Georgian writing

Georgian scripts

In the world, only 14 peoples have their own written language. One of them is Georgian. The Georgian language has a unique alphabetic system, one of the few that is used by thousands of the world’s most diverse languages.

Georgian writing  is considered one of the oldest alphabets in the world. He had three stages of development: in the third century BC. BC, the first Georgian alphabet “Mrgvlovani” or “Asomtavruli” was created in  III century AD J. – C. – the alphabet “Nuskhuri” and in the XIth century – the Georgian writing again, now in its last, was replaced by the writing of “Mkhedruli”. “Mkhedruli” proved to be the most perfect among all other types of Georgian writing, it acquired its final appearance in the 15 th century AD. The letters of these three alphabets, which designate the same sounds, are very different from each other.

As we have already noted, the creation of the Georgian alphabet, the Georgian historical tradition associated in the name of King Farnavaz ( III century BC), but the scientifically confirmed sensational discovery of archaeologists in Georgia, who discovered the country’s oldest inscription in 2016, has completely transformed the history of Georgian writing.

The inscriptions on the altar were discovered during excavations on Mount Grakliani, near Igoeti village, 40 kilometers from Tbilisi. At first, the age of inscription would have been estimated at 7 or 8 centuries BC. The date is set as precisely as possible. An American laboratory confirmed that the inscription was made in the late 11th and early 10th century BC.

This means that in fact, the writing appeared on the territory of Georgia three thousand years ago. The inscription has not been deciphered yet, but experts suggest that since it was made on the altar base, it is related to religion. The meaning of such messages at that time belonged only to priests. If it is proved that the inscription made in Grakliani  is an alphabet, it turns out that the ancient inhabitants of Grakliani began to write 200 years earlier than the Phoenicians.

The modern Georgian alphabet is based on a strict phonological principle: each phoneme corresponds to a single strictly defined grapheme. In modern Georgian script, 33 letters are used. In the 19th century, during the spelling reform, these letters were removed from the alphabet for which, according to the reformers, there was no more sound match in Georgian. 8 letters were seized, 5 of which belonged to the former Georgian and 3 were borrowed later.

Georgians view the Georgian alphabetic system as a unique national treasure and an integral part of national self-identification. All three types of Georgian script – “Mrgvlovani”, “Nuskhuri” and the modern “Mkhedruli” – are on UNESCO  Intangible Cultural Heritage List. (2016)


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