Program Overview

GEORGIA: Gadachrili Gora

Saturday, May 2 to Friday June 12, 2020 (6 weeks)
Gadachrili Gora Regional Archaeological Project Expedition

This will be the fourth year of the University of Toronto’s summer program in Georgia. The Gadachrili Gora Regional Archaeological Project Expedition (GRAPE) is an international multidisciplinary research project investigating the emergence of farming economies in the South Caucasus and the influence of the Near East on the development of local Neolithic cultures and, conversely, the influence of Caucasia on the Near East. This program provides a unique opportunity to receive intensive training in archaeological field and survey methods at the sites of Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora. Spaces in the course are limited.

Be part of the research team that uncovered the earliest evidence of winemaking! The 2017 Summer Abroad Program in Georgia took part in this incredible discovery under the supervision of researchers from the GRAPE. We continue to offer this opportunity to contribute to the search for the origins of wine production through the 2020 Summer Abroad program in Georgia.


The University of Toronto will offer one course in Georgia, worth one full-year credit. Field trips are an integral part of the course and are mandatory. The course has limited space and is contingent on adequate enrolment.

NMC261Y0: Special Topics: Field Archaeology in The Republic of Georgia
This course is designed as a general practicum in archaeological field methods. As a field course, emphasis will be placed on active participation in the ongoing research of the Gadachrili Gora Regional Archaeological Project Expedition (GRAPE) in the Republic of Georgia. Students will receive extensive training in archaeological excavation and survey methods, recording procedures, the preliminary processing of artifacts and ethnographic experimentation recreating some of the ancient artifacts. There will be several weekend field trips exploring the archaeology and culture of the region, which will supplement the primary focus on fieldwork experience. All students are eligible to participate. No prior field experience is necessary. Not eligible for CR/NCR option.

Prerequisites: None
Breadth Requirement =1
NMC261Y – 2020 Syllabus

Equipment: While most equipment will be provided, each student must bring their own trowel (preferably 5” blade), a personal measuring tape (metric), a three-ring binder, a black physics notebook, and pens/pencils, etc. While not a required item, a personal laptop for database and image work is convenient. Accepted students will receive a more comprehensive equipment list prior to departing Canada.

Project Directors:
Dr. Stephen Batiuk received his PhD in Near Eastern Archaeology in 2005. With over 20 years of fieldwork experience he has participated in over 12 different archaeological projects from CRM (Cultural Resource Management) work in Canada to projects in Ethiopia, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Romania, France and most recently, the Republic of Georgia. His more recent publications and research are focused on understanding not only the origins of wine production in the Caucasus region (specifically Georgia) but perhaps more importantly, the spread of this early Georgian wine culture across the entire Near East and eventually the rest of the world. Dr. Batiuk brings a whole suite of skills in landscape and materials analysis, particularly ancient ceramics. He is currently employed by the University of Toronto as a Research Associate in the Archaeology Centre.

Khaled Abu Jayyab received his PhD in Near Eastern Archaeology in 2019 at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on the role of human mobility and interaction in shaping communities in the late prehistory. His interests include landscape archaeology, the archaeology of mobility, communities of practice, and ceramic analysis. Khaled has conducted archaeological research across the Middle East (Syria, Iraq, and Jordan) in addition to Canada and France. Currently, he is a postdoctoral fellow at the Jackman Humanities Institute at the University of Toronto and co-directing archaeological survey and excavations focused around the site of Gadachrili and Shulaveris Gora.

Program Details

Saturday, May 2 to Friday June 12, 2020 (6 weeks)

Gadachrili Gora is a Neolithic village located on the Shulaveris Ghele, a tributary of the Khrami River near the city of Marneuli in the Kvemo Kartli region of the Republic of Georgia. The excavations are undertaken by the Georgian National Museum, under the directorship of Mindia Jalabadze. Gadachrili Gora forms part of a trio of Neolithic villages, including Shulaveris and Imeri Gora. These villages have been dated to the sixth millennium BCE and are part of the Shulaveris-Shomu Culture, which can be found across central Caucasia and represents one of the earliest known Neolithic cultures of the region.

Significant genetic density of different types of certain domesticated plants found in the South Caucasus today has led many to consider this region an important ancient centre for the domestication and diversification of various cultivated plants. With over 500 varieties of grape, one of largest in the world, it has long been suggested that Transcaucasia is the ancient homeland of the vine.

Excavations at Gadachrili Gora were initially undertaken in the 1960s by the Georgian State Museum. In 2006–07 and again in 2012–13 excavations were re-initiated by the Georgian National Museum (in conjunction with the CNRS of France). These excavations have so far uncovered some of the earliest examples of domesticated grape pips, dating to approximately 5950 BCE. In addition, recent efforts have uncovered some of the largest circular mud-brick buildings dating to this period found to date, further suggesting the importance of Gadachrili Gora in the Neolithic landscape.

