This paper presents the information on deciphering by the author the complete text of the four-thousand year old first imprinted religious-literary document _ the Phaistos Disc. The document is widely known, and has not been read until today _ it has been read by the author in one of the Kartvelian languages-Colchian.
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Archaeological Investigations on the Eastern Black Sea Littoral, 1970-80

bay D. D. Kacharava
Archaeological Reports, No. 30. (1983 - 1984), pp. 98-101.
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The Caucasian Languages

There is considerable linguistic diversity in the area between the Black and Caspian Seas, which is divided into the North and South Caucasus by the Caucasus mountain range. It is not surprising that a number of the world's major language families are represented in this region, which finds itself between Europe, the Near East, and Asia. These language families are:
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Official site of the archaeological expedition of Pichvnari

Official site of the archaeological expedition of Pichvnari, Ajarian (in Western Georgia).
Excavation reports, available in doc or pdf file.

The British-Georgian Excavation at Pichvnari 1998

The British-Georgian Excavation at Pichvnari 1998: The 'Greek' and 'Colchian' Cemeteries
M. Vickers; A. Kakhidze
Anatolian Studies, Vol. 51. (2001), pp. 65-90.

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Colchian Dragon

THE DRAKON KHOLKIKOS (or Colchian Dragon) was an ever-wakeful, giant serpent which guarded the Golden Fleece in the sacred grove of Ares at Kolkhis. When Jason and the Argonauts came to fetch the fleece, the beast was either slain by the hero or put to sleep by the witch Medea. In one version of the story, preserved only in vase painting (image right), Jason was first devoured and disgorged by the dragon.
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By C’k’oni

In Laz there exists newly restored Zan variant mapa of Karto-Zan common root mepe (king). The word was almost lost in beginning of 20-th century, but it was preserved in hydronym mapatzk'ari [N. Marr: 1910].
mepe ascends to Karto-Zan common language period [G. Klimov: 1964; H. Fänrich, Z. Sarjveladze: 2000]. There exists regular phonetic equivalency between Kartian and Zan variants [e (Kartian) = a (Zan)]. In fact mepe originates from meupe [king, lord, sovereign, ruler]. This word is of very active use in old and modern Georgian.

For its turn, meupe is active voice participial form of the verb supeva [to rule over, dominate over, to wield power over; kingship, being lord: root is up-]. Compare synonymous meupeba and mepoba derived from participial forms of the same verbal up- root [meupe, mepe]. -eb-a and -ob-a are abstract term producing suffixes.

Georgian words derived from up- root

supeva [s-up-ev-a] – to rule over, dominate over, to wield power over; kingship, being lord

da supevay da qhelmtzipebay da simdidre meupebatay kueshe qovelsa tsasa mietsa tzmidata mag’lisata, da supevay misi supeva sauk’une, da qovelni mtavrobani da qhelmtzipebani mas hmonebden, akamomde dasasruli sit’quatay. [Daniel: 7.27, Oshki and Jerusalem manuscripts of Old Testament]
And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. [Daniel: 7.27, King James Version of the Bible]

sasupeveli [sa-supev-el-i] – Place to perform power, kingdom. Produced with assignation circumfix sa-...-el – Future tense passive voice participle. Comp. sopeli [see below] and samepo (adgili) [place of kingship, kingdom]

…romelman ara sheitzqnaros sasupeveli g’mrtisay vitartsa qrmay… [Mark: 10.15, Khanmeti Texts]
…Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child… [Mark: 10.15, King James Version of the Bible]

sopeli [ – Place to perform power, rule; principality; princedom; world; earth. Produced with assignation circumfix sa-...-el, but this is more archaic derivation than sasupeveli, because here is used core of the verb [-up] in contrast with sasupeveli [
ray sargebel xeqos k’atssa, uk’uetu qoveli sopeli ... da suli twisi izg’vios, anu ray mixtses k’atsman natsvalad sulisa twisisa... [Matthew: 16.26, Khanmeti Texts]
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? [Matthew: 16.26, King James Version of the Bible]

soplivi – secular, world-

…soplivi k’rebay kalk’idonisay iqo… [For Father Gelas: Apophthegmata Patrum: Tbilisi 1974]
…World Council of Chalcedon was… [For Father Gelas: Apophthegmata Patrum: Tbilisi 1974]

msoplio – secular person [in old Georgian]; msoplio: world [in modern Georgian]

rametu ver-tsa msoplio vin-me da ver-tsa mokalake… ik’adrebda gandrek’ilad slvad [Kartlis Tskhovreba: Tskhovreba Mepet-Mepisa Davitisi]
Because neither villager nor citizen [city-dweller] could dare to step in wrong way [The Life [History] of Kartli: The Life of King of Kings Davit]

shen msoplio xar da amas imarxav, vin uk’ue gastzava shen esevitari sit’qwisgebay".
You are secular person and save that, who did teach you such an answer [Martyrdom of Luciane: Georgian Hagiographic Monuments. Vol II – Tbilisi 1946]

upali – owner, proprietor, possessor, lord, Christ, God.

…zetsisa upali… [Martyrdom of Cristinae: Khanmeti Texts]
…the Lord of Heavens… [Martyrdom of Cristinae: Khanmeti Texts]

iqhsnen mosavni sheni da atz miqhsnen chuen da ganmaz’lieren z’levad mt’erisa, romeli xar g’merti da upali…
You, who are God and Lord, rescue all the people hopeful of you and rescue us now and make stronger to overcome enemies… [tzamebay tzmidata motzameta mesukavetay: Materials on Georgian Hagiology – Moscow 1910]

upleba, uplobameupeba [see below], shez’leba [to can, to be able], bat’onoba [to rule; to perform ones ownership over], t’eveba [to let, to permit], uplebis mitsema [to give a right]
upleba – ability, right, ownership, power

shen xar shvili tavta mat kartlisata, da shen gmartebs uploba chemi. [Kartlis Tskhovreba: leonti mrovelis matiane]
You are son of rulers of Kartli and you should be king of mine [The Life [History] of Kartli: Chronicle of Lenoti Mroveli]

mit zhamitgan ep’qra upleba kartlisa aznaurta [Kartlis Tskhovreba: Sumbat Davitis-dze- Tskhorebay da Utzqebay Bagratonianta]
From that time kept the right Aznaurs of Kartli [The Life [History] of Kartli: Sumbat Davitis-dze- The History of Bagrationi Dynasty]

ploba – to have power, to let, to permit, to empower, to give right

mieritgan mietsa ploba davits [Kartlis Tskhovreba: Jamtaaghmtzereli]
Then the power was given to Davit [The Life [History] of Kartli: Chronicle of Jamtaaghmtzereli]

meupe – king, lord, sovereign, ruler, Christ, God. Meaning is rather general than mepe has. meupe is as well as secular, so ecclesiastical [i.e. spiritual] and universal [i.e. God] king, lord, ruler, but mepe is only secular.

sada ars romeli igi ishva meupe huriatay? [Matthew: 2.2, Adishi manuscript of New Testament]
Where is he that is born King [i.e. Christ] of the Jews? [Matthew: 2.2, King James Version of the Bible]

meupeba – to have power of meupe; kingship. Comp. mepoba and upleba.

mas mietsa p’at’ivi da didebay da qovelta zeda meupebay…
And was given to him [i.e. Christ] the honour and the Glory and the Kingship over everything and everybody ["Hippolytus Romanus: De Christo et Antichristo"]

sameupo – assigned for meupeba or/and meupe; kingdom [of earth or heavens]. Future tense passive participle

da iqo shen gwirgwin sik’etis qhelsa uplisasa, da sharavand sameupo qhelsa g’mrtisa shenisasa. [Isaiah 62.3, Oshki and Jerusalem manuscripts of Old Testament]
Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. [Isaiah 62.3, King James Version of the Bible]

mepe – king

…p’eroz mepe...
…King Peroz… [Bolnisi Lapidary Inscription]

mepoba – to have power of mepe; kingship

da ara unda sxwisa natesavisa mepoba [Kartlis Tskhovreba: Mepeta Tskhovreba]
And didn’t want they kingship of other tribe [The Life of Kartli: The Life of the Kings]

samepo – assigned for mepoba or/and mepe; kingdom [of earth]. Future tense passive participle and assignation noun

…samepo chueni… [Kartlis Tskhovreba: Mepeta Tskhovreba]
…our Kingdom… [The Life of Kartli: The Life of the Kings]

All these words are used actively in modern Georgian as well.

Kingdom “omapo” and Kingship “mapoba” [?]

In short: In all Kartvelian languages future tense passive participle is produced via assignation circumfixes, prefix elements of which are: la-||le- [in Svan] – sa- [in Georgian] – o-||sa- [in Megrelian] – o- [in Laz].
In fact “sa-“ stems from l’a- archetype [H. Fänrich, Z. Sarjveladze: 2000], reflexes of which are:

Svanuri: la-: l’a->la-
Kartuli: sa-: l’a->ya->sa-||a-
Zanuri: o-: l’a->ya->yo->o-

In fact in Megrelian there is also sa- assignation prefix borrowed from Literary Georgian and it is very productive together with Zan “o-“ variant of it. Suffix elements of mentioned confixes are:

Svanuri: -a; -al; -ar; -el; -ir; -e; -el; -ia; -sh
Kartuli: -e; -o; -ar; -el; -ur; -ia; -is||-s
Margaluri: -e; -u; -al; -ur; -o; -ar; -el; -ia; -ish||-sh (with various combinations: -ash||-esh||-ush)
Lazuri: -e; -u; -o; -al; -ur; -on; -sh (with various combinations: -ash||-esh||-ush)

o-...-o circumfix is almost extinct in Laz and it is preserved in toponyme o-nt’op-o. Same toponyme is in Samegrelo as well: ont’opo [in Abasha District]. t’op-i is sort of a fish [comp. Georgian t’ob-i - same sort of a fish]. Aside from functional equivalency, o-...-o circumfix is an absolutely regular phonetic equivalent of Georgian sa-...-o [a (Kartian) = o (Zan); o (Kartian) = o (Zan): Comp. H. Fänrich, Z. Sarjveladze: 2000]

Kingdom: samepo [Georgian: sa-mep-o] – samapo [Megrelian: sa-map-o] – omapo [Laz: o-map-o]

Abstract nouns’ formant from noun roots: -ob [Svan] – ob-a [Georgian] – ob-a [Megrelian] – ob-a [Laz].

