The Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture was a civilization that existed from about 4000 BC until about 2000 BC, which has traditionally been regarded as the date of its end. The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain. Altogether, the early trans-Caucasian culture enveloped a vast area 1,000 km by 500 km, encompassed, on modern-day territories, the Southern Caucasus, northwestern Iran, the northeastern Caucasus, eastern Turkey, as far as Syria; the name of the culture is derived from the Araxes river valleys. Kura–Araxes culture is sometimes known as Shengavitian, Karaz and Yanik Tepe cultures, it gave rise to the Khirbet Kerak-ware culture found in Syria and Canaan after the fall of the Akkadian Empire. The formative processes of the Kura-Araxes cultural complex, the date and circumstances of its rise, have been long debated. Shulaveri-Shomu culture preceded the Kura–Araxes culture in the area. There were many differences between these two cultures, so the connection was not clear.
It was suggested that the Sioni culture of eastern Georgia represented a transition from the Shulaveri to the Kura-Arax cultural complex. At many sites, the Sioni culture layers can be seen as intermediary between Shulaver-Shomu-Tepe layers and the Kura-Araxes layers; this kind of stratigraphy warrants a chronological place of the Sioni culture at around 4000 BCE. Nowadays scholars consider the Kartli area, as well as the Kakheti area as key to forming the earliest phase of the Kura–Araxes culture. To a large extent, this appears as an indigenous culture of Caucasus, formed over a long period, at the same time incorporating foreign influences. There are some indications of the overlapping in time of the Uruk cultures; some scholars have suggested that the earliest manifestation of the Kura-Araxes phenomenon should be dated at least to the last quarter of the 5th millennium BC. This is based on the recent data from Ovçular Tepesi, a Late Chalcolithic settlement located in Nakhchivan by the Arpaçay river.
Rather elements of Kura–Araxes culture started to proceed westward to the Erzurum plain, southwest to Cilicia, to the southeast into the area of Lake Van, below the Urmia basin in Iran, such as to Godin Tepe. It proceeded into the present-day Syria, as far as Palestine, its territory corresponds to large parts of modern Armenia, Chechnya, Georgia, North Ossetia, parts of Iran and Turkey. At Sos Hoyuk, in Erzurum Province, early forms of Kura-Araxes pottery were found in association with local ceramics as early as 3500-3300 BC. During the Early Bronze Age in 3000-2200 BC, this settlement was part of the Kura-Araxes phenomenon. At Arslantepe, around 3000 BCE, there was widespread burning and destruction, after which Kura-Araxes pottery appeared in the area. According to Geoffrey Summers, the movement of Kura-Araxes peoples into Iran and the Van region, which he interprets as quite sudden, started shortly before 3000 BC, may have been prompted by the'Late Uruk Collapse', taking place at the end of Uruk IV phase c. 3100 BC.
Archaeological evidence of inhabitants of the Kura–Araxes culture showed that ancient settlements were found along the Hrazdan river, as shown by drawings at a mountainous area in a cave nearby. Structures in settlements have not revealed much differentiation, nor was there much difference in size or character between settlements, facts that suggest they had a poorly developed social hierarchy for a significant stretch of their history. Some, but not all, settlements were surrounded by stone walls, they built mud-brick houses round, but developing into subrectangular designs with structures of just one or two rooms, multiple rooms centered around an open space, or rectilinear designs. At some point the culture's settlements and burial grounds expanded out of lowland river valleys and into highland areas. Although some scholars have suggested that this expansion demonstrates a switch from agriculture to pastoralism and that it serves as possible proof of a large-scale arrival of Indo-Europeans, facts such as that settlement in the lowlands remained more or less continuous suggest that the people of this culture were diversifying their economy to encompass crop and livestock agriculture.
