A Link to a blog about the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi

Magnus Reuterdahl has some great pictures up on his blog from the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi.

Testimony of the spade

I recently was in Georgia on a wine-tour in combination with EWBC. Now Georgia also poses lots of interesting archaeological finds and some of the oldest that can be connected to wine and wine producing.

We visited the Georgian National Museums archaeological exhibit and also got to see some finds that as yet has not reached the exhibit. If you go to Georgia this is a museum not to miss, lots of nice and interesting finds that shows both relations to West Europe, the Middle East and Asia – there’s really no question that you are on the Silk road.

Most of these finds are found in graves and there are several fantastic gold and silver artifacts. The exhibition represent the history of Georgian gold smithery from the 3rd millennium B.C. To the 4th century A.D. So lets get ready for some archeo- artifact – pornography!…

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Bye Bye Georgia

On the 25th April we departed Georgia for Istanbul.
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Day 2 in Kazbegi

Better weather so we decided to walk up to the monastery. The walk took an hour and a half. It was steep, cold and the air was thin. We trudged through last night’s snow. The summit was worth the pain. Those who drove up instead of walking risked getting bogged in the mud. The monastery was small. Centuries of graffiti were etched in the stone walls. Inside UNESCO had helped the monks uncover a 14th century mural of Jesus from beneath several coats of paint. It started to snow again. Some Israelis, once unbogged, kindly let us hitch a lift back down the hill. We caught the 5pm bus back to Tbilisi and finally saw the views we missed the first time.

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Day 1 in Kazbegi

Bus from Didube Metro Station to Kazbegi for 10 lari. The weather rolled in and it started to snow. Visibility was less than 50m. The windows fogged up. We went over a mountain pass. The roads were narrow. Beyond the road’s wooden palings were steep drops to the gorges below. We bumped along. The fences were replaced by head-height snow drifts. Two and a half hours after leaving Tbilisi we descended into Kazbegi (Stephansminda). Kazbegi is known for its skiing, its icecapped volcano and a 14th century monastery. It is home to an alpine ecology research institute. It is also right near the Russian border. We stayed at a guesthouse run by an old friendly lady. There was a picture of Stalin on the wall and a Russian army coat with polished buttons. There were no cafes or restaurants open because it was out of tourist season. A neighbour cooked us soups and stews with fried potatoes, fresh bread and cheese in a small room heated by a stove. Spanish tele-novellas dubbed in Georgian played constantly on the television. Outside chickens of Easter Show prize-winning standards scratched in the mud, dogs and cats bolted at the first sign of human movement and unpolled cattle roamed in the streets.

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Visiting the Dmanisi Archaeological Site

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...


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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.


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Walking back towards the bridge.

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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

An Afternoon at Narikala Fortress

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Day Trip to Mtshketa

Day trip to Mshketa, approximately 20km from Tbilisi. Our hostel organised us a taxi for 12 lari.

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Carefully reconstructed stonework, clean streets and a certain sense of charming sterility.”I bet it’s a UNESCO World Heritage area,” says Clare. We went to the shiny new Tourist Information Centre. One of three women at the desk helpfully answered our questions. There were no town maps. We visited the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. Through the haze of smoke we could see murals, pictures of saints and lit candles. Church goers prayed with their heads against shrines. Priests chanted and stirred the contents of large pots. A giant mural of Jesus gazed down on us through the haze.

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We took a short walk through the town.

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After a forty minute wait as the sole patrons at the Old Tavern, one of four waitresses served a very oily lunch. We went elsewhere for coffee. The local museum was closed. We got into a taxi to go to the Jvari monastery. The taxi broke 200m down the road. We found three other taxis and asked the driver of the most intact looking car to take us to Jvari. He led us to the most decrepid of the three cars with rust and a broken windscreen. 25 lari for a return trip.

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We caught a bus back to a metro station in Tbilisi for two lari each.

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