As we want to go beyond theory, Caucapia aims to put our knowledge into action. And we have chosen a special place to do so.
The Mashavera Valley, about 65 km south of Tbilisi, is well-known today for two spectacular archaeological attractions that bring a growing number of tourists into the region, too. Nestled in a stunning landscape, the archaeological site of Dmanisi is dominated by the 7th century Sioni-Sameba monastery, when the Silk Road ran here. But the monastery is not the main attraction as the site is much older!
Layer by layer, wide varieties of civilizations have left their mark here. Dmanisi gained special fame by the fossils excavated here that caused a sensation among anthropologists. With an estimated age of 1.77 million years, the finds represent the oldest evidence of presence of »Homo erectus« north of the Mediterranean Sea. The finds prove that the first representatives of the genus were present in Eurasia about 300,000 years earlier than previously assumed. Their path led through the Mashavera Valley.
The second attraction is the »Sioni Church« near Bolnisi. Built in 478 a.d., the Georgian Orthodox basilica is the oldest dated church in the entire South Caucasus. Just a century before the Roman Empire, Georgia adopted Christianity as state religion. According to legend, the church stands at the location where Saint George killed the dragon. The country of Georgia owes its name to this very myth.
The masonry of the church even contains pagan elements. The basilica is considered as an excellent example of early Christian architecture. Especially the early inscriptions made the building famous as they represent the oldest historical documents of the Georgian script. In addition, the church exhibits the oldest depiction of the Bolnisi cross, a widespread symbol of the Georgian Orthodox Church.