Surb Astvatsatsin Church of Khnushinak

Location Khnushinak village is located in the Martuni region of the Republic of Artsakh, between the settlements of Chartar and Gish, 16 kilometers from the regional center Martuni. Surb Astvatsatsin Church, built in the nineteenth century, is situated on the high ground of the village’s western side (Fig. 1). Historical overview The main inscription of Khnushinak’s Surb Astvatsatsin Church has been preserved on the entrance facade, according to which the church was constructed in 1860 by Agha Hayrapet bek Dolukhaniants from the city of Shushi “The church was built by the will of God in Khnushinak village, thanks to the financial support of the pious, noble agha Hayrapet Bey Dolukhaniants of Shushi city, in memory of his soul and his noble spouse Bakumai Melik Beklariants, as well as the parents, Baghdasar Bey, father, and mother Nazlu Khan, in the year of 1860 ” (Barkhutareants 1895, 120). The structure’s second inscription is located on the vaulted wall and most likely refers to the construction of a small belfry on the roof, from which just four columns remain “This holy church’s upper story is dedicated to Baba Yepremean and his son Khachatur, spouse Margarit, December 22, 1894.” (Fig. 2). We learn more about Surb Astvatsatsin Church in Khnushinak from the structure’s inscriptions and the work of Makar Barkhudareants “Artsakh,” which mentions, among other things, that the church had two priests (Barkhudaryants 1895, 120). Architectural-compositional description The church is a single-nave hall with sacristies on both sides of the tabernacle. The vault, vaulted arches, and dome are all strongly arrow-shaped, giving the prayer hall a vertical stretch (Fig. 3). Except for the corner sections, entrance and windows, vaulted arches, and stage bema stones, the walls are lined with local unpolished stones. The interior of the church is plastered. The baptismal font is located on the northern wall. The structure’s length is 17.45 meters and its width is 8.80 meters. The church’s only entrance is on the south side, and there are two large arched windows on both sides of the entrance. On the eastern side, there is another large window (Fig. 4). There are six small windows in the structure, two on the north wall, two on the east wall, and one on each of the south and west walls. There are two rosettes in the upper part of the entrance, on both sides of the small window (Fig. 5), and the tabernacle bema and other parts are decorated with simple crosses.

Yeghtsadzor Church of Upper Sznek

Location The church known as “Yeghtsadzor Yeghtsi” is located on the outskirts of Upper Sznek village in the Askeran region of the Republic of Artsakh (Fig. 1). Historical overview There is no historical information available about the church. In his description of Upper Sznek, Makar Barkhudareants only mentions the village square’s church (Barkhutareants 1895, 101). Architectural-compositional examination The church is a rectangular vaulted single-nave hall with an eastern semi-circular tabernacle, a pair of sacristies, and windows built into the bema (Fig. 2). The burial arches are supported by pillars made of tombstones from the 16th and 17th centuries. A baptismal font is built into the northern wall near the bema. Reliefs on the bema, table, and curb stone at the entrance to the sacristies are also created by reusing khachkars, tombstones, and other polished stones (Fig. 3). In them, a khachkar from the 12th-13th centuries with a sculpture stands out. The church’s measurements are 10×8 meters. It is made of rough limestone and sandstone, lime mortar, and is plastered internally. The western and eastern facades each have three narrow windows. The roof is made of asbestos roofing from the years of independence.

The Surb Astvatsatsin Church of Old Skhtorashen

Location The church is located on the grounds of the Martuni region’s Old Skhtorashen rural settlement, east of the famous Platanus tree (Figs. 1, 2), in the zone of visibility and direct aiming of the Azerbaijani military. Historical overview The rural settlement of Old Skhtorashen is about 1-kilometer northwest of Karmir Shuka village. Makar Barkhudaryants claims that “…the residents of Skhtorashen are native to this land” (Barkhutareants 1895, 68). The church was built in 1731, according to the inscription on the lintel (“In the year of 1731”, fig. 3). Architectural-compositional examination It is a rectangular single-nave hall with a semicircular tabernacle on the eastern side and two windows on the northern and southern walls. It is vaulted internally, with a gable roof externally. The vault rests on arrow-shaped arches rising from a pair of columns. The dimensions are 13.7 meters long, 7 meters wide, and 6 meters tall. It is constructed of milky limestone, and the porch, outer corners of the hall, window parapets, niches, and baptismal font are all lined with large, polished stones. The western wall was reinforced internally and externally, along the width of the high altar, with a horizontal anti-seismic zone made of logs. Logs are no longer there. The porch entrance faces south and has an architectural and sculptural design typical of the time: an external polished border, sculptured entrance curbstones, and a wide semicircular lintel (Fig. 4). The lower part of the lintel’s horizontal sculptured zone continues and wraps up the decoration of the entrance curbs, highlighting its solemnity. The rest of the surface is taken up by lettered crosses embedded in the three arches, at the bottom of which the church’s construction date is engraved in large regular majuscule writing (Fig. 3).

