Eastern Black Sea Region—A sample of modular design in the vernacular architecture

Nilhan Vurala, Serbülent Vurala, Nihan Engina and M. Reşat Sümerkana aFaculty of Architecture, Department of Architecture, Karadeniz Technical University, 61080 Trabzon, Turkey Received 11 April 2006; revised 23 June 2006; accepted 13 July 2006. Available online 31 January 2007.

Rural settlements of Eastern Black Sea Region have an original architectural charateristics which are shaped by the climate and topographic conditions, local materials, and the social living style. But, this characteristic structure which is covering the vernacular houses, has been started to lose its specifications because of new buildings which are unconsidering the importance of local conditions and the architecture. The target of this study is to design model houses which are in accord with the vernacular architecture and climatic–topographic conditions, and will answer varying needs of the modern life. The realizations of these designs (with a prefabricated system which is easily carried, buildable on inclined topography, and simply installed) is important due to the regional conditions. Therefore, local texture will be saved, and a contemporary system will be adapted with the vernacular architecture.

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By Alexander Mikaberidze and George Nikoladze

In ancient geography, Colchis or Kolchis (in Laz Kolxa — and in Greek — Κολχίς, kŏl´kĬs) was a nearly triangular ancient Caucasia region and kingdom in the Caucasus, which played an important role in the ethnic and cultural formation of the Georgian nation. [The Kingdom of Colchis as an early Caucasian state contributed significantly in developing the medieval Caucasian statehood after its unification with the Kingdom of Iberia-Kartli,

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Andrew Andersen

Most historians of Georgia as well as anthropologists, archeologists and linguists tend to agree that the ancestors of modern Georgians inhabited southern Caucasus and northern Asia Minor since neolith. Experts usually refer to them as Proto-Kartvelian tribes (from the word Kartveli which is the Georgians’ own name for themselves) whose origins are quite unclear. Some of European historians of the 19th century (eg, Humboldt, Krettschmer) came to the conclusion that Proto-Kartvelians were closely related linguistically and culturally to Pre-Aryan (in thus context “Aryan” means Indo-European) aboriginal peoples of ancient Europe among them Etruscans and Proto-Basques.

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Lazic War

The Lazic War also known as the Great War of Egrisi (Georgian: ეგრისის დიდი ომი, Egrisis Didi Omi) in Georgian historiography and the Colchian War, was fought between the Byzantine and Sassanid Empires for controlling the region of Lazica locally known as Egrisi, what is now western Georgia. The Lazic war lasted for twenty years, from 542 to 562, with varying success and ended in the Byzantine victory. The Lazic war is narrated in details through many pages of Procopius of Caesarea and Agathias Scholasticus.

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Jaroslav Mudry State University of Novgorod, Russian,. ivp@novsu.ac.ru

The subject of my report is the mystery of Halizones-Chalybes, the main information of whom comes from the times, when this tribe had already disappeared or was in the process of disappearing as the special community. Kobanian culture is regarded as archaeological equivalent of this community.

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Die ältesten Kontakte der Ostschwarzmeerküste (Anhand der Fibeln)

Nino Sulawa
Centre for Archaeological Studies, Tbilisi

Die Beziehungen zwischen Kolchis und der griechischer Welt ist in der Vorkolonisationszeit durch vielen Artefakten schon bewiesen worden. Zu diesen Artefakten kommt eine Gruppe der ältestcn Fibeln hinzu, die an der Ostschwarzmeerküste entdeckt ist und welche über noch engere Kontakte zeugen.
Die an der Ostschwarzmeerküste entdeckten Fibeln werden allerdings im gesamten typologischen Schema der ältesten kaukasischen Bogenfibeln eingesetzt (N. Sulawa). Nach diesem Schema sind die Fibeln mit einem niedrigen oder einbißchen asymmetrischen Bogen am ältesten, die um die Wende der 9.-8. Jh. v. Chr. oder im 8. Jh. v. Chr. erscheinen. Aber man kann auch die Fibeln mit lockalen Eigenschaften (die sich besonders nord-westlich der Kolchis finden und was dort auf Präsenz der unabhängigen Werk statt hindeutet) und auch offensichtlich Importproduktion unterscheiden.
Die für uns interessanten Importfibeln aus der östlichen Schwarzmeerküste sind durch mehreren Typen vorgestellt: 1) Zwei sog. a navicella-Fibeln aus Achali Athoni/Nowi Afon und Psirzcha (Abchasien). 2) Fibeln aus den Gräbern NN 6, 12, 21 des Gräberfeldes von Ziteli Schukura/Krasni Majak (Abchasien), die einen rhombischen geschwollenen (oder "Kissenartige" ) Bugel mit tiefen Kerben am Bugelende und einen hohen dreieckigen Fuß haben. 3) Fibeln aus Kulanurchwa (Abchasien) mit tiefen Kerben an dem geschwollenen Bügel, die innen hohl und nach unten geöffnet ist und mit einem breiten Fuß. 4) Fibel aus Abgarchuk (Abchasien) mit einem halbmondförmigen Bogen, geschwollenem Bügelbauch und kammartigen Bügelrücken. 5) Fibel aus dem Ureki-Gräberfeld (Kreis Osurgeti), Grabgrube N 3. Diese Fibel hat einen flachen Halbmondförmigen Bogen, die am Bügelende mit Kugeln abgegrenzt ist. Der Fuß ist hoch und breit und die Fibelnadel hat am Spiral-Feder einen Knoten.
Die an der Ostschwarzmeerküste entdeckten erwähnten Importfibeln, deren typologische Paralellen in geometrischer und früharchaischer Zeit in Ägäischen Welt (und nicht nur) zu suchen sind, erdulden keine weitere Entwicklung oder transformation. Das könnte nur damit erklären, daß im diesem Gebiet (und überhaupt im Kaukasus) zu dieser Zeit schon die Fibeln existieren, deren Erscheinung ein Ergebnis der früheren Kontakte (als vorkolonisationzeit) ist oder geben ihre lockaler, unabhängiger Herrkunft zu.
Die Importfibeln aus der östlichen Schwarzmeerküste weisen die vorkolonisations- zeitliche Kontakte auf, die durchs Meer realisieren möglich wäre.

