Issue: Coins of Vakhtang IV with the Asomtavruli legends
Type: Issue: Coins of Vakhtang IV with the Asomtavruli legends

Description, picture:
Billon. Weight – ex. 0,60 gr., 0,85 gr.

d=13/15 mm.
 
Obverse: Georgian legend in three lines: ႶႭ/ႢႫႰ/ႿႭႱ – “God, long live”.

Reverse: Again, a legend in three lines which continues the legend on the obverse: ႫႴႤ/ႱႠႥႾ/ႲႢႱ –  “King Vakhtang”.

Scholarly commentary:
    The 15th c. was a difficult period in Georgian history. United Georgian kingdom disintegrated  into several small  kingdoms and principalities. Unification of Georgia became impossible for a long time. Obviously, these processes were reflected on the 15th c. Georgian money.
    A hoard of low-quality and weight-reduced silver and billon coins was found in 1935 in Gori, during land works between former seminary street and the cemetery. According to approximate estimates, the hoard contained 10000 coins.  Gori hoard has a big importance for the Georgian numismatics since it enabled scholars to get aquainted with the majority of the coins of the 15th c. Georgian kings and princes. The coins from the hoard are divided into several groups: I – coins with Georgian legends; II – coins with Arabic legends; III – coins without legends with various depictions (ex. beast), or coins with much damaged legends. Apart from this, a certain number of the coins are produced using only obverse die. The dating of the coins was made possible by Arabic legend in three lines placed on one of the Turkish akçes (or their imitation) from the hoard: “May his deeds be glorified, struck at Adrianople in the year [8]86 (=1481)”. Therefore the hoard was probably buried in the 80s of the 15th c. whereas the coins were struck in the 15th c. The Georgian coins of the hoard belong to the following kings and princes: Alexandre I (1412-1442), Vakhtang IV (1442-1446), Giorgi VIII (1446-1466), when he still was a king of united Georgia, Bagrat VI (1466-1478), Kvarkvare – atabeg of Samtskhe (1451-1498), Konstantine II (1478-1505). The coins of the latter king are abundantly represented in the hoard and are of various variants. The hoard is kept at the Fund of Treasury, Numismatic Collection, Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia.
    Here we also should recall another numismatic hoard of 926 billon and copper coins, found in 1924 in Mna village (Kazbegi district).  The contents of  Mna hoard is identical to that of the hoard of Gori. The contents of  Mna hoard entered the Numismatic Department  of  the State Museum of Georgia in two parts (GF. №№3142-3481, 16293-16868). The hoard consists of 15th-16th cc. low-quality coins which were struck in the name of the following kings: Vakhtang IV, Giorgi VIII, Konstantine II and David X (1505-1525). Apart from this, there were also imitations to the Turkish akçes, and the coins with the depiction of beast, fish, and geometric ornament.
    After Giorgi VII, his brother, Konstantine I (1407-1411) became king of Georgia. Unique silver coin is kept at the Main Fund of the Georgian Coins, Numismatic Collection, Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia (№3202). D. Kapanadze thought the coin belongs to Konstantine I (Coins of Konstantine I). Here is a description:

Silver. Weight – 0,40 gr.

Obverse: Asomtavruli letters inside square.
      Ⴒ            
Ⴉ         Ⴌ    –   Konstantine.
      Ⴑ             

Reverse: Distorted Arabic legend in two lines.

    The identical coin was published by V. Langlois in the 80s of the 19th c. and mistakenly attributed  to Konstantine II. But, as it is seen from his not very correct dating (1407-1414), Langlois meant Konstantine I.
    This coin should belong to Konstantine I. There are three arguments for this suggestion: 1. the above-described coin resembles the coin of Giorgi VII; 2. despite the fact that there is a large number of the variants of the coins with Konstantine’s name in Mna  and Gori hoards, we do not encounter the identical coin there; 3. identical coin was in the hoard found in 1832 in Lore. The upper chronological limit for the hoard is 1426.
    There are no coins of Alexandre I (1412-1442) kept at the Numismatic Collection, Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia. It is true that in Gori hoard there is one coin (GF. №7183, weight – 0,38 gr.), which D. Kapanadze attributes to Alexandre I. However, this coin is so worn that it is impossible to establish its exact attribution (Coins of Alexandre I). On the obverse, presumably, a mirror image of Asomtavruli letter   should be read. If it is true, then it definitely belongs to Alexandre I because, as was earlier noted by V. Langlois, this letter denotes the K’oronikon, and coincides with Alexandre’s enthronement year (100=1412).  V. Langlois was right in deciphering as the K’oronikon, but he, nevertheless, mistakenly attributed such coin to Konstantine I.

    The description of the silver coin of Alexandre I is as follows:

Obverse: In the centre, Asomtavruli letter   (often a mirror image) within the linear circle. Around, Asomtavruli legend which, according to Evg. Pakhomov, on some well-preserved samples can be read as follows: “King of the Kings Alexandre”.
Reverse: Georgian legend in two lines: ႱႾႧ/ႶႱႧ “In the name of god”.

