Georgia before the Mongols
Summary and Keywords
Nestled in one of Eurasia’s most energetic crossroads, Georgia has a long and multifaceted history. The remains of Homo georgicus excavated at Dmanisi in southern Georgia belong to the oldest hominids yet discovered outside Africa. They have been reliably dated to 1.8 million years ago. Subsequent Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and Bronze Age sites are distributed throughout the region between the Black and Caspian Seas. But it is not until the early 1st millennium bce that the immediate ancestors of modern Georgians emerge in the historical record. Their attestation sharpens in the Achaemenid and early Hellenistic epochs.
The peoples of Caucasia were thrust upon the Eurasian stage principally as a result of their associations with Iran. They were, at the same time, active members in the first Iranian Commonwealth, a massive cross-cultural enterprise stretching from Central Asia to the Balkans. Toward the end of the 4th century bce, the disruption triggered by Alexander’s conquest of Achaemenid Persia sparked the formation of a kingdom anchored in the eastern Georgian territory of Kʻartʻli (Iberia). Caucasia’s Iranian and especially Iranic (“Persianate”) cultures proved remarkably durable. The Irano-Caucasian nexus pushed into the medieval period, having endured the Christianization of the realms of Kʻartʻli, Armenia, and Caucasian Albania. As was the case elsewhere, Christianity’s long-term success hinged on its adaptation to the existing social pattern. Caucasia’s social landscape continued to be dominated by dynastic noble houses, but the hybrid Zoroastrianisms they had long favored were eclipsed by Christianity starting in the 4th century. Meanwhile, in western Georgia the polities based in Egrisi (cf. Greek Colchis) fell under the stronger influence of the Graeco-Roman Mediterranean. They too were brought into the Christian fold in late antiquity.
The Kʻartʻvelian monarchy was abolished by the Sasanians circa 580 and remained in abeyance until 888. In the afterglow of the interregnum, the ascendant Bagratid dynasty—following the “Byzantinizing” path blazed by the Georgian Church—consciously reoriented kingship from an Iranian to a Byzantine basis as it politically integrated eastern and western Georgia for the first time. Nevertheless, at the height of the all-Georgian kingdom, many aspects of Iranic culture flourished, including epic literature. Mongol hegemony across much of the 13th century marks a crucial turning point in Georgian history. Under Īlkhānid rule, Caucasia’s access to the Eurasian ecumene expanded significantly, but the political fragmentation of Georgia intensified. In the new phase of imperialism ushered by Timur (Tamerlane), the Irano-Caucasian nexus blossomed one last time under the Safavids before the isthmus fell under Russian and then Soviet control.
In 2007, the Department of Tourism of the Georgian Republic unveiled a flashy campaign emblazoned with the slogan “Europe Started Here.” An expression of post-Soviet globalization, the multimedia extravaganza was crafted by the New York–based advertising firm Saatchi and Saatchi.1 Commercials and advertisements celebrated Georgia’s long history, its ancient connections to “Europe,” and its status as a gateway to the “East.”2 “Europe Started Here” is an intriguing index of the Georgian self-imagination and its transnational redeployment at the dawn of the 21st century.3 Elements of this image are recent inventions, but others have deep, meandering historical roots. Indeed, Georgia’s representation as a beleaguered outpost of Christian Europe ultimately stems from the medieval and late antique periods, when the Georgians’ entangled ties to the Byzantine, Iranian, and Islamic worlds were interpreted in a variety of ways. By contrast, the idea of Georgia’s innate attachment to “Europe” springs chiefly from the national awakenings of the 18th and 19th centuries, an age when European, Christian, and imperial identities were compacted into a master narrative celebrating a privileged “Western Civilization.”4 In the meantime, craniological studies led German scholar Johann Blumenbach to identify Georgians as the archetypal representation of humanity’s dominant “white” race. The notion of hierarchical races was canonized, and the racial category “Caucasian” was born.
Not surprisingly, Georgia’s rich history has been investigated from a (Christian) European perspective ever since. Relegated to the edge of Europe, privileging visions of ethnocentrism, presentism, and the nation-state have further contributed to the historiographical distortion of Caucasia. In reality, the area named for the Caucasus Mountains and sandwiched between the Black and Caspian Seas constituted a cohesive arena of cross-cultural encounter across the premodern epoch and into the early 20th century. Georgia’s history is profoundly enmeshed with not only its immediate neighbors, including Armenia, Caucasian Albania, and the North Caucasus, but also, on a larger scale, the massive cross-cultural zone whose arteries were the Black, Caspian, Red, and Mediterranean Seas. Moreover, across its premodern history, Georgia—and the whole of Caucasia—has been a principal point of contact between Eurasia’s sedentary and nomadic populations. Scythians, Cimmerians, Alans, Huns, Oğur Turks, and Khazars are among the myriad nomadic groups interacting with the sedentarized peoples of southern Caucasia.5 However, this cross-cultural condition has been obscured by the isolating effect of competing ethnocentric narratives within a discredited but persistent notion of Western civilization, not to mention the warped historiographical visions introduced by imperial Russian and Soviet agents.