Two Colchian Archaeological Monuments (8th-6th centuries BC)

Vakhtang Licheli
Centre for Archaeological Studies, Tbilisi

The two monuments dating hack to the 8th-6th centuries BC, undoubtedly of Colchian origin are situated in different regions: the first one - a settlement - is located on the coastline of the Kolkheti lowlands, while the other, in the shape of a necropolis, has been excavated in the mountainous southern part of Georgia.
1. The settlement site was discovered in the village of Qulovi, the very place where the Khobi river joins the Black Sea. It represents a small elevated hillock (about 1,5 m from the river level) made of earth excavated from the surrounding swamps by the first settlers . The settlement site contained two layers (8th-6th centuries and 4th century BC), although earlier materials (beginning of the 1st millennium BC) have also been found here and there. The layer dated to the 8th-6th centuries BC is rather thick (about 2 m). The remains of the discovered buildings are typical of Colchian constructions - a wooden frame, plastered with a 5-10 cm clay layer. All buildings are quadrangular in shape, having different orientations. Though none of the buildings has an opening in the west wall. This should be explained by the existence of strong west winds.
Clay vessels (pots, jugs, bowls, etc.) as well as artifacts connected with metal working (stone moulds) and agriculture (handmills) were discovered on the site. Of great importance are double-protome clay figurines (rams, dolphins?), which find analogies in Colchis (Vani, Nokalakevi) as well as in mainland Greece (Olympia).
2. The necropolis was discovered in southern Georgia (at the village of Mzetamze), the following chronological groups have been identified: the beginning of the1st millennium BC; the 8th century BC and the 5th-3rd centuries BC. The pitgraves are characteristic of the first two stages, represented by highly artistic bronze materials and little ceramics; cist graves are characteristic of the second stage, where pottery, metal and silver items were found in abundance.
Of great importance are bronze bow-fibulae, genetically connected with the Aegean world, Scythian doublewinged arrowheads and a bronze disc, with analogies in Olympia.


O. Djaparidze, Professor, Tbilisi State University

Owing to its geographic position, North-Western Colchis had since earliest times been a link between Western Transcaucasia and northern areas of the Caucasus. Recent archaeological finds evidence than man had come to populate Transcaucasia quite early in the past. The Black Sea littoral and the adjacent coastal area of Western Georgia were the lands that hosted ancient man and where he eventually proliferated. North-Western Caucasus probably possessed favourable conditions for man to live and thrive.

Monuments of ancient epochs have been found here, the most noteworthy of them being an Acheullean station of ancient man known as Yashtkhva. Later on ancient man moved northwards - to the basin of the Kuban river.

The subsequent epochs - the Mousterian and upper Palaeolithic periods - saw a more vigorous spread of ancient man over North-Western

Transcaucasia. Presumably, the Upper Palaeolithic epoch witnessed a dramatic cooling of the climate all over Transcaucasia, as well as in the entire Caucasus. So, ancient man had to seek other habitats with a more favourable climate. At the same time, the population of the Western Caucasus becomes denser, especially so in its north-western part and in the basins of the rivers Rioni and Kvirila. Quite well known in North-Western Colchis are the following Upper Palaeolithic sites: Apiancha Svanta Savane, Tsivi Mgvime and other stations. At that time the population of the Caucasus, particularly in Transcaucasia was chiefly concentrated in Western Transcaucasia. This circumstance brought various groups of people together and promoted the formation of a homogeneous culture. It may be surmised that Western Transcaucasia was home to the all-Caucasian ethnic culture.

During the subsequent Mesolithic period the climate changed again and the present geological period - the Holocene epoch - set in. Monuments from this time in North-Western Transcaucasia are well known: Kvachara, Apiancha, Djermukhi, Tsivi Mgvime, etc. The Mesolithic times saw the beginning of a large-scale proliferation of man throughout the Caucasus thanks to the now friendlier natural conditions, which process contributed to disintegration of homogeneous cultures. At this time local variants of culture were formed in different regions of the Caucasus. The population infiltrated here mostly from Western Transcaucasia and its spread all over this large territory was to contribute to the disintegration of the all-Caucasian ethno-cultural community.

The New Stone Age - the Neolithic - is one of the most significant epochs in the life of mankind, during which the foundation was laid for new forms of economy - agriculture and animal husbandry. The Neolithic culture was to stem from the local Mesolithic bases. This is well evidenced by the monuments from North-Western Colchis - Apiancha, Tsivi Mgvime, etc. where Early Neolithic materials have been unearthed from under Late Mesolithic strata. Neolithic monuments are well known in this region of Colchis - Gali I, Gumurishi, Chkhortoli, Kistriki (near Gudauta), etc.

This period could have perhaps seen the formation of a rather strong tribal organization. Late Neolithic sites are well known here, mostly in the coastal area - Machara, Gvandra, Guadikhu ,etc. Quite noteworthy are the hoes of the so-called "Sochi-Adler" and the "Sukhumi" types unearthed chiefly in the coastal area between Gagra and Sochi. These hoes are traced back as originating from Western Asia where similar implements occur as used in the early stages of the development of agriculture. However, the form of these hoes could have well been evolved locally.

The transition to the new forms of economy caused a substantial

growth of the population which doubtless pointed to the efficiency of the agricultural system. Settlement of the redundant population over a large territory contributed to gradual alienation of the people from one another which, in a certain measure, found its reflection on the material culture. By the close of the Neolithic period the cultural community loses its unity, and the process of disintegration of all-Caucasian community that had started as early back as during the Mesolithic times becomes still better expressed. We can make judgement of all these rather sophisticated processes proceeding from archaeological material that has been unearthed. In actual fact, material culture is the basic source of our information that can throw light on the ethno-cultural processes that took place in the Caucasus in the most ancient times. Other information, such as linguistic, or anthropological is practically absent.

