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  • Tags: Middle Ages

7 Items

The Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek

These photographs show changes that were made to the temple in order to fortify it in the medieval Islamic era.

Type: Architecture
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Dmanisi

The C6th basilica in Dmanisi has been substantially altered over time, notably with the addition of a medieval narthex, and is located beside the citadel of the now abandoned city that once stood on this site. Older elements have been reused in buildings surrounding the church and there is an Arabic inscription on one of the gravestones in the vicinity.

Type: Architecture
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Ikalto

Ikalto in Kakheti is nationally revered because of its medieval academy. This institution is linked to the national poet, Shota Rustaveli, the author of "The Man in the Panther's Skin" and the ruins of the academy are medieval. However, they are in a walled complex with three churches; the Sameba (Trinity) church dates from the C6th, the smaller single-naved Kvelatsminda church is C7th and the large, centrally planned Gvtaeba (Transfiguration) church that dominates the group is C8th-C9th. Gvtaeba has recently been the subject of a partial excavation and restoration funded by Geocell, a mobile phone network, but the work has been poorly executed and the church still suffers from major structural instability.

Type: Architecture
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Nekresi

Nekresi is a complex of churches in the foothills of the Caucasus near the border with Dagestan. In the valley beneath, archaeologists have found the remains of a sun temple and it is popularly believed that the early Christians appropriated an earlier sacred site, possibly a Zoroastrian high place, in building a church in the C4th at this location. However this belief has been disproved by archaeological excavation which has found no evidence of pre-Christian occupation at the site and has redated the 'C4th' building to the C6th. This structure has entrances on the north, south and east sides and is open to the elements on all sides. It has an undercroft that was used for burials suggesting that this was possibly built as a funerary chapel. The complex also includes a C6th-C7th basilica, known in Georgia as a triple basilica as the narthex opens onto three aisles, but the south aisle does not communicate with the main body of the church and both the north and south aisles are semi-open to the elements with arched arcades to the north and south. There is also an C8th-C9th centrally-planned church that shows a strong Persian influence in its design. The rest of the monastery complex is medieval and a series of early Georgian inscriptions excavated nearby are displayed within them. Nekresi is also associated with one of the Thirteen (As)Syrian Fathers St. Abibos Nekreseli who was reputedly martyred for his resistance to Zoroastrianism.
As with Dolochopi and Dzveli Gavazi, a further visit to the site in the company of Professor Nodar Bakhtadze in August 2017 has led to discussion of the relative dating scheme applied to the "three church basilica" and the centrally-planned domed church and raised questions as to whether or not they were necessarily built that far apart in time. As with Dzveli Gavazi, the centrally-planned church at Nekresi is something of an anomaly given the ubiquity of the "three church basilica" type in Kakheti. In fact this church appears to be an experimental early version of a domed "three church basilica" as it has two apsed side aisles to the north and south of the central church. The northern aisle has a window to the east and is closed off, whereas the south aisle and the narthex in the west both have two arches and are open to the elements. The west and south arcades also have pilasters on the internal wall, as encountered at Areshi large basilica and Kindzmareuli. Inside the main part of the church the dome has windows to the east, south and west, but not on the north side. The dome itself is supported to the west by two squinches, whereas at the east there are what can only be referred to as 'proto-pendentives' - an arrangement also found in the later church of Khirsa Stepantsminda. There is also one other window placed in the apse. If this is an early attempt at a domed basilica, then it is likely to pre-date c.630 and the building of Tsromi to the west in Shida Kartli. It also raises questions as to why two variant forms of centrally-planned church were being experimented with perhaps almost at the same time in the same vicinity. Moving on to the "three church basilica" it is a large example of this type and has open arcades of two arches on both the north and south sides. There is a door to the north aisle from the main nave, but a corresponding door on the south aisle seems to have been sealed centuries ago as medieval frescoes now cover the area where the door once stood. As at Shilda, the entire construction took place as one project and the north and south aisles are firmly tied to the central nave. In the sixth century mortuary chapel (referred to in Georgian as the akeldama) it is clear that this was intially tied to another structure in the sixth century - possibly the refectory - and the later intervening space between the ossuary trench and the other building only became used as a burial ground for wealthy patrons and their families in the middle ages. The marani/refectory complex extant today dates from the twelfth century, as do the cells and work area excavated to the north of the main complex. The tower is sixteenth century, as is the tower at Shilda.

Type: Architecture
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Svetiskhoveli

Svetiskhoveli is the national cathedral of Georgia and translates as the "Life-giving Pillar". The foundational legend of the church says that a Georgian Jew named Elias bought Christ's cloak from the soldier who had drawn lots for it. On his return to Mtskheta he was met by his sister Sidonia who died on embracing the cloak. She was buried holding the cloak and an oak tree grew out of her grave. When St. Nino evangelised Georgia she had the tree cut down and made into seven columns for a new church but the seventh hovered above the earth and displayed miraculous powers before finally being lowered into its place.

The current cathedral dates from the C11th and is built on the foundations of a series of earlier church buildings. It includes a (stone) pillar associated with the miraculous origins of the church and a medieval replica of the Holy Sepulchre within it.

Type: Architecture
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Bodbe

Bodbe is associated with the grave of St. Nino, the evangeliser of Georgia. Although evidence suggests that the complex (that includes a convent and a sacred spring in the valley beneath it) goes back many centuries, the current site has been extensively renovated by the current religious community meaning that it is difficult to evaluate the age of the extant architecture. The monastic church undoubtably goes back at least until the Middle Ages, but the chapel and bathing pool located by the sacred spring is modern.

Type: Architecture
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Tsilkani

Tsilkani is one of the sites associated with the Thirteen (As)Syrian Fathers and the church dates back to the C4th. Some of these earlier elements are still visible in the current church, which was heavily remodelled in the Middle Ages.

Type: Architecture
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