Katoghike Tsiranavor Church of Avan (Cathedral Church of the Holy Mother of God, Avan) is the oldest church known that falls within the municipal boundaries of contemporary Yerevan. It is located in the Avan district in the east of the city, north of the road leading to Geghard and Garni. The building is a centrally-planned with a quatre-lobed interior, but is square on the outside. It dates to the end of the sixth century and, as with Zvartnots and Yereruyk, it stands on a stepped platform - although in this case there are only 2 steps. The church was later renamed Surb Hovhannes (St. John) and today is a ruin missing the upper portion of the building with only one of the 4 smaller linking conches that joined the 4 main lobes of the building still extant. The site is concealed down a narrow alleyway and stands on a small patch of waste ground surrounded by domestic buildings and a small auto repair business making it exceedingly difficult to find.
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.
The church of St. Gayane in Echmiadzin (now Vagharshapat) in Armavir Province was built in the seventh century. It is a three-naved domed basilica of the type encountered at Odzun and, as such, is included in the list of churches included in that entry. However, unlike most of the monuments on the list, the prominent location of this church in the Holy See of the Armenian Apostolic Church means that it was renovated in the seventeenth century and has therefore undergone more change than the other buildings of this type.
The basilica of Yereruyk is located in the village of Anipemza in Shirak Province in Armenia, right by the border with Turkey. It is believed to date to the fourth and fifth centuries and is one of the earliest Christian monuments in the country. Since the nineteenth century frequent comparisons have been drawn between this site and basilicas in Syria based largely on floor plans and a few images. However there is little more contemporary literature that explores this analogy in any detail and this question is considered on this site in the article entitled The Missing Link? Preliminary Fieldwork in Armenia.
The church at Odzun in the northern Lori Province of Armenia has been variously dated as between the fifth and seventh centuries, with many sources electing to place it in the sixth century, and was subject to alterations in the eighth century. It has been undergoing a process of renovation since 2012 and these renovations were still ongoing during the site visit in August 2017. The reason for visiting Odzun is that it is a domed basilica of a type that belongs to a small group of monuments recorded in Georgia, Armenia and territories formerly belonging to both nations that now lie in Turkey. Therefore this architectural type is comparable with the church of Tsromi (Georgia), Mren and Bagawan (Turkey) and St. Gayane in Echmiadzin (Armenia). As an aside it also possesses a unique early medieval funerary monument to the north of the church where two stelae are framed by a two-arched arcade in a manner that is reminiscent of some Roman funerary monuments in northwest Syria.
Photographs taken of Halabiyeh in December 1992.
A photograph taken of the church of Qalb Lozeh in December 1992.
These pictures were taken on a visit to Resafa in December 1992.
Gremi in Kakheti is best known today for its extremely well-preserved complex of seventeenth century buildings, preserved from the time when the city was the regional capital. However beside the citadel lie the remains of an older city at the site and this includes three adjoining small early churches that have been built abutting each other and clumsily linked physically and given additional elements such as a dome in later periods.
Chabukauri is located to the west of Nekresi monastery and lies in the modern territory of that foundation. As at Dolochopi, the large three-church basilica found on the site was once the centre of a substantial settlement that has since been overtaken by forest, although in this case the growth is not as dense as it is in Dolochopi. Also as at Dolochopi, there are various phases to the building. In this case the large church is believed to date to the fourth to fifth centuries and, after the main church was damaged in an earthquake, part of the north-eastern sector of the building was adapted to become the south aisle of a new, smaller building. This smaller church was constructed with two distinctive horseshoe-shaped apses, the larger of which had a synthronon - as at the main church in nearby Dolochopi. Also as at Dolochopi there are medieval kist burials scattered across the site. Finally to the north west of the main church there is a small apses structure, believed to date to the fourth century, that boasts a high quality terracotta tiled floor, suggesting that this too could have been an early church. The main building was roofed by timber beams and terracotta tiles held in place with nails and ante fixes as at Dolochopi and here there was evidence that the walls of the structure were once plastered and painted red.
Type: Archaeological Excavation
Tags: Archaeological Excavation, Archaeology, Architecture, Basilica, C4th, C4th-C5th, Chabukauri, Church, Dolochopi, Georgia, Kakheti, Nekresi, Synthronon, Three Church Basilica, Triple Basilica