The village of Breti is believed to have been where one of the lesser-known (As)Syrian Fathers, Piros Breteli, founded a monastery in the sixth century. There are no traces of this presumed early foundation left today but a new religious community have now established a monastery around what they believe to be his tomb in the centre of the village. This is a friendly and welcoming monastery with a small church with new frescoes and the tomb is located in a small chapel to the north of the main nave. Above the grave is a fresco of the thirteen (As)Syrian Fathers and Piros Breteli is distinguished by the red writing in his halo.
Samtavro cemetery is the largest known in the Caucasus. It covers about 20 hectares and the later burials are placed on top of earlier ones. It is therefore a multi-period cemetery and has been called a ‘multi-terraced’ cemetery. The Bronze to Iron Age levels of the site contain 23 Middle Bronze Age graves (of which four are kurgans) (4,500 to 3,600 years ago); 14 from the transition from the Middle Bronze Age to the Late Bronze Age; 63 from the Late Bronze Age (3,600 to 2,900 years ago) and about 560 from the Early Iron Age (2,900 to 2,500 years ago).
The visible remains of tombs on the site, which you can see today, are from the Classical and Early Medieval periods. The Bronze Age remains which have been discovered are closer to the road, by the entrance to the site. The Classical and Early Medieval burials have a variety of forms. Over 1,000 graves have been discovered from the Roman period (C1st BCE to C4th CE). Some are sarcophagi, whilst others are cists – a rectangular grave lined with stone slabs. Other types are made from roof tiles instead of stone slabs or use pieces of stone from buildings. Some burials are in pits or in Qvevri (terracotta jars), and some are of mixed construction of brick, stone or tile. The majority are tile tombs, containing an individual inhumation, with varied grave goods such as jewellery, but no tools or weapons.
See the entry on Dzalisa for the history of the site and the excavated part of the Roman settlement.
Currently excavations are continuing each summer on the edge of the village burial ground where a significant late antique tomb was uncovered in 1988. In the last year a large mud brick complex - believed to be a temple - has been discovered and research by the National Museum of Georgia is ongoing in this sector of the site.
Mutso, like Shatili, has a perfectly preserved complex of medieval tower dwellings. Unlike Shatili the village is not UNESCO listed and so there is more freedom open to the restorers who at the time of this visit were conserving the village. Mutso marks the end of the road - beyond this point there are only trails to other settlements and to the Atsunta Pass into Tusheti. The ancient village is located on a pinnacle of rock overlooking a bend in the river below and the climb to the settlement passes several tomb vaults (akeldama) of the same type found at Anatori on the Shatili-Mutso road.
The Anatori burial vaults lie several kilometres north of Shatili below the Georgian-Chechen border post on the other side of the river. The vaults are called akeldama in Georgian and the people of Shatili have a tradition that when a plague came to the town in the middle ages, those affilcted by the disease walked to the akeldama and sat and patiently waited to die in the vaults rather than infect their healthy families and friends.
Martqopi is monastery in the Kvemo Kartli region of Georgia to the north east of Tbilisi. As with several other ancient monasteries, the village named Martqopi is now some kilometres distant from the monastery of that name as the monastery and accompanying settlement have divided over time and the monastery is known as Gvtaeba. The site is named for St. Anton Martqopeli, believed to have been one of the Thirteen (As)Syrian Fathers and who is believed to have brought the Holy Tile of Edessa (the Keramidion) to Georgia. Although the Keramidion is believed to be a miraculous imprint made on a tile by the Mandylion, the miraculous cloth that Christ left an imprint of his face on and therefore a secondary icon after the Mandylion, in Georgia this story has become confused and St. Anton is now often said to have brought the Mandylion itself to Georgia. The saint is often referred to as a 'Stylite' as he repudedly lived alone in a tower above the main monastery for some years. This building is now closed to visitors but is referred to interchageably as a 'koshki' (tower) or 'sveti' (pillar or column). As at Ubisa this dwelling resembles a tower house rather than the Syrian-style column found at Qal'at Seman and Semandağ. There is also a modern tomb at this site reorted to be that of St. Anton, replicating the situation across a number of sites associated with the Thirteen (As)Syrian Fathers where relatively recent shrines have been constructed.
The Church of St. Stepane Khirseli is actually located in the modern village of Tibaani, rather than the eponymous Khirsa in Kakheti. This is the easternmost site associated with the Thirteen (As)Syrian Fathers and, as with many other of the sites, has little if any evidence of early Christian occupation with the church dating to the medieval period and having been substantially renovated in the seventeenth century. As with a number of these sites a shrine around the saint's purported grave seems to be a relatively new phenomenon.
When the walls and base on which the sarcophagus had been standing were removed, cloth-wrapped metal bands were secured around the objects to keep it together and make sure that the tomb remained stable.
Tags: Archaeological Excavation, Archaeology, Dayr Mar Elian, Dayr Mar Elian Archaeological Project, Mar Elian, Mar Elian esh-Sharqi, Qaryatayn, Sarcophagus, Syria, Syrian Civil War, Tomb
This tomb was cut out of the stone at the base of the hill to the west of the ancient city.
This is one of the best-preserved tomb towers still extant and preserves many elements of its original fresco and sculptural decoration.