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  • Tags: C4th

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Chabukauri is located to the west of Nekresi monastery and lies in the modern territory of that foundation. As at Dolochopi, the large three-church basilica found on the site was once the centre of a substantial settlement that has since been overtaken by forest, although in this case the growth is not as dense as it is in Dolochopi. Also as at Dolochopi, there are various phases to the building. In this case the large church is believed to date to the fourth to fifth centuries and, after the main church was damaged in an earthquake, part of the north-eastern sector of the building was adapted to become the south aisle of a new, smaller building. This smaller church was constructed with two distinctive horseshoe-shaped apses, the larger of which had a synthronon - as at the main church in nearby Dolochopi. Also as at Dolochopi there are medieval kist burials scattered across the site. Finally to the north west of the main church there is a small apses structure, believed to date to the fourth century, that boasts a high quality terracotta tiled floor, suggesting that this too could have been an early church. The main building was roofed by timber beams and terracotta tiles held in place with nails and ante fixes as at Dolochopi and here there was evidence that the walls of the structure were once plastered and painted red.

Type: Archaeological Excavation
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Kafar Hawwar

At the time of the visit there were no roads within about 30 minutes walk of this village. The church is largely rubble with only the sides of the apse arch still standing, with the destruction almost certainly caused my earthquakes. The bema was still visible and the site was undisturbed. Tchalenko could not securely date the site through survey and noted both C4th and C6th elements in the church.

Type: Architecture
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Sinkhar is located in a valley between Batuta and Sheikh Sulaiman and, at the time of the site visit, was only accessible by walking for some distance. The C4th church in the village was severely overgrown, meaning that only a well-preserved chapel to the south of the main church, that was added in the C6th, could be accessed and it was impossible to find any trace of the bema and other features recorded by Tchalenko in the 1950s.

Type: Architecture
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The C4th church of Suganeh is located in the centre of the village and, on a visit in 1998, was surrounded by modern dwellings and at risk of being destroyed. At that time it was being used as a village rubbish dump and the stone was being taken for modern building projects. Only the apse, bema and a group of sarcophagi south of the apse were still extant at the time of the visit.

Type: Architecture
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Qirq Bizeh

Qirq Bizeh is the name of a small abandoned settlement to the north of Qalb Lozeh. A C2nd villa was converted into a church in the C4th or C5th and retains the internal liturgical fittings that clearly identify the ritual use of the building. It is very small, but houses a bema and has a raised platform at the east end that is divided from the rest of the chamber by a chancel screen. There is also evidence of reliquary chambers in the screen and small reliquary caskets elsewhere. The bema retains its 'throne' or pulpit and the ritual use of the house extends to the courtyard where extensive cisterns seem to have housed water or olive oil in antiquity.

Type: Architecture
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Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

Early sources reveal that Constantine’s church of the Holy Sepulchre was sumptuously decorated with fine marbled panels, columns and a coffered ceiling. A cross was set up on the rock of Golgotha to commemorate the exact site of the Crucifixion and was replaced over the following centuries with one decorated with gems, a golden cross and a simple wooden one in the seventh century. Christ’s tomb was in two parts: the first a porch that contained part of the stone that formed the door to the tomb and the second the tomb itself. It had a roof of silver and gold, outer walls made of marble and it was topped with a cross.

The modern church has been significantly modified and little of the Late Antique fabric has survived as much of it was rebuilt in the nineteenth and twentieth century following a fire and an earthquake that caused much damage.

Type: Architecture
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The external architecture of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

The first church of the Holy Sepulchre built by the Emperor Constantine was dedicated in the year 328 AD. It was accessed off one of Jerusalem’s main thoroughfares, the Cardo. The entrance led to a narthex, the basilica, an atrium and culminated with the Anastasis (or Resurrection) Rotunda that surrounded the much smaller edifice of Christ’s Tomb. Unfortunately, very little of this church now remains. The Late Antique foundations exist below ground level of the current church and are cut off from public view. Throughout its history, the church has undergone many remodelling and rebuilding programmes, much of which was caused by its turbulent history during the Persian invasion in the seventh century and the Muslim conquest of the city in the eleventh century. Much of the visible external architecture dates to the Crusader period.

Type: Architecture
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The Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth

In the mid-fourth century, a church was constructed around a grotto in the town of Nazareth that was said to be the Virgin Mary’s house and the place where the archangel Gabriel appeared to her during the Annunciation. This holy site was clearly well established as a place of worship towards the end of the fourth century as the pilgrim Egeria describes an altar within a grand and splendid grotto. The Piacenza pilgrim who journeyed to Nazareth in the late sixth century states that there is a basilica at the House of Mary that contains many garments that once belonged to the Virgin. Today, remnants of wall paintings, mosaics, and the architecture from this early church building are visible.

Type: Architecture
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The Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

The town of Bethlehem is located to the south of Jerusalem in the West Bank. Since the second century, pilgrims have flocked to the site traditionally associated as the place of Christ’s birth, a cave to the east of the town. In the fourth century, Helena, the Emperor Constantine’s mother, supposedly rediscovered the cave and had her son build a church to commemorate it. This church featured an octagonal structure at the eastern end that was positioned directly over the cave of the Nativity. At the centre of this octagon was a wide, circular opening to allow pilgrims to glimpse at the holy site. It was badly damaged during a Samaritan revolt in 529 AD and was rebuilt by the Emperor Justinian in the mid-sixth century. Much of this church has survived and is largely what is seen today. There were later modifications during the time of the Crusades, largely with the fresco painting on the nave columns. It is thus considered the oldest church in use.

Type: Architecture
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The Church of the Transfiguration, Mount Tabor

Mount Tabor is an isolated oval-shaped mountain in the Jezreel valley and is situated to the south-west of the Sea of Galilee. It is associated as the place of Christ’s Transfiguration before Peter, James and John in the presence of Elijah and Moses. Pilgrims who venerated the site in the fourth century describe three churches built on the summit of the mountain that were dedicated to Christ, Moses and Elijah. The mosaics photographed here are from this period. The Crusaders founded a Benedictine abbey on the site, remnants of which are visible today. The Franciscans built a new church in the twentieth century and the place of the Transfiguration is located in the crypt.

Type: Architecture
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