The monastery of Georgian kings in Paphos
EXCAVATIONS at the 12th century Georgian monastery near Gialia village in the Paphos District have uncovered the ruined building’s main church and two smaller chapels on the north side of the structure.
Also uncovered as part of the two-year old excavations, some five kilometres from Polis, were storerooms on the south side and cisterns connected to the water channel.
Twelve graves, dating from the 15th to 16th century, with Greek and Georgian inscriptions, were also discovered, and movable finds includes examples of the church’s wall painting, marble architectural items, pottery, glass objects and a bronze cross and coins.
The monastery, which is dedicated to Panagia Chrysogialiotissa, is mentioned in Greek, Latin and Georgian mediaeval written accounts and it was identified in 1981 by the recently deceased Los Angeles Professor Vakhtang Jobadze.
The Georgian mission’s third excavation season was completed successfully last November, under the direction of Professor Iulon Gagashidre.
It was organised by the Georgian Ministry of Culture and the Department of Antiquities in Cyprus.
The excavation results, in combination with the existing written accounts referring to the Georgian presence in Cyprus, shows that the Georgian monastery in Gialia was founded on the initiative of King David III Kuropalate (963-1001). The monastery’s main church is the only domed church in Cyprus that has three apses.
The Georgian monks that peopled the monastery ordered and commissioned the building of the monastery to local builders, who followed Georgian architectural plans.
The Gialia monastery was very rich and always under the protection of the Georgian kings. Important additions to the building occurred both during the reign of David IV Aghmashenebeli (1089-1125) and during the reign of Queen Tamara (1184-1210). During these periods, the two chapels were attached to the Katholikon, one of which was dedicated to Saint George.
Between the 11th and the 15th centuries, the monastery of Gialia functioned as a workshop for the transcription of manuscripts and many books were written and translated from Greek to Georgian. The monastery was abandoned towards the end of the 16th century following the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus.
The archaeological excavations at Gialia will continue this year.
Following the completion of the excavations and the monument’s conservation, the Monastery of Panagia Chrysogialiotissa will not only constitute an important archaeological, tourist and religious site but it will also act as a symbol of Cyprus-Georgian friendship, the Antiquities Department said.
(Source: Cyprus Mail)