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Culture Heritage Which We Neglect – Ancient Mine in Sakdrisi

August 13, 2013
Manon Bokuchava, Kvemo Kartli

Status of culture heritage was seized from the monument of 3030-2918 B.C located in a small town of Sakdrisi in Bolnisi district. The commission set up by the Ministry of Culture decided that status of culture heritage was granted to the monument without any grounds. interviewed head of Georgian National Scientific Laboratory Irina Gambashidze about the issue. 

Gambashidze is one of the main characters of this story. In 2006, based on the conclusions made as a result expeditions and laboratory researches conducted by her and her foreign colleagues the status was granted to the monument. Gambashidze still continues research about the monument, status-less mine. She is head of expedition of her German colleagues, which are interested to study the Sakdrisi mine. Gambashidze is sorry that state makes choice between entrepreneurs and culture heritage and gives preference to the former. 

“The monument located in Sakdrisi is the most ancient one in the world where gold was mined. For that reason, expeditions of scientists visit this place with great interest. I handed every research and laboratory conclusions to the Ministry of Culture in November of 2005 and requested to grant status of culture heritage to it. One year later the monument received status. But now, they cannot find my researches in the archive,” said Gambashidze.

The Ministry’s commission concluded that there was no valuable research conducted to prove culture heritage status of the monument and seized it in accordance to the law.

“It should be underlined that we cannot prove existence of expedition reports from 2004-2005. There are no repots of archeological expeditions carried out in Sakdrisi archeological unit in 2004-2005 in the main archive of the Academy,” the conclusion of the special commission of the Ministry of Culture on Sakdrisi mine reads.

Based on the aforementioned findings, the Commission concluded that there is no ancient source of gold mining in Sakdrisi. The Commission wrote that copper was mined there instead gold and consequently it does not deserve status of culture heritage.

Head of National Scientific Laboratory opposed the commission and said that new owner company of ores “RMG” is main player in this case.  The Company wants to start gold-mining process in the layer because they know there is gold in it.

“We studied the ores and can assure you that we have not seen copper there during our ten-year work in the area. There is gold there. We inspected ores and studied the amount of gold in it. Not only our researches prove that it is gold mine. Each analysis was conducted in international laboratories. Foreign scientists arrive and speak about its universal significance but what we do in parallel to it?! I wonder why the Ministry neglected our resource when setting up the commission?! Our museum is subordinated to the Ministry and why did not they request our researches and huge information which we had collected?! Members of this commission are contractors of the Company RMG. Are not they interested party and am I interested party who did not have right to be commission member?!” Gambashidze wonders.

She said that it was necessary to review the documents on culture heritage years later because RMG needs to mine gold in the area and has attempted to enter there twice already. The state keeps its eyes blind on real researches and seizes the status from the monument of world significance.

Prime-Minister also sent letter to the Minister of Culture and requested to study the situation. In his response letter, Odisharia explained reasons of the deprived status.

“Scientific conclusion on the existence of ancient gold mine in Kachagiani area in Sakdrisi contains serious gaps and is not well-grounded. Arguments and factual materials provided to the Commission in reports and conclusions, fail to prove existence of ancient and unique gold mine in the area,” Minister of Culture replied to the PM.

Other Georgian and foreign scientists also support heritage status of the Sakdrisi mine. Different initiative groups intend to protect the mine by demonstrations.