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The Museum of Georgia

Across the Rustaveli street from the Children's Palace in Tbilisi is the enormous S. Janashia Museum of Georgia, built between 1923 and 1929 to house the collection of the earlier Caucasian Museum, founded in 1852. This museum covers the entire history of Georgia, providing riveting testimony to the antiquity of Georgian culture and its tenacious evolution. It is the largest single repository of Georgia's treasures, housing more than 850,000 items. The most important part of the museum's holdings is displayed in the basement in the treasury. Here you must be accompanied by a guide. Extraordinary specimens of repousse work and jewelry from archaeological sites throughout pre- Christian Georgia will astound you with their beauty and level of artistry. Don't miss seeing the magnificent filigreed gold pendants of horses from Akhalgori (sixth to fourth centuries ВС) and the gold bowls and ornaments from Trialeti (first half of the second millennium ВС). Superb finds from Vani and Algheti complete the examples of workmanship of the sixth to fourth centuries ВС.

Objects and jewelry from the Iberian rulers of the first century AD show the technical virtuosity of Georgian gold and silversmiths of the period. Note the necklace with the amulet jar and the amethyst ram's head from Armazis-Khevi. Precious imports of gems and silver vessels from the classical world complete the collection and demonstrate Georgia's contact with Greece and Rome.

The ground floor contains archaeological findings up to the fourth century ВС. Arranged chronologically, stone artifacts from the Paleolithic period found in Georgian caves are next to cases of Neolithic and Bronze Age implements and ceramics. Noteworthy are the weapons and jewelry from the late Bronze Age (14th century ВС) to the early Iron Age (13th century ВС). Handicrafts and farming implements from the Kura-Araxes culture (4000-2000 ВС) are represented, as well as painted and glazed pottery, household implements, weapons, and objects of pre-cious metal from the barrows of Trialeti (1500 ВС). You'll discover cases of ancient coins found in Georgia, including some from Colchis in western Georgia which date to the sixth century ВС. Georgia's contacts with the Hellenistic and Roman worlds are seen in the Greek vases found in Colchis and Iberia, and from inscriptions on stone fragments: one found in Mtskheta in 1867 was sent from the Roman Emperor Vespasian in AD 75: "To King Milhradates of Iberia-Friend of Caesar and of the Romans."

The first floor covers the fourth century ВС to the 13th century AD. Archaeological excavations in centers of Iberian culture such as Urbnisi, Mtskheta, Samtavro, and Bolnisi reflect Georgia's conversion to Christianity. Manuscripts, coins, weapons, glassware, ceramics, stone fragments from churches, and housewares all tell the story of Georgia's cultural development and contacts with other parts of the world. Also displayed here are photographs of important basilicas, palaces, cave dwellings, and domed churches; political and cultural maps; reproductions of frescoes, and copies of valuable works that are stored elsewhere. Though not of intrinsic value, the items, arranged chronologically for narrative purposes, provide a more complete picture of Georgia's history. The other rooms are devoted to Georgia's history from 1801 (the year of unification with Russia) to the present. Portraits of important Georgian and Russian figures are interspersed with the personal possessions of kings Herekle II and Solomon 11, among others. A comprehensive ethnographic display includes clothing, musical instruments, household implements, and native costumes.