Report of the Activities of the Research
on Armenian Architecture Organization
for the year 1996
The mission of Research On Armenian Architecture organization is to conduct scientific expeditions to photograph, measure and document Armenian architectural monuments outside the borders of present day Armenia, specifically in historic or Western Armenia, Cilicia, Iran and the Caucasus region, including Georgia, Azerbaijan and Nakhijevan areas. Also, to conduct the expeditions in the historical Diaspora, such as Middle and Far Eastern countries and the areas stretching from north of the Black Sea to Moldovia and Eastern Europe, as well as to organize the information in special archives and publications for use by Armenian and non-Armenian public
The main issue is the, same everywhere: monuments should be measured, photographed and at least documented on paper before they get destroyed.
With this goal in mind the RM organization 25 years ago embarked on a mission in an area many times larger than present day Armenia. By the efforts of a few dedicated people and their belief that no delay is acceptable, the organization carried out its projects with limited personal financial assistance in difficult and sometimes dangerous circumstances.
Witnessing the pre-meditated and planned destruction of Armenian historical buildings and monuments makes it difficult for us to prioritize the historical landmarks for documentation. Therefore, financial constrains and political circumstances are our decisive factors.
STUDIES IN IRAN
During 1603, Shah Abbas the Great displaced thousands of Armenians from the regions of Bassen and Goghtan of Armenia into Iran primarily for the purpose of constructing the country's capital of Isfahan into a cultural and business center.
Consequently, within a short period of time, the City of New Julfa was built along the right bank of the Zayanderoud River within the City of Isfahan: City of New Julfa consist of neighborhoods that were divided up according to certain dynasties existing in the area, as well as regions that were inhabited by people who were descendants of people from Yerevan, Davrej, Large Square, Little Square, and other areas.
Within no time, New Julfa represented a city that was rich in culture. Huge architectural monuments were constructed which served both the civilians as well as the political elite during the time. These buildings served as markets, specialty shops, schools, and baths. Brick bridges built to link New Julfa to Isfahan are still standing. Twenty four churches and monasteries were built each with unique style and architecture. Thirteen of these still exist today.
Generally, the structures and monuments built during this period is the product of a people that brought with them a variety of styles, habits and customs, who considered and absorbed factors presented to them. These included habitat, climate, the physical environment as well as their surroundings, along with restrictions placed upon them by the Safavi government, the local peoples together with their customs.
Through the efforts and contacts of the Armenian merchants of New Julfa the culture and customs of various countries were introduced in Iran. These included but were not limited to such countries as India, China, Italy, and Holland. Consequently, New Julfa became an everlasting symbol of culture for the Armenian people.
However, hundreds of these outstanding monuments have lost their Armenian ownership, and unfortunately been torn down or destroyed, in most cases before they were documented. Due to the recent increased development of high-rises, it is inevitable that New Julfa's historical Armenian quarters and its architecture will belong to history in no time.
Due to these circumstances, it is necessary to document any monument that has not been damaged, thus creating an history of the development of the priceless architectural style still present today.
Fortunately, we are glad to announce that in 1996 RM and PARDIS State University have signed an agreement that would in effect initiate a program specifically dedicated to the documentation of these works of art to be carried out in the following few years.
STUDIES IN KARVAJAR
Under the guidance and tremendous effort of Mr. Samvel Karapetian, RAA managed to document numerous monuments in the region of Karvejar ever since 1993..
During this century and particularly during the years preceding the break-up of the Soviet Union, the Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan managed to usher the destruction of countless historical monuments that were standing within the region. These included the Monastery of Gedamidjo, the Church of St. Sarkis in the village of Tzar, as well as many others such as Ghamshli, Hounanov, Alghouli, Mrchman, Yanshagh, Kurd Hadji, Toumasaler, Drnakert, Basharat, and the rest located in different villages.
Nonetheless, a few priceless monuments have escaped serious damage; of which the following are particularly worth noting: Tzitzernavank (5th - 7th Centuries), the Monastery of Daad and its huge complex (4th - 19th Centuries), the Lalazar Bridge (19th Century), the lavish castle in the village of Tzar (1658 AD), the fountain in the village of Hadjav, the Stone Cross (916 AD) of Karvadjar, and others.
During four years of endless documentation, we have recorded a total of 1600 monuments, of which 1460 were unknown to the scientific community.
