Kudos to Tom Flynn for anticipating the potential cultural heritage destruction in Georgia and South Ossetia today:
…the draft of a preliminary report prepared by ICOMOS Georgia for Mr. Dinu Bumbaru, Secretary General of ICOMOS, states that, “On 7 August, ICOMOS Georgia professionals were at the village Ateni (near the town Gori) working on the 6th-century Ateni Sioni Church when shelling of the village had started. Fortunately, all the team had managed to leave the village together with other civilians without losses. Regretfully, there are casualties among our colleagues and their families working in the field of heritage preservation of Georgia.”
There are around 345 registered historical monuments and archaeological sites within the main conflict zones (Gori District, Java District, Akhalgori District, Kareli District), 53 of which are in the city of Gori itself. These include the cave city of Uplistsikhe (dating from the 1st millennium BC up to the late Middle Ages) ; the Church of Ateni Sioni (7th century architecture, 11th century murals), and Ikorta Church (12th century).
I’ve been following the media reports of the conflict there with some interest, and Flynn is the first blogger or reporter to recognize the legitimate threat to heritage in this region. Hopefully it has survived relatively-intact.