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Archaeological finds at Bagrati: 30 January 2010

A talk given by Professor Michael Vickers at Jesus College, Oxford.





To a large audience of Newport Kutaisi Twinning Association and friends, Professor Michael Vickers gave a most interesting talk on the impressive golden artifacts found last summer on the World Heritage site of Bagrati Cathedral, in Kutaisi.

He outlined how he first became aware of this exciting discovery soon after the finds had been made known. He told how he and colleagues travelled over a hundred miles to Kutaisi from where they had been working at the Oxford Batumi Excavations in Pichvnari – a former tea plantation in western Georgia, near the Black Sea coast. 

The news was that during reconstruction work being carried out at Bagrati Cathedral, Georgian archaeologists had unearthed a tomb where lay a rich collection of golden artifacts dating from C8th AD.

The tomb was found under what had been the nave of Bagrati Cathedral, itself dating from 1003 AD.
One arresting find consisted of a forearm still adorned with bracelets of gold and glass. What appeared to be hair adornments or personal decorations were discovered but puzzle archaeologists as to their real purpose. Are they really hair ornaments or for dress? Are they earrings? There is uncertainty. Further study will surely solve the many questions that are being asked. Professor Vickers noted that there was a remarkable similarity to finds made on the archaeological site at Vani although the finds in Kutaisi date a 1000 years later.

Professor Vickers continued his talk by giving a further slide presentation of what are extraordinary and remarkable finds made by himself and his team at Pichvnari. Amazing oil lamps beautifully crafted with realistically modelled elephant heads – their trunks held triumphantly upwards. Artifacts depicting the great god Zeus, the Trojan prince Ganymede, musicians, winged figures and bronze containers were shown
The NKTA would like to thank both Professor Vickers and Dr. Manana Odisheli-Vickers for their hospitality and for giving them the opportunity to hear at first hand of this amazing golden discovery which adds further to Kutaisi’s already illustrious heritage.

Prior to the talk, the NKTA members were privileged to be given the opportunity to visit the Great Dining Hall of Jesus College where hang many paintings of the great and noble benefactors of the College, ranging from Elizabeth 1 to Lawrence of Arabian to Sir Harold Wilson, one of Britain’s past Prime Ministers.

A visit too was made to the ancient Jesus College chapel.

• Michael Vickers is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, Curator of Greek and Roman Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum and a Senior Research Fellow of Jesus College. He has taught at University College, Dublin, the University of Texas at Austin and at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has been a Visiting Member of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton and is a Corresponding Member of the German Archeological Institute. He is co-director of the joint British-Georgian excavation at Pichvnari, Ajarian A.R., Georgia.

Catherine Philpott 01.02.2010