Research - Kartvelian
THE KARTVELIAN LANGUAGES and ALPHABET
Ever since the 19th Century, when the study of Kartvelian languages (Kartuli, Megruli, Lazuri, Svanuri) began, opinions differed as to their genetic pertinence. Some scholars thought they were an independent family, while others connected them with North-Caucasian tongues. Yet, still others linked them with a number of languages of ancient civilizations in the Near East (Urartian, Hurrian or Mitannic, Elamite, Hittite, Sumerian), the Mediterranean basin (Cretan, Etruscan, Basque), and the Indo-European, and Semitic.
The same scientific fate of vagueness is shared by the Kartvelian alphabet. Kartvelian Writing assumed to consist of three developmental stages—Asomtavruli, Nuskha-Khutsuri, Mkhedruli—has been variously linked with Phoenician, Greek, Aramaic, Devanagari, and Armenian ABCs at different times. While the research pages of the website offer more detailed discussion of various issues and the latest research, the timeline below provides some outstanding dates in the history of the Kartvelian language and its alphabet. More.
- 444 B.C. – The first Fixed Solar Calendar encoded in the Kartuli Asomtavruli Alphabet was introduced by Georgian scholar-priests. Hence, the creation of the alphabet was already complete by that time (Prof. Ramaz Pataridze, 2006).
- 292-274 B.C. – Parnavazi or Nekresi Inscription. A piece of stone which indicates only the given years of the beginning and the end of an unknown enterprise.
- 284 B.C. - King Parnavaz adopted the Kartuli language and writing as the State Language of the country. King Parnavaz ascended the Throne of Kartli in 302 B.C., and in 284, introduced the Fixed Solar Calendar and the Kartuli Asomtavruli Alphabet for civic use. This significant event coincided with the beginning of two new cycles of the 19-year Lunar Calendar and the 128-year Solar Calendar, a complex method of using several calendars to designate events taking place in the country.
- 311 A.D. - King Mirian reintroduced the Kartuli language after the dominance of the Persians and their language.
- 326 A.D. – The earliest three-cross inscription on a stone slab found in Kvemo Kartli. One cross stood for the name of the country, Kartli; the second for Country, and the third for Christ, which encoded the message Kartli, the Country of Christ. Before the Fifth Century, the three crosses were used as the symbol on the country's banner.
Note: Around 450-460 A.D., after the unification of different Kartvelian states, the three crosses were changed into five to represent different regions of the country: Kartli, Kakhet-Hereti, Egris-Apkhazeti, and Tao-Klarjeti.
- 329 A.D. - The second earliest Christian inscription was found on a stela among the ruins of an old church in Kvemo Kartli (Dmanisi region). The date indicates the 25th year of the 28-year Solar Cycle and the 5th year of the 19-year Lunar Cycle. According to the Kartvelian Dasabamitgani calendar*, 329 is the 81st year of the 12th cycle**.
* The Dasabamitgani calendar consists of 532-year long cycles.
** Georgians calculated dates by the Fixed Solar Calendar, the Lunar Calendar, the Dasabamitgani calendar and the sun and moon eclipses.
- 342 A.D. - Praise and Glory to the Kartuli Language is the first written Kartvelian manuscript discovered on Mount Sinai by Alexandre Tsagareli in 1886. The manuscript exists in four copies: one written in the Kartuli Asomtavruli Alphabet (photo on Homepage) and three in Nuskha-Khutsuri, used only by priests. The text had great religious significance and was recited as a prayer during religious services. Three manuscripts are thought to have been copied by Ioane Zosime in the 10th Century; however, the work itself is dated much earlier, 342 A.D. The homily has been translatedinto English by Anna Meskhi (2002) and Zviad Gamsakhurdia (1991).
- 357 A.D. - A construction inscription on the Bolnisi Temple, considered not only as one of the earliest inscriptions of the Kartuli Asomtavruli, but noted as one of the finest in its calligraphy.
- 367 A.D. - The Davati Stela. A stela from Kvemo Kartli with archangels Michael and Gabriel holding a parchment with the Kartuli Asomtavruli Alphabet comprising 37 letters. The Stela has two dates: 284 and 311 referring to the two outstanding dates linked with the Kartvelian language and alphabet.