The hoard from the city-site of Vani

Dimitri Akhvlediani, Badri Amaghlobeli, Jennifer Chi, Maia Chichinadze, Nino Kalandadze, Darejan Kacharava, Jeffrey Maish, Guram Kvirkvelia, Nino Lordkipanidze, David Saunders, Mikheil Tsereteli, Marc Walton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A hoard containing bronze and iron objects was discovered at the Vani city-site – one of the centers of the 8th-1st cc. BC Colchis, by the Vani expedition of the Georgian National Museum in 2007. The nature of the hoard is a source of ongoing research and in recent years the Georgian National Museum has collaborated with the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) in New York, the J. Paul Getty Museum and Getty Conservation Institute (Los Angeles), and the Ferdinand Tavadze Institute of Metallurgy (Tbilisi) on the treatment and study of the hoard. The hoard was composed of a bronze bowl, four stands, an incense burner, four lamps, and 10 sets of couch legs, as well as two iron lamp stands, a fire-dog, and dozens of spear-heads and arrowheads. The date of the hoard and the items it contained was determined by means of stratigraphic and radiocarbon methods, as well as through analogy. The hoard seems to have been buried in the middle of the 1st century BC. Some of the treasure from Vani must belong to the temple inventory, other parts to offerings. Technical study revealed that the lamps were made of lead-tin bronzes with a range of compositions using different lost wax methods; the smaller of two large vessel stands was cast from a leaded bronze, the other stands by casting a tin bronze. The large bowl may have been cast as a general shape and finished by turning; its decorated rim was probably cast and attached separately. Some of the couch parts were made of unleaded tin-bronze, the rest of leaded tinbronze. Through study of the iron objects, it was estimated that they were manufactured from steel with a low carbon content which has to be received through cold blow process. There is no major difference between the materials. The artifacts were produced by means of free hammering; no traces of thermal treatment were identified. The material is not homogeneous in terms of structure, which is confirmed by microhardness data too. The Vani hoard was also investigated using palynological methods (the Institute of Palaeobiology of the Georgian National Museum). On the grounds of iconographical analysis, it can be proposed that the human busts and elephant heads decorating the bronze six-nozzle lamp correspond to Heracles with a lion skin and Dionysus and his wife Ariadne in the famous mythological scene of Dionysus’s expedition in India.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-191
Number of pages10
JournalBulletin of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016


  • Arrowhead
  • Couch
  • Fire-dog
  • Hoard
  • Incense burner
  • Lost wax process
  • Palynological method
  • Radiocarbon date
  • Spearhead
  • Stratigraphic data
  • The Vani city-site

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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