It is almost impossible to say anything definite about the linguistic situation of the population in the Late Neolithic times. The disintegration of a single cultural community couldnt have failed to tell on the language the people spoke. The cultural peculiarities observable locally could have probably indicated disintegration of the ethno-linguistic community too. As far back as in the Mesolithic times dialectal groups of the all-Caucasian language began to drift apart from one another which, to a certain extent, was promoted by the geographic relief of the Caucasus. The linguistic community gradually loses its communal character, and the all-Caucasian language gradually breaks up into so many related tongues.

It may be inferred that by the close of the Stone Age (7th-6th millennia B.C.) the Caucasian social and linguistic community fell apart. By this time the main ethnic groups of the ancient population of the Caucasus should have germinated: East Caucasian, West Caucasian and South Caucasian together with the delineation of the territories of their habitation. The north-western part of the Caucasus was mainly peopled by the parent Abkhazian-Adyghe population, the North-Eastern part of the Caucasus gathered on its territory the parent Nakho-Daghestani community. South Caucasian parent Kartvelian tribes lived in Western Georgia and in the main areas of central Transcaucasia.

Thus, the turn of the epochs from Stone Age to Metal witnessed disintegration of the all-Caucasian community, and ancestors of all the peoples of the Caucasus came to the fore and occupied the historic arena here.

First human settlements on the territory of the Colchian Plain appear at the beginning of the Metal Epoch. Most noteworthy in its northern part are those at Ochamchiri, some remains of stations at Machara, Gvandra and elsewhere. In the Early Bronze epoch the dolmen culture becomes widespread in North-Western Colchis. In the latter half of the 3rd millennium B.C. an original culture takes shape in Western Transcaucasia whose roots can be traced to the local Neolithic culture. No essential changes in the ethnic composition of the population are observable.

Issues concerning the origin of the most ancient population of the Caucasus and the primary areas of its habitation have long attracted the attention of researchers. Already ancient authors noted the patchwork fashion of distribution of their contemporary Caucasian peoples over the territory of the Caucasus and located the areas of their original habitation somewhat further down south from where they live today. These views were shared by quite a number of prominent scholars. However, archaeological finds dramatically changed the idea of where the Caucasian peoples originally lived and the concept of their local origin comes to the fore. Issues of the ethnogenesis of the most ancient population of the Caucasus have long been the object of investigation of linguists. Despite the fact that studies of the Caucasian languages have a long history, scholars are still divided as to the kinship between these tongues_. The thing is that genetic ties between the Caucasian languages go back into the most ancient past and their reconstruction is extremely problematic. However, it may be assumed that all the Caucasian languages take their origin from one parent language from which the Caucasian autochthonous languages stemmed and branched out later on. This process appears to have been quite long and complicated. As will be seen, differentiation of the all-Caucasian language began as early back as at the end of the Palaeolithic period, in the Mesolithic and in the Early Neolithic epochs.

There also exists another - an opposite view of the Caucasian languages which questions their kinship, particularly that of the Kartvelian and the North Caucasian languages. It is, doubtless, extremely difficult to judge of how true the picture of remote past as reconstructed from linguistic data is, but early archaeological materials testify that it was the time when the Caucasus was an area of a gradual change of cultures.

The surmise that the Caucasian tribes and, understandably, their languages penetrated into the area from outside does not seem to be sufficiently well founded. Even if we assume that these tribes had penetrated into the Caucasus from the south, they could not have found this area unoccupied or deserted, but, rather, they found themselves in a densely populated area with a rather developed culture, where the local ethnic element must have played a leading and determining role. Therefore, the view that Caucasian tribes are autochthonous appears more convincing. So all the basic Caucasian peoples must have shared a local ethno-cultural origin.


N. Lomouri, Museum of Georgian Art

In the first centuries of the Christian era the area from the river Galizga to the river Shakhe was home to both Abkhazian tribes (the Apsils and the Abazghis) and Megrelo-Chanian (Colchian) and Svanian ethnic groups (the Sanigae or Sanigs and the Suanno-Colchians). At the same time, the Georgian (Kartvelian) population occupied a large territory that exceeded the area settled by the Apsils and the Abazghis.

Later on, consequent upon the rise of the Kingdom of Lazians (also known as Egrisi in Georgian sources) that occupied central areas of Western Georgia, the ethno-political map of North-Western Colchis underwent considerable changes: by the beginning of the 5th c., if not earlier, the borderline between the Lazians (or the Ergs) and the Apsils no longer followed the course of the river Galidzga, but was shifted to that of the river Kodori. The Apsils had been pushed by the Lazians up to the north, and the border between the lands of the Abazghis and the Apsils passed somewhat to the north-east of Sukhumi, around the course of the river Gumista. In their turn, the Apsils had pushed the Abazghis beyond the river Gumista onto the territory occupied by the Sanigs on the Black Sea coast between the rivers Shakhe and Psou; now the Sanigs found themselves squeezed between Abkhazo-Adyghe tribes - the Djiks from the west and the Abazghis from the east. We should have thought that the Svano-Colchians were partly with the Sanigs and partly with the Abazghis.

The rise of the kingdom of Egrisi and expansion of its territory began from the 3rd c. After the 4th c. and until the sixties of the 6th c. the territory of historic Abkhazia, i.e. the lands populated by the Apsils and the Abazghis and the major part of the territory populated by the Sanigs and the Suanno-Colchians were part of Egrisi. Among the tribes subjugated by the kings of Egrisi, contemporary written sources along with the Apsils also mention the Misimians who occupied part of the Kodori river gorge and were doubtless a Svanian tribe. It follows, therefore, that Svans lived in the Kodori gorge as early back as at the beginning of the Mediaeval epoch.