Kingship: mepoba [Georgian: mep-ob-a] – mapoba [Megrelian: map-ob-a] – mapoba [Laz: map-ob-a]


1. Bolnisi Lapidary Inscription [5-th century]
2. Khanmeti Texts from the Old Georgian Palimpsest [7-th century A.D.]
3. The Old Georgian Text of the Old Testament [Oshki Manuscript] – 978 A.D.
4. The Old Georgian Text of the Bible [Adishi Manuscript] – 10-th century A.D.
5. The Old Georgian Text of the Old Testament [Jerusalem Manuscript] – 11-th century A.D.
6. The Old Georgian Translation of "Hippolytus Romanus: De Christo et Antichristo" – (net’arisa ip’olit’es tkumuli ag’sasrulisatwis zhamtaysa, tkumuli tzigntagan tzmidata krist’estwis daant’ekrist’estwis”) [Traités d’Hippolyte sur David et Goliath, sur le Cantique des cantiques et sur l’Antéchrist, version géorgienne éditée par Gérard Garitte, Louvain 1965 (Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, 263 / Scriptores Iberici, 15), pp. 71-116.]
7. tzamebay tzmidata motzameta mesuk’avetay: A. Khakhanov [Khakhanashvili], Materials of Georgian Hagyology [on the basis of Georgian manuscripts of X century] – Moscow 1910
8. Old Georgian Translations of Medieval Novels II [Apophthegmata Patrum: For Father Gelas] – Tbilisi 1974
9. Martyrdom of Luciane (simqhne da mog’uatzebay tzmidisa motzamisa luk’ianozisi romeli itzama kalaksa shina balbaks) [Georgian Hagiographic Monuments. Vol II – Tbilisi 1946]
10. Life of Kartli: [kartlis tsxovreba: – The Life of Kartli [text based on all the main manuscripts] – Tbilisi 1955]
11. King James Version of the Bible
12. A. Shanidze: “Basic Grammar of Georgian Language” – Tbilisi 1973
13. I. Qipshidze: “Grammar of Iverian (Megrelian) Language” [in Russian] – Sanct-Petersburgh 1914
14. Arn. Chikobava: “Grammatical Analysis of Chan” [in Georgian] – Tbilisi 1936
15. N. Marr: “Grammatical Analysis of Chan (Laz)” [in Russian] – Sanct-Petersburgh 1910
16. Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani: “Lexicon of Georgian” – compiled in 1685-1716 A.D. – Tbilisi 1966
17. Arn. Chikobava: Chanian-Megrelian-Georgian Comparative Vocabulary - Tbilisi 1938
18. I. Abuladze: “Vocabulary of old Georgian language” – Tbilisi 1973
19. G. Klimov: Etymologic Dictionary of Kartvelian languages [in Russian] – Moscow 1964
20. V. Topuria, M. Kaldani: “Svan Vocabulary” – Tbilisi 2000
21. Z. Sarjveladze: “Vocabulary of Old Georgian language” - Tbilisi 2000
22. H. Fänrich, Z. Sarjveladze: “Etymologic Dictionary of Kartvelian Languages” - Tbilisi 2000
O. Kajaia: “Megrelian-Georgian Dictionary” (vol.1-3) - Tbilisi 2000-2002
24. Thesaurus Indogermanischer Text- und Sprachmaterialien [TITUS

Language Codeswitching (What’s greatest danger for Laz?)


[The article was written by Ckoni and publishe on Lazebura Forum.]

In this article we try to outline some aspects of Laz-to-Turkish codeswitching. We think that considering problems indicated below would be useful for Laz origin community of Turkey.

Codeswitching (CS) is commonly defined as the alternating use of two or more codes in the same conversational event. The term was first employed to refer to the coexistence of more than one structural system in the speech of one individual by Jakobson, Fant, and Halle (1952), who use "code" in the abstract information theoretical sense. In later writings, "code" has come to be synonymous with "language" or "speech variety." Recent research on CS falls within two distinct traditions: the syntactic, providing insights into the linguistic principles that underlie the form that CS takes; and the pragmatic that relates linguistic form to function in everyday discourse.

Interference may be viewed as the transference of elements of one language to another at various levels including phonological, grammatical, lexical and orthographical (Berthold, Mangubhai & Batorowicz, 1997). Berthold et al (1997) define phonological interference as items including foreign accent such as stress, rhyme, intonation and speech sounds from the first language influencing the second. Grammatical interference is defined as the first language influencing the second in terms of word order, use of pronouns and determinants, tense and mood. Interference at a lexical level provides for the borrowing of words from one language and converting them to sound more natural in another and orthographic interference includes the spelling of one language altering another. Given this definition of interference, codeswitching will now be defined and considered in terms of its relationship to this concept (Skiba R, 1997).

Codeswitching and Borrowing

The inclusion of one-word switches within her framework allows Myers-Scotton (1993) to posit a connection between codeswitching and borrowing. Codeswitched items are regarded as belonging to another language, so that someone who codeswitches has to have access to two linguistic systems (though this doesn’t imply they are equally competent in both languages). Borrowed items, on the other hand, are felt to have become part of the matrix language. All languages have borrowed terms [for example English has amateur from French; Swahili has baisikeli (bicycle) from English]. Terms such as baisikeli fill a gap in the matrix language, but languages also borrow when they have equivalent terms of their own (for instance, “town” in Swahili). Myers-Scotton argues that words such as baisikeli (she terms these “cultural borrowings”) enter the language abruptly as the need for them arises, whereas words like “town” (“core borrowings”) enter gradually, via codeswitching: they are subject to the same social motivations and grammatical constraints. As they become used more frequently, they are on their way to becoming borrowings, sometimes displacing original terms. There is, therefore, a continuum operating between codeswitching and borrowing, rather than a cut-and-dried distinction between two [Graddol, Leith & Swann, 1996].

Laz-to-Turkish Codeswitching

In Laz of Turkey there exists facts of phonological, grammatical and lexical codeswitching. Using examples we try to indicate danger Laz encounters.

Phonological type

In modern Laz there exists tendency of replacing natural Laz sounds with Turkish more familiar to speakers phonemes:

ch’ [Laz.] --- ch [Turk.] analogies. mtugi chopums instead of mtugi ch’opums [Kartozia, G. 1993].
3 [Laz.] --- s [Turk.]: e.g. mt’uri sxenepe instead of mt’uri 3xenepe [wild horses – source: ar t’ilifoni: zug’ash Berepe]. mt’uri itself is result of rather older phonological influence of non-native linguo-system. Comp. mtk’uri [Vitz.-Ark.-Hop.] which stems from ancient mt’quri* (wild). Compare also t’qari [Megr.] and t’qiuri [Geo.] – wild, which originate from t’qa [Megr.] and t’qe [Geo.] – forest. [Comp. Kutelia, N. 1986, Kartozia, G. 1993]. ok’oresxu – instead of ok’ore3xu [“ok’oresxu va mushk’un lazca” evidenced in 1992 – source: Kartozia, G. 1993]. We can indicate great mass of such examples, but that’s matter of future.

Phonetical influence of non-native language system has rather long history in Laz. Oldest q sound, which is preserved only in Hopa dialect of Laz language, in Vitze-Arkabe is either lost (q*>0), or it is replaced with k’ (q*>k’) phoneme. E.g. qvali* > kvali [cheese]; oqvilu* > okilu [to kill]; oqvapu* > ovapu [to be] etc. In Atina-Artasheni: q* > 0 or q* > y (e.g. qvali [Hop.] – k’vali [Ark.] – vali [Atn]; oqopumu [Hop.] – ovapu [Ark.] – oyapu [Atn] etc.)...[Comp. Machavariani, G. 1965; Kutelia, N. 1986; Topuria, V. 1926; Chikobava, Arn. 1936]

Grammatical type

The most characterizing feature of it is use of Turkish two element verbal constructions. But nevertheless there exists even grammar elements’ penetration with replacing original forms.

Verbal constructions:

yemini vikum [< yemin etmek: Turk.] – instead of gipuchum, gipucham [Laz] – I vow; opuchu – to vow; puchi – oath, vow
inkari vikum [< inkar etmek: Turk.] instead of movivar [Laz] – I deny; movaru – to deny
Word composition:

Here we can indicate one, newly discovered example of it

• dulyaartobani (from işbirlikçi: Turk) dulya [ish: Turk.] + art [bir: Turk.] + oba [lik: Turk.] + an [this suffix was understood as absolute equivalent of -chi||-ci: Turk.]. ishbirlig’i [collaboration] and ishbirlikchi [collaborator].

In addition here is absolutely ignored native Laz rule to derive profession-denoting and active voice participial forms using circumfixes [prefix-suffix composition – note: earlier same rule was used to produce origination-denoting forms as well. Such derivation is survived in some Laz, Megrelian and Georgian words. In Svan this rule (to produce origination-denoting terms) is in use actively till nowadays].

Examples of confixes: ma-...-e; ma-..-al-e (||-i), ma-...-ur, ma-...-er, m-...-u, m-...-al.

Examples of derivations: ma-inc’ir-e [one kind of bird; from inc’iri: elder (plant)]; ma-chxom-al-e [fisher – from chxomi: fish]; ma-lim-ur-i [warrior – lima: war]; ma-lim-er-i [warrior – lima: war]; ma-nz’ag-er-i [neighbour – zag-*: yard] m-k’od-u [builder – o-k’od-u: to build]; m-tkum-al-e [who told – tkum-||tkv-: to tell]...

