Cult of Demeter in Iberia-Colchis


  • Marika Mshvildadze Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University


Demeter – Goddess of the harvest, agriculture, fertility was one of the most worshipped Goddesses in the world of antiquity. From the moment of the appearance of the Greeks in other countries Demeter was identified with the local Goddesses. The given work involves the studies and analyses of the artifacts connected with Demeter’s cult discovered on the territory of Georgia. The results of the study prove that the cult of Demeter was introduced on the territory of Colchis from the period of early antiquity (four terracotta statues were discovered at the Greek necropolis of Kobuleti-Pichvnari and terracotta
figurines of pigs, Demeter’s sacred animal were found were found in burials #158,159 of Tsikhisdziri tombs. This is a direct result of the Great Greek colonization since no artefacts proving the existence of cult of Demeter among the local Colchian population have been encountered yet.

The sculpted terracotta head of the Goddess (dated by III-II cc. C.C.) is found at Vani archaeological site, in Hellenistic layers. By the end of the Hellenistic period the cult of Demeter becomes familiar for the population of Eastern Georgia as well (seated terracotta figure is discovered in the hoard of Uplistsikhe, a fragment of a spirelike woman with the covered head is found on the central terrace of Sarkine former city site.

From the late Antiquity Demeter’s cult is widely spread on the territories of both East and West Georgia, which is a result of the existing political situation. It is noteworthy that the images of the goddess are mostly encountered on the glyptic monuments. On the territory of Western Georgia intaglios with symbols connected with Demeter and her cult are mostly found at Bitchvinta necropolis while in East Georgia they are present at the necropolises of Urbnisi, Zhinvali, Kushanaant gora II (Magraneti), Samtavro. They are also encountered in the glyptic materials obtained by F. Baiern on the Samtavro territory.