Shengavit Settlement is a prominent Kura-Araxes site in present-day Yerevan area in Armenia. It was inhabited from 3200 BC cal to 2500 BC cal. On, in the Middle Bronze Age, it was used irregularly until 2200 BC cal; the town occupied an area of six hectares, large for Kura-Araxes sites. In the 3rd millennium B. C. one particular group of mounds of the Kura–Araxes culture is remarkable for their wealth. This was the final stage of culture's development; these burial mounds are known as the Martqopi period mounds. Those on the left bank of the river Alazani are 20-25 meter high and 200-300 meter in diameter, they contain rich artefacts, such as gold and silver jewelry. The economy was based on livestock-raising, they grew grain and orchard crops, are known to have used implements to make flour. They raised cattle, goats, in phases, horses. Before the Kura-Araxes period, horse bones were not found in Transcaucasia. Beginning about 3300 BCE, they became widespread, w
The Black Sea is a body of water and marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean between the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Western Asia. It is supplied by a number of major rivers, such as the Danube, Southern Bug, Dniester and the Rioni. Many countries drain into the Black Sea, including Austria, Belarus and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Ukraine; the Black Sea has an area of 436,400 km2, a maximum depth of 2,212 m, a volume of 547,000 km3. It is constrained by the Pontic Mountains to the south, Caucasus Mountains to the east, Crimean Mountains to the north, Strandzha to the southwest, Dobrogea Plateau to the northwest, features a wide shelf to the northwest; the longest east–west extent is about 1,175 km. Important cities along the coast include Batumi, Constanța, Istanbul, Novorossiysk, Ordu, Rize, Sevastopol, Sukhumi, Varna and Zonguldak; the Black Sea has a positive water balance. There is a two-way hydrological exchange: the more saline and therefore denser, but warmer, Mediterranean water flows into the Black Sea under its less saline outflow.
This creates a significant anoxic layer well below the surface waters. The Black Sea drains into the Mediterranean Sea, via the Aegean Sea and various straits, is navigable to the Atlantic Ocean; the Bosphorus Strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, the Strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean Sea region of the Mediterranean. These waters separate the Caucasus and Western Asia; the Black Sea is connected, to the North, to the Sea of Azov by the Strait of Kerch. The water level has varied significantly. Due to these variations in the water level in the basin, the surrounding shelf and associated aprons have sometimes been land. At certain critical water levels it is possible for connections with surrounding water bodies to become established, it is through the most active of these connective routes, the Turkish Straits, that the Black Sea joins the world ocean. When this hydrological link is not present, the Black Sea is an endorheic basin, operating independently of the global ocean system, like the Caspian Sea for example.
The Black Sea water level is high. The Turkish Straits connect the Black Sea with the Aegean Sea, comprise the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles; the International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Black Sea as follows: On the Southwest. The Northeastern limit of the Sea of Marmara. In the Kertch Strait. A line joining Cape Takil and Cape Panaghia. Current names of the sea are equivalents of the English name "Black Sea", including these given in the countries bordering the sea: Abkhazian: Амшын Еиқәа, IPA: Adyghe: Хы шӏуцӏэ, IPA: Bulgarian: Черно море, IPA: Crimean Tatar: Къара денъиз, Qara deñiz IPA: Georgian: შავი ზღვა, translit.: shavi zghva, IPA: Laz and Mingrelian: უჩა ზუღა, IPA:, or ზუღა, IPA:, "Sea" Romanian: Marea Neagră, pronounced Russian: Чёрное мо́рe, IPA: Turkish: Karadeniz, IPA: Ukrainian: Чорне море, IPA: Such names have not yet been shown conclusively to predate the 13th century, but there are indications that they may be older. In Greece, the historical name "Euxine Sea", which holds a different meaning, is still used: Greek: Éfxeinos Póntos.
The principal Greek name "Póntos Áxeinos" is accepted to be a rendering of Iranian word *axšaina-, compare Avestan axšaēna-, Old Persian axšaina-, Middle Persian axšēn/xašēn, New Persian xašīn, as well as Ossetic œxsīn. The ancient Greeks, most those living to the north of the Black Sea, subsequently adopted the name and altered it to á-xenos. Thereafter, Greek tradition refers to the Black Sea as the "Inhospitable Sea", Πόντος Ἄξεινος Póntos Áxeinos, first attested in Pindar; the name was considered to be "ominous" and was changed into the euphemistic name "Hospitable sea", Εὔξεινος Πόντος Eúxeinos Póntos, for the first time attested in Pindar. This became the used designation for the sea in Greek. In contexts related to mythology, the older form Póntos Áxeinos remained favored, it has been erroneously suggested that the name was derived from the color of the water, or was at least related to climatic conditions. Black or dark in this context, referred to a system in which colors represent the cardinal points of the known world.
