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a city of antiquity and the early Middle Ages; a major trade and craft center of ancient Georgia. The remains of the fortified city are located in the village of Urbnisi on the right bank of the Kura River in Kareli Raion, Georgian SSR. According to written records verified by archaeological excavations, Urbnisi arose in the fourth to third centuries B.C. on the site of earlier settlements. It flourished in the first through fourth centuries A.D. and declined in the eighth century. An episcopal see was located there in the Middle Ages.
Architectural remains in Urbnisi include a monumental threeaisled basilica with inscriptions of the time of its contruction (fifth to sixth centuries) and reconstructions (tenth to 17th centuries). Excavations were conducted from 1953 to 1966 by G. A. Lomta-tidze and N. A. Berdzenishvili. Studies were made of sites of unfortified settlements of the early Bronze Age, burials of the late Bronze Age, remains of a pagan temple of the third to second centuries B.C., a bathhouse, dwellings and outbuildings of the first to eighth centuries, a city wall with semicircular towers of mud brick from sixth to seventh centuries, graves, and other remains.