Brief History of georgia

 Viceroys Palace in TiflisGeorgia has the dubious distinction of being one of the most invaded nations on earth. As a nation at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Christianity and Islam, Georgia has long been marked by war. From the 1st century BC to the 18th century AD the Greeks, Romans, Persians, Arabs, Ottomans and Russians have all attempted to possess this beautiful land, but none have ever conquered it completely or permanently. As a result our history became one of skilled survival - preserving our culture against overwhelming odds again and again. To protect against invaders an elaborate system of watchtowers alerted the people to an attack (many of which still exist) and precious religious icons and relics would disappear into caves and hidden mountain fortresses. Villages in the most remote mountain valleys would escape the invaders attention entirely, thus some of the oldest and most superlative Frescoes are found in the highlands. Recorded history in Georgia goes back over an incredible 3000 years, and our culture is far older. Preserved for millennium by the sheer stubbornness of its people, the basic dimension of our national character has remained intact. Ask any Georgian what they are most proud of as a "Kartuli" and this will probably come to mind. Try scrolling through our interactive timeline below, to learn more


  Dmansis Hominid
The recently discovered Dmanisi hominid in the foothills of the lesser Caucasus provides a remarkable 1.8 million year old link with humankind's first transition from Africa to Europe and then Asia. It is no surprise to find numerous Stone Age settlements and archaeological sites spread through the Georgian Heartland.
  Origin of Wine
All evidence points out that the earliest wine production was in Georgia. (the evidence is clear, wine was first made here)
  Tribal Era
It is undoubtedly true that every square meter of the Georgia lowlands has been fought over and lived on by thousands of different clans and tribes. In Georgia's proto-history many indigenous, Indo-European and Middle Eastern tribes battled over the land.
  King Midas
One of the ancient Kings of the Meskhi tribe was called Mita, and is now thought to be the famous King Midas of the golden touch. This Bronze Age era was marked by high quality gold and silver and copper artefacts, and a culture that was a strange fusion of Kurgan, Trialeti and various pre Hittite "migr"'s. All of Midas's wealth didn't help him save his kingdom, he was conquered by the Cimmerians who destroyed his kingdom.
  Greek Era
A contemporary to ancient Greek culture, cities were being built in Georgia when most of Europe lived only in villages. The fabulously wealth city of Colchis (Poti) was originally a Greek colony and known for its famous School of Rhetoric and Philosophy. Many other settlements were subsequently made up and down the black sea coast by this famed civilization. Later the historian Herodotus mentions Georgian troops forming part of the infamous army of Xerxes during the invasion of Greece, and describes their weapons and dress.
  Jason and the Argonauts
The first European tourists, the Argonauts, came to Georgia (the home of Media) and the legend of the Golden Fleece originated here. If Jason did exist and did come to Georgia is was probably around 300 BC. It is not known if there was a real Medea, but in this time Georgia was well know for its metal skill, linens, wine and herbal remedies. 
  Silk Road
The Silk Road began in the third century BC when emissaries of the Han dynasty made contact with kingdoms in central Asia. This east-west trade route would profoundly affect world history, from silk to spices to inventions such as gunpowder, printing blocks, and the water wheel, it become a conduit of the best and most valued of civilization. Of the two primary routes, the northern route goes directly through Georgia, indeed somewhere here is where traders got off their riverboats and began to walk by mule and camel.
  Laz Empire
In the year 65 B.C. the Roman Empire expanded its influence into the territory of the confederated West Georgian tribes but was pushed back by Colchian and Iberian (West and East Georgian) tribes. In the fourth century A.D., because of the hegemony exercised by the Lazes (a Colchian tribe), the Laz Empire was founded.
  The Legions of Rome
After the Romans pushed into Persia they set their eyes on Georgia as well. Sending famed general Pompey to the regions in 66 BC to tame the local tribes, he is famous here for building a stone bridge during his siege of Mtskheta which was still used until quite recently, remains of which can still be seen. Soon all of Caucasia fell to Roman rule, but it did not last long, and by the first century BC Georgia was considered an ally not a subject state.
  Christianity Begins
God's name is writ large here. Georgia was only the second country in the world to convert to Christianity. Saint Nino of Cappadocia brought Christianity here in AD 330, thought parts of the country on the Black Sea were converted two centuries before. She made a cross from grape vines and bound it together with her own hair, and this has remained the cross of the Georgian Church to this day. Georgia's early acceptance of Christ had huge implications in the future for it permanently oriented the country to the west, to Rome, and later to Europe as a whole.
  Arab Domination
