As mentioned in the entry on the large basilica in Areshi, the site was a huge city in late antiquity/middle ages and it was believed to have a church in every quarter. This small three church basilica was excavated under the direction of the Academican Levan Chilashvili in the 1970s and 1980s but was not subject to conservation and so has deteriorated severely in the intervening period.
This late antique basilica of the three church type is moderate in size and falls in between the other two churches at Areshi mentioned on this site in dimension. As with the smaller basilica, it has not been conserved and has suffered as a result - in this case being overgrown and having tree roots compromise the integrity of the standing remains. In the case of this church, a chapel was added and other alterations were carried out in the High Middle Ages, around the twelfth century.
A large number of churches were excavated in and around the village of Mtisdziri (called Areshi in the archaeological literature), Kakheti, in the 1970s under the direction of the Academician Levan Chilashvili. The large village that stands at Areshi today is only the remnant of an extensive medieval city that once occupied the territory north of the current settlement into the foothills of the Greater Caucasus mountains. Today many of these excavated monuments have deteriorated or been swallowed by vegetation but this sizeable basilica was conserved after excavation and stands on the western fringes of the current village. It dates probably to the fifth century and follows the standard form of Kakhetian three church basilicas. The large central nave had an arcade with two arches (three pillars) on either side and a small pastophorion to either side of the apse, which was inscribed within a flat east wall. Both the north and south external aisles terminate in apses and there is evidence on the west and south sides of decorative pilasters on the outside of the central nave. The south aisle was open to the elements with a five column arcade - having said this, the 'columns' had two square and three circular bases. There is evidence of cross-shaped piers at the junctions of the north and south aisles with the central nave and it is difficult to interpret the narthex as the two entrances do not align with the west door of the central nave, suggesting that it was subject to later alteration. All columns were created of rubble and mortar, as were the pilasters, showing that they were constructed in the vernacular Kakhetian building technique. The stepped base on the south side of the central nave could suggest a link with Armenia, where the same practice has been encountered.
Aghdzk is in Aragatsotn Province on the southern slopes of Mt. Aragats. It is best known for the Arshakid or Arshakuni Mausoleum, which was a funerary chapel housing the remains of both Pagan and Christian rulers. The mausoleum abuts a fourth or fifth century Christian basilica and ongoing excavations were exploring the area south of the church and tomb complex when the site was visited in August 2017.
Zvartnots is a centrally-planned cathedral in Armavir Province that was built in the seventh century by Catholicos Nerses III. Today it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and it remains one of the most significant early Christian monuments in Armenia. From the early twentieth century onwards it has been explored in archaeological excavations and a number of archaeologists, art historians and architects have attempted to reconstruct the original form of the building from the extant architectural details. This website is not the place to rehearse the various arguments relating to the site, but a clear and convincing summary of this history and an up-to-date interpretation of the material is offered by Christina Maranci in Vigilant Powers: Three Churches of Early Medieval Armenia, Brepols; Turnhout, 2015. This entry is obviously not the place to detail this complex historiographical tradition, but it is hoped that specialists and non-specialists alike may find some of the attached images useful and/or interesting.
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.
The archaeological remains at Dzalisa date to the C2nd CE and there is evidence that occupation continued into the middle ages with current research suggesting that the settlement was abandoned c. C8th CE. Whilst ancient writers did mention a Roman town this far east in Iberia, Dzalisa is the most significant Roman site found east of the Surami range of mountains and the site is probably the Zalissa mentioned by the writer Ptolemy (c.100- c.170 AD).
Today the archaeological remains cover a large area around the modern village of Dzalisa with excavations continuing every summer. It is estimated that the town covered 70 hectares in all and the reserve contains several excavated buildings, including a public bath, a swimming pool, a building with under-floor heating and part of a villa with mosaic flooring and what was probably a private bathing suite. The mosaics are only one of four examples of floor mosaic found on Georgian territory and the only one found east of the Surami mountain range.
These images were taken on the final day of the excavation season.
This test trench was dug at the westernmost end of trench 3 to confirm that there was no earlier occupation level under the Byzantine era dwelling.
This was the final extension to the trench and details such as thresholds, doorposts and a tannour (clay oven) were revealed.