Archaeology Without Borders

Humboldtians in Focus

By Barbara Wieners-Horst

Back in the days of the Iron Curtain, joint research was hardly possible. Now, archaeologists like the Georgian Joni Apakidze work hand in hand with their colleagues in Germany. 

Joni Apakidze really appreciates beautiful things – especially if they are a few thousand years old. And especially if he has discovered them himself: clasps made of bronze, beads made of semi-precious stones, and ceramics with spiral patterns or handles that look like animals’ ears. Even as a student he got excited about bronze axes, halberd blades and spearheads – they allowed him to take a peek at times long gone.

Apakidze is an archaeologist and expert on the culture of Colchis, the ancient, legendary kingdom that stretched from the west of Georgia as we know it today to north eastern Turkey. There is nothing he does not know about the prehistoric finds in the Black Sea region. And he is also acquainted with the strikingly similar Bronze Age finds archaeologists have discovered in northern Italy and the Danube Basin.

In the days of the World Wide Web, when product designs are shooting around the globe and may turn up anywhere at the click of a mouse, such parallels in décor and ornamentation may not seem particularly spectacular. But at the end of the Middle and Late Bronze Ages, the period from the 18th to the 12th century B.C., the question is: What sort of contacts existed between northern Italy and the Black Sea region, two and a half thousand kilometres to the east?

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