Early Christian Churches in Caucasian Albania

Title: Early Christian Churches in Caucasian Albania
Variant title:
  • Raně křesťanské kostely v kavkazské Albánii
Source document: Convivium. 2016, vol. 3, iss. Supplementum, pp. 160-175
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
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Albania lies amid three Christian countries south of the Caucasus, mostly in the Iranian sphere, and its stylistic sources are scant. Whereas the tenth-century sources refer to a Christianization connected with Armenia, the history of Albania by Movses Daskhurantsi or Kaghankatvatsi insists on the apostolic origin of Albanian Christianity effected by St Elisaeus (Eghishe). In any case, the sources give a difficult-to-interpret picture, with rulers' Zoroastrian orientation alternating with times of Christian orientation, and with the alternating Christological orientation of the Albanian church resulting from political circumstances. The few Early Christian churches still standing show that actual building techniques and ideas of Late Antique architecture were also known in Albania. This conclusion counters the communis opinio of Azerbaidzhanian research, that the buildings were local inventions with developments rooted with in other regions. The paper proposes that the double-shell rotundas in Kilisedagh and Mamrukh-Armatian emulate the Jerusalem Anastasis, whereas the big church in Lekit belongs to the group of more than twenty double-shell tetraconchoi, for which has been suggested a correspondence with the Golden Octagon in Antioch.