Dadivank. About Saint Dadi and his grave

Dadivank’s current structures are not older than the 12th century. This monastery’s history is essentially a story about the Upper Khachen princely house and its spiritual activities. Excavations in Dadivank have revealed the remains of an ancient megalithic structure (whose circular burial pit constructed with tiny, irregular stones resembles a pre-Christian burial chamber) and the remains of a chapel built on it. At the end of the thirteenth century, an attempt was made to construct a large church that would include the chapel beneath the bema. However, for some reason, it was never completed. A single-nave church with a rectangular tabernacle was constructed on the southern side of this chapel, facing east, before the middle of the 12th century, and a rectangular hall-courtyard was built adjoining it from the west. The main church of Dadivank, which was built in 1214 according to the inscription, is also attached to the single-nave church with its northwestern corner (Fig. 1). About Saint Dadi The first written source about Saint Dadi and Dadivank is found in Movses Daskhurantsi’s 10th-century work “History of Aghvank,” which concerns 9th-century events: “Varaz Trdat and his son Stephanos Nerseh Philippean, as well as a relative, were murdered in Khoradzor, known as Dado monastery” (Kaghankatvatsi 1983, 340). Mkhitar Gosh has provided the next bibliographic information (end of the 12th century). When describing the raids of the Choli amira on Artsakh during the battles for Gandzak in 1145, he mentions the destruction of the Dadu monastery: “The apostolic holy place known as Dadivank” (Kaghankatvatsi 1983, 353). Mkhitar Gosh makes no mention of why the monastery is apostolic or who Dadu is. It can only be hypothesized that the monastery’s apostolic origin was already known. In addition, the author has stated on the same page that even though Choli destroyed and captured Artsakh’s fortifications a year ago, he had to attack and raid again: “…on the side of Khachin, Tandzeats, and Adakh, because not a single castle remained in his hands during the previous advance, but was liberated from him, those who had fled to cedrus forests, took their swords and fortresses from them and rebelled against Turks” (Kaghankatvatsi 1983, 353). Around this time (the early 1140s), Hasan Vakhtangyan, the elder lord of Khachen, begins his liberation struggle, which he describes in the inscription of the khachkar he constructed in Dadivank in 1182: “I, the son of Hasan Vakhtang, the lord of Haterk and Handaberd, Khachinaberd and Havakhrats, have been in seniority for 40 years. With the help of God, [survived] many wars and defeated my enemies. I gave birth to 6 sons and inherited them my fortresses and province, and came to this monastery. To Father Grigor I became a priest, and brought the khachkar of mine Aghuay, elaborately worked, and with many efforts raised it to commemorate the Holy Cross (Surb Nshan) and my soul. Thus, for the sake of your souls, you who read, remember my prayers. In the year 1182” (CAE 5, 198). We can see that the monastery is mentioned in this inscription without specifying its name. Further information is available about the end of the 12th century and the first half of the 13th century when Armenian princely houses liberated their estates from Seljuk rulers with the help of joint Armenian-Georgian forces.  This liberation struggle was regarded as a holy war, and the rapidly growing powerful princely houses replaced local saints with pan-Armenian or general Christian saints (Petrosyan 2017, 236-237). The Zakarians made St. Sargis the patron saint of the liberation struggle (especially given his powerful character and the fact that their father was also named Sargis), the Hasan-Jalalyans – Stepanos Nahavka, and Hovhannes the Baptist. Based on the similarity of his name to Saint Thaddeus-Thadeous and possibly some other local legends, the owners of Upper Khachen or Haterk recreated the image of Dado or Dade. It is worth noting that the monastery is referred to as “Dadi’s grave” in an inscription carved on the wall of the monastery’s main church in 1224 by the Lord of Upper Khachen and Tsar, son of Hassan and Dop: Grigor. The inscription says “in the year 1224. I, father Grigoris, superior of this holy convent, son of Vasak, the martyr, created this chapel for the commemoration of my soul and prayers.” (CAE 5, 201, Fig. 2) Vardan Areveltsi introduces this passage in his translation of Mikael