    G. Dundua had checked Alexandre I’s coins kept at Hermitage and was convinced by Evg. Pakhomov’s reading of the coin legend. The legend on the reverse is read particularly well: ႱႾႧ/ႶႱႧ (in the name of God). The legend on the obverse became readable only by connecting the fragments of the inscriptions of several coins since no complete legend was preserved on any of these coins. Overall, there are 73 coins of Alexandre I kept at the Hermitage.
    After Alexandre I, his son Vakhtang IV (1442-1446) became king. D. Kapanadze published one variant of Vakhtang IV’s coins, which was found in Gori  hoard  (GF. №7184) (Coins of Vakhtang IV with the Asomtavruli legends). However, it is so badly preserved that if not the identical samples from Mna  hoard, its attribution to Vakhtang would be impossible.
    Another variant  of Vakhtang IV’s coins (Coins of Vakhtang IV with the depiction of animal) was identified in the up-to-now unpublished Mna hoard.

Billon. The weights range from ex. 0,65 gr. to 0,88 gr.
Obverse: Georgian legend in two lines: ႫႴႤ/ႥႾႲ – “King Vakhtang”.
Reverse: Depiction of animal, very much like a donkey.

    Despite the fact that the above-described coins were in the hoard buried in the first quarter of 16th c., they certainly belong to Vakhtang IV. There is simply no other Vakhtang at this particular time. This is also attested by the analysis of Mna hoard. This hoard contains I variant of Vakhtang IV’s coins and the coins of Giorgi VIII, Konstantine II, and David X. It is obvious that this sequence of the Georgian kings is not accidental and the described coin should belong to Vakhtang IV.
    In Gori  hoard there were found the coins of Giorgi VIII (1446-1466, 1466-1476) with the different legends. Their description is as follows:

Coins of Giorgi VIII with the title “King of the Kings”.
Billon. The weights range from 0,47 gr. to 0,70 gr.
Obverse: Asomtavruli legend in four lines: ႫႤႴႤ/ႫႤႴႤႧ/ႫႳႬႠႶ/ႱႢႨႢႨ –  “King of the Kings, slave of God, Giorgi”.
Reverse: Cross.

Coins of Giorgi VIII with the title “king”.
Billon.
Obverse: Georgian legend in two lines – [ႫႤႴႤ]/ႢႨႢႨ – “King Giorgi”.
Reverse: Some animal. No image in the most cases.

    According to D. Kapanadze, coin in the legend of which Giorgi is mentioned simply as “king” and not as “King of the Kings”,  should belong to the period of his reign in Kakheti (1466-1476). That is the time when, pressured by Bagrat VI, he could not have any pretensions for the title of “King of the Kings”.  
    The following coin (Coins of Bagrat VI) should belong to Giorgi VIII’s rival Bagrat VI (1466-1478):

Billon. Weight ≈0,64 gr.
Obverse: Georgian legend in two lines – ႫႴႤ/ႡႢႲ – “King Bagrat”.
Reverse: Winged beast.

    There were two samples in Gori hoard.
    Coin of atabeg Kvarkvare (Coins of atabeg Kvarkvare) is synchronous with the money of Giorgi VIII and Bagrat VI.

Silver. The weights range approximately from 0,39 gr. to 0,66 gr.
Obverse: Mkhedruli legend in two lines within linear square – ყრ/ყრე (a mirror image), “Kvarkvare”. There is also coin with Asomtavruli legend.
Reverse: Schematic depiction of fish. Above and below, eight-pointed  star.

    M. Barataev was the first who studied Feudal coins. However, he mistakenly attributed identical coin to Rusudan (1222-1245). In the letters of the name of atabeg Kvarkvare he read 450 (=1230) which we encounter on Rusudan’s dramas.
    Afterwards, D. Kapanadze attributed identical coin but with Asomtavruli legend, which was found in Gori  hoard, to the period of co-ragnancy of Bagrat VI and Konstantine II (1466-1478). However, Kapanadze was already questioning his own theory by putting a question mark at his reading of the legend (ႩႬ/ႡႰ . . .?). The finding of another sample with Mkhedruli legend enabled him to find out about a person who struck the coin with the depiction of fish. This is Kvarkvare, atabeg of Samtskhe (1451-1498), who was notorious for his separatism. Various variants of his coins attest to the fact that the mint of Samtskhe, which undoubtedly was located in Akhaltsikhe, was producing coins on a larger scale. Among the coins of Kvarkvare there is one coin, found by Ts. Ghvaberidze, which has an Arabic abbreviation of the atabeg’s name on the obverse, whereas on the reverse – fish.
    We should stop on anepigraphic coins, which were undoubtedly struck at Akhaltsikhe mint. Below is the description according to Ts. Ghvaberidze:

1. GF. №7200. Silver. Weight – 0,77 gr. d=14/16 mm.
Obverse: Schematic depiction of fish to the right within the circle. Dots above and below the depiction.
Reverse: Schematic depiction of fish to the left within the circle. Dots above and below the depiction.

2. QF. №603. Silver. Weight – 0,48 gr. d=13/14 mm.
Obverse: Cross within the circle.
Reverse: Schematic depiction of fish to the left within the circle.

3. QF. №3215. Silver. Weight – 0,73 gr. d=13/14 mm.
Obverse: Depiction of fish to the left within the circle.
Reverse: Sunni religious formula in Arabic in three lines within the linear quadrangle – “There is no god but Allāh alone, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allāh”.

