The greed of Armenian falsifiers claiming the Georgian temple of Bana exposes their main fabrication - Zvartnots

23.12.21 10:00

Recently an Armenian nationalist telegram channel published a " shocking" but expected "disclosure" that the famous Georgian cathedral of Bana, the ruins of which are now in Erzerum in Turkey, turns out to be "Armenian" (as, indeed, are all Georgian churches, if we believe Armenian falsifiers). We present this "disclosure" in full:


" The Georgian masterpiece of falsification or how the gem of Armenian church architecture has been appropriated by the Georgian church.


History is a hindsight reconstruction of the past while applying the needs of the present. In the modern world, every state is trying to reinforce its national myth and create new meanings to reinforce its identity. However, sometimes this policy turns into falsification. Our post is about another such situation.


Shifting to the historically Armenian city of Karin (Erzurum). Here are the ruins of the majestic Banak Cathedral (Armenian Բանակի տաճար), according to the Great Russian Encyclopedia, built by Catholicos Nerses III in the 650s.

Let's also remind that Nerses III is the founder of Zvartnots temple - the masterpiece of early middle ages Armenian architecture. The Armenian historian of the 17th century, Hakob Karnezi compared Banak Cathedral to St. Sophia Cathedral and the famous German botanist Karl Koch declared it the most remarkable church in the East after St. Sophia.


Subsequently, the Tayk region came under Georgian control for some time and the church was transformed into a Georgian church. Only some Georgian historians hold the view that the church was originally built as an Armenian church. With the easy hand of the Turkish authorities and Georgian falsifiers, the Banak cathedral became the original Georgian Orthodox cathedral of Bana (Georgian ბანა). The Georgian Orthodox Church even approved a project to build a replica of the Cathedral of Ban in the city of Surami.


We invite the reader to check out the photos below, which show great similarities between Banak and Zvartnots respectively"


Obviously, an "Armenian patriot" must immediately be outraged at the "impudence" of the Georgians who have "appropriated" Armenian cultural achievements and the "insidiousness" of the Turks who help them in this. But let's delay indignation and carefully study the question: when did Armenians themselves learn that they have "an outstanding temple of Zvartnots"?


Rummaging through relatively recent history, one can come to a very unpleasant conclusion for Armenian falsifiers: their "famous" Zvartnots, which they managed to push to the "cultural heritage of UNESCO" from the beginning till the end is a fake. Specially concocted to serve the "Armenian national idea".


Let us start with the fact that for any nationalist myth, "iconic" temples and buildings with claims of their "global cultural significance" are important. For a long time, Armenian nationalists had problems with these. Until the beginning of the 20th century, because the Armenians had long sought but never found their statehood, they had no "metropolitan cathedrals". Few of their churches and cathedrals scattered throughout the Near and Middle East and the South Caucasus were able to become a "cultural model", and these were usually misappropriated churches that were not originally Armenian (as, for example, the Albanian monasteries of Ganzasar and Dadivank in Karabakh). The "ancient Armenian city of Ani", then part of the Russian Empire, was excavated, but this too was a failure. It turned out that the majority of churches in Ani were Georgian; there were Georgian inscriptions and Georgian frescoes. And to renovate everything into Armenian is a huge "volume of work," and the Turks will not allow this to happen now.


Today any Armenian will tell that "a masterpiece of Armenian architecture of world value" is the temple Zvartnots. But the thing is that none of the Armenians knew about the "ancient" Zvartnots until 1900. The centuries passed, Armenians "migrated" from one country to another, founded their settlements and churches there, but they did not even remember that they once had "the greatest temple Zvartnots". Although, if we believe today's Armenian historians-falsifiers, its importance was at one time no less than the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem among the ancient Jews. The Jews remembered and remembered that temple, but the Armenians "forgot" it for centuries.


However, it was not until Archimandrite Vahan Ter-Grigorian, aka Khachik Davtyan, began excavations on one of the hills in the vicinity of Echmiadzin. Initially, he applied to the imperial archaeological commission for permission (open list) to excavate and received it.


Yet - oh, the miracle! Khachik Davtian allegedly managed to dig out the foundation and remains of the "most magnificent cathedral", which was greater in size than all known Armenian cathedrals at the time. Khachik Davtyan stated that this is the legendary cathedral of Zvarnots or "temple of watchful angels", built in the 7th century.


