Colchis and the Eastern Kingdom of Iberia

 

 

 

THE COLCHIAN CULTURE:

The Eastern Black Sea region was home to the well-developed bronze age culture, known as the Colchian culture. In at least some parts of Colchis, the process of urbanization seems to have been well advanced by the end of the second millennium B.C, centuries before Greek settlement. The Colchian Late Bronze Age (15th to 8th Centurys B.C.) saw the development of significant skill in the smelting and casting of metals, that began long before this skill was mastered in Europe. Sophisticated farming implements were made, and the fertile, well-watered lowlands with their mild climate, promoted the growth of progressive agricultural techniques.

According to Greek mythology, Colchis was a fabulously wealthy land situated on the mysterious periphery of the heroic world. Here in the sacred grove of the war god Ares, King Aeëtes hung the Golden Fleece until it was seized by Jason and the Argonauts. Colchis was also the land where the mythological Prometheus was punished by being chained to a mountain while an eagle ate at his liver, for revealing to humanity the secret of fire. The Amazons also were said to be from Colchis. The main mythical characters from Colchis are Aeëtes, Medea, Absyrtus, Chalciope, Circe, Eidyia, Pasiphaë.

In about 730 B.C, Colchis was overrun by the White Kurgan tribes called Cimmerians and Scythians. But they appear to have done little permanent damage.

In about 600 B.C, the advanced economy of Colchis soon attracted the attention of the Milesian (White) Greeks in Anatolia (Turkey), who colonized the Colchian coast and established trading posts at Phasis, Gyenos, and Sukhumi.

In about 580 B.C, the kingdom came under the control of (probably by the dating); King Astyages of the Median Empire. Which would soon become part of the first Persian Empire under Cyrus II, the Great. (The Sassanian was the second Persian Empire).

Herodotus in Book 3 says: The tribes living in southern Colchis (the Tibareni, Mossynoeci, Macrones, Moschoi, and Marres) were incorporated in the 19th Satrapy of the Persian King Darius; while the northern tribes submitted “voluntarily” and had to send to the Persian court 100 girls and 100 boys in every 5 years.

The Tibareni - Called Tubal by Josephus Flavius (see below) - He identifies them with the (Eastern) Iberians and Cappadocians.

The Macrones (Makrones) were an original Colchian tribe.

The Moschoi - Josephus Flavius identified the Moschoi with the Biblical Meshech. Meshech is named with Tubal (and Rosh, in certain translations) as principalities of "Gog, prince of Magog" in Ezekiel 38:2 and 39:1, and is considered a Japhetite tribe, identified by Flavius Josephus with the Cappadocian Moschoi (Mushki, also associated with Phrygians or Bryges) and their capital Mazaca. Another Meshech is named as a son of Aram in 1 Chronicles 1:17 (corresponding to the form Mash in Genesis 10). In Hippolytus of Rome's chronicle (234 AD), the "Illyrians" were identified as Meshech's offspring. In addition, Georgians have traditions that they, and other Caucasus people including Armenians, share descent from Meshech.

The Mossynoeci - (Greek word Mossynoikoi "dwellers in wooden towers"). The Greeks of the Black Sea area applied it to the peoples of Pontus, on the northern Anatolian coast.

 

Herodotus on Colchis:

[2.104] There can be no doubt that the Colchians are an Egyptian race. Before I heard any mention of the fact from others, I had remarked it myself. After the thought had struck me, I made inquiries on the subject both in Colchis and in Egypt, and I found that the Colchians had a more distinct recollection of the Egyptians, than the Egyptians had of them. Still the Egyptians said that they believed the Colchians to be descended from the army of Sesostris. My own conjectures were founded, first, on the fact that they are black-skinned and have woolly hair, which certainly amounts to but little, since several other nations are so too; but further and more especially, on the circumstance that the Colchians, the Egyptians, and the Ethiopians (Nubians), are the only nations who have practised circumcision from the earliest times.

 

 

An abject example of the lying degeneracy of Whites.

This is in the British museum.

Plate 7: Jason arriving in Colchis and embracing King Aeëtes; on the right, Hercules standing beside Jason, and beyond the Argonauts disembarking; in ornate border, with below a cartouche printed from a separate plate. Print made by René Boyvin After Léonard Thiry 1563 . It is best to assume that everything the White man says is a lie, then work back from there.

 

 

CAUCASIAN IBERIA: by Alexander Mikaberidze and George Nikoladze

Iberia also known as Iveria was a name given by the ancient Greeks and Romans to the ancient Georgian kingdom of Kartli (4th century BC-5th century AD) corresponding roughly to the eastern and southern parts of the present day Georgia.