The catchphrase “Europe Started Here” proceeds from the mischaracterization of a scientific discovery of global significance: the fossilized hominid remnants excavated from an ancient lava bed near Dmanisi in southern Georgia. The oldest bone fragments have been radiocarbon dated to 1.8 million years ago. Whether so-called Homo georgicus constitutes a distinct hominid species is an open question, though current views favor a subgroup of Homo erectus. Regardless, the Dmanisi finds are the oldest hominid fossils discovered outside Africa.6 And while Caucasia was truly a Eurasian cradle of humanity, the identification of such fossils as “Georgian,” “Caucasian,”7 or “European,” as is often done, constitutes a gross retrojection of later modes of identity onto remote antiquity.
With regard to their social, cultural, economic, and historical development, the societies of ancient Caucasia were entwined with the Mesopotamian and Anatolian worlds.8 This is repeatedly attested by archaeological evidence, which stretches back to the Mesolithic and which becomes more abundant by the late Neolithic and early Chalcolithic.9 In the 6th millennium bce, Shulaveri-Shomutepe culture comprehended much of the Caucasus isthmus, from the central and northeastern highlands, through eastern and western Georgia, and southward to the Armenian plateau. As with many other Caucasian cultures, it was closely connected to the region’s two most important rivers: the Kura (Mtkvari) and Araks (Araxes, Aras). By the dawn of the Chalcolithic, peoples across Caucasia were working copper, using pottery, and domesticating animals, such as sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs. Those who sedentarized raised permanent dwellings and structures. Cross-cultural and economic contacts increased.
From the mid-4th millennium bce, Kura-Araxes—also called Early Transcaucasian—culture propagated throughout Caucasia, though not to the rim of the Black Sea.10 At its height, this Bronze Age culture reached into Anatolia and southward into Iran, Syria, and Palestine. Kura-Araxes is characterized by permanent villages, distinctive black burnished pottery, common religious practices (e.g., the use of decorated fireplaces/ovens), and domesticated plants and animals, including horses. Metallurgy became more sophisticated; copper was worked alongside gold, silver, tin, and bronze. Like Shulaveri-Shomutepe before it, Kura-Araxes culture displays considerable variation yet remarkable cohesion across space. The conjectured origin of Kura-Araxes culture in eastern Georgia has led to the suggestion that one of its principal languages was a forerunner of the modern Georgian tongue. Less controversial is the stratification of the various Georgian languages—especially standard Georgian/Kʻartʻvelian (kʻartʻuli ena), Svan, and Zan, the last of which evolved into Mingrelian and Laz—in the twilight of the Kura-Araxes, variously dated from the mid- to the end of the 3rd millennium bce. This linguistic development continued during the subsequent Trialeti culture. Collectively, these languages make up the distinctive “Kʻartʻveluri” (“Georgian”) linguistic family.
In antiquity, Caucasia was a strategic periphery, a storehouse of resources, and a significant transit and communications route for the great powers of western Eurasia, including the Assyrian and Hittite Empires. However, the tenor of imperial interventions within Caucasia could vary substantially. For example, the kingdom of Urartu, whose direct authority spilled across the Armenian plateau at the juncture of Caucasia, Mesopotamia, and Anatolia from the 9th through 6th centuries bce, exerted little direct influence upon the lands that would become Georgia. It should be noted that close ancestors of modern Georgians may be mentioned in Urartian cuneiform inscriptions, such as the Diauehi along the Black Sea, perhaps also attested in an inscription of the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser I of 1118 bce. However, such “proto-Georgians” emerge more clearly in the Iron Age.11
