RIHA Journal 0143 | 30 November 2016

The Church of Surb Prkich in Ani (1035)

Part 1: History and Historiography – Architectural Plan – Excavations of 2012 and Starting of Conservation

Armen Kazaryan, İsmail Yavuz Özkaya and Alin Pontioğlu

This is the first article of a projected series of reports concerning the architecture and conservation of the Church of the Redeemer (Surb Prkich) in the medieval Armenian capital of Ani in the present-day Turkish province of Kars. Dated to 1035, this polyconch church stands as a beautiful example of the metropolitan school, which was especially dedicated to interpreting the architectural forms and principles of Classical antiquity. The church has survived both medieval reconstructions and a subsequent restoration in 1912, as well as remained extant within the ruins of Ani despite its western half preserved in poor condition. The authors, two Turkish architects and a Russian architectural historian have analyzed the historical data, historiography and architectural plan of Surb Prkich and present here the results of cleaning and archeological excavations at the site, as well as of the initiation of the monument’s stabilization and conservation program, begun in 2012.


(Armen Kazaryan and Yavuz Özkaya)

[1] The Church of the Redeemer (Surb Prkich) is one of the most interesting and least-investigated monuments of the famous medieval town of Ani, in the present-day Turkish province of Kars. It was erected at the time of the flourishing of Ani as an Armenian capital in the late period of the Bagratid rule (961-1045). The church’s ruins are located 305 meters to the east/ north-east from Ani cathedral, the largest and most dominant structure of Ani, built in the last quarter of the 10th century. The positioning of these two masterpieces so close to one another is undoubtedly an argument for Surb Prkich’s importance in the city space (Fig. 1).

1 Church of Surb Prkich (in the foreground) and Cathedral, Ani, view from the East, 2005 (photograph provided by A. Kazaryan)

[2] According to inscriptions (see below), the church was built in 1035 to house a fragment of the True Cross, under orders from Prince Aplgharip Pahlavuni. The eleventh century was a time of extensive building activity not only in Ani, but also more broadly in the area of the town’s surrounding monasteries. During the 1020-30s, Shahinshah (King of Kings) Hovhannes Smbat (r. 1017-1041) and other powerful princes built impressive edifices at the Horomos, Marmashen, Khtskonk and Bagnayr monasteries.1 From the point of view of art history, the first forty years of the eleventh century were characterized by the greatest flourishing of the Ani school of Armenian architecture.

[3] The Church of Surb Prkich in particular deserves a comprehensive review. Renewed interest in its architecture coincides with our initiation of archeological and conservation work at the site. For this reason we resolved to publish the following overview, which represents the cumulative results of both practical activity and theoretical analysis. Furthermore, because the preservation of the monument remains ongoing, we decided to put forth a series of articles as the project progresses and new information comes to light. This article forms the first report of our study.

Historiography of the architecture of Surb Prkich and its inscriptions

(Armen Kazaryan)

[4] The history of study of the Church of Surb Prkich (as it is named in inscriptions on the monument) or Amenaprkich (as it is called by the twelfth-century chronicler Samuel Anetsi) is inseparable from investigations of the architecture of Ani and medieval Armenian architecture of the Bagratid and Zakharid periods (9th–14th centuries) more generally. These early publications form the foundation for the following study. In addition to academic literature, more mainstream writing, for example travel notes or belles-lettres, is especially interesting for our research. These genres influenced public perception, and motivated scientific expeditions and research into medieval Armenia. Scholarship from the first part of the twentieth century, such as that of Nikolay Marr2 (1865-1934) and Leo (actually Arakel Babakhanyan, 1860-1932)3, as well as that of our contemporaries,4 preserves important analyses of works and impressions of the first modern visitors to Ani – the monks and travelers of the nineteenth century.

[5] Leo writes of these pioneers to Ani, whose names were almost unknown. Two Armenian monks, Ter-Khachatur and Ter-Hovan, visited the site on May 17, 1804, and counted almost forty churches, took note of significant inscriptions there, and transcribed these inscriptions from each church, including the Cathedral and the Church of the Redeemer (Surb Prkich or Amenaprkich).5

[6] However, Ani gained international attention only after a visit by English traveler Sir Robert Ker Porter in 1817 who, as Leo said, "dedicated to Ani only two to three pages, but perfect pages!".6 This "proud British, son of the educated and progressive nation"7 describes his impression of Ani as follows:

The farther I went, and the closer I examined the remains of this vast capital, the greater was my admiration of its firm and finished masonry. In short, the masterly workmanship of the capitals of pillars, the nice carvings of the intricate ornaments, and arabesque friezes, surpassed any thing of the kind I had ever seen, whether abroad, or in the most celebrated cathedrals of England.8

[7] Although Porter and other travelers and scholars such as Richard Wilbraham, Ch. Texier, M.-F. Brosset, K. Koch, and M. Khanykof described some of the monuments of Ani, none gave any account of the architecture of Surb Prkich.

