Early Bronze Age settlement from ancient city Samshvilde


  • Nino Shanshashvili
  • Goderdzi Narimanishvili




Kura-Araxes, Kvemo Kartli, Samshvilde, archaeology, mythology


A settlement of the Kura-Araxes culture was discovered on the territory of the ancient city of Samshvilde. Houses of the Early Bronze Age were excavated west of the Temple of Sioni of Samshvilde in of 50-70 m. The houses are damaged by pits and walls of the medieval era. The walls of the houses are so fragmented that the plan of housing is difficult to determine. In the northern part of the excavation site, only a small part of a stone wall and a shelf have survived. Both of these structures are built of basalt stones. The shelf was covered with a clay solution. On the shelf were placed grain grinders and mortars, flint inserts of a sickle, and ceramic vessels of various sizes. At the base of the shelf there was placed a rectangular slab, the surface of which was covered with intricate geometrical décor. At the base of the shelf there were also placed fragments of a large vessels and ceramics of various sizes. Almost all ceramics are richly ornamented with spiral and linear décor. A similar decor is typical for ceramics of the late stage of the Kura-Araxes culture of Kvemo Kartli, Armenia and Iran. The Early Bronze Age ceramics, which were discovered on the Samshvilde settlement belong to the late stage of the Kura-Araxes culture and dates back to the 28th-27th centuries. BC.


Antony, D.W., Chi, J.Y. (eds) 2010. The Lost World of Old Europe. The Danube Valley, 5000-3500 BC. Princeton – Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Badalyan, R., Avetisyan, P. 2007. Bronze and Early Iron Age Archaeological Sites in Armenia, I. Mt. Aragats and its Surrounding Region (BAR international Series 1697). Oxford: Archaeopress.

Badalyan, R., Avetisyan, P., Smith, A. 2009. Periodization and chronology of Southern Caucasia: From the Early Bronze Age through the Iron III period, in: Smith et al. 2009: 33-93.

Badalyan, R., Smith, A., Avetisyan, P. 2003. The emergence of sociopolitical complexity in Southern Caucasia: An interim report on the research of Project ArAGATS, in: Smith, Rubinson 2003: 144-166.

Badalyan, R.S., Smith, A.T., Lindsay, I., Harutyunyan, A., Greene, A., Marshall, M., Monahan, B., Hovsepyan, R. 2014 (2016). A preliminary report on the 2008, 2010, and 2011 investigations of Project ArAGATS on the Tsaghkahovit Plain, Republic of Armenia. AMIT 46: 149-222.

Berikashvili, D., Coupal, I. 2018. The first evidence of burials from Samshvilde. A preliminary archaeological and bioarchaeological study. Caucasus Journal of Social Sciences 11/1: 31-49.

Chubinishvili, N. 1969. Samšvildskij Sion: Ego mesto v razvitii gruzinskoj arxitektury v 8-9 vv. (Sion of Samshvilde: Its Place in the Development of the Georgian Architecture in the 8-9th centuries). Tbilisi: Metsniereba (in Russian).

Gambashidze, I., Mindiashvili, G., Gogotchuri, G., Kakhiani, K., Dschaparidze, I. 2010. Alte Metallurgie und Bergbau in Georgian in 6.-3. Jt. v. Chr. Tbilisi: Mtsignobari (in Georgian).

Gambashidze, I.; Stöllner, Th. 2017. The Gold of Sakdrisi. Bochum: Deutsches Bergbau Museum.

Gamkrelidze, G. 2010. Rescue Archaeology in Georgia: The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and South Caucasian Pipelines. Tbilisi: Georgian National Museum.

Ghlonti, L. 1975. The Monuments of Kura-Araxes Culture (The Results of Kvemo Kartli Archaeological Expedition (1965-1971)/). Tbilisi: Metsniereba (in Georgian).

Grishchenko, V.N. 1998. Belyj aist v mifologii evropejskix narodov i sovremennye predstavlenija o proisxoždenii indoevropejcev (White Stork in mythology of European peoples and modern notions about the origin of Indo-Europeans). Berkut 7/1-2: 120-131 (in Russian).

Grishchenko, V.N. 1999. Migracii ptic i narodnye verovanija (Migrations of birds and falk beliefs). Gumanitarnyj ékologičeskij žurnal 1/1: 23-32 (in Russian).

Gura, A.V. 1997. Simvolika životnyx v slavjanskoj narodnoj tradicii (Animal Symbolism in Slavic Folk Tradition). Moscow: Izdatel’stvo ‘Indrik’ (in Russian).

Işıklı, M., Can, B. (eds) 2015. International Symposium on East Anatolia – South Caucasus Cultures, vols. I-II. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Javakhishvili, A.; Ghlonti, L. 1962. Urbnisi I. Tbilisi: Publishing House of the Academy of Sciences of the Georgian SSR (in Georgian).

Harutyunyan (Arutjunjan), S. 1980. Armjanskaja mifologija (Armenian mythology), in: Tokarev 1980: 104-106 (in Russian).