It is precisely in this epoch that a new cultural, political, and economic power broadcast its hegemony across Caucasia. The geographical and cultural range of Achaemenid Persia was immense. This first “world empire,” founded in the mid-6th century bce, paved the way for Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic era. Around the Achaemenid imperial nucleus formed an expansive multi- and cross-cultural enterprise, the first Iranian Commonwealth, stretching from Central Asia to Caucasia, Anatolia, and the Balkans. Direct Iranian imperial intervention among the nascent Georgian peoples has been traced to the late 6th century bce, when the Achaemenid king Darius dispatched an army to the Caucasus Mountains to battle the Scythians.12 Thereafter, much of southern Caucasia was gathered under Achaemenid rule and incorporated into the network of dahyāva, what the Greeks called satrapies. In Old Persian inscriptions, Achaemenid Caucasia—and not only the highlands of Armenia—is designated Armina after the congealing Armenian ethnie. An area brimming with strategic importance and valuable resources, multicultural Armina was an administrative unit of the Great Satrapy of Media.13
Owing to the paucity and fragmentary disposition of extant sources, the precise political relationship of Caucasia to the Achaemenid Empire remains elusive. Beyond doubt, however, is the flexibility of Achaemenid authority across space and time. In the northern theater, the Achaemenids depended upon local clients who exercised considerable autonomy.14 Meanwhile, Caucasia’s sociocultural bond with the Iranian Commonwealth intensified. Contemporaneous grave goods from Georgia frequently exhibit Iranian connections and influences: some objects were imported from the imperial core; others were crafted by Iranian artisans in regional workshops; yet others were produced by local craftsmen imitating Iranian models but sometimes incorporating local techniques and designs. Toreutics, pottery, and glassware exhibiting Iranian and Iranic (“Persianate”)15 attributes are widely dispersed.16 In light of the striking variety and origin of material goods unearthed by archaeologists in Georgia, it is worth emphasizing that premodern Caucasia was economically integrated not only with Iran and the Near East but also with Central Asia, the Mediterranean, and northeastern Africa. Such economic connections intensified as a direct result of Caucasia’s membership in the Iranian world, especially under the Achaemenids, and then in the age of the “Silk Roads” under the Parthian Arsacids and Sasanians. Later, Caucasia would be incorporated into Mongol Eurasia, especially through its associations with Īlkhānid Persia. Caucasia’s economic connections to Eurasia continued to be fostered through an Iranian conduit well into the early modern period, as is evidenced by the energetic Armenian merchants based at New Julfa who were active across the Indian Ocean world.17
The premodern integration of Caucasia and Iran was manifest in numerous other ways. As it did elsewhere in the first Iranian Commonwealth, the imperial Aramaic language acquired a foothold in Caucasia. Its comprehension by the indigenous population remained limited; nevertheless, a local dialect of Aramaic was prevalent in the late Hellenistic period. “Armazic” was executed in a modified Northern Mesopotamian script and was used in eastern Georgia and neighboring areas of Armenia from roughly the 1st century bce until the 3rd century ce.18 In this time before dedicated scripts for Caucasian languages, Greek was also employed for local inscriptions.19 In the case of the circa 150 ce bilingual from a necropolis on the outskirts of Mcʻxetʻa (Mtskheta), the ancient capital of eastern Georgia, parallel Greek and Armazic inscriptions commemorate the death of Serapiṭ, the daughter of a powerful aristocrat.20 Significantly, the longer Armazic text is composed in the deceased’s voice. These phenomena are outbursts of a robust linguistic interface germinating under the Achaemenids and blossoming under Parthian Arsacid and Sasanian rule, when hundreds of parallels with—and loanwords from—Middle Iranian languages appeared in Georgian, Armenian, Albanian, and North Caucasian tongues.21
The embryonic Irano-Caucasian nexus also had a political dimension. The first known autonomous kingdom in eastern Georgia, Aryan Kʻartʻli, arose in the last phase of the Achaemenid Empire.22 While earlier small-scale political structures had been established in the western territories closer to the Black Sea (e.g., Egrisi, cf. Colchis), the polities east of the Surami ridge—the traditional geographical divide of eastern and western Georgia—came to embody Georgian political life. There is much we do not know about the shadowy realm of Aryan (“Iranian”) Kʻartʻli, though it appears to have been an Achaemenid client on the northern fringe of Iranian domains. Aryan Kʻartʻli may well be associated with a remarkable palace built according to Achaemenid styles and techniques at Gumbatʻi in Kaxetʻi (Kahketi) in far eastern Georgia.23 But other locations for Aryan Kʻartʻli have been proposed, including to the southwest of Kʻartʻli in the Armeno-Kʻartʻvelian marchlands.
