Colchis sepulcher proves authenticity of the myth about Argonauts

More than 200 people were entombed in the grave; only the arm and leg bones along with the skulls were found in the pit

A Colchis sepulcher has been discovered in a courtyard of a resident of the village of Tsaishi of Zugdidi region in Georgia. The sepulcher dates back to 8th century B.C. It is a burial pit containing unique articles. Speaking to Novosti-Gruzia news agency, Revaz Papuashvili, head of the archeological party of the Center of Archeological Studies under the Georgian Academy of Sciences, said that the resident of Tsaishi Revaz Tupuria had found the first historical item (a bronze bracelet) in 1997. Mr. Tupuria and members of his family later came across similar finds at the courtyard of his house. Finally, Mr. Tupuria informed the staff of a historical museum in Zugdidi.

Having conducted a test excavation on location, archeologists became very keen to continue their research of the burial pit. Full-scale excavation kicked off 11 days ago when the authorities of the city of Zugdidi allocated 5 thousand lari (more than $2.7 thousand) for the project.

Archeologists discovered more than 600 articles in the burial pit located 1.6 meters deep in the ground. The articles date back to 8th century B.C. Among the items found in the pit are bronze sculptures of the ram and ox, the sculpture of a woman with a child on horseback, numerous golden pendants, pins, brooches, and clasps. Architects also found about a thousand beads made of cornelian, opal, jet, glass, and gold. Five belts of the central Transcaucasian type were also discovered in the pit. The belts are embossed with various designs depicting local life.

According to Revaz Papuashvli, all the decorations are a prototype of the Colchis jewelry of the early ancient period. As regards the beads, part of them might have been imported from Egypt and Syria. The burial pit also contains a number of bronze axes, arrowheads, household items, and several clay vases in good condition.

According to Mr. Papuashvili, more than 200 people were entombed in the grave. Only the arm and leg bones along with the skulls were found in the pit. The above way of internment complies with the funeral rites of ancient residents of Colchis described by Greek historians e.g. Apollonius of Rhodes. The Greek myth about Argonauts says that the residents of Colchis wrapped their dead in the ox hides and left them hanging on the trees until the bodies decomposed to skeletons. After that they buried the bones of extremities and skulls in a common grave, and burned down the rest of the remains.

The area of the current excavation in Tsaishi is 60 square meters. According to head of the archeological party, it will take another week to take full stock of the finds. When the stocktaking is completed, the items will be transferred to the history museum in Zugdidi.

Mr. Papuashvili believes the excavation should be continued. “This locality has similar sepulchers scattered around the area of one hectare, and scientists are in for new discoveries,” said he.

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Author`s name Olga Savka