Black or dark represented the north. The symbolism based on cardinal points was used in multiple occasions and is therefore attested. For example, the "Red Sea", a body of water reported since the time of Herodotus in fact designated the Indian Ocean, together with bodies of water now known as the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. According to the same explanation and reasoning, it is therefore considered to be impossible
Sasanian Iberia refers to the period the Kingdom of Iberia was under the suzerainty of the Sasanian Empire. The period includes when it was ruled by Marzbans appointed by the Sasanid Iranian king, through the Principality of Iberia; the Georgian kingdoms were contested between the Sasanids and the neighboring rivalling Roman-Byzantine Empire since the 3rd century. Over the span of the next hundreds of years, both the Byzantines and the Sasanids managed to establish hegemony over these regions. At the few remaining times, the Georgian kings managed to retain their autonomy. Sasanian governance was established for the first time early on in the Sasanian era, during the reign of king Shapur I. In 284, the Sasanians secured the Iberian throne for an Iranian prince from the House of Mihran, subsequently known by his dynastic name Mirian III. Mirian III became thus the first head of this branch of the Mihranid family in the Kingdom of Iberia, known as the Chosroid dynasty, whose members would rule Iberia into the sixth century.
In 363, Sasanian suzerainty was restored by king Shapur II when he invaded Iberia and installed Aspacures II as his vassal on the Iberian throne. The continuing rivalry between Byzantium and Sasanian Persia for supremacy in the Caucasus, the unsuccessful insurrection of the Georgians under Gurgen had severe consequences for the country. Thereafter, the king of Iberia had only nominal power, while the country was ruled by the Persians. By the time of Vezhan Buzmihr's tenure as marzban of Iberia, the hagiographies of the period implied that the "kings" in Tbilisi had only the status of mamasakhlisi, which means "head of the house"; when Bakur III died in 580, the Sassanid government of Persia under Hormizd IV seized on the opportunity to abolish the Iberian monarchy. Iberia became a Persian province, administrated through its direct rule by appointed marzbans, which in fact was, as Prof. Donald Rayfield states; the Iberian nobles acquiesced to this change without resistance, while the heirs of the royal house withdrew to their highland fortresses – the main Chosroid line in Kakheti, the younger Guaramid branch in Klarjeti and Javakheti.
However, the direct Persian control brought about heavy taxation and an energetic promotion of Zoroastrianism in a Christian country. Therefore, when the Eastern Roman emperor Maurice embarked upon a military campaign against Persia in 582, the Iberian nobles requested that he helped restore the monarchy. Maurice did respond, and, in 588, sent his protégé, Guaram I of the Guaramids, as a new ruler to Iberia. However, Guaram was not crowned as king, but recognized as a presiding prince and bestowed with the Eastern Roman title of curopalates; the Byzantine-Sassanid treaty of 591 confirmed this new rearrangement, but left Iberia divided into Roman- and Sassanid-dominated parts at the town of Tbilisi. Mtskheta came to be under Byzantine control. Guaram's successor, the second presiding prince Stephen I, reoriented his politics towards Persia in a quest to reunite a divided Iberia, a goal he seems to have accomplished, but this cost him his life when the Byzantine emperor Heraclius attacked Tbilisi in 626, during the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628, marking the definite Byzantine predominance in most of Georgia by 627-628 at the expense of the Sasanids until the Muslim conquest of Persia.
Piran Gushnasp Arvand Gushnasp Vezhan Buzmihr Atashgah of Tbilisi Roman Georgia Muslim conquest of Persia Principality of Iberia Arab rule in Georgia Brunner, Christopher. "Geographical and Administrative divisions: Settlements and Economy". The Cambridge History of Iran: The Seleucid and Sasanian periods. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 747–778. ISBN 978-0-521-24693-4. Mikaberidze, Alexander. Historical Dictionary of Georgia. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 978-1-4422-4146-6. Rapp, Stephen H.. Studies in Medieval Georgian Historiography: Early Texts and Eurasian Contexts. Peeters. ISBN 978-2-87723-723-9. Rapp, Stephen H.. The Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes: Caucasia and the Iranian Commonwealth in Late Antique Georgian Literature. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 978-1472425522. Rayfield, Donald. Edge of Empires: A History of Georgia. Reaktion Books. ISBN 978-1780230702. Suny, Ronald Grigor; the Making of the Georgian Nation. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-20915-3. Yarshater, Ehsan, ed..