[8] Russian investigation of Ani began with works by Brosset and Khanykov, as well as a visit by poet and playwright A. N. Muravyev lasting from September 1846 to July 1847.9 Muravyev gave the most detailed description of the Church of Surb Prkich:

A little bit higher, at the deserted site one overlooks another round church of magnificent architecture, which partially reminds me of Omar's Mosque in Jerusalem: twelve arcades in each of its two stories, and inside the wall painting have survived. In the area of the altar is painted the Saviour, surrounded by archangels, in the other niches are the four Evangelists and the saints. The inscriptions are all Armenian, and the one on the gate states that the church was erected in the time of Peter's patriarchy and of John Sumbat, the son of King Gagik.10

[9] Ani attracted the attention of Earl Mikhail Vorontsov, the governor of the Caucasus in 1844-1854, who dispatched an officer of the Russian army, Yu. Kestner. That spent six weeks in Ani in 1849, during which time he created sixty-nine images of buildings and copied forty-two inscriptions. This work became a portfolio, consisting of forty-five illustrated sheets.11 Vorontsov forwarded his copies of the inscriptions to the most famous armenologist of that time, M.-F. Brosset.12 This marked the beginning of Brosset's research on the monuments of Ani, and he would later publish a large monograph, Les ruines d’Ani, capitale de l’Arménie sous les rois Bagratides.13 According to Leo, Kestner’s work made a very positive impression on the Katholicos Nerses (1843-1857), a friend of Vorontsov.14 By order of the Katholicos the epigraphy of Ani was copied by vardapet Abel Mkhitarian in 1850, who published his work The Trip to Ani in Constantinople. More inscriptions from Kars, Ani and the vicinity were published in Moscow by N. Emmin.15 In the last quarter of the nineteenth century Ghevond Alishan published the epigraphy of Ani monuments in his book Shirak.16 Each of these publications includes copies of the inscriptions on Surb Prkich.17 It would be superfluous to quote them here, because they were checked and published in their entirety by I. A. Orbeli with references to other publications by Sargisean, Alishan, Brosset, Gevorgeants, and Basmajian.18 Later, A. A. Manucharyan19 and G. Uluhogian20 published the inscriptions pertaining to construction along with commentary.

[10] The inscriptions, indicated in brackets by the numbers in Orbeli’s publication, read as follows:

N. 1 (129). Outside, to the West of the entrance, under the eighth arch. Composed in the name of marzpan Aplgharip Pahlavuni, it tells about his visit to Constantinople and his carrying the message from Shahinshah Smbat to the "Emperor of the Greeks" Michael IV (1034-1051), and about his returning with a piece of the Holy Cross, as well as about the foundation of the church in Ani in 484 (according to the Armenian calendar which begins in the year 551 A.D.). The inscription concludes with the name of the writer George.21 In English translation:

In the year 484 [1035 A.D.], I, Ablgharib marzipan (took) an edict on behalf of Smbat shahinshah to the Emperor of the Greeks, Michael, at Constantinople, and with great effort and great expense, I brought a piece of the Holy Cross and, when I returned, I completed this church and erected the sign of light as a crown of this spouse of Christ […].22

N. 2 (126). Outside, to the west of the entrance, under the fifth arch (fig. 2 a-b). Composed by Aplgharip Pakhlavuni, the son of prince Grigor, the grandson of prince Abughamr and brother of Vahram and Vasak. The inscription tells about the construction of the Church of Surb Prkich in the capital in 485 (1036 A.D.), and its decoration with gold and silver, and the donation of a book of gospels.23 In English translation:

In the years of Petros, honoured by God and spiritual lord, kat’oghikos of the Armenians, and during the reign of Smbat, son of Gagik shahanshah, in the year 485 [1036 A.D.], I, Ablgharib marzipan, son of Grigor ishkhan and grandson of Abughamr and brother of Vahram and of Vasak, built this St. P’rkich in the metropolis Ani […] and I erected a fountain near St. P’rkich […].24

2 Church of Surb Prkich, Ani, inscriptions:
a-b) Building inscription N. 2 (126): fallen and preserved parts, photos of 2007 and 2012
c-d) Building inscription N. 2 (126): main fallen block and excavated fragments, photos of 2012 (photographs a-c provided by A. Kazaryan, and d by A. Pontioğlu)

N. 3 (130). Outside, to the west of the entrance, under the fifteenth arch. Only the first two lines of the inscription are preserved. They tell about the construction of the guest house close to the Church of Surb Prkich by Ablgharip in 489 (1040 A.D.). In translation: "In the year 489 [1040 A.D.], I, Ablgharip built […] and gave to St. P’rkich the hostel for daily revenue […]."25

N. 4 (124). Outside, to the west of the entrance, under the second arch. Composed by Mkhitar, it describes his donation of a bell and the construction of the bell-tower in 720 (1271 A.D.). In translation: "In the year 720 [1271 A.D.], I, Mkhit’ar Sherastsi, son of Djusim Saluk’ents, this holy sign […] at (St.) P’rkich and brought the bells and built this bell-tower with my legitimate substance […]."26

