The World Bank
11 July, 2013
The World Bank
The World Bank has been supporting a series of highway upgrading projects in Georgia and investments in them have totaled $292 million since 2006. The aim is to upgrade E60 highway, which is Georgia’s key transport corridor. It is important for transit flows, connecting European, American, and African as well as the entire Mediterranean trade with Caucasian and Central Asian regions.
This project proved to be important not only for its pure economical reasons, but also because in 2009 workers,
repairing the country’s main east-west highway artery, struck a treasure trove of urns, tools, and spearheads dating back to the Paleolithic Age of 300,000 years ago and up to the Late Hellenistic Period of the 1st century BC. In one part of the complex, workers found a Mesopotamian cylinder seal used for stamping legal agreements in 300 BC and in another, tiles from the same era reveal the existence of a temple with a ritual hearth, podium, and bread-baking oven.

Another important discovery was made lately, when Georgian archaeologists stumbled across a large Bronze Age burial site containing hundred graves with skeletons, pots, spearheads and bracelets. As they painstakingly uncovered these four treasures, new light was shed on the Mtkvari-Araks culture, which prospered in Central Georgia four thousand years ago. They found a metal band, which is made from lead. It is important that no one has ever found a lead artifact in Mtkvari-Araks culture.
It is likely no one would have found the unique bracelet without the construction of the East-West Highway. But as road crews prepared to build the Agara-to-Ruisi stretch of this ancient artery, once part of the Silk Road, surveys uncovered the graveyard. Construction was put on hold while graves were dug up, and bones and artifacts documented and moved.
“Whenever large-scale projects are being implemented, a preliminary archaeological expertise is always included in the process. However, the financial assistance provided by World Bank is always much bigger, because of the scale and volume of their construction work,” says Prof. Vakhtang Licheli, director of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology at Tbilisi State University, who is heading the excavation works.
The World Bank supports the Georgian government to ensure that care is taken of the cultural heritage discovered so that it can be shared with the Georgian population as well as the foreign visitors today and in the future. Artifacts from the first discovery are on exhibit at the Georgia Arts and Crafts Center, and once they are catalogued and studied, objects from the most recent find will be shown to the general public too. “As the highway project builds a better road and protects Georgia’s heritage, it is also strengthening the capacity of the roads department and relevant government entities to plan and manage the road network while improving road safety, and indirectly the working conditions for the Georgian academics who reflect on the country’s rich history.”- States the article of The World Bank.
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