Azerbaijan Georgia Turkey Project

Purpose of this Project

To highlight the rich cultural heritage of the region, the AGT Project aims to present findings of a collaborative research initiative among archaeologists in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey and their colleagues from the Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Cultural History Program, Office of Policy and Analysis, and Office of the Chief Information Officer. The recovery, collection management, and interpretation of the archaeological data presented here were financed by BP and its coventurers in the Caspian projects as part of their efforts to protect the cultural resources uncovered during the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) crude oil and adjacent South Caucasus (SCP) natural gas pipelines. The archaeological surveys of the pipeline route began in 2000, before construction commenced. The construction, which began in 2003, was accompanied by teams of Azerbaijani, Georgian, Turkish, British, and American archaeologists who traveled the entire length of the pipelines, a journey that contributed to the story of known archaeological sites in addition to discovering hundreds of previously unknown and unexcavated sites.

Georgian salamuri player
The salamuri, a Georgian reed instrument made of apricot wood, is often played at festivals by boys wearing traditional costumes. (Image courtesy of the Embassy of the Republic of Georgia)

The Smithsonian team continues its international collaborative research efforts in this area. Partners in the region include Azerbaijan’s Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Gobustan National Historical-Artistic Preserve and the Georgian National Museum. The Gobustan Preserve, located about 40 miles southwest of Azerbaijan’s capital city of Baku, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.

This website is an example of the public education and museum capacity-building efforts associated with this project. BP’s support parallels its commitment to increasing awareness of biodiversity and protecting natural habitats, including initiatives that have mobilized tangible environmental changes throughout the region.

The Pipelines route—which runs through widely divergent climatic, geological, and geographic regions that have long been populated by numerous peoples—was not selected for its potential to facilitate archaeological excavations or spur the discovery of new cultural heritage in previously unexplored regions. Rather, it resulted from the practical considerations of bringing a vast new supply of crude oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea to world markets in a way that both avoids the ecological risks posed by huge tankers passing through the Bosporus Strait and provides the newly independent post-Soviet states of the Caucasus control over the export of Azerbaijan’s most valuable commodity. The pipelines construction has, nonetheless, given the region and the world a rare opportunity to increase our understanding of the past.

Kodiana Pass
In addition to initial archaeological surveys, the impacts that the pipeline project would have on local communities such as this village located on the Kodiana Pass in Georgia, were examined. Preventive measures were taken so as not to permanently disrupt the lives of villagers.

The BTC pipeline starts at the Sangachal Terminal on the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan, passes through the territory of Georgia, and ends at the Ceyhan Terminal on the Turkish coast of the Mediterranean, from which “Azeri light” crude oil of the Azeri-Chirag-Deep Water Guneshli field is delivered to international markets. The length of the BTC pipeline is 1,768 kilometers (1,099 miles): 443 kilometers (275 miles) in Azerbaijan, 249 kilometers (155 miles) in Georgia, and 1,076 kilometers (669 miles) in Turkey. Its diameter varies from 1.07 to 1.17 meters (42 to 46 inches), and it is currently transporting close to one million barrels of oil per day, with plans to increase capacity to handle additional volume.

The SCP transports natural gas from the Shah Deniz field on the Caspian Sea to Turkey. It follows the route of the BTC pipeline through Azerbaijan and Georgia into Turkey, where it connects with the Turkish gas distribution system. The total length of this pipeline is 691 kilometers (429 miles), divided between Azerbaijan and Georgia in the same proportions as the BTC pipeline, and measures 1.07 meters (42 inches) in diameter.

[ TOP ]