King David’s Legendary Coin Exhibited in Georgia

Alegendary and unique coin from the time of Georgian King David the Builder has left the territory of the United Kingdom for the first time in over 150 years. The coin was minted during the spectacular Georgian ruler’s reign and is currently on loan to its home country from the British Museum.

The British Council and the British Embassy in Tbilisi opened the exhibition of the remarkable 11th century coin at the Georgian National Museum.

The copper coin, which is housed in the British Museum, counts as the most important among the coins minted in the time of King David IV of Georgia. Dr. Vesta Curtis, Curator of Middle Eastern Coins at the British Museum, talked to GEORGIA TODAY about the importance and uniqueness of the medieval coin. “It shows the Georgian identity,” she said. “There is no coin like it from the period of King David the Builder in the world. This copper coin represents a priceless historical record. A part of its uniqueness lies in Kind David IV being presented on the coin dressed in Byzantine imperial attire, wearing stemma, and holding a Globus cruciger. On the back of the coin is an invocation in Georgian surrounding a cross listing the extent of David's kingdom: 'Lord, aid David, king of the Abkhazians, Kartvelians, Rans, Kakhs, Armenians.' So it gives a lot of messages: religious, political, and of the Georgian identity. It was only right that it should at some point come here so that Georgian people who view King David as one of the best and most important rulers of the country are able to see his coin up close and really appreciate it. It has been a pleasure working on this project, and it has seen wonderful cooperation between the British Museum, the National Museum of Georgia, the British Council and the British Embassy. We have all worked together to make it possible for this coin to be here in Georgia,” Dr. Curtis told us.

On September 16, a day after the coin was introduced to a select part of Georgian society, Dr. Curtis gave a lecture titled “What Ancient Coins Can Tell Us”. The fascinating lecture was a part of the exhibition project. The Georgian National Museum, in the framework of the "Science and Innovation Festival", is delivering a series of workshops, educational programs and public lectures related to coins and other artefacts from the time of King David's reign, as well as on the past, present and future of the UK-Georgia cultural relations.

The opening of the exhibition “King David the Builder’s Coin” took place on September 15 for invited guests at the Simon Janashia Museum. The British Ambassador to Georgia, Mr. Justin McKenzie Smith, welcomed the guests with a speech.

“Before I came to Georgia as the British Ambassador, I was there at the museum and I remember my reaction when I first saw this unique coin. My first thought was that I had to find a way to bring this priceless, unique coin here to the Georgian people. And now, the coin is in Georgia. Great Britain is ready to give heart for heart,” the Ambassador said, speaking in both English, and Georgian.

The exhibition is on within the frames of the three-month UK Season 2019, a specially curated program of more than 60 events jointly presented by the British Council in Georgia and the British Embassy in Tbilisi. The UK/Georgia season aims to show Georgia the culture of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. At the opening ceremony, it was noted that the United Kingdom will be hosting a 'Georgian Season' in 2020.

Those interested in the historically and culturally remarkable coin, can see it at the Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia from September 17, and online, using the new digital platform. The digital option also offers the historical background of the coin, refreshing one’s knowledge of the era the coin was minted.

The exhibition of the coin with the image of King David the Builder is supported by the Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation of Georgia, Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia and Georgian Airways.

The coin will be visiting its ‘motherland’ until December 15, 2019.

By Nini Dakhundaridze

Images Source: British Embassy Tbilisi

19 September 2019 17:05
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