N. 5 (134). Outside, to the west of the entrance, under the twelfth arch (fig. 2 c-d). It concerns the repairing of the church in 1193 by the priest Trdat and his wife Khushush during the reign of the amir Suldan, grandson of Manuche. The inscription describes the ′zhamatun′, a nearby construction for those on pilgrimage. In translation:

In the years of Barsegh, honoured by God and spiritual lord, kat’oghikos of the Armenians, and during the reign of the amir Suldan of good fame, son of amir Mahsul, grandson of Manuche, in the year 642 [1193 A.D.], I, therefore, Trdat the priest, son of Sost’enes the priest, grandson of Gevorg, archpriest of Arutch, and my wife Khushush, servant of Christ, trusting in the mercy of God, built again this our patrimony, bought dearly, this Church of the Redeemer, with great fatigue, and brought (it) again to its original splendour […]. We built (nearby) to it this zhamatun for summer and winter […].27

N. 6 (125). Outside, to the west of the entrance, under the second arch. Composed by the atabak Varham (Vahram), it tells us that he built a new dome for the church in 791 (1342 A.D.). The work was executed by Asil, the son of Grigor. Karen Matevosyan discovered mention of these persons in the colophons of two manuscripts in the Matenadaran collection in Yerevan: Grigor was the mayor of the city and Asil inherited this post.28 In the translation of Uluhogian, the inscription reads:

In the year 791 [1342 A.D.], by the grace and mercy of God, the benefactor and friend of men, I, at’abek Vahram, son of Ivane, son of the great and strong Zak’aria, again restored the dome of this Church of the Redeemer, for a long life and in memory of us and of our ancestors. I, therefore, Asil, son of Grigor, was sent by order of the patron at’abek Vahram, and when I came I did, with great effort and fatigue, what had been ordered of me […].29

Also of interest is inscription N. 123, on the exterior above the entrance and higher than the bell-tower joins. It consists only of the name Trdat.

[11] The information given by the inscriptions, along with that from the medieval written sources, allows for the possibility to study the building history of the monument, despite the fact that archaeologists have not investigated the church for almost one hundred years from the last restoration and study in 1912-1913.30

[12] Historians were intrigued by the existence of two construction inscriptions, one of which dates to 1035, and the other to 1036. Manucharyan suggested that the church’s construction was completed in 1035 and the second inscription was executed upon the occasion of the dedication.31 Uluhogian and Matevosyan argue that the year of construction was 1036.32

[13] Another dispute surrounds the identity of the architect. Murad Hasratyan suggests that it could be Trdat, the well-known builder of the Cathedral33, even though other studies of Trdat’s activity, such as those of Stepan Mnatsakanyan, P. Donabedian and Ch. Maranci, do not mention this church as an example of his work.34 Hasratyan’s argument hinges upon the mention of the name Trdat in the southern façade of the Church of Surb Prkich (inscription n. 123). The medieval chronicler Samuel Anetsi called the church by the name “Amenaprkich” and mentioned its collapse in 1131.35 After that, according to an inscription (inscription n. 5 (134)), the church was repaired in 1193, paid for by the priest Trdat and his wife Khushush.36 It is notable that the short inscription that Hasratyan relies upon could refer simply to this priest Trdat, and not to the architect of the Cathedral. Moreover, the artistic qualities of the blind arcades in Surb Prkich and the Cathedral are quite different (as will be discussed in part 2 of this article).

[14] All scholars have turned their attention to the evidence from the bell-tower’s erection in 1271 (inscription n. 4 (124)). Moreover, scholars in recent years unanimously share the opinion that the present dome with its tall drum dates to the reconstruction of 1342 (inscription n. 6 (125)). The previous and probably original dome was likely damaged in an earthquake of 1319.37

[15] The final questions are connected with wall paintings, which appear on the internal surfaces of the main space of the church. Even Orbeli mentioned them and dated them to the late thirteenth century.38 N. L. Okunev, a young scholar from the circle of Marr and Kondakov, prepared research on these paintings, which remains unpublished. He suggested a date of 1291 (the underpinning is unknown; maybe 1271, the year when the bell-tower was constructed, is more correct?), and for the first time suggested that the portrait of Sargis Parshik represented in front of the Evangelist Matthew is that of an artist, specifically the artist of these wall paintings.39 However, the figure’s appearance in formal dress and the agreement of the scene to other compositions known to be donor portraits suggest, in my opinion, that Sargis is instead the patron of the wall paintings. Both the dating and iconographic interpretation of the paintings still need serious investigation.