Asori’s chronicle from the middle of the 13th century: “Some Thaddeus, from the pagans, who went to Greater Armenia and the northern lands by the commission of Thaddeus (Apostle), and upon hearing about the death of Abgar, turned and moved to Smaller Syunik and was murdered for secret preaching. The monastery was built in that place and named after him” (Asori 1871, appendix 33; Vardan likely obtained this passage from his teacher monastic vardapet (monk), where the saint is referred to as Dadiu, as it is with Mkhitar Gosh; cf. Alishan 1902, 22-23, Matevosyan 2020, 26-28). As a result, attempts were made to change the saint’s name to match that of Saint Thaddeus as additional “proof” of his apostolic origin. It can be concluded that Mkhitar Gosh and monastic vardapet (monk) breathed new life into local traditions about Saint Dadi and his grave, justifying and strengthening his image as the patron saint of the Upper Khachen princely house as a pan-Christian saint. Grave and Chapel of Saint Dadi There is no clear structure or tomb to indicate Dadi’s grave in early 19th-century descriptions and surveys. The great basilica of the north was a possible location for it, potentially because of its unusual width (which could be reminiscent of similar early Christian temples) and the extraordinarily large column constructed in the apse (which could be reminiscent of early Christian monuments, such as were also built on the tombs of saints). Modern research, however, indicates that the current structure of the basilica church dates from the late 13th century and was built by the monastery’s abbot, Bishop Athanas. The same can be said of the monument standing on the stage (Fig. 4), which is close to the anchors of the church’s pillars in terms of dimensional resolution and processing. However cross sculptures and an inscription representing the year (possibly 1361 or 1370), most likely refer to the 13-14th centuries. It is also important to note that the earlier small basilica church adjoining this basilica to the south, as well as the main church a bit further to the southeast (built-in 1214, i.e. earlier than the current building of the great basilica), have north entrances. It is a well-known fact that Armenian churches had a northern entrance only in rare circumstances, such as when it was not technically possible to open the entrance from the west or south, or when there were special ritual or religious cases. Since the technical aspect is excluded in this case (the small basilica also has an entrance from the south and the main church one from the west), the presence of the northern entrances must be related to the existence of some sacred place in the area of the large basilica, in this case, a grave attributed to Saint Dadi (cf. Ayvazyan 2015)., 52-53). It is reasonable to assume that when Vardapet Athanas began work on the new church, he had already removed the valuable relics from the ruined tomb and chapel to place them in the new structure. This is demonstrated by the proscenium, which is a unique manifestation of Armenian Church architecture, as well as the numerous sculpted niches incorporated into the walls (Fig. 3). The ruins of the grave were hidden beneath the church’s proscenium and stage. It is worth noting that S. Ayvazyan, the restoring architect of Dadivank claims that Athanas did not initiate a church and abandoned it, but instead created a unique inner courtyard around Dadi’s grave and chapel (Ayvazyan 2015, 56). This point of view, however, leaves unsolved the question of how that inner courtyard came to be formed if neither the tomb nor the chapel was visible or accessible. Indeed, as the excavations revealed, the burial pit was lined with small rough stones, and the chapel built on it was incorporated into the church’s proscenium and stage (Figs. 4, 5). Excavations uncovered the remains of a wooden palanquin (Fig. 6), an onyx wand head, and human bones dating from the mid-12th century (the first phase of excavations was conducted by Hamlet Petrosyan, see Petrosyan 2007, the second phase by Gagik Sargsyan, architect: Samvel Ayvazyan, see Ayvazyan, Sargsyan 2012, 1-11, Ayvazyan 2015, 68-73). Thus, at the end of the 13th century, Vardapet Athanas incorporated the already dilapidated structures beneath the stage and proscenium of the new church and carved several sculptured niches in the proscenium’s walls for the separated relics. Father Athanas did not complete the church’s construction, so it remained an open-air structure.

