The architectural masterpiece of Zvartnots was built by the order of the Catholicos Nerses III between the years 641 and 662. It was damaged by an earthquake in the 10th century and unearthed nearly a thousand years later in 1900-1907, in the town of Echmiadzin. The construction of Zvartnots began around 643, after Armenia’s recovery from the devastation that followed the first Arab invasions in 640. In an attempt to stave off the pillaging of their country, the Armenians looked to sign a peace treaty with Arabs, only to provoke military outrage from co-religionist Byzantium in 652. After the capture of Dvin, the Armenian capital, the emperor Constantine demanded both a religious union and the adoption by Armenians of Chalcedonism – the extreme Orthodox belief within the Greek church. Once more, Armenians were faced with the eternal problem of choosing between East and West. During this round, the partisans of Arab alliance prevailed and the Catholicos Nerses, a passionate supporter of the religious union with Byzantium, was forced to leave together with the Byzantines and settle in his native village of Ishkhan. After the Arabs were ousted from Armenia he reappeared in Echmiadzin and spearheaded the efforts on a huge construction project, which eventually became embraced nationwide. Unfortunately, a series of devastating earthquakes during the 10th century, destroyed the cathedral. Excavations at the site took place in the 12th century, the restorations- in the early 20th century.