A small historical remark needs to be made here.  In 1900 the revolutionary activity of the Armenian Apostolic Church, centered in Echmiadzin, reached its "peak". Essentially, Echmiadzin became a breeding ground for the most aggressive Armenian nationalism, and its churches and monasteries became a haven for Armenian terrorist groups. Armenian monasteries and churches were setting up weapons depots. Preparations for a "revolutionary uprising" of Armenians in the south of the Russian Empire were in full swing.


As a result of the extremist activities of Echmiadzin, the Tsarist government had to 'wake up' and on 12 June 1903 Nicholas II decreed the confiscation of the Armenian Church's property. The Armenian church schools were also reassigned to the Ministry of Education, but it was too late. The Armenian terrorists would respond with an "explosion" of terror and they would be supported by other revolutionaries. The tsarist government would be forced to retreat in the confiscation of the Armenian church property and schools, which would only "whet the appetite" of the Armenian nationalists. All this would almost lead the Russian Empire to disaster during the revolution and terror of 1905-1907, in which the Armenian terrorists-Dashnaks took an active part.


So how did this relate to "ancient Christianity"? Nothing, but the Armenian nationalists, whose leadership was in fact "seated" in Echmiadzin, needed a "symbol of the former greatness" for the future "great Armenia". This was how the creation of the myth of the Temple of Zvatnots, which was 'dug up and restored', began.


Meanwhile, Archimandrite Khachik Davtyan was clearly not just engaged in excavations. For example, he 'unexpectedly discovered' that the capital of the Karabakh khanate, Shusha, was founded not by the founder of the khanate, Panah Ali-khan, but by 'Armenian Melik Avan'. When the tsarist government in 1903, however, "the property of the Armenian Melik Avan" was "closely involved". When the tsarist government "closely examined" the property and illegal activities of the Armenian church, Khachik Davtyan was exiled to the Tambov province for a year. Clearly not for "Christian piety". So, Archimandrite Khachik Davtyan was a very "versatile" person and made up "history" both around Iravan and in Karabakh. He also supported Armenian terrorists from the Gnchak and Dashnaktsutyun parties. Otherwise, the Tsarist government, which usually did not touch clerics, would not have done this to him.


Having returned from exile to Echmiadzin Davtyan continued his work and in 1904 engaged the architect Toros Toramanyan, who had previously worked at excavations in Ani and was clearly disappointed that all churches and cathedrals that were to be presented as "examples of Armenian architecture" were in fact Georgian and efforts had to be made for extensive falsification.


Toramyan liked the fact that the Zvatnots temple being 'excavated' did not contain 'alien' Georgian artefacts. This facilitated the creation of the myth. In 1905 Toros Toramanyan published the results of "excavations and research" in his work "The Temple of Zvartnots". Thus, at the very "moment of revolutionary rise" the Armenians learned that in "ancient times" they had a unique cathedral, which was consecrated by the Roman (Roman or Byzantine) emperor himself and that excavations and "reconstruction" of this temple, which is not similar to any of the Armenian churches, are being conducted.


Some beautiful stories about the Zvartnots temple were also concocted. It was announced that this was the very temple founded, according to Armenian historian Sebeos, by Catholicos Nerses III the Builder in 640-650, who had planned to move his residence from Dvin to Vagharshapat (Echmiadzin).


However, for a long time Armenian "researchers" could not come to an unequivocal opinion as to how "majestic" the "miraculously found" "ancient Temple of Zvatnots" was and what it was like at all. Khachik Davtyan found a description of Zvartnots by Anania Narekatsi, but he allegedly could not read the old Armenian text, because the writing, turns, words have changed so much in the 20th century. Davtyan suggested that the temple had two floors. The sketch of Toros Toramanyan, made after his arrival in Zvarnotc, "revealed" three floors at once.


Most probably, the forgers decided not to "bother", but simply copied the plan of the "miraculously excavated" Zvartnots from the plan of the then well-known ruins of the ancient Georgian temple of Bana between Erzerum and Oltisi (Otli).


The Georgian cathedral of Bana is first mentioned in the 11th century chronicle of Sumbat Davitisdze, who reports that the Georgian king Adarnase IV (881-923) ordered "to build the church of Bana "by the hand" of Kvirike, who later became the first bishop of Bana, became one of the main royal cathedrals for the Bagrationi dynasty and the cultural centre of the Tao region. It was used for the coronation of King Bagrat IV of Georgia in 1027 and his wedding to Helen, the niece of the Roman (Byzantine) Emperor Roman III Argir in 1032. In the 15th century King Vakhtang IV of Georgia (1442-1446) and his wife Siti Khatun were buried in Bath. The cathedral also served as the residence of the Georgian bishop until the 18th century, whose diocese included the regions of Taoskari, Panaskerti and Oltisi. After the Georgian state of Samtskhe-Saatabago became part of the Ottoman Empire and its rulers Atabegi Jakeli became hereditary pashas of Akhaltsikhe, the Cathedral of Bana ceased to function but was kept intact.


