Some of the earliest hominid remains outside of Africa have been found at the archaeological site of Dmanisi. The remains have been dated to 1.8 million years ago. Several of the skulls are typically on display at the Georgain National Museum. The museum was unfortunately closed for renovations. I was determined to at least see the site. The site, as it turned out, was closed until the peak tourist season (beginning in May) and guarded by three policeman sitting around doing nothing. If not for a friendly Georgian man named Vassily, a friendly man and his carload of small children, a friendly dog, an amazing landscape, an old church, medieval ruins, engraved stone sheep and an open excavation our trip to Dmanisi might have been a complete waste of time…
Travelling to Dmanisi from Tbilisi - metro from Rustaveli to Sangori/Samgori. Exit Sangori station to the right and walk to the far end of the car park. First bus leaves at 9 (or earlier if full). 6 lari.
After roughly 1.5 hours on the bus, we passed an intersection with a Dmanisi billboard and a Dmanisi sign (16km) pointing to the right. The bus driver told us to get off but the locals decided this was not the best place. We got back on the bus and drove another 2km or so up hill passed a small village. Near the peak of the hill, as the building density thinned into farmland, we got out woth Vassilli who guided us along a path on the left side of the road through the farms to a ridge line.
Walking along the ridgeline...
Vassilli then led us down a path to the road below. We kept walking towards the bridge in front of the arse-end of the Dmanisi promenatory. A car came by. Vassily stopped it and ushered us in. Five small children squished together to fit us three adults in. A kilometre later we were at the entrance to The Dmanisi archaeological site.
Walking back towards the bridge.
More photos (including excavation photos) at Flickr
Overview of the history of Dmanisi
More info on the importance of the Dmanisi fossils.
For a summary of the geology, history of excavations and maps of the site see Chapter 3 of Adam Van Arsdale’s thesis