The Monuments of Shikaqar Qaraglukh: Surb Astvatsatsin Church of Khramort

It is about 1 kilometer southwest of Khramort village, on the hill of the rock mass southeast of Shikaqar fortress, on the eastern edge of Old Khramort village (Figs. 1, 2). It is a single-nave hall with a rectangular architectural plan. The semi-circular tabernacle is on the eastern side, with the two sacristies on the right and left sides. On the northern wall, the baptismal font has been preserved. The cylindrical vault is supported by the longitudinal and transverse arches that rise from the pillars (Fig. 3). The roof is pitched and earth-covered. It is built with semi-polished limestone from the area and lime mortar. The curbstones of the windows, the entrance, the arches, and the bema are made of polished stones. The only entrance is from the south (Fig. 4), and it is lit by seven windows. The church measures 16.9 meters in length and 6.73 meters in width. The date of the church’s construction, 1800, is preserved on the entrance facade. The presence of an earlier structure, however, is indicated by the khachkar typical of the 12th-13th centuries built on the south wall. The cemetery surrounds the church and contains 19th-century tombstones, some of which are distinguished by beautifully carved ornaments (Fig. 5). The monument was damaged during the first Artsakh war, and there are traces of firearm on the khachkar enchased on the southern wall.

Verin Sznek village’s Surb Hakob church, sanctuary, and khachkars

Location Verin Sznek village is located in the Republic of Artsakh’s Askeran region. Surb Hakob Church is located on the village’s western outskirts (Fig. 1). Historical overview There is no information available about the church’s history. Makar Barkhutareanats only mentions the village’s Surb Astvatsatsin church: “The church is Surb Astvatsatsin, and it is made of stones”(Barkhutareants 1895, 101). Architectural-compositional examination The church is a rectangular single-nave hall. It is made of rough and small stones, and lime mortar, and only the entrance stones, church cornerstones, and window frames are lined with polished stones (Fig. 2). The church’s only entrance is on the south facade. The church is situated on a steep hillside on the west side. The windows on the other facades are small, except for one large and wide window near the entrance. The latter is supported by the prayer hall’s longitudinal walls. It is worth noting that the door’s facade inscription stone is located on the entrance’s left wall (Fig. 3). The interior of the church is vaulted. The inscription on the lintel says, “The church’s construction began in 1882. It was built with the financial means and honest earnings of Avetis Aghabek, or Sargis Yakobian Dovlateans, a Verin Sznek villager. Bishop Grigor consecrated the church in 1885”. According to the inscription, construction began in 1882 and was completed in 1885. Since the current entrance is different and does not correspond to the lintel, the lintel inscription may refer to the older building of the Surb Hakob church, which was rebuilt. Such reconstruction could have been carried out at the beginning of the twentieth century, before the establishment of Soviet rule (Fig. 4).

Surb Hambardzum Church of Berdzor

Location Surb Hambardzum Church is located on the rocky slope of the Hakari River’s left bank, 150 meters above the river and 960 meters above sea level, on Berdzor’s southwestern outskirts, near the M-12 highway (Figs. 1, 2). Historical overview Aleksan Hakobyan, the first head of the Kashatagh district administration, initiated the establishment of the Surb Hambardzum Church in Berdzor. Construction was completed in 1998, and the dome cross was consecrated on May 31, 1998. Hrachya Gasparyan is the church’s architect. Georgi Arakelyan oversaw the construction. The church’s artistic decoration was created by sculptor Artashes Hovsepyan, painter Karo Mkrtchyan, woodworker Vano Dadoyan, and others. Priest Athanas has served as the region’s spiritual pastor since the church’s founding, and Ter Beniamin Tsaturyan has served as the region’s spiritual pastor since 2019. Architectural-compositional examination The church is a cross-shaped, central-domed structure with sacristies on both sides of the tabernacle. The dome has 12 facet drums and completes with a fan-shaped spire. On the roof of the western facade, there is a small bell tower. The interior of the church is decorated with mural art, and the exterior is decorated with bas-reliefs. The image of the Virgin Mary with the child at the entrance and the eagle breaking the yataghan of the structure’s eastern facade is particularly significant. This sculptural composition is authored by G. Artashes Hovsepyan and displays an inscription quote “Let us be buried, but not surrender” by G. Narekatsi (Figs. 3, 4). He also created three of the rosettes on the dome drum’s 12 facets, as well as other sculptures. The four donation khachkars and the sundial on the southern wall are part of the structure’s exterior decoration. The 6-line inscription is carved on the western side of the church’s northern wall. “The newly settled Kashatagh people built the Surb Hambardzum Church hoping in God (in memory of thousands of our martyred brothers). Surb Hambardzum Church was established in the Berdzor settlement in 1996 and consecrated by the will of the Holy Spirit (during the reign of Ter Garegin, Catholicos of all Armenians) with the presence of Ter Pargev bishop of Artsakh and Ter Atanas priest of the province in the year of 1998. All praise to our gracious Lord Jesus Christ. Amen”. A second large inscription, carved on the eastern upper part of the south wall, lists the names of thirty-two builders, ranging from architects to laborers. Hovhannes Mkrtchyan, a sculptor, is also one of the authors of the church ornaments. Karo Mkrtchyan painted the Holy Table’s first icon of Mary. Vano Dodoyan, a master woodworker, designed the entrance and storage room doors. Other artists also contributed to the church’s artistic decoration. Two khachkars by the sculptor H. Mkrtchyan are intact in the churchyard. The khachkar dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide (Fig. 5) was on the south side, and the khachkar dedicated to the memory of the Spitak earthquake martyrs was on the north side (Fig. 6). A small khachkar with a spring could be found on the eastern side. The Armenian community of Lebanon donated the two bells for Berdzor’s Surb Hambardzum Church.