Grammatical elements:

–lug’[<-lik: abstract terms’ producing suffix]. It is used in borrowed words, such as muslimanlug’i [–suz [<>exclusion producing suffix]: Resembles –lug’ [<-lik] case. e.g. igbalsuzi instead of uigbale [u-igbal-e] – unfortunate...

-ca||-ce [qualitative and qualitative-circumstantial terms producing suffix] is used in narrowed sutuation, to denote only language origin. Türkçe, Lazca, Gurcice (Gürcüce) --- Instead of Turkuli (Turkish) --- turkul-ot*||turkul-a* (in Turkish), Lazuri [Laz language] --- lazur-ot||lazur-a* [in Laz language], Gurculi [note: in Laz exists restored Zan variant of Kartuli, in form of Kortuli: Georgian language]. –ot||-a element is oldest sign of circumstantial case, which is survived in petrified form in some words till nowadays: arto||artot (arti - one) – together, lazebura (in Laz (language), Lazwise) < lazeburi (Lazish, Laz language). lazurot (from lazuri - Laz language) – in Laz (language). Losing circumstantial case in Laz: It is not excluded, that this fact appeared as a result of influence of Turkish... This archaic case is used actively as well as in Svan, so in Georgian and Megrelian

–inci [produces ordinal numbers]: This type was evidenced recently in word jurinci [jur+inci~ikinci – second: Turk.] instead of majura||majurani [second – Laz].

Lexical type:

This type is matter of lexicographic analysis. Huge mass of ancient Laz words is lost in modern Laz of Turkey. Fortunately considerable part of them is preserved in Laz villages of Georgia. In Laz There are also such words that are lost finally [are not evidenced any more]. Via comparative historical-linguistic analysis linguists can apprehend which possible variants would be real Laz equivalencies of still alive common lexical treasure of Kartvelian languages [through comparative analysis of Svan, Georgian and Megrelian to Laz]. In fact this issue is closely connected with word-derivation problems as well. Case of mapa, omapu and mapoba illustrates interesting possible approach how to restore ancient native words and constructions.

Nevertheless it would be interesting to show a few examples of codeswitching in corversation:

Examples [Source: Kartozia, G. 1993 – Texts written in 1990 and 1992]:
...lazui rak’amiti [ok’ore3xu] va michkin, ama [mara] on-sekiz [vit’ovro] 3’ana og’ine ma k’aset’is ebozdapidort’u...” [codeswitched items in bold]
dutxuri eskide [mcveshot] ... istambolishe mendaxtu... [mcveshot is survived in Laz of Turkey. It is one of those very words in which is preserved circumstantial case in petrified form. see above]
...chkuni p’ap’ulepe churuksude, potide, soxumde ulut’esdoe do balukchilug’i ikumt’es doe... [structural switchings are italicized. note: Laz, whose verbal folklore literally breathes with fishery uses “balukchilug’i” instead of name of core profession of Lazs machxomaloba||mechxomeoba: fishery]
Instead of Conclusion
Sometimes grotesque endeavors of some young Lazs with poor skills of Laz speech to use Turkish constructions and incorrect forms obstinately are greatest danger for Laz language [e.g. omapu – as verb “to be”, instead of real still alive forms: ovapu||oyapu||oqopumu [Laz] - to be]



1. Jakobson, R., G. M. Fant, and M. Halle – Preliminaries to Speech Analysis: The Distinctive Features and Their Correlates. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press 1952
2. Skiba, R. – Code Switching as a Countenance of Language Interference: The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. III, No. 10, October 1997
3. Graddol, D., Leith, D. and Swann J. – English: history, diversity and change: London, Routledge 1996
4. Myers-Scotton, C. – Duelling Languages: Grammatical Structure in Codeswitching: Oxford, Clarendon 1993
5. Kartozia, G. – lazuri t’ekst’ebi [Laz texts]: Tbilisi 1993
6. Machavariani, G. – Common Kartvelian Consonant System: Tbilisi 1965
7. Topuria, V. – Phonetic Observations in Kartvelian Languages: Tifliss 1926
8. Chikobava, Arn. – Grammatical Analysis of Chan (Laz) Dialect with Chrestomathy: Tbilisi 1936
9. Kutelia, N. – Consonant Clusters in Chan (||Laz): Tbilisi, Annual of Ibero-Caucasian Linguistics XIII 1986


• For Codeswitching

• For Megrelian and Laz

K’olxuri (megrul-lazuri) ena: Colchian (Megrelian- Laz) language (book)

Title: K’olxuri (megrul-lazuri) ena: Colchian (Megrelian- Laz) language
Ed.: Rusudan Amerijibi-Mullen(MA)
Compilers : Nana Danelia, Inga Dundua, Rusudan Amerijibi-Mullen
Publication Year: 2006
Publisher: ICGL( Universali: Tbilisi, Georgia),

Reviewed by: Andrew Higgins (MA), (Cardiff, UK)

This new book is the first grammar of the Colchian language, especially the Megrelian dialect (also know as Mingrelian) from Georgia, that has been published since that of Jozef Q’ipshidze (1914). It is written in Georgian in the mxedruli script, which will make it initially of interest to those professional and/ or amateur linguists who already know Georgian. It has 389 pages.

The Colchian languages are unwritten, and although there are occasional collections of folktales and poetry published in Megrelian in Georgia, and Laz in Turkey, there has not been a course book for learning Megrelian for almost one hundred years.

It is published by the INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR THE GEORGIAN LANGUAGE (ICGL). ICGL specialize in teaching Kartvelian languages to non- Georgians.Nana Danelia and Inga Dundua (both native Megrelian speakers) are the co-authors. Rusudan Amerijibi-Mullen is the director of ICGL. She helped compile, edited the text and wrote the introduction. She is a well-known Georgian linguist who taught at Tbilisi state university for 21 years. Currently she is doing a PhD in sociolinguistics at Queen Mary University of London.

An English translation is forthcoming (due to appear later in 2007).


The book starts with an introduction which covers basic notions of the Colchian, also known as the Zan language.Many readers will in fact know of Colchetia due to the Greek story of Jason and the Argonauts and their quest for the golden fleece, which took them across the Black Sea to Colchetia.

The book is divided into two main parts: A theoretical grammatical study of modern Colchian language, which comprises Megrelian (spoken in Georgia) and Laz (three mutually intelligible dialects which are spoken in ‘Lazistan’, on the Black Sea coast of Turkey

Part one presents a grammatical description of Colchian (pp.11-174)), which draws mainly on the work of Cornelius Danelia, a famous Georgian linguist. Linguists differ as to their classification of Laz and Megrelian: some regard them as dialects of one language, others as sister languages. This book follows the Georgian philolological tradition and classifies them as the K’olxuri or Colchian language.There is a very thorough presentation of the background of the language. This includes in depth comparisons between the two sister languages. It needs to be mentioned that Megrelian and Laz are considered to be dialects of the Colchian language, yet there is further discussion of the three subdialects of Laz. It also needs to be mentioned that Laz is referred to as ‘Ch’anuri’ in the text. Comprehensive coverage is given to the sound-system, morphology, sound-correspondances of the two dialects, followed by the verbal system, in particular the notion of screeves, series and preverbs.

Part two presents a practical course in Megrelian (or ‘Margaluri nina’) (pp.175-339). This is followed by a vocabulary of the most important words used in the lessons (pp. 339-358).

The book ends with a selection of traditional Megrelian folktales (pp. 358-388), and finally a comprehensive bibliography.

No previous knowledge of Megrelian is assumed. The presentation of new language is both clear and logical. There are thirty-three lessons, which take the reader step-by-step through the lexis and structure of Megrelian. There are copious examples, as well as exercises for translation/ practice.

The lessons vary in length, but are concise are draw largely on a comparative teaching method, drawing on the many similarities between Georgian and Megrelian. These two languages can be compared in the same way as one might compare Spanish and Italian. They share many common words. Megrelian itself has two main dialects: Senaki and Zugdid-Samurzaqan. The lessons are based on the Zugdid-Samurzaqan dialect, due to the fact that it has the highest number of native speakers. The dialect differences in Megrelian are far fewer than in Laz, mostly sound-correspondences and a few lexical items.


This book is a very welcome addition to modern Kartvelology. The Kartvelian languages are well-known in the academic world for their impressive verbal system and interesting typological features, such as ejective consonants. Georgian is extremely well-documented, and it is not difficult for an interested linguist to gain access to material: several good grammars are available in English, German and Russian.

Megrelian is used as a spoken language in western Georgia, but Megrelians use Georgian as their literary language. As such, although it is currently not endangered, it is important to have a popular grammar and coursebook. This exciting book fills this lacuna that has existed for a long time. The last practical grammar of the Megrelian language was published in 1914, and although it was reprinted in 1990 in Tbilisi, it remains very difficult to obtain a copy. This was a seminal work, though now is dated in many ways. In addition, being written in Russian, it is less practical for many potential readers. It was also a reference grammar, and not easily used for the practical study of Megrelian. However, the promised English translation will make the Megrelian language available for study to the wider international community, both academic and interested amateurs, for the first time in its history.

Part two presents the first ever ‘hands-on’ written course in the Megrelian language (aimed at using the language, not merely for reference). As a student of Megrelian as well as Georgian, I was delighted to gain access to a systematic presentation of the language. The current text will be of interest principally to those who already speak or have a working knowledge of Georgian, but the English version will not assume prior knowledge of Georgian as a pre-requisite to successful learning. The theoretical grammatical discussion will be difficult for those with no knowledge of the sister language.

