The Georgian Academy of Sciences

Founded in 1941

The Georgian Academy of Sciences was founded on 10 February 1941 and states in the preamble to its statutes that it "is the successor to the Old Georgian Academies - Gelati and Iqalto." We should, therefore, say a few words about these very early academies but first let us give an account of the even earlier events which led to the founding of these two 12th century academies [1]:-
Many centuries ago, outstanding figures of Georgian culture created remarkable translations and original works at enlightenment and scholarly seats, as the Philosophical-Rhetorical School in Colchis (4th c.), Centres of spiritual culture in Palestine (5th c.), Syria (6th c.), Greece (10th - 15th c.) and Bulgaria (11th c.). It was at these seats that the best representatives of our nation familiarized themselves with Christian, as well as Oriental culture, scholarship and literature, paving the way for setting up of world-famous Gelati and Iqalto Academies in Georgia.
For the Gelati Academy, we quote from the description by the World Monument Fund [2]:-
The architectural complex of the Gelati Monastery and Academy in central Georgia is one of the country's most treasured religious and cultural landmarks. King David the Builder began constructing the monastery and academy in 1106 as a grand tribute to his victory over the Turks. The academy was one of the first institutions of higher education founded in the Middle Ages, and became a principal cultural centre in Georgia. Although the academy ceased to function in the late Middle Ages - after which it was converted into a refectory - the monastery remains in use. The site is renowned for its collection of twelfth- to nineteenth-century mosaics, wall paintings, enamels, and metalwork.
The first Iqalto Academy is claimed to have been founded in the 9th century but was completely destroyed in Muslim invasions. Nothing is known of this early Academy. The Iqalto Academy referred to in the statutes of the Georgian Academy of Sciences was founded in the 12th century by St Arsenius of Iqalto. We give an extract from [6]:-
Saint Arsen of Iqalto was a translator, researcher, compiler of manuscripts, hymnographer, philosopher, and a great defender of the Georgian Christian Faith. ... He directed the academy at Iqalto Monastery ... He received both his primary and higher education in Byzantium, at Mangana Monastery, which had been founded by the Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomachus (1042-1055). At the academy he completed one of his most important projects: a translation of the Byzantine historian George Hamartolus' Chronicle. ... In 1114 King Davit the Restorer summoned Arsen back to Georgia, to the Gelati Academy in the west. It was there that he translated 'The Nomocanon' (a Byzantine collection of ecclesiastical law) from the original Greek into Georgian. Arsen later returned to Kakheti in eastern Georgia, where he founded an academy at Iqalto Monastery.
Despite these very early 12th century academies in Georgia, the present Georgian National Academy of Sciences has its origins in the 20th century. Two major contributions to the founding of this Academy came from the founding of Tbilisi State University in February 1918 due to the efforts of Ivane Javakhishvili (1876-1940) and the setting up of the Georgian branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in Tbilisi in the 1930s. Several research institutions and scientific centres associated with these two organisations were established in the 1920s and 1930. For example the Institute of Mathematics and Mechanics of Tbilisi University was set up on the initiative of Nikoloz Muskhelishvili in 1933 and he was the driving force in the founding of the Mathematical Institute of the Georgian branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in 1935. Nikoloz Muskhelishvili was one of the professors at Tbilisi State University who pressed for the setting up of the Georgian Academy of Sciences and, on 10 February 1941, the Georgian Government passed legislation setting up the Academy. Sixteen scholars became founding members of the Academy which held its first session on 26 February 1941 when Muskhelishvili was unanimously elected to serve as President.

The sixteen founder members of the Academy were: Giorgi Akhvlediani (Linguistics); Ivane Beritashvili (Physiology); Arnold Chikobava (Linguistics); Giorgi Chubinashvili (Arts); Simon Djanashia (History); Aleksandre Djanelidze (Geology); Korneli Kekelidze (Philology); Nikoloz Ketskhoveli (Botany); Tarasi Kvaratskhelia (Subtropical Cultures); Giorgi Khachapuridze (History); Nikoloz Muskhelishvili (Mathematics, Mechanics); Akaki Shanidze (Linguistics); Aleksandre Tvalchrelidze (Mineralogy, Petrography); Dimitri Uznadze (Psychology); Kiriak Zavriev (Constructive Mechanics); and Philipe Zaytsev (Zoology).

