Armenian Studies Program
Type: Domed Single Nave Church
Location: Armenia in the region of Kotayk', North of Erevan in the village of Pt'ghni.
Evidence for date:
State of preservation:
Summary: The church of Pt'ghni is located in Soviet Armenia in the region of Kotayk', north of Erevan in the village of Pt'ghni (coord. 40-15/44-35).
The dates proposed for its construction are the first half of the 6th century (Der Nersessian), 6th century (Harutiunian), third quarter of the 6th century (Hovsepian, on the basis of its architecture and relief sculpture) and early 7th century (Mnac'akanyan on the basis of architectural details and sculptural motifs). The church was constructed by Manuel Amatuni (Hovsepian) or one of his descendants (Mnac'akanyan) depending upon the interpretation of the carved hunting scene on the south elevation in which Manuel is defined by name only.
Although some restoration work was undertaken in 1940, the structure is in very poor condition. Most of the north wall, part of the south wall and a connecting arch, and some traces of the vaulting still exist but the cupola and the ceiling vaults have collapsed.
Pt'ghni is a longitudinal domed hall church. The east apse, polygonal from the exterior, is flanked by two square chambers, each with a niche on the east side. Four powerful pilasters, linked by lofty arches, define the central square. This square was covered by a cupola supported by the east and west vaults and the north and south arches. There remains only one of the pendentives by which the transfer from the square was effected (Der Nersessian).
Pt'ghni is one of the oldest surviving examples of the domed hall church seen in Armenia during the early period. The church of Aruc' (T'alis, A-0002) founded by Grigor Mamikonean (661-682) is another. Both in plan and construction, Pt'ghni served as a prototype for a large number of Armenian churches constructed after the 9th century (Marmasen, A-0024, Sirakavan, A-2190). Pt'ghni is also notable for its relief sculpture, particularly the figural scenes on the south elevation. The use of both figurative and ornamental relief sculpture in stone on church facades distinguishes Armenian from Byzantine and all other east Christian art (except for Georgian) and the Pt'ghni reliefs of Christ and apostles, donors hunting, and Daniel in the lions' den (a fragment possibly taken from an earlier church on the site). Other examples in that corpus include figural reliefs at Mren (A-2176), Ojun (Odzun, A-0018), and Sisavan(A-0127). At Pt'ghni, there is also a row of carved wine jugs on the cornice of the north elevation.
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