The small martyrium excavated and surveyed
in 1997-1999 by the Gareja Archaeological Expedition of the State
Museum of Georgia and the Gareja Studies Centre in Tsamebuli rock-cut monastery
seems most likely have been created in the early stage of the history of
the complex (sixth-seventh centuries). One of the two tombs unearthed here
is a collective grave, while the other is for the burial of one monk.
A treatise by Gabriel Mtsire (1802), a monk active in the Natlismtsemeli
monastery neighbouring Tsamebuli, gives evidence on the martyrium preserved
among the local brethren, as well as its cleaning by the Gareja monks in
the second half of the eighteenth century. Comparison of the literary sources
with the material revealed in the course of the excavations shows that
the rock-cut martyrium was again used at the turn of the sixteenth to the
seventeenth centuries (for the burial of monks slaughtered during
the invasion of Shah Abas II) and in the late seventeenth - early
eighteenth centuries (as a burial for an ascetic monk settled in the long
The architecture of the martyrium, as well as the arrangement of the tombs reflect the tradition established in the Christian East during the Early Middle Ages. In Georgia this tradition is also discernible.