Surb Astvatsatsin Church of Tsovategh

Location It is located in the center of Tsovategh village in the Martuni region of the Artsakh Republic (Fig. 1). Historical overview According to an inscription on the southern wall of Surb Astvatsatsin Church, above the porch, the church was renovated in 1895. It says, “This church was built in memory of Margare Bek Pashayeants’ late father. Margare Bek Pashayeants used his financial resources to renovate the church’s tin roof, gavit, and windows in the year 1895” (Fig. 2). The church is a 19th-century structure based on its dimensional and spatial solutions, as well as the sculptural decoration of the southern porch. Architectural-compositional examination The church is a rectangular single-nave hall with a semi-circular tabernacle on the eastern side and two windows on the northern and southern walls (Fig. 3). On the northern wall, the baptismal font has been preserved (Fig. 4). A metal sheet covers the pitched roof on the outside. Inwardly, the vaulted roof is supported by arches derived from the wall pilasters of the prayer hall’s longitudinal walls (Figs. 5, 6).

Surb Hovhannes church of Taghot

                                                   Location Taghot village is located in the Republic of Artsakh’s Hadrut region and is currently occupied by Azerbaijan (Fig. 1). Historical sites and monuments abound in the village and its surroundings. Surb Hovhannes church is preserved on the village’s northern outskirts and is fully intact (Fig. 2).

The Church of Janbar

Location The church of Janbar is located in the Republic of Artsakh’s Kashatagh region, in the rural settlement of Janbar, not far from the city of Kovsakan on its western outskirts. It is currently occupied by Azerbaijan. Historical overview There is no historical information about the church. Janbar village was once incorporated into the Syunik region’s Kovsakan province. By the end of the 18th century, a substantial percentage of the latter had been evacuated of Armenians (Karapetyan 1999, 207). Architectural-compositional examination The church is made of medium and small stones that are rough and unpolished, as well as lime mortar (Figs. 1, 2). By architectural plan, it is a single-nave vaulted hall with only one entrance from the south (Fig. 3). The only window has been preserved on the eastern facade. They used the window cornice of an older church and polished stones to construct it (Figs. 4, 5). The only eye-catching decoration in this church is the window on the east facade. The exact date of the church’s construction is unknown. Based on its architectural and structural data, as well as its external and internal appearance, it can be classified among the 17th–18th century single-nave churches of Syunik and Artsakh. The church’s name is also unknown. The church is mentioned on the website of the Artsakh Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church as Ohanaeghtsi and dates back to the 17th century

The Church of Berdavank

Location Berdavank is located in the Hadrut area, in the village of Ghuchilar (Figs. 1, 2).

