Bridging two continents: Renewed investigations at Samtavro, Georgia

Antonio Sagona, Vakhtang Nikolaishvili, Claudia Sagona, Clifford Ogleby, Varsha Pilbrow, Christopher Briggs, Gela Giunashvili, Giorgi Manjegaladze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The vast necropolis at Samtavro, near Tbilisi, Georgia, is accorded primacy in the archaeology of the southern Caucasus for several reasons. Covering an area approximately 20 hectares, it is the largest burial ground in the Caucasus. Its longevity of use is also remarkable. First utilised as a cemetery in the third millennium BC, it peaked during the Late Bronze and Iron Ages, and again in the late Roman and late Antique periods. The cemetery was also intensely used, as is shown by the proximity of the burials, often packed closely together, and, in some cases, stratified. Finally, Samtavro was the main burial ground at Mtskheta during the Iberian Kingdom and witnessed the implantation of Christianity in the fourth century BC. Curiously, though, the burial traditions from the fourth and fifth centuries are not those usually associated with Christian burial practice elsewhere. This paper reports on the results of the first two years of renewed excavations carried out by the Georgian National Museum and The University of Melbourne.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-334
Number of pages22
JournalTUBA - AR
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Central Caucasus
  • Eurasia
  • Legacy data
  • Mortuary practice

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