October 5, 2015
Today, our last full day in Armenia, we visited the Etchmiadzin Cathedral (Էջմիածնի Մայր Տաճար) in the city of Vagharshapat. Etchmiadzin is the first cathedral constructed in Armenia, and is considered the oldest in the world. We need to differentiate here between churches, which are structures used for Christian worship, and cathedrals, which serve as the bishop’s official site and represents the central church of a diocese.
The Cathedral at Etchmiadzin is stunning for its architecture, artwork, and religious connotation. As you can see, parts of the Cathedral are enclosed in scaffolding due to a major, multi-year restoration project.
We met with Fr. Vahram Melikyan, Spokesman of the Catholicos of All Armenians and Director of Information Services for the Mother See. He lamented not knowing of our documentation methods a few years ago, before the restoration project began. He was very pleased, however, to hear about our success at Haghpat and stressed the importance of our continued collaboration and documentation of sites for future projects.
On our way back to Yerevan, we stopped at the Cathedral of Zvartnots. This site contains a number of structures that were built near the middle of the 7th century, including Zvartnots, Armenia’s main cathedral from 641 to 661 AD, and the palace of the Catholico, or head of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Jorge and I planning our next project ???
We returned to Yerevan for our final night in Armenia and, as a remembrance of our visit, we had pizza and Italian for dinner. Go figure?
The AIST team agreed that this was one of the most productive and enjoyable projects we have worked on over the past ten years, and we are looking forward to our next one here.
Bart McLeod, Jeff Du Vernay, Jorge Gonzalez, and Garrett Speed are some of the finest 3D Heritage field experts anywhere, and to have them all working on the Haghpat Monastery Complex Project is a tremendous advantage for AIST. Steven Fernandez will be a major contributor to the project when he begins to work with the data we collected back at the AIST computer and GIS labs. Lori Collins, AIST Co-Director, has been invaluable at every step of the project, and will play a key role in preparing the processed data for the website, which will hopefully be up and running in December or January.
Again, we cannot say enough about the the people of Haghpat and Armenia that we encountered who made us feel welcome, and we thank them for their support and hospitality.
Finally, I hope you all have enjoyed reading about our adventures as much as we enjoyed Armenia and the project.