About the Exhibit

Ancient Colchis, located on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, is best known from Greek mythology as the land where Jason and the Argonauts went in search of the Golden Fleece. It was here that Jason fell in love with Medea, the daughter of King Aeëtes, who helped the hero complete his legendary feat. Archaeological finds from the 20th century prove that this was indeed a land rich in gold. Yet the myth of Jason and Medea provides a very limited image of Ancient Colchis. What, for example, defined Colchian identity beyond its wealth in gold? How did this culture communicate with the Greek world as well as with its very powerful eastern neighbors?

Wine, Worship and Sacrifice: The Golden Graves of Ancient Vani provides a rare glimpse into the ritual life of a major Colchian city. Spectacular finds from two sanctuaries and four tombs illustrate that Colchis was at the crossroads for many different peoples. Dating from the early fifth to the first centuries B.C., objects include silver drinking vessels, bronze and iron figurines used in religious ritual, and a splendid array of gold and silver jewelry. These archaeological finds clearly show that Vani not only maintained a coherent individual identity, but also possessed direct links with Greek, Achaemenid, Phoenician and even Nomadic cultures. Further, from the number of tomb objects related to drinking and libation, it is clear that wine played an important role in Colchian social and religious life.

Organized in partnership with the Freer and Sackler Galleries, this exhibition will be the first time that Colchian art and culture is presented to an American audience. The exhibition will open to the public at ISAW from March 12 - June 1, 2008. A day-and-a-half-scholarly conference will also be held at ISAW from May 16-17th where a group of internationally renowned scholars will present papers on a wide variety of topics including human sacrifice in the graves at Vani, to the important role that Colchis in general played in the development of viticulture, and technical innovation visible in Colchian gold and silver jewelry.

This event was made possible by the Ministry of Culture, Monuments Protection and Sport of Georgia, the Georgian National Museum and the Vani Archaeological Museum.

Hours: 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. | Friday: 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. | Closed Monday.

Free Guided Tours Fridays 6pm, Saturdays 1pm.

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