According to written sources, the dependence of different political formations on the territory of Abkhazia upon the king of Egrisi varied from tribe to tribe. Thus, the Abazghis had rulers of their own who were vassals to the king of Egrisi, while the Apsils and the Misimians were under his direct rule and their lands were provinces of this kingdom like the saeristavos in East Georgia. The process of breakaway from Lazica germinates as early as at the beginning of the 6th c. This movement was also encouraged and supported by the Byzantine Empire, the result being that in the middle of the 6th c. Abazghia declares itself an independent principality (Archontate), breaks away from Egrisi and becomes a province of the Byzantine Empire with a population comprising the Abazghis per se together with the Sanigs and the Suanno-Colchians. As for the Apsils and the Misimians (the Kodori Svans), they stayed under the king of Egrisi and when this kingdom was abolished early in the 7th c., they remained under the sway of Laz Patricians. It was about the early 8th c., when the north-western part of Apsilia from the river Kelasuri to Anacopia (now Novi Aphon - New Ahos) unified with Abazghia.

The early 8th c. also saw the formation of yet another political unit that was independent of Lazica and subordinated itself directly to the Byzantine Empire. Georgian sources called it the Saeristavo of Abkhazia, while Byzantine authors described it as the Archontate of Abazghia. The border between Egrisi and Abazghia-Abkhazia ran along the course of the river Kelasuri, roughly speaking. The Saeristavo of Abkhazia comprised, along with Abkhazian, also Georgian tribes, and the Georgian (Megrelian and Svanian) population, evidently predominant in that area numerically, occupied a leading position in significance and in its general share in the country. This conclusion is corroborated by the indisputable fact that Colchian (West-Georgian) culture was prevalent here since long

ago, and that all over the Bronze, the Early Iron, the Antique and the Early Mediaeval epochs only Colchian material culture has been proved as flourishing on the territory of historic Abkhazia, characterized by definite local peculiarities but developing within the framework of unified West Georgian and from a definite time later - of general Georgian culture. Analysis of architectural monuments, archaeological finds, the linguistic and religious situation of the Early Mediaeval period allows us to conclude that despite their origin both the Apsils and the Abazghis were, in ethnocultural terms, an integral part of Georgian ethnic unity, such as the Egrs, the Svans, the Kakhis or the Meskhis.

Some Abkhazian researchers (Z.Anchabadze) put forward a hypothesis that the ethnic base of the Abkhazian Saeristavo was "the unified Abkhazian ethnos that had resulted from consolidation of separate Abkhazian tribes and small nations". This hypothesis caused objections on the part of other scholars (N.Berdzenishvili, E.Khoshtaria-Brosset). We cannot agree with it either, because the Early Feudal epoch did not offer any objective conditions, any pre-requisites for Abkhazian tribes to consolidate into a nation. These tribes did not have any tradition of statehood, of a state with a spoken and written language of its own; in other words, they did not have even the necessary minimum of the components that are required as a basis, as a pre-requisite of consolidation of any tribe or tribes into a nation. On the contrary, that period offered every condition for integration of all these tribes into a single Georgian people. Thus, though the establishment of the Archontate of Abkhazia (or the Abazghian Saeristavo) contributed to the unification of the Apsils and the Abazghis, it did not at all mean that the given feudal unification was ethnically separate to any extent. Neither its ethno-cultural character, nor the level of its social development differed it in any manner from other saeristavos of Georgia. And this situation precisely accounts for why the Abkhazian Eristavis seceded from the Byzantine Empire, rallied around themselves the whole of Western Georgia and proclaimed themselves "Kings of the Abkhazians". The state they thus created was, in all parameters, not an Abkhazian, but a Georgian kingdom. The issue of the essential nature of this state cannot be disputed in serious historic science and cannot have an alternative solution. Leon II (Leon I of the newly established kingdom) was styled "King of the Abkhazians" because his dynasty originated from Abkhazia, although it is hard to say who were the eristavis or archons of Abkhazia by their ethnic origin: they could have well been representatives of the local nobility - i.e. Abazghis, Apsils, Sanigs, - or Byzantines. But that does not make much matter, the main thing being what the kingdom under them was like. The character of the "Abkhazian Kingdom" is pretty clear: the majority of its population was made up by the Georgians. Now this new kingdom comprised Svaneti, Racha, Lechkhumi, Mingrelia, Upper and Lower Imereti plus Guria and Adjaria. All these lands had a Kartvelian population: - Megrelians, Svans, Karts and, as mentioned earlier, Abkhazia proper had a considerable percentage of Kartvelians. Judging by the culture, the state language and the language of the church, as well as by the policy pursued by the "Kings of Abkhazia", the "Kingdom of Abkhazia" was actually a Georgian state formation. Understandably, this formation took an active part in all the political developments of the time which resulted in the formation of a unified Georgian kingdom, a Georgian feudal state.

________ Thus, neither in the Antiquity, nor in the Early Feudal epoch was historic Abkhazia an independent state, and Abkhazian tribes never had a statehood of their own. Abkhazia was a visceral part of Kartvelian state formations - first Colchian, then Laz (Egrisi), later the so-called Abkhazian Kingdom and finally, from the close of the 10th c., it became part of the unified Georgian kingdom and until the late Middle Ages it remained as just another administrative unit like other saeristavos of Georgia. The involvement of the Abkhazians into the process of consolidation of the Georgian nation contributed to further integration of the Abkhazian tribes into the Georgian ethnic milieu.


M. Inadze, Institute of History, Georgian Academy of Sciences

The author makes detailed scrutiny of the information provided by Graeco-Roman and Byzantine sources and concerning the contemporary ethnic processes that went on then on the territory of present-day Abkhazia, as well as the ethnic composition of the population of this area at that epoch with a view to tracing back the ethnic origin of the Abazghis and then, upon subjecting the data thus obtained to critical analysis, to making an objective assessment of the scientific value of these data the toponymic, linguistic and archaeological materials that have been revealed on the territory of Abkhazia over the last 50 years.