    As it was already said, the Georgian coins with the depiction of fish are anonymous. However, D. Kapanadze, rightly so, attributed these coins to Meskheti mint. G. Dundua had a similar opinion. Moreover: G. Dundua, while reviewing the attribution-dating question of the coins with the depiction of fish, and analyzing the hoards and the similarity of these money with the coins of Kvarkvare, concluded that they belong  to Kvarkvare atabeg. However, these coins were struck in the early period of his reign, before he captured Giorgi, king of Georgia, in 1465.
    Coins of  Konstantine II (1478-1505) are the most numerous in Gori and Mna hoards. They are divided into two variants both in terms of technics as well as the way of expressing the name  Konstantine. To the first variant belong the coins produced using both dies, and the name Konstantine is accompanied with the title “king”. To the second variant belong the coins produced with only one die. In some cases the name of Konstantine is along with the title “king”, whereas in other cases – title is not given (Coins of Konstantine II).
    The description of the coins of the first variant is as follows:

Billon. The weight range from 0,43 gr. to 0,62 gr.
Obverse: Asomtavruli legend in two lines – ႫႴႤ/ႩႱႤ (occasionally – ႫႴ/ႩႤ), “King Konstantine” –  is divided by two intersecting horizontal lines.
Reverse: Unknown beast to the left, with long tail (occasionally, cross above or below).

    To this variant belong also four coins found in Gori  hoard.

Billon. Weight – ex. 0,57 gr.
Obverse: Asomtavruli legend in two lines – ႫႴ/ႩႲ, “King Konstantine” – is divided by two intersecting horizontal lines. All the four coins are worn.
Reverse: The Sun.

    There are various abbreviations of the name of Konstantine on the coins produced using one die: ႫႴႤ/ႩႲႬႤ, ႫႤ/ႩႤ, ႫႤ/ႩႱ, “King Konstantine”, or without the title – ႩႱ/ႲႬႤ, “Konstantine”. D. Kapanadze thought these coins to be chronologically of a later period. The inscriptions on these coins, as on the coins produced using both dies, are divided by two intersecting horizontal lines (billon, the weights range from 0,47 gr. to 0,64 gr.).
    Because of few and complicated material, the 16th c. Georgian coins are less studied. According to some information, T. Lomouri had prepared for publication Mna hoard, which mainly consists of the coins of David X (1505-1525), king of Kartli in East Georgia. Unfortunately, this study was not published, creating some scholarly difficulties. In the 1960s G. Dundua examined the coins of  Mna hoard and was convinced that the majority of the coins of David X are exact imitations to the I variant of the coins of  Vahktang IV. The only feature changed is the name of the king. The legends on both sides of the coins of Vakhtang IV are as follows: “God, long live//king Vakhtang”, whereas the legends on both sides of the coins of David is are follows: “God, long live//king David”. Obviously, Mna hoard consists of several variants of the coins of David (Coins of David X).
    History of the 16th c. Georgian coins would have ended at this point, if not quite large hoard of silver coins found in Patara Jikhaishi (Khoni district) in 1946. The coins of the hoard unfortunately were mostly dispersed. Even with 18 coins which reached us T. Lomouri managed to fill up partially the gap which existed in the 16th Georgian numismatics.  Out of 18 coins, 5 are Georgian, 4 – Turkish, and 9 – Iranian. All the coins are silver.
    5 Georgian coins can be divided into three different types:

I type (Coins of Giorgi, king of Imereti. I type).
GF. №5288. Weight – 0,62 gr. d=11 mm.
Obverse: Schematic depiction of  bearded man, facing, in jewelled crown. To the left – plant ornament, around – linear circle and circle of the dots.
Reverse: Georgian Asomtavruli legend in abbreviation: ႫႴႤႢႨ – “King Giorgi”, to the right – plant ornament.

