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Phase I Work Completed at Ani Archaeological Site

World Monuments Fund and the Directorate General of Cultural Heritage and Museums, Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, are partnering to document, stabilize, and conserve two of the most significant and visible structures at Ani Archaeological Site, Ani Cathedral and the Church of the Holy Savior (Surp P’rikitch). The Church of the Holy Savior project is supported through a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Ambassodor’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.

Situated at the heart of the archaeological zone of Ani, the Church of the Holy Savior is one of the few structures still standing amid the ruins of this once-great medieval city. The church was built in 1035 on the orders of Prince Abulgharib Pahlavuni in order to be a reliquary for a piece of the True Cross. It is an exceptionally important survival from a particularly prosperous period of Bagratid Armenian history. The architecture is sophisticated, and decorative elements include Armenian script carved into panels of the exterior that document the history of the church and the city of Ani. In 1930 a lightning strike split the church in half, with one side collapsing and the other left standing. Given this condition, it is inherently unstable. Its fragility is the reason for the current phase of work at the site. In a seismically active area such as this, one tremor could result in complete loss of the remiaining section of the building. Stabilization work will go a long way toward preserving this relic for future generations. Documentation and survey work was mobilized in 2011 in preparation for the implementation of stabilization measures in Spring/Summer 2012.

In August 2011, the Istanbul-based documentation company Solvo-Tek, lead by Mr. Bora Sayin, completed phase 1 of work at the Church of the Savior. Work included documenting the structure and its site using digital photography, terrestrial laser scanning, GPS survey, and digital HDR panoramic photography. The team photographed and scanned the standing remains of the church and the fallen wall sections in-situ before their removal to an area adjacent to the church next spring. Panoramic photographs of the general area were also taken to put the site within the general context of the larger site and its relationship to other structures, such as the neighboring cathedral and the surrounding topography.

Mr. Sayin’s account of one week of work at the site can be read on WMF Journal (January 13-20, 2012).