Unique crypt discovered in Georgian church in Turkey

Source: blagovest-info.ru

Tbilisi, July 5, 2016

In the north-eastern part of the main church of the
Georgian Ishkhani monastery complex, ceded to Turkey,
specialists of the Tbilisi “Research Center”
discovered a unique entombment, reports
ambebi.ge. According to member of the “Research
Center” Levan Tsikarishvili, there is no doubt that
a high-ranking representative of the nobility is buried in
the grave. Paleographer Temo Jojua is currently leading
the work on the inscriptions cleared away inside the
crypt.

“It is difficult to convey the emotions that
overcame me when, having crept into the narrow, extremely
dark head of the crypt, I lit my lantern and became the
first witness of this unique opening. The extensive
inscriptions bear witness that this crypt belongs to some
high-ranking representative of secular nobility or clergy,
possibly even an emperor or bishop. The date of
construction of the tomb is indicated as 1009. Such crypts
with such rich paleographic material are a rarity of
rarities, representing great historical and cultural
value,” Levan Tsikarishvili said.

Scientists have suggested that the
crypt perhaps belongs to King Gurgen, the father of
Bagrat III, the founder of the famous Kutaisi church,
a symbol of the unity and power of Georgia, where St.
David the Builder was crowned as king.

Proponents of this position, particularly historian Buba
Kudava, consider the date of the discovered tomb to be
conclusive evidence. King Gurgen reposed in 1008, with the
tomb dated to 1009, when its construction could have been
completed.

However, the Ishkhani church, which, as historians have
proven, King Gurgen built, stands at some distance, and it
would be logical to assume that his remains were buried in
the church he built.

Either way, the discovered entombment offers rich food for
thought and research by scientists of various profiles.

In 2013 the Turkish authorities began the process of
restoring Ishkhani, continuing until today with the
partial participation of Georgian specialists.

Several interesting archaeological finds have been made
during this time. In particular, literally a few days ago
fragments of a hitherto small, unknown church and other
structures were discovered: pottery fragments (jugs buried
in the ground for storing wine and oil), and so on.

Based on research materials, a catalog is planned for 2017
including around 1,000 monuments of Tao-Klarjeti
culture—the historical region ceded to Turkey.

The Ishkhani church is one of the remarkable monuments of
Georgian church architecture, formerly an episcopal
cathedral. The beginning of its construction is dated to
the seventh century, and in the eleventh century the
church was thoroughly rebuilt.

The Ishkhani church is repeatedly mentioned in Georgian
and foreign written sources, studied by scientists for
many centuries.

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