[16] A single engraving, published by Brosset, allows us to imagine the condition of the church in the nineteenth century, a time in which the building was in a slightly better state of preservation than in later images. Some paintings with accurate and important details are enclosed in a series of watercolours of Ani's monuments and panoramas by Arshag Fetvadjian (1866-1947). In a large watercolor now kept in the National Gallery of Armenia, the building is shown from the north-western side in a deplorable state at the beginning of the twentieth century (Fig. 3).40

3 Arshag Fetvadjian, Ani. The Church of Surb Prkich, 1901, watercolor on paper, 49.8 x 35.2 cm, National Gallery of Armenia, Yerevan (reprod. from: Levon Chookaszian, Arshak Fetvadjian, Yerevan 2011, 46)

[17] Of greatest value for the history of the monument’s investigation and restoration are photographs from that period. Even in 1879, in spite of expenses and hardship, the photographer H. Kyurkchyan worked on site in the ruins of Ani for five months. In the first volume of his planned two-volume edition, he published 40 images of the monuments. Two of these stereoscopic photographs represent the Church of Surb Prkich: a general view from the southwest and another of the portal.41 At the same time, another view of the church was published in a little-known album by Karapet Hovhanjanyants that is now kept at the Matenadaran in Yerevan (Fig. 4).42

4 Karapet Hovhanjanyants, Church of Surb Prkich, Ani, general view from the South-West, 1884. Matenadaran. Scientific Research Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, Yerevan, album n. 423: Ani, photographs by Karapet Hovhanjanyants (© Matenadaran, Yerevan)

[18] Kyurchyan’s photographic work was continued by the actor Aram Vruyr, who took more than two hundred photographs in fifteen years beginning in 1901.43 Besides his skilled pictures of the monuments, he left a gallery of portraits of scientists and artists who posed for him with the ruins of Ani in the background. Later, the photographer Artashes Vruyr wrote a book entitled In Ani, which contains valuable information and relates stories about the people who worked on the site or just visited it in that "golden age".44 A photograph of Surb Prkich made in 1912 after the restoration, as well as a panorama taken in 1914 with a view to the church behind the Smbat's walls were also published in that book. The Ani Institute, headed by Nikolay Marr, paid close attention to the photography of the monuments, as well as to the issue of popular publications and postcards with views of Ani. One of these postcards represents the Church of the Redeemer.45

[19] The current known measurements of the Church of the Redeemer were taken by the architect Toros Toromanyan probably in the years before 1912, when he participated in the excavations.46 They are not especially detailed and were published only partially in his books. The latest publication of his materials, edited in 2012, contains the largest number of illustrations, but these are drawings copied from now-lost original sketches, and these copies contain some mistakes, particularly concerning the shape of the inside and outside arches.47 More correct and complete is Hovhannes (Oganes) Khalpakhchyan’s section of the church based on material by Toramanyan.48

[20] The Church of Surb Prkich is a rare case among all important examples in Armenian architecture, as it was not studied by Toramanyan. This seems even more strange considering that Toramanyan had worked in Ani for sixteen years starting in 1903. It is certain that he must have had unpublished work or notes about Surb Prkich. We are inclined to assume that these have been lost along with much of his other materials when Toramanyan stayed in Karakilisa at the time of the evacuation from Ani and Alexandropol due to the Turkish Intervention of 1918.49

[21] The first scholarly description of the architecture of Surb Prkich belongs to Josef Strzygowski, who based it on drawings and photographs by Toramanyan. His accurate description of the monument was followed by a brief comparison with the Pantheon’s structure and mention that the Roman polyconch was developed only in the Mediterranean region.50 Short mentions of the architecture of Surb Prkich are contained within the larger framework of studies of the architecture of Ani by Arshak Fetvadjyan, Nikolay Okunev and Iosif Orbeli.51

[22] After decades of silence, a series of works appeared in the 1960s-1970s, during the so-called ‘thaw period’ in Soviet history. Armenian and Russian scholars paid greater attention to Ani-related topics, but, except for Nikolay Tokarskiy, had never actually traveled to Ani. Rather, in all of these books about the architecture of the Armenian capital, the church Amenaprkich was described, and sometimes analyzed, on the basis of earlier publications and archive materials. Varazdat Harutyunyan, Stepan Mnatsakanyan, Hovhannes Khalpakhchyan, Anatoliy Yakobson, described the monument according to the standard methodological approach to the study of Armenian architecture:52 The main attention was turned to typology, while issues of painting and decoration were almost entirely absent.

Tokarskiy’s consideration of the church was earlier than the others’ and despite some mistakes in the proposed reconstruction of the original exterior, his analysis of Surb Prkich is more interesting. He suggested the alterations to the first dome as occuring during the rebuilding in the fourteenth century. As a prototype for the original shape of the dome, Tokarskiy turned to the dome of the Church of Surb Sargis in Ktskonk.53

Almost at the same time, two scholars examined possible Hellenistic motifs in the architectural shapes of the buildings of Bagratid Ani, and they specifically mentioned the antiquated appearance of the portal of the Church of Surb Prkich.54

[23] Over the next several decades no further studies presented the Church of Surb Prkich in a new light. Nevertheless, Khalpakhchyan was the first scholar who paid attention to eight-conch Armenian churches in a monographic article.55 He gave a different description of the stairway from the base of the western pylon to the roof,56 but like his colleagues he was not aware of the balcony in the west exedra.

