You are on page 1of 1


the newly opened mediatheque at the opinion, too. I have created a one-year dying Georgian art to see what there is that
Museum of Mestia. This was especially seminar specifically about enamel from is truly Persian and what is purely Georgian.
important for us as the Svaneti Museum Byzantium, from Georgia, from Crimea and
aims to become a cultural-educational so on, to learn and distinguish their origins. Those two cultures – Byzantine and Sa-
centre. The mediatheque with speciali- sanian had a huge influence on Georgian
sed books encourages scientific research And what is your opinion about it? culture. How interesting is it to observe
and the education of future generations. Mr. Koch: We have everything here; we the development of this so-called cultu-
Mr. Koch: Yes, I agree, today you can have have imports and we obviously have artists ral “crossroads”? How do you see Geor-
books everywhere – on the internet, and who came from Byzantium for the ena- gia – a country located on the crossroads
so on, but you have to have real books to mel; and we have works of Georgians who of the Eastern and Western worlds?
look at them, to read them and to compare learned this excellent technique from the Mr. Koch: It’s a very difficult question, as it re-
with other materials. First of all, they contain Byzantine masters. It‘s the same with the quires generalization. In Georgia we can easily
materials that you don’t always find on the wall-paintings. We have Greek inscriptions define from where and whose influences were
internet. If there is a book with 100 photo- by painters from Byzantium. taken in. For example, as I already mentioned,
graphs, perhaps you can find two online. If a the main planning of the churches can be
book was published in only 300 copies, and How much influence do you see from influenced by Byzantine culture but you can
if it was not digitized, you must have such Byzantine art on locally produced ob- see that it is Georgia. It is interesting that in the
books to study and compare. It is impossi- jects? later period you can see the Persian influence,
ble to compare photos on the internet. You Mr. Koch: The influence is important, in and even more interesting that in the period
need a large table where you can have ten the same way as the representations of the of the Seljuks i.e. in the Early Islamic period. So
books with the photos, so you can compare Life of Christ, for example, or Mary, but there the buildings have some Islamic elements Is-
the church in Manglisi with that of Martvi- are many details. Georgian churches have lamic and at the same time Georgian. But it is
li, with that in Constantionopolis and with often been painted by Georgian artists who difficult to say what exactly is Georgian, what
that in Greece. This is impossible with the knew the Byzantine iconography, but who is Byzantine and what is Islamic.
internet, where you have one photo and made Georgian artwork. For example, in
nothing else, and often no details. the Treasury of the Art Museum there are Mr. and Mrs. Koch, you are the long-time
three small plates that are typically Geor- friends of our museum and witnessed the

More than Thirty Years of Friendship Could you talk about Georgian medi-
val art and where you would place it in
the big picture?
gian works of art, not copies, but made in
the tradition of Byzantine art. One knows at
first sight that they are local.
unification of what is now the Georgian
National Museum. What would you say
about the development of the institution
Mr. Koch: For me it is so interesting be- and how it has changed over the years?
FRIENDS of the Museum > Natia Likokeli cause one of my hobbies and interests has Mrs. Koch, I know that first you studied We can’t cover all the aspects at once, but
In November, 2017 Professors of the Philipps University of Marburg - Mrs. Heidemarie Koch, Iranologist and Mr. Guntram Koch, Classical and always been the connections between mathematics. Can you tell us, how you most important is that despite all difficul-
Christian Archaeologist - donated priceless gifts to the Museum’s Library: unique books of Medieval Art and Byzantine History. The friendship Byzantium and other regions. I began my became interested in Iran? ties, the renovation of the Archaeological
studies with art history and was interested Mrs.Koch: I studied classical archeology and Medieval Treasury exhibitions, perma-
between the couple and the Georgian National Museum started in the 1990s. We took the opportunity to interview them, to introduce these
in the influence of Byzantium on Germany, and ancient languages. Some of them, such nent show of the Georgian Archeology and
renowned German scientists to our readers, as their work to present Georgian culture to the international scientific community has been and later about the influence of Byzantium as Ancient Greek and Latin, I started even especially the Museum of Mestia were very
significant for more than 30 years. on Georgia. Here we can say that the archi- from secondary school, and when I started successfully completed. We only wish that
tecture, the types, are Byzantine, but all the the university I decided to learn some new you had more financial resources to conti-
decoration, the kinds of stone, the kind of languages. My favorite teacher and famous nue the process as we have seen what tre-
You have been friends with Georgia met Prof. Otar Lordkipanidze in Rome at books, and we had the first 60 to 80 books domes, the shape of the domes and so on, orientalist, the Iranist Prof. Walther Hintz, asures are kept in the Museum’s collections.
and the Georgian National Museum for the German Archaeological Institute there. to support the Archaeological Institute. La- are typically Georgian. However, the style was teaching in the University at the time. We are looking forward to the reopening of
many years. Can you tell us how this star- We enjoyed each other’s company, talked ter we saw a need for books on icons and of the plans and so on are Byzantine, and He taught us ancient languages and scripts, the renovated Museum in Vani.
ted? and had dinner together; we became close wall paintings, to have comparable material therefore it would be highly interesting to and it was then that a larger horizon ope-
Mr. Koch: I am a Professor of Christian Ar- even though we had just met, and had the from Byzantium. Therefore we searched for study each province. For example, we have ned for me. I decided to learn rare ancient And finally, why it is important in your
chaeology and Byzantine Art History, and impression that we had known each other books in Greece and Germany that would excellent work in enamel imported from languages, such as Elamite, Middle Persian opinion for children and youth to go to
although Georgia did not belong to the for many years. Since that time we have had be useful for our colleagues here in Georgia Byzantium here, but obviously in Georgia and then Sasanian. The Sasanian influence museums; what is the role of the mu-
Byzantine Empire there are many influen- closer connections with Georgia. We made for conducting good scientific work. there were very well-trained artists who and connections are obvious here in Geor- seum today?
ces here from Byzantium. Therefore, with a wonderful excursion with a large group were not copying, but producing Byzantine gia too. This a tough question. The main aim of a
my students, I gave a seminar on Georgia of students and colleagues in 2000, and You have presented wonderful collec- enamel with their own colors, their own re- I fell in love with Iranian culture before I Museum is to keep the objects of our ances-
in the 1980s, and we planned our first ex- decided to help the Museum a bit, as much tions of books to the Museum Library. presentations, and so on. It is very interes- visited Georgia, but when we came here we tors for future generations. The Ancient Egyp-
cursion here in 1988, although we could as we could, as private persons. That year And this is not all. Few years ago you ting and difficult to know, and I think many saw how much the two cultures are inter- tians already had an expression, that “If you
not carry it out. About 30 years ago we every student brought at least two or three have donated amazing publications to scholars have different opinions. I have my connected. Then I became interested in stu- know the past, you know the future too”.