Understanding the Evidence for the Silk Roads in Georgia and its Perspective
Keywords:Silk Road, Archaeology, Georgia
The research aims to reassess the values and cultural significance associated with Gremi, the capital of the vanished Kingdom of Kakheti (Georgia), through deconstructing its biography. In doing so, it aims to understand to what extent Gremi as a historical landscape can meet the criteria for the UNESCO Silk Roads Transnational Serial World Heritage nomination as opposed to nominating some of its architectural buildings as a single property. Since 2005 the idea of Transnational World Heritage Nominations, which involve properties presented by a State Party whose heritage is under-represented has become one of the measures for the establishment of the Representative, Balanced, and Credible World Heritage List. In this context, after a decade of work, the Silk Roads World Heritage Transnational and Serial Nomination project has developed. The nomination envisages inclusion of trading cities, caravanserais, inns, military posts, garrison stations, natural and cultural landmarks, and industrial/production sites from different countries linked by an overarching concept of the Silk Roads. The nomination project has already gained currency in the political and cultural agenda of the countries along the historic route. In 2014 the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session inscribed the first Silk Roads transboundary serial property The Routes Network of Chang' an-Tian Shan Corridor on the World Heritage List, which encompasses 33 component sites in three countries, China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Other corridors including Penjikent-Samarkand-Poykent-Merv Zarafshan Heritage Corridor (Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan), the South Asian Silk Roads (China, India, Nepal and Bhutan), and the Fergana-Syrdarya Silk Roads Heritage Corridor (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) are underway, along with the initiatives to explore the corridors to the West. In the increasingly globalized world, cultural heritage is recognized not only of national but potentially international importance too. The values ascribed to the place determines the significance of each heritage site. The deconstruction of Gremi's biography showcases its prospective international potential in a somewhat different way than the State Party features it on the Tentative List of the World Heritage Programme. The archaeological studies of Gremi and the principles of cultural heritage management is a framework for this study. The qualitative method is employed to understand the evidence for the Silk Roads in Gremi. The research maps Gremi-Shamakhi-Ardebil Silk Route using computer programme Google Earth. The biographical approach to Gremi's landscape makes apparent that focusing predominantly on the best-preserved parts of Gremi, such as the church of Archangels and the adjoining royal tower, considerably limits the representation and expression of the very essence of the place. Alternatively, framing Gremi as an outcome of the Silk Roads makes it possible to tell a fuller and richer story about it, enabling to capture all the values one might ascribe to, including the symbolic, historical and archaeological.
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