Armazi fortress

Ancient Armazi (Region of  Mtskheta-Mtianeti)

Ancient Armazi (Georg. არმაზი) – part of historical  Mtskheta, it is a place where the ancient city of the same name and the original capital of the early Georgian kingdom of Kartli or Iberia was located. It particularly flourished in the early centuries of the Anno Domini and was destroyed by the Arab invasion in the 730s. The name of the city and its dominant acropolis, Armaz-Tskihke ( “citadel of Armazi”) , is usually taken to derive from Armazi, the chief deity of the pagan Iberian pantheon. The name first appears in the early medieval Georgian annals though it is clearly much older and reflected in the Classical name Armastica or Harmozica of Strabo, Pliny, Ptolemy and Dio Cassius.

According to a collection of medieval Georgian chronicles, Armaztsikhe was founded, in the 3rd century BC, by the semi-legendary king Pharnavaz I of Iberia at the place hitherto known as Kartli. From 1943 to 1948 large-scale excavation was undertaken and resumed in 1985 and continuing. These have shown that the adobe town walls and towers, built upon a plinth of hewn stone in the first half of the 1st century AD, surrounded the hill top and the side sloping down towards the river, an area of 30 ha.  Among the surviving structures are the royal palace, several richly decorated tombs, a bathhouse and a small stone mausoleum. The area is now a state-protected field museum administered as a part of the National Archaeology Museum-Reserve of Greater Mtskheta.