landscape. By the end of the 8th century Ani, with its nearby estates, got under the control of Bagratid dynasty.
Illustrations of Ani, the capital city of medieval Armenian kingdom of the Bagratuni dynasty C. George Ivanovic Gurdjieff, who spent most of his childhood and youth in Kars, was with a friend named Pogosyan, when he noticed a disturbance in the soil.
They began digging until they came across a narrow tunnel. It was the beginning of an incredible discovery — secret water channels, undiscovered monk cells, meditation rooms, huge corridors, intricate tunnels, traps and corners were found under the ruins of the ancient Armenian town of Ani.
In one of the rooms, Gurdjieff found a scrap of parchment in a niche. Although he spoke Armenian very well, he had great difficulty reading the writing in the parchment. As it turns out, the text was written in an ancient Armenian language, the first sign that the underground world of Ani was very, very old.
One of the entrances to the underground world of Ani. After some time, Gurdjieff managed to piece together the meaning of the unusual script. He learned that the parchment was a letter written from one monk to another monk.
According to the parchment, there was a famous Mesopotamian esoteric school in the place where they found the letters. Gurdjieff recorded his discovery in a journal. We were especially interested in one letter in which the writer referred to information he had received concerning certain mysteries….
Towards the end, one passage particularly attracted our attention. Their organisation actually did exist near the town of Siranoush, and fifty years ago, soon after the migration of peoples, they also migrated and settled in the valley of Izrumin, three days journey from Nivssi What struck us most was the word "Sarmoung", which we had come across several times in the book called "Merkhavat".
This word is the name of a famous esoteric school which, according to tradition, was founded in Babylon as far back as BC, and which was known to have existed somewhere in Mesopotamia up to the sixth or seventh century AD; but about its further existence one could not obtain anywhere the least information.
This school was said to have possessed great knowledge, containing the key to many secret mysteries. Since this time, new underground structures have come to light in Ani. In total, there are currently underground structures and caves that are known about in Ani today, including dwellings, stores, food shops, tombs and monasteries, chapels, mills, stables, and reservoirs.
The recent symposium on the subterranean world of Ani was the first step towards achieving this aim.
An abandoned church in Ani. A cave room near Echmiadzin Cathedral, Ani. An entrance to one of the underground tunnels in Ani.
Wall paintings found in one of the underground chambers.Read an excerpt of this book! Read an excerpt of this book! Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future.
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