Atskuri Jewish Cemetery
Atskuri is a Georgian feudal fortress on the right bank of the Mtkvari River at the entrance of Borjomi ravine in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region. The vicinity of Akhaltsikhe is rich in other archaeological Bronze Age and medieval Georgian monuments. The city was first mentioned in the 9th century chronicles. The city suffered from numerous invasions by the Mongols, Iranians, and Turks. In 1576, the Ottomans captured Atskuri and made it the residence of a pasha. In 1628, the city became the center of the Akhalzik Eyalet of the Ottoman Empire. In 1828, during the Russian-Turkish War of 1828–1829, Russian troops captured the city. As a consequence of 1829 Treaty of Adrianople (Edirne), it was ceded to the Russian Empire as part of the first Kutaisi and then Tiflis Governorates.
According to the oral histories, five Jewish families settled in Atskuri during the period of Queen Tamar (1184-1213). In 1745, Georgian historian and geographer King Bakhushti Bagrationi (1695/6-1784) mentioned Jewish merchants in Atskuri. At that time, Jews settled in a special district to the north of city. In the 18th century, there were 150 Jewish families in Atskuri. During the Russian-Turkish War (1828-1829), a plague epidemic fatally affected almost the entire population. According to Chorniy, about 20 Jewish families from the Akhaldaba, Dviri, Adigeni, Digviri, Akhaltsikhe and Abastumani areas moved and settled in Atskuri in 1869.
The Jewish community of Atskuri once thrived, trading goods from Asia. Yet after a severe rise in antisemitism from Turks in late 19th century which led to pogroms, the Jewish population dwindled and the last members of the community left town in 1908. The town used to have two synagogues yet they were both destroyed by Ottomans. The only Jewish remnant in Atskuri is the Jewish cemetery. Even though the cemetery was no longer in use, nearby Jewish communities made great efforts to prevent it from falling into disrepair. In 1957, it was fenced by the Akhaltsikhe Jewish community.
The earliest visible tombstone is from 1906 and the latest tombstone is from 1931. Nisan Babalikashvili mentioned 1,862 inscriptions in the cemetery in his work.