The practical course is very well-structured and guides the reader step-by-step through the learning process. It would be highly advantageous to have a teacher to explain certain nuances that occur in the sample sentences, but are not explained in detail in the text; yet, a reader well-acquainted with Georgian will, with a little perseverance, be able to appreciate these subtleties too. The lessons also compliment the theoretical part one. To gain the greatest benefit from the course, it will be necessary to read the grammatical theory in more detail, unless of course there is a teacher to hand. I would imagine that those working for non-government organizations (NGOs), businessman and even interested travellers will profit from the course, as it is highly practical and aims to teach Megrelian as a spoken language. Having said that, the book functions well at two levels, as linguists interested in Kartvelian languages at a more academic level will also draw great benefit from the theoretical discussion of Colchian dialects written by Danelia. Georgian is frequently used in typological studies, and this book also makes Megrelian and Laz available to typologists who do not speak Georgian, German or Russian.

ICGL will soon be publishing another introductory course in Megrelian, called ‘Survival Megrelian’. This will be more of a phrase-book and is intended for those needing immediate knowledge of the language. It could be used as an introduction to ‘K’olxuri ena’.

In conclusion, I really recommend this book. It will appeal to a wide audience both Georgians those of other nationalities alike.

About the reviewer:

Andrew Higgins is an experienced teacher and linguist, qualified to MA level (Applied Linguistics) from Cardiff in the UK. He is interested in phonetics, phonology, typology and Kartvelology. He is planning to study for a Ph.D. in the near future.

"Lasisch - wie lange noch?" [How long will Laz continue to be spoken?]

Genç, Sevim; Kutscher, Silvia; Mattissen, Johanna
In journal: Forschung in Köln (Universität zu Köln), 1996 (2), 1996.

Lazuri nena - Lazca - Lasisch - Laz

Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft Institut für Linguistik der Universität zu Köln

Lazuri Nena - The Language of the Laz

Silvia Kutscher, University of Cologne
[Draft, comments welcome.
To appear in Rüdiger Benninghaus (ed.) The Laz people]
This chapter presents a short overview of the Laz language and its affiliation. The presentation
focuses on some main characteristics of the language system and its dialectal variation. In addition, the status of Laz being an endangered language is discussed in some detail.

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Lasische Sprache

Die lasische Sprache ist nicht mit dem Türkischen verwandt und auch typologisch von diesem völlig verschieden. Sie gehört der südkaukasischen Sprachfamilie an, die auch 'Kartwelisch' genannt wird. Die prominenteste und auch dominante Sprache dieser Familie ist das Georgische, das die längste schriftsprachliche Tradition aufweist (belegt seit dem 5. Jh.) und wegen seines Prestiges und der politischen Stärke seiner SprecherInnen in der Region auf seine Schwestersprachen immer starken Einfluß ausgeübt hat. Lasisch ist neben einem georgischen Dialekt (Imerxevisch) der einzige Vertreter des Kartwelischen, der außerhalb des Staates Georgien und der früheren Sowjetunion gesprochen wird.

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The Foundation of the Empire of Trebizond (1204-1222)

A. A. Vasiliev
Speculum, Vol. 11, No. 1. (Jan., 1936), pp. 3-37.

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The Argonaut Epos and Bronze Age Economic History

by Morris Silver
Economics Department
City College of New York

Revised May 14, 1999

The first part of this essay seeks to "decipher" the mythical component of the Argonaut epos and lay bare its underlying economic meaning. Stanford (1939: 181-82) makes clear that deciphering is required because...

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Die Griechen in der Kolchis (historisch-archäologischer Abriß)

Die Griechen in der Kolchis (historisch-archäologischer Abriß)

Amsterdam 1998

Zur ethnischen Herkunft der Kaskäer

Zur ethnischen Herkunft der Kaskäer (Kaskäer) und Abeschläer
von hethitischen und assyrischen Keilschrifttexten

von G. Giorgadze (Achalziche 2000)




According to the anthropological data at our disposal, all the aboriginal groups in the North-Western Caucasus (except the highland Karachais and Balkars who pertain to the Caucasian type of the West Asian or Caucasoid race and make a classical example of lack of coincidence between the glottogenetic-Turkic and local (obtained in the Caucasus) race-genetic data), viz. the Adyghe, the Circassians, the Abazins, to a lesser extent the Kabardins, partially belong to the Adyghe Caucasian variant of the Pontic type of the Indo-Mediterranean (South-Europaeoid) race; whereas the aboriginal population of the Transcaucasian (South Caucasian) Black Sea coastal area — the Georgians (i.e. the Megrelians, the Gurians, the Adjarians) pertain to the Black sea coastal area variety of the West Asian race. In this particular case we are dealing with a coincidence of linguistic and physical (anthropological) data. Found between them are Abkhazian groups whose physical type classes them with the West Asian racial type that is widespread in Transcausacia and considerably further down south, while linguistically they pertain to the Abkhazian-Adyghe family of languages that are spread over the North Caucasus, more precisely — in the North-Western region of the Caucasus which, presumably, is the area where this family of languages had originated and taken shape. Transcaucasia, West Asia and Asia Minor and the adjoining lands down south are the area where West Asian anthropological types were formed. Hence a question arises as to how can such lack of coincidence between linguistic and anthropological and, incidentally, not only anthropological but also archaeological, historical and other data that characterize the Abkhazian ethnos be accounted for? How is such incongruity between the physical and the linguistic origin of all — without exception —present-day Abkhazian groups to be interpreted? We are not here to judge about the causes of these discrepancies between the glottogenetic and race-genetic trends in the ethnogenesis of the present-day Abkhazian groups. And we emphasize:

the present-day Abkhazian groups, because we have no sufficient data concerning the physical type of the Muhajirs who relocated from Abkhazia to Turkey in the last century (the only exception being a small group of Abkhazians who settled on the territory ofAdjaria and who, incidentally, do not differ in any way from the other Abkhazian groups we have studied). Such kind of discords (as well as coincidences) are quite a regular phenomenon in the process of ethnogenesis of various nations; therefore, what is to be done is not to mechanically project the data obtained by researchers working in various scientific disciplines, but, rather, to dialectically comprehend various interrelations between these processes (otherwise comprehensive study of the whole set of ethnogenetic problems would be needless). But in this particular case such identity (or, more precisely, quasi identity) of all the Abkhazian groups without exception with Georgian erouos of the Black Sea littoral tvne noints to their /328/ physical (blood) relationship. In the study of the genesis of the groups which we today call Abkhazian and which the Abkhazians call Apsui, this factor needs to be necessarily taken into account. In ascertaining this race-genetic fact, historians should be more meticulous in researching into the ways, forms and rates of the mechanism of the sophisticated glottogenetic process of the formation of an aboriginal Abkhazian ethnos on the territory of Georgia. In this connection, one should bear in mind the regularity anthropologists have established that «languages and cultures can spread over large areas without the people who speak and evolve them, whereas anthropological types, i.e. people never spread out unaccompanied by their language and culture». In our view, we deal here with the former phenomenon, i.e. with proliferation of the language of the Adyghe family unaccompanied by that of the anthropological elements, i.e. by the people of the Pontic type. What most probably took place here was gradual linguistic assimilation which evolved over the centuries with varying intensity and in the course of which Adyghe elements gradually infiltrated as they assimilated local culture and fully fused with the local population, which triggered the formation of new ethnic features in the extreme north-western territories of Georgia. The obviously expressed West Asian type of the present-day Abkhazian groups attests the fact that the proliferation of the Adyghe (Pontic) elements into the aboriginal population of the above territories in the extreme north­western portion of Georgia where these Pontic elements could in any measure have contributed to a change of the basic West Asian (in this particular case - the Kartvelian) genetic fund of the population never attained considerable intensity.

The West Asian type to which the present-day Abkhazian groups obviously belong clearly indicates that they formed and developed together with the Georgians who inhabited the area they currently occupy, and that this formation and development proceeded in immediate anthropological contacts between them.


M. Inadze


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, together with 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 ofCaryanda (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 the 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 ofAbkhazo-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 ofAdyghe origin.

The present research offers 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 ofMithilenus (5th c. B.C.), Palephatus ofAbydos (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 /89/ 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 foot­hills 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 ofPitiunt 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 ofSvanian and Megrelo-Chanian origin.

Sources from Late Antiquity evidence that by the 1st century 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 Sanigs, who appeared on the shores of Northern Colchis from the 1st century A.D. At some period this tribe is also mentioned as neighbours of the Heniochi, but from the 2nd century 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 ofPontus. 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 ofDioscuria 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 century A.D. witnesses an increased influx of Circassians andAdyghe 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 century 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 ofApsilia. Proceeding from the information provided by Memnon who mentioned only two ethno-political units in the north-eastern part ofPontus - viz. those of the Lazians and the Sanigs, one may infer that in the 1 st —2nd century 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 /90/

controversial issues in today's historical science. Some researchers are inclined to think that theApsils 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 "iP 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 century 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-Westem 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 century A.D. under the influence of the traditions of the Colchian material culture and the social life of the West-Kartvelian population. TheApsils, 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 century 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 century 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 century, theApsils evidently take advantage of the new influx ofAbkhazo-Adyghe tribes arriving from the north and weakening the Sanig principality, and seize its south-eastern part up to the fortress ofTrachaia (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 century 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 century A.D.) as residing anywhere on the north- /91/ eastern littoral of the Black Sea or in the foot-hills of Northern Colchis, we have every reason to suppose that ethnic groups oftheAbasks-Abazghis began to arrive and settle in this area only from the 1 st century 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 century 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 Dignitatum" which refers to them as "wings" detailed to fight cavalry forces of the Chans — tribes ofhighlanders living to the south of the Lazians.

According to contemporary written accounts, the Abazghis who were on the rise since the 2nd century A.D. gradually spread their political influence over the Sanig principality. Later on the political ascendance oftheAbazgis 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 century 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 centuries, 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 centuries 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 century as a city of"Abshils" (Apsils) becomes anAbazghian 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 /92/ 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.




