1863 - 1953
Date and Place of Birth:
5 January 1863, Ozurget Uyezd, Kutaisi Governorate, Russian Empire
Date of Death
21 February 1953 (at the age of 90), Tbilisi, Georgian SSR, USSR
Historian, archaeologist, public figure
1863 - 1953
Ekvtime Takaishvili was born to a local nobleman in the small village of Likhauri, the province of Guria, on 5 January 1963. Ekvtime’s father - Simon Takaishvili was a cordon officer and mother – Nino Nakashidze - one of the outstanding women of the Uyezd. The Takaishvili siblings – Ekvtime, Lisa, Niko and Varlam were orphaned while still in their tender years. When Ekvtime was three he became a victim of the ill-fated accident: he fell down from the tree and broke his right leg. Not treated properly, the injury left his right leg shorter and Ekvtime went lame to the end of his days. They say that his lameness made his relatives ashamed to introduce him to guests.
At 7, Ekvtime was admitted to the Ozurget Uyezd School. His tutor had high hopes that upon finishing the school, Ekvtime would take a job as a village clerk as it was a high-paying job then. However, Ekvtime was setting his sights on something else. He was contemplating studies at the Kutaisi Classical Gymnasium, which he graduated in 1883, with Silver Medal. The same year, Ekvtime enrolled at the history and philology department of the St. Petersburg University where, on graduation, he was awarded the Candidate of Sciences degree in 1887, before his return to Tbilisi.
In Tbilisi Ekvtime immersed himself thoroughly in pedagogical, scientific and public activities. From 1887 to 1894 he gave classes in Greek and Latin languages and history and geography at the Tbilisi nobility school and the classical gymnasium. From 1894 to 1904 he was himself at the helm of the nobility school. In 1888, the Society for the Spreading of Literacy among Georgians appointed him as a member of the management board. In parallel, he undertook the task, which he considered to be the primary duty of each Georgian: collecting and restoring historical and archaeological materials of Georgia. In 1889, Ekvtime, together Dimitri Bakradze founded the Exarchate Museum of Georgia, which was home to a diverse collection of ancient manuscripts, sacred objects, theological books. Ekvtime and Dimitri used to travel around various regions of Georgia, piecing together ancient Georgian manuscripts and then housing them in the Museum. Following Dimitri Bakradze’s death, in 1907, Ekvtime founded the Society for Georgian History and Ethnography, which took over the functions of the Exarchate Museum of Georgia.

A trip to Tao-Klarjeti – Monastery drawings

In 1895, Ekvtime married Nino Poltoratskaya, daughter of the famous Tbilisi attorney Ivan Poltoratsky. Nino had received music education in Paris, she had a good command of the French and Russian languages and was 13 years younger than Ekvtime. Though Ekvtime was a talented young man the Poltoratsky family disapproved of him as he was homeless and limping. Through the good offices of Ilia Chavchavadze, however, Ekvtime and Nino still got married and were madly in love with each other to the end of their days. The foundation of the Tbilisi University and Ekvtime Takaishvili’s role in this magnificent venture are also worthy of special mention here. He was a member of the Commission of the Georgian University Society and, after the opening of the university, led three lecture courses, including in archaeology. Following the annexation of Georgia by Russia, in 1921, there arose the necessity of carrying the Georgian Museum holdings beyond the borders of the country. The Constituent Assembly entrusted Ekvtime Takaishvili with this highly responsible task. Though feeling pain and distress for having to part with his country, the Georgian scientist departed from Georgia on 11 March 1921.
Many claimed their right to the national treasure of Georgia: fascists, French Government, Salome Dadiani, British and New York Museums.
In 1935, however, Charles De Gaulle officially declared Ekvtime Takaishvili to be the patron of the Georgian national treasure thus wrenching the museum holdings from the claws of gold-seekers. Ekvtime and his wife - Nino lived in absolute poverty in exile. Severe hardship, however, never tempted him to sell at least one piece from the treasure. With the Soviet Union’s victory in the Second World War in 1945, Georgians revived the hope of getting the treasure back to Georgia. On 11 April, the Georgian patriot yearning for reunion with his own country returned to Georgia. Once he stepped on the Georgian soil again, he uttered: “With the blue of your sky, with the emerald of your land, be my healer, my home country, please cure me with your hand!” Then life started to get back to normal. Ekvtime resumed to give lectures and consultations to his students. However, following the arrest of Lidia Poltoratskaya - his foster-daughter in 1952, Ekvtime received a notice of termination from the University. Rumors started to go around that Ekvtime was under house arrest. Many of his feared colleagues stopped visiting him. Persecution began to tell sadly on Ekvtime’s health. He once said: “My heart whose whereabouts was always unknown to me has now started to ache”.

Le Ville estate


Ekvtime Takaishvili died of heart failure on 21 February 1953. He was accompanied to his eternal resting place by the funeral procession of only few mourners. The Body of Nino Poltoratskaya was brought from Leville and buried next to Ekvtime in 1987.

The Holy Synod of the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church canonized Saint Ekvtime on 17 October 2002 and proclaimed him a Man of God.