Excavating a memory

the British in Georgia

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Abstract

This paper describes the discovery of a sherd of mid 19th century British pottery during excavations at the site of Nokalakevi, in Samegrelo, western Georgia in 2002. The transfer-printed design on the sherd, though only partially surviving, was clearly identified as representing Horse Guards Parade, London. Standard archaeological practice might have seen the sherd, a modern artefact retrieved from the topsoil, discarded, as having no archaeological significance. However its true significance was to lie in its instigation of a period of research, discussion and reflection on the recent history of Anglo-Georgian relations. Unbeknown to the British archaeologists, from 1918 to 1920 British troops were garrisoned across the southern Caucasus in an attempt to support the Whites against Red and Nationalist armies. It is a peacekeeping action that is remembered negatively in modern Georgia and almost forgotten in Britain. This paper provides an historical outline of those events and urges a reconsideration of the value of archaeological finds, to recognise that their real significance might transcend capital and perhaps sometimes even archaeology. In cases such as this, the decision not to discard an apparently insignificant artefact can provide access to forgotten pasts, and force us to think critically about our own recent history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-162
JournalAnatolian Studies
Volume62
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2012

Cite this

Everill, Paul. / Excavating a memory : the British in Georgia. In: Anatolian Studies. 2012 ; Vol. 62. pp. 153-162.
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Excavating a memory : the British in Georgia. / Everill, Paul.

In: Anatolian Studies, Vol. 62, 13.11.2012, p. 153-162.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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