• JIMSHER CHKHVIMIANI PhD in Archaeology, Georgian National Museum, Ilia State University 3, Rustaveli Ave., Tbilisi, Georgia


The article deals with the study of the cemetery of the Dmanisi town, one of the most significant urban centres of medieval Georgia. Namely, the results of archaeological, historical, art historical and epigraphic study of one group of very remarkable memorial monuments are presented.


The process of forming Dmanisi into a city, which began in the IX century, culminated in the formation in the XII-XIII centuries of one of the most important military-strategic, trade-economic and cultural urban centres of the South Caucasus through the active efforts of the authorities of the Georgian Kingdom. And as a result of our research, it became even more clear that the composition of the population of this town was multiethnic and multireligious.

Unfortunately, the history of Dmanisi is poorly reflected in written sources, and the idea of its past is reconstructed mainly on the basis of information obtained as a result of archaeological research. Thus, only this material provides us with factual documents about the spheres of activity, social and ethno-confessional differentiation, as well as the peculiarities of the way of life of the medieval population of the Dmanisi town.


In particular, the material obtained as a result of the study of the medieval cemetery, an organic part of the Dmanisi settlement, is the most valuable source reflecting the picture of the social, ethnic and religious composition of population of large medieval Georgian cities.


For example, according to our observation, there are cases of fusion of cultural elements at the Dmanisi medieval cemetery, when the structure and appearance of memorial monuments – tombstones or above- ground burial constructions of representatives of different ethnical and confessional groups are levelled to some extent. The touches that stand out in the design of a number of memorial monuments speak of a kind of cultural syncretism that has not yet been demonstrated in other medieval Georgian cities.


From the second half of the XII century, following migration processes that intensified in parallel with the development of Dmanisi as a trade and economic city, tombstones with Armenian and Arabic inscriptions appeared along with Georgian memorial monuments at the Christian cemetery of the pre- existing town, which is a direct reflection of these migration processes.


The article presents a group of burials of the Dmanisi medieval cemetery, uncovered in the Muslim part of this cemetery as a result of archaeological works carried out in 1970-1971 (V. Japaridze, M. Gochiashvili). During these excavations, a family cemetery was discovered inside the remains of mausoleum No. 3 of a circular plan, near mausoleum No. 4 of a quadrangular plan with a dome, located on the road leading to the settlement. There were more than a dozen burials and above-ground memorials – tombstones consisting of several segments, parts of which were inscribed with Arabic epitaphs.

Unfortunately, at that stage, for objective reasons, it was not possible to present a detailed publication devoted to this discovery of the Dmanisi expedition to the scientific community (only brief information was published in the collection of reports of expeditions). That is why we have tried to present a scientific study, that does justice to the importance of this discovery, complete with relevant factual details and analysis. In addition to archeological data, the work is based on the results of the historical, art historical and epigraphic research that we have conducted on these memorial monuments.


Keywords: Archeology; Islam; Dmanisi; medieval; mausoleum; grave; tombstone.