Vani is a town in Imereti region of western Georgia, at the Sulori river (a tributary of the Rioni river), 41 km southwest from the regional capital Kutaisi. The town with the population of 4,600 (2002 est.) is an administrative center of the Vani raioni (district) comprising also 43 neighbouring villages (total area – 557 km²; population – 34,000, 2002 est.).
Systematic archaeological studies (N.Khoshtaria, O.Lordkipanidze) carried out in the Vani environs since 1947 revealed the remnants of a rich city of the ancient power of Colchis. The name of this ancient settlement is still unknown but four distinct stages of uninterrupted occupation have been identified. The first phase is dated to the 8th-7th centuries B.C. In this period Vani is presumed to have been a major cultic centre. The second phase - end of the 7th and beginning of the 6th to the first half of the 4th century B.C. - is represented by cultural layers, remains of wooden structures, sacrificial altars cut in the rocky ground, and rich burials. It is assumed that on this stage Vani was the centre of a political-administrative unit of the kingdom of Colchis. The third phase covers the second half of the 4th - first half of the 3rd century B.C. It is represented largely by rich burials, remains of stone structures. To the fourth phase (the 3rd-mid-1st cent. B.C.) belong defensive walls, the so-called small gate, sanctuaries and cultic buildings (temples, altars sacrificial platforms), and the remains of a foundry for casting bronze statues. It is assumed that in the 3rd-1st centuries B.C. Vani was a templar city. According to the archaeological data, the city was destroyed in the mid-1st century B.C. Subsequently, Vani declined to a village and was officially granted a status of a town only in 1981.
Armazi (არმაზი) is a locale in Georgia, 2 km northwest of Mtskheta and 22 km north of Tbilisi. A part of historical Greater Mtskheta, it is a place where the ancient city of the same name and the original capital of the early Georgian kingdom of Kartli or Iberia was located. It particularly flourished in the early centuries of the Anno Domini and was destroyed by the Arab invasion in the 730s.
Minor excavations on the territory of Armazi carried out in 1890 revealed the plinth of adobe town walls, with stone steps, and cleared the two-room structure, where fragments of a woman's torso of the 1st century AD were discovered. From 1943 to 1948 large-scale excavation was undertaken under Andria Apakidze of the Georgian Academy of Sciences, resumed in 1985 and continuing. These have shown that the adobe town walls and towers, built upon a plinth of hewn stone in the first half of the 1st century AD, surrounded the hill top and the side sloping down towards the river, an area of 30 ha. The land within the walls was terraced and various buildings were sited on the terraces.
The three major cultural layers have been identified: the earliest dates back to the 4th-3rd century BC (Armazi I), the middle one is from the 3rd-1st century BC (Armazi II), and the relatively newer structure belongs to the 1st-6th century AD (Armazi III). Armazi I is constructed of massive stone blocks forming an impregnable base but were finished off by less durable mud brick. It also contains a great hall of six columns with a tiled roof. Armazi II is noted for a temple with an apse. Armazi III is the richest layer constructed of elegantly cut stone blocks, joined together with lime mortar and metal clamps. Among the surviving structures are the royal palace, several richly decorated tombs, a bathhouse and a small stone mausoleum.
The area is now a state-protected field museum administered as a part of the National Archaeology Museum-Reserve of Greater Mtskheta.
Gonio fortress (Georgian: გონიოს ციხე, previously called Apsaros, or Apsaruntos), is a Roman fortification in Adjara, on the Black sea, 15 km south of Batumi, at the mouth of the Chorokhi river. The village sits 4 km north of the Turkish border.
The oldest reference to the fortress is by Pliny the Elder in the Natural History (1st century AD). There is also a reference to the ancient name of the site in Appian’s Mithridatic Wars(2nd century AD). In the 2nd century AD it was a well-fortified Roman city within Colchis. The town was also known for its theatre and hippodrome. It later came under Byzantine influence. The name "Gonio" is first attested in Michael Panaretos in the 14th century. In addition, there was a short-lived Genoese trade factory at the site. In 1547 Gonio was taken by the Ottomans, who held it until 1878, when, via the San-Stephano Treaty, Adjara became part of the Russian empire.
The grave of Saint Matthias, one of the twelve apostles, is believed to be inside the Gonio fortress. However, this is unverifiable as the Georgian government currently prohibits digging near the supposed gravesite. Other archaeological excavations are however taking place on the grounds of the fortress, focusing on Roman layers.
Gonio is currently experiencing a tourism boom. Most tourists come from Tbilisi in the summer months to enjoy beaches that are generally regarded as cleaner than Batumi's beaches (located 15 km to the north).
Dmanisi (Georgian: დმანისი) is an archaeological site in Kvemo Kartli region of Georgia approximately 93 km southwest of the nation's capital Tbilisi in the river valley of Mashavera.
Extensive archaeological studies began in the area in 1936 and continued in the 1960s. Beyond a rich collection of ancient and medieval artifacts and the ruins of various buildings and structures, unique remains of prehistoric animals and humans have been unearthed. Georgian paleontologist A.Vekua identified some of the animal bones as the teeth of the extinct rhino Dicerorhinus etruscus in 1983. This species dates back presumably to the early Pleistocene epoch.
The discovery of primitive stone tools in 1984 led to increasing interest to the archaeological site.
The main archeological event of the last years is a discovery of remnants of the oldest humans on the territory of Europe (dated as 1.8 million years) by 1996German-Georgian expedition in Dmanisi. Homo georgicus is a species of hominine that was suggested in 2002 to describe fossil skulls and jaws found in Dmanisi. At first, scientists thought they had found thirty or so skulls belonging to Homo ergaster, but size differences led them to consider erecting a new species, Homo georgicus, which would be a descendant of Homo habilis and an ancestor of Asian Homo erectus. A partial skeleton was discovered in 2001. The fossils are about 1.8 million years old. Implements and animal bones were found alongside the ancient hominine remains.
Located in foothills of the Lesser Caucasus, Dmanisi is also famous for its three-church basilica of Dmanisi, built in the 6th century. The church has preserved frescos of saints and inscriptions. The richly ornamented porch, annexing the church to the west in the 13th century, during the reign of King Lasha-Giorgi, is especially noteworthy. A bell-tower, rectangular in plan, stands to the east of the church, within the confines of the city site. There is a single-nave church of St Marine to the north, ruins of the fortress to the southwest and the dwellings of the ancient humans, to the east.
Nokalakevi (Georgian: ნოქალაქევი, literally meaning: a place where a town was) is a village and archaeological site in Georgia; particularly, in Senaki, district of Samegrelo and Zemo Svaneti region.
Roman and Byzantine historians knew the city as Archaeopolis, but in the later Georgian chronicles it is mentioned as Tsikhegoji, "the fortress of Kuji", for its eponymous and semi-legendary third-century BC founder.
Archaeological studies have demonstrated that the site was inhabited in the early 1st millennium BC. The settlement grew larger in the 5th-4th centuries BC. The majority of the visible structures were built between the 4th and 8th centuries AD when Archaeopolis functioned as the capital of Lazica. Remains of the original walls of a royal palace, acropolis, rich burials, bathes, and the early Christian churches can be seen running up the mountain and along the cliffs that border the Tekhura River. Rich collections of local and foreign coins found at the site indicate a high level of commercial ties with the neighbouring countries, specifically with the Byzantine Empire.