[24] At the same time Western scholars began investigations in Ani, especially French scholars such as Armen Khatchatrian,57 Nicole and Michel Thierry, and Patrick Donabédian, as well as a large group of Italian architectural historians including Paolo Cuneo and Enrico Costa. The Church of Surb Prkich in Ani was mentioned and described in several publications, but never systematically studied.58

[25] The possibility of free visits to Eastern Turkey within the last fifteen years allowed for a new period of scholarship concerning the monuments of Ani. So far, no substantial new studies have been published, most likely due to the fact that the process of accumulating information and reviewing the methodology of art historical study and of the strategic aims of the study of Armenian architecture within the culture of Middle East and Mediterranean is presently ongoing. The latest appeals to the Church of Surb Prkich can be considered within the framework of these processes. Christina Maranci explored the connections between the inscriptions and architecture of this monument,59 and Diane Favro tried to understand the unusual number of nineteen external facets of the church’s main storey as a means of symbolic association of the building “with intersecting astronomical cycles, and regeneration, giving hope that the paths of the Prkich and the faithful will, likewise, forever coincide".60 Artak Ghulyan and myself have suggested some new ideas about correlations between the churches of Ani,61 and in my own articles I have offered some thoughts on a method of comparative study between Armenian and Italian blind arcades.62 I aim to develop our understanding of how the architects of Ani interpreted ancient ′Hellenistic′ shapes and principles; and the place of the Church of Surb Prkich in that development is a notable one.63

[26] Since there is only one monographic article about Surb Prkich, written by Diane Favro in 2011, one chapter of the book with Toramanyan’s measurements edited by Grigor Ghafadaryan and Gayane Hovhannisyan in 2012 has been devoted to the architecture of this monument as well.64 Finally, it seems likely that the archeological and architectural exploration conducted over recent years will become the base for new studies.

Brief overview of the excavations and constructive works by Marr’s expedition

(Armen Kazaryan)

[27] After the last medieval repair, during the time of atabak Varham (Vahram) in 1342, the church has sustained a period of over five centuries without any attention, which correlates to historical events and the complete stagnation of life in Ani. In addition to the dilapidation of the building, a great number of the masonry blocks from the lower part of the walls was removed by locals. The church was still standing when Nikolai Y. Marr and his team undertook the first archaeological excavations at Ani from 1892-1917 under the direction of the Russian Imperial Archaelogical Commission, but was in an unstable and dangerous state of preservation. At the turn of the twentieth century, the British businessman and traveller Henry Finnis Blosse Lynch (1862-1913) alerted that the church was impossible to preserve for the future without any prompt measures.65

[28] Surb Prkich was important to Marr’s expedition, but was likely not the largest structure within Ani. Two decades after Lynch’s wake-up call, in 1912, the expedition began the necessary conservation and restoration work. A very short report about that rescue campaign was published in Marr’s book.66 In this eleventh season of the archeological campaign, the team’s main goal was the repair and consolidation of the monuments, and this work was expensive. In addition to the Church of Surb Prkich, two other buildings preserved in the campaign were the Church of the Apostles and the Palace Church. The most difficult conservation was encountered with Surb Prkich, concerning whose future the architect Knyagnitskiy was particularly skeptical. But, as Marr recorded, the church was restored along with the others (Fig. 5).67

5 Church of Surb Prkich, Ani, general view from the North-West after restoration of 1912, photographer unknown, Archive of the Research Institute of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Sankt-Petersburg (© Archive of the Research Institute of Material Culture, Russian Academy of Sciences, Sankt-Petersburg)

[29] Marr mentioned the following work during the 1913 season: Excavations near the Church of Surb Prkich, including the discovery of the palace of Aplgharip; investigations of the bell-tower; and excavation of the hall-church close to the Church of Surb Prkich. Marr’s description of these findings was interrupted, and we do not know how the excavation work was completed nor how the work of the Ani Institute proceeded in last three to four years before it was closed down in 1917.68

[30] Some additional information is given in sketch drawings of the excavated site surrounding Surb Prkich. These sketches allow for the possibility to interpret the quarter-planning situation and separate buildings. Knyagnitskiy is the most likely author of these measure sketches (croquis), which were found preserved in the archive of the Institute of History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Fig. 6).

6 Church of Surb Prkich, Ani, general plan of the site after the excavations of 2013 by the Russian Archaeological Institute, Archive of the Research Institute of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Sankt-Petersburg (© Archive of the Research Institute of Material Culture, Russian Academy of Sciences, Sankt-Petersburg)

[31] During the decades after the Revolution of 1917, the buildings of Ani were not under archeological supervision, and many masonry elements of Marr’s restorations were removed by the locals. As a result, the building was returned to the dangerous condition prior to its restoration.