Encyclopaedia Iranica. 10. Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 978-0-933273-56-6
Mtskheta is a city in Mtskheta-Mtianeti province of Georgia. One of the oldest cities of Georgia, it is located 20 kilometres north of Tbilisi, at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers. Due to its historical significance and several cultural monuments, the "Historical Monuments of Mtskheta" became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994; as the birthplace and one of the most vibrant centers of Christianity in Georgia, Mtskheta was declared as the "Holy City" by the Georgian Orthodox Church in 2014. In 2016 the Historical Monuments of Mtskheta were placed by UNESCO under Enhanced Protection, a mechanism established by the 1999 Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Mtskheta was founded by the ancient Meschian tribes in the 5th century BC, it was capital of the early Georgian Kingdom of Iberia from the 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD. It was a site of early Christian activity resulting in Christianization of Iberia, where Christianity was proclaimed the state religion in 337.
It remains the headquarters of the Georgian Orthodox Church. King Dachi of Iberia, the successor of Vakhtang I of Iberia, moved the capital from Mtskheta to the more defensible Tbilisi according to the will left by his father. However, Mtskheta continued to serve as the coronation and burial place for most kings of Georgia until the end of the kingdom in the 19th century; the old city lies at the confluence of the rivers Aragvi. The rare blend of cultural values had ruled in this part of the world since the Bronze Age until prosperous Christian era over the unique eclectic lifestyle creating the mood of the town, as old as the history of Georgia. Mtskheta is the most religious city of Georgia as it has been the shrine of pagan idols since times immemorial and it is where Christianity in Georgia takes its origin. In recognition of its role in the Georgian Christian history, Mtskheta was granted the status of a "Holy City" by Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia in accordance of the written testament of his 11th-century predecessor Melchizedek I of Georgia.
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and Jvari Monastery in Mtskheta are amongst the most significant monuments of Georgian Christian architecture, are significant in the development of medieval architecture throughout the Caucasus. Of special significance are early inscriptions, which form a valuable reference in the study of the origins of the early Georgian alphabet. In the outskirts of Mtskheta are the ruins of Armaztsikhe fortress, the Armaztsikhe acropolis, remains of a "Pompey's bridge", the fragmentary remains of a royal palace, a nearby tomb of the 1st century AD, a small church of the 4th century, the Samtavro Monastery, the fortress of Bebris Tsikhe; the Institute of Archaeology, the garden of Mikheil Mamulashvili are worthy of note. There is a monument to sculptor Elena Machabell; the Historical Monuments of Mtskheta were placed on UNESCO's List of World Heritage in Danger, citing "serious deterioration of the stonework and frescoes" as the main threat to the site's long-term preservation. Mtskheta is twinned with: Leuville-sur-Orge, France Argos, Greece Notable people from Mtskheta: Tochinoshin Tsuyoshi, sumo wrestler Armazi World Heritage Sites in Danger Abashidze, Irakli.
Ed. Georgian Encyclopedia. Vol. IX. Tbilisi, Georgia: 1985. Amiranashvili, Shalva. History of Georgian Art. Khelovneba: Tbilisi, Georgia: 1961. Grigol Khantsteli. Chronicles of Georgia. Rosen, Roger. Georgia: A Sovereign Country of the Caucasus. Odyssey Publications: Hong Kong, 1999. ISBN 962-217-748-4 Pictures of Mtskheta UNESCO World Heritage listing Mtskheta travel guide from Wikivoyage
Zugdidi is a city in the Western Georgian historical province of Samegrelo. It is situated in the north-west of that province; the city is located 318 kilometres west of Tbilisi, 30 km from the Black Sea coast and 30 km from the Egrisi Range, at an elevation of 100–110 metres above sea level. Zugdidi is the capital of the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region, which combines Samegrelo and upper part of Svaneti, the center of the Zugdidi Municipality within; the city serves as a residence of Metropolitan of Zugdidi and Tsaishi Eparchy of the Georgian Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church. The name "Zugdidi" first appears in the 17th century, it means "big hill" in Mingrelian language. An alternative version of the name recorded in old sources is "Zubdidi" with same meaning from Megrelian. Local Georgian residents of historical provinces of Megrelia and Abkhazia uses "Zugidi", a shortened form; the name was given to the town because of a hill situated in the eastern part of the city, where some small remains of an ancient fortress are still visible.
