Khakhmati is the last village before the Datvisjvari (Bear-Cross) pass and as the road leaves the village there is an extensive sacred enclosure (nishi) that encompasses a number of shrines and sacred trees. It is unclear how widely used this enclosure remains, but it is clear that some ritual practice continues at the site.
Shenakho is the only village in Tusheti to have an old church - which is dedicated to St. George. There is a ruined church in Dartlo and a modern (20th century) church in Dzveli (old) Omalo, but Shenakho is the sole village that appears to have a relatively continuous and well-established practice of Christianity. However even in this case the nishi (pagan shrine enclosure) of the village stands directly to the north-east of the church.
This figure faces south and is on the northern pier adjoining the west wall. The figure is wearing the distinctive monastic hood of a Syrian Orthodox monk and carries a cross with one hand raised in blessing. The Syriac inscription is too damaged for the saint to be identified. Above the saint are people who are presumed to be members of pagan cults destined for hell.
A large late antique monastery built on top of a pagan temple to the sun. Deyr ul Zafaran is a Syrian orthodox monastery and is a major tourist draw in the region. It has been heavily restored and had unsympathetic additions made to it to attract and help facilitate more tourism and generate more income.
Omalo is the largest village in Tusheti and one of very few to be inhabited all year round. It has grown a great deal in the last ten years as it has become the centre for tourism in the Tusheti National Park. Dzveli (Old) Omalo has the largest concentration of guest houses within the park and the visitor centre lies just outside the village. It also boasts a twentieth century church and a pagan ritual enclosure south of the old part of the village. As at Dartlo, the cluster of towers above the village is given a different name to the rest of the settlement. In Omalo the towers are called Keselo.
This village is notable for the shrine at its centre. A large and substantial stone cairn is topped with stag antlers and females in our party were told that we were not to approach the structure. The local belief is that the fertility of the men of the village is damaged should women pass too close to the shrine.
The temple believed to have been dedicated to Mercury also possesses imagery linked to Bacchus, in addition to the presence of symbols such as the caduceus belonging Mercury. This has led to the temple being referred to in conjunction with both deities.
The largest of the three temples at the site, the temple of Jupiter is perhaps most famous for the presence of the trilithon, three stones in the podium of the temple that are amongst the largest ever utilised by man.
Kafar Nabo is on Jebel Seman about halfway between Burj Heidar and Brad and in 1997 it was accessible only by walking. The settlement was sacred to the god Nabo in antiquity and in the C4th a large church was built on the site of the pagan temple. Elements of this temple were incorporated in the church, which also possessed a double-size bema. Scattered around the site were the remains of a ciborium, an earlier Latin inscription, two Roman statues (one male, one female) and a Greek inscription on a door lintel.
Tags: Architecture, Bema, C4th, Church, Ciborium, Figure, Greek, Greek Inscription, Jebel Seman, Kafar Nabo, Latin, Latin Inscription, Limestone Massif, Nabo, Pagan, Sculpture, Syria, Temple