5000-Year History of Gold Extraction from Sakdrisi Deposit? Discussion Based on Multidisciplinary Investigation

Avtandil Okrostsvaridze


Based on multidisciplinary analysis, the article discusses whether it
was possible to extract gold from the Sakdrisi hydrothermal ore deposit
(Caucasus, Georgia) 5000 years ago, as argued in a number of recent
publications (Stollner et al., 2008; Hauptmann, Klein, 2009; Ghambashidze
et al., 2010; Stollner et al., 2014). In order to establish the validity of their
assertions, the author has studied and researched the oldest metallurgical
centers in Caucasus, history of archaeological studies of Sakdrisi mine,
method of radiocarbon (14C) dating, geological type of Sakdrisi deposit,
types of gold mineralization, methods of gold extraction from ore deposits
and their history. The results obtained are analyzed from two perspectives: 1.
the possibility of extracting gold from the hydrothermal ores at the turn of
the 4th-3rd millennium BC) and 2. the reliability of results obtained through
radiocarbon dating for the Sakdrisi mine (14C).
The paper argues that the above-mentioned publications have not dealt
with the question of gold extraction from the Sakdrisi deposit on a sufficiently
strict professional level. It explains in detail that gold mining from deposits
of the Sakdrisi type is only possible by chemical or biological methods,
which were discovered in a considerably later period, and therefore, could
not have been used earlier. The paper points out that the charcoal found in
the Sakdrisi mine has already been contaminated due to a number of factors,
and consequently all the results of the radiocarbon dating is to be considered
wrong in any case. Taking into account the geological and mining data and
the established unreliability of radiocarbon dating, the paper excludes the
possibility of gold extraction from Sakdrisi hydrothermal ore deposit at the
turn of the 3rd Millennium BC.
Keywords: Sakdrisi mine, hydrothermal deposit, gold extraction,
radiocarbon method (14C).

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