Gold in Georgia

On November 28, at 17:30, in science café located in Simon Janashia Tbilisi Museum Dr. Irene Ghambashidze will make a presentation on an ancient gold mine of Sakdrisi.

Since 2004 a group of scientists from the Archeology Research Center of the National Museum is involved in the project of international importance “Gold in Georgia.” The project is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. In this project, the studies of the world’s oldest gold production site, mines and ruins of the ancient settlements in Sakdrisi and Balichi- Dzedzvebi are conducted. These sites are located in the district of Bolnisi. The mine is dated back at IV (fourth) thousand years BC and is 5400 years old.

This period in the history of the world’s earliest civilizations is called the Bronze Age. By that time so-called Kura – Araxes culture had been formed in the basins of the rivers Kura and Araxes, the abundance of artifacts of this culture is present on the territory stretched from the North Caucasus to the south of the Middle East. The bearers of this culture, who lived on the territory of the South Caucasus, are known as the most knowledgeable in the history of world civilizations in mining of different ores including gold and they beheld the complex technologies of tracing and extracting underground ores. During this period there were different techniques of finding gold in the world, one of them was famous “gold washing” in rivers, or retrieving gold from river sands.

Thus, the ancient gold mine discovered in Bolnisi area near the village Kazreti suggests that while the Egyptians were collecting gold via washing sands in the river Nile, on the area of contemporary Bolnisi region there were people living who had complex technologies of unearthing of invisible gold located under the surface. It is interesting that these people have not only bypassed ancient Egyptians in this field, but also were significantly ahead of our later ancestral tribes from Colchis, who’s gold production skills were well known in the Ancient Greece. And thus, the gold of this mysterious people from Bolnisi area has much more mysterious hue, than the gold of Medea. There are several interesting questions: who mined the gold (local people bearers of Kura – Araxes culture or ?), and also what was the significance of gold in Kura – Araxes culture.

Sakdrisi Early Bronze Age gold mine accidently was found by geologists looking for gold ore for JSC “Madneuli”. The geologists reported about this unusual discovery to archeologists. This is how archaeologists were given an inexhaustible source for the research and hypothesis. Later they found that the underground mine extends to 50 meters in depth. They also found an ancient settlement of miners, their tombs, and ore-processing workshops, which indicate that the industry cycle was entirely located in the region of contemporary Bolnisi.

Unfortunately according to geologists, the company  Madneuli’s production process destroyed numerous ancient places, which are clearly shown by the stone tools collected randomly.

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