Alphabet

The Georgian language is written in three unique scripts, which according to traditional accounts were invented by King Pharnavaz I of Iberia in the 3rd century BC.

The evolution of Georgian into a written language was a consequence of the conversion of the Georgian elite to Christianity in the mid-4th century. The new literary language was constructed on an already well-established cultural infrastructure, appropriating the functions, conventions, and status of Aramaic, the literary language of pagan Georgia, and the new national religion. The first Georgian texts are inscriptions and palimpsests dating to the 5th century. Georgian has a rich literary tradition. The oldest surviving literary work in Georgian is the 5th century Martyrdom of the Holy Queen Shushanik by Iakob Tsurtaveli.

 

Georgian has been written in three different scripts over its history: Asomtavruli, Mkhedruli and Nuskhuri. Currently the Mkhedruli or “Military” script is almost completely dominant; the others are used mostly in religious documents and architecture.

Georgian scripts were granted the national status of intangible cultural heritage in 2015 and inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2016 and has been nominated as one of the three most beautiful alphabets in the world.