Damage and the condition of the monument in the most recent decades

(Yavuz Özkaya)

[32] Marr’s and his team’s efforts to stabilize the walls of the church to prevent a total collapse in 1912 could not save the eastern half of the church, which collapsed completely in 1957. A continuous detachment crack on the south wall visible in photographs from 1912 marks the boundary of this collapse. Abdurrahman Aydın (Head of Ocaklı Village – Mukhtar) remembers this unpleasant incident from his childhood as follows: "We used to sleep outside during the harvest time in June 1957. Following a heavy rain and thunderstorm, a stroke of lightning happened. The church (Keçel Kilise/ Surb Prkich) which was divided into two parts has been damaged that time."69

[33] Marr′s stabilization, achieved with masonry smaller in size and darker in color than the original can easily be seen both in older photographs and in remaining materials extant in the west wall today. The technique employed in the stabilization was ultimately unsuccessful for the following reasons: The smaller facing stones were not treated as in the original masonry technique but flat on all sides, creating a weak joint with the mortared core. Cement was employed for the mortared rubble core throughout, and again unlike the original mortared core, it had many cavities resulting in a weak rubble core. The Church of Surb Prkich lost its architectural and structural integrity together with the collapse. The remaining western half survived up to date despite the damage of the 1988 earthquake but in a much compromised state.

Work begun by the World Monuments Fund (WMF) and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey (MoC&T)

(Yavuz Özkaya)

[34] In 1996, the Ani archaeological site was added to the World Monuments Fund’s Watch List. In 1998-99, as part of an initiative of the Tarihi Mirası Koruma Vakfı (Historical Heritage Protection Foundation), the west wall of the Church of Surb Prkich, which had lost most of the 1912 facings, was stabilized with new mortar. The main entrance was filled with rubble to prevent further collapses.70 The overall structural stability of the building was also assessed, and the team proposed that urgent measures be taken to save the remaining half.

Historic Preservation Project

[35] In 2006, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey started an extensive preservation programme at the Ani archaeological site. The Church of St. Gregory of Tigran Honents (1215) and the Mosque of Minuchir (late eleventh to thirteenth century) were chosen as the first two monuments that would be surveyed and documented. The goal was to assess the physical condition of both structures and eventually initiate a conservation project to stabilize them. In 2008, two other significant monuments at Ani, the Church of Surb Prkich and the tenth-century Church of Saint Gregory (or Abughamrents), were recommended to undergo a comprehensive conservation program together with the thirteenth-century "Lord's (in Armenian: Paron's) Palace"71 for an investigation and analysis of the problems, which were mostly structural due to the extreme effects of walling-up the palace during the 1999 reconstruction.

[36] The conservation program spearheaded by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey took up work at the Cathedral of Ani and the Church of Surb Prkich in 2012. This time the work was conducted in collaboration with the World Monuments Fund (WMF). In addition to the Cathedral and the Church of Surb Prkich, a conservation master plan for Ani was prepared; and a conservation project devised to stabilize the north city walls (built under King Smbat Bagratuni, 977-990) is currently under review.

Conservation Project and Works at the Church of Surb Prkich

[37] In 2009, the Church of Surb Prkich was scientifically documented for the first time and a historic preservation project was prepared. In 2010, the World Monuments Fund and Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the conservation of the Church of Surb Prkich. Work could begin in 2012 with funding from the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, provided by the U.S. Department of State and the Embassy of the United States in Ankara.

[38] The plan for the conservation work on Surb Prkich consisted of three phases: During the first phase, a fence was assembled around the project site to ensure the security and safety of the visitors. Then, a protective and load bearing steel scaffolding was erected inside the monument for the security of the excavation team. Fallen fragments from the east part of the church were relocated to a safe and secure area before the second phase of excavation and cataloging work began. The church and the fragments were later documented using 3D laser scanning to prepare virtual models for further investigation.

[39] After the excavations, the survey and documentation work for the purpose of emergency stabilization started. This phase of the work involved cleaning the exposed roofs of the church and temporarily stabilizing them, using a layer of hydraulic lime mortar. Temporary shelter roofs were also constructed over the relocated building fragments, the excavation site, and exposed walls to protect them all from the harsh winter conditions. Work also included the erection of a temporary, heavy timber structure to shore up the south wall over the entrance to the church, which tends to lean to the east. The timber structure also stabilized the west wall, where a number of problems existed. The emergency stabilization work was completed at the end of the summer of 2013.

[40] After evaluating the data obtained from the structural monitoring system that was installed on the structure in May 2012, the construction material analyses, wall paint analyses, and excavation and cataloging, final stabilization and conservation work is planned to be completed in the third phase.

