DMANISI is a fortified town of Middle Ages. It is located in Kvemo Kartli, at the confluence of rivers Finezauri and Mashavera, 93 kilometers to the south-west from Tbilisi.

In historical sources it was first mentioned in IX century while the town was under domination of Arabs and was ruled by Emir. In the 80-ies of the XI century Dmanisi was conquered by the Seljuks. In 1123 David IV Agmashenebeli liberated Dmanisi and turned it into a Royal town that was a reason of its special advantage in XII-XIII centuries. Here passed caravan ways toward Central Asia, operated a mint coining money. In XIV-XV centuries Dmanisi resisted several assaults (Tamerlane, Yakub Khan) causing economic decline and devastation of the town. Dmanisi was often taken by the invaders (Ottomans, Persians). The town used to be encircled by a high fence built from basalt stone and reinforced by abutment with entrance gates built in from south-west. Within the town the streets were paved with 2,5 m tiles. Inside the fortress there is a three-nave Basilica – Dmanisi Sioni (VI c.) which was attached with richly ornamented gates during the reign of Giorgi IV Lasha (1210-1223). Fortress hosts also a church and a belfry from late feudal times. On the territory of the ruins were discovered: wide tunnel leading down to the river, shops (oil distillery, pottery), baths, encampments, cellars, mosque with a minaret, and madrasah. The dwellings of wealthy Dmanisi residents were decorated with color stones. The environs of Dmanisi were settled from times immemorial. In 1992 archeologists discovered here the remains of human bodies (lower jaw, teeth). The German paleoanthropologists proved that these remains are 1.800.000 years old. Therefore, these are the remains of the oldest human beings on the Eurasian continent. Scholars created plaster casts of Dmanopithec – a man and a woman were given old Georgian names Zezva and Mzia. These casts are kept in Tbilisi, at the Georgian State Museum.

MANGLISI SIONI is an important Georgian architectural monument and one of the oldest Christian centers in Georgia. The first church in Manglisi was built in IV century, and from V century it is a center of Episcopacy. The dates of basic layers of today’s
cathedral go down to VII century. In 1002 cathedral was renovated. Eastern part of the cathedral, entrance gates and ornamentation of walls belong to XI century. Painting of the dome also belongs to that era. In 1852 the Russian administration whitewashed interior of the cathedral that totally destroyed fresco painting. The fence of the cathedral and a belfry built in it were constructed at that time. There is a trace of Russian architecture in the décor of the cathedral. In the courtyard of the cathedral there are a lot of graves of XVIII-XIX centuries.

  1. Ruins of Dmanisi (General view)
  2. Manglisi Sioni (View from the South)
  3. Zezva and Mzia (First Eurasians. Casts from Georgian State Museum)

Copyright © 2017. N. Elizbarashvili, B. Kupatadze
Copyright © 2017. “Dani” Publishing

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