Studies of the data provided by Hecataeus of Miletus (6th c. B.C.) and Pseudo-Scylax of Caryanda (4th c. B.C.) show that in the Early Antiquity both the foot-hills of Northern Colchis and the Black Sea littoral near Dioscuria (now Sukhumi) were populated by tribes of West Kartvelian origin (the Cols, the Coraxi), while Colchians played a leading ethnic and political role. The archaeological materials provide clear evidence that in the first half of the 1st millennium B.C. Colchian culture extended over the population of Northern Colchis.

Ancient Greek authors say absolutely nothing about tribes of Abkhazo-Adyghe origin living on the territory of Northern Colchis during the period when an ethno-political unity was formed with the Colchians at the head (6th c. B.C.). The first ever reference to numerous tribes living at the foot-hills of the Greater Caucasus mentions these tribes, describing them as the Sarmatians of the

Caucasus; it was made by Strabo (1st c. B.C. - 1st c. A.D.). We are inclined to think that the term "Caucasians" also extended to cover ethnic groups of Adyghe origin.

The present research offers a critical analysis of the information gleaned from antique authors and concerning the Moskhs (Moschi) residing in Northern Colchis. The source of this information is to be found in the writings of several Greek authors: Helanicus of Mithilenus (5th c. B.C.), Palephatus of Abydos (4th c. B.C.) and also in the works of the historians who made record of the wars waged by Mithridates. According to the above information, the Moskhs shared this area of habitation with other tribes (the Cerceti, the Heniochi, the Coraxi, etc).

The author feels that the mention of the Moskhs as living on this territory implies not the whole nation but, rather, separate ethnic groups that had immigrated to the area in question from down south, moving from Eastern Asia Minor toward the north-east and north-west after their vast political amalgamation had been decimated by the Urartians in the Pre-Antique period. With this in view, the area of their new habitation should be sought as localized in Northern Colchis at the foot-hills and not on the Black Sea littoral.

The author also considers issues connected with the ethnic origin of the Heniochi who, according to Artemidorus of Ephesus, occupied, in the 5th - 1st cc. B.C, the Black Sea littoral that is part of present-day Abkhazia: - from the environs of Pitiunt or Pityus (Bichvinta) to the river Achaeuntus (the Shakhe river near present-day Tuapse).

The information we find in the works of Greek and Roman authors (Strabo, Pliny the Elder, an anonymous author, etc.) permits a surmise that the Heniochi were probably tribes of Svanian and Megrelo-Chanian origin.

Sources from Late Antiquity evidence that by the 1st c. A.D. the population living on the territory of present-day Abkhazia suffered dramatic ethnic and political changes which, on the one hand, may have been connected with a new influx of North Caucasian tribes, and, on the other, - with the decline of the tribal unions that had thitherto existed in the area (including the Kingdom of Colchis) and the emergence of new ethno-political units.

Pliny mentions a new ethnic formation - the Sanigae or Sanigs, who appeared on the shores of Northern Colchis from the 1st c. A.D. At some period this tribe is also mentioned as neighbours of the Heniochi, but from the 2nd c. A.D. the Heniochi cease to be mentioned altogether in historical sources, and the principality of the Sanigs becomes predominant in the area under study.

Judging by the information we inherit from antique authors (Memnon, Flavius Arrianus, an anonymous author), the principality of the Sanigs was a rather considerable ethnopolitical unit that occupied a major part of the north-eastern littoral of Pontus. We may infer, therefore, that the population of the east part of the Sanig principality maintained closer contacts with the Svanian ethnic world and was closely related with numerous Svanian tribes who lived in the mountains above the city of Dioscuria which, according to Arrianus, was part of the Sanig principality, while the western part of the Sanig political unit incorporated Megrelo-Zanian tribes.

The 1st c. A.D. witnesses an increased influx of Circassians and Adyghe into the eastern and western parts of the Sanig principality, which reflects on the toponymy of the north-eastern littoral of the Black Sea. Written sources from the 1st c. A.D. also mention the Apsils as a tribe among the Sanigs and the Lazians. According to Pliny, the Apsils at that time were supposed to live in the gorge of the river Astelephos (Kodori) - an area with Tsebelda as its political center. At that time the city of Tskhumi (Sebastopolis) hadn�t yet become part of the ethno-political area of Apsilia. Proceeding from the information provided by Memnon who mentioned only two ethno-political units in the north-eastern part of Pontus - viz. those of the Lazians and the Sanigs, one may infer that in the 1st -2nd cc. A.D. the territory controlled by the Absils was located mostly in the interland and not on the littoral.

Ethnic provenance of the Apsils remains one of the most difficult and controversial issues in today�s historical science. Some researchers are inclined to think that the Apsils originated from the Adyghe, and support this inference by the coincidence of the root "aps" with the present-day self-name of the Abkhazians that sounds as "Apsua". But the suffix "il" in this particular case can only be connected with the East-Kartvelian suffix "el" that indicated the place of origin of this or that subject, person or tribe. The stem "Aps" of the tribal name of the Apsils is also connected with the river Apsar (the present-day Chorokhi) mentioned by Pseudo-Scylax in the 4th c. B.C. But here the name of the river has the ending "ar" which, again, is a Kartvelian (Zano-Megrelian) suffix. The existence of such toponyms that carry Georgian suffixes makes doubtless evidence that by the time the Circassian-Adyghe ethnic groups began to penetrate into Northern and South-Western Colchis, this area already had an indigenous population of both East- and West-Kartvelian origin whose toponyms eventually found their way into ancient Greek and Roman literary texts.

It should be surmised that a lengthy presence of the Apsils in the Megrelo-Chanian, Svanian and East-Kartvelian milieu, and their close interrelations must have exerted a powerful impact on their culture and language. It is not fortuitous that on their territory, that bordered on the Svanian world, many Georgian toponyms were registered by Byzantine authors: e.g. Cibelius (now Tsebelda), the political center of the Apsils whose name is clearly connected with the East-Georgian word "tsipeli" meaning a beech-tree.