Meghretsots St. Astvatsatsin Church

Location The Meghretsots St. Astvatsatsin Church is located in Shushi City’s upper district, approximately 600 meters south-west of the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral (Holy Savior Cathedral). Historical overview In 1838, immigrants from Meghri built the church in the district of the same name. According to the building inscription, it is known as St. Meghretsots Holy Savior Church, and was built with the financial help of Mahtesi Hakhumyants (Barkhutaryans 1895, 132). The church was demolished, renovated, and functioned as an outdoor movie theater in the 1960s (Fig. 1). Witnesses claim that it was nearly impossible to destroy the church’s strong and thick walls. During the Soviet period, the majority of the walls were demolished by explosions as a result of the Azerbaijani authorities’ extortion of Armenian cultural heritage, and the main walls were incorporated into the asphalt (Mkrtchyan 1980, 159). The excavations in the area were carried out in 2017 by the Artsakh Republic’s “State Service for the protection of historical environment” SNCO. As a result of the excavations, the asphalt layer was removed, and the church’s base was exposed (Figs. 2, 3). The territory was completely covered in asphalt prior to the excavations. Only the tabernacle and sacristies were visible on the site (Fig. 4).   The condition before, during, and after the war Prior to the war, only the eastern wall was standing, with the foundations of the other walls reaching up to 1 meter in height. There is no information available regarding the monument during or after the war. The monument is currently under Azerbaijani occupation. Bibliographic examination Makar Barkhudaryants (Barkhutaryants 1895) provides detailed information about the church. Mkrtchyan’s work on Artsakh’s historical and architectural monuments provided us with information about the monument’s condition throughout the Soviet era (Mkrtchyan 1985). Architectural-compositional examination  According to Makar Barkhudaryants, the church was constructed on the same principles as the Aguletsots church: the chapel had a rectangular spatial composition. The vaulted arches were supported by four pillars raised in the hall’s center and three pairs of columns on the hall’s longitudinal walls. It had two south-west entrances and ten windows. The bell tower was a three-story building made of polished stones. A small bell tower, similar to an octagonal rotunda, was also in the middle of the church roof, as is common in Artsakh’s contemporary churches. According to Makar Barkhudaryants, the following inscription was discovered on the front stone of the south door: “In 1838, Mahtesi Hakhumeants didn’t have an offspring to continue his lineage, so he built this holy church as a testament to letting the human race fly on high for the sake of the immortal name of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The earthly body is buried here, in this glorious tomb of a temple, in commemoration of the passing soul’s journey in the transient world, before the fulfillment of a new destiny.” (Barkhutaryants 1895, 132-133). The location of the slab, mentioned by the lintel, is currently unknown. According to the Karabakh Ecclesiastical Court’s verdict on the renovation of Meghretsots Church on May 13, 1839 (RA HSCA, p. 56, l. 1, c. 415, sht. 2-3, original manuscript), there was formerly a wooden church on the site. The document clearly states that the church was to be built only after 1839. The inscription on the facade’s stone most likely contains the construction date of the church’s initial wooden structure. The church is 24.75 x 12.77 meters in size, with walls up to 1.6 meters thick. It had two entrances, one on the south and one on the west; the adjacent parts of them were paved (Fig. 5). The Meghretsots Church, with its spatial-architectural solutions, is reminiscent of the historic churches of Artsakh from the 17th to the 19th centuries (Fig. 6).

St. Vardan’s church in Togh Anapat

Location The church is located on a steep slope in Artsakh’s Hadrut region, near the western part of Togh village (Fig. 1). Azerbaijan has occupied the Togh village since October 2020. Historical overview The information about the church’s construction is based on a local legend that “a man descended from nobles converted to Islam, then repented, and built the churches of St. Stephanos and St. Vardan as a symbol of sincere devotion” (Jalaliants 1858, 260). The church was also known as St. Vardan, according to Sedrak Barkhudaryan (CAE 5, 174). Architectural-compositional examination   It is a single-nave rectangle hall. The tabernacle and two sacristies attached to the tabernacle from the south, crown the hall from the east. Two bow-shaped arches extend from the prayer hall’s longitudinal wall pilasters and support the vaulted roof. . The western wall of the church is completely buried in earth, whereas the northern side is only partly buried (Fig. 2). The entrance is on the south side. Four small windows, three of which open to the east and one to the north, provide light. On a khachkar at the entry lintel, the only inscription from the church, “Khachs Vardan” (Barkhutaryan 1895, 51), has been preserved. Several tombstones, most of which are buried in the earth, have been preserved inside the church (Fig. 3). Melik Bakhtam’s tombstone is one of them. According to the inscription on his tombstone, he died in 1787 after being poisoned by Ibrahim Khan (CAE 5, 178). The cemetery surrounds the church, with the majority of the tombstones dating from the 19th and 20th centuries (Fig. 4).