Overview of the excavations of the 2012 season. Classification of the fallen fragments for drawing reconstruction

(Alin Pontioğlu)

[41] On July 17, 2012, workers started to remove the fallen fragments from the eastern section of the church with the help of a crane. They cleared the rubble to expose the existing floor level before erecting a steel scaffolding inside the church in order to stabilize the structure for the security of the team.72 The large fragments ranged from 4-12 tons each. They were carefully lifted and re-located to 10 x 10 cm wooden blocks around the church, where they were further documented, and systematically cataloged. To facilitate the 3D laser scanning, the fragments were set apart from each other at intervals of one meter. By the end of the work season (31 August) over 650 fragments belonging to the demolished East section of the church were relocated and catalogued. (Fig. 7) Additionally, numerous small fragments were also collected and classified; these included parts of inscriptions, khachkars, pottery, glass, and alien masonry to be further investigated.

7 Church of Surb Prkich, Ani, general view of the site from the West, with fragments collected to the East of the church in 2012 (photograph taken in September 2012 and provided by A. Kazaryan)

As noted earlier, the excavations were realized as part of the effort to reveal the original floor levels and uncover the footprints of other structures immediately surrounding the church. The ultimate goal of the investigations was to better establish the overall chronology of the site.

[42] In the process of clearing the main entrance gate, a new wall abutting the church, which had been detected prior to the clearing effort, confirmed the existence of a square planned porch or entrance canopy with interior dimensions of 4.60 x 4.60 meters. It is possible that the bell tower mentioned in the inscription N. 4 (124) was part of this porch (Fig. 8).

8 Church of Surb Prkich, Ani, excavated part in front of the portal, with the foundations of the supposed bell tower, September 2012 (photograph provided by A. Kazaryan)

Adjacent to the porch, a row of walls and a small chapel connected to the church were also uncovered. Given the masonry construction technique of these walls, it is evident that the small chapel and the porch/canopy/bell tower belong to the same building campaign, most likely the 1271 campaign mentioned in the inscription.

[43] After the clearing and excavations inside the external walls were complete, it became apparent that the church once stood inside a courtyard surrounded by walls and/ or buildings on the west, east and southeast sides. Since the excavations were limited to the immediate periphery of the church, the north and south sides still need to be investigated in order to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the church’s environs. To the west, the remains of a wall abutting the church’s walls were also revealed. These walls belong to a recent period when the church was unattended and not functional.

[44] Inside the church the original floor was totally exposed and ascertained to be in fairly in good condition. On the east side, some remains of the apse’s walls and two "khoran" (side chapels), stairs, and a partial second layer of a stone floor over the original floor were uncovered (Fig. 9, 10).

9 Church of Surb Prkich, Ani, interior view looking to the East, between 1912 and 1917, Archive of the Research Institute of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Sankt-Petersburg (photograph © Archive of the Research Institute of Material Culture, Russian Academy of Sciences, Sankt-Petersburg)

10 Church of Surb Prkich, Ani, re-excavated eastern half of the church and the court, 2012 (photograph provided by A. Pontioğlu)

[45] The periphery walls uncovered during the excavations on the east side included a door. The smaller size of the masonry and the construction technique of the wall suggest that it does not belong to the first construction phase. Likewise, it did not resemble the masonry of the entrance canopy/bell tower and the small chapel. The door on the east side was nearly 1.00 meter wide, suggesting that it facilitated a direct connection between the courtyard and a building to the east, which has not yet been excavated. This could either be the pilgrim hostel (also referenced in inscription, see N. 3 (130), or the episcopal residence (?). As the excavations continue, they will include the surrounding buildings. The relationship between Prkich church and the surrounding city will be further elucidated after the stabilization program is completed in the coming years.73 These discoveries will be key to understanding the chronology of the site, changes to the church, and its use over time. The archaeological evidence must be cross-referenced with information from the inscriptions and other historical sources, in addition to the current research in the archives.

[46] It was very interesting to compare these results with five measured sketches, which I found in autumn of 2013 in Marr′s archive of the Research Institute of the History of Material Culture in Saint-Petersburg. These sketches were never published. Marr’s drawings enable us to anticipate what might come from further excavations (in 2013 and in the near future, in 2016 or 2017) of the surroundings of Surb Prkich. Also the drawings contain details regarding the entrance canopy, which were lost during the last one hundred years between two excavations.

[47] In September 2012, the Technical Control Team, which included consultants from the World Monuments Fund and experts from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey,74 held a series of project meetings at the site to discuss the work realized to date, the findings after clearing and excavations, and winterization strategies, since the work season in Kars is limited and winter was advancing. The TCT also discussed plans for the near future. During the site meetings with the TCT it was agreed to postpone the emergency stabilization works (i.e., stitching the main crack, reaffixing loose stones, and repairing the west wall of the church) until the structural health monitoring program is completed. However, the following protective measures were to be realized before winter.

Winterization and plans for the immediate future of the monument after excavation and clearing

(Yavuz Özkaya)

Protection of the excavation area, exposed walls and fragments

[48] It was decided that all exposed walls, the large wall fragment with inscription on the northeast corner of the church, and all exposed floors, including in the excavated areas, were to be protected using geotextile membranes, i.e., DuPont™, Tyvek® and Typar®. Tyvek, while preventing rain and snow penetration, allows the stone surfaces and fragments to breathe. Typar, on the other hand, provides a very durable layer of protection, which allows rainwater to drain off, while protecting vulnerable surfaces.