Aryan Kʻartʻli vanished with Alexander’s conquest of Achaemenid Persia. Soon thereafter, a new Kʻartʻvelian monarchy was inaugurated at Mcʻxetʻa and its citadel, Armazis-cʻixe (Armaztsikhe, modern Baginetʻi). We possess two related but divergent Georgian-language traditions about this royal foundation.24 According to The Life of the Kings, a text exclusively preserved in the medieval corpus Kʻartʻlis cʻxovreba (Kartlis Tskhovreba, the so-called Georgian Chronicles), a local noble named Pʻarnavaz orchestrated a successful uprising against Azon, the tyrannical Macedonian governor installed by Alexander. Pʻarnavaz declared himself king (mepʻe) and fixed his residence at Mcʻxetʻa. But the pre-Christian section of Mokʻcʻevay kʻartʻlisay (Moktseva Kartlisa), an ecclesiastical compendium celebrating the Christianization of eastern Georgia, identifies the initial monarch to rule from Mcʻxetʻa as Azoy, son of the last king of Aryan Kʻartʻli. According to this tale, Alexander transferred Azoy and several noble families under Azoy’s sway to the new capital Mcʻxetʻa. Pʻarnavaz succeeded Azoy as king, though Mokʻcʻevay kʻartʻlisay does not stipulate their biological relationship. The harmonization of these conflicting accounts has proven difficult, though both were undoubtedly cultivated from the same tradition. Significantly, both emphasize intimate bonds to Iran; inter alia, Azoy’s name is not Greek (e.g., Jason, cf. Jason and the Argonauts) but has an East Iranian/Indo-Scythian parallel.25 And while the two narratives report Alexander’s invasion of eastern Georgia, Alexander himself never stepped foot in Caucasia. Nevertheless, there is sound reason to accept the early Hellenistic establishment of the Kʻartʻvelian monarchy based at Mcʻxetʻa. This follows a pattern observed elsewhere on the periphery of the Hellenistic world, including the formation of the Mauryan dynasty in northern India, where, it should be noted, Aramaic was also used for inscriptions.
What is known today about King Pʻarnavaz (r. 299–234 bce) is more legend than history. After all, Georgian did not become a written language until the early 5th century ce. Complicating matters is the fact that classical and other foreign sources are hushed about eastern Georgia in the age of Alexander. It is clear, however, that the tradition prioritizing Pʻarnavaz has been favored by Georgian elites since the early medieval epoch and perhaps much earlier. Pʻarnavaz’s image in the anonymous Life of the Kings (customarily but erroneously credited to Archbishop Leonti Mroveli)26 is a potent mixture of myth and history with a strong accent on the royal hero, a historiographical formula applied throughout the Iranian Commonwealth. And this royal image was deployed in Georgian historiography for local kings well into Christian times. According to The Life of the Kings, Azon’s cruelty compelled the young Kʻartʻvelian aristocrat Pʻarnavaz and his Persian mother to seek safety in the rugged Caucasus Mountains. Despite his isolation, Pʻarnavaz’s skill as a hunter came to Azon’s attention. Meanwhile, the imperiled boy had a dream foretelling his rise to power and vouchsafing his possession of divine glory, xwarrah (farnah) in Iranian languages and didebay (“greatness”) in Old Georgian.27 This royal attribute, rendered pʻar-, anchors Pʻarnavaz’s name. The future king’s xwarrah was substantiated by his discovery of an immense treasure. Pʻarnavaz went into open rebellion, vanquished Azon, and ascended as the first monarch of the Kʻartʻvelians.
Pʻarnavaz’s depiction is deliberate: his achievements replicate those of the foundational kings acclaimed in the pre-Islamic Iranian epic. Pʻarnavaz thus created Kʻartʻli’s political system (reportedly in imitation of Achaemenid Persia), promoted the Georgian language, and fashioned the initial Georgian script. This last assertion, at least, is patently false. The earliest known Georgian script, asomtʻavruli, was actually invented by Christians at the turn of the 4th/5th centuries ce as part of a pan-regional vehicle to promote Christianity throughout multicultural Caucasia.28 (It is far from certain that the fascinating discovery at Grakliani Hill in 2015 is a type of writing and, if so, that it is some kind of “proto-Georgian”).29 But the attribution of writing and literacy to Pʻarnavaz is consistent with the superlative achievements of Iranian foundational kings, especially those featured in the Xwadāy-nāmag, the lost Sasanian-era epic.
