September 10, 2009 — Since the World Bank works in more than 100 countries, the projects it supports often come along interesting cultural treasures. But road construction in Georgia recently unearthed a “chance” find along the route of the old fabled Silk Road that have been described as one of the most “unique and important” archaeological sites of the Caucasus region.
In May, 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.
On one hand, the archaeological find does not come as a surprise. The site lies on the route of the Silk Road, which carried goods, slaves, silk and spices between Asia, Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean for millennia and gave rise to some of the great cities of ancient times. On the other hand, though, the treasures lying under the hillside of the small town of Igoeti might have gone undiscovered had it not been for the repairing of the East-West Highway, says Vakhtang Licheli, Prof. of Archaeology, Director of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology at the Tbilisi State University, who is heading the excavation works.