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Real patriotism with loyal merit

Friday, September 3
Ekvtime Takaishvili (1863-1953), a Georgian historian, archaeologist and public benefactor graduated from St. Petersburg University in 1887. From 1887 to 1917, he lectured on the history of Georgia at various prestigious schools in Tbilisi, including the Tbilisi Gymnasium for Nobility. During these years, he was actively involved in extensive scholarly activities and chaired, from 1907 to 1921, the Society of History and Ethnography of Georgia. Between 1907 and 1910, he organised a series of archaeological expeditions to the historic Georgian region of Tao-Klarjeti (now part of Turkey).

After the February Revolution, he also engaged himself in politics, taking part in the establishment of the National-Democratic Party of Georgia in 1917 and being elected to the post of Deputy Chairman in the Constituent Assembly of the Democratic Republic of Georgia from 1919 to 1921. In 1918, he was among the founders and professors of the Tbilisi State University (TSU). He lost his tenure both in parliament and at the TSU in 1921, when the Bolshevik Russian 11th Red Army put an end to Georgia's independence. He followed the Georgian government in their French exile, taking the Georgian national treasury numerous precious pieces of Georgian material culture - with him to Europe.

The treasury contained in 39 immense boxes, was shipped to Marseilles and placed in a bank depository. Subsequently this precious cargo was transferred to a bank in Paris. Although the treasury was officially the property of the Georgian government-in-exile, it was actually Ekvtime Takaishvili who supervised this huge collection. In the early 1930s, Takaishvili won a lawsuit against Salome Obolenskaya (1878-1961), daughter of the last Mingrelian prince Nikoloz Dadiani, who also laid claim to a part of the treasury taken from the former Dadiani Palace in Zugdidi, Georgia. Despite numerous attempts by various European museums to purchase portions of this treasury, and extreme economic hardship, Takaishvili never sold a single piece of the priceless collection and guarded it until 1933, when the League of Nations recognised the Soviet Union; the Georgian embassy in Paris was abolished and transformed into the "Georgian Office".

The treasury passed into the possession of the French state. In 1935, Takaishvili urged the French government to hand the collection to Georgia, but it was not until the end of the World War II when was he able, in November 1944, to attract the attention of the Soviet Ambassador A. Bogomolov to the fate of the Georgian treasury. Joseph Stalin's good relations with General Charles de Gaulle enabled Takaishvili to bring the treasury back to Georgia. However, Takaishvili had to spend his long days in Tbilisi under house arrest as he was too old to be imprisoned.

The numerous scholarly works on the history and archaeology of Georgia and the Caucasus written by Takaishvili are of special value for Georgia and he has been canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church as a saint.