From the start, the kings of Kʻartʻli governed a heterogeneous population that was simultaneously integrated into pan-Caucasian society and the Iranian Commonwealth. Alongside Georgians were Armenians, Albanians, Parthians, Syrians, “Greeks” (i.e., Greek speakers from Anatolia), Jews, and pastoralists from the Caucasian highlands including Ovsis (Alans; cf. modern Ossetians). The eastern Georgian regions of Kʻartʻli and Kaxetʻi, together with the neighboring kingdom of Albania in what is now the Republic of Azerbaijan, constituted the isthmus’s chief point of contact between sedentary and nomadic societies. The royal city Mcʻxetʻa—and nearby Tʻbilisi (Tpʻilisi), its successor from the early 6th century ce—were advantageously placed to regulate trade and communications through the few major mountain passes.30 By the same token, eastern Georgia and Albania were vulnerable to nomadic raids and invasion. Late antique Kʻartʻvelians imprinted this situation onto a fascinating myth whereby the biblical hordes of Gog and Magog had been sealed behind a colossal gate in the Caucasus Mountains, a portal to be unlocked at the start of the apocalypse. The geographical proximity of eastern Georgia and Albania to the Eurasian steppe also encouraged cultural and social mixing. In some cases, nomadic peoples sedentarized and acculturated. One such group is represented as the “Buntʻurkʻs” (“original/natural” or “proto-”Turks) encountered by Alexander during his fictitious invasion of central Kʻartʻli.31 In a later example, the Bagratid king Davitʻ II Aġmašenebeli (r. 1089–1125) resettled 40,000 Cumani Qipčaq (Kipchak) families in Georgia, where they served as mercenaries of the Georgian Empire.32
Following its establishment at the breakdown of Achaemenid rule, the kingdom of Kʻartʻli lived a fairly uninterrupted existence until its suppression by the Sasanian Empire around 580 ce. There were ebbs and flows, of course, but the notion and actual presence of a dynastic monarch reigning from Mcʻxetʻa were remarkably steady. Reinforcing this stability is the regular application of Pʻarnavaz’s image to his royal successors, even Christian ones, until the interregnum. Furthermore, kings with real and imagined lineage from Pʻarnavaz held power until the accession of Mirian III in 284 ce. Other dynastic families occasionally intervened, including Iranian “Nebrotʻianis” (Nimrodids) and Armeno-Parthian Artašēsids. In the mid-1st century ce, the crown reportedly split, with rival monarchs sitting in the city of Mcʻxetʻa and its acropolis Armazis-cʻixe. The isochronal diarchy, should it have existed, drew its final breath in 132 ce with the ascension of King Ġadami (variant Adami). The diarchy may be a twisted memory of the high-ranking aristocrats bearing the hereditary title bidaxš, Georgian pitiaxši, who established an estate, including an elaborate bathhouse and necropolis, on the edge of Mcʻxetʻa at Armazis-qʻevi (Armazis-khevi).33
Impinging upon Seleucid dominance, the Parthian Arsacids established a kingdom in 247 bce that grew into the chief imperial rival of the Romans. The Iranian Commonwealth was reinvigorated, and Parthia extended its political influence beyond the core territories of Iran in direct and indirect ways. In eastern Georgia, resettled, acculturated Parthians first took the reins of royal authority under the Arsacid Rev in 189. With the enthronement of Mirian III (r. 284–361), another Parthian family, the Mihrānids, asserted a royal monopoly. The Kʻartʻvelian Mihrānids quickly acculturated, followed Mirian’s lead in embracing Christianity, and adorned themselves with the esteemed dynastic name Xosroianis, “Chosroids,” that is, descendants of Xusrō/Chosroes. In eastern Georgia, families of Parthian descent would wield power after the toppling of the Parthian Empire by the Sasanians in 224, until the interregnum starting circa 580, and throughout the tenure of the erismtʻavrobay (the “presiding principate”) ending in 888 with the restoration of the crown by the Bagratid family.
The triumph of Christianity is a pivotal chapter in the history of Caucasia, yet in many respects it was more evolutionary than revolutionary. The region’s three kings, all of whom were descended from Parthian families, Christianized in the first half of the 4th century. The earliest to embrace the Christian God was Trdat of Armenia Major in 314. Although surviving conversion accounts tend to emphasize culturally and politically isolated royal conversions, Caucasia’s Christianization was, in fact, a pan-regional process extending across a century and more. One of the most important expressions of this cross-cultural phenomenon is the invention of specialized scripts for the Armenian, Georgian, and Albanian languages. All were crafted through a pan-Caucasian Christian effort, perhaps inspired and even supervised by the Armenian cleric Maštocʻ (Mesropʻ), at the turn of the 4th and 5th centuries.34 Until now scholars have not appreciated the Iranian context: the fashioning of Caucasian scripts unfolded within the context of the creation of other scripts within the Parthian domains of northern Iran.35 Another manifestation of Caucasia’s cross-cultural fabric are regional saints, including the Armenian princess Šušanik (Shushanik), who was martyred in the Armeno-Kʻartʻvelian marchlands toward the end of the 5th century.36
Received Georgian conversion narratives, the oldest of which is the 7th-century Conversion of Kʻartʻli (the nucleus of the aforementioned collection Mokʻcʻevay kʻartʻlisay), credit an itinerant “Roman” holy woman named Nino with securing Mirian’s baptism. Current research places Mirian’s acceptance of the Christian God in 326.37 A scion of the Parthian Mihrānid house, Mirian had recently migrated from northern Iran under the Sasanian regime. He rapidly acculturated, consolidated his grip on the crown, and sought to improve his kingdom’s tenuous geopolitical position between the Sasanian and more distant Romano-Byzantine Empires. Although extant hagiographical accounts (including a Latin notice in Rufinus’s ca. 400 Ecclesiastical History) convey a miraculous conversion, as is typical of this literary genre, Mirian’s Christianization constitutes a deliberate decision to further distinguish himself—a Kʻartʻvelizing Parthian—from the Sasanians and to balance competing Iranian and Roman interventions more effectively.
