The developed early farming culture of Shulaveri-Shomu-Tepe period, dating back to 6th-5th millennia, BC of the Neolithic period, which is found in the Kvemo Kartli region of Georgia, yields both the domesticated grapevine pips and the Qvevri-like clay wine vessel, which is adorned on both sides with a relief of grapevine canes. The above-mentioned vessel is considered to be the oldest wine vessel in the world.
Neolithic farming culture has preserved unique and versatile pottery, the forms and contents of which are telling us that they are designated for wine.
Kura-Araxes and Bedeni cultures
The Kura-araxes (great kurgans) culture dating back to the 4th-3rd millennia BC and originating in the eastern part of the South Caucasus, denotes high level of farming and viticulture. It was one of the widespread cultures in the Middle East. None of the Caucasian cultures have spread so widely. By that period the pottery is already characterized by the emergence of various religious, spiral or astral symbols, which indicates the existence of religious beliefs and perceptions, along with wine production.
The Martkopi-Bedeni period dates back to the middle period and the second half of the 3rd millennium BC. It is distinguished for a high-quality black-glossy pottery adorned with geometric ornaments.
The grapevine canes, wrapped in silver sheets, found in kurgan-like burial site, belong to the Bedeni period. Burying the plant with the dead indicates the connection of this sacral plant with eternity and emphasizes its religious significance in such an early epoch.
Second millennium. BC.
The development of local traditions and close contacts with the Western Asia has contributed to the development of the Trialeti culture - the magnificent culture of the Great Kurgans, dating back to the first half of the 2nd millennium, BC. The Trialeti culture shows a high level of metallurgy development.
The upper frieze of the Trialeti ritual silver goblet depicts represents a procession of the priests, wearing zoomorphic masks and holding up cups, directed towards the supreme deity seated on the throne. Behind his back is a grapevine, or the Tree of Life, and hound dogs are lying at his feet, the executors of the will of astral deities, according to the Georgian mythology. Varduli, a radial decoration symbolizing the Sun, is depicted on the bottom ring, while the lower frieze of the Goblet depicts the procession of deer, the sacral animals. According to the scientists, the fictional storyline pattern of the Cup, which could find an analogue in the Hattian and Hurrian world, must denote the eternal cycle of death-revival and fertility.
Gold inlayed with carnelian, red sardonyx, jet, amber, lapis-lazuli and blue-painted ceramic. First half of the 2nd mill. BC. Second phase of the Trialeti Middle Bronze Age Culture.
The Late Bronze and the Early Iron Age
The Late Bronze and Early Iron Age also continuously reveal the presence of wine culture on the territory of Georgia. There are small anthropomorphic sculptures with religious meanings related to winemaking, which emphasize the importance of wine, such as the ithyphallic statue from Melaani, Kakheti and a small statue of Tamada from Vani.
The Antique period yields the imported wine vessels along with local and diverse wine materials. This once more emphasizes the significance of the viniculture and reveals the intense trade relations that Colchis and Iberian kingdoms had with ancient Greece, Rome, and the Achaemenid Empire. It also yields Rhyton type cups, whose zoomorphic symbols – the images of a bull, horse, ram - are often adorned with solar-astral ornaments, showing us, along with the farming culture, the sacral nature of these animals and the ancient beliefs and perceptions.
Early Middle Ages
Already in the middle of the Medieval Period the wine production in Georgia is continuously thriving and, correspondingly, the variety of wine pottery is preserved.