nokalakevi fortress

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  • Nokalakevi fortress

Nestled by the picturesque river Tekhuri, on the northern edge of the Colchian plain in Samegrelo, western Georgia, lie the impressive ruins of Nokalakevi (Figures 1 & 2). Occupying some 20ha, the site was known to early Byzantine historians as Archaeopolis, and to the neighboring Georgian (Kartlian) chroniclers as Tsikhegoji, or the fortress of Kuji -- a semi-mythical Colchian ruler or "Eristavi". The fortress is located 15km from the modern town of Senaki on the Martvili road, and would have commanded an important crossing point of the river Tekhuri, at the junction with a valuable strategic route that still winds through the neighboring hills to Chkhorotsqu in central Samegrelo. Nokalakevi-Archaeopolis played a pivotal part in the major wars fought between the Byzantines and Sasanians in the South Caucasus during the 6th century AD. It was one of the key fortresses guarding Lazika (modern Samegrelo) from Sasanian, Persian and Iberian (East Georgian/Kartlian) attack. During the war of AD 540-562, the Persians' failure to take Nokalakevi-Archaeopolis from the Byzantines and the Laz eventually cost them control of Lazika.

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