|The kingdom of Colchis lay in what is today the Republic of Georgia. Situated east of the Greek world, north of the Persian Empire, and southeast of the Scythians, the region was at a crossroads of cultures. Known in myth as the destination of Jason and the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece, Colchis was renowned as a region rich in gold.|
The Colchian settlement of Vani is situated inland from the eastern shore of the Black Sea, on a 200-meter-high hilltop flanked by deep ravines. The settlement is spread across three terraces and overlooks the fertile region between the Sulori and Rioni rivers.
|The earliest signs of human activity at Vani date to 700 B.C., but it is during the fifth century (500–400 B.C.) that the city's wealth becomes prominent. Vani appears to have served as the administrative center for the local Colchian elite, who would have overseen the agricultural economy.|
The series of graves for which Vani is renowned date to about 450–250 B.C. Thereafter, rich burials appear to cease.
|In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece is the fleece of the gold-hair winged ram, which was held in Colchis. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship. It figures in the tale of the hero Jason and his band of Argonauts, who set out on a quest for the fleece by order of King Pelias, in order to place Jason rightfully on the throne of Iolcus in Thessaly.|
Some believe that the legend of the Golden Fleece was based on a practice of the Black Sea tribes; they would place a lamb's fleece at the bottom of a stream to entrap gold dust being washed down from upstream. This practice is still in use, particularly in the Svaneti region of Georgia.