After the death of Muhammad in 632 Arab armies swept north through Iran, and captured Tbilisi in 645 and installed an Emir here. While not interested in colonizing eastern Georgian they forced King Stepanoz II to pay tribute and obey their commands. Georgian culture was thus allowed to continued to develop uninterrupted and for trade, especially along the Silk Road, to continue to flourish. By the tenth century Arab rule in western Georgia had weakened and the Byzantine Empire was rapidly expanding and Basil II was able to retake most of Georgia and unite east and west as one nation.
  David the Builder
Despite its turbulent history and powerful neighbours, Georgia managed to unite itself into a strong kingdom by the 12th century. David the Builder, 1089-1125 was Georgia's most prominent king, and almost single-handedly initiated the countries golden age. His war against the Turks fortuitously coincided with the Crusades and he was able to stop paying tribute in 1096 and defeated them completely in 1121. Humane treatment of Muslims during this period set a standard for tolerance that was unique in those times and is a hallmark of his enlightened rule. Using his military acumen David was able to vastly expand his Kingdom into modern day Armenia and eastward toward the Caspian Sea.
The Georgians played a central role in the Crusades, and sent many knights to Palestine to fight in the wars in Palestine. The famous red and white Crusader cross was based on the Georgian Battle flag, which is the national flag today. 
  Queen Tamara
Georgia reached its zenith during the rule of King Tamara (a Queen honoured with the title of King), David's granddaughter, when Georgians enjoyed a cultural renaissance, evidenced by monastery building and a fresco and ornamental design art movement. Richly appointed churches sprang up across the newly formed empire, many atop mountains and still in place today. Georgian culture exponentially in this golden age, schools, bridges and monasteries were built and a literary tradition begun. It was to King Tamara that Shota Rustaveli dedicated his epic poem The Knight in the Panther Skin, which is still memorized by Georgian school children today.
  Black Death
The horror of the plague reached Georgia earlier than most of Europe, and in 1366 it devastated the local population and effectively ended the golden age.
The great Mongol general Tamerlane invaded Georgia not less than eight times, starting in 1386. Their huge armies were insurmountable and in the end surrender was the only option. Dividing the kingdom into three principalities they play the nobles off of each other and the king, and collected tribute from all. Georgian knights were then enlisted in the Mongol army and their technology and tactics were instrumental in the terrifying siege of Baghdad.
  Persian and Ottoman Invasions
During the 16th century Georgia found itself trapped between two expanding empires, the Ottoman Turks to the west and the Persians to the east. The fall of Constantinople and the corresponding change in trade routes greatly weakened Georgia and its future was in grave peril. The Persian Shah Tahmasp invaded four times and Tbilisi was captured and burned and many slaves were taken (Georgian women were very valued for their beauty and men were valued as economic advisors). Eventually the kingdom was divided into two spheres of influence, the west to the Turks and the East to the Persians. For the next 250 years Georgia would not have her independence.
  Bagrationi Rebirth
Only in the 18th century under the father and son Bagrationi Kings, was Georgia able to become independent again and rebuilding of the nation could commence. Despite rebellious princes, occupying armies, raiding parties from the north they were able to forge a strong new kingdom. Convinced that Georgia could not survive on its own they turned to Catherine the Great of Russia and forged an alliance. In 1783 a treaty was signed making Georgia a protectorate of the Russian Empire.
Georgia's last colonizer - Russia - began its annexation in 1801, after abrogating its prior treaty, and soon after killed the entire Georgian royal family. This great humiliation was impossible to fight and soon the Russian presence was felt everywhere, indeed in some place their troops quartered their horses in Georgian churches. As a result the country spent over 150 years as a part of the Russian empire, first as a province, then after the communist revolution, as a Soviet Republic.
  Soviet Riviera
Even in the modern age Georgia retained its knack for self-preservation and independence, always fiercely maintaining its language, religion and culture. Indeed, it was the wealthiest of the Soviet Republics and by the end of the era was hosting 2.5 million tourists year.
In 1991 Georgia unilaterally declared its independence from the USSR. A year later the country proudly became the 179th member of the United Nations.
  Post Communism
Upon the break-up of the Soviet Union, alliance with the west was quickly sought in order to cement the newfound freedom, but stability was difficult to achieve. Separatists in Abkazia supported by the Russians started a war which ended up in the regions majority Georgian population being forced from their homes and becoming internal refuges. Though the situation is now stabilized and peaceful the conflict is still not resolved.
  Rose Revolution
In November 2003 the completely non-violent Rose Revolution re-invigorated the process of self-definition. Today Georgia is a presidential Democracy.

Based on Department of Tourism and Resorts of Georgia

Read more about history of Georgia by Academician R. Metreveli, Tbilisi State University