Roman and Byzantine historians knew the city as Archaeopolis, but in the later Georgian chronicles it is mentioned as Tsikhegoji, ‘the fortress of Kuji’, for its eponymous and semi-legendary third-century BC founder.
Archaeological studies have demonstrated that the site was inhabited in the early 1st millennium BC. The settlement grew larger in the 5th-4th centuries BC. The majority of the visible structures were built between the 4th and 8th centuries AD when Archaeopolis functioned as the capital of Lazica. Remains of the original walls of a royal palace, acropolis, rich burials, bathes, and the early Christian churches can be seen running up the mountain and along the cliffs that border the River Tekhura. Rich collections of local and foreign coins found at the site indicate a high level of commercial ties with the neighboring countries, especially with the Byzantine Empire.