Do not leave the path


August 2015

Unique Writings Found in Georgia May Change World History

Commuters on Georgia’s main highway could scarcely have imagined that they were driving past something that may change the history of scripts as we know it.
Today, archaeologists of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (TSU) have discovered a one line inscription of as yet unknown Georgian writing, dating back 2700 years on the altar pedestal of the 7th century BC temple dedicated to a fertility goddess at the Grakliani Hill, in the eastern Kaspi region.
This new unique discovery suggests that the alphabet was used on the territory of Georgia 2700 years ago, far earlier than previously thought.
Scientists claimed that this is the oldest script to be discovered in the whole Caucasus region.
The archaeologists said the writing had nothing similar to it and it would become “an extremely fascinating piece” for foreign scientists.
Head of the Institute of Archaeology of Georgia’s State University Vakhtang Licheli said with this “significant discovery”, Georgia steps up among the elite civilizations that used their written languages thousands of years ago.
“The writings on the two altars of the temple are really well preserved. On the one altar several letters are carved in clay while the second altar’s pedestal is wholly covered with writings,” Licheli said.

This new unique discovery suggests that the alphabet was used on the territory of Georgia 2700 years ago, far earlier than previously thought.

The TSU professor believed that, “the inscription is so important, that goes beyond the limits of Georgian science and will be the subject of an international study. The new discovery will change the particular stage of the history of the world’s manuscripts.”
To share this unique discovery with the public, Georgia’s Minister of Culture and Monuments Protection Mikheil Giorgadze announced that this site will become an open air museum for visitors, to be able to enjoy multi-layer settlements from different periods in history.
Glakliani Hill is believed to be the only monument which revealed almost all of the layers of the human development, a non–stop 300,000 year chain from the Stone Age onward.
Ten layers of the site have been excavated, through which various ancient weapons, worshiping icons and pharmacological devices were exposed.
Grakliani Hill is located in Igoeti village, Kaspi region, on the top of a hill that’s situated on the bank of the River Lekhura, near the Tbilisi- Senaki-Leselidze highway.
Archaeologists and scientists of the Tbilisi State University (TSU) also uncovered ancient treasures when works were conducted at the highway in 2007.
Meanwhile excavations of the settlement on the eastern slope and the necropolis on the south-western part of the hill revealed that the site had been occupied between the Chalcolithic and the Late Hellenistic periods.
The most interesting remains of buildings belong to the second and first millennium BC.
An architectural complex consisting of three main rooms and three store-rooms, dating back to around 450-350 BC, was discovered in the western part of the hill’s lower terrace.
Therefore, burial grounds from the various periods in history were discovered in the western part of the hill’s southern slope. The earliest cemetery discovered dated back to the Early Bronze Age.

Tamar Svanidze

Iron Age Gate and Fortifications Uncovered at Philistine Gath


In the Bible, Gath was one of the five Philistine cities (“the Pentapolis”) established in Canaan and home to the giant Goliath, who famously fought David (I Samuel 17). The site of Tell es-Safi, located on the border between the southern coastal plain (Philistia) and the Judean foothills (Shephelah) in central Israel, has been identified by most scholars with Biblical Gath. There, archaeologists uncovered evidence of continuous occupation from the Chalcolithic period (fifth millennium B.C.E.) until modern times—including evidence of Philistine occupation in the Iron Age. Recently, the Ackerman Family Bar-Ilan University Expedition to Gath, led by Bar-Ilan University archaeology professor Aren Maeir, announced that the entrance gate as well as fortifications belonging to the Philistine settlement have been found.

During the early period of the Iron Age, the Philistines began to extend their rule beyond Philistia and were therefore in constant conflict with the neighboring Israelites. In recent years, some scholars have claimed that Philistine Gath was not a dominant, well-fortified city during the Iron Age IIA (10th–9th centuries), the period immediately after the separation of the neighboring “United Kingdom” of David and Solomon into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah.

This summer, the archaeological team under the direction of Maeir began to excavate in the lower city at Tell es-Safi to investigate whether or not Gath had been fortified in the Iron Age. What they uncovered were the remains of a monumental city gate and large-scale fortifications of the Iron Age city.


Map of the cities of the Philistine Pentapolis with Jerusalem.

“In the past, we saw evidence of this, but could not find definite proof,” Prof. Aren Maeir told Bible History Daily. “Once the remains were found in the specific trench, we ‘connected the dots’ regarding other features we could see on the surface, and then began excavating them as well.”

The archaeological team also uncovered evidence of a metallurgical production area in the Iron IIA city. In previous seasons, the excavation made a number of exciting discoveries that helped paint a picture of life in Philistine Gath, including houses, cultic finds, Philistine burials and a large horned altarwhose dimensions are similar to those given in Exodus 30:2.

“We can also see influences from the Israelite and other local cultures on the Philistines, and Philistine influences on these cultures,” explained Maeir. “For example, while the Philistines have typical pottery, we can see local influences on how it develops and changes, and, similarly, ‘Philistine types’ seem to appear among the Israelites/Judahites, as well. This mirrors the intense and multifaceted connections that existed between the Philistines and their neighbors.”

“While we most often see the Philistines as the main enemies of the Israelites and Judahites, as reflected in the Samson stories in the Bible, it was much more complex,” Maeir said. “On the one hand, they were enemies. On the other hand, they were close neighbors.”

Robin Ngo   •  08/10/2015

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