vani

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  • Vani

Vani (7th -1st centuries BC) is an ancient temple city in the Colchis Lowlands located on the western bank of the Sulori River at its confluence with the Rioni River. It is located on a hill bordered by two ravines and overlooks the plains through which the Rioni River flows. There are beguiling views of the Sulori River Valley with its surrounding hills and the Meskhetian Mountain Range in the background. Ancient Colchians chose this strategic location as the political, economic and spiritual centre of their community. The name of this ancient city is still unknown but four distinct stages of uninterrupted occupation have been identified.

The site seems to have been dominated by a local aristocracy with a socially stratified, urbanized society. The Early Hellenistic Period of the mid 4th to the mid 3rd Century BC gave rise to a more marked Greek influence. Stone structures are utilized for the first time and many elements of Greek architecture are used. There is evidence of Greek customs being imitated in their burials and Greek innovations in gold fabrication techniques are observed. However, roof tiles, pottery and coins from Sinop as well as Cappadocia influences on signet rings and other glyptic items indicate an expansion of commercial activity with other areas and coincide with the decline of Attic imports in the Black Sea trade.

The antique city of Vani is again coming to light thanks to the work of archaeologists. Temples and sacrificial altars from the period before the Birth of Christ have yielded up beautiful examples of gold and silver jewellery and coins, all of which are now on display at the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi.

Vani is best known for the extensive archaeological excavations that have taken place there during the past 100 years. Although only a third of the site has been studied, it has produced an astonishing number of artifacts: Colchis pottery, exquisite golden jewellery unique to Colchis, imported Greek luxury items, graceful bronze sculptures and a vast array of funerary pieces. Artifacts (mainly Colchis pottery) of the first stage, 8th to early 6th Century BC, are relatively few and badly damaged. A sacrificial area was found with clay animal offerings suggesting some importance of Vani over the adjoining areas, which yielded no similar findings. The second stage, early 6th to mid 4th Century BC, reveals many changes. An abundance of artifacts are found including imported Greek painted pottery and new types of pottery for the storage or transportation of cereals, oil and honey as well as the fermentation and storage of wine. Rich burial sites with large quantities of golden jewellery, silver and bronze adornments, and pottery and luxury items befitting the status of the deceased indicate that the ruling elite were buried here while poorer graves were found only in the surrounding areas.

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