There were several early-state creations of Georgian tribes on the modern Eastern territory of Georgia in the IV cen. B.C. and they had permanent struggles for the leadership. In this struggle won the union, the center of which was town Mtskheta, existing at the mouth of the Rivers Mtkvari and Aragvi. Mtskheta existed on a very useful place - in the junction of the roads from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea, and from the East Europe to Front Asia, that helped the fast development of the town.

At the end of the IV cen. B.C. the representative of Mtskheta aristocracy - Parnavaz, unified the territory from the Caucasus Range till the source of the River Euphrates, and got the title of King. Thus was created the unified Eastern Georgian Kingdom - Iberia (Kartli in Georgian). Mtskheta became the capital of this Kingdom, and the residence of the Kings of Iberia was the citadel on the high mountain opposite to Mtskheta - Armaztsikhe.

Iberia, or Kartli, was a rich, densely inhabited country. According to the natural conditions, it consisted of two zones - highland and lowland. The population of the highland mainly was occupied with cattle-breeding, and the population of the lowland - with agriculture. The highlanders were distinguished by being warriors and played a big role in the military organization of Iberia.

In the cities of Iberia there lived merchants and handicraftsmen, but the important part of them was of the foreign origin - mainly Jews and Syrians.

In the religious life of Iberia there were many things remained from the Tribal System Age. They worshiped the God of Fertility and the Devines of Thunder and Heavenly Bodies. There existed the remainders of Totemism. From the Parnavazi period at the head of Pantheon stood the God of Moon - Armazi, the idol of which stood near Mtskheta, on the top of one of the mountains. Armazi expressed a cruel warrior, with an armour and a sword in his hand.

In a Foreign Policy, Parnavazi and his closest inheritors took their bearings to the union with Selevkides, but in the II cen. B.C. international condition aggraviated for Iberia. In the South, the country lost several important districts, which were cut off by the new-created Armenian Kingdoms, and in the West, the neighbour of Iberia became the Ponto Kingdom, the King of which, Mithridate VI, annexed Kolkhida to his domain. During the Wars of Mithridate, Iberia was his ally against Rome, that became a reason for invasion of a famous Roman General - Pompeus, on its territory in 65 y. B.C. Pompeus defeated the army of Artag, the King of Iberia in a big struggle, but faced a wide-spread public resistance, which forced him to hasten a conclusion of peace with Artag. According to the Pax, Iberia became an ally of unequal rights to Rome. After that Romans entered Kolkhida and conquerred this country too.

In the I-II cen. the Iberian Kingdom strengthened again, that was a result of economical rise of the country. Agriculture, handicraft, trading developed. The territory of Iberia was crossed by a big trade way from India to Greece.

The strengthening of Iberia at first was profitable for Romans, because in their Eastern Policy they often used the Iberian Allies. Besides, Iberia controlled the most important Passes of Central Caucasus, by which it protected the Asian domains of Rome from the invasion of the warrior tribes from the Northern Caucasus. But the strengthened Iberia gradually began to run its independent foreign policy. The King Parsman I (the I cen.) used the opposition between Rome and Partia and possessed Armenia, the King of which became at first his brother and then his son. In the I-II cen. the territory of Iberia widened. It got back its lost Southern provinces.

In the II cen. the condition in Kolkhida was characterized with the new political realities. In its sea-coast zone there were created Western Georgian and Abkhazian tribal Principalities - Lazika, Apsilia, Abazgia, Sanigia, the governors of which recognized the supremacy of Roman Emperors.

In the III cen. the foreign-political situation of Iberia aggraviated again. The main object of the expency of the dominion in Iran, new Persian dynasty - Sasanides, became Transcaucasus, that forced Iberia to stand firmly with the Rome orientation again and to oppose Iran. The one of the expression of that was a declaration of Christianity as a state religion of Iberia, which happened approximately in 337. As it appears, in the IV cen. Christianity was established in Kolkhida as well, where at that time was a tendency of unity. For instance, the principality of one of the Western Georgian (Zanian) tribes, Lazis - Lazika (Egrisi in Georgian), spreaded its influence on other local political units and tribes. The strengthened Kings of Lazis quited from submission of Rome too.

In Iberia, development of Christianity gave a strong jerk to the development of Georgian writing. The oldest Georgian writings, kept until now, which are written by an original script, are dated the V cen.

In the IV-V cen. there was a process of establishing feudal relations in Georgia. This period is a difficult foreign-political condition for Iberia. The union with Romans couldn't protect the country from the aggression of Sasanides, which especially became stronger from the first half of the V cen. when Persians conquerred the neighbouring countries of Iberia - Armenia and Albania and came to the borders of East Georgia. The Wars between Georgians and Persians began. Especially must be noted the second half of the V cen. when the King of Iberia was Vakhtang Gorgasali. The King Vakhtang was a good warrior, clever and vigorous governor. He tried to unify the people of Transcaucasus against Sasanides. In this way, he had a success. In his period Iberia strengthened again and annexed several neighbouring territories. Vakhtang Gorgasali also held a big constructing activity too. Founding Tbilisi as a city is related to his name, which was only a fortress before. But in the beginning of the VI cen. Vakhtang Gorgasali was killed in the struggle against Persians.


by Dr. George Anchabadze

It's a very long time that a human lives on the territory of Georgia. Here, near town Dmanisi, was found the remainder of the fossil human (Homo ex gr. erectus) the age of which is Plio-Pleistocene (approximately 1,8 million years). Nowadays this is the oldest fossil man in West Euroasia. During the Stone Age human gradually mastered the whole territory of Georgia. Already in the Acheul epoque (appr. 400-100 thousands years ago), the old dwellings are found as near the Sea, as in the internal regions of the country and in the highland zone of Georgia.

