International Association for Assistance to the Abaza-Abkhazian ethnos «Alashara»

Field diaries of archaeologists

Полевые дневники археологов

Among the materials stored in the Abkhazian state museum, of great interest are the field diaries of archaeological exploration of Abkhazian archaeologists M. M. Trapsh and L. A. Shervashidze.

Mikhail M. Trapsh is the first Abkhazian archaeologist, honored worker of culture of the Abkhazian ASSR, candidate of historical sciences, head of the department of archeology of the Abkhazian institute of language, literature and history under the name of D. Gulia. Under his leadership, was carried out an archaeological expedition to Sukhum (Red lighthouse, Sukhumi mountain, Sukhumi fortress), Kulanurkhve, Tsebelda.

M. M. Trapsh began his first archaeological work on February 1, 1951 on Sukhumi mountain. Archaeological exploration was conducted by the Abkhazian institute of language, literature and history with the participation of the State museum of Abkhazia. On the first day bronze objects and ceramics were found. Further, in the area of the saddle between the hills at a depth of 70 – 80 cm were found shards from an ancient type of clay vessel. Here were found fragments of human bones (decayed), a bronze bracelet made of a round rod, fragments of clay vessels, as well as three large sea pebbles. In his notes M. M. Trapsh writes that these pebbles were put on the deceased during the burial, so that he was not dug up by animals. Here were also found the embers, fragments of clay vessels, among them the bottoms, handles of amphorae vessels, slag and ash, crock with grooved ornament, a fragment of black - lacquer vessel, a shard with a dashed ornament.

The last entry in the diary was made on 19 February 1951.

Summing up the results of this work, M. M. Trapsh writes that "the earliest objects found on the Sukhumi mountain belong to the late bronze age, and they show that in the territory of modern Sukhum, long before the emergence of the ancient settlement, there was a local settlement, the history of which dates back to ancient times."

M. M. Trapsh's materials from Sukhumi mountain were transferred to the museum's funds together with field diaries, which have already become valuable archival material. Some of these findings are presented in the exposition of Ancient history and the middle ages department.

Further in the same diary is a record of archaeological finds on the Sukhumi fortress from March 10 to April 10, 1952.

On the first day of work at the place where the sea waves destroyed the fortress wall, at a depth of 4 meters, was found the rolled concrete, on which the fortress wall was erected, which included: small pebbles, sand, wood chips, crushed tile, sand and lime. In his notes for March 13, M. M. Trapsh wrote: "The foundation of the masonry of the oldest wall is laid by local bricks of the wall (square shape) of ancient time."

These bricks were used in the IV century AD in the construction of the fortress. Here were found fragments of black-lacquer vessels, a lamp, a bronze brooch and bracelets, coins.

Entries in the diary for April 5 devoted to the geological structure of the earth's crust in the area of the fortress.

M. M. Trapsh's works in 4 volumes were published after his death.


Of great interest are also the diaries of the famous Abkhazian archaeologist, art historian Leonid Shervashidze, honored artist, doctor of art, professor, son of Prince Alexei Dmitrievich Shervashidze. Leonid Alekseevich was born in Paris, in 1916 the family returned to Russia, and later – to Abkhazia. He is fluent in Abkhazian, Russian, English, French and Georgian. He carried out illustrations to the famous collection of Abkhazian fairy tales of 1935 edition, books on the history of A. Fadeev, studied medieval art. Since 1951, he is a researcher, conducted archaeological work. Leonid Shervashidze is the author of several fundamental monographs and up to one hundred scientific articles published in Sukhum, Tbilisi and Moscow.

In parallel with the ground historical monuments of Abkhazia, he also explored underwater archaeological sites of ancient Sukhum and the seabed at the mouth of the Kelasur river, made a map of the location of the structures that were under water in the area of the Sukhumi fortress.

Leonid Alekseevich has conducted archaeological excavations in different areas of Abkhazia, but today we will focus on diaries and field records for expeditions in the temple of Atskar (1962 – 1963) and village of Huap of Gudauta district (1967 – 1969).

L. A. Shervashidze painted beautifully, and all the sketches in the diaries and in the field descriptions were made by his hand.

The diary of the excavations, which began on 21 September 1962 in Atskar (Tscalcari), the commander Leonid Shervashidze describes many interesting finds. Among them are mainly architectural details, facing stones, fragments of columns, rosettes, stone with a frame of the doorway, the head of the ram that adorned the roof ridge, objects made of glass, bronze, ceramics, pieces of a faience vessel, severely deformed two coins, etc.

You can select a fragment of a stone slab with a painting of the Face of the Saint: "yellow halo with white pearls on the edge, a large wide-open eye, the other is lost, the color on the face is mainly ivory, and the paint layer is very thin."

Continuance of entries in his diary for 1963, begins on the 1 of August, the archaeological work conducted there, in Tskalcari. A glass bottle and a crystal bottle tetrahedral with cut cross-shaped faces, as well as a bronze drum in the form of a flower, a silver object from a thin plate, at the top of the hole for hanging were found.

All these items are exhibited in the hall of medieval Abkhazia.

On June 14, 1967 L. A. Shervashidze began archaeological work in the village of Huap of Gudauta district in the church of St. Nicholas.

In his diary Leonid Alekseevich writes that the monument under study is located on the territory of Aniki Ankvab site on the hill overgrown with trees, bushes, thorns and ferns. Several days were devoted to clearing the temple.

The finds are mainly architectural details of the temple, a broken stone slab, fragments of a window opening, eaves stones, fragments of thick-walled dishes, an iron cross, nails, etc.

In the temple on the floor at the southern pilaster was found the top of the bronze censer with one link of the chain. Today it is exhibited in the hall of medieval history.

The next diary and field inventory of L. A. Shervashidze begins on July 3, 1968. Archaeological excavations in the church of St. George on the mount of Ambara in the village of Huap was conducted prior to July 12, 1968, Here a pencil note: "The Continuation of the expedition in 1969".

In 1969 excavations begin on August 7. The monument was located on the slope of the mountain Ambara in a dense forest. Several days there was a clearing. Judging by the configuration of the plan, the church is a construction of a hall type, extensive in size. At a distance of about 100 m is a spring, near the church there is a lime kiln. In different places in the surroundings of the monument are various walls paved with blocks of stone without mortar, in the form of fences, some straight and others crooked, in the form of "atsanguar".

Here were found pieces of large ceramic vessels, dark blue glass fragments of the window, tubular bone, ceramic fragments, wild boar fangs, etc.

Археологические работы в церкви св. Георгия завершились 18 августа 1969 г. Полевые дневники и описи Л. А. Шервашидзе, как ценные экспонаты, будут переданы в фонд письменных источников Абхазского государственного музея.

 The fragments of bone plates are of great interesting . One of them - from a strip of bone plate with carved ornament in the form of a vine and a brush. The second piece is a carved bone, ornamented with a stylized grape leaf.

Archaeological work in the church of St. George was completed on 18 August 1969. Field diaries and inventory of L. A. Shervashidze, as the valuable exhibits will be transferred to the fund of written sources of Abkhaz state museum.