Hittite written sources from the 17th—13th cc. B.C. inform us that the Haitians were the most ancient non-Indo-European tribes that lived in Anatolia (Asia Minor) on the broad plain /59/ in the right-bank arch formed by the present-day river Kizil-Irmak (the Marassanta-Marassantia in the Hittite texts and the Halis in the classic epoch) and further up to the shores of the Black Sea also extending over the latest region of Pontus. The Haitians called their country "Hatti" and their language "hattili". Their capital city Hattush was located near the present-day Turkish village of Boghazkoy. 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 Haitian society may be described as an early class organization (the Haitians had a king and his queen styled as "Tabama" 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 Haitians was rather high (they knew the technology of smelting iron from ore).

A number of researchers admit that the Hattians were an autochthonous tribe. However, the present stage of the development of Hittite studies gives some scholars grounds to conclude that the Haitians 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 Hattians came to Anatolia from the North-Western Caucasus — the abode ofAbkhazian-Adyghean tribes. This surmise is corroborated by a number of linguistic, archaeological and anthropological data.

Comparison of grammar forms seems to support the opinion thai "hattili"—the language of the Haitians, 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 Haitian words, although some of these words are guesswork. The most reliable linguistic material, based on phonetic affinities, gives the scholars grounds to regard Haitian 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 north­western parts — the Haitians 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 ofAnatolia after the parentAnatolian language had branched out from the parent Indo-European language (in Europe or in Nearer Asia). Presumably, the Haitian language had definite contacts with the Hittite and the Palaic languages and these links existed after (and not before) the differentiation of the parent Anatolian Indo-European language. The influence of the Haitian language on the third Anatolian Indo-European language — Luwian — cannot be proved. If Hattian had been in contact with that parent Anatolian Indo-European language, its impact, after the above differentiation, would have been reflected in the Luwian language too, but it is not the case here. Mutual contacts among the Hittites, the Palaic and the Hattians resulted in eventual merging of the Indo-European and the Hattian tribes. By the 18th century B.C. this process had been accomplished: the Hittites and the Palaite took the upper hand and the Haitians 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 Hattians as an ethnic group had practically disappeared in Anatolia. Their language — Hattian —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—l 3th 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 ofPontus. These tribes are mentioned in Hittite and Assyrian texts as the Kaskeans. It is just this territory which used to be home to the Hattians.

Ethnic origin of the Kaskeans still remains unclear. Some scholars proceed from Kaskean /60/ toponyms (some of which are indeed of Haitian origin) and conclude that the Kaskeans were none other than Haitians or, at any rate, tribes closely related to them. These scholars also admit the possibility of a connection of the Kaskeans with the tribes in the North-West Caucasus. This influence is based solely on a phonetic affinity between the name "Kaskeans" ("Kashka") found in the Hittite texts and the name of the Circassian (Adyghean) tribe that sounds as "Kashag". However, mis supposition alone cannot serve as a solid confirmation of factual similarity between Kaskean and Circassian tribes, because researchers also observed the fact that the name "KaskeanA" 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 ("Casca"), in Asia (Gashga) and elsewhere.

No other connections of the Kaskeans with the North-West Caucasus have so far been revealed and proved. Therefore, the supposition of the existence of their genetic links with theAbkhazo-Adyghean tribes seems hypothetical to us. More acceptable at mis 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 ofPontus. 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 ofColchian rather thanAbkhazo-Adyghean 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 "Abeshia" in the Assyrian texts from the times ofTiglatpalasar 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 oitgin together with the Abeshlaian, because the terms "Kaskeans" 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 "Abeshlaians" from the Assyrian sources should be regarded as tribes of South-Colchian origin.

However, if the terms "Kaskeans" and "Abeshia" 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 —predominanty West-Georgian origin, seeing that the version of South-Colchian origin of the Kaskeans does not seem to cause particular objections.




The outstanding success of the studies of the Early Bronze culture of Western Transcaucasia and the South Caucasus carried out over the last two decades (the settled sites at Dikhagudzuba I and II in Anaclias, and also at Ochamchiri, Nosiri, /42/ Saeliao, Machara, Guandra, Gumista I and II, Ispani, Pichori (layers VIII - VII) and elsewhere have enabled the researchers to identify two synchronous cultures on this territory: that of the Rioni-Kvirila rivers basin which was covered by the Kura-Araxes culture and that of the Early Bronze in the Colchian Plain that also covers Abkhazia. This culture is characterized by rough, hand-moulded grained pottery of the Ochamchiri type decorated with bands carved in relief, with riveted handles, cuneiform recesses, etc.

Also conspicuous are the vessels that are rather reminiscent of jars; these are pots, bowls, large pots and salt cellars. Quite specific are stone artifacts (hoes, grain grinders, pestles, flint arrow- and spearheads, flint blades mounted into the inner curvature of sickles) and metal articles (axeheads with a tubular shaft-hole to take the haft, hoes, flat axeheads). The identical material culture almost on the entire Colchian Plain permits us to regard it as a single culture. It should be noticed in this context that this single culture has peculiar features in the area north to the Gumista River, which is characterized by dolmen burials, where the sites are located on natural hills and where hoes of the Sochi-Adler type with gill-like shafts, pearl ornamentations have been unearthed. Owing to its geographical proximity to the cultures higher up to the north, this particular area was under greater influence of the Maikop-Novosvobodnenskaya culture.

An analogous picture is observable in the Middle Bronze period (the first half of the 2nd millennium B.C.) whose material culture is genetically connected with the previous time and repeats it in some way. Some forms and ornaments undergo changes (e.g. the long shafts, oval in the cross section, become shorter and flatter with a round lug); bronze hoes of the Ureki type with a triangular blade appear. These exceptionally close affinities between the materials from both periods enable the researchers to term this culture "Proto-Colchian" without, however, any ethnic implications, but with a view to recording the fact that this culture precedes the so-called "Colcho-Cholchian culture" that became widespread from the middle of the 2nd millennium B.C.

Interrelations between these two cultures constitute one of the basic challenges in the archaeology of Transcaucasia, the question being whether they are genetically connected with each other, or whether we deal here with a culture that naturally comes to succeed another one. There were attempts at tracing the genetic line of development, but none of them was sufficiently convincing. While the line tracing evolution of metal implements and weapons looks more or less acceptable, this cannot be said about pottery and ornaments, largely because no such artifacts belonging to the transition period from the Middle Bronze (Proto-Colchian culture) to the Late Bronze (Colchian culture) had by then been found.

Things have changed dramatically over the last decade. The Abkhazian archaeological expedition working at Pichori identified a separate layer (IV) as containing materials from both the Proto-Colchian and Colchian cultures. Analogous stratigraphy was registered at the Ergeta site and also at Anaclia and Namcheduri which had been studied earlier. Thus, the archaeologists were in a position to identify a whole layer containing mixed materials representing both these cultures. Notably, the character of the stratiography attests that the above /43/ cultures merged gradually, which is only feasible between related cultures. Chronologically, this process unfolded in the 16th-15th centuries B.C., and it enables researchers to both account for the differences between these cultures and indicate those similar elements and factors that link them together genetically (metal, pottery, architecture). All the above gives us sufficient ground to state that these cultures are closely connected with each other and were evolved by ethnically related and geographically close tribes.

The universally accepted theory classes Colchian culture with the Megrelo-Zanian ethnos. This vigorous culture that had taken shape in the southern part of Western Georgia and inAnatolia begins, from the middle of the 2nd millennium B.C., to gradually spread northward and crosses the river Enguri. From the beginning of the 1st millennium B.C. this culture proliferates still farther and over a greater area and comes to cover the entire territory of present-day Abkhazia, probably as far as the Sochi-Adler district.

According to the archaeological data, the proliferating Colchian culture could not help avoiding encounter with the culture of the ethnically related tribes. Otherwise abrupt substitution of one culture by another would be conspicuous.

The above-mentioned nature of the layers deposed in the course of the transition period indicated that the preceding culture could have only been evoked by a related ethnos from the Kartvelian (Georgian) group. This ethnos could have possibly comprised only Svanian speaking tribes who, in our view, lived in the Colchian Plain in the Early and Middle Bronze epochs. After gradual proliferation of the Megrelo-Zanian ethnos to the north, some Svanian tribes partially assimilated with the Megrelian ethnos, while the main bulk of these tribes moved to the highlands and started developing these territories. This process also had economic implications. In the Colchian Plain we find sites of advanced metallurgy and metalworking dating back to the 3rd millennium B.C. Using the ore brought over from the south slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range, the metal smelters and smiths fully met the local demand for their produce. From the latter half of the 2nd millennium B.C. and especially throughout the 1st millennium B.C. bronze metallurgy attains the peak of its development. Demand for copper ore grows which stimulates vigorous development of the Caucasian highlands in Racha, Svaneti and Abkhazian Svaneti - a fact corroborated by such burial grounds as those at Brili and Tli.

As mentioned earlier, part of the Svanian population stayed back and assimilated with the Megrelo-Chanians. This process may have found reflection in the ethnonym of the Svano-Colchians referred to by Claudius Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaeus, 2nd c. A.D.). Referring to Colchians ancient authors traditionally implied the ethnonym ofMegrelians and the emergence of such an ancient ethnonym may perhaps reflect the historic process which took place in the middle of the 2nd millennium B.C.

The material culture of Western Transcaucasia is closely linked with Georgian tribes (Megrelians, Svans). Yet it is noteworthy that the territory of Abkhazia lying north to the river Gumista appears as a local variant of a whole Colchian (or Proto-Colchian) culture which preserves its specificity throughout the centuries until /44/ late Mediaeval times. Only the south border of this local region varies sometimes.