In the southern part of the land controlled by the Apsils that bordered on the territory of the Lazians, these ethnoses lived together from the 1st - 2nd cc. A.D. under the influence of the traditions of the Colchian material culture and the social life of the West-Kartvelian population. The Apsils, partially mixed with the Lazians (or Egris) and were eventually involved in the political and cultural life of the entire country. That acceptance by the Apsils of the local Colchian cultural traditions becomes a determining factor of their further historic development together with the Lazians and their still closer rapprochement.

The process of assimilation and ultimate merging of the Apsils with the Lazians in the Black Sea littoral between the rivers Galidzga and Kodori becomes quite evident by the 6th c. A.D. Besides other factors (cultural traditions, etc.), this process was also promoted by political subordination of the Apsils to the Lazians, by the 4th-5th cc. who, now strengthened by the latter, embraced Christianity together. All this still more vigorously contributed to still further and closer assimilation of these two tribes, while in the north-east some of the Apsils residing there merged with the Svans.

Beginning from the 5th c., the Apsils evidently take advantage of the new influx of Abkhazo-Adyghe tribes arriving from the north and weakening the Sanig principality, and seize its south-eastern part up to the fortress of Trachaia (known as Anacopia in the Middle Ages). Now Tskhumi becomes a city of the Apsils-Apshils, and the Apsils thus become next door neighbours of the Abazghis.

The "Abasks" (Abazghis) are first mentioned by Flavius Arrianus (2nd c. A.D.) as living in close neighbourhood with the Apsils and the Sanigs. We fully share the view of Acad. I.Djavakhishvili who inferred that the Apsils and the Abazghis used to live in the highlands of Northern Colchis. Svaneti and Skvimnia were thus located to the east of the area occupied by these two tribes. Seeing that the Abazghis are never mentioned (until the 2nd c. A.D.) as residing anywhere on the north-western littoral of the Black Sea or in the foothills of Northern Colchis, we have every reason to suppose that ethnic groups of the Abasks-Abazghis began to arrive and settle in this area only from the 1st c. A.D. And Arrian�s reference to the Abazghis whose ruler (prince) was raised to the dignity of "basileus" (king) by the Emperor Hadrian is yet another clear evidence of the fact that by the 2nd c. A.D. the Abazghis had gained such a potential that the Roman authorities had to reckon with them. We surmise that the Abazghis were substantially strengthened by the so-called Abzoei ethnic groups who used to live in numerous tribes in the North Caucasus and who, described by Pliny as the "Abzoae" living in the North Caucasus near Meotida (i.e. the Sea of Azov), eventually came down from the mountains in the north. The Roman Empire could establish contacts and even obtain military reinforcements from the Abazghis who could provide them with men and cavalry units. Just such cavalry detachments of the Abazghis are mentioned in the "Noticia Dignitarum" which refers to them as "wings" detailed to fight cavalry forces of the Chans - tribes of highlanders living to the south of the Lazians.

According to contemporary written accounts, the Abazghis who were on the rise since the 2nd c. A.D. gradually spread their political influence over the Sanig principality. Later on the political ascendance of the Abazgis must perhaps be substantially promoted by the new influxes of highlanders from the North Caucasus who brought over and introduced at their new area of habitation new forms of economy (e.g. animal husbandry) and their own way of life (inroads and pillage).

From the wealth of information Procopius of Caesarea has left to us, the most interesting in this particular case is the fact that in the 6th c. the Abazghis were not a politically and socially heterogeneous society. Outstanding from among them are two tribes ruled by their princes (or archons: the Western tribe and the Eastern tribe (Procopius of Caesarea "The Gothic Wars"). The latter incorporated more or less socio-economically advanced Abazghis who lived mostly in the plain and had been professing Christianity for quite some time since its inception. The western tribe�s territory (to the north of Pitiunt) was inhabited by the Abazghis who arrived here comparatively later and who were at a rather low level of social development (they still worshipped groves and coppices, sold children to slavery, etc. (and the Emperor Justinian nearly had to resort to force to convert them to Christianity). If follows that the border between the above two Abazghi tribes seems to have followed the course of the river Abascos (now the Bzyb). In the 6th-7th cc., the Byzantine Empire tried to use the Abazghi principalities as a political force spearheaded against Lazica, and to this end it encouraged the Abazghi princes to enlarge their domains at the expense of neighbouring Svaneti that had thitherto been under Lazica�s sway. By the 7th-8th cc. A.D., the Abazghis seize some territories of the coastal Apsils, except the lands that were controlled by the tribe known as "Chach" that had apparently merged with the Lazians. Now Tskhumi, referred to in the early 8th c. as a city of "Abshids" (Apsils) becomes an Abazghian city. Scholars believe that the "Chach" tribe was related to the Apsils and was simultaneously under a strong influence of the Lazians.

Thus, the Abazghis ("the Abkhazians" in Georgian) were characterized by ethnic mixture. They were not a monoethnos: those of them who lived in the plain typically mixed with the Kartvelian population, (Sanigs, Moskhs) while highlanders merged with ethnic groups of Adyghe origin that periodically came down from the North Caucasus. The Abazghis also differed according to their economic activities. The plain dwellers were mostly engaged in agriculture and easily established feudal relations with Georgian feudal society, embraced Georgian culture, learned their spoken language and writing, their way of life, their religion which, on the whole, greatly contributed to their rapprochement and peaceful co-existence of these two nations. It was just this part of the Abazghi population that later played a leading role in breaking Abkhazia away from the Byzantine Empire and in the reunification of the now independent Abazghi Principality with the former Kingdom of Egrisi which resulted in the establishment of a unified West-Georgian kingdom, known in history as the Kingdom of Abkhazia.


