Sighnaghi (also Signagi; Georgian: სიღნაღი) is a town in Georgia's easternmost region of Kakheti and the administrative center of the Sighnaghi District. It is one of the country's smallest towns with a population of 2,146 as of the 2002 census. Sighnaghi's economy is dominated by production of wine and traditional carpets. The town and its environs are also known for their landscapes and historical monuments. Sighnaghi has recently underwent a fundamental reconstruction program and has become a popular tourist destination.
The territory of the modern-day town has been settled since Paleolithic period and had been known as Hereti in Middle Ages and as Kiziqi since the 15th century. Sighnaghi (literally meaning "a harbor" in Turkish) as a settlement is first recorded in the early 18th century. In 1762, King Heraclius II of Georgia sponsored the construction of the town and erected a fortress to defend the area from marauding attacks by Dagestan tribesmen. As of the 1770 census, Sighnaghi was settled by 100 families, chiefly by craftsmen and merchants. When Georgia was annexed by Imperial Russia in 1801, Sighnaghi was officially granted town’s status and became a centre of Signakh uyezd (Russian: Сигнахский уезд) within Tiflis Governorate in 1802. The town quickly rose in its size and population and became an agricultural centre under the Soviet Union. The severe economic crisis in post-Soviet Georgia heavily affected the town, but a major reconstruction project recently launched by the Government of Georgia and co-funded by several international organizations intends to address an increasing tourist interest and modernize infrastructure.
Ekvtime Takaishvili (also spelled Taqaishvili; Georgian: ექვთიმე თაყაიშვილი; b. January 3, 1863 - d. February 21, 1953) was a Georgian historian, archaeologist and public benefactor; one of the founders of the Tbilisi State University.
Born in the village of Likhauri in the western Georgian province of Guria (then part of Imperial Russia) to a local nobleman Svimon Takaishvili, Ekvtime graduated from St. Petersburg University in 1887. From 1887 to 1917, he lectured the history of Georgia at various schools in Tbilisi, including the Tbilisi Gymnasium for Nobility. During these years, he was actively involved in extensive scholarly activities and chaired, from 1907 to 1921, the Society of History and Ethnography of Georgia. Between 1907 and 1910, he organized a series of archaeological expeditions to the historic Georgian region of Tao-Klarjeti (now part of Turkey).
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