The basilica at Shilda is a relatively large example of the "three church" type and represents a simple variant of the form. It has three windows on the east end and the north aisle is truncated because the eastern end forms a pastophorion only accessible from the central nave of the building, as encountered elsewhere in places such as Eniseli and Dubi. The central nave is a great deal higher than normal and this is the result of a substantial rebuilding in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries, almost certainly as the result of a Lezghin (Dagestani) raid. At the same time as the roof was raised, windows were added at the clerestory level to the north, south and west and doors were added from the central nave to the aisles and from the aisles to the exterior on both the north and south sides. The only two slight departures from this common form of basilica type that are original are the fact that the whole building is tied together - the aisles are tied into the central nave - rather than separate as a precaution against seismic activity and both the north and south aisles are considerably wider than is standard.
The Church of Mar Sarkis (St. Sergius) in Sadad is a Syrian Orthodox Church that dates back to late antiquity. It is principally notable for its extremely rare C18th wall paintings commissioned by Bishop Dioskoros Sarukhan, who is reported to have died in Sadad on 11th February 1769 at the age of 110.
The images are unique not only because they are they only surviving C18th cycle on the entire region, but also for the information that they give us about the veneration of local saints. The scenes include Mar Musa al-Habashi (St. Moses the Abyssinian or Ethiopian) and Mar Elian esh-Sharqi (St. Julian the Old Man) both of whom have local monasteries named after them at Qaryatayn and Nabk respectively. Whereas Mar Elian is depicted on the medieval frescoes at Deir Mar Musa, this is the earliest known depiction of Mar Musa. Other unusual scenes include Jonah and the whale and portraits of Bishop Dioskoros and other bishops. There is also a notable, apparently C19th, icon of Mar Sarkis in the church. Before the civil war the paintings were being restored by a team from the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) and these images were taken in 2008 when the work was underway.
Tags: C18th, Church, Deir Mar Musa, Dioskoros Sarukhan, Fresco, Jonah, Mar Elian esh-Sharqi, Mar Musa al-Habashi, Mar Sarkis, Nabk, Qaryatayn, Sadad, St. Julian the Old Man, St. Moses the Abyssinian, St. Moses the Ethiopian, St. Sergius, Syria