G. Giorgadze, Institute Of History, Georgian Academy of Sciences

Hittite written sources from the 17th-13th cc. B.C. inform us that the Hattites were the most ancient non-Indo-European tribes that lived in Anatolia (Asia Minor) on the broad plain in the right-bank arch formed by the present-day river Kizil-Irmak (the Marassanta-Marassantia in the Hittite texts) and the Gallis in the classic epoch) and further up to the shores of the Black Sea also extending over the latest region of Pontus. The Hattites called their country "Hatti" and their language "Hattami". Their capital city Hattush was located near the present-day Turkish village of Boghazkőy. Their large religious centers were Arinna, Nerik, Tsiplanta, Lakhsan and elsewhere which later became main religious centers of the Indo-European Hittites. The chief deities of the Hattian pantheon were the Goddess of the Sun, the God of the Moon, the God of Vegetation, the Goddess of the subterranean (nether) world, God Tsilipuri, God Tashkhapuna and others. The Hattite society may be described as an early class organization (the Hattites had a king and his queen styled as "Tabarna" and "Tavannana" respectively. The texts also make mention of the "throne", "the Royal Prince", "warriors", etc. Judging by the archaeological data, the cultural level of the Hattites was rather high (they knew the technology of smelting iron from ore).

A number of researchers admit that the Hattites were an autochthonous tribe. However, the present stage of the development of Hittite studies gives some scholars grounds to conclude that the Hattites were not aboriginal tribes, but they, rather, may have moved over to the northern part of Central Anatolia either during or after Indo-European tribes had appeared in Asia Minor (around the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C.). Presumably, the Hattites came to Anatolia from the North-Western Caucasus - the abode of Abkhazian-Adyghe tribes. This surmise is corroborated by a number of linguistic, archaeological and anthropological data.

Comparison of grammar forms seems to support the opinion that "Hattami"- the language of the Hattites, belongs to the family of ancient Caucasian languages. Its lexicon retains features that are common with West Caucasian languages. This was concluded after etymological studies and analysis of a number of Hattami words, although some of these words are guesswork. The most reliable linguistic material, based on phonetic affinities, gives the scholars grounds to regard Hattami as one of the most ancient Caucasian languages, which totally disproves the hypothesis advanced by a number of researchers who maintain that North Caucasian tribes originated from Anatolia.

Having moved over to Central Anatolia, more precisely - to its north and north-western parts - the Hattites should, understandably, have established contacts with the aboriginal population of the area (of whom we know nothing so far) and also with their Indo-European neighbours who appeared in the south of Anatolia after the parent Anatolian language had branched out from the parent Indo-European language (in Europe or in Nearer Asia). Presumably, the Hattami language had definite contacts with the Hittite and the Palai languages and these links existed after (and not before) the differentiation of the parent Anatolian Indo-European language. The influence of the Hattami language on the third Anatolian Indo-European language - Luvian - cannot be proved. If Hattami had been in contact with that parent Anatolian Indo-European language, its impact, after the above differentiation, would have been reflected in the Luvian language too, but it is not the case here. Mutual contacts among the Hittites, the Palais and the Hattites resulted in eventual merging of the Indo-European and the Hattite tribes. By the 18th century B.C. this process had been accomplished: the Hittites and the Palais took the upper hand and the Hattites assimilated with them. The influence they exerted upon the Hittites found its expression in the religion, mythology and other social spheres. By about the middle of the 17th century B.C. the Hattites as an ethnic group had practically disappeared in Anatolia. Their language - Hattami - became dead and was resorted to by the Hittites when they needed to record religious texts, myths, etc.

During the existence of the Hittite state (17th-12th cc. B.C.) tribes of obviously non-Indo-European origin lived in the north and north-east parts of Central Anatolia, extending over the western portion of Pontus. These tribes are mentioned in Hittite and Assyrian texts as the Kaskeians (Kaškeans). It is just this territory which used to be home to the Hattites.

Ethnic origin of the Kasks still remains unclear. Some scholars proceed from Kask toponyms (some of which are indeed of Hattish origin) and conclude that the Kasks were none other but Hatts or, at any rate, tribes closely related to them. These scholars also admit the possibility of a connection of the Kasks with the tribes in the North-West Caucasus. This influence is based solely on a phonetic affinity between the name "Kaska" ("Kashka") found in the Hittite texts and the name of the Circassian (Adyghe) tribe that sounds as "Kashag". However, this supposition alone cannot serve as a solid confirmation of factual similarity between Kask and Circassian tribes, because researchers also observed the fact that the name "Kaskeans" as mentioned in the Hittite sources has phonetic affinities with the names of the tribes (or peoples) who lived in various other epochs and parts of the world - viz. in Africa ("Kaskeans"), in Europe ("Csca"), in Asia (Gasa) and elsewhere.

No other connections of the Kasks with the North-West Caucasus have so far been revealed and proved. Therefore, the supposition of the existence of their genetic links with the Abkhazo-Adyghe tribes seems hypothetical to us. More acceptable at this junction is the view that the Kaskeans could have been genetically connected with South-Colchian (in particular, with the West-Georgian, i.e. Megrelo-Chanian) tribes that in the period of antiquity lived on the territory that neighboured on the eastern provinces of Pontus. This is provable by comparing the toponyms, proper names and some separate words of Kaskean origin with words of West-Georgian (Megrelo-Chanian) origin. It emerges that Kaskean words contain many toponyms, proper names and separate words that possess the structure of the Megrelian language, which should be regarded as indicative of Colchian rather than Abkhazo-Adyghe origin of the Kaskeans (for greater detail see our article "On the Ethnic Origin of Kaskean (Kashkean) Tribes according to Hittite Cuneiform Texts", the "Artanudji" Journal, No. 10, Tbilisi, 1999 (text in Georgian). Widely current in special literature is the opinion that the terms "Kaskeans" in Hittite texts, "Kaskeans" in Assyrian sources and "Abeshla" in the Assyrian texts from the times of Tiglatpalasar I are variants. If this is true, our above opinion about the ethnic origin of the Kaskean tribes should then be taken into consideration.

If the Kaskeans, as mentioned in the Hittite texts, were tribes of South-Colchian origin, then the Kaskeans referred to in the Assyrian texts should also be regarded as being of this origin together with the Abeshlais, because the terms "Kaskean" and "Abeshla" that occur in the Assyrian sources are regarded as synonyms. It follows that in this case the "Kaskeans" from the Hittite and Assyrian texts and the "Abeshlas" from the Assyrian sources should be regarded as tribes of South-Colchian origin.