    First scholar who published such coin was M. Barataev. He mistakenly attributed it to Giorgi II (1072-1089). V. Langlois had a different opinion. He attributed the coin published by Barataev and the ones from the hoard found in 1850 near Tbilisi to Giorgi VIII.
    It is worth noting that Ekv. Takaishvili, in one of his works published in Paris, thought this coin to be “Giorgauli”. However, when he saw the contents of Patara Jikhaishi  hoard,  he refused his attribution and in 1951 handed over his sample to the State Museum of Georgia (GF. №7484). This sample differs from the coin of Patara Jikhaishi both in weight and size (weight – 1,44 gr., d=13/18 mm.). As D. Kapanadze thinks the coin is of double nominal.
    The II type (Coins of Giorgi, king of Imereti. II “type”). There are three coins of the II “type” in Patara Jikhaishi  hoard. GF. №№5289, 5290, 5303. Weight – 0,75, 0,77, 0,79; d=6/14, 6/16, 6/15. All the three coins are elongated, corner-shaped metal plates with Asomtavruli legends. Two coins, №№5289 and 5303, according to T. Lomouri, should have been struck with the same dies, whereas the third, №5290, should present their variant.
    The obverse legend of №5289 is in two lines with a line between them. In the first line we have ႫႤႴ, in the second – ႫႴ, i.e. “King of the Kings”. №5303 has the legend in full – ႫႤႴႤ. In between the two linear circles there is a circle of the dots. The reverse legends are identical on both coins: ႫႤႴႢႰႨ – “king Giorgi”.
    Third coin (GF. №5290) differs from the above two only by obverse legend. On an elongated side there is a following legend: ႫႤႴႤႧ, and since the circle is closed on all sides, there is no possibility for any other word. The reverse side is identical to the reverses of the above coins. Therefore, the entire legend of this sample is as follows: ႫႤႴႤႧ ႫႤႴႢႰႨ – “King of the Kings Giorgi”.
    Two analogous coins were in the hoard found in the outskirts of Tbilisi in 1850. They are described by V. Langlois. However, both description and attribution are wrong.
    III type (Coins of Giorgi, king of Imereti. III type). GF. №5291. Weight – 0,82. d=8/15.
    The coin is of an elongated, inccorect rectangular form. A human head to the left is visible on one side. Because of the small size of a plate the face is not fully depicted. Forehead, left eye open are visible as well as, partially, crown and presumably – beard. A small part of some letter is placed before the forehead– . According to this part, this letter can be Asomtavruli Ⴈ, Ⴄ or . An animal is depicted on the other side. Body and three legs are well visible. Not well visible is a tail up. The animal is to the left.
    Two such coins from the hoard found in 1850 were published by V. Langlois. He considered the animal on the reverse to be a lion. The coin plate published by V. Langlois as №3 is much wider and before the human profile there are depicted three Asomtavruli letters: ႴႤႨ. V. Langlois reads them as “King Giorgi”, and T. Lomouri, because of the contents of the hoard, accepts this theory.
    Before V. Langlois, identical coin was published by M. Barataev. On his sample, human profile to the left is clearly visible, bearded, crowned. The head is placed on the coin in such a way that there is a small place left between it and the edge. There are Asomtavruli legends: in front of the head – ႫႴႤ, behind – ႢႨ, i.e. “King Giorgi”. A circle of the dots around it. As to the effigy on the reverse, because of bad preservation, depicted animal is not well seen. M. Barataev thought the animal to be a wild pig. He thought the coin was struck by Giorgi I (1014-1027).
    V. Langlois thinks these coins to be struck by Giorgi VIII.
    Lastly, whom the coins of Giorgi from the hoards found in the outskirts of Tbilisi in 1850 and Patara Jikhaishi should belong to? Fortunately, in Patara Jikhaishi  hoard there were found well-dated foreign coins which enable us to establish chronological frame for the Georgian coins. This is Turkish akçe of the sultan Murad III (1574-1595) dated by A.H. 982 (=1574-1575). It is clear that king Giorgi lived in the second half of the 16th c.
    Interesting coins were touched upon by D. Kapanadze in his textbook.  It is true he did not make any changes to T. Lomouri’s attribution. However, he expressed his views regarding the design of the above-given coins. He wrote: “In comparison with other coins of the 14th-15th cc. these two described samples (I and II type – T. D.) are virtual masterpieces of coin issuing: the depiction is made in such an artistic way (i.e. the iconography of the I type coin – T. D.) that the art critic O. Saneblidze compares the depiction on this coin to the depiction of Giorgi II on one of the icons of Gelati and its fresco. The artwork of the legend is especially beautiful. Accuracy and skills, which the artisan showed in making the legend and the depiction, are astounding; it is interesting how the artisan managed to place beautifully on such a tiny plate both the legend and the depiction.
    Is it noteworthy that despite the difficult situation in West Georgia, the coins of Giorgi, son of Bagrat, have much better technical and artistic traits than their  contemporary Turkish coins. It is interesting that both fineness of metal and weight is much higher”.
    We could have ended the review of the 16th c. Georgian coins, but it lacks one more aspect.
    M. Barataev and V. Langlois published such a sample of the Georgian coins where the name of Bagrat was possible to be read (Coins of Bagrat, king of Imereti). Initially, this coin was attributed by V. Langlois to Bagrat III, king of  Imereti. The decription of the coin is as follows:

Obverse: Schematic depiction of king in three arched-crown, facing.
Reverse: Georgian Asomtavruli legend divided by horizontal line. The legend should be read as follows: “King Bagrat”.

    D. Kapanadze wrote: “None of the coins with the name of Bagrat was found in Patara Jikhaishi  hoard. However, the comparison  of  the samples and the coin types makes it possible to relate to the same period and to date by 1510-1565 the below (the above-described coin – T. D.) silver coin”.
    That was about the 16th c. Georgian coins.  Silver coins were struck in the name of foreign ruler in one of the mints of Georgia in the 16th c. This mint was in Zagemi. The functioning of the mint is attested by the silver hoard of Persian coins found in Birkiani village, Pankisi Gorge (Akhmeta district) in 1967. This hoard included two abbasis struck at Zagemi in the name of shah Safi I (1629-1642), the Safavid, and dated by A.H. 1039 (=1629). According to the work of  T. Kutelia, who thoroughly studied the Georgian-Iranian relations (under Safavids), based on numismatic material, it was ascertained that the mint at Zagemi was also functioning in the 16th c.
    Zagemi was located on the left side of the Alazani river, in the Eastern part of the historical Kakheti, on the road from Gremi to Shirwan. According  to the historical sources, in 16th-17th cc. Zagemi along with Gremi and Telavi was an important town of Kakheti.
    T. Kutelia, in the process of working in various museums found 26 silver coins which were struck at Zagemi in the name of the Safavid shah Tahmasp I (1524-1576). She even read the date of issue on some of these coins: A.H. 963 (1555-1556), 975 (1567-1568), 977 (1569-1570). These coins are of small size and elongate form. Their lenghth varies between 11 and 13 mm., whereas the width – between 8 and 9 mm. T. Kutelia, according to their weight, established that these coins were bistis, or half shahis. The weight of the bisti is 0,91 gr., whereas of the half shahi – 1,05 gr. Obviously, there is nothing Georgian in these coins. There is Shia religious formula in Arabic placed on obverse, whereas on  reverse – name of the mint and date. Below is the description of one of the samples:

Obverse: Shia religious formula in Arabic in three lines: “There is no god but Allāh alone, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allāh, Ali is the wali of Allāh”.
Reverse: Persian legend: “Struck at Zagemi in the year 963” (=1555/1556).