The term “Caucasian Iberia” (or Eastern Iberia) is used to distinguish it from the Iberian Peninsula, where the present day states of Spain, Andorra and Portugal are located. The Caucasian Iberians provided a basis for later Georgian statehood and formed a core of the present day Georgian people (or Kartvelians).

EARLIEST HISTORY

The area was inhabited in earliest times by several related tribes, collectively called Iberians (the Eastern Iberians) by ancient authors. Locals called their country Kartli after a mythic chief, Kartlos.

The Moschi mentioned by various classic historians, and their possible descendants, the Saspers (who were mentioned by Herodotus), may have played a crucial role in the consolidation of the tribes inhabiting the area. The Moschi had moved slowly to the northeast forming settlements as they migrated. The chief town of these was Mtskheta, the future capital of the Iberian kingdom. The Mtskheta tribe was later ruled by a chief locally known as Mamasakhlisi (“the father of the household” in Georgian).

The medieval Georgian source Moktsevai Kartlisai (“Conversion of Kartli”) speak also about Azo and his people, who came from Arian-Kartli - the initial home of the proto-Iberians, which had been under Achaemenid rule until the fall of the Persian Empire - to settle on the site where Mtskheta was to be founded. Another Georgian chronicle Kartlis Tskhovreba (“History of Kartli”) claims Azo to be an officer of Alexander’s armies, who massacred a local ruling family and conquered the area, until being defeated at the end of the 4th century, B.C, by Prince Pharnavaz, who was a local chief at that time.

Pharnavaz I and His Descendants

Pharnavaz, victorious in power struggle, became the first King of Iberia (ca. 302 - 237 BC). Driving back an invasion, he subjugated the neighbouring areas, including significant part of the western Georgian state of Colchis (locally known as Egrisi), and seems to have secured recognition of the newly founded state by the Seleucids of Syria. Pharnavaz then focused on social projects, including the construction of the citadel in the capital, the Armaztsikhe, and erection of an idol of a god named Armazi. He also reformed the Georgian written language, and created a new system of administration subdividing the country into several counties called saeristavos. His successors managed to gain control over the mountainous passes of the Caucasus Range with Daryal (also known as the Iberian Gates) being the most important of them. The period following this time of prosperity was marked with incessant warfare though. Iberia was forced to defend itself against numerous invasions. As a result, the country lost some of its southern provinces to Armenia, and the Colchian lands seceded to form separate princedoms (sceptuchoi). At the end of the 2nd century BC, the Pharnavazid king Farnadjom was dethroned by his own subjects and the crown given to an Armenian prince Arshak who ascended the Iberian throne in 93 BC, establishing the Arshakid dynasty.

ROMAN PERIOD

This close association with Armenia brought upon the country an invasion (65 BC) by the Roman general Pompey, who was then at war with both Mithradates VI of Pontus, and Tigran II of Armenia. However, Rome failed to establish its permanent power over Iberia. Nineteen years later, the Romans again marched into Iberia (36 BC) forcing King Pharnavaz II to join their campaign against Caucasian Albania.

COLCHIS

Between the early 2nd century, B.C. and the late 2nd century A.D., the Kingdom of Colchis together with the neighbor countries, become an arena of long and devastating conflicts between major local powers Rome, Kingdom of Armenia and the short-lived Kingdom of Pontus. As a result of the brilliant Roman campaigns of generals Pompey and Lucullus, the Kingdom of Pontus was completely destroyed by the Romans and all its territory including Colchis, were incorporated into Roman Empire as her provinces.

The former Kingdom of Colchis was re-organized by the Romans into the province of Lazicum ruled by Roman legati. During Byzantine times, the word Colchi gave way to the term Laz. The Roman period was marked by further Hellenization of the region in terms of language, economy and culture. For example, since the early 3rd century, Greco-Latin Philosophical Academy of Phasis (present-day Poti) was quite famous all over the Roman Empire. In the early 3rd century, newly established Roman Lazicum was given certain degree of autonomy which by the end of the century developed into full the independence and formation of a new Kingdom of Lazica (covering the modern day regions of Mingrelia, Adjaria, Guria and Abkhazia) on the basis of smaller principalities of Zans, Svans, Apsyls and Sanyghs. Kingdom of Lazica survived more than 250 years until in 562 AD it was absorbed by the Byzantine Empire. In the middle of the 4th century, Lazica adopted Christianity as her official religion. That event was preceded by the arrival of St. Simon the Canaanite (or Kananaios in Greek) who was preaching all over Lazica and met his death in Suaniri (Western Lazica). According to Moses of Chorene, the enemies of Christianity cut him in two halves with a saw.

