This small three church basilica follows the same pattern as elsewhere in Kakheti and was once at the centre of a (now lost) village. It is believed to date from the sixth or seventh centuries and has the same disposition on the north aisle as Dubi and Eniseli by having a pastophorion entered from the central nave at the east end of the aisle. However the shortened western section of this aisle terminates in a flat wall rather than an apse. On the south side the aisle terminates in an apse and, as at the Areshi large basilica, there is an open colonnade on this side. In this case there are two columns and three arches open to the outside. The north and south aisles were not built tied in to the central nave and, rather than interpreting this to mean that they were built later, it is more likely that this construction technique was intended to protect against the seismic activity in the region in late antiquity. Today the church stands in a small copse on a wooded island amidst the vineyards of the Kindzmareuli wine corporation, which is why it is referred to as Kindzmareuli church.
At Zegaani in Kakheti there is a complex of three early churches. The fifth-century church of St. Marina is exceptionally small and its nearest comparable building in terms of design seems to be the tiny church of St. Nino in Samtavro, Mtskheta. The interior of the space is richly frescoed with an (unpublished) sixteenth to seventeenth century fresco cycle, that is currently open to the elements given the lack of windows and doors on the church. There is a simple, single naved church dedicated to the Archangels of an inter determinate date and a large three-church basilica dedicated to the Virgin and of an architectural type very similar to the basilica to the north of the valley at Nekresi. Like the Nekresi basilica, this church is believed to date to the sixth to seventh century. This basilica was in the process of being resorted at the time of the visit as the site was being re-established as a working monastery.
The church is small and its flat east end abuts the Qalb Lozeh-Harim road. The bema is in situ, and as at Kimar has notches suggesting that a wooden structure was in place above the stone base of the bema. There are also reliquaries still in place on the altar steps. The church is very small and its unsophisticated plan and execution led Tchalenko to date it to the late C6th-early C7th.
The impressively preserved city walls of Resafa are the subject of some debate when regards to their age and to who's reign their construction can be credited to. Scholars seem to be split as to whether they were constructed in the reigns of the Emperor Anastasius (491-518 AD) or the Emperor Justinian (527-565 AD). Procopius' attributes the first stone wall to the reign of Justinian. However this cannot be wholly accepted as fact as Procopius' accounts are occasionally deliberately misleading and sometimes wholly inaccurate. The most well preserved and impressive of the gates still extant is the Sura Gate on the north side of the city.
Regardless of which reign they were constructed in the defences do seem to be Late Antique. The walls, their covered galleries, the towers and gates were well preserved when I visited in 2010. As a result of the civil war their current condition is hard to ascertain.
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.
Tags: (As)Syrian Fathers, Architecture, Areshi, C12th, C16th, C4th, C6th-C7th, C8th-C9th, Centrally-Planned, Church, Dzveli Gavazi, Funerary Chapel, Georgia, Georgian, Georgian Inscription, Inscription, Kakheti, Khirsa, Kindzmareuli, Middle Ages, Nekresi, Shilda, Stepantsminda, Thirteen (As)Syrian Fathers, Three Church Basilica, Triple Basilica, Tsromi, Zoroastrian
Jvari means 'cross' in Georgian but the place known as Jvari is the high point above the city of Mtskheta where St.Nino is believed to have raised a cross in the C4th, signifying the arrival of Christianity in Georgia. The centrally-planned church on the site dates to the turn of the C6th-C7th and is the prototype for a genre of vernacular church architecture in Georgia. The sculptures on the east façade represent the Erismtavari Stepanoz I (during whose reign Jvari was constructed) being blessed by Christ, Erismtavari Adarnarse I with his son Kobul-Stepanoz (later Stepanoz II) and Dimitri, brother of Stepanoz I. On the south façade Kobul-Stepanoz (Stepanoz II) is shown with St. Stephen ando over the main entrance is a sculpture depicting the Ascension of the Cross. The south west (women's) entrance has the Ascension of Christ above it. A later chapel added to the north of the main church has been recently renovated, causing damage to the historical integrity of this part of the complex.
Tags: Adarnarse, Architecture, Ascension, C4th, C6th-C7th, Centrally-Planned, Christ, Church, Cross, Dimitri, Erismtavari, Figure, Jvari, Kobul-Stepanoz, Mtskheta, Sculpture, Shida Kartli, St. Nino, St. Stepanos, Stepanoz
Sculpture, C6th-C7th. Found in Urfa, now in Urfa Museum.