The President Muskhelishvili gave his inaugural address on the following day in which he [1]:-
... stressed Ivane Javakhisvili's contribution to the foundation of 'Tbilisi State University', and, as a result, its successor Georgian Academy of Sciences. He wound up his speech with the following words: "On this festive day we are all saddened at the absence among us of the Person who would be most pleased with this significant development, and I have no doubt that, while today I have the honour of taking up this high office, were Ivane Javakhishvili alive, it would be most appropriate that He should take up this Post."
In August 1939 Russia and Germany made a secret pact, the so-called Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, to divide Poland between them and, on 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland with Soviet troops attacking Poland from the east some days later. At this stage there was little impact on life in Georgia and the setting up of the Academy was not affected. On 22 June 1941, however, Germany broke the non-aggression pact and invaded the Soviet Union. This had a major impact on Georgia and the newly founded Georgian Academy of Sciences turned its attention to supporting the war effort. The article [5] gives details of this war work:-
The first years of the functioning of the Academy of Sciences coincided with the outbreak of World War II. From the very beginning, intensive work on defence issues was launched in all institutes and scientific institutions, which called for the development of issues related to the provision of practical assistance to industry, agriculture, transport, communications, and other branches of the national economy that operate under special wartime conditions. With a special resolution of the Presidium of the Georgian Academy of Sciences chaired by N I Muskhelishvili, an extraordinary commission was set up, which brought the subjects of the institutes in line with the needs of the front and rear and successfully carried out systematic guidance on the topic of defence significance. Along with theoretical research, the plans of the research institutions of the Academy envisaged the development of problems related to the mobilization of the country's internal resources for defence needs, the exploration and study of natural resources, the increase in the yield of agricultural crops, the provision of practical assistance to the Red Army, its medical and sanitary services, etc. Many scientific institutions of the Academy also performed work on special assignments for military organizations.
Many more details of the work of the Academy during its first year are given in [5], a translation of which is given at THIS LINK.

The Academy was known as the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic Academy of Sciences until the break-up of the Soviet Union. In fact the country was renamed the Republic of Georgia on 14 November 1990 before the dissolution of the Soviet Union on 9 April 1991. From November 1990 the Academy took its present name, namely the Georgian National Academy of Sciences.

The Objectives of the Academy are [3]:-

  1. furthering of the development of science and scholarship in Georgia in conformity with the achievements of World science and scholarship;

  2. taking advantage of the intellectual potentials and professionalism of its Members, to facilitate the development of Georgian science/scholarship and its promotion in social life and on the international arena;

  3. furthering fundamental and applied research;

  4. forecasting the development of science/scholarship in Georgia and working out proposals on state priorities in conformity with achievements of World science;

  5. submitting recommendations to the Supreme Authorities of the country on possible consequences of economic and social projects under implementation in Georgia and in foreign countries;

  6. taking care of the State Languages and of the perfection of scientific terminology in these Languages.
Also in [3] the Academy details how it intends to achieve the above stated objectives. The Academy:-

  1. engages in the popularization of scientific achievements and scientific heritage;

  2. arranges scientific/scholarly Discussions, Symposia and Conferences; conducts public lectures in General Educational, Professional and Higher Educational Institutions;

  3. issues printed and electronic Scientific Journals and other Periodicals, carries on international exchange of scientific literature;

  4. is entitled to membership in International Scientific Organizations, to establish contacts with the World's leading scientists and scientific Centres;

  5. is entitled to carry on scientific research;

  6. institutes and awards prizes in the fields of science and technologies to promote significant scientific work;

  7. is entitled to set up Commissions in various fields of Science and Technologies;

  8. preserves personal archives of figures of science and culture that are valuable for Georgian History;

  9. considers and assesses the annual reports and completed scientific work of Georgia's Higher Educational Institutions and Research Institutions, reflecting on their work; to this end, the Academy is authorized to request from these Organizations any additional information required, and to inform them about the assessments made, as well as the Georgian Ministry of Science and Education and Foundations for the Development of Science;

  10. awards prizes in various fields, and the awards the title of the best Research Institution;

  11. engages, in conformity with the rules established by Georgian Legislation, in other auxiliary economic activity connected with the tasks of the Academy.

Visit the society website.

References (show)

  1. T V Gamkrelidze, The Georgian National Academy of Sciences (GNAS) and its First President, Georgian National Academy of Sciences.
  2. Gelati Monastery and Academy, World Monument Fund.
  3. Georgian Law. "On the Georgian National Academy of Sciences", Georgian National Academy of Sciences.
  4. Georgian National Academy of Sciences website.
  5. L Mgaloblishvili, Nikolay Ivanovich Muskhelishvili, in Three Presidents of the Georgian Academy of Sciences (Russian) (Moscow, Nauka, 2003), 23-52.
  6. St Arsenius of Iqalto in Georgia, Orthodox Church in America.
  7. Statute of The Georgian National Academy of Sciences, Georgian National Academy of Sciences.

Last Updated September 2018