    The striking of the coins in the name of the Safavids attests to Kakheti’s dependance on the foreign country and acknowledgement of the Iranian overlordship.
    And finally, as the material attests, imitations to the coins of Tahmasp I (Imitations to the  bistis of shah Tahmasp) were struck in Georgia.
    We have already said that only 18 coins survived from Patara Jikhaishi hoard. 5 of them are Georgian, 4 – Turkish, whereas 9 – Iranian or imitations  to Iranian (inventory number of the latter coins – №№5292-5300). According to the description of  T. Lomouri, “ . . . outwardly they represent elongated, incorrect rectangular plates with the diameter ranging from 6/11 mm. to 13/16 mm. and the weight ranging from 0,42 gr. to 0,75 gr. On both sides of the plates there are Arabic legends. The legend on the first side should be a Muslim religious formula, whereas on the second side the legend is unclear. No date is visible on any of the coins. However, by virtue of various features it is still possible to date them. . . There is a large collection in the Numismatic Cabinet of the State Museum of Georgia. The collection contains 692 coins, which, despite minor exceptions, are of the same type. The legends are mostly unclear. On two samples, №№5059, 5200, it was possible to read a date of A.H. 963 (=1555)”. This year belongs to the reign of Tahmasp I.
    Identical coins were also a part of large hoard found near Ambrolauri in 1909. Half of the coins from hoard belonged to shah Abbas I (1589-1629), whereas the second half was elongated quadrangle-shaped small money with distorted Arabic legends. Evg. Pakhomov thought that these mysterious coins resemble in both shape and size the money of  Tahmasp I and their issue presumably took place in West Georgia. D. Kapanadze also thought these coins were produced at some mint in Imereti.
    It is clear that the imitations to the coins of Tahmasp I would not be imported from Iran into Georgia. They were produced locally, but who struck these coins and where? Turkish akçe too, dated by A.H. 982 (1574-1575), was found in Patara Jikhaish hoard. Therefore, the coins we are discussing could be dated by that period. At that time Giorgi II (1565-1585) is king of Imereti who issues the coins in his name. Why did he need to issue imitations? An answer to this question should be found since the role of Turkish akçes and imitations to the Iranian coins is well attested in monetary circulation of Georgia by the contents of the hoards (Gori, Mna and Ambrolauri hoards).
Mint: Tbilisi (?).
Nominal: Billon. Weight – ex. 0,60 gr., 0,85 gr.
Date: 1442-1446.
Collection: Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia – ex. GF. (Fund of Treasury, Numismatic Collection, Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia) №7184.
Bibliography:
G. Dundua. About Monetary Circulation in the 15th c. Georgia. Tb. 1964 (in Georg.); Monetary Circulation and Commercial-Economic Relations in the 15th c. Georgia (Historical-Numismatic Tale). Doctoral Thesis. Tb. 1965 (in Georg.); Money in Georgia (Georg. and Engl. parallel texts). Tb. 2003 (2nd Edition) (G. Dundua, N. Javakhishvili and A. Eristavi as co-authors); Georgian Numismatics. II. Tb. 2011 (T. Dundua as co-author) (in Georg.); Georgian Numismatic Dictionary. Tb. 2009 (Ir. Jalaghania as co-author) (in Georg.); Issues of the Georgian Kings and Princes in the 15th-16th cc. Tb. 2011 (T. Dundua as co-author).  

Ts. Gvaberidze. Akhaltsikhe Mint (14th-16th cc.).  Researches in Archaeology of Georgia. №19 . Tb. 2010 (in Georg.).

D. Kapanadze. Georgian Numismatics. Tb. 1969 (in Georg.); Gori Hoard of the 15th c. Georgian Money. Bulletin (“Moambe”) of the State Museum of Georgia. Vol. X-В. 1940 (in Georg.).

T. Lomouri. About 16th c. Hoard Found in Patara Jikhaishi. Bulletin (“Moambe”) of the State Museum of Georgia. Vol. XVII-Б. 1953 (in Georg.).

М. П. Баратаев. Нумизматические факты Грузинского царства. СПб. 1844.

Г. Ф. Дундуа. Монетное обращение и торгово-экономические связи Грузии XV века (ист.-нумизмат. очерк). Автореферат диссертации на соискание ученой степени кандидата исторических наук. Институт  истории, археологии и этнографии им. И. А. Джавахишвили. Тб. 1965.

Д. Г. Капанадзе. Грузинская нумизматика. М. 1955.

Т. С. Кутелия. Грузия и Сефевидский Иран (по данным нумизматики). Тб. 1979.

V. Langlois. Essai de classification des suites monétaires de la Géorgie depuis l`antiquité jusqu`à nos jours. Paris. 1860.

