Lower Kartli is located in eastern Georgia. It shares a border with the Trialeti, Javakheti, and Bambak-Erevani Mountain ranges. Its geographic location is the key to its name: Kvemo Kartli – which in Georgian means ‘Lower Kartli’.
The landscape of Lower Kartli consists largely of steppes and forested steppes. The lowlands in the region are characteristic of semideserts. Some of the biggest rivers of the region include the Mtkvari, Khrami and Algeti. There are a number of volcanic lakes in Lower Kartli (in the areas of Ozormani, Sarkinet-Gomareti and Kamarlo). Kumisi Lake is an interesting area due to the fact that its mud is used for curative purposes in Georgian spas and resorts. The Algeti National Park in the Trialeti region is especially interesting, offering a large diversity of flora and fauna. It is often referred to as Floral Junction, since it supports such an array of flora, including plants native to Colchis, Persia, Iberia, Iran, the Middle East, and the Caucasus area. The animals in Lower Kartli include rabbits, hedgehogs, step mice and moles (in the lowlands), as well as wild pigs, jackals, wolves, marten, bears, badgers, deer, foxes, and wildcats. There are also great numbers of turtles and cliff lizards.
The lowlands of Lower Kartli have a moist and subtropical climate. In the Javakheti Mountain range, the climate enjoys moderate levels of precipitation and the average annual temperature is 3-12o C. In the Tsalka area, the climate is similar to dry, Asian mountainous sub-tropical. The average annual temperature here does not reach above 6o C.
Lower Kartli is especially interesting in terms of its archeology. Significant archeological excavations have taken place in this region, especially in Dmanisi. The Dmanisi settlement dates back to the medieval ages but was internationally unknown until ancient human remains were discovered there a few years ago, capturing the world’s attention. Specialists believe that the human bone fragments found in Dmanisi belonged to a people which lived here 1.7 million years ago. Previously, scientists believed that the first prehistoric human beings lived in central Africa, and from there they settled in Eurasia about 600,000-1,000,000 years ago. Discoveries from Dmanisi forced them to reconsider some existing theories. Now it is thought that the human remains discovered in Dmanisi may be from the oldest known human being in Europe and Asia. The discovery at Dmanisi is of a global importance and is widely considered a major archeological discovery of the 20th century. The skulls found in Dmanisi are currently kept in the Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia.
Dmanisi was the largest fortified fortress-town of Lower Kartli. Dmanisi was one of the most defended towns in Georgia during the middle ages, after Tbilisi. According to historical sources, the town of Dmanisi was the summer residence of Queen Tamar. A medieval tower and citadel, cellars, baths, halls, jails, and ruins of households and other buildings still exist. A tunnel dating back to the 12th century is of particular note. There is also a three-church basilica, which was built in the 6th century. The fortress contains a citadel that was built in the 11th century but was later destroyed during an invasion of Turks. King David the Builder reclaimed the fortress for Georgia and after 1123 it was referred to as the ‘town of kings’. The town was destroyed on multiple occasions as a result of several invasions by Tamerlane, a powerful central Asian conqueror of the 14th century. During the 17th century this fortress was ruled by the aratashvili family. The area was once again revived and was used as a burial ground.