The excavations are sponsored by the Georgian Wine Association and the National Wine Agency of the Ministry of Agriculture under the umbrella of a larger international project entitled Research and Popularization of Georgian Grape and Wine Culture, which aims to investigate the roots of wine production in the ancient world.

Podcast – A day in the life of a GRAPE archaeologist

Program Activities

There will be several weekly field trips around the region, visiting other archaeological and historical sites, as well as wineries and museums.
• Welcome and Farewell Georgian Supra
• Experimental archaeology sessions – pottery and lithic manufacture
• Local community engagement at several public events (e.g., Georgian Independence Day)

Weather, Attire and Health

May and June are late spring months in the Republic of Georgia and weather patterns can be highly variable – from clear and hot to wet and cold in a short period of time. Nevertheless, the area we will be working in is generally comfortable and very similar to what we experience here in Toronto at the same time of year. The afternoons are characterized by highs of 23–25°C, while the evenings and mornings can be cool (lows of 12–17°C). Field archaeology students must be in excellent health and willing to work long, physically demanding days. If you are under medical care of any kind, you are advised to consult with a physician before going to Georgia. All health concerns should be discussed with the Professional & International Programs office prior to submitting your application form.

It is imperative that students bring comfortable work clothes – in particular, rugged hiking shoes, long pants and a hat are all very necessary items. Students are encouraged to pack for highly variable weather conditions. Significant amounts of rain can alter work schedules (you can’t dig what you can’t see) and comfortable light rain gear is highly recommended. Students must also bring a bottle of strong sun block and a durable water bottle. We also suggest you bring your own sleeping bag. A more extensive list will be sent to all accepted participants.

Important: All participants are required to submit a completed signed Medical Clearance Form after admission to the program and to attend an in-person pre-departure orientation in Toronto.

Accommodation and Meals

Students will stay in farmhouses in a local village near the site. This is an expedition so please note that our accommodations are comfortable, but rustic. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided seven days a week. There may be several free days (Sunday) when students will be able to travel to Tbilisi. Students who choose to do so will be responsible for their own food and lodging while away.

Accommodation availability at the site: Saturday, May 2 to Friday, June 12, 2020

• Internet (wifi)
• Laundry
• Showers
• Shared rooms, dormitory style (gender segregated)
• Vegan diets cannot be accommodated.

Georgia – Residence Information Sheet 2019

Group Flight

No group flight is available for this program; students must make their own travel arrangements. Students will be picked up at the airport in Tbilisi upon their arrival. Detailed travel information will be provided to students after admission.

Entry Requirements for Visitors to Georgia

All students are responsible for making sure that their necessary travel documents are in order. Information on entry requirements to Georgian is available from the Georgian Embassy in Ottawa.

At of the time of publication (December 2019), Canadians do not require a tourist visa to enter Georgia. Citizens of other countries may have additional requirements.

Pre-Departure Orientation (PDO)

All students admitted to the Summer Abroad program are required to successfully complete an online PDO, which will provide general information and advice on international health and safety issues. Students must also attend the in-person Georgia PDO on April 1, 2020 from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm at which they will receive site-specific health and safety information, a course syllabus, Student Handbook, and detailed program information (e.g., about accommodation, services, facilities, and travel instructions to and from the airport). Attendance at this PDO is mandatory for all participants in the Georgia summer program.


The deadlines for fees payable to the University of Toronto are as follows:

  • Application fee: due February 3, 2020
  • Non-Refundable Deposit of $1,000 due one week after admission notification
  • All remaining fee: due March 19, 2020

Cost of Studying in Georgia

Amount Details
Application Fee $200 Paid at time of application
Course Fee
Domestic Students $2,200 Includes $1,000 deposit
International Students $3,355 Includes $1,000 deposit
U of T Incidental Fees $180 Estimate based on 2019 part-time summer fees
Field School Fee $3,500 Includes transportation, meals and accommodation
Airfare $1,262 Estimate – will depend on departure location and purchase date
Medical Travel Insurance variable Students must provide proof of medical travel insurance
Miscellaneous Expenses variable All students should budget for miscellaneous expense (e.g. travel, gifts, etc.)
Approximate TOTAL Program Cost INCLUDING field trips
Domestic Students $7,342 This figure does not include mandatory medical travel insurance
International Students $8,497 This figure does not include mandatory medical travel insurance

Financial Assistance

The following assistance is available for eligible students in this program.

  • Summer Abroad Bursary (two awards at $3,000 each)

Students can also apply directly to the the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) for funding:

Casor Mary Louise Mussell Student Travel Fellowship

ASOR Fellowships

Information Session

A detailed information session for the summer program in Georgia will be held on the UofT St. George campus in January. This session provides an excellent opportunity to hear from the instructors and previous participants, see photos, and ask any questions that you may have.

Date: Tuesday, January 14th, 2020 from 3:00 to 5:00 pm

Location: Woodsworth College Residence, in Waters Lounge, 321 Bloor Street West (SE corner of St. George and Bloor)


See information session listings for all UofT programs and campuses.