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Uplistsikhe Cave Town

Date of Submission: 24/10/2007
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(iv)(v)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Culture, Monuments Protection and Sport of Georgia
State, Province or Region:
Gori District
Coordinates: N41 58 E44 12
Ref.: 5234
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party

Description

Uplistsikhe Cave Town-Fortress is situated on a rocky massif in 15 km eastwards to town Gori on the left bank of the river Mtkvari. The fortress is mentioned in chronicles from earliest times. Its history begins in the I-II millennium B.C. Uplistsikhe was an important religious, political and cultural centre in the Hellenistic and the late Antique periods (IV c. B.C. - IV c. A.D.).  The town was in its heyday as far back as the 9th - 11th centuries. In 13th century, it was ravaged by Mongols.

Living quarters and premises for communal purposes occupy a cliff territory of almost 8 hectares and are connected by footways. The majority of the caves are devoid of any decorations. The central ensemble, a big hall with coffered tunnel-vaulted ceiling, and the palace complex, is the most interesting one architecturally. The natural rock easily lent itself to various kinds of treatment, making it possible to create complex decorative compositions. The ribbed ceiling with an aperture, a smoke outlet which also admitted light, was supported by two columns carved from the living rock; the hall had niches-loggias on three sides. Next to this hall, a three-nave basilica was hewn from rock in the second half of the 6th century, and to the east of it, a three-church basilica of brick was built in the 9th - 10th centuries. The cave complexes dating to high medieval times usually included a number of small hall-churches beside the dwellings.

Archaeological excavations have revealed extraordinary artefacts of different epochs: beautiful golden, silver and bronze jewellery, magnificent samples of ceramics and sculptures.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The authenticity of monument is completely preserved in architectural forms, materials, location and other necessary attributes. The present state of conservation can be characterised as patchy. Conservation works have been regularly conducted in Uplistsikhe during past decades.

Comparison with other similar properties

In the view of State Party, it is unreasonable to apply comparative regional analysis to this property.