Imported coins found in Georgia:
15th c. foreign money from East Georgia

    1. A hoard was found in 1830-32 in Lore. The hoard was initially placed in Petersburg’s Asiatic Museum. In the 1960s G. Dundua tried, unsuccessfully though, to establish the entire body of the hoard. The reason for this is that the coins of the hoard, according to their place of origin, without any documentation, were placed in different funds. However, Lore hoard was undoubtedly placed in Petersburg’s Asiatic Museum. There were 67 Georgian coins in Lore hoard. Today in the numismatic funds of the former Asiatic Museum there is the same number of the Georgian coins.
    The chronological limit for the Oriental coins of the hoard is 1343-1426, whereas the year 1426 is lower chronological limit for the burial of the hoard. But we think that the hoard was buried much later. To this attest 67 Georgian coins found in Lore hoard. Alexandre I captured Lore in 1431. It is difficult to imagine that the 15th c. devalued Georgian coins could be circulating in such numbers beyond the borders and be put together with high value coins in one hoard. We think it would be correct to suggest that the hoard was buried after 1431, when Lore was incorporated back into Georgia and the Georgian coins started circulation there.
    Out of 503 coins from Lore hoard 13 belong to the Juchids, 22 – to Hulaguids, 9 – to Jala’irids, 16 – to Timur and other persons (Siurghatmish, Mahmud), 47 – to Timurids, 50 – to Shirwanshahs, 8 – to Ottomans, 3 – to Mamluks, 90 – to Kara-Koyunlu and 9 – to Ak-Koyunlu.
    The contents of Lore hoard make us think that the coins of the Timurids and Shirwanshahs were quite widely circulating in Georgia. It is difficult to say how widely were spread the coins of the Ottomans and the Mamluks in Georgia in the same period. However, the fact that these coins were in the hoard deserves attention.
    2. A clay pot with silver coins was accidentally found in April 1964 near the village Akhali Sakobo (Lagodekhi district). The coins were dispersed and only 46 survived, which are preserved at the Fund of Treasury, Numismatic Collection, Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia – GF. №№11415-11460. All the coins in the hoard are Shirwan anonymous tangas and belong to the reign of Hallilulah I (A.H. 820-867=1417-1462). 44 out of 46 coins were struck in Shemakha, 2 – in Baku. According to the date placed on the coins, the hoard was probably buried after 1426-1427.
    3. A clay pot with silver coins was accidentally found in autumn 1951 in the village Tamarasheni (Tskhinvali district). The hoard was divided between the finders. From this hoard there are 37 coins kept in the Tkshinvali Historical-Ethnographic Museum, whereas in Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia – 8 (GF. №№11414, 12140-12146). One copper coin from the hoard was struck in the name of the Georgian king David VIII (1293-1311). 44 tangas from Shirwan belong to the reign of Hallilulah I. The hoard was buried after 1462-1463. Tangas are very worn and mints are difficult to read. 18 samples could have been struck at Shemakha.
    4. A clay pot with silver coins was found in 1928 in Didkhorkhi village (Dusheti district). Evg. Pakhomov indicated not very correct  coordinates of finding and did not provide the exact number of the coins in the hoard: « . . . около 68 тенег начало XV в. . . .» In reality, the hoard contains 66 tangas from Shirwan and 20 Georgian coins (this number was correctly indicated by Evg. Pakhomov). Tangas from Shirwan belong to the period of Hallilulah I’s reign. Out of them the latest issue is dated by A.H. 834 (=1430-1431). They were struck at Shemakha, Baku and Derbent. But we cannot establish the deposition year of the hoard according to the coins from Shirwan. This question is closely related to the attribution of the Georgian anonymous coins with the depiction of fish, whose emission, presumably, was carried out by the atabeg of Samtskhe Kvarkvare. The deposition period should have been the second half of the 15th c.
    5. A clay pot with silver coins was accidentally found in 1971 in Ali village (Khashuri district) near the road from Gomi (Kartli) to Sachkhere (Imereti). The hoard was dispersed. 55 pieces were placed in the Khashuri Museum, whereas 4 – in a school museum of Koreti village (Sachkhere district). The hoard contains anonymous tangas of Hallilulah I’s reign, 6 samples, and Farruh Yassar’s (A.H. 867-906=1462-1500) small money – 53 samples. The earliest coin from the hoard was struck in A.H. 834 (=1430-1431), the latest – in A.H. 898 (=1492-1493). The hoard, it seems, was buried in late 15th c. The coins of Ali hoard are worn, the name of a mint – Shemakha – is readable only on some coins.
    Thus, the analysis of the above-mentioned hoards gives us every reason to conclude that throughout the 15th c. tangas of Shirwan were widely circulating in East Georgia, and that under tangas mentioned in the Georgian sources these coins are implied.
    Apart from the tangas of Shirwan, according to the Georgian documents of the 15th c., the spread of the Venetian ducats in Georgia is an established fact. Apart from the written sources, this is attested by a factual material.
    Three 15th c. Venetian gold coins together with the 16th c. Ottoman altuns and Venetian ducats were found in 1947 in Lekhura gorge (between Akhalgori and Mejvriskhevi). The gold coins were struck in the name of the following doges: Francesco Foscari (1423-1457), Pasquale Malipiero (1457-1462) and Cristoforo Moro (1462-1471). This money could have been from the Italian trading stations like – Caffa and Tana.
    Apart from this, undoubtedly, in the 15th c. the circulation of Kirmaneuli tetri continues, particularly in an intensive way in West Georgia, and this fact is attested by factual material.
    According to the records, the Ottoman gold and silver coins (Georgian general term for the gold coins in that time was phluri, and  for the silver coins – tetri) were circulating in Samtskhe-Saatabago and, perhaps, beyond its borders too in the last years of Giorgi VIII’s reign and throughout the rule of Bagrat VI. The spread of the Ottoman coins in Georgia is attested even by the fact that the Georgian coins of the second half of the 15th c. bear significant influence of the Ottomona numismatics. To this attest also the contents of the hoards of Mna and Gori, where, apart from imitations to the Ottoman coins, there are  original samples too.