Twenty-four days were spent this summer in Kashatagh to carry out further studies of the region, whereas the rest of the time was spent attempting to analyze previously obtained data
During the fall of 1996, RM obtained ownership of a Sony - DCR VX 1000 E with outstanding capabilities to produce top quality videotapes. Although we have Super 8 videotapes of Karvajar monuments, it is necessary to retape with recently acquired camera, actively beginning in the spring of 1997.
STUDIES IN ARMENIA
Activities mentioned in the last summary are still on-going. The following activities were completed.
During the reign of the Ottoman Empire and Czarist Russia, historically Eastern Armenia was divided into Villayets and Okrougs, respectively. Together, they added up to 170 governmental jurisdictions.
As a result of Mr. Samvel Karapetian's continuous years of effort, numerous documents have been collected from literature archives as well as both Russian and Armenian media that have given us information about the existence of monasteries, churches, fortresses, bridges, and other monuments within cities and villages of the jurisdictions mentioned above.
As a result, after two years of work, we produced a compiled summary of each region, with an average of 10 typewritten pages, as well as maps describing locations of monuments within those regions. This compiled summary is in the process of being proof-read and printed.
In order to fill the gap between Armenian Architecture and the Armenian Cause, Cultural Ministry of the Republic of Armenia and RM signed an agreement on August 14, 1996 that would in effect collect and prepare for publication the aforementioned subjects.
These studies will be of utmost importance for our organization which should be continued with present day advanced tools and compiled in a computerized database.
Gardmank is a region in Historical Armenia, noted ever since the Arshagouni Dynasty (4th Century) until the letter part of the 19th Century. Geographically speaking, Gardmank is located in the Northeastern region of Artsakh, with the major city of Gandzak, present-day Ganja.
Gardmank has had a significant role in Armenian History, both as an important religious center and as a royal administrative center. Unfortunately, during the 19th and 20th Centuries, the region maintained only a few scattered Armenians and their families, this due to the continuous discrimination and prejudice attitude adopted by the Tatar-Azeris. Eventually, these families had to leave their homeland during 1988-1991.
During the last few years, the "Gardmank" Society was founded by Armenians who were forced to leave their homeland of Gardmank and find refuge in Armenia itself. With the help of RAA, they have been able to publish Gardmank Magazine with Mr. Karapetian as the chief editor. The main purpose of the magazine is to become the heir to numerous Armenian newspapers within this region that are in danger of ceasing to exist due to political circumstances in the
area, thereby losing the Armenian heritage and history in the process. The magazine has been in publication since July, 1996 with the following address:
GARDMANK Paternal Studies Monthly
Teryan St. 74
Yerevan, Republic of Armenia
Telephone: (3742) 583701, 264371, 52892
THE INDUCTION OF RAA IN THE UNITED STATES
Research on Armenian Architecture (RAA) was established as a non-profit organization in Los Angeles, California with the support of several sponsors, including Mr. Shahen Haroutunian, President; Mrs. Roubina Der-Sarkissian, Mr. Razmick Haroutunian, Mr. Marco Brambilla, Mr. Armen Janian, and Mr. Mark Chenian as members.
A number of events took place in April, 1996 to introduce the Armenian Community of Los Angeles to RAA's activities and future projects. Two lectures and slide presentation were conducted. The subject of these presentation was the Karvajar region. In addition, meetings, discussions, and Radio and TV interviews were conducted to further explain the activities and goals of our organization.
Christianity was first introduced to Armenia by two Apostles - St. Thaddeus and St. Barthalamew Monasteries with their namesakes were built on top of their remains. These two important monuments of Armenian Christiandom are presently outside the borders of present-day Armenia. St. Thaddeus Monastery is located in Northwestern Iran, in the region of Ardaz; while the Monastery of St. Barthalamew is located in Eastern Turkey, specifically in the plain of Aghbak in Vaspurakan. This giant monastery is now in ruins.
Considering the 1700th Anniversary of the establishment of the Armenian Church, we at RAA would like to call forth to all individuals who share our beliefs that this is the perfect opportunity to restore the grandeur of this magnificent and holy monastery under the protection of all international organizations. Although this will cause some resentment by the Turkish Government, we consider this an absolute necessity that must take place.
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