home | Georgia | history of Georgia

History of Georgia (by Giorgi Qvelashvili)

Georgia (Sakartvelo in native Georgian language) is a country with a long history.
Presumably, Georgia emerged as the cradle of wine agriculture. Ancient ceramic jars and amphorae excavated in different parts of the country, illustrate coherent features uniquely characteristic to Georgian pottery as well as winery.

Dmanisi fossils
Speaking of excavations, the latest sensational discovery of the Georgian archeologists, a well-preserved fossil skull should be mentioned. this so called 'Georgia Skull' is dated at 1.75 million years old and presumably belongs to a female Homo erectus. Before this discovery, It was considered almost axiomatic that the homo sapiens was first, and on all accounts, only hominid ever to leave Africa. We can't help but proudly and graciously conclude that even in those prehistoric times, Georgia was so coveted and its climate so salubrious that a homo erectus prematurely ventured for this country to escape a monotonous African landscape. "Eh, well, temptation has to be slaked". This saying by all means was passed on to us by the very precocious ancestor.

Throughout the millennia different authentic Georgian kingdoms existed with miscellaneous names such as Iberia, Colchis, Kartli, Kakheti, Imereti, Abkhazeti, etc;
In 337 A.D. Georgia embraced Christianity. Only few times did various Georgian kingdoms coalesce briefly to ultimately split into sometimes hostile to each other entities. The first coalescence occurred in the fourth century B.C. under king Parnavaz of Georgia. King Vakhtang Gorgasali was another consolidator in the fifth century, A.D.The longest lasting and most productive unity came about in the 11th century formally enduring until the 15th century.

The Golden Age of Georgian statehood climaxed in the renaissance of the medieval national culture during the reigns of King David Aghmashenebeli and his granddaughter, Queen Tamar in the twelfth century. This period culminated in the ultimate masterpiece of all times, a secular novel of Vepkhistqaosani, i.e. The Knight in the Panther's Skin created by Shota Rustaveli, a 12th century Georgian genius. Every sphere of life prospered including jurisprudence, literature, military art, architecture and trade. The two universities, Gelati and Iqalto were founded.

In spite of its military power, the 13th century Georgia failed to avert and resist the overwhelming surge of nomadic Mongols: The country eventually fell under their rule. Giorgi Brtskinvale, the 14th century king of Georgia, restored the country to its glamorous status but the kismet turned obviously against Georgians when Tamerlane (Timur Lenk), a Mongol ruler of Samarkand invaded the country seven times leaving ruins and death behind him.

After these devastating invasions Georgia was never to ascend to its previous glory. The schism and animosity among successive Georgian kingdoms, exacerbated by the routine intrusions of either Ottomans or Persians, were the consequences being in progress throughout the upcoming centuries of decline and degradation. Though many patriots tried to unify the country, only King Erekle succeeded when Kartli and Kakheti, two eastern Georgian kingdoms, conjoined under his throne. The prudent Erekle's tenure was an outstanding success: The country benefited from a relatively peaceful development, having ameliorative impact on trade and manufacture as well as education.

Unfortunately, this progress soon ended when the three great powers in the region Turkey, Russia and Persia assumed a new parity. Georgia was on the agenda, and by no surprise, Russia as a Christian country was considered as a priority. This choice was severely punished by Persia resulting in the despot ruler Agha-Muhammad-Khan's brutal and devastating invasion of Georgia in 1795.

The annexation

The incumbent Russian Tsar betrayed king Erekle and no support was provided although the Treaty signed between Georgia and Russia five years earlier had obligated the latter to secure the former with a substantial military assistance in case of war.

Shortly after this invasion, in 1798, King Erekle deceased. His heir, King Giorgi the twelfth, acceded the throne, but the ailing king soon passed away and in 1801 Russia occupied Georgia, unilaterally abolished the kingdom and annexed the country. The royal family of Bagrationi was first arrested and then exiled to Russia.
The loss of independence resulted in resistance, unrest and many rebellions broke out throughout the first half of 19th century.
Ultimately, in 1918 when Russia was engaged in its internal problems resulting from the revolution and chaos, Georgia did not pass up the opportunity to declare independence which was recognized even by the former Metropolis. Nevertheless, the formal recognition did not protect the country from the avaricious northerner: In 1921 the Bolshevik Russia invaded, occupied and annexed Georgia and the country fell under the Communist rule which was terminated in October, 1990.

The Independence
Having survived all kind of persecutions and restrictions, democratically elected Georgian government declared independence from the Soviet Union on April 9th, 1991.

Today Georgia is a democracy, with an increasingly liberal economy and a government whose objective is to meet the highest European standards. Georgia is a country where the general public and the civil society are strong enough to keep accountable even the most popular president.