It turns out the choice between gold and historical preservation is an easy one to make for officials in Georgia: the government is going for gold.
EurasiaNet.org has learned the Georgian Ministry of Culture and Heritage Protection has given Russian-owned mining company RMG Gold the green light to excavate gold from Sakdrisi-Kachagiani, a nine-hectare site in southeastern Georgia that many archeologists claim contains the remnants of one of the world's oldest gold mines. In 2004, archeologists from the National Museum of Georgia and the German Mining Museum unearthed caves and mining tools at the site that are believed to date to the third millennium, BC.
It is uncertain when the company will begin mining the site. Approximately half of its workforce has been on strike since January 24, seeking higher wages. Some critics hint the company is using the archeological controversy as cover for questionable labor practices.
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Paul Rimple is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi.