The ancient province of Svaneti in Georgia, is located on the southern slopes of the Caucasus mountain range, on the north-western part of the country. Surrounded by the gigantic, snow-capped peaks of the high Caucasus and deep gorges, Svaneti is home to some of the highest and most isolated villages in the Caucasus. The region is so remote that it remained unconquered until the Russians exerted control in the mid-19th century. But marauding armies from foreign lands used to trouble the Svans during the Middle Ages leading to the construction of watchtowers and fortified homes. When powerful empires rampaged through Georgia, icons, jewels, religious artefacts and manuscripts were brought to the towers for safekeeping, turning Svaneti into a repository of early Georgian culture. Over the centuries the Svans preserved not only the priceless artefacts but their culture, tradition and language, that many scholars believe predates Georgian.
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