[49] Tyvek and Typar were laid either using sandbags, ropes and stones, or a layer of gravel as counterweights. Additionally, Tyvek was wrapped around the fragments with tape. The small unclassified fragments, which were carried inside the church and stored on shelves between the posts of the inner steel scaffolding, were covered by Tyvek as well.

Temporary stabilization of the roofs

[50] The roof over the dome and the lower level roof are exposed to the elements. Due to the fragile condition of the structure, lime mortar has been temporarily spread over the roofs to stabilize them and to protect against winter conditions.

[51] In order to clear the loose mortar and vegetation and to start work on strengthening and repairing the loose masonry in the dome, a scaffolding made from wood was first erected over the lower level roof and fixed to the drum wall via window openings. A simple, hand-operated pulley was set on top of the wooden scaffolding to transport materials. Removing the loose mortar, soil, and vegetation from the roofs and filling the voids with a hydrolic lime mortar mix75 was executed with the utmost care. Tyvek was laid around the large crack in the dome before we applied the mortar to seal the crack and block the effects of snow and rain.

Protection of the relocated and documented building fragments against harsh winter conditions

[52] Following the 3D laser scanning program, which was completed on the first of October, we could begin to protect the large fragments. 650 registered building fragments were once again relocated and placed on 10 x 10 cm wooden sections, grouped within pre-planned shelter zones. These shelter zones are located away from the future excavation zones inside the fenced site. In the course of planning and designing the shelters, we had to take into account the approach routes used by the crane, as well as the topography of the site, the trajectory of the sun, and visitor perceptions of the site as a whole.

[53] The temporary shelters to protect the fragments against the effects of the harsh winter conditions (i.e., snow, wind, heavy rain) were manufactured at the site. They were designed as simple huts with two way pitched roofs made from corrugated galvanized steel and supported by 40 x 40 x 2 mm section steel profiles. The size of the shelters was developed according to the dimensions of the roofing material and of the steel profiles to achieve the most efficient use of materials with minimum waste. The overall height of the shelters was kept as low as possible to guard against the potential effects of strong winds: The height starts 1.2 meters above ground level and reaches 1.8 meters at the middle of the roof. The height of the shelters conforms to the size of the fragments while allowing enough room for someone to work under them.

[54] The shelters, ranging from 6 m x 12 m to 6 m x 9 m in plan, were lined up side by side; the shorter sides face east and west, while the longer sides face south and north. A two meter gap was maintained between the shelters to allow for easy maintenance (i.e. snowplowing). The fragments with wall paint and stone decoration were placed closest to the visitor’s route for easy viewing. The visitor’s approach, their perception and experience, and the general appearance of the site with the introduction of the shelters has become an important concern in the overall design. Work on the shelters began on 15th of October and ended on 21st of October. A total of nine shelters were manufactured: two on the south, four on the northeast, and three on the southeast (Fig. 11).

11 Church of Surb Prkich, Ani, general view of the site with the scaffolding and the shelters, June 2015 (photograph provided by A. Kazaryan)

The classification and relocation of the small fragments, including those with the inscriptions, paint, and stone decoration, as well as the fragments of roof tiles, continued until the fourth of November. All were documented, and schematic drawings of the new arrangement of the fragments were also prepared.

Protection and surveillance of the excavation site during winter

[55] During the day, security of Ani is provided by guard services. Yet, after dark no guards patrolled the site. Since the beginning of the project, arranging night guard services has been a great concern for both the World Monuments Fund (WMF) and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey (MoC&T). For this service, it was necessary to acquire special permission from the government, because legally no one was allowed in the Ani archaelogical site after dark. It was only possible with the approval of the Regional Conservation Board in Kars. Shortly after the site was fenced and work started in July 2012, a night guard from Ocaklı Village was employed to stay at the site from sunset until morning. Night guard services will terminate only after the work is complete and the site is secure for visitors.

Analysis of the architectural plan of the Church of Surb Prkich in Ani

(Armen Kazaryan)

[56] The plan of the church (Fig. 12) belongs to a family of eight-exedra buildings or, in a wider context, to the poly-conch type. Other examples of the same type are known to have been created in Armenia in the last third of the 7th century; these structures revised a Late Antique architectural idea, which was popular among architects under emperor Justinian I in the sixth century. It is probable that the church in Zoravar, close to Yeghvard, which was erected by the leading prince of Armenia Grigor Mamikonean around 670, was used as a model; this seems more likely than the less historically significant monument of Irind, which dates to the last quarter of the seventh century (Fig. 13).76 But the architect of Surb Prkich reworked the plan by blending the distinctive properties of the school of Ani with his new architectural conception and that of the donor, Prince Aplgharip Pahlavuni.

12 Church of Surb Prkich, Ani, measurement drawings, 2012: northern and western façades, sections looking to the North and West, ground-plan (drawings provided by İ.Y. Özkaya)