Station: [55] How Did the NHG Find itself in Georgia?

Today's Department of Archaeology Abroad was founded exclusively to explore the Jordanian city of Petra. Which is why it was originally called the Department for Petra Research.

In the 1990s, when the Society’s involvement in Jordan was being reduced, efforts were made to come up with a new excavation project. A cooperative venture with the City Museum of Skopje in Macedonia seemed promising. In 1997, part of the Roman theatre was uncovered in ancient Scupi, but the joint undertaking was wound up after that first campaign.

It took until 2004 before another excavation opportunity came about. The Nuremberg Adult Education Centre had undertaken a study trip to Georgia and, while visiting an archaeological dig, made contact with its director, a professor at the University of Tbilisi. He was looking for cooperation partners and held out the prospect of a joint project. In August 2004, the NHG travelled to Georgia for the first time, more precisely to Atskuri, a small town in the Lesser Caucasus.

At the time, Georgia was still struggling with the aftermath of its breakaway from Russia and the subsequent shortages. After we’d measured our cuts on the first day of the excavation, all the iron nails we’d used to tension our cords had vanished by the next morning – simply because they were generally unavailable back then!

But at the same time we were experiencing the famous Georgian hospitality. Our fellow excavators did their very best to make sure we didn't want for anything.

After Atskuri, we went in search of the ancient city of Phasis, and since 2016 we’ve been taking part in a dig on the Grakliani Gora site near Tbilisi.

The professor who proposed the first cooperative undertaking in 2004 was Vakhtang Licheli. Today, he is the head of the Institute of Archaeology at the University of Tbilisi – and not only a valued colleague, but also a good friend. And we still work together.