The spring of 2015 may enter history as an exceptional date for science, with the unique discovery of artifacts by researchers and students at Tbilisi State University’s archaeological site at Grakliani Hill, in the Kaspi district of Georgia. This discovery is a breakthrough that may well change the history of writing in Georgia – and in the world. A group of scientists from TSU assert that the unique inscriptions represent an entirely different and unique type of script that has no analog elsewhere.
“Out of all misfortunes destroying and distorting a person’s soul, illiteracy, ignorance and narrow-mindedness are the worst.”These are the words of the prominent Georgian theologian and philosopher, Metropolitan Anthim Iverianul(1650-1716). He spent most of his life in Romania, and was officially canonized by the Romanian and Georgian churches. Anthim Iverianul’s legacy has not been translated into Georgian – most of his writings were originally in Romanian, while his correspondence in Greek and Arabic are currently found in different libraries worldwide. This is why Georgian academic circles have not been properly introduced to his works except for some parts of his complex scholarly studies that were translated from Romanian into brief English resumes.
All countries have symbols – identification marks for itself and for others, to define itself and to define others. Symbols have one of two fates: either we get so accustomed to them that we fail to notice them, or else we do not know them at all because we do not need them anymore. The Gelati Academy is a key symbol of the founding of the successful Georgian state—and yet the 900th anniversary of its foundation is going unnoticed by the public, while the Gelati Bible with Catenas (a biblical text within which each section contains commentaries of various kinds and authors), remains a symbol of Georgian spirituality, intellect, education and literature has been known only to specialists.
For several years TSU scientists have been working on the Grakliani Hill--located near the villages of Igoeti, Samtavisi and Gamdlistskaro. Ten cultural layers have been discovered spanning periods from the Stone Age to Roman civilization.
Apart from studying materials created by humans during their development to provide historical interpretations, archaeology contributes to the study of specific eco-environments and the general development of natural milieu. It permits the study of earth magnetism, the evolution of flora and fauna, the palaeo-climate and other domains. Archaeology applies different technical methods according to the subject at hand, including earth remote sensing, geophysics, various chemical, physical, hydro-chemical and geochemical comparative analyses, molecular studies, and statistical-mathematical methods. This is how TSU scientists apply archaeology.
Today Germans no longer live in these southern Georgian villages and only vestiges of their material culture and memories about them have remained. Their history has been preserved through local sources and narratives. This is one of the rare photos of Germans who had settled in the area.
What was the role and importance of the Georgian monastery after the fall of the Byzantine Empire? A TSU researcher’s study, “The Iviron Monastery during the Ottoman Empire’’ is a successful attempt to answer this question. Assistant Professor Tamar Alpenidzeat from the TSU Institute of Oriental Studies, Division of Turkish Language and Literature, began her research in 2013. She spent a semester in Istanbul at Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations studying Ottoman materials kept in Istanbul archives that are related to the Iviron Monastery.
Historian and orientalist, Professor Gocha Japaridze, became interested in the fate of Georgian Mamluks in the 1960s during his years as a student, when he came across some letters in Georgian they had sent home. As a scholar he began studying this issue in 1998, when he was an envoy of the Georgian Embassy to Egypt. His many years of service in Egypt enabled him to have access to extensive materials. Unlike previous scholars studying the history of Georgian Mamluks, Prof. Japaridze incorporated more information from Arabic and European sources, as well as Cairo’s epigraphic monuments into his research.
In Georgia’s southwestern region of Samtskhe-Javakheti, there is a high percentage of ethnic minorities. Issues such as the forcible deportation of Meskhetians remain a ‘dark example’ in the history of Soviet Georgia. The country still carries an important moral responsibility to make reparation to these people for the way they were treated by the Soviet Government of Georgia. This is why the new book by Dr. Roland Topchishvili, The Ethnic History of Samtskhe-Javakheti (2013) has evoked great interest within Georgian scientific circles as it treats the complex ethnic history of Samtskhe-Javakheti, including the impact of Moslem and Turkish culture on Georgian people of the region.
The year of 2012 was announced as an anniversary date of one of the greatest poets, Hakim Abul-Qasim Ferdowsi Tusi (940-1020) and his immortal literary masterpiece, Shahnameh. This “Book of Kings’’ is based on historical chronicles of Persian kings, epic works, mythological stories and legends. In addition to historical information, the book contains fragments of folklore, some extracts of which were written as early as the Sasanian Period (224-651).
A palimpsest is a manuscript page from which the text has been scraped or washed off and which can be used again. The first layer of the parchment as well as the second one are lisible, making it possible to access older sources of biblical texts. Georgian palimpsests are preserved in museums in Georgia and abroad, including European university libraries.