Zugdidi was a capital of the Principality of Mingrelia until 1867, when the principality was abolished by the Russian Empire. After Zugdidi was an administrative center of Zugdidi Uyezd as a part of the Kutais Governorate till 1918, when it became a part of the Democratic Republic of Georgia. From 1930 the center of the Zugdidi Raion of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic and Independent Georgia. Between 17–19th centuries, Zugdidi was one of the important political and cultural center of Mingrelia and whole Georgia. A famous Georgian medieval epic poem The Knight in the Panther's Skin has been rewritten by Mamuka Tavakalashvili here at the court of Prince Levan II Dadiani in 1646. During the Crimean War Ottoman forces with Omar Pasha seized Zugdidi in 1855. At the end of the 1855 and beginning of 1856 city was liberated by Mingrelian Militia commanded by Major General Prince Grigol Dadiani. By the order of Iskender Pasha Ottomans plundered and destroyed the whole city palaces and botanical garden.
Many buildings were damaged during the Georgian Civil War 1992–1993 as well. In 1993, there were located administration of the first President of Georgia Zviad Gamsakhurdia and the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia as well. Architectural sights of the city are the Queen's palace and Niko's palace, as well as Cathedral of the Blachernae Icon of the Mother of God and Mantskhvar-kari church. Napoleon’s death mask is on display in the Dadiani Palace Museum in Zugdidi, but the main treasure of this museum is a Holy Robe of Mary the mother of Jesus. Other notable attractions are the old Botanical Garden and the city boulevard, planned by Prince Raphael Eristavi and the Cathedral of Iverian Theotokos; this theater's first performance, Molière's Le médecin malgré lui, was staged on 11 April 1869 by Anton Purtseladze. The Drama Theater was founded in 1932. in 1959 the theater was named after the famous Georgian novelist and theatrical actor Shalva Dadiani. Zugdidi Botanical Garden was established in the 19th century by the Prince of Mingrelia David Dadiani and Queen Ekaterine, near the residential palaces.
The garden is a branch of Tbilisi Central Botanical Garden and is administered by the Georgian Academy of Sciences. The garden covers 26 hectares. Zugdidi is known as a distinctly mono-ethnic city with a vast majority of Georgians. By the 2002 state census 98.97% of its total population were ethnic Georgians. In the second half of the 1850s, due to the short Ottoman occupation, the town population decreased from 2000 to 800; the 1950s-1970s were an important period for Zugdidi's development, which affected the growth of population, while the last 20-year growth was caused by refugee displacement. After the Russian-Georgian war in Abkhazia a large number of internally displaced peoples from Abkhazia were forced to move to Zugdidi; as a result of this, according to the 2002 state census, Zugdidi became the fifth most populous city in Georgia, ahead of Sokhumi and Gori. As of the 2014 national census, the population of Zugdidi decreased to 42,998 inhabitants, making it Georgia's sixth most populous city after Gori.
Historic population of Zugdidi: Zugdidi is a regional center of education. Institutes of higher education are: Shota Meskhia State Teaching University – the main institution of higher education founded in 2007 on the basis of Zugdidi Branch of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Zugdidi Professional Lyceum and Senaki Agro-economic College; the University has three faculties of Business Administration and Law and Health. Zugdidi Teaching University European Academy, founded in 1991Besides this Zugdidi has 13 public and 3 private schools, as well as kindergartens. Alexander Gurtskaya Gymnasium – GG – one more place of interest and unique educational space. Was founded in 2011, on the basis of Presidential Decree instead of former Public School №7. Today, GG is an innovative educational environment where each individual has a wide selection and motivation of intellectual and spiritual development and wonderful opportunities for achieving success in the global competitive society; the Gymnasium welcomes its students and guests with its unique, original facade, made as randomly-spaced books on the shelves.
Library tradition in Zugdidi dates back
Gori is a city in eastern Georgia, which serves as the regional capital of Shida Kartli and the centre of the homonymous administrative district. The name is from Georgian gora, that is, "heap", or "hill". Gori was an important military stronghold in the Middle Ages and maintains a strategic importance due to its location on the principal highway connecting eastern and western parts of Georgia. In the course of its history, Gori has been invaded by the armies of regional powers several times; the city was occupied by Russian troops during the 2008 Russo–Georgian War. Gori is known as the birthplace of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, ballistic missile designer Alexander Nadiradze and philosopher Merab Mamardashvili. Gori is located 86 kilometers west of Georgia's capital Tbilisi, at the confluence of the rivers Mtkvari and Greater Liakhvi, 588 meters above sea level; the climate is transitional from moderately warm steppe to moderately humid. Summer is hot; the average annual temperature is 10.6 °C, maximal in July and August.