Despite its local nature and only on a definite territory the material culture of Abkhazia features as an integral part of the Colchian (Georgian) milieu. We are inclined to support the hypothesis that part of the territory of present-day Abkhazia (the northern area) was populated by the tribes referred to in historic sources from the beginning of the Christian era. But these tribes had no genetic connections with the Abkhazo-Adyghe ones who, according to archaeologists, appeared in Abkhazia only in the Late Mediaeval period.




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 anAcheullean 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 /22/ 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 mis 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 mis 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 mis 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. Thhe 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 mis 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 in 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 couldn't have failed to tell on the language the people spoke. The cultural peculiarities observable /23/ 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 c ommunal 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 the 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 the 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 on 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 the 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. /24/

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.

Probleme der historischen Geographie Anatoliens und Transkaukasiens im ersten Jahrtausend v. Chr.

von Giorgi Leon Kavtaradze
Orbis Terrarum 2/1996

Alten georgischen Chroniken gemäß ist der wichtigste Schutzpatron der Georgier der heilige Georg (Zminda Giorgi), während ihnen der heilige Nino das Christentum brachte. Beide waren kappadokischen Ursprungs. In der byzantinischen Historiographie wird als Tatsache erwähnt, daß die Kappadoker identisch mit den Meschern bzw. den Moschern sind, einem Stamm kartwelischen Ursprungs.



Kolchis wikipedia
colchis (en)

Kolchis und der Kaukasus

von Hermann Sauter

Herodot behauptet, auf einer Reise ins Schwarzmeergebiet bis nach Kolchis gefahren und somit bis zum Südrand des Kaukasus gelangt zu sein. Daß Herodot dort war, scheint sich zunächst aus der Behauptung ableiten zu lassen, daß er die Ähnlichkeit zwischen den Kolchern und den Ägyptern, die er auf die Abstammung der Kolcher von ägyptischen Soldaten des Pharaos Sesostris zurückführt, selbst bemerkt habe, bevor ihn jemand anderes darauf aufmerksam gemacht habe (Hdt. II 104,1) 225. Zwar könnte Herodot Kolcher auch in Athen angetroffen haben (vgl. Cecchladze 1990), aber er gibt explizit an, daß er in Kolchis selbst entsprechende Erkundigungen eingezogen habe (Hdt. II 104,2). Detaillierte Analysen herodotischer Aussagen, welche eine Autopsie bestimmter Weltgegenden behaupten, können allerdings ernsthafte Zweifel aufkommen lassen, ob derartigen Bemerkungen des Herodot immer getraut werden kann (vgl. Armayor 1980; 1985). Dies trifft auch für den Fall der erwähnten Ähnlichkeit zwischen Kolchern und Ägyptern zu, die erst durch eigene Anschauung entdeckt worden sei. In seiner vierten pythischen Ode, die im Jahr 462 v.Chr. zum ersten Mal aufgeführt worden ist, bezeichnet beispielsweise auch Pindar die Kolcher als dunkelhäutige Menschen (Pind. Pyth. IV 212). Herodot mußte also nicht nach Kolchis reisen, um von einer - zumindest von ihm behaupteten - dunklen Hautfarbe seiner Bewohner Kenntnis zu erlangen. Allerdings ist zu prüfen, ob die Kolcher wirklich dunkelhäutig waren.
Die frühesten bekannten Darstellungen von dunkelhäutigen Menschen auf attischen Vasenbildern - es handelt sich um an der Seite der Trojaner kämpfende Aithiopier - stammen aus der Zeit des Exekias (Raeck 1981, 169), dessen Hauptschaffenszeit etwa in das dritte Viertel des sechsten vorchristlichen Jahrhunderts fällt (Boardman 1977, 62-64). Daß sich in Darstellungen von Schwarzen in der griechischen Vasenmalerei auch Ägypter identifizieren lassen (Raeck 1981, 176), läßt darauf schließen, daß von diesen ebenfalls eine dunkle Hautfarbe angenommen wurde 226.
Die Angaben Herodots zum Land Kolchis beschränken sich auf wenige Informationen: So betrage die Entfernung von der Maiotis zum in Kolchis gelegenen Fluß Phasis 30 Tagesreisen (Hdt. I 104,1), und Aia, das sagenhafte Ziel der Fahrt der Argonauten, soll in Kolchis gelegen haben (Hdt. I 2,2). Diese Erwähnung von Aia bietet aber eine Möglichkeit, die herodotischen Beschreibungen dunkelhäutiger Kolcher zu erklären. Weil sich in Aia die Stadt des Aietes befindet, wo der Sonnengott in einem Gemach seine Strahlen aufbewahrt, verbanden sich mit diesem Mythos die Vorstellungen von den von der Sonne verbrannten Aithiopiern 227. Mit der Identifizierung von Aia im Land Kolchis gingen diese Vorstellungen auf die Kolcher als Bewohner des Landes über, und somit erklärt sich die Beschreibung der Kolcher durch Pindar als dunkelhäutig auch aus diesem Umstand. Folglich kann das von Herodot als Beweis seiner Schwarzmeerreise angeführte Argument der Ähnlichkeit zwischen Kolchern und Ägyptern 228 eher dazu dienen, seine Behauptung eines eigenen Aufenthalts in Kolchis als Lügenmärchen zu erkennen, als daß sie zu deren Bestätigung dient 229. Die den Kolchern nachgesagte Dunkelhäutigkeit wird zudem nicht von allen Kennern der Länder an den Schwarzmeerküsten bestätigt. In der hippokratischen Schrift "Über Winde, Wasser und Ortslagen" werden die Anwohner des Phasis sogar als mit bleicher Haut wie bei den Gelbsüchtigen geschildert (Hippokr. aër. XV 20-24).
Als Grenze zwischen Europa und Asien im Bereich zwischen Schwarzem und Kaspischem Meer gibt Herodot mit dem Tanais und dem Phasis zwei Flüsse zur Auswahl. Es fällt auf, daß der Tanais, der heutige Don, deutlich nördlich des Kaukasus zu finden ist, während der Phasis, der heutige Rion, südlich dieses Gebirges verläuft. Es drängt sich der Eindruck auf, daß die Wahl eines der Flüsse als jeweilige Grenzlinie davon abhängig war, aus welcher Richtung der Betrachter sich dieser Grenze näherte. Ein aus Europa von Westen bzw. Nordwesten kommender Reisende könnte den Tanais bzw. eine von den "kimmerischen Hafenplätzen" landeinwärts führende Linie als Grenze Europas aufgefaßt haben, während jemand, der sich aus Asien von Süden dem Kaukasus näherte, wohl den Phasis als Grenze Asiens betrachtete. Das damit jeweils hinter dieser Grenze liegende Gebirge scheint sich dabei der Kenntnis der Betrachter gleichsam entzogen zu haben. So beschreibt Herodot den Kaukasus als eine sich an der Westseite des Kaspischen Meeres hinziehende Bergkette, die ihm zwar als das ausgedehnteste und höchstragende Gebirge bekannt ist (Hdt. I 203,1), von der er aber ansonsten nur berichten kann, daß dieses Gebirge von "vielen verschiedenartigen Volksstämmen, die fast ganz von wilden Früchten leben", bewohnt sei (Hdt. I 203,2). Zwar spricht auch Herodot an keiner Stelle den Gedanken direkt aus, den Kaukasus als Trennlinie zwischen den Erdteilen anzusehen, aber aus der von ihm geschilderten persischen Sicht scheint der Kaukasus durchaus eine klare "politische" Grenze bedeutet zu haben, weil das persische Reich bis zu den Kolchern und deren Nachbarn am Kaukasus gereicht haben soll, während die Völker nördlich des Gebirges 230 unbehelligt blieben (Hdt. III 97,4).
Auch Herodot selbst kann, wenigstens auf dem Landweg, über Kolchis in Richtung Norden nicht hinausgekommen sein. Er gibt nämlich an, daß die fliehenden Kimmerier immer am Ufer des Pontos entlang nach Süden gezogen seien (Hdt. IV 12,3). Wäre ihm dieses Gebiet aber wirklich bekannt gewesen, so hätte er bemerken müssen, daß die nach seiner Ansicht von den Kimmeriern bei ihrem Einfall nach Asien genommene Route geographisch unmöglich ist. Am Schwarzen Meer entlang oder auch in dessen direkter Nachbarschaft im westlichen Kaukasus gibt es überhaupt keine für größere Heereszüge oder Nomadenhorden passierbare Straße (Minns 1913, 41; Lehmann-Haupt 1921, 398; Fritz 1967, 129) 231. Dies war wohl auch der Hauptgrund, warum der Römer Pompeius im Laufe des dritten Mithradatischen Krieges darauf verzichtete, den über den Kaukasus in das Bosporanische Reich flüchtenden pontischen König zu verfolgen (vgl. Dreher 1996, bes. 200). Mithradates selbst reiste zwar entlang der Küste, allerdings mit wenigen Begleitern, und legte zudem einen Teil der Strecke zu Schiff zurück (Gajdukevic 1971, 319). Die von Herodot aufgestellte Behauptung, daß die Entfernung von der Maiotis bis zum Phasis und dem Land der Kolcher für einen rüstigen Wanderer 30 Tage 232 betrage (Hdt. I 104,1), bezieht sich zweifellos nur auf einzelne Reisende und kleinere Gruppen 233.

Die Beschreibung des Herodot der Kolcher als "dunkelfarbig und wollhaarig" findet ihre Entsprechung in derjenigen der sogenannten libyschen Aithiopier (vgl. Hdt. VII 70).
Eine Bemerkung des Herodot anläßlich seines Berichts über das Zeus-Orakel in Dodona läßt vermuten, daß zumindest dieser sich die Ägypter als dunkelhäutig vorstellte: Die Erzählung von einer schwarzen Taube deutet er als Anspielung auf eine Ägypterin als Begründerin des Orakels (Hdt. II 57). Wenig überzeugend ist aber die Ansicht von W.W. How und J. Wells, daß die "zahlreichen Negersklaven, die Herodot in den Straßen von Memphis" gesehen habe, die Vorstellung Herodots von schwarzen Ägyptern geprägt habe (How u. Wells 1957, 218). Eher ist daran zu denken, daß Herodot aithiopische Soldaten im Heer des Sesostris vermutet, da seiner Meinung nach Sesostris der einzige ägyptische König war, der auch Aithiopien beherrschte (Hdt. II 110).
Vgl. hierzu Kap. " Aia und Kolchis".