The rock-hewn church of Tandzut

Location Tandzut is a village located in the Kashatagh region, in the western part of the Hakari River, in the left tributary of the Aghavno. During the Soviet era, the village was also known as Garygyshlag. Many caves that have been inhabited for over a thousand years can be found here, on high-altitude rocks. The watermill ruins, road traces, remote caves and hermitages, as well as the medieval rock-hewn church, all point to the existence of a cave dwelling on the canyon’s left side during the middle Ages. The village is located at an elevation of 1300 meters above sea level. Historical overview There is no information about this church in historical sources. Architectural-compositional examination The church is hewn in stone, and its facade is built into the southern cliffs. (Fig․ 1)։ The church is built on a single-nave basilica architectural plan. The prayer hall is 5.8–2.5 m in length and 4.4 m in height. The church’s entrance is on the south side, with two inward-widening windows. On the east side of the tabernacle, four rock stairs lead to a rock-hewn stage (Fig. 2). The tabernacle has two window niches carved into it. The stone was removed from the Holy Tabernacle’s table, and its location is visible. The only separately made component in the church’s structural system is this stone. The church’s interior decoration is simple and restrained. The walls are well-designed, but there are no inscriptions on them (Fig. 3). A natural arch has been preserved on the west side of the church, through which the road leading to the sanctuary once passed. On a large rock in the center of the arch and the church, there is a hole resembling a khachkar in shape. There was undoubtedly a khachkar-monument here, which was destroyed by the Muslim inhabitants.

St. Hovhannes church of Qaraglukh (Hadrut)

Location The church is located in an elevated area of the village Qaraglukh in Hadrut region (Fig. 1). Historical overview It was consecrated in 2013 and is a newly built church. Architectural-compositional examination In terms of structure, it’s a tetraconch church. It has a tetragon shape from the layout and is cross-shaped from the inside. The presence of sacristies in each of the four corners emphasizes the cross-shaped structure. The squinch system creates a transition between the cupola volume and the drum. The church is built of polished tufa (Fig. 2). The building is supported by a three-degree anchor. On the west, south, and north sides, there are three windows. The entrance is on the west side, and the door has an inscription on it (Fig. 3). On the eastern wall, there are two St. Hripsime-type niches and one window (Fig. 4).  The condition before, during, and after the war Before the war, the church was fully steadfast. There is no information about the monument during or after the war.    

The Monuments of Shikaqar Qaraglukh: St. Astvatsatsin Church of Qaraglukh

The church is located in the Askeran region, near Parukh village (Figs. 1, 2). It has a 19th-century architectural construction, but tombstones and khachkars from older periods used in the lining of the walls prove that the current church was built on the foundations of the old church here.

Surb Vanes Church

Location The Ghrali rural settlement is located on a plateau, south of the confluence of the Varanda River’s tributaries Navtakhan and Kichintap, 1.9 kilometers north-east of Jraghatsner Village. The church of St. Vanes is located in the area of the settlement, in half-ruined condition, and nearby, the cemetery and ruins of other adjacent buildings are also preserved. The current Jraghatsner village was formed by the residents of the Ghrali rural settlement at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Historical Overview There are no historical facts about the settlement or monument group. There is also no historical information available about the construction of Vanes Church. It was most likely reconstructed in the second half of the 17th century in the location of the old sanctuary. The khachkars and records enchased in the wall, which date back to the 16th century, attest to this (Figs. 2, 3). The oldest monument at the ancient site is a khachkar enchased in the western facade, which dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries. (Figs. 4). The cemetery is located around the church, and the existing tombstones primarily date from the 18th and 19th centuries (Figs. 5, 6). St. Vanes Church remained a sanctuary for the people of the surrounding settlements even after they had left the village.

St. Astvatsatsin Church of Karintak

Location The church is located in Karin Tak village in the upper district of the Artsakh Republic’s Shushi region. The church is currently occupied by Azerbaijan as a result of the 44-day war in Artsakh. Historical overview According to the inscription engraved on the right side of the central window of the south façade, the church was built in 1841. (Fig. 1).