Samtavro Necropolis

Positioned north of Mtskheta, Georgia, the Samtavro Necropolis, also referred to as the Burial Ground of the Principality, presents a tantalizing journey through time. With history dating back to the middle of the third millennium BC and spanning until the 10th century, it represents a captivating chronicle of changing civilizations.

The necropolis, discovered by F. Bayern in the 1870s and 1880s, covers an impressive 18 hectares (44.5 acres). Since then, continuous excavations led by numerous researchers, including A. Kalandadze since 1938, have painstakingly unraveled a wealth of archaeological finds. To date, close to 3,000 graves have been examined, each revealing layers of history and offering insight into the past.

Intricate stratification marks the site, with the earliest cultural layer attributed to the Early Bronze Age. Artifacts discovered from this period include archaic pottery, stone tools, and remains of burned structures. The subsequent Middle Bronze Age revealed a burial mound housing treasures such as bronze tools, gold jewelry, and pearls.

The archaeological material diversifies in the Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age burial sites. Finds include polished ceramics adorned with geometric patterns, enameled ceramics, bronze and iron tools, engraved bronze belts, and zoomorphic bronze figures, underscoring the advanced craftsmanship of the era. Agates and other jewels further hint at the social and cultural sophistication of the period.

The upper layer of the cemetery, dating from the 1st to the 2nd century, houses a variety of burial structures. Stone tombs, cistas, stone sarcophagi, ashlars crypts, and slab or brick tombs speak volumes about the burial practices and rites observed by the civilizations of the time.

The majority of the remains found were positioned in a fetal position, signifying certain funeral traditions. Stone coffins unearthed have also yielded artifacts such as weapons, jewelry, and various kinds of pottery. The sheer wealth of valuable materials found in some graves suggests the burial of royal family members.

Though much has been discovered, the secrets of the Samtavro Necropolis are not fully uncovered, promising more archaeological treasures awaiting discovery. The artifacts unearthed thus far are preserved across various institutions, including the Georgian State Museum, the Moscow Historical Museum, European antiquities repositories, and the Mtskheta Museum.

The Samtavro Necropolis, thus, stands as a testament to the rich and diverse history of Georgia, providing a captivating attraction for history enthusiasts and archaeologists alike.

Nearest to Samtavro Necropolis

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