Die Vorstellung einer Abstammung der Kolcher von den Ägyptern war zwar verbreitet (Diodor. I 55,5; Val. Fl. V 415-421; Dion. Periheg. 689; Amm. Marc. XXII 8,24), aber diese scheinbaren Bestätigungen der Behauptung des Herodot erweisen sich, zumindest wenn eine Begründung dieser Ansicht gegeben wird, anhand der nahezu wörtlichen Wiederholung der herodotischen Argumentation von diesem direkt abhängig. Auch bei Strabon findet sich ein Hinweis auf die Verwandtschaft zwischen den Kolchern und den Ägyptern, jedoch wiederholt Strabon nur das auch von Herodot benutzte Argument der ähnlichen Leinenfabrikation, ohne auf die angebliche Dunkelhäutigkeit der Kolcher einzugehen (Strab. XI 2,17).
Der von P.T. English unternommene Versuch, die herodotische These von dunkelhäutigen Kolchern mit der Existenz von Schwarzen in Abchasien nahe bei Suchumi zu belegen (English 1959), ist abwegig. Deren Erklärung durch den Sklavenhandel in Osmanischer Zeit ist durchaus plausibel.
An gleicher Stelle berichtet Herodot von diesen Völkern, daß sie sich selbst eine freiwillige Steuer auferlegt hätten, die sie alle vier Jahre dem persischen König geschickt hätten. Auffällig ist, daß Herodot keine Namen der Völker nennt und er in seiner Beschreibung Skythiens, die auch die nördlich des Kaukasus befindlichen Gebiete streift, keinerlei Andeutungen über diese Völker macht. Dabei nennt Herodot als östlich an die Skythen anschließende Völker klar Sauromaten (Hdt. IV 21) und Sinder (Hdt. IV 28,1). Somit scheint die Angabe, daß selbst die Völker jenseits der Grenzen des persischen Reiches Tribute gezahlt hätten, eher auf persische Propaganda zurückzugehen, die Herodot hier wiederholt.
Die von U.L. Dietz als Beleg für einen Hauptverkehrsweg entlang der Schwarzmeerküste angeführte Darstellung der Wanderungen der Io durch Aischylos dürfte wohl kaum als ernstzunehmende Reiseroute gewertet werden (vgl. Dietz 1998, 5.6 Anm. 7).
Folgt man Herodots Auskunft, die einen Tagesmarsch mit durchschnittlich 150 Stadien angibt (Hdt. V 53), so müßte die Entfernung von der Maiotis bis zum Phasis mit 4.500 Stadien angenommen werden, was rund 830 Kilometern entsprechen würde. Zur Berechnung der Stadienlänge vgl. die Bemerkungen von Dicks 1960, 43. Zu beachten ist allerdings, daß Herodot damit keine Entfernungsmaße im eigentlichen Sinne angibt, sondern "Wegzeitmaße". Die in einer bestimmten Zeit zurücklegbare Entfernung ist dabei stark von der Art der Strecke abhängig und somit sind derartige Angaben des Herodot kaum mit modernen Karten und den darauf ablesbaren Entfernungen - also Luftlinie - zu überprüfen. Zudem gibt Herodot an anderer Stelle einen Tagesmarsch mit 200 Stadien an (Hdt. IV 101,4).
Auch die karthagische Alpenüberquerung unter Hannibal wird nicht als solche als außergewöhnliche Leistung angesehen. Das besondere dieses Zugs über die Alpen bestand eben in dem Umstand, daß ein ganzes Heer, zumal mit umfangreicher Reiterei, mit einem enormen Bedarf an Vorräten aller Art dieses Wagnis unternahm. Hannibal bedurfte hierbei großer rhetorischer Anstrengungen zur Motivation seiner Truppen (vgl. Liv. XXI 30).

Diodoros kannte mehrere, sich in ihrem Inhalt stark unterscheidende Erzählungen über die Fahrt der Argonauten, deren wesentlichster Unterschied im auf der Rückreise gewählten Weg bestand (Diod. IV 44,5-6; IV 56,1; vgl. Strab. I 2,39). Herodot gibt die zu seiner Zeit sicherlich gängige Meinung wieder, daß die Fahrt der Argo zum im Land Kolchis gelegenen Aia und an den Fluß Phasis geführt habe (Hdt. I 2,2; VII 193). Das entscheidende Problem bei der Lokalisierung des Fahrtziels in der Südostecke des Schwarzen Meeres hat sich daraus ergeben, daß eine starke Tradition existiert haben muß, die den Argonauten auf ihrem Rückweg eine andere Fahrtroute vorschrieb als auf dem Hinweg und die von den Dichtern der Argonautenepen nicht ignoriert werden konnte. Bekanntermaßen aber ist die durch Hellespont und Bosporos führende Wasserstraße die einzige Möglichkeit, um mit dem Schiff von der Ägäis aus ins Schwarze Meer zu gelangen 439.
Einige Angaben zum Land Aia als Ziel der Fahrt des Iason und seiner Gefährten finden sich in einem Fragment aus Mimnermos' "Nanno" (Mimn. Frg. 11; vgl. Strab. I 3,40): In Aia befindet sich die Stadt des Aietes, wo am Ufer des Okeanos der Sonnengott Helios in einem Gemach seine Strahlen aufbewahrt. Für Strabon ist klar, daß diese Auskunft des Mimnermos auf eine Lokalisierung von Aia im "Morgenlande", also im Osten, hinweist (Strab. I 3,40). Aber die Lage von Aia am Okeanos allein deutet auf keine bestimmte Himmelsrichtung hin 440. Die Lokalisierung von Aia am Ufer des Okeanos ermöglichte es indes den Dichtern von Argonautenepen, die Rückreise der Argonauten - unabhängig von einer genaueren geographischen Einordnung - über diesen Ringstrom erfolgen zu lassen.
Mimnermos' Angaben zum "Tagesablauf" des Sonnengottes liefern freilich weitere "geographisch" auswertbare Informationen (Mimn. Frg. 10): Am Ort des Sonnenuntergangs angekommen, besteigt Helios seinen goldenen Sonnenbecher, der den schlafenden Gott auf dem Okeanos wieder zurück in das Land der Aithiopier bringt, wo sein Gespann bereits wieder auf ihn wartet. Durch eine Kombination beider Fragmente scheint sich als Ergebnis die Aussage erzielen zu lassen, daß die Heimat der Aithiopier und die im Land Aia liegende Stadt des Aietes von Mimnermos zumindest am gleichen Ende der vom Okeanos begrenzten Erde gedacht sein müßten (so Lesky 1948, 28). In der Ilias sind die Aithiopier zwar auch am Okeanos zu finden (Hom. Il. I 423.424; XXIII 205-207), aber in der Odyssee sind sie zudem als "zweigeteilt" an gegenüberliegenden Enden der Erde lokalisiert: Sowohl am Aufgangs- als auch am Untergangsort der Sonne (Hom. Od. I 22-24) 441. Diese Mitteilung spricht aber gegen die Annahme, daß die Aithiopier "nach altem Glauben" nur im fernen Osten vermutet wurden und erst "frühe ionische Spekulation" den östlichen Aithiopiern ebensolche im Westen beifügte (so Lesky 1948, 28). Wenn man sich die Aithiopier indes als auf beiden Seiten der Erde angesiedelt vorstellte, können der Palast und die Stadt des Aietes im Land von Aithiopiern stehen, ohne daß damit der ebenfalls bei Aithiopiern wartende Sonnenwagen am gleichen Ende der Welt stehen muß.
Untersuchungen der entfernteren Teile Asiens erfolgten nach der Aussage des Herodot erst während der Herrschaftszeit des Dareios (Hdt. IV 44,1), und somit dürften auch den Ioniern kaum wesentlich vor Hekataios gesicherte Kenntnisse über die östlichsten Bereiche der Oikumene zur Verfügung gestanden haben 442. Auch die Kenntnisse über die Inder 443, die "alle die gleiche Farbe, nämlich dieselbe wie die Aithiopier" hätten (Hdt. III 101,1; vgl. dazu III 104,2), werden erst nach der persischen Eroberung Ioniens in der Mitte des sechsten Jahrhunderts v.Chr. an die kleinasiatische Westküste gedrungen sein. Die Erwähnung von "Aithiopiern des Ostens", die sich "den Indern angeschlossen" hätten (Hdt. VII 70,1), belegen das Fortleben "homerischer" Vorstellungen von den "zweigeteilten" Aithiopiern im neuen ethnographischen Weltbild der Ionier, denn die "eigentlichen" Aithiopier 444, die durch ihre Langlebigkeit gekennzeichnet sind, werden inzwischen am Südrand Libyens 445 lokalisiert (Hdt. III 17-23.114).
Bei den Griechen, die tatsächlich bis in den äußersten Osten des Schwarzen Meeres vordrangen, muß sich die Erkenntnis durchgesetzt haben, daß dort keine "homerischen" Aithiopier zu finden waren. Wenn aber die Beschreibung des Herodot der Bewohner des als Aia identifizierten Kolchis am Phasis als dunkelfarbig und wollhaarig (Hdt. II 104,3) deutlich zeigt, daß er sich in diesem Fall von seinen Vorstellungen von den südlichen Aithiopiern leiten ließ (vgl. Hdt. VII 70,2), so ist dies - entgegen der eigentlichen Absicht Herodots - ein überzeugender Beweis dafür, daß dieser sicherlich nie selbst in Kolchis war. Vielmehr hat Herodot hier versucht, eine auf der Analyse griechischer Mythen beruhende Vermutung - nämlich die Dunkelhäutigkeit der Kolcher als Folge ihrer Nähe zur aufgehenden Sonne - als Beweis für seine Autopsie des östlichen Schwarzmeergebietes zu benutzen.
Die erste Erwähnung von "Kolchis" findet sich in Fragmenten der "Korinthiaka" des Eumelos von Korinth 446, der die Erzählung von den Argonauten in seinem Werk mit korinthischen Traditionen verband (Will 1955, 85-129; Allen 1993, 90). Als Ziel der Argonautenfahrt scheint Kolchis somit einer zunächst korinthischen Variante dieses Epos zu entstammen.
Die frühesten epigraphischen Zeugnisse mit dem Namen "Kolchos" finden sich auf zwei in Athen gefundenen schwarzfigurigen Gefäßen, einer Hydria und einer Amphore, die in die Mitte des sechsten Jahrhunderts v.Chr. datiert werden können (Boardman 1974, 12; Cecchladze 1990, 152). Diese "Meisternamen ethnischer Form" wurden häufig als Beleg für die Herkunft der Handwerker gedeutet (Kretschmer 1894, 75.76). Aus dem Apollontempel von Didyma stammt eine ebenfalls in das sechste vorchristliche Jahrhundert datierte, dunkelgraue Bodenscherbe einer Schale, auf deren Innenseite ein höchstwahrscheinlich zu "Kolch[os]" zu ergänzendes Graffito eingeritzt ist (vgl. Naumann u. Tuchelt 1964, 57 Taf. 25,1). G.R. Cecchladze wies darauf hin, daß die Namen "Kolchis" und "Kolchoi" als Bezeichnung des Landes und des dort lebenden Volkes zumindest in georgischen Schriftquellen nicht bezeugt sind und folgerte daraus, daß nur die Griechen das westliche Georgien und seine Bewohner Kolchis bzw. Kolcher genannt hätten. Zur Bekräftigung dieser These führte er zusätzlich an, daß "Kolchis" als Eigenname in fast allen bekannten Fällen sogar sicher griechischen Personen zuzuweisen sei (Cecchladze 1990, 153-156).
Nun finden sich aber in den Annalen des urartäischen Königs Sarduri II. für die Mitte des achten vorchristlichen Jahrhunderts Hinweise auf Feldzüge in ein nördlich von Urartu gelegenes und Qulcha genanntes Land (König 1955-57, Nr. 103 § 3 III); es liegt nahe, in diesem Land Qulcha der Urartäer das Land Kolchis der Griechen zu identifizieren (Salvini 1995, 70.71; vgl. Haas 1978, 243).
Zu Beginn der milesischen Kolonisation muß die pontische Region der Inbegriff nordöstlicher Ferne und Unwirtlichkeit gewesen sein (Focke 1951, 584). Dadurch, daß vom Ziel der Argonauten, dem inzwischen mit Aia gleichgesetzten Kolchis, eine östliche bzw. nordöstliche Lage angenommen wurde, folgten die Milesier bei ihren Fahrten in den Pontos Axeinos gleichsam den Spuren der Argonauten. Auch das unfreundliche Meer 447 erschien sicher weniger schrecklich, wenn man den Spuren dieser Heroen folgen konnte (Burn 1960, 116). So wurden längs der Schwarzmeerküste Kleinasiens bis zu dessen östlichem Ufer die mit der Argonautensage verbundenen Orte lokalisiert, wobei die neuen Gründungen den begreiflichen Wunsch hatten, die Geschichte ihrer Städte mit diesem berühmten Abenteuer zu verbinden 448, was zu Erweiterungen des ursprünglichen Epos geführt hat. Wenn sich in diesen "pontischen Argonautika" wahrhaftig die milesische Erkundung des Schwarzen Meeres widerspiegeln sollte (Merkelbach 1951, 201; Dowden 1979, 302), so kann man den Dichter, der die Fahrt erstmals eindeutig in das Schwarze Meer verlegte und dessen Erzählung sicher eine der Vorlagen des Apollonios Rhodios und auch aller späteren Argonautika gewesen sein muß, in Milet oder zumindest in Ionien 449 vermuten (Radermacher 1938, 217; Ehrhardt 1983, 228; 1990, 20). Als milesische Kolonisten 450 ein Land im östlichsten Winkel des Schwarzen Meeres erreicht hatten, mußten sie also in diesem das Land Aia der ihnen bekannten Argonautensage identifizieren. Eventuell führte die einheimische Bezeichnung Qulcha zur Prägung des griechischen Namens Kolchis für diese Landschaft, wobei möglicherweise der Milesier Hekataios zur weiten Verbreitung dieser Ansicht beitrug (vgl. Lipka 1995, 66 Anm. 7.8). Somit erscheinen die Bearbeitung und die Verbreitung des Argonautenepos durch Ionier geradezu als Aufruf zu einer "Eroberungsfahrt" in ein Land, dessen Reichtum 451 den Griechen durch die Nennung des ehemals in Kolchis aufbewahrten "Goldenen Vlieses" sprichwörtlich erschienen sein muß (Lordkipanidse 1991, 128). In der modernen Forschung aber scheint sich - außer bei den Georgiern (vgl. Lordkipanidse 1996, 353) - die Erkenntnis durchzusetzen, daß das Land Aia keinen Platz in der realen Geographie hat, sondern vielmehr zu den zahlreichen Orten an den Rändern der Erde gehört, die in das Reich der Phantasie gehören (so Tsetskhladze 1994, 114).

