Georgia recently made world headlines with the startling discovery of the 1.8 million year old Dmanisi hominoids in the hills just south of Tbilisi. Providing the missing link in human evolution between Africa and Europe, it enables us to claim the first outbound tourists from Europe.
Dmanisi is located 94 km southwest of Tbilisi in Kvemo Kartli region, in the valley of the river Mashavera. Dmanisi is a rich pale anthropological and archaeological site in Georgia. Multiple lines of evidence date the human occupation at Dmanisi as early as 1.85 million years ago, putting it in the Pleistocene. Layers of ash and sandy sediment, which contain remains along with numerous crude stone tools and flakes, have been dated at 1.7 to 1.85 million years old. Hominid fossils, thousands of extinct animal bones and bone fragments, and over 1000 stone tools were found buried in 2-4.5 meters of alluvium. All modern techniques place Dmanisi as one of the most ancient human habitation sites in Eurasia. Dmanisi is approximately equivalent in age to the oldest H. erectus localities in eastern Africa. The remains found from Dmanisi have become crucial, and at the same time very controversial, to the study of human evolution.
But other more historically recent discoveries - like the gold in Gonio by the Black Sea coast, or the figurines and jewellery at nearby Vani - continue to provide a wealth of new exhibits for our museums.
Gonio-Apsaros Fortress (it is known before as Apsaros or Apsaruntos, length – 222 m, width – 195 m, whole area – 4, 75 ha), is a Roman fortification in Adjara, at the Black Sea, 15km south of Batumi, at the very mouth of the Chorokhi river, in 4 km from Turkish border. Georgian chronicles first mention Adjara in the 3-rd century BC as part of the Kartli Kingdom. It was here that significant historic event is connected with Christ’s Apostle Andrew the First-Called, who was the first to enter Adjara and preach Christianity.
It is called mighty Colchic citadel representing the most valuable monument of Adjara history and an important research sphere for archaeology to this day. Besides, it is here that one of the most significant Christian sanctities has been found – the grave of St. Mathias. It is well-known that he was elected the twelfth apostle instead of Judas Iscariot. According to the historic sources he spent last years of his life in Adjara and was buried here.
According to archaeological evidence the ancient cultural layer dates from 8th-7th centuries BC. The Colchian cemetery from the 5th century BC has been found outside the southern wall. The revival of civic life can be traced from the Hellenistic Age, but the fort itself was built by the Romans in the second half of the 1st century AD (Pliny, the Elder). According to Arrian, inscriptions found at Abella (Italy) and Fayum (Egypt), Tabula Peutingeriana, Procopius, etc., and archaeological evidence, until the 4th century AD it was the Romans strategic, political, and cultural centre of the Eastern Black Sea Littoral.
Vani is best known for the extensive archaeological excavations that have taken place there during the past 100 years. Although only a third of the site has been studied, it has produced an astonishing number of artifacts: Colchis pottery, exquisite golden jewellery unique to Colchis, imported Greek luxury items, graceful bronze sculptures and a vast array of funerary pieces. Artifacts (mainly Colchis pottery) of the first stage, 8th to early 6th Century BC, are relatively few and badly damaged. A sacrificial area was found with clay animal offerings suggesting some importance of Vani over the adjoining areas, which yielded no similar findings. The second stage, early 6th to mid 4th Century BC, reveals many changes. An abundance of artifacts are found including imported Greek painted pottery and new types of pottery for the storage or transportation of cereals, oil and honey as well as the fermentation and storage of wine. Rich burial sites with large quantities of golden jewellery, silver and bronze adornments, pottery and luxury items befitting the status of the deceased indicate that the ruling elite were buried here while poorer graves were found only in the surrounding areas.
Vani archaeological Museum-reserve was founded on April, 21, 1981 on the base of the local lore museum and was opened in September, 1985 during the international Symposium. The Museum is situated on the hill close to the town of Vani in the western Georgia, on the left bank of the River Rioni. Vani museum-reserve is of strategic importance with its scientific or exposition programs in the frames of the Georgian National Museum The museum includes: Site of Vani, expedition base and the museum itself. The museum houses the majority of the archeological materials discovered in the site of Vani. In 1987, after discovery of the rich burial, the Gold Fund was opened at the Museum, which preserves the unique pieces of Vani Goldsmith.
Other archaeological sites in Georgia might be named: Anaklia, Armazi, Tsnori, Urbnisi. Nokalakevi, Lake Paliastomi and etc.