Kvavadze, E., Connor, S., Narimanishvili, G. 2007. Pozdneplejstocenovaja i Golocenovaja istorija landšaftov okrestnostej Calki (Južnaja Gruzija) po palinologičeskim dannym ozërnyx i počvennyx obrazovanij (Late Pleistocene and Holocene history of landscapes on the Tsalka Plateau (Southern Georgia), based on palynological analysis of lake and soil formations). Problems of Paleobiology 2: 12-23 (in Russian).

Kvavadze, E., Narimanishvili, G. 2010. The paleolandscapes of the Tsalka Plateau in the Late Pleistocene and Holocene (According to palynological data from archaeological material), in: Gamkrelidze 2010: 568-601.

Makharadze, Z. 1994. Tsikhiagora Kura-Araxes Settlement. Tbilisi: Metsniereba (in Georgian).

Mazhnikov, S. 1892. Pamjatniki drevnosti goroda Samšvilde (Antiquities of the city of Samshvilde), in: Sbornik materialov dlja opisanija mestnostej i plemen Kavkaza (Collection of Materials for the Description of the Regions and Tribes of the Caucasus), vyp. 13: 3-13. Tiflis: Tipografija kanceljarii Glavnonačal’stvujuščago graždanskoju čast’ju na Kavkaze (in Russian).

Mellaart, J. 1966. Excavations at Çatal Hüyük, 1965, Forth Preliminary Report. AnSt 16: 165-191.

Meyer, J.-W., Vila, E., Mashkour, M., Casanova, M., Vallet, R. (eds) 2020. The Iranian Plateau during the Bronze Age. Development of Urbanisation, Production and Trade. Lyon: Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée – Jean Pouilloux.

Mirtskhulava, G. 1975. Samshvilde. Tbilisi: Metsniereba (in Georgian).

Orthmann, W. 2017. Burial mounds of the Martqopi and Bedeni Cultures in Eastern Georgia, in: Rova, Tonussi 2017: 189-202.

Palumbi, G. 2020. The expansion of the Kura-Araxes culture in Iran: what role for the Uruk?, in: Meyer

et al. 29-49.

Rodrigues, A. 2008. Islam and symbolism. Military Review 2008 (May-June): 106-114.

Rova, E., Tonussi, M. (eds) 2017. At the Northern Frontier of Near Eastern Archaeology. Recent Research on Caucasia and Anatolia in the Bronze Age. Proceedings of the international Humboldt-Kolleg Venice, January 9th-January 12th, 2013 (Publications of the Georgian-Italian Shida Kartli Archaeological Project 2 / Subartu 38). Turnhout: Brepols.

Schmidt, K. 2010. Göbekli Tepe – the Stone Age sanctuaries. New results of ongoing excavations with a special focus on sculptures and high reliefs. Documenta Praehistorica 37: 239-259.

Shanshashvili, N. 2000. Three-Part compositions in the ornament of the Kura-Araxes Culture. Dziebani. The Journal of the Centre for Archaeological Studies, Georgian Academy of Sciences 5: 27-36 (in Georgian).

Shanshashvili, N., Narimanishvili, G. 2015. Painted pottery of the Kura-Araxes Culture from the South Caucasus, in: Işıklı, Can 2015: 132-144.

Slavchev, V. 2010. The Varna Eneolithic cemetery in the context of the Late Copper Age in the East Balkans, in: Antony, Chi 2010: 192-211.

Smith, A., Badalyan, R., Avetisian, P., with contributions by Greene, A. and Minc, L. 2009. The Archaeology and Geography of Ancient Transcaucasian Societies, vol. I. The Foundations of Research and Regional Survey in the Tsaghkahovit Plain, Armenia (OIP 134). Chicago: The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

Smith, A., Badalyan, R., Avetisian, P., Zardaryan, M. 2004. Early complex societies in Southern Caucasia: A preliminary report on the 2002 investigations by Project ArAGATS on the Tsakahovit Plain, Republic of Armenia. AJA 108/1: 1-41.

Smith, A.T., Rubinson, K.S. (eds) 2003. Archaeology in the Borderlands. Investigations in Caucasia and Beyond (Cotsen Institute Monograph 47). Los Angeles: The Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA.

Summers, G.D. 2014. The Early Trans Caucasian Culture in Iran: Perspectives and problems. Paléorient 40/2: 155-168.

Takajshvili, E. 1905. Samšvilde, in: Arxeologičeskie ékskursii, razyskanija i zametki (Archaeological Excursions, Researches and Notes) 2: 40-55. Tiflis: Tipografija K. Kozlovskago.

Tokarev, S.A. (ed.) 1980. Mify narodov mira (Myths of the World’s People), vol. 1. Moscow: Sovetskaja énciklopedija.



How to Cite

Shanshashvili, N., & Narimanishvili, G. (2022). Early Bronze Age settlement from ancient city Samshvilde. ARAMAZD: Armenian Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 16(1-2), 390–406. https://doi.org/10.32028/ajnes.v16i1-2.1840