The Samtavro Cemetery of Caucasian Iberia: Recent Research


American Institute of the South Caucasus is pleased to invite you to a presentation

The Samtavro Cemetery of Caucasian Iberia: Recent Research

by Aleksandra Michalewicz, the University of Melbourne, Australia

Venue: 17:00, 24 July, 2013. Science Café, Georgian National Museum, 3 Rustaveli avenue, Tbilisi, Georgia.

The Samtavro cemetery is unique in the Caucasus owing to its size and prolonged usage. Situated in ancient (and modern) Mtskheta, Georgia, it was used as a burial ground throughout the Late Bronze and Iron Ages, and then in the Roman to late Antique periods. This presentation will give an overview of the later phase of burials, focusing on tomb architecture and grave assemblages. Data has been collected for over 1000 tombs and almost 2000 artefacts, excavated during Soviet and post-Soviet excavations. The project has amassed one of the largest collections of data for a late Antique cemetery, achieved via generous access to archives and material culture held by the Georgian National Museum.

In antiquity, Mtskheta was the capital of the Iberian kingdom, and although there are contemporaneous elite cemeteries within close proximity, Samtavro with its extensive albeit modest burials offers a more precise picture of the region’s population and customs. The talk will outline the methodology utilised in studying the cemetery, and present preliminary results. This research seeks to address questions regarding Iberian mortuary ritual, identity and cultural interactions from the 1st to the 8th centuries. Samtavro offers a unique opportunity to study a significant cemetery, and a broad-scale study of this site can help us to understand better the cultural features and development of Iberia.

Aleksandra Michalewicz is a final year PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, Australia, under the supervision of Professor Antonio Sagona. Her dissertation research examines the mortuary ritual at the Samtavro cemetery of Caucasian Iberia. She has been excavating in Georgia since 2008 with Georgian–Australian Investigations in Archaeology, an interdisciplinary and collaborative project run by the Georgian National Museum and the University of Melbourne, and funded by the Australian Research Council. In 2013 she will also be joining excavations at Troia, Turkey.

This talk is co-sponsored by the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC), and Science Café at Georgian National Museum.


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