As mentioned in the entry on the large basilica in Areshi, the site was a huge city in late antiquity/middle ages and it was believed to have a church in every quarter. This small three church basilica was excavated under the direction of the Academican Levan Chilashvili in the 1970s and 1980s but was not subject to conservation and so has deteriorated severely in the intervening period.
This late antique basilica of the three church type is moderate in size and falls in between the other two churches at Areshi mentioned on this site in dimension. As with the smaller basilica, it has not been conserved and has suffered as a result - in this case being overgrown and having tree roots compromise the integrity of the standing remains. In the case of this church, a chapel was added and other alterations were carried out in the High Middle Ages, around the twelfth century.
A large number of churches were excavated in and around the village of Mtisdziri (called Areshi in the archaeological literature), Kakheti, in the 1970s under the direction of the Academician Levan Chilashvili. The large village that stands at Areshi today is only the remnant of an extensive medieval city that once occupied the territory north of the current settlement into the foothills of the Greater Caucasus mountains. Today many of these excavated monuments have deteriorated or been swallowed by vegetation but this sizeable basilica was conserved after excavation and stands on the western fringes of the current village. It dates probably to the fifth century and follows the standard form of Kakhetian three church basilicas. The large central nave had an arcade with two arches (three pillars) on either side and a small pastophorion to either side of the apse, which was inscribed within a flat east wall. Both the north and south external aisles terminate in apses and there is evidence on the west and south sides of decorative pilasters on the outside of the central nave. The south aisle was open to the elements with a five column arcade - having said this, the 'columns' had two square and three circular bases. There is evidence of cross-shaped piers at the junctions of the north and south aisles with the central nave and it is difficult to interpret the narthex as the two entrances do not align with the west door of the central nave, suggesting that it was subject to later alteration. All columns were created of rubble and mortar, as were the pilasters, showing that they were constructed in the vernacular Kakhetian building technique. The stepped base on the south side of the central nave could suggest a link with Armenia, where the same practice has been encountered.
The small basilica standing to the north of the village of Eniseli near Gremi in Kakheti is a very simple church on the standard pattern of Kakhetian three-church basilicas. This simplicity means that the only decoration to be found is over the eastern of the two clerestory windows on the south side of the building. An examination of the construction shows that the south aisle was built later than the central nave and the north aisle, which were both constructed at the same time. The current south aisle has been ruined and partially restored meaning that it is unclear whether or not the outer door on the south side is original or a later interpolation. The narthex has also been largely destroyed but most of the north aisle is still extant, and at the east end this aisle acts as a pastophorion that is only accessible through the central nave. Although the church stands in a well-used village cemetery, it is now not employed for active worship and is home to a significant colony of bats. The church is undated but is believed to have been constructed anywhere between the fifth and seventh centuries.
Aghdzk is in Aragatsotn Province on the southern slopes of Mt. Aragats. It is best known for the Arshakid or Arshakuni Mausoleum, which was a funerary chapel housing the remains of both Pagan and Christian rulers. The mausoleum abuts a fourth or fifth century Christian basilica and ongoing excavations were exploring the area south of the church and tomb complex when the site was visited in August 2017.
Holy Cross Church also referred to as Kasagh Basilica is in the town of Aparan, Aragatsotn Province. The church dates to the fourth or fifth century and was restored in 1877, as well as having evidence of more recent renovation. The basilica sits on a two-step platform, so is like Yereruyk and Zvartnots in being placed on a raised base and there is a ruined apsed structure of unclear date to the north of the building suggesting that it may have been linked to a possible side chapel in the past. The apse is a protruding polygonal structure, which is relatively unusual in early South Caucasian basilicas, which appear to most frequently terminate in a flat east end. The decoration above the windows on the south side and also in the apse is of the linear type seen at Yereruyk and also above the south entrance of the church at Tsilkani in Georgia. This Armenian variant is in some ways close to Syrian decorative motifs found on the northwest Limestone Massif, but deviates by only being present directly above and to the side of the windows, whereas in Syria they usually follow in a ribbon along the entire church exterior - see for example the entries on this site for Qalb Lozeh and Qal'at Sem'an.
Dvin, also sometimes referred to as Duin, was the late antique/early medieval capital of Armenia and today is located in Ararat Province. It is a pivotal location for this research project as it was at the Third Council of Dvin (609-610) that there was a formal parting of the ways between the Armenian and Georgian Churches. This was the culmination of a series of post-Chalcedon debates on the nature(s) of Christ and ultimately ended with the Armenians remaining steadfast in their opposition to the Christological definition promulgated at Chalcedon, whilst the Georgians decided to join with Constantinople in upholding the Chalcedonian definition of orthodoxy. Today there is little sign of the former significance of the site and parts of the ruins have been overtaken by the modern village, however excavations are still ongoing in parts of the ancient site and a significant Islamic complex is currently being uncovered.
Geghard monastery is located in Ararat Province and is believed to date back to the fourth century, when a small cave church was excavated from the rock around a spring. It was expanded throughout the middle ages and the monastery today dates from the thirteenth century, with the rebuilding commencing in 1215. The name Geghard refers to the Holy Lance that pierced the side of Christ and appears to have linked to the site from the time of its rebuilding in the thirteenth century. Today the fact that Geghard is a UNESCO World Heritage site relatively close to Garni means that it is a centre of tourism as well as pilgrims. Although there is nothing remaining of the ancient monastery, the site is included here to offer evidence that there was cave monasticism in Armenia, even if it does not appear to have been as widespread a practice as in Georgia.
The Roman era temple at Garni, Kotayk Province, is believed to date from the first century CE and is the most notable Classical monument in the countries of the former Soviet Union. However, the temple today is the result of a reconstruction that took place in 1969-1975 as the original structure was destroyed in an earthquake in 1679. The site is included here not only because its significance for Classical architecture in the Caucasus in general, but also because the remains of a seventh-century centrally-planned church abut the temple on its western side. There is also a Roman-era bath house complex north west of both the church and the temple. It seems Garni remained significant throughout its history as there is ninth and tenth century Arabic graffiti still visible on the monument and a number of European travellers recorded their impressions of Garni even after its destruction. Today the temple is one of the chief tourist attractions in Armenia as well as being the main cult centre for Armenian Neopaganism also called Hetanism. On the day of the site visit a ritual was being enacted in the cella of the temple and some images of this event are included in this entry.
Katoghike Tsiranavor Church of Avan (Cathedral Church of the Holy Mother of God, Avan) is the oldest church known that falls within the municipal boundaries of contemporary Yerevan. It is located in the Avan district in the east of the city, north of the road leading to Geghard and Garni. The building is a centrally-planned with a quatre-lobed interior, but is square on the outside. It dates to the end of the sixth century and, as with Zvartnots and Yereruyk, it stands on a stepped platform - although in this case there are only 2 steps. The church was later renamed Surb Hovhannes (St. John) and today is a ruin missing the upper portion of the building with only one of the 4 smaller linking conches that joined the 4 main lobes of the building still extant. The site is concealed down a narrow alleyway and stands on a small patch of waste ground surrounded by domestic buildings and a small auto repair business making it exceedingly difficult to find.