However, if the terms "Kaskean" and "Abeshla" and their synonym "Apsil" (as proposed by some scholars) are not variants of the same name (as presumed by us), then these terms should be considered as names of different, though closely related tribes of predominantly West-Georgian origin, seeing that the version of South-Colchian origin of the Kaskeans does not seem to cause particular objections.


The Christianisation of Georgia

The Black Sea Region:
Past, Present and Future
An international inter-disciplinary conference
Session B Paper Abstracts
B1. Cultural Exchange in the Prehistoric and Historic Periods

The Christianisation of Georgia

Emzar Kakhidze
Batumi Scientific-Research Institute, Georgia

At the very early stages of its own history, western Georgia (Colchis of the Classical period, Lazica of early Byzantine times), as well as eastern Georgia (Iberia), had already been influenced by eastern countries, but starting from the great Greek colonisation onwards it gradually connected further with western Classical civilisation. Nevertheless, in spite of these circumstances, this region did not become a component member of the Graeco-Roman world. However, from the third century AD a tendency towards bringing together 'western' and local beliefs and cults can be observed. Due to foreign influence there was a crisis of polytheism and a striving for monotheism. It appears that close political and economic interrelation with the Roman world, together with a cultural readiness to accept new ideologies, guaranteed the spread of Christianity in Colchis via the coastal cities. (It is not impossible that this religion was introduced to the region from the first centuries AD. Along with the evangelised visits of Andrew and some other apostles, the Georgian Church acknowledges as facts the funeral of Simon the Cananean in Anakophia in Abkhazia and Mathias in Apsarus, near Batumi.) This process gained momentum in the fourth century, as attested by the punishment of Orentius, a Roman military server, and his six 'brothers' in the forts of the southeastern and eastern Black Sea littoral soon after AD 300. It should also be noted that the bishop of Pityus (present-day Pitsunda, Abkhazia), Stratophilus, together with Domnius, bishop of Trapezus, took part in the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea in AD 325. Several basilicas were built in western Georgia - in Petra (between Batumi and Kobuleti), Pichvnari (near Kobuleti), Vashnari (near Poti, ancient Phasis) and Archaeopolis (modern Nokalakevi to the northeast of Poti), Pityus. Their design was characteristic of the Middle East and, at the same time, very close to Byzantine architectural traditions. Christian burials and archaeological evidence linked with the new religion have been found in Pityus, Petra, Pichvnari, Makhvilauri (near Batumi) and in the hinterland. From this point of view it is interesting that the 'pro-Iranian' king of Lazi, Gobazes I, arrived in Constantinople in 465-466 with the paraphernalia of Christianity.
But we should not forget that, in contrast to coastal centres, the new ideology came across difficulties in the hinterland. The circumstances were the same in the eastern, less hellenised or Romanised regions and rural communities. Indeed, we have only minor archaeological indications of Christianity from the hinterland in the fourth to the fifth centuries. According to the written sources, inhabitants of Lazica's surrounding mountain regions, like the Tzani to the south or martial tribes to the north, embraced Christianity only in the sixth century. The situation in Lazica proper is not clear. The king of the Lazi, Tzathius I, had abandoned Christianity to aid his political ambitions with Persia but was re-baptised in 522. It is not at all accidental that the authors of Byzantine ecclesiastical literature considered that western Georgia was officially Christianised in the sixth century, and this conception is accepted without any criticism by a number of present-day scholars - though there are some others who suggest that Christianity was officially accepted in Lazica as soon as Iberia adopted it (early half of the fourth century). It is, of course, undoubtedly so that the significant part of the local population, particularly highlanders, were Christianised comparatively later, in the sixth century, and that, in turn, points to the final victory and stability of this religion.
As is well known, the history of Lazica in this century was distinguished by a decisive conflict between the Byzantine and Persian empires for control of the region. This confrontation had not only political, but also ideological meaning. The expansion of Iran, in geopolitical terms, meant the destruction of eastern Georgia's rear, as well as the creation of an additional play-ground for the removal of Byzantium from the Caucasus and then from the East. As for spiritual aspects, this could be regarded as an attempt to return back the western and, consequently, the whole of Georgia to the Oriental world. From this point of view, the Persian policy in Iberia, where fire worship and 'pro-Iranian' Monophysitism prevailed in comparison with Lazica, seems to be of an even more ideological character.
The victory of the pro-Byzantine cause was the result of ideological rather than political factors. It is well attested by the public meeting which was held somewhere in Lazica in 555. There, Christianity appeared to be of greater importance for the people than even the murder of their own king, Gobazes II, by Byzantine officers. On the other hand, Iran played a 'counterpart' role against the Byzantine plans to incorporate the Lazi, as well as the Tzani. The latter, like other 'barbarians', scorned Roman legislation and carried out robbing raids during the period of the fourth to fifth centuries, but their actions were spontaneous and not co-ordinated, and hence unable to remove from the region the machine that so successfully executed its own task of mixing and Romanisation. As a result, the Tzani were cut off from other Kartvelian (Georgian) language-speaking people and, consequently, their mother Church, and little by little became the supporters of Byzantine expansionistic policy in the region. In contrast to them, the Lazi had been relatively loyal towards the Roman or Byzantine state system. Eventually, with the help of eastern Georgians, they finally became independent ecclesiastically too, and together further contributed to the origination of a common Christian culture.
It is significant that western Georgia failed to develop because of very hard political cataclysms and a number of internal affairs (a lack of a strictly organised state system and an inability to overcome intra-tribal feuds). As a result, Colchis gave up its place to Iberia in the third century BC and hence the latter did not miss the chance to determine the form of a Georgian state system and culture. This structure became more visibly distinct after the establishment of an autonomous catholicosate and the creation of the Georgian writing system during the fifth century AD. Meanwhile the Lazian people, like many other eastern Christians, turned out to be under the control of Constantinople, and, consequently, they were forced to listen to the foreign Greek language during the ceremonial services performed in their churches.