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.
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.
The C8th Baghdad Gate of Raqqa was built in the Abbasid period and is the only part of the early Islamic city walls still extant, although its fate is currently unknown due to the presence of the so-called Islamic State in the city.
This mosque dates to the early C8th and was founded by the Caliph Omar when he conquered Syria.
Harran is a ruined city in south-eastern Turkey not far from the Syrian border. It dates back many millennia and is believed to be by many people to be the Harran mentioned in Genesis where Abraham and Sarah (then still named Abram and Sarai) settled when they left Ur of the Chaldees. The city remained resolutely pagan throughout the late antique period and was dedicated to the moon god, Sin. Perhaps this was to mark its difference from the nearby Christian city of Edessa, but Harran was later swift to embrace Islam. Today its most significant monument is the extensive ruin of Harran's vast C8th congregational mosque, the minaret of which is still extant.
The church at Zarzma was built between the C10th and C16th at a site that is associated with St. Basil, an C8th holy man. There is believed to have been a church on this site since the C8th and a miraculous C9th icon is also linked with the site. Fragments of this icon are still extant in the Art Museum in Tbilisi and in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.
Dzveli Gavazi is the name given to a church dated to the sixth century in the village of Alkhalsopeli at the foot of the Caucasus near Dagestan. The church has been changed since the sixth century, especially with the addition of an ambulatory that wraps around three-quarters of the building. The church was restored in 1852 and an inscription raised to commemorate this, and has also undergone restoration by the National Agency for the Cultural Preservation of Georgia. On the initial visit to the site in 2013 the church was locked and it was not possible to access the interior, however on a return in 2017 accompanied by Professor Nodar Bakhtadze, it was not only possible to locate the keyholder but also possible to take interior photographs of the building. This proved to be extremely interesting as each corner of the dome had a semi-circular rubble-built column at the junction between two lobes of the quatrefoil. The pendentives spring above these columns without an intervening capital making a clumsy transition that suggests a degree of experimentation. Interestingly the other quatrelobed monument in Kakheti, Ninotsminda in Sagarejo has its dome supported by the same arrangement of pendentives springing from columns without the intervening unifying element of a capital. Here we encounter the problem of the uncertain dates of both monuments. Dzveli Gavazi is attributed to the sixth century and the ambulatory which wraps around the exterior of much of the church is ascribed to the eighth century without any definitive reason for assuming these dates. Ninotsminda was believed to be an early monument, but recently there has been a move to suggest that it is not as ancient as previously assumed - although once again this discussion has been based on relatively nebulous typological grounds rather than being based on an archaeological or serious architectural resassessment. Given the ubiquity of the Kakhetian three church basilica in this region, Dzveli Gavazi represents a fascinating anomaly that requires further exploration.