The re-incorporation of Lazica with the Kingdom of Aphkhazeti into Byzantine Empire in 562 AD was followed by 150 years of relative stability that ceased in the early 7th century when the Arabs appeared in the area as a new regional power. Today, the entire area is part of the Republic of Turkey. But its history dates back to when the first South Caucasian state in the west was the Kingdom of Colchis which covered modern western Georgia and modern Turkish provinces of Trabzon and Rize.

While Colchis was turned into a Roman province, Iberia accepted Roman Imperial protection. A stone inscription discovered at Mtskheta speaks of the first-century ruler Mihdrat I (A.D. 58-106) as "the friend of the Caesars" and “the King of Roman-loving Iberians." It was at that period when Emperor Vespasian fortified the ancient Mtskheta site of Arzami for the Iberian kings in 75 A.D.

The next two centuries saw a continuation of Roman influence over the area, but by the reign of King Pharsman II (116 – 132) Iberia had regained some of its former power. Relations between the Roman Emperor Hadrian and Pharsman II were strained, though Hadrian is said to have sought to appease Pharsman. However, it was only under Hadrian's successor Antoninus Pius that relations improved to the extent that Pharsman was said to have even visited Rome, where Dio Cassius reported that a statue was erected in his honor and that rights to sacrifice were granted to him. The period brought a major change to the political status of Iberia with Rome recognizing the kingdom as an ally rather than subject state as its former status was. That political situation remained the same for quite a while, even during the period of the Empire's conflict with the Parthians.

Decisive for the future history of Iberia was the foundation of the Sassanian Empire in 224. By replacing the weak Parthian realm with a strong, centralized state, it changed the political orientation of Iberia drifting it away from Rome. During the reign of Shapur I (241-272) Iberia became a tributary of the Sassanian state. Relations between the two countries seem to have been friendly at first as Iberia cooperated in Persian campaigns against Rome, and the Iberian king Amazasp III (260-265) was listed as a high dignitary of the Sassanian realm, not a vassal who had been subdued by force of arms. But the aggressive tendencies of the Sassanians were evident in their propagation of Zoroastrianism, which was probably established in Iberia between the 260s and 290s A.D. However, in accordance with the Peace Teaty of Nisibis (298) Rome was acknowledged the dominant power over the whole area, but recognized Mirian III, the first of the Chosroid dynasty, as the King of Iberia. Roman dominance proved crucial, since King Mirian II and leading nobles converted to Christianity around 317 A.D. The event is related with the mission of a Cappadocian woman, Saint Nino, who in the year of 303, started preaching Christianity in Iberia.

The religion became a strong tie between Iberia (since then also known as Kartli) and Rome / Byzantine Empire and had a large-scale impact on the state's culture and society. However, after the emperor Julian was slain during his failed campaign in Persia in 363, Rome ceded control of Iberia (Kartli) to Persia, and King Varaz-Bakur I (Asphagur) (363-365) became a Persian vassal, an outcome confirmed by the Peace of Acilisene in 387. Although a later ruler of Iberia/Kartli, Pharsman IV (406-409), preserved his country's autonomy and ceased to pay tribute to Persia, Persian influence still prevailed in the region, and Sassanian kings soon began to appoint their Viceroys (pitiaxae/bidaxae) to keep watch on Iberia/Kartli. The Persians eventually made Viceroyal office hereditary in the ruling house of Lower Kartli, thus inaugurating the Kartli pitiaxate bringing under their control quite an extensive territory. Although it remained a part of the kingdom of Kartli, its viceroys turned their domain into a center of Persian influence. Sassanian rulers put the Christianity of the Georgians to a severe test. They promoted the teachings of Zoroaster, and by the middle of the 5th century, Zoroastrianism became a second official religion in eastern Georgia alongside Christianity. However, efforts to convert the common Georgian people were generally unsuccessful.

The early reign of the Iberian king Vakhtang I also known as Gorgasali (447-502) was marked by relative revival of the kingdom. Formally vassal of the Persians, he secured the northern borders by subjugating the Caucasian mountaineers, and brought the adjacent western and southern Georgian lands under his control. He established an Autocephalic Patriarchate at Mtskheta, and made Tbilisi his capital. In 482, Vakhtang Gorgasali led a general uprising against Sassanian Persia. A desperate war for independence lasted for twenty years, but the kingdom failed to gain active Byzantine support and was finally defeated in 502 when King Vakhtang was slain in battle.