Just as Constantine’s conversion to Christianity has too frequently been cast as a sudden and comprehensive shift in Roman society (a stubborn idea undergoing another wave of reevaluation), Mirian’s conversion is routinely interpreted as a radical break with the Georgian past. Indeed, the Christianization of Caucasia’s three dynasts is customarily portrayed as a natural and permanent reorientation from the Iranian to the Christian(izing) Romano-Byzantine world. In reality, conversion is a dynamic and historically constituted process; the new religion is adapted to existing circumstances as much as the other way around. Thus, many existing threads of Caucasia’s preexisting social fabric endured Christianization. Existing noble houses, with their unwavering devotion to dynasticism and hereditary right, continued to dominate the social scene. Longstanding models of Iranic kingship persevered, including the notion of a hero-king radiating xwarrah. However, the fount of this sacral radiance appropriately shifted to the Christian God.
Perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of Christianization was the erosion and eventual extinction of the syncretic Zoroastrianisms that had prospered in Caucasia since the Iron Age.38 Sasanian efforts to transplant imperial strands of Zoroastrianism in early Christian Georgia came to naught. By the 5th century, the subjects of the Kʻartʻvelian king were predominately Christian, and they lived in an inclusive and hybrid Christian environment largely devoid of later tensions between “orthodoxy” and “heresy.” In this plural atmosphere were perpetuated many elements of Caucasia’s dying Zoroastrianisms. For instance, sacred-bull iconography was incorporated into early Christian art and architecture. One such example adorns an interior wall of the baptristy of the late-5th-century Bolnisi Sioni basilica. Others, originally belonging to a lost earlier structure, are incorporated into the exterior wall of the Sueti-cʻxoveli (Sveti-Tskhoveli, “Living Pillar”) cathedral in Mcʻxetʻa.
In a similar cross-cultural and syncretic vein, Manichaeism acquired a presence in eastern Georgia.39 At least some locals regarded this faith (which emerged in 3rd-century Iran and creatively mixed features of Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Buddhism) as a Christian sect. In many ways, Manichaeism was a “middle ground” between Zoroastrianism and Christianity, though its popularity was limited throughout Caucasia. Saint Evstatʻi (Eustathios), born Gwrobandak into a Zoroastrian family in northern Iran, was initiated into a Manichaean congregation in the city of Ganzak before migrating to Mcʻxetʻa and converting to Christianity. After his martyrdom by local Sasanian officials, Evstatʻi was canonized by the Kʻartʻvelian Church.
In eastern Georgia, the built environment was transformed after the king’s public embrace of the Christian God. Churches were constructed, often in conspicuous places, while Zoroastrian and other temples fell into neglect or were demolished. Royal and aristocratic funds earmarked for religious purposes were diverted from “pagan” to Christian foundations. By tradition, the first dedicated church building was raised in the royal garden in Mcʻxetʻa, the site now occupied by the aforementioned 11th-century Sueti-cʻxoveli cathedral. Medieval traditions credit Constantine the Great with a direct role in Mirian’s conversion and in the building of Kʻartʻli’s earliest churches. For the most part, however, these are later tales seeking to exploit the prestige of Constantine and the Romano-Byzantine Empire.40 Early Christian Caucasia tended to be oriented religiously more to the south than to the east.
Throughout Caucasia, Christianity tended to adjust itself—and to be adjusted—to existing aspects of Iranic society that were less directly wed to Zoroastrianism or that could be easily reoriented from a Zoroastrian to a Christian basis. Outside the 13th-century Metexi church in Tʻbilisi stands a modern statue commemorating one of the most beloved Georgian heroes, the Christian Chosroid Vaxtang I Gorgasali (Vakhtang; r. 447–522). Within a century or two of his death, Vaxtang was already revered as one of Georgia’s greatest hero-kings, a royal attribute from the Iranian world. By the interregnum he was acclaimed as the quintessential (pre-Bagratid) Christian Kʻartʻvelian monarch. While the epical Life of Vaxtang is typically dismissed as later fantasy devoid of historical worth, Vaxtang’s received image is historically valuable for its preservation of early Christian values, attitudes, and circumstances. As presented in his royalist biography, the imagined Vaxtang is, for the most part, a late antique projection.41 In a word, Vaxtang is a dramatic example of the melding of Christian and Iranic traditions in pre-national Caucasia.
