The story of Jason and the Golden Fleece is one of the most enduring of ancient Greek myths. According to legend, Jason and his shipmates, the Argonauts, set sail on a perilous journey from Greece to Colchis (modern-day Georgia), then located beyond the known world. His successful quest for the Golden Fleece, which hung in a sacred grove guarded by a dragon, came to symbolize bravery, strength and determination and rightful kingship.
Less well known today, however, is the archaeology and artifacts of Colchis, with its intermingling of Greek and Persian motifs with local styles and traditions. Metalworking, whether in gold, silver, iron or bronze, was a traditional focus of Colchian art and craftsmanship. Another mainstay of Georgian life throughout several millennia has been the production of wine—the earliest evidence of wine and winemaking comes from the area.
“Wine, Worship and Sacrifice: The Golden Graves of Ancient Vani,” on view Dec. 1 through Feb. 24, 2008 at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, presents spectacular gold, silver, ceramic vessels, jewelry, Greek bronze sculpture, Greek and Colchian coins, and Greek glassware. Together these objects provide a rich and informative view of the ancient land of Colchis and its principal sanctuary city, Vani, a town in the Imereti region of western Georgia.