Georgian Encyclopedia

General Information

In Georgia encyclopedic and lexicographic work has a long tradition. Even in the Middle Ages, philosophical-theological and historical-hagiographic works were always accompanied by an encyclopedic commentary. Definitions of scientific references and terms can be found abundantly in the works of Ephrem Mtsire, Ioane Petritsi, Arsen of Ikalto and others.

The Georgian Dictionary by Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani played a major role in the development of Georgian encyclopedic and lexicographic science. Kalmasoba (1813-28) by Prince Ioann of Georgia has a special place as well. In 1898-99, the first four books of the multi-volume Russian-Georgian Encyclopedic Dictionary were published under the editorship of Ivane Rostomashvili. The level of development of science and culture, the strengthening of the national intelligentsia at the beginning of the 20th century increased the necessity of Georgian encyclopedia. Georgian scientists, led by Alexander Tsagareli, Vasil Petriashvili and Aleksandre Khakhanashvili, decided to publish Encyclopedia of Georgia. An extraordinary fellowship of well-known scientists and public figures was created, an extensive publication program was drawn up, but this patriotic work could not be carried out in the conditions of that time.

In the 1930s, the creation of the Editorial Office of the Georgian Soviet Encyclopedia was of great importance. Malakia Toroshelidze was the editor-in-chief, and Simon Kaukhchishvili was the executive secretary. Famous Georgian scientists participated in the creation of the encyclopedia. In 1933, the word-list of the publication was ready. A year later, the editors almost finished the work on Volume I, but at a later stage, various complications emerged. Mass Soviet repressions affected editorial staff as well. At the beginning of the 1940s, work on the publication was stopped.

The editorial archive (in particular, the authors' articles) and the printed texts have been preserved. Encyclopedic articles written by prominent Georgian scientists have not lost their scientific value to this day (letters of Ivane Javakhishvili, Korneli Kekelidze, Simon Janashia, Geronti Kikodze, etc.).

The Editorial Office of the Georgian Encyclopedia was established in 1966 under the leadership of Irakli Abashidze, prominent poet and public figure.

The publishing of the twelve-volumes of the first Georgian universal encyclopedia in 1975–1987 (editor-in-chief — Irakli Abashidze, deputy editors-in-chief: Roin Metreveli, Avtandil Sakvarelidze, secretary Giorgi Zhorzholiani, Tengiz Khoshtaria, Iago Vardosanidze) had a true historical significance. The leading figures of Georgian science: Aleksandre Baramidze, Tamaz Gamkrelidze, Ilia Vekua, Pavle Ingorokva, Nikoloz (Niko) Ketskhoveli, Viktor Kupradze, Nikoloz (Niko) Muskhelishvili, Simon Kaukhchishvili, Akaki Shanidze, Giorgi Chitaia, Evgeni Kharadze, Sergi Jikia and others worked on it. The 80,000 print run of the encyclopedia soon sold out and became a rarity. It still remains as an important source of information in various fields of knowledge in the Georgian language.

37 years have passed since the publication of the last volume of the Georgian Soviet Encyclopedia. Since then, historical changes have taken place in the world. The 1990s were particularly difficult for the editorial board, as well as for the entire country. Nevertheless, it was possible to start the work on the Encyclopedia Georgia (Sakartvelo), the first volume of which was published in 1997.

Encyclopedia Georgia provides the reader with diverse information about Georgia and Georgians, all important events, facts and figures, as well as about foreigners and world-historical events that have left a deep mark on the centuries-old history of our country. =

Over the past 20 years, the editors of the encyclopedia have offered several interesting publications to the scientific community and readers in general. Namely, in 2002, the Encyclopedia Tbilisi was published, where the information about Georgian capital was gathered and systematized. The book received great interest and approval from Georgian readers. In 2008, the encyclopedic dictionary Tbilisi. Streets, Avenues, Squares was published with the support of the Tbilisi City Hall.

This unique publication reflects the changes that Tbilisi has undergone since the 19th century. For this, materials published in 1846-1917, such as Caucasian calendars, plans and topographical maps of Tbilisi, street directories, archival material kept in the Central State Archive of Tbilisi, relevant literature kept at the Ilia Chavchavadze National Parliamentary Library of Georgia and others were processed.

