History of Georgia

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In the 40s-50s A.D. serious changes occurred in the foreign policy of Kartli (Iberia). Thanks to the diplomatic foresight of King Mithradates I the country's role grew considerably in the international arena. Iberia's foreign policy took shape with account of the principal demands of the Roman Oriental policy, which made for its clearly pro-Roman orientation.
In the first half of the 2nd cent. A.D. the Kingdom of Kartli (Iberia) grew still stronger, especially under Parsman II (the 130s-150s A.D.). King Parsman openly opposed Rome. In the year 134 he, during the visit of the Roman Emperor Hadrian (117-138) he denied to visit him and mustered the Alans and led them against the Roman and Parthian vassal states (Albania, Media, Armenia, Cappadocia). The Emperor Hadrian sought to improve relations with Kartli (Iberia), but Parsman refused to compromise. Under Hadrian's successor, the Emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) the relations between the Roman Empire and Kartli (Iberia) improved. King Parsman II, accompanied by a large retinue, arrived in Rome to a royal welcome, and the Georgians were granted the exceptional right (only a few examples of that kind are inscribed) to offer sacrifice in the Capitol. According to Dio Cassius a statue of King Parsman was erected in Rome. The Emperor recognized Kartli (Iberia) in her now broadly extended borders.
Earlier, too, Roman emperors used to send various gifts and make donations to the kings of Kartli (Iberia). Thus, the Emperor Vespasian (69-79), on behalf of his sons Titus and Domitian and in his own name, had a wall erected in Mtskheta. The inscription on the wall says that King Mithradates of Kartli (Iberia) is Caesar's friend and a favorite of the Roman people. Emperor Hadrian presented King Parsman with a war elephant and 500 troops.
In the latter half of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd cent. A.D. the Kingdom of Kartli (Iberia) retained the power and successes achieved earlier. But in the 230s, after a strong Sassanid kingdom had risen on the ruins of the Kingdom of Parthia, the to reign political situation of Iberia became complicated.
Like Kartli (Iberia), the West-Georgian Kingdom of Kolkha waged a continuous struggle against the Romans for its independence. Roman domination in Western Georgia was seriously undermined in the 270s by an uprising led by a Kolkhian slave, Anicetus. The Romans, attracted by the geographical situation of Georgia and by her wealth, were reluctant to withdraw from here, and the Georgians had to wage a struggle with them for centuries, owing to which the Georgian people succeeded in preserving their independence together with their original national spiritual and material culture.
Monuments of material culture attest to a high level of architecture and building art, goldsmithing, painting and manufacture of glass. The cultural achievements and economic power of Georgia in the period under discussion are corroborated by items unearthed in Mtskheta-Armazi, Uplistsikhh, Vani, Tsikhh-Goji (Archaeopolis), etc...
The material culture of the period that took shape on local soil, its architectural monuments are marked by grandeur and exquisiteness of form. It is noteworthy that in Mtskheta there existed the offices of architect and senior artist. Of the surviving monuments Armaz-tsikhé (the citadel) - the king's residence - should by singled out. Of the same type is another big fortress at the village of Tsitsamuri, Mtskheta district, known as Zedan-tsikhe and referred to by foreign authors as Seusamora. Of monuments of the Classical period in Western Georgia most noteworthy are those at Vani as well as the remains of a city site that served as the residence of the rulers of Lazica at a later period. The tombs of members of the royal family and of the aristocracy, found at Mtskheta (near Bagineti and the railway station), are perfect monuments of architecture. The gold ornaments set with precious stones, viz. rings, ear-rings, bracelets, pendants, beads, diadems,etc., found here, are genuine works of jeweler's art.
Along with goldsmith's art various crafts also developed: manufacture of tiles, glass-ware, metal weapons, etc. Commerce, too, was at a relevant level and extended to foreign countries. International trade routes ran through Mtskheta, connecting it with Artashat, the capital of Armenia, with the Rioni valley and coastal cities and towns, with Albania, with areas in Asia Minor via Samtskhe-Javakheti, and so on. The archaeological material shows that in the first centuries of the Christian era Roman and Parthian silver coins circulate in Kartli (Iberia), where local coins were also struck, following their design as a model. A large number of imported items have been unearthed in Kartli (Iberia), mostly articles of luxury. The Kingdom of Kartli (Iberia) maintained trade relations with artisan centers in Egypt, Central Asia, India and Arabia, from where precious stones were imported. There occur many items of Roman glyptic, Syrian glassware.