Vaxtang was a Christian king who credited his accomplishments to the Christian God. His devotion to Christianity and his status as a protector of the faith are demonstrated by the expansion of the ecclesiastical hierarchy.42 At this time, the chief prelate of the Kʻartʻvelian Church assumed the position of katholikos (Latin catholicus), a lofty title used in other Christian communities in the Iranian Commonwealth and Iran itself, that is, the katholikos at Seleucia-Ctesiphon. Simultaneously, Vaxtang’s royal authority and image are expressions of the Irano-Caucasian tradition. As we would expect of a Christian monarch reigning in the Iranian world, Vaxtang is a hero-king clad in Christianized xwarrah. He is presented as the ultimate warrior who often engaged rival champions (singular bumberazi and variant mumbarezi < Iranian mumbāriz, “fighter”; cf. Arabic mubarīz) in single combat to the death, several instances of which are highlighted in The Life of Vaxtang. Although Sasanian Iran and imperial Zoroastrianisms are sometimes presented as the mortal enemy of Christian Caucasia, Vaxtang aligned himself with the šāhan šāh (shahanshah, “king of kings”) and enthusiastically accompanied the Sasanian ruler on campaign. This fictitious military operation is saturated with epic motifs and is set in far-away places like India, Sind, and Ethiopia, “exotic” locales likewise evoked in the Iranian epic. Symbolism is paramount here: Vaxtang justified the alliance by stressing the “spiritual” dimension of Zoroastrianism and his biological relationship to the Sasanians. The imagery reveals much about late antique Kʻartʻvelian attitudes toward Iran. Despite its Parthian background, Vaxtang’s Chosroid (Xosroiani) dynasty had come to assert a kingly ancestry from the Sasanian forefather “Xusrō.”43 At the same time, the imagined Vaxtang declared his family to be directly descended from the biblical Nimrod (Nebrotʻ).44 But this Nimrod is no carbon copy of the Hebrew Bible “mighty hunter before the Lord” (Genesis 10:9). In early Georgian historiography, Nimrod is an Iranian who constructed the first kingdom upon the earth. Through the affirmation of a Nimrodid pedigree, the Chosroids forged a provenance harmonizing Iranic/Iranian and Christian traditions.
After the rule of Vaxtang’s son and successor Dačʻi, the Chosroids plunged into a long decline. Their enfeebled kingship was finally snuffed out by the Sasanians around the year 580.45 The Kʻartʻvelian crown thus outlasted its Arsacid counterpart in Armenia Major, which the Sasanians had dismantled back in 428. During the ensuing interregnum, which ended in 888, the political locus of eastern Georgia shifted to dynastic “presiding princes,” the earliest of which were drawn from vestiges of the Chosroids. The situation was complicated by the Arab conquest and colonization of Caucasia (including large swathes of eastern Georgia and its capital Tʻbilisi, where an emirate was established) as well as the Arabs’ overthrow of Sasanian Iran in 651. Throughout the interregnum, the loyalty of the Kʻartʻvelian presiding princes fluctuated among Romano-Byzantine emperors, Sasanian šāhan šāhs, and Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs. Despite the Sasanian Empire’s destruction, Iranic culture continued to thrive throughout Caucasia for centuries to come.
A Kʻartʻvelized branch of the Bagratid house seized the presiding principate in 813 and restored kingship by the end of the century. From their rise to prominence in the Georgian milieu, and with the majority of eastern Georgia still under Islamic dominion, these Bagratids consciously linked themselves to Byzantium more than any preceding Georgian dynasty. The Bagratids’ deliberate orientation toward Constantinople was also encouraged by the Kʻartʻvelian Church, which had been closely aligning itself with the Byzantine Church since the late 6th century. Just prior to this time, the church in Kʻartʻli had acquired significant autonomy, though across the 5th century its Armenian counterpart had claimed a “protectorate” over the whole of Christian Caucasia.46 Armenian prelates resisted when Kʻartʻvelian ecclesiastics had asserted greater self-sufficiency, an action accelerated by the popularization of cenobitic monasticism by the Thirteen Syrian Fathers in the 6th century.47 Tensions broke into the open at the Armenians’ Third Council of Duin, at which the katholikos of eastern Georgia and his supporters were excommunicated. Meanwhile, Kʻartʻvelian clerics and ascetics increasingly moved into the Byzantine Chalcedonian dyophysite camp, a process hastened by the emperor Heraclius’s appearance in eastern Georgia during his campaign against Sasanian Iran.
