As noted in a number of sources there were many holy places, temple centers the territory of Caucasian Albania. In Albania during the period of Christianity 8 episcopate was n use. After the occupation of the Caliphate only 5 of them were remained in Albania and they were in the remote mountainous provinces, forest areas. 3 strong branches of Christianity existed in the North-West part of Azerbaijan in Sheki-Balaken, Kazakh-Dilijan districts.
In recent years, cave complexes were recorded in the area of Jeyranchol as result of neotectonic process under the precipice rocks of the Qatar mountain range both formed in natural and artificial ways (Figure 1). Thus, as in the 1990s the area was closed military training base caves were studied partially.
Since 2000, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia gave the notes about belonging of cave complex in the south ridge slopes of the mountain range of Qatar, on the left bank of the Kura River in Jeyranchol. However, in the fourth century, Christianity was adopted in the Kambisena province (1).
After the Arab invasion, especially after 7th century the secretly draw painting on the walls and ceilings of the cave on the subject of Christian-Orthodoxy.
There are historical layers of paintings in the caves of Jeyranchol. However, scenes created by literal, religious and aesthetic senses of Christian Albanians before Islam was cut down.
In Qatar range Albanians constructed castles, watchtowers, temples, outbuildings on the summits of mountains. There was a strong center of the stone quarry like Signak in Kambisina (2).
One of such castles raises on the Kamargaya point of Qartar range on a steep rocky place. The castle has a rectangular shape plan and 3 floors. The walls were build of local stone, the floors from red brick with rectangular shape. In the construction of the tower as connective solution lime was used.
There still exist castles with such structure and layers – the observation points, watchtowers in some mountainous areas of Azerbaijan. In this regard, Chiraggala, Askipara tower, Keshik Gala monuments are the more obvious examples of these. In all three observation castles control and combat towers have eyeglasses both on the north and the south side. The tower with such aim is build on the summit of “Eller oyugu” mountain of Eldar region (Figure 4).
We can see the watchtowers of the Bronze Age in the hill of Bochqga (Didəban) near to the village of Musakoy of Gazakh district, in Galamcha and Gulul mountains in the region of Aghstafa. The four-angled walls can be observed in the megalithic guard system.
There are holy places around Qatar range. Here we can give examples as Adem bagi, Piri in Karvan dara, Gudrat spring and the place where glazed brick were found. In the places of past worship temples still life signs can be found. In the strip of Qaltan mountain the objects of worship are spread more widely in the area. The Albanian temples recorded in the Qatar mountain of Jeyranchol (on Mount Saloglu) are rectangular from outside, but oval-round from inside. Here observation windows are located in the north and south direction (Figure 2).
Thus, the temple built in the mountain area has mountain edges on the west and east, rocky steeps in the north and south sides. So, observation-combat windows are on the sides steeps. The windows are located in 2,5-3 m height from floor level. Three of such windows are located in side where an attack is expected, controls the areas related with abroad – on the north side. One of windows is on the south side. This is the the rocky side of mountain. It may be that this window was used for watching homeland or temples, where less dangerous attacks were expected.
Outside of walls in the west and east side seems like arch form support masonry. This was aimed for the strength and slenderness of the building.
The entrance of the temple is in the south corner of the east side. Door width 80 cm and 1.5 m height ends in arched shape. The outline and threshold of the entrance is constructed with a stone slab. The total height is nearly 4m. The ceiling is built in oval shape masonry.
Interestingly, approximately 120 m east to the temple there is small building with arched covering. The sizes of this outbuilding are rectangular, the northern side is in semicircle shape and the south wall is straight shaped. The building is in the direction of north-south. 2m in length, width and height are 1.5 meters. It also has had one window on the north and the entrance from the south.
Similar outbuilding can be seen in the north-east of the Albanian temple on the summit of Avey Mountain. This Albanian temple was built on the foundation of the ancient temple. However, during the reconstruction different color, size, of stones were used.
