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date: 24 August 2019

Zvart‘notslocked

  • Lucy Der Manuelian
  •  and Armen Zarian

Extract

Ruins of the Armenian patriarch’s palace and cathedral 3 km south-east of Ēdjmiadzin (anc. Vagharshapat), in Armenia. The building was dedicated to the Heavenly Hosts, the ‘vigilant powers’ (zvart’nunk’ner), who appeared in a dream to St Grigor the Illuminator (c. ad 239–c. 325/6). According to a Greek inscription and the Armenian histories of Sebeos (7th century) and Katholikos Hovhannes Draskhanakertc‘i (10th century), the cathedral was built c. 650–59 by the Katholikos Nerses III, known as ‘the Builder’ (reg 641–61), at the site where according to tradition St Grigor the Illuminator was met by the pagan Armenian king Trdat III (regc. ad 280–c. 330). By the time of the cathedral’s destruction in the 10th century, it was also said to house the relics of St Grigor.

Although the cathedral was excavated in 1901–7, only its foundations, parts of the walls and vaulting, bases and sections of piers and columns, some eagle capitals and other fragments of relief sculpture were found. On the basis of these remains, the load-bearing capability of the massive pillars and comparisons with a later Armenian copy, St Grigor at ...

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