The Church of Arakhish
The church of Arakhish is located in Kashatagh region of the Artsakh Republic (now under Azerbaijani control), 50 kilometers north of Berdzor, on the left bank of the Shalva tributary of the Hakari River, 1,5 kilometers south of the namesake village (Fig. 1). Traces of a medieval rural settlement, a church and a large cemetery to the south and west of it have been preserved here. There are no bibliographic data about the monument. Judging by the architectural peculiarities of the church, the early khachkars, the gravestones of the 12th-16th centuries (some of them are inscribed and dated), the settlement existed throughout the Middle Ages.
Fig. 1 The view of the church from the south, photo by H․ Petrosyan.
The church (Fig. 2) is built of local raw stones, lime mortar, it is plastered inwardly. It is a single-nave vaulted hall with an accented horseshoe-shaped apse (Fig. 3).
Fig. 2 The church plan, S. Karapetyan, Armenian cultural monuments in the region of Karabakh, Yerevan, 2001, p. 162.
Fig. 3 The view of the church from the west, photo by H. Petrosyan.
The external dimensions are 12.30x5.20 meters, the thickness of the walls is 90 centimeters (Karapetyan 2001, 162). In the middle of the southern wall, a horizontal stiffening zone is observed (it is probable that it engirded the whole structure), which presents also an exceptional case. The preserved horseshoe-shaped arches of the vault and the tholobate, as well as the holders are polished (Fig. 4). The probable dating of the structure, considering the horseshoe-shaped volumes, can be considered as the 9th-10th centuries. The western part of the church has not been preserved, and there can be speech of only the presence of two entrances (from northern and southern sides).
The graveyard is also quite damaged, but more than 20 khachkars (Fig. 5) and gravestones have been preserved, some of which are inscribed.
Fig. 4 The details of the arch wall and the tholobate, photo by H. Petrosyan.
Fig. 5 Khachkar, photo by H․ Abrahamyan.
The condition before, during and after the war
Arakhish Monastery was blown up in 1983 (Fig. 6), which was not subjected to significant changes later.
Researcher S․ Karapetyan in his book “Armenian cultural monuments in the region of Karabakh” presented Arakhish Monastery and the inscriptions, but called it Arko Nerkin and dates it to the 12th-13th centuries (Karapetyan 2001, 162-163).
Fig. 6 The appearance of the church after the explosion, photo by S․ Karapetyan, 1985.
1․ Karapetyan 2001 – S. Karapetyan, Armenian cultural monuments in the region of Karabakh, Yerevan.
The Church of Arakhish