At its height in the Middle Ages, up to one thousand monks, scholars and clergy worked as part of the Tatev spiritual community, both within the monastery walls and in the villages surrounding it. Little is known of the living quarters of Tatev''s earliest inhabitants, but there is a row of 17th century cells, now completely collapsed, extending the northern wall of the monastery.
The way the cells were allocated to the monks is fascinating. They came in three sizes. The largest, which had windows and fireplaces, were designated to the newest arrivals. The medium-sized cells, which had no fireplaces, were for the mid-ranked clergy. And the small windowless cells (measuring less than four square meters) were reserved for the most highly ranked monks.
The lush, mountainous panorama that envelopes the monastery, combined with the monk's' ascetic existence and the simplicity of their living quarters, surely inspired the art and philosophy that were created at Tatev.
Of the monastic structures that collapsed in the 1931 earthquake, the row of monk cells is one of the few components that were never restored. As part of the present project, the cells will be excavated and reconstructed. Visitors will have a chance to gain real insight into the fascinating lives of the Tatev monks. This restoration will complete the enclosing fortifications of the monastery against which the cells were built. The eastern rampart, adjacent to the cells and facing the gorge, will also be restored.
Target completion date: October 2014