Approximately 6-7 thousands years ago people on the territory of Georgia began to use as the instruments not only the stone but the metals as well. And in the IV-III mill. B.C. the ancestors of Georgians learned to get and use the bronze. In the middle of the Bronze Age (the first half of the II mill. B.C.) there existed the strong unions of tribes on the territory of East Georgia. In the big excavations on the Trialeti Plateau, where the leaders of those unions used to be buried, are found as the bronze instruments and the earthenware pottery, but also the amazing examples of the Goldsmith Art.

Georgian origin belongs to the Paleocaucasian (or Caucasian) Ethnolinguistic Family, the representative people of which are the direct descendents of the oldest population of Caucasus. This Family is divided into three branches: 1) Western, or Abkhaz-Adighian; 2) Eastern, or Chechen-Dagestanian and 3) Southern, or Kartvelian. Appropriately, Western branch unifies modern Abkhazians, Abazians, Adighians, Cherkezians and Kabardians; Eastern branch - Chechenians, Ingushs and Dagestanians (Avarians, Lezgians, Darguelians, Laks and etc.); and Kartvelian is represented by Georgian people, which consist of three main subethnical groups - Karts, Zans or Mengrel-Chans and Svans. Division of the previous Kartvelian language into Georgian, Zanian and Svanian branches begins in the III-II mill. B.C.

In that epoch the Georgian tribes dwelled as on the big territory of modern Georgia, also in the regions of North-East Anatolia. At the end of the II mill. B.C. and at the beginning of the I mill. B.C. some of those tribes reached the threshold of the creation of the Country. In the XII cen. B.C. at the sources of rivers Chorokhi and Euphrates the early-class union Diaukhi was created. The population of Diaukhi had to hold hard struggles against the strong kingdoms of the Front Asia - Asuria and Urartu. In the IX-VIII cen. B.C. Urartu destructed and conquerred Diaukhi. After that the kings of Urartu began the wars against the Second Georgian Union on the Bank of the Black Sea - Kolkha. Kolkha must have been that strong Kolkhidian Kingdom, the glory and brilliancy of which was so obviously depicted in the old Greek Legend about Argounauts. In the 30-20 years of the VIII cen. B.C. this early Kolkhidian Kingdom was destructed by the Kimirians from North.

In the VII-VI cen. B.C. the Kolkhidian State was revived again. The center of this new Kingdom must have been on the river Rioni (old Phazisi). The basis of this period's Kolkhida was the developed agriculture, cattle-breeding and the iron metalurgy. On the basis of the internal developing, on the Rioni Valley was created the city-like settlements. In the VI-III cen. B.C. here began the process of minting of silver coins for the internal market.

From the VI cen. B.C. trade and other relations of Kolkhida with the Greek World were widening. Soon on the Black Sea coast appeared city-colonies of Greeks - Phasises (near Poti), Gienoses (Ochamchire), Dioskuria (Sukhum) and others.

In the IV-III cen. B.C. the Kingdom of Kolkhida was gradually weakening and at last it was destroyed. Its Eastern Regions entered the new-created, Eastern-Georgian Kingdom, Iberia.


by Dr. George Anchabadze

Georgian culture evolved over thousands of years with its foundations in Iberian and Colchian civilizations, continuing into the rise of the unified Georgian Kingdom under the single monarchy of the Bagrationi. Georgian culture enjoyed a golden age and renaissance of classical literature, arts, philosophy, architecture and science in the 11th century. The Georgian language, and the Classical Georgian literature of the poet Shota Rustaveli, were revived in the 19th century after a long period of turmoil, laying the foundations of the romantics and novelists of the modern era such as Grigol Orbeliani, Nikoloz Baratashvili, Ilia Chavchavadze, Akaki Tsereteli, Vazha Pshavela, and many others. Georgian culture was influenced by Classical Greece, the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire, and later by the Russian Empire which contributed to the European elements of Georgian culture.

 

A page from a rare 12th century Gelati Gospel depicting the Nativity from the Art Museum of Georgia in Tbilisi.
and The Manuscript of "The Knight in the Panther's Skin" (16th century)

 

Grapevine Cross of Saint Nino from the 4th century CE

 

Georgia is well known for its rich folklore, unique traditional music, theatre, cinema, and art. Georgians are renowned for their love of music, dance, theatre and cinema. In the 20th century there have been notable Georgian painters such as Niko Pirosmani, Lado Gudiashvili, Elene Akhvlediani; ballet choreographers such as George Balanchine, Vakhtang Chabukiani, and Nino Ananiashvili; poets such as Galaktion Tabidze, Lado Asatiani, and Mukhran Machavariani; and theatre and film directors such as Robert Sturua, Tengiz Abuladze, Giorgi Danelia and Otar Ioseliani.

 

     

St George slaying the Dragon. 15th century cloisonné enamel on gold. (National Art Museum of Georgia)
and Mother and Son by Niko Pirosmani
and Tondo depicting Saint Mamas from the Gelati Monastery, 14th–15th centuries

 

The Icon from Martvili (10th century)


Amirani

History of the Georgian Cinema

Theater and Opera

Wine

Language