The Georgian Encyclopedia prepared a series of explanatory and orthographic dictionaries with the Arnold Chikobava Institute of Linguistics: Orthographic Dictionary of Greek and Roman Proper Names by Kona Gigineishvili (1985); Explanatory Dictionary of the Georgian Language. One volume (1986, second edition in 2 parts, 1990); Orthographic Dictionary of Geographic Names of Georgia (1987; second edition 2009); Orthographic Dictionary of Geographic Names of the Soviet Union (1987); Orthographic Dictionary of Geographic Names of Foreign Countries (1989); Orthographic Dictionary of Foreign Names (1989) and others.

In 2008, the first Georgian encyclopedia Georgian Language was published. It covers the problems of the history, structure, and dialect composition of the Georgian language from ancient times to modern Georgian. The work reflects the achievements of Georgian scientists and foreign Kartvelologists in this field. The encyclopedia contains material about the Kartvelian and Caucasian languages, as well as those languages that were or are widespread in Georgia, or had any contact with the Georgian language directly or through literary ways. Some notices were printed for the first time. The study reviews important Georgian epigraphic monuments preserved both in Georgia and abroad. The materials depicting the Georgian monuments in the North Caucasus should be noted. Articles are accompanied by unique illustrations. Some references and illustrations have been made available to the general public for the first time. In 2011, Izabela Kobalava, the author of the book, and Gucha Kvaratskhelia, the editor, were awarded the Akaki Shanidze Prize.

At the same time, Georgian Scripts, a popular publication for students and youth, was published (the author, Prof. Elena Machavariani). The study of the old Georgian scripts — Asomtavruli and Nuskhuri — is of great importance for identifying the ancient cultural heritage, especially from the standpoint of accurate dating of monuments. The book presents a graphic comparison of each letter-sign with Mkhedruli, the modern Georgian script, and Nuskuri script is considered as an intermediate, transitional stage in this overall development.

In 2011, the editors of the encyclopedia offered the readers the book — 100 Georgians Abroad, about those prominent figures of the Georgian origin who left a significant mark in the culture, science and political life of one or another foreign country from ancient times to the present day. Some of them were not born in Georgia, some did not even live in Georgia or left their homeland as children; They became a part of the culture and public life of the country in which they lived. The list of these countries is impressive: Egypt, Byzantium, Greece, Palestine, Iran, Ottoman Empire, European countries, Russia, USA, etc. The publication includes not only those names who made a significant contribution to other countries, but also those who toiled selflessly for Georgia abroad and rendered invaluable service to our country from there.

In 2014, the second volume of the mentioned edition — 100 Memorable Names was published (in Georgian, English and Russian languages). It was dedicated to the famous figures of non-Georgian origin and foreigners who made a great contribution to Georgian culture, science, etc.

Encyclopedia is a kind of passport of a nation. And in today's “digital world” it is especially relevant to establish one's own place by providing relevant information to readers. Considering this, special significance is attached to the improvement and updating of the website georgianencyclopedia.ge. The website contains about 14,000 articles from the 5 volumes of the Encyclopedia Georgia. In 2024, the English version of the site was created and experts are working on the relevant translation of the texts.

The publication of a multi-volume scientific encyclopedia Description of Historical and Cultural Monuments of Georgia started in 1980s. In 1990, the first book dedicated to the historical and cultural monuments of Gori, Kaspi, Mtskheta, Kareli and Khashuri municipalities was published with 1247 monuments of history and culture overviewed. From that period to 2021 five more volumes, dedicated to all other municipalities of Kakheti Region, were published.

Thus, 4210 monuments of history and culture are overviewed in all six volumes.

Work is currently underway on the seventh book of the collection, which is dedicated to the monuments of Shida Kartli (Tskhinvali region) currently occupied by Russia.

Each of the mentioned books has an introduction, in which the history of the monuments of archaeological and material culture are overviewed. There are short reference articles for each municipality, as well as a separate article about the administrative centers of the municipalities and villages. Most of articles are illustrated with sketches and photographs.

The scientific value and practical purpose of the book is quite high, as a big part of the architectural monuments included in it are published for the first time and thus have acquired the significance of primary sources.