The Cathedral of Ban was destroyed during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. As usual, Russian historians and archaeologists blamed "barbarian Turks", who had allegedly "set up a fortress in the temple". The fact that the temple of Bana was destroyed by the Russian artillery was "modestly" omitted.


However, the Cathedral of Bath was "lucky" in that the cathedral was first painted and sketched by the German botanist Carl Koch in 1843, i.e. before it was destroyed. Karl Koch declared Banu the most remarkable church in the East after St. Sophia. Immediately after the Russian-Turkish war, when the area around Bana became part of the Russian Empire, the church was thoroughly examined by Russian ethnographer Evgeny Veidenbaum in 1879 and Georgian historian Dimitrij Bakradze in 1881. They found the church without the dome, but reported preserved frescos and Georgian inscriptions in Asomtavruli script. Based on this data, Russian archaeologists and architects, particularly Anatoly Kalgin, drew up a reconstruction of the exterior of the cathedral, of which Toros Toramanyan, who had participated in excavations of the ruins of Ani until 1904, was naturally aware.


Without thinking too much, Toramanyan simply sketched this reconstruction down to the smallest detail and announced that "this is exactly how the Zvartnots Cathedral looked like", which he and Khachik Datyan were allegedly "digging up". The rest was "a matter of technique". During the "excavations" allegedly "miraculously found" slabs and columns were arranged in the order provided by the "plan" drawn from the cathedral of Ban.


The temple of Zvatnots entered the Armenian "history books", began to grow into myths and legends, which were immediately found a "theoretical justification". Khachik Davtyan's merits were also recognised in Soviet Armenia. By order No. 1138 of March 20, 1923 of Commissariat of Education of Armenian SSR, "Zvartnots Archaeological site and estate administration" was established, archimandrite Khachik Dadyan was appointed as the manager. This is an unprecedented case. In Russia, and in Georgia as well, clerics, priests and monks were repressed and shot by the Communist authorities, priests' families were deprived of all rights, and here the Armenian archimandrite was appointed to an official position! Apparently, the USSR also appreciated the significance of the historical myth he was creating. Later, the main airport in Yerevan and Armenia would also be called "Zvartnots".


Anyway, as an "archaeological site" the excavations of the "Zvartnots" temple operated from 1924-1944, later, from 1944-1986. It was a monument-museum "Zvartnots", in 1986-1989. - The Historical and Architectural Museum "Zvartnots" and in 1990-2003. - Zvartnots" Historical and Architectural Museum-Reserve. Since 2003 it has been "Zvartnots" Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve. Volumes of "research" have been written on the subject of Zvartnots to this day. Pagan and pre-Christian, and naturally "ancient Armenian" symbols are found there, and how the "Zvatnots" influenced the world architecture, etc. is investigated.


The funds of the "Zvatnots" Museum-Reserve currently comprise 5,822 artifacts. In the exhibition halls are presented documentary evidences of Zvartnots by different authors, architectural details and fragments, the cuneiform inscription of Rusa II, photographs of Zvartnots churches built in the 7th-20th centuries (including Georgian churches of the 7th-8th centuries). (Including the Georgian Cathedral of Ban) and measurements of monuments.

In 2000. Zvartnots was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. And in reality, most of the artefacts are, with high probability, fakes and forgeries, and the cuneiform inscription of King Rusa is most likely "of the same series" as the cuneiform about "the foundation of ancient Yerevan, which is older than Rome".


A close look at the Zvatnots ruins allows even the layman to conclude that it is a fake. Slabs and stones were dragged to the excavation site and "aged". Naturally they "found" an inscription in Greek that this temple was built by Catholicos Nerses. They were smart enough not to make it in "Old Armenian" as in the first half of the 7th century Armenian script was not yet widely used.

But a passion for appropriation seems to have made Armenian forgers forget the measure. And they declared as "Armenian" the Georgian temple of Bana, from the plan of which architect Toromanyan "copied" his Zvavtnots. But we should at least have a conscience! Georgians did not interfere in the historical myths of Armenian nationalists and did not want to expose them, but we cannot act so cavalierly? They themselves copied it, declared the fake "a miraculous discovery of an ancient temple", and now the Georgian original, from which they copied their fake plan, is declared "Armenian".




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