The peristyle temple is situated at the edge of the existing cliff. It has been surmised that it was constructed in the 1st century AD by the King Tiridates I of Armenia, probably funded with money the king received from emperor Nero during his visit to Rome. The actual building is a peripteros temple resting on an elevated podium and was most likely dedicated to the god Mihr. The entablature is supported by 24 Ionic columns resting on Attic bases. Unlike other Greco-Roman temples, it is made of basalt. According to a different interpretation of the extant literary testimonia and the evidence provided by coinage, the erection of the temple started at AD 115. The pretext for its construction would be the declaration of Armenia as a Roman province and the temple would have housed the imperial effigy of Trajan. In recent years another theory has been put forward. It has been suggested that the building must actually be identified as the tomb of an Armeno-Roman ruler, probably Sohaemus. If that is the case, its construction would be dated in AD 175. 1
Image by Mcschreck, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Germany license.