Gov’t reveals plans to restore Nokalakevi archaeological site

The Nokalakevi archaeological site has spawned significant findings across different expeditions. Photo from Gela Bedianashvili/Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia., 13 Sep 2016 - 19:05, Tbilisi,Georgia

One of the most important historical sites in Georgia is set to undergo major restoration over the next five years as it continues to offer fascinating discoveries to archaeologists.

The Nokalakevi Protected Area and Museum, located in western Georgia’s Samegrelo region, is subject of a 14 million GEL (about $6 million/€5.3 million*) Governmental project to rehabilitate and modernise the infrastructure at the dig site.

The Nokalakevi site was once the capital of the 4th -8th Century AD Colchis Kingdom on the Black Sea. The area lies 15km north-east of Senaki and includes a citadel with a town on the terrace of the Tekhuri River, which are all linked by fortified walls.

See the Nokalakevi archaeological site in drone footage below:

For the past 80 years archaeologists have been digging at the site and discovering the area’s ancient past. The most recent efforts by historians and scientists united British and Georgian experts since 2001.

This 16-year collaboration within the Anglo-Georgian Expedition to Nokalakevi (AGEN) has spawned special discoveries as recently as this month:

The AGEN team, which this year included volunteers from the United Kingdom, Georgia, the United States and Norway, has been under the direction of Dr. Davit Lomitashvili from Georgia and Prof. Ian Colvin from the UK.

Recent reports from the site stated experts had unearthed a range of items including "double-headed zoomorphic figurines".

Earlier digs of the site discovered remains of royal palaces and a bath complex (dated back to the 4th-6th Century AD) as well as a secret tunnel passing the river and elements of a 6th Century AD monastery construction.

The most recent archaeological work at Nokalakevi united volunteers from the United Kingdom, Georgia, the United States and Norway under the AGEN team. Photo from AGEN.

The historical significance of Nokalakevi was underlined by the AGEN team in their review of the digs:

The distinctive features that survive at Nokalakevi today are the stunning fortifications dating to the time of the Laz kings and their Byzantine allies in the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries AD, culminating in the enormous refortification of the eastern gate under Justinian as he prepared for war with Persia."

The artefacts discovered at Nokalakevi dated back over a vast period of time, from the 8th Century BC to the 19th Century AD are now housed in a special archaeological museum at the site.

The Governmental rehabilitation project started this year and is expected to be completed in 2020.

In addition, plans have been prepared for Georgia to apply to UNESCO for granting Nokalakevi the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The plans are being prepared with support of the Ministry of Culture of Georgia and the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia.

See more details about Nokalakevi and its timeline here.

*Currencies are equivalent with the latest exchange rate by the National Bank of Georgia.