The Official Website of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia > News > Expedition to the Agtsa grotto of Ankhua village
18.05.2022

Expedition to the Agtsa grotto of Ankhua village

On 11 May 2022, an expedition to the grotto of Agtsa took place, situated in Ankhua, Gudauta region.

In the expedition took part speleologists Vladimir Kakalia, Vasily Mashkov and Alkhas Smyr, director of the National New Athos Historical and Cultural Reserve “Anakopia” Alkhas Argun and Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar).

Members of the group, using special climbing equipment, descended from the top of the cliff (coordinates: N 43°07.603′ E 040°49.717′; height: 477 m above sea level) to the grotto of Agtsa, located in the middle of the cliff at a distance of approx. 40 m from its top point. The grotto is located at an altitude of 435 m above sea level. (coordinates: N 43°07.657′ E 040°49.755′).

The dimensions of the grotto: the width of the entrance – approx. 1 m., the height of the upper part of the vault at the entrance is approx. 3 m, length from the entrance to the opposite wall – approx. 5 m., width of the grotto – approx. 3m.

The grotto has got rock carvings on its walls. Rock carvings of the grotto of Agtsa:

On the left side of the entrance, there are drawings on the wall (wall size 120×85 cm). The group consists of images of 8 circles ⌀ 12 cm correctly outlined by a compass, arranged in three rows, for convenience, designated by us with the letters A, B, C (counting the rows from top to bottom, numbering the circles in the rows from left to right, for example A1, A2, etc.).

Circle A1. Inside the circle there are schematic representations of a vertically divided loop, its ends are oriented downwards and to the right of it an arrow pointing upwards, the body of the arrow is crossed by a horizontal line.
Circle A2. The image is not identifiable.
Circle B1. Inside the circle there is an image of a V-shaped arrowhead or афырхы/абырзал. There is a similar image without a circular outline, separate from the group of circles. This subject in the Middle Ages was one of the attributes in the veneration of St. George. Arrows of this type of various sizes were kept in many churches of the Caucasus, including Abkhazia.
Circle B2. Inside the circle at the top there is a petroglyph in the center, presumably an inscription, the glyphs of which are connected at the top by a common horizontal line, as in the Devanagari script. Currently there is no convincing interpretation or decoding of this inscription. Below in the center there is a symbol in the form of a vertical line. The upper lateral process is connected to the main vertical line by a horizontal bar.
Circle B3. The image is not identifiable.
Circle C1. There are four petroglyphs in the upper part of the circle. In the center there is a symbol. Unlike the similar symbol in circle B2, the vertical line of the symbol is crossed by a horizontal bar, forming a cross. Inside one of the circles, there is a swastika to the right of the petroglyphs, (the so-called left-sided swastika).
Circle C2. Inside the circle in the center below there is a petroglyph identical to that one in circle B2.

To the right of the main group of circles, at level B and between the circles C2 and C3 located at intervals from each other, there is a contour of the left hand. A hand and a cross in the middle of the palm. Below the palm, the elbow part of the arm is covered with a peculiar pattern in the form of many rhombuses formed from lines intersecting at an angle. According to the archaeologist L.N. Solovyov, the outline of the left hand of a woman is placed on the image, skillfully copied by the most experienced inscription performer.

To the right from the hand there is a large image of a cross, the upper ends of it are split in the form of a dovetail. The lower part of the cross is elongated, but not split, and also shaded. The central part of the cross is not shaded.

To the right of the large image of the cross the image of a small equilateral cross is placed, with ends split like a swallowtail and each side of the cross is two equilateral triangles. The central part of the cross is also cut into four parts and it is a cross in the cross.
The right side of the southern wall of the grotto is covered with linear images resembling bushes.

To the right of the entrance, there is a peculiar anthropomorphic image scratched with a very thin line in the depths of the grotto.
Graffiti. Inside, on the walls of the grotto there are graffiti of the 19th-20th centuries, relating to the following years: 1884, 1911, 1929, 1940, 1941, 1959, etc.

During the expedition, photographs and videos were taken in the grotto.