A photograph taken of the church of Qalb Lozeh in December 1992.
These images of Qal'at Seman were taken in December 1992
Excavations at Dolochopi, across the river from the modern town of Kvareli have revealed a large "three-church basilica" that is believed to date to the mid fifth century. The site stands in the centre of what was once a substantial settlement, which appears to have declined steadily after earthquakes and attacks by the Arabs and other invaders, fading into obscurity and being overtaken by the forest by the late middle ages. The basilica is built over an earlier church and, although it declined for the reasons outlined above, the nave and immediate vicinity of the church remained in use for burials. In particular the north-eastern corner of the church which was adapted in the eighth to ninth centuries as a mortuary chapel and seems to have been utilised until at least the twelfth of thirteenth centuries. The church was roofed by wooden beams supporting terracotta tiles that were held in place with iron nails and antefixes - a typically Byzantine design, as were the lighting fixtures discovered at the site. In many other respects, including in the numismatic finds, the complex looks east to the Persian Empire, but the overwhelming evidence suggests that the church is an early example of Georgian vernacular ecclesiastical architecture. One element that stands out is the inclusion of a synthronon, an element of ecclesiastical furnishing hitherto unknown in Georgia except at the nearby archaeological site of Chabukauri.
Type: Archaeological Excavation
Tags: Archaeological Excavation, Archaeology, Architecture, Basilica, C12th, C5th, C8th-C9th, Chabukauri, Dolochopi, Georgia, Kakheti, Kvareli, Synthronon, Triple Basilica
At Zegaani in Kakheti there is a complex of three early churches. The fifth-century church of St. Marina is exceptionally small and its nearest comparable building in terms of design seems to be the tiny church of St. Nino in Samtavro, Mtskheta. The interior of the space is richly frescoed with an (unpublished) sixteenth to seventeenth century fresco cycle, that is currently open to the elements given the lack of windows and doors on the church. There is a simple, single naved church dedicated to the Archangels of an inter determinate date and a large three-church basilica dedicated to the Virgin and of an architectural type very similar to the basilica to the north of the valley at Nekresi. Like the Nekresi basilica, this church is believed to date to the sixth to seventh century. This basilica was in the process of being resorted at the time of the visit as the site was being re-established as a working monastery.
These images of Qal'at Seman, the famous shrine of St. Symeon Stylites the Elder on Jebel Seman are valuable because they are taken midway between the French restoration of the site in the 1930s and the way the site looked in the late 1990s when the majority of the rest of the photographs in this archive were taken. They show the complex to be well maintained, with less visitors (local or foreign) than were customary by the pre war years.
Qalb Lozeh is, as mentioned elsewhere, an exceptionally well-preserved C5th church on Jebel Barisha and is probably the best known monument in the region after Qal'at Sem'an. These images show that in 1962 there was already a modern village around the church, but that it was not as large as the settlement had become by the early C21st century. The photographs can be compared with those from the 1990s to show that in the 1960s there were no restrictions on entry and the building was open to all. In this case there appears to have been no deterioration of the site pre the Syrian Civil War since the 1960s.
The C5th church is relatively large with at least one large and elaborate sarcophagus still extant nearby. As at Barish North it has a flat east end, which is relatively unusual in this region. Only the south wall is extensively damaged, with the other three still quite well preserved and elements of the bema still visible in the nave.
The C5th church at Bahio has a bema and, although overgrown had most of the west wall and a substantial part of the apse still standing. The site is surrounded by olive groves and the number of large olive presses in the late antique settlement demonstrates the antiquity of olive cultivation in the region.
The north, probably C5th, church has been heavily mined for building materials and, at the time of the visit was strewn with rubbish. Only the bema, apse and part of the southern colonnade were still extant and the presence of a notched pillar suggested that originally some form of nave barrier was present - as appears to have been the case at several other sites such as Kharab Shams and Kafar Daret 'Azzeh.
The C5th century church was very well preserved apart from on the south side, as the ruins were located at a short distance from modern dwellings. The only exception to this was the fact that the bema had been disturbed by looters.