FALL OF THE KINGDOM

The continuing rivalry between Byzantium and Persia for supremacy in the Caucasus, and an abortive insurrection of the Iberians under Gurgen that followed (523), had tragic consequences for the country. Thereafter, the kings of Iberia had nominal power only while the country was effectively ruled by the Persians. In 580, Hormizd IV (578-590) abolished the monarchy after the death of King Bakur III, and Iberia became a Persian province ruled by a marzpan (governor). In the late 6th century, Iberian nobles urged Byzantine Emperor Maurice to recreate the Kingdom of Iberia, and the independence was temporarily restored in 582. However in 591, Byzantium and Persia agreed to partition Iberia with Tbilisi being assigned to Persian while Mtskheta remained under Byzantine control.

At the beginning of the 7th century, the truce between Byzantium and Persia collapsed. The Iberian Prince Stephanoz I (ca. 590-627), decided in 607 to join forces with Persia in order to reunite all the provincess of Iberia under one crown, a goal he seemed to have accomplished. But the offensive of Emperor Heraclius' armies in 627 and 628, resulted in the defeat of both Iberians and Persians and secured Byzantine dominance in the South Caucasus until the beginning of the Arab invasion.

THE ARAB INVASION

The Arab armies reached Iberia about 645 and forced its Crown Prince Stephanoz II ca 637-650), to abandon his allegiance to Byzantium and recognize the Caliph as his suzerain. Iberia thus became a tributary state and an Arab Emir was appointed to Tbilisi around the year of 653.

At the beginning of the 9th century, Ashot I (813-830) of the new Bagrationi dynasty, took advantage of the weakening of the Arab rule in the area and expanded his domain in the southwestern province of Speri to establish himself as hereditary ruler (Curopalates) of the whole of Iberia. His successor, Adarnase II of Tao, formally vassal of Byzantium, was crowned as the “king of Iberians” in 888. His descendant Bagrat III (975-1014), brought several smaller states together under one crown to form the first united Georgian state.

EASTERN AND WESTERN IBERIAS

The similarity of the name with the old inhabitants of the Iberian peninsula, the 'Western' Iberians, has led to an idea of ethno-genetic kinship between them and the people of Caucasian Iberia (called the 'Eastern' Iberians).

It has been advocated by various ancient and medieval authors although they differed in approach to the problem of the initial place of their origin. The theory seems to have been popular in medieval Georgia. The prominent Georgian religious writer Giorgi Mthatzmindeli (George of Mt Athos) (1009-1065) writes about the wish of certain Georgian nobles to travel to the Iberian peninsula and visit the local “Georgians of the West”, as he called them.

 

CAUCASIAN ALBANIA

Albania, Parthian: Ardhan, Middle Persian: Arran; usually referred to as Caucasian Albania for disambiguation with the modern state of Albania; the native name for the country is unknown. It is a name for the historical region of the eastern Caucasus, that existed on the territory of present-day republic of Azerbaijan (where both of its capitals were located) and partially southern Dagestan.

The Parthian name was Ardhan ( Middle Persian: Arran). The Arabic was ar-Rān. The name of the country in the language of the native population, the Caucasian Albanians, is not known.

Aghuank is the Armenian name for Caucasian Albania. Armenian authors mention that the name derived from the word "Aghu" meaning amiable in Armenian. The term Aghuank is polysemous and is also used in Armenian sources to denote the region between the Kur and Araxes rivers as part of Armenia. In the latter case it is sometimes used in the form "Armenian Aghuank" or "Hay-Aghuank".

The Armenian historian of the region, Movses Kaghankatvatsi, who left the only more or less complete historical account, also explains the name Aghvank as a derivation from the word Aghu (Armenian for sweet, soft, tender), which, he said, was the nickname of Caucasian Albania's first governor Arran and referred to his lenient personality. Moses of Kalankatuyk and other ancient sources explain Arran or Arhan as the name of the legendary founder of Caucasian Albania (Aghvan) or even as the Iranic tribe known as Alans (Alani), who in some versions was son of Noah's son Yafet (Japheth). James Darmesteter, translator of the Avesta, compared Arran with Airyana Vaego which he also considered to have been in the Araxes-Ararat region, although modern theories tend to place this in the east of Iran.

Originally, the Caucasian Albanians apparently spoke Lezgic languages close to those found in modern Daghestan. After the Caucasian Albanians were Christianized in the 4th century, the western parts of the population were gradually assimilated by the ancestors of modern Armenians, and the eastern parts of Caucasian Albania were Islamized and absorbed by Iranian and subsequently Turkic peoples(modern Azerbaijanis). Small remnants of this group continue to exist independently, and are known as the Udi people.

The pre-Islamic population of Caucasian Albania might have played a role in the ethnogenesis of a number of modern ethnicities, including the Azerbaijanis, the Armenians of the Nagorno-Karabakh, the Georgians of Kakhetia, the Laks, the Lezgins and the Tsakhurs of Daghestan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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