16th c. foreign money from Georgia

    To establish the whole picture of the money circulation in the 16th c. Georgia, it is necessary to make a full list of coin findings. We start with the topography of the findings of gold coins:
    1. Half ashraf of Tahmasp I (1524-1576) dated A.H. 941 (=1534-1535) was found in 1949 in Jorjiashvili village (Tetritskaro district).
    2. A hoard of 23 gold coins was found in 1947 in the Lekhura river gorge (left stream of Mtkvari river, Kaspi district). 13 coins are Venetian ducats, 8 – Ottoman altuns and two Iranian half ashrafs. The Venetian ducats were struck in the name of the following doges: Francesco Foscari (1423-1457), Pasquale Malipiero (1457-1462), Cristoforo Moro (1462-1471); we have written about these ducats in a due place, when we were reviewing the 15th c. foreign coins in Georgia; Andrea Gritti (1523-1539), Pietro Lando (1539-1545). The altuns (8 samples) bear the name of the Ottoman sultan Suleyman I (1520-1566), half ashrafs – the name of the Safavid Tahmasp I, dated by A.H. 953 (=1546-1547) and 955 (=1548-1549).
    Thus, Lekhura hoard was buried in the 50-60s of the 16th c.
    3. A hoard of 16th-17th cc. coins was found in 1932 in the ruins of the old fortress in Ude village (Adigeni district). The hoard contained 28 silver coins and one Ottoman altun of Murad III (1574-1595).
    4. One altun, dated by A.H. 918 (=1512-1513) and struck in the name of Selim I (1512-1520), was found in 1970 in Khekordzula village (Mtskheta district).
    5. A hoard of gold coins was found in the 1920s in the surroundings of Ateni village (Gori district). The coins were sold part by part. Two Dutch ducats  from this hoard entered the State Museum of Georgia (GF. №№10515, 11071). One of them was a ducat, dated by 1588, from Friesland province, the second one – struck in 1646.
    The given material attests to the fact that Persian gold coins did not play any significant role in Georgia. This is not surprising as the issue of gold coins in Iran itself was not carried out on a regular basis. Moreover, gold coins were not introduced into trade activities. As to the Venetian ducats and Ottoman altuns, they were undoubtedly circulating in Georgia. A following theory was propounded in the scholarly literature: despite the fact that from the 15th c., because of the Ottoman aggression, economic relations are cut off with Italian trading stations, Venetian ducats still entered Georgia, however, this time through Turkey and Iran.
    Now we will discuss the 16th c. silver coins found in Georgia: we have already talked about the coins from Patara Jikhaishi, Ambrolauri, Racha as well as coins without the place of finding (as it is pointed out in the scholarly literature, the last two were, probably, parts of the hoard of Ambrolauri). Although, some hoards were buried in the 17th c., there are many imitations to the coins of Tahmasp I (1524-1576) as well as original samples. On some samples T. Kutelia read the name of Zagemi mint. Through the analysis of the contents of the hoards, it is possible to conclude that after the mid-16th c. Persian coins were widely circulated in both West and East Georgia. Also noteworthy is the fact that in this regard in Georgia the most important place was held by the coins struck at Zagemi mint. They were circulating in Armenia and Azerbaijan, and this is attested by the hoards of Ashtarax and Shakhbuz.
    Let us turn to other findings.
    First of all it is necessary to end the discussion on the 16th c. Persian coins. Apart from the data provided here, in various parts of Georgia there were found samples of Tahmasp I struck at various mints. However, this does not change the overall picture. Therefore, we will not list them here.
    Ottoman coins.
    1. Four Ottoman akçes of Selim I (1512-1520) were found during rock works in 1952 near Akhaldaba village (Borjomi district), on the right bank of river Mtkvari.
    2. Four Ottoman akçes, struck in the name of Selim II (1566-1574) and Murad III (1574-1595), were in Patara Jikhaishi hoard.
    3. A hoard of silver coins was found in 1945 in Likhauri village (Ozurgeti district). The hoard consisted of about one hundred 16th-17th cc. Ottoman akçes, more than one thousand imitations to the Ottoman akçes and about twenty plates of various form. Unfortunately, we do not know the number of the 16th c. coins.
    4. A hoard was found in 1895 in Kutaisi. The hoard contained Ottoman and Iranian coins of the 16th-17th cc., and coins from Trebizond, about 500 pieces in all.
    5. 15th c. Juchid coins, 16th c. Ottoman coins and 16th c. Spanish silvered coins were found along with other items in 1903 at the Otobaya cemetery (Gali district).
    Despite the fact that the findings of the 16th c. Ottoman coins are not frequent and we still do not know their exact number, Ottoman silver coins undoubtedly were widely circulating in Georgia. This is  attested by large numbers of their imitations in the hoards. Quite naturally, the issue of imitations was preceded by intensive circulation of the originals. Otherwise imitations would not have been struck.
