And other similar epigraphs
Arsen E. Harutyunyan
Tatev monastery is one of the famous historical, religious-cultural centers of medieval Armenia, whose epigraphic inscriptions have a great importance for the study of the history of Armenia. Numerous epigraphs are preserved on the walls of churches and memorial monuments of the monastery and many of them remain unpublished till today. A mirror-writing cryptography dated to 1537 is preserved on the southern wall of St. Paul-Peter Cathedral of the monastery, whose decipherment has been the main occasion of this publication. The study revealed the names of bishops Ter Anton, Ter Stepanos and Father Kirakos – most likely visitor-donators who visited Tatev monastery as a pilgrim and gave some donation, for which their names were allowed to be mentioned on the walls of the church as the “Book of Life”. In the result of this discovery, the number of Armenian mirror-writing cryptographs was added by one more (as they are known from Kurtan, Tanahat monastery, Litchk, Sevanavank, Haghpatavank etc.).
The study confirms that the desire to codify belonged to the bishops, who more likely came to Tatev monastery from the diocese of Gegharkunik. The paleographic features and uneven lines of the inscription have numerous similarities to the donative inscription of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church dated to 1532, on the basis of which it can be assumed, that the author and scribe of the newfound cryptography is the same monk Nerses, who is evidenced at the end of the epigraph of the abovementioned church.