Academic Books
The Sculptural Decoration of Ruined and Little Studied Church Buildings of the 12th to 14th Centuries in Armenia
Z. Hakobyan, L. Mikayelyan, A. Asryan, T. Avetisyan

Yerevan, YSU Press, 2023, p. 356

ISBN 978-5-8084-2656-6

DOI: https://doi.org/10.46991/YSUPH/9785808426566

The period between the 12th and 14th centuries which has been chosen for this study is distinguished for a noticeable activation of political and cultural life in Armenia, and the establishment of new cultural relations with the countries of the region. This period was also marked with active construction of monastic complexes, and a notable development of the sculptural decoration of church buildings. Some of the churches and monastic buildings of the 12th to 14th centuries are in a ruined state today, some of them facing the threat of complete destruction. Being located in remote and hard-to-reach places, the monuments under discussion have not been reconstructed and have remained unstudied. However, it should be noted that most of these buildings were constructed by representatives of the powerful princely families of the time, thanks to which, they stand out for their rich and original decoration.

The book is divided in two parts. The first part consists of four thematic chapters, where the main issues relating to the sculptural decoration of the monuments are put forward and discussed, along with their artistic style, iconography, and stone processing technique. We have particularly focused on the principles of the decoration of drums, altar elevations, and church portals the design principles of which go back to the local artistic traditions and taste, at the same time also revealing close connections with the Eastern Christian cultural world and the main artistic processes of the region. One of the chapters presents the sculptural decoration of the drum of the Church of St. John the Baptist of Gandzasar Monastery (Artsakh).

The catalog section includes 20 monuments with a detailed description of their sculptural decoration and basic information concerning their architectural features, epigraphy and history. The book is notably enriched with illustrations—about 600 photographs taken by the research group during three scientific expeditions.

The study of the sculptural decoration of churches and monastic buildings of the 12th to14th centuries is still in progress. The rich material collected during the visits to the monuments has raised new questions and topics for discussion, and the publication of this volume is only the first stage of a comprehensive work on the Armenian sculpture of the High Middle Ages.

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