Ancient Georgia

Gold Headdress Ornament with Openwork Decoration, Vani, 350-300 B.C.

The area encompassing modern Georgia has been continually inhabited for at least 1.8 million years.  The oldest European human was found in Georgia outside of Dmanisi.  The so-called Homo georgicus is the oldest hominid fossil found outside of Africa and the first European, as Georgia lies directly along the widely-accepted route of human migration from Africa to Europe.  Scores of Paleolithic tools have also been discovered in the Qvirila river basin.  The Mousterian Epoch (100,000 to 35,000 years ago) saw vigorous population of the territory of Georgia, especially its Black Sea littoral and the Rioni-Qvirila basin (where Jruchi, Sagvarjile and Chakhati caves have been discovered). Habitation of this area was particularly intensive in the Late Paleolithic Period (35,000 to 12,000 years ago), with the most significant centers of settlement at Deviskhvreli, Sakazhia, Sagvarjile, Samertskhle Kide, Gvarjilas Kldé, and elsewhere. During the Neolithic Period (12,000-5,300 years ago), there was a great flourishing of cave settlements at locations such as Odishi, Kistriki, Anaseuli, Zemo Alvani, etc.

The Neolithic Revolution set the stage for the development of agriculture and cattle breeding, the smelting of copper and bronze, and the general technical progress that led to a breakthrough in the sphere of the economic and social life of society, in the middle of the 4th millennium B.C.E. The early Bronze Age is marked by a high indigenous culture in Georgia.

Golden Lion

According to ancient sources and some archaeological evidence, the Chalybes, a tribe of proto-Georgians located along the Black Sea coast, were the first humans to master the art of ferrous metallurgy.  With this technological advancement came a high level of economic development including skillful craftsmanship, far-reaching trade relations, and an increase in social inequality.

At the end of the 1st millennium B.C.E., two major tribal unions, the Diaochi (Taochi, Tao) and the Kolkha, arose in the south-eastern region of historical Georgia.  Ancient Georgian tribes and tribal unions had strong cultural ties with other civilizations in the region, including, but not limited to, the Hittites, the Mitanni, and the Urartians.  In the 8th-7th centuries B.C.E. the Karts, the Megrels, the Chans, and the Svans came to the fore among the Georgian tribes, each tribe having a language, territory and customs of its own.  Later, these tribes united and formed two distinct state confederations in Eastern and Western Georgia between the 6th and 4th centuries B.C.E.