Saturday is a Rest and Reconnaissance Day

Sep 26, 2015 | 3D World Heritage Program in Armenia

Update and a Bit of Project Background


Digital Documentation of the Monastery Complex is in full swing. A variety of 3D scanners, photography and photogrammetry, Aerial drone images, Global Positioning System and GPS camera work, video and audio recording are all continuing at the site.

The visual images are really great, and will provide us the data needed to address numerous applications that range from restoration, preservation, heritage tourism, education, and more. The Armenian people, native and diaspora, are enthusiastic about what we are doing, and more importantly-why we are doing this project. 

The Armenia Heritage and Social Memory Program is designed to be composed of a series of individual segments or phases that will digitally document important heritage sites in Armenia. Focus is concentrated on specific complexes, sites, or features of Armenian history and heritage, resulting in a comprehensive study and presentation of Armenian history. The initial project, The Haghpat Monastery Complex has been selected because it offers an exceptional microcosm of the types of Armenian history, identity, and social memory that are at the core of the program. The foundational aspects of Armenian heritage – language, religion, literature, art, and architecture – are well represented at Haghpat. Further, the monastery complex remains a central cultural and historic feature within the contemporary village. 

Map of Armenia with location of Haghpat illustrated in northernmost Lori Province (Image after 2013

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Today was a day to rest from a week of hard survey work at Haghpat and tour the countryside a bit, doing reconnaissance of additional locales and experiencing Armenia. After a drive, we were off to see the nearby Sanahin Monastery and the Odzun Church sites. The name Sanahin translates to “this one is older than that one” and there is a bit of a rivalry between Sanahin and the nearby Haghpat sites that can be viewed from one another across a plateau area. The image below shows the view looking east toward Haghpat.

The Sanahin Monastery has a number of elaborate Khatchkars or cross-stones, as well as significant architectural features. A large restoration project is underway at the site and we are hopeful that our documentation will be useful for management and restoration efforts that are ongoing in this region.

The monastery is undergoing some major renovations. The main area of concentrated treatment is on the dome.

We walked the entire grounds and took photos back across the plateau. At Odzun, which is an Armenian basilica that was built between the 5th-7th century, was unique, with a large funerary monument central to the site.

At the church locale I couldn’t resist taking a selfie, along with documenting the beautiful surroundings.

Several of the elaborately carved cross-stones are in good condition at this site.


After hiking around the site, we were all ready to eat and stopped for lunch and to sample the BBQ and beer at the Alaverdi Tavern next to the Debed River that serves as a geographical separation between Haghpat and Sanahin. ‪The restaurant is located off the Yerevan-Tbilisi highway, 4 km North from Alaverdi City, in the Lori Province.

The crew has loved the food in Armenia. Many of the restaurants are farm to table kind of concepts, with delicious meats and lots of vegetables. Jeff, who is a vegetarian, has found lots to eat (and drink) with all the potatoes and vegetables (and of course beer). The group has become fond of the local beer called Kilikia, from the Yerevan Brewery Factory.

I love the meat and potato choices, and have found some friends to share in the food…(Lori would be happy). Two street/cafe dogs were glad to help with my lunch! Tomorrow we will be back at Haghpat continuing our work to digitally preserve significant Armenian heritage.

Exploring and documenting the world around us in 3D

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