The maximum precipitation falls in minimum in February. Precipitation here averages 603 mm; the territory of Gori has been populated since the early Bronze Age. According to medieval Georgian chronicles, the town of Gori was founded by King David IV who settled refugees from Armenia there. However, the fortress of Gori appears to have been in use in the 7th century, archaeological evidence indicates the existence of an urban community in Classical Antiquity. In 1299, Gori was captured by the Alan tribesmen fleeing the Mongol conquest of their original homeland in the North Caucasus; the Georgian king George V recovered the town in 1320, pushing the Alans back over the Caucasus mountains. With the downfall of the medieval Georgian kingdom, Gori – strategically located at the crossroads of major transit routes – was targeted by foreign invaders, changed its masters on several occasions, it was first taken and sacked by Uzun Hassan of the Ak Koyunlu in 1477, followed by Tahmasp I of Persia in the mid-16th century.
By the end of that century, Gori passed to the Ottomans through the 1578-90 Ottoman-Persian War, became their major outpost in Georgia until being recovered by the Georgians under Simon I of Kartli after heavy fighting in 1599. The town was once again garrisoned by the Persians under Shah Abbas I in 1614. Following successive occupations by the Ottomans and Persians, Gori returned to Georgian control under the kings Teimuraz II and Erekle II whose efforts helped to advance economy and culture in the town. Following the Russian annexation of Georgia, Gori was granted the status of a town within the Tiflis Governorate in 1801, it was destroyed in the 1920 earthquake. An important industrial center in Soviet times, Gori suffered from an economic collapse and the outflow of the population during the years of a post-Soviet crisis of the 1990s. Gori is close to the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone, it is connected to breakaway South Ossetia's capital Tskhinvali via a railroad spur, defunct since the early 1990s.
Since the 2000s, Georgia has increased the military infrastructure around the city. Thus, the Central Military Hospital was relocated from Tbilisi to Gori and re-equipped in October 2006. On January 18, 2008, Georgia’s second NATO-standard base to accommodate the 1st Infantry Brigade of the Georgian Ground Forces was established at Gori; the Georgian Agrarian Science Academy Branch was established in the city in 1995. In the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, the town came under aerial attack by the Russian Air Force from the outset of the conflict. Military targets and residential districts of Gori were hit by the airstrikes, resulting in civilian injuries and deaths. Human Rights Watch claimed that Russian forces had indiscriminately deployed cluster bombs in civilian areas around Gori. According to HRW, on August 12 Russian forces dropped cluster bombs in the center of Gori, killing 11 civilians and wounding dozens more. Russian military officials deny using cluster munitions in the conflict, calling the HRW assertion "slanderous" and questioning the HRW's objectivity.
Numerous unexploded "bomblets" have been found by HRW employees. By August 11, Georgian military personnel and most residents had fled the city, captured and occupied by the Russian military and South Ossetian separatist militia. HRW accused the militia of unleashing a campaign of looting, arson and other attacks against the remaining civilian population; the Russian and South Ossetian forces withdrew from the city on August 22, 2008. Gori and its environs house several notable historical landmarks. Although for many foreigners Gori is principally known as the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, in Georgian historical memory the city has long been associated with its citadel, the Gori Fortress, built on a cliffy hill overlooking the central part of the modern city. On another hill stands the 18th century St. George's church of Gorijvari, a popular place of pilgrimage; the famous ancient rock-hewn town of Uplistsikhe and the 7th century Ateni Sioni Church are located not far from Gori. Stalin's association with the city is emphasized by the Joseph Stalin Museum in downtown Gori and, until the Stalin monument in front of the Gori City Hall, one of the few such monuments to survive Nikita Khrushchev's de-Stalinization program.