    Now we turn to the 16th c. European coins:
    1. A taler of Albert, margrave of Hohenzollern possessions in Franconia (Bayreuth-Ansbach), struck in 1549 was found in 1940 near Radionovka village (Bogdanovka (Ninotsminda) district).
    2. A hoard of European coins was found during quarry works in 1959 in Kvareli district. The contents were dispersed among the finders. Telavi Historical Museum managed to acquire only 9 samples. They are the Dutch daalders, Czech, Salzburg and Saxonian talers. The earliest sample from the survived coins belongs to the emperor Carlos V (1519-1555), whereas the latest, struck in 1572 – to the Saxonian duke August. The hoard should not have been buried before 1572.
    3. A copper vessel with 414 European silver coins (overall weight – 8,5 kg.) was found during agricultural works in June 1953 in Makharadze (modern Ozurgeti). 270 coins were handed over to State Museum of Georgia, whereas 144 samples – to Ozurgeti Historical Museum. The hoard was studied and published by R. Kebuladze. The hoard, according to its contents, is divided into three parts. It consists of Austrian, Italian and Spanish coins. The earliest coin from the hoard, taler, belongs to archduke Ferdinand and was struck in 1564-1595, whereas the latest,  peso, belongs to Philip IV and was struck in 1628. The hoard, according to the latest coin, was buried after the 20s of the 17th c. We will talk about this hoard later during the discussion on the 17th c. data. For the moment, we are interested how many 16th c. coins are in this hoard. Below is their list:
    a) Dukedom of Tirol, mint of Halle – 6, Ensisheim – 1. Taler. Archduke Ferdinand (1564-1595) – 7 samples.
    b) Republic of Venice, doge Pasquale Cicogna (1585-1595). Silver. Undated ducato.
    c) Spain and its colonies in America. Philip II (1556-1598) – 2 samples.
    Thus, there are 10 coins from 16th c. in Ozurgeti hoard. Nevertheless, it is still possible that they entered Georgia together with the 17th c. material.
    4. Taler of archduke Ferdinand, dated by 1575, was found in the 50s of the 20th c. in Kvemo Kedi village (Tsiteltskaro (Dedoplistskaro) district).
    5. Two Dutch levendaalders (silver, undated) of late 16th c. and early 17th c. entered State Museum of Georgia in 1965.
    6. A hoard of 16th-17th cc. coins was found in the ruins of an old fortress in Ude village (Adigeni district) in 1932. The hoard contained 1 gold and 28 silver coins. The gold coin is an altun of Murad III (1574-1595), whereas the rest are European coins. The latter part consists of Austrian and Hungarian talers, Dutch arendsdaalders, rijksdaalders,   achtentwintigs and Spanish pesos.
    The earliest coin from the hoard is taler of archduke Ferdinand, struck in 1564-1595. The latest is Philip III’s peso, struck in 1598-1621. The hoard should not have been buried before the 20s of the 17th c.
    There are three 16th c. coins in the hoard of Ude. These are 1-2. undated taler of archduke Ferdinand, dukedom of Tirol, mint of Halle and 3.  Hungary, taler of the emperor Rudolf II (1576-1612), struck in 1594 at Kremnitz mint.
    7. Dutch daalder and Hungarian taler, found in Kakheti, entered State Museum of Georgia in 1965: 1. Netherlands under the Spanish rule, Zutphen county, count Wilhelm III von Berg (+1586); 2. Hungary, taler of the emperor Rudolf II, struck at Kremnitz mint in 1591.
    8. A hoard of silver coins was found in 1903 at Otobaya cemetery (Gali district). Apart from the 15th c. Juchid samples and 16th c. Ottoman akçes, the hoard contained 16th c. Spanish coins.
    9. 16th-17th cc. Spanish pesos were found in 1955 in Urta village (Ochamchire district).
    We have written that a part of the 16th c. European coins found in Georgia may have entered the country in the 17th c.  However, we cannot doubt the fact that they were circulating in the 16th c. Georgia. According to the conclusion of R. Kebuladze, the date for the spread of talers in Georgia should be considered the mid-16th c. Apart from this, the scholar also thinks that talers entered Georgia from Iran and Ottoman Empire. These countries were economically tightly linked to the European countries and the number of talers in their monetary markets was quite significant.
    If we conclude the above-discussed, we will have the following picture: in the 16th c. the Georgian kings issued their coins – David X (1505-1525) in Kartli, Giorgi II, king of Imereti (1565-1585) and, possibly, Bagrat III, king of Imereti (1510-1565). Apart from this, imitations to the Ottoman akçes and Tahmasp I’s (1524-1576) coins  were struck and widely circulated there.
    As to the foreign currency, Venetian gold ducats and Ottoman altuns were undoubtedly circulating in Georgia. At this time, in the 16th c., mint of Zagemi in Kakheti started to operate. Irainian-style coins struck there were circulating in Georgia.
    And finally, European silver coins too were undoubtedly circulating in Georgia. However, in this period they entered Georgia mainly through the Ottoman Empire and Iran.