Avey Mountain Albanian temple was last renovated in 1838. There were board with script of tufa stone on the door of the temple. This stone was on its place until 1990s. However in the last few years, the eastern walls of the temple and outbuildings (the safe sides from the Armenian military guard) are being knocked down. We have observed such situation in the evening of January 16, 2004. 4-5 m to the south-east of temple there many caves for worship and living.
As mentioned above, in the temples built in the caves of Qatar range of Jeyranchol (Figure 3) the first cultural and spiritual layers are destroyed. This process started with the spread of Islam after the Arab attacks. As it is known Partav episcopacy in Garabagh was transferred to Gazakh. Thus, in the Aran, plain provinces Islam began to spreading, but Christianity remained in mountainous and remote provinces. As Kambisena province of Albania was in the influence of Georgian Orthodoxy and its center was in Tiflis the cave temples of the Greater Caucasus functioned under influence Orthodoxy (4). In the mountain ranges, in the Albanian – the territories of the modern day Azerbaijan, in the villages of Saloghlu and Poylu under two large rock strips up to 100 caves have been recorded. Some of the caves were formed in natural way, with erosion. The majority were formed by chopping. High pastures formed on both Saloglu and Gudrat spring are formed on the upper layer of rocks. In both mountains stages are created at least in three levels. In a few places rooms are formed next to each other with pass ways to one another. Under rocks, sometimes height of carved rooms are 3-4m and their walls first covered with lime then color paintings were drawn.
In every cave exists rooms, lounges for religious rites and The lounges in these lounges arches, full carved columns, shelves, fire-places and cells are constructed. In large objects, gutters for rain and snow waters, on the water reservoirs covered with lime and invisible pools of water are located. Even in Mount Saloglu tunnel is seen directed towards north. Additionally there were rooms for living of 3-4 people. It is possible that steps were used for moving up and down between stages.
In the scientific literature it is indicated that in zone of artificial and natural caves in the foothill of the Great and Minor Caucasus, ascetic people, monks and nuns were living. In some periods this caves were widely used. Archaeological materials show that mass living in the caves was observed from 12-13th centuries till 16017th centuries. Finally Shah Ismail and Nadir Shah put end to ascetic life style (5).
In the territories of Garachop, Gardaban, in Jeyranchol few monasteries were built in the early Middle Ages. However, after the relocation of kipchaks here eastern territory of Georgia begins to develop in 12th century. In general in the South, East Georgia from ancient times until now it is difficult to find the toponym, hydronym, oronym, city, settlement names in the Georgian, because Darband, Zanjan, Gilan, Tbilisi and Irevan, Goycha region belonged to Azerbaijan (6).
Therefore, as answer to the Georgia’s claims we should start grandiose investigation in the areas of Jeyranchol and research the monuments in the territory of present-day Armenia and Georgia altogether with geography, arcgheology, ethnography, art, architecture and Christian religion experts. Moreover, this issue should be conducted under control of state authorities.
Indifferent attitude towards the Christian monuments in the borderland in Jeyranchol and Avey Mountains should not give way of claims to neighboring state. For this purpose, we should promote the monuments of Christianity that our ancestors used before Islam and conference should be held with the participation of Aghstafa and Gazakh districts’ heads, heads of relevant departments, heads of enterprises, school principals, representatives of local authorities, teachers of history and nature, as well as the experts of the National Academy of Sciences. The deputies from these territories, newspapers, television workers, border military leaders should be involved in the conference work.
Engravings of the winged carpets and decorations on the North-Western Albanian (Azerbaijan) temples and monuments complete the Albanian period of culture.
The abovementioned parallels proves the existence of cultural layer in this crescent-like strip of the Western Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan history. Baku, 1994, page, 207
Farida Mammadova. Political history and historical geography of Azerbaijan. Baku, 1993.
F.M.Muradova. Albanian Christian temple in Avey mountain. Materials from scientific conference devoted to the 80th anniversary of academician I.Aliyev. Baku, 2004.
Azerbaijan history. Baku, 1994.