The monument was a source of controversy in a newly independent Georgia in the 1990s, but for seve
History of Georgia (country)
The nation of Georgia was first unified as a kingdom under the Bagrationi dynasty by the King Bagrat III of Georgia in the 8th to 9th century, arising from a number of predecessor states of the ancient kingdoms of Colchis and Iberia. The Kingdom of Georgia flourished during the 10th to 12th centuries under King David IV the Builder and Queen Tamar the Great, fell to the Mongol invasion by 1243, after a brief reunion under George V the Brilliant to the Timurid Empire. By 1490, Georgia was fragmented into a number of petty kingdoms and principalities, which throughout the Early Modern period struggled to maintain their autonomy against Ottoman and Iranian domination until Georgia was annexed by the Russian Empire in the 19th century. After a brief bid for independence with the Democratic Republic of Georgia of 1918–1921, Georgia was part of the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic from 1922 to 1936, formed the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic until the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
The current republic of Georgia has been independent since 1991. The first president Zviad Gamsakhurdia stoked Georgian nationalism and vowed to assert Tbilisi's authority over Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Gamsakhurdia was deposed in a bloody coup d'état within the same year and the country became embroiled in a bitter civil war, which lasted until 1995. Supported by Russia and South Ossetia achieved de facto independence from Georgia; the Rose Revolution forced Eduard Shevardnadze to resign in 2003. The new government under Mikheil Saakashvili prevented the secession of a third breakaway republic in the Adjara crisis of 2004, but the conflict with Abkhazia and South Ossetia led to the 2008 Russo–Georgian War and tensions with Russia remain unresolved; the history of Georgia is inextricably linked with the history of the Georgian people. Evidence for the earliest occupation of the territory of present-day Georgia goes back to c. 1.8 million years ago, as evident from the excavations of Dmanisi in the south-eastern part of the country.
This is the oldest evidence of humans anywhere in the world outside Africa. Prehistoric remains are known from numerous cave and open-air sites in Georgia; the earliest agricultural Neolithic occupation is dated sometime between 6000 and 5000 BC. known as the Shulaveri-Shomu culture, where people used local obsidian for tools, raised animals such as cattle and pigs, grew crops, including grapes. Numerous excavations in tell settlements of the Shulaveri-Shomu type have been conducted since the 1960s. Early metallurgy started in Georgia during the 6th millennium BC, associated with the Shulaveri-Shomu culture. From the beginning of the 4th millennium, metals became used to larger extend in East Georgia and in the whole Transcaucasian region. In the 1970s, archaeological excavations revealed a number of ancient settlements that included houses with galleries, carbon-dated to the 5th millennium BC in the Imiris-gora region of Eastern Georgia; these dwellings were circular or oval in plan, a characteristic feature being the central pier and chimney.
These features were used and further developed in building Georgian dwellings and houses of the'Darbazi' type. In the Chalcolithic period of the fourth and third millennia BC, Georgia and eastern Asia Minor were home to the Kura-Araxes culture, giving way in the second millennium BC. to the Trialeti culture. Archaeological excavations have brought to light the remains of settlements at Beshtasheni and Ozni, barrow burials in the province of Trialeti, at Tsalka. Together, they testify to an well-developed culture of building and architecture. Diauehi, a tribal union of early-Georgians, first appear in written history in the 12th century BC. Archaeological finds and references in ancient sources reveal elements of early political and state formations characterized by advanced metallurgy and goldsmith techniques that date back to the 7th century BC and beyond. Between 2100 and 750 BC, the area survived the invasions by the Hittites, Medes, Proto-Persians and Cimmerians. At the same period, the ethnic unity of Proto-Kartvelians broke up into several branches, among them Svans, Zans/Chans and East-Kartvelians.
That led to the formation of modern Kartvelian languages: Georgian, Svan and Laz. By that time Svans were dominant in modern Svaneti and Abkhazia, Zans inhabited modern Georgian province of Samegrelo, while East-Kartvelians formed the majority in modern eastern Georgia; as a result of cultural and geographic delimitation, two core areas of future Georgian culture and statehood formed in western and eastern Georgia by the end of the 8th century BC. The first two Georgian states emerged in the west known as the Kingdom of Colchis and in the east as the Kingdom of Iberia. A second Georgian tribal union emerged in the 13th century BC on the Black Sea coast under the Kingdom of Colchis in western Georgia; the kingdom of Colchis, which existed from the 6th to the 1st centuries BC is regarded as the first early Georgian state formation and the term Colchians was used as the collective term for early Georgian-Kartvelian tribes such as Mingrelians and Chans who populated the eastern coast of the Black Sea.
According to the scholar of the Caucasian studies Cyril Toumanoff: Colchis appears as the first Caucasian State to have achieved the coalescence of the newcomer, Colchis can be justly regarded as not a proto-Georgian, but a Georgian kingdom.... It would seem natural to seek the beginnings of Georgian social history in Colchis, the ea