Cover Picture © Credits to asafta
Cover Picture © Credits to asafta
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Georgian script - one of the oldest in the world

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Nowadays, many people visit Georgia, because they want to explore its ancient history by visiting the oldest churches and historical buildings. Not to mention the spectacular nature this country can offer you. Apart from this, many tourists are also interested in the Georgian script. In this article, I am going to tell you about our alphabet that is one of the oldest in the world.

As you know, there are around 5000 languages around the globe. However, there are only 14 unique scripts and the Georgian is one of them. The Georgian alphabet system is very sophisticated. You might assume that the Georgian language is not difficult, when you discover that we read every letter in the word and that we do not have any silent letters. However, in reality, it is a quite complex and diverse language with its grammatical rules and a lot of synonyms.

History

For many centuries, it was believed that the oldest Georgian script was found on the wall of the Sioni church in Bolnisi. It dates back to 493-494 AC. However, in the middle of the 20th century, an Italian archaeologist Virgilio Corbo found the ruins of the Georgian church in Palestine. On that ruins, they found a Georgian script that is dated even earlier in 428-432 AC. Later on, the expedition of the Nekresi monastery explored the Georgian handwriting from the 4th century. That is why the scientists think that we already had our script from the 5th century.

Bolnisi Sioni Church
Bolnisi Sioni Church
Bolnisi, Georgia
Nekresi Monastery
Nekresi Monastery
Nekresi Monastery Road, Georgia

According to Georgian chronicler Leonti Mroveli, king Pharnavaz created Georgian script in the 4th century BC. There are also some Greek-Roman sources, which state that the Georgians already had their own script even in the pre-Christian epoch.

Picture © Credits to kapulya

Development of the Georgian script

Nowadays, several hypotheses exist about the creation of the Georgian alphabet. It is still under the question what kind of a sample the creator of our script used. According to one hypothesis, its origins come from the Phoenician or Aramaic languages. However, there are other sources as well that state that the Georgian alphabet is derived from the ancient Greek.

During its existence, the alphabet has undergone three major changes: Asomtavruli, Nuskhuri and Mkhedruli. Each of them has its own graphical style. Asomtavruli is the oldest alphabet. Its manuscripts date back to the 1st century BC. The samples of the Nuskhuri script are found from the 9th century. Mkhedruli is a modern Georgian alphabet, and we have the examples from the 11th century. The alphabet has 33 letters and does not have capital letters.

In addition, I would like to tell you that for now there are 4 Kartvelian languages that are spoken in the country: Georgian, Megrelian, Svan and Laz. Despite the fact that the Georgian language has at least 18 dialects, none of them has its own alphabet, and we all use only the Mkhedruli script.

We are proud to have our own alphabet, that is one of the oldest in the world. Now you have also some idea about the Georgian script. So, when you arrive in Georgia, don’t forget to say “Gamarjoba” which means “Hello” in Georgian. It is translated as “victory” and reflects our country’s complicated past of endless attacks.


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The author

Anano Chikhradze

Anano Chikhradze

I am Anano. I Iove travelling, history and getting to know people from all over the world. I write about Georgia, my country, and I am sure everybody will fall in love with it.

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