july 4th, back home and catching up
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13 june 2010 day trip to eghegis -
(above image of scd 45 minutes outside of the village of eghegis)
as the work in my nothers exhibit is based on material from the medieval jewish cemetery in eghegis a bit about my june 13th trip to eghegis. susanna arranged for me to travel to eghegis and the surrounding sites by taxi. naver, the driver -- young, eager, inexperienced, non-english-speaking -- and i managed to find our way to the village of eghegis (in vayots dzor province in the south eastern region of armenia, on the bank of the eghegis river which flows into river arpa ) and went directly to the cemetery.
image above: looking down from the parked taxi to the bridge across the river and up to the cemetery
we cautiously descended down a steep incline in the taxi. naver parked his vehicle and we walked down to the bridge across the rapidly flowing river and up (and up) stone steps until we sighted the brightly painted blue metal cemetery gate. being present within the stone walls of the cemetery gave me a very primeval feeling. only the gate and the flat standing cases with armenian-, russian-, and english-language signage broke the spell of having walked into time past. the site was officially opened to visitors in 2009 after the 2000 - 2003 site excavations. after only a year it is once again overgrown and many of the semi-circular gravestones (dated 1266 - 1396) are covered by thick grasses, weeds, and lovely wild flowers. i had the feeling that there were many more burials than the excavations and now visible gravestones indicated as there was an almost palpable sense of many souls at peace with themselves and their surroundings.
image above: entrance gate to the medieval jewish cemetery, eghegis
image above: when found most of the gravestones were covered with lichen, such as this patch on the stone above. now unseen or undecipherable text on many stones had been destroyed by lichen
image above: (portion of stone wall visible) three gravestones in the eghegis medieval jewish cemetery
images above: examples of a gravestone decorated with still-visible relief sculpture with both jewish and armenian iconography
image above: engraved text in both hebrew and arameic
image above: now i understood why professor stone's driver drives a hummer. with the help of two young men from the village we did manage to get up the incline.
in the cemetery i walked from gravestone to gravestone, placing small stones on each to mark my visit and honor those buried, picked a few wild flowers to dry, and then just sat thinking.
once up the hill we spent the rest of the day driving around the breathtaking landscape
we then stopped at an army base so that naver could deliver a care package to his "brother" (all young men must serve two years in the armenian army)
our last stop was noravank: the 13th century armenian apostolic church monastery; residence of of orbelian princes and, in the late 13th/early 14th century; and also housed momik, renowned armenian architect, sculptor (*of khachkars, the armenian cross) and a master artist of armenian illuminated manuscripts (link to but one of numerous sites with information about novarank).
to be continued