Top Ten Events That Changed History
26 July, 2012

Position No. 7 - the earliest evidence of wild flax fibers - belongs to Georgia

Recently, renowned site published top ten inventions in History. We should be proud with the fact that among them was the discovery made in Dzudzuana cave, Chiatura Region of Western Georgia, where twisted and dyed fibers of earliest wild flax were discovered. Good for you, Georgia!  


This discovery was made in Dzudzuana Cave pertaining to the Upper Paleolithic Age in the Caucasus Foothills. Georgian Journal

met with the leader of the expedition, Mr. Tengiz Meshveliani to talk about this fact.

“This discovery is notable because we had to fight for almost one and a half year until the most authoritative scientific journal “Science” accepted our publication. This fact is very important, as not many people can claim that publications about their discoveries are published in “Science” twice, which in our case happened in 2009 and in 2010. Besides, its significance is defined by the fact that in the layers dating back to as far as 32 thousand years, we discovered twisted wild flax fiber. It means that wild flax was widely used by the Dzudzuana people.”

As the Georgian researcher says, the cave itself is very interesting; it was discovered back in 1966 by his teacher, Davit Tushabramishvili. The works went on until 1975. After that, there was a significant delay. Starting from 1996 the international Georgian-USA-Israel Stone Age Archaeological Expedition was working on the site. Among the members of the expedition there are Professor of Harvard University (USA) Ofer bar-Yosef, Anna Belfer-Cohen, Professor of Hebrew University (Israel) and others. The project focused on the emergence and dispersal of modern humans out of Africa through the South Caucasus.“We chose Dzudzuana cave as the place of observation. Fortunately, it worked; we discovered three occupational zones c. 16.5-13.2 B.P., c. 27-24 B.P., c. 34.5-32 B.P. More than 30 absolute radiocarbon samples of bone and charcoal was obtained from the stratygraphic sequence of Dzudzuana cave.”

That discovery belongs to a lady, the palynologist, professor Eliso Kvavadze! With the assistance of biological light microscope she discovered the fibers of flax thread.

“Clothing, bags, sandals, fishing nets, baskets: making of all of these and lot of other useful things require the invention of textiles, deliberate processing of organic fibers, to use them for containers or cloths.  As you can imagine, textiles are difficult to find archaeologically, and sometimes we have to base our suppositions on circumstantial evidence: net impressions in a ceramic pot, net sinkers from a fishing village, loom weights and spindle whorls from a weaver’s workshop. The earliest evidence for twisted, cut and dyed fibers are flax fibers from Georgian site of Dzudzuana cave, between 36,000 and 30,000 years ago,” reads

Tengiz Meshveliani says that only echoes the worldly-important events, when the main push was given to this recognition by the Journal ”Science”, in its turn also included this discovery of wild flax fibers in top ten in 2009 shortly after the discovery. Now, the Researcher Kris Hirts puts it in top ten titled “Inventions that changed the human history”.

Apart from the control of fire, art objects, shoes, pottery, agriculture, wine, wheeled vehicles, the luxury items – chocolate and textiles – are on the 7th position. The author writes: “Could thuman history be what it is today, if we did not have easy access to the delectable luxury item distilled from the cacao bean?’ This is chocolate, which came from Americas; it originated in the Amazon Basin at least 4000 years ago, and then it was brought to the Mexican sites of Paso de La Amada in what is today Chiapas and El Manati in Veracruz.” Georgians believed and may foreigners agreed that Georgian wine reminds them of the original taste of wine. It may be a bit disappointing, but according to Krist Hirst, author of the research, the first wine producing comes from what is today called China. This gigantic state is the leader according to the number of the inventions listed above, shoes and ceramic containers included. Israel is also mentioned – the earliest possible human-made fires - and there are still debates about what that means – are in evidence some 790,000 years ago, at Gesher Benot Ya’aqov, an open-air site in what is today the Jordan Valley of Israel.

The works of Georgian archeologists are going at full swing in other parts of Western Georgia too; namely, in Satsurblia Cave. We wish them further success!