Die Argonauten sollen die Symplegaden - das berichtet Homer bei der Erwähnung der Argo in der Odyssee - aber auf ihrem Rückweg von Aietes passiert haben (Hom. Od. XII 69-72).
Aia heißt bei Homer die Insel der Kirke, der als Ort des Sonnenaufgangs (Hom. Od. XII 3.4) östliche Lage zuzuweisen ist. Daß Kirke eine Schwester des Aietes ist (Hes. theog. 956-958), kann aber kaum als Indiz für geographische Nähe ausgewertet werden. Die Namensgleicheit und die gemeinsame Lokalisierung am bzw. in der Nähe des Okeanos soll eher auf beider Abstammung von Helios und Perse, einer Tochter des Okeanos, hinweisen (Hom. Od. X 135-139).
Der Namen "Aithiopes" = "Brandgesichter" oder "Menschen mit (sonnen)verbranntem Gesicht" läßt sich mit dieser Nähe zur Sonne erklären, die ihre Haut verbrannt haben soll.
Die frühesten in Kolchis nachweisbaren griechischen Importe stammen aus archaischer Zeit, in etwa also von der Wende vom siebten zum sechsten Jahrhundert v.Chr. (vgl. Kacharava 1995). Zu bedenken ist aber, daß die Anwesenheit von griechischer Keramik nicht automatisch auf die Anwesenheit von Griechen zu schließen erlaubt.
Herodot glaubt, daß die Inder von Osten, also vom Aufgang der Sonne her gesehen, das erste Volk Asiens seien (Hdt. III 98,2).
S. Tohtasjev stellt dies geradezu auf den Kopf, indem er von den Aithiopiern berichtet, daß sie im Epos ein mythisches Volk waren, das bereits nicht mehr im Süden, sondern im äußersten Osten lebte (Tohtasjev 1996, 45).
Aischylos war vermutlich der erste Grieche, der Aithiopier durch die Nennung des Nils nachweislich in Afrika lokalisierte (Aischyl. Prom. 807-812). Jedoch läßt die Erwähnung von Greifen und Arimaspen unmittelbar vor diesem Bericht über das Land am Nil (Aischyl. Prom. 805.806) daran zweifeln, ob Aischylos damit geographische und ethnographische Kenntnisse demonstrieren wollte.
Die zeitliche Einordnung des Eumelos von Korinth ist problematisch. Clemens von Alexandria berichtet beispielsweise nur, daß Eumelos früher als Archilochos gelebt habe und ein Zeitgenosse des Archias, des Gründers von Korinth, gewesen sei (Clem. Strom. I 131,8). Die Datierungen des Eumelos durch neuzeitliche Forscher schwanken zwischen dem späten achten (Seeliger 1884-1886, 532; Roebuck 1959, 117) und dem frühen siebten vorchristlichen Jahrhundert (Dihle 1970, 154).
Zum Wandel des Pontos Axeinos zum Pontos Euxeinos vgl. Kap. "5.2.1 Zur Benennung des Pontos Euxeinos".

Spuren sollen die Argonauten sowohl an den Küsten des Schwarzen Meeres (Strab. I 2,39) als auch in Großgriechenland hinterlassen haben (Strab. I 2,10).
An Bord der Argo befanden sich nach der Überlieferung der Argonautika des Apollonios Rhodios insgesamt fünf Steuermänner, von denen zwei - nämlich der Milesier Erginos und der Ancaios von Samos - aus Ionien stammten (Apoll. Rhod. I 185-189; II 864-898). Eventuell läßt sich diese Vielzahl der Navigatoren mit dem nachträglichen Zufügen von Personen zur Unterstreichung der Wichtigkeit bestimmter Stadtstaaten für die Erkundung fremder Regionen erklären (vgl. Vian 1982, 278).
Die in Kolchis gelegene Stadt Phasis ist zwar bei Stephanos von Byzanz als milesische Kolonie bezeugt (Steph. Byz. 661,1; vgl. Mela I 108), aber über den Zeitpunkt und den Charakter dieser Gründung bestehen in der Forschung unterschiedliche Meinungen (vgl. Ehrhardt 1984).
Strabon gibt den Gold-, Silber- und Erzreichtum explizit als Grund für den Argonautenzug an (Strab.
I 2,39).

Hermann Sauter Studien zum Kimmerierproblem (Dissertation), Kapitel