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National Geographic: Grakliani, Georgia

New Inscriptions Uncovered in Georgia May Change History of Writing

The recent archaeological discovery made by the graduate students of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, will change the prior knowledge of writing in the Caucasus and development of writing in general. 

The third-year graduate student at TSU Sophia Paatashvili was excavating an ancient temple at an Iron Age site called Grakliani in Georgia. Inscription-like series of marks found on a stone slab below an excavated temple’s altar captivated Sophia’s attention.

The students and the head of their group Vakhtang Licheli soon made sure that these were not just any decorative marks; decorative drawings show repetition every two, four, six times, whereas this wasn’t the case with the new finding.

TSU students excavating in Garkliani
TSU students excavating in Garkliani, National Geographic

Licheli told National Geographic it’s reasonable to assume the writing dates to the seventh century B.C., when the temple is believed to have been built. This is fully a thousand years older than any indigenous writing found in the Caucasus region prior to this discovery.

Georgia has long been known to have relations with ancient Rome, Greece and Persia. The newly found inscriptions on the Iron Age temple link Georgia’s historical foreign affairs to such ancient cultures as Mesopotamia and Egypt.

The script as a whole bears no relation to any other alphabet, although Vakhtang Licheli detects similarities to letters in ancient Greek and Aramaic.