Tighter alignment with Byzantium, not to mention imperial insistence on clear demarcations between orthodoxy and heresy, led to the disappearance of earlier Christian textual and artistic forms. Many of these testaments to the plural, cross-cultural atmosphere of late antiquity were lost forever. Another consequence, especially in light of Duin III, was the deliberate revision and rewriting of conversion stories throughout Caucasia. The reimagination of Christian origins was an instrument to justify contemporaneous circumstances and to signal desired futures. As culturally privileging “national churches” developed in Eastern Christendom, such tales could bolster claims to autocephaly. In the same manner, Caucasian historiographical traditions were also adjusted, revised, and in some cases rewritten.48
The 9th and 10th centuries were a time of tremendous ecclesiastical growth. The lingering interregnum and Arab occupation of Tʻbilisi—made the royal seat by Vaxtang and his son—resulted in the transfer of Kʻartʻvelian religious authority to the southwestern territories of Tao, Klarjetʻi, and Šavšetʻi. Sprawling monastic foundations, especially those associated with the renowned ascetic Grigol Xanżtʻeli (Gregory of Khandzta), transformed the religious topography of this neo-Kʻartʻli, a Kʻartʻli-in-exile to which was applied the Georgian term Sakʻartʻvelo, “the place inhabited by Kʻartʻvelians.”49 To this day, Sakʻartʻvelo designates the all-Georgian state. Exerting tremendous autonomy, an act bolstered by the economic vibrancy of the region including the important city of Artanuji, these ecclesiastical communities championed Byzantine dyophysitism. They were also cogs in a Georgian monastic network stretching across the Byzantine world and into the Islamic Commonwealth. Over time its hubs included the Black and Miraculous Mountains in Syria, Saint Catherine’s on Mount Sinai, Iveron (“of the Iberians/Kʻartʻvelians”) on Mount Athos, and the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem.50 Byzantinization was further encouraged by the swing of Georgian Christianity’s core to areas along the border with Byzantine Anatolia, whose population comprehended large numbers of Chalcedonian Armenians. Georgian religious art was brought into closer alignment with its Byzantine analogue. Byzantine religious texts were translated into Georgian to an unprecedented degree. The Georgian Athonites, including Epʻtʻwme (Euthymios) and Giorgi Mtacmideli (Giorgi Mtatsmindeli), were particularly active in this regard.51 Selective Byzantinization also affected the liturgy. By the 10th century, Georgians had replaced their traditional Jerusalemite liturgy of Saint James with the liturgy of Constantinople.52
The political consolidation of the lands on either side of the Surami Mountains had been preempted by the religious integration of the eastern and western Georgian territories and through the realization of a transregional monastic network. The permanent political union of eastern and western Georgia was achieved by the Bagratid prince Davitʻ kuropalates (d. 1000), who calculatingly adopted his relative Bagrat, heir to the western realm of Apʻxazetʻi (Abkhazia). Subsequently, Bagrat III (r. 1008–1014) was enthroned as the first king of all-Georgia, conjoining under his authority eastern Georgia, neo-Kʻartʻli, and Apʻxazetʻi. Bagrat’s ascendancy is customarily interpreted as the start of medieval Georgia’s “golden age.”53
The Bagratids brandished a near-monopoly over Georgian royal power until the Russian annexation of the 19th century. This thousand-year dominion has left a mammoth imprint on premodern Georgian history. The preponderance of surviving premodern sources—literary, visual, and material—are Bagratid-era productions. In these circumstances it has proven difficult to escape the gravitational well of the Bagratids. While the temptation to equate premodern Georgian history with the Bagratid experience must be avoided, the political accomplishments of the Bagratids are outstanding, and we must strive to keep them in historical balance. Ašot I seized the presiding principate in 813; seventy-five years later, Adarnase IV declared himself king (mepʻe), thus ending the interregnum that stretched across three centuries. The subsequent “golden age” was the political, cultural, and economic pinnacle of medieval Caucasia. Many of the premodern churches and fortifications still visible throughout Caucasia were raised in the Bagratid period.
The identity of the Bagratids has been the subject of toxic nationalist speculation. Competing (modern) ethnocentric historiographies brazenly assert the “ethnicity” of the Bagratids to have been purely “Georgian” or “Armenian.” In fact, like many other families from premodern Caucasia, the Bagratid house must be characterized as Armeno-Georgian.54 The Caucasian Bagratids found themselves in an advantageous position under late Sasanian and then Arab rule, when noble houses that had traditionally exercised great power—like the Chosroids and Mamikoneans—fell from favor or disappeared. Ultimately, the acculturated Georgian branch of the Bagratids enjoyed the most success, not just as monarchs of the first all-Georgian kingdom but as masters of a mighty pan-Caucasian empire in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries. This empire incorporated much of Armenia, but not the emergent realm in Cilicia. Some Armenian aristocratic houses, most notably the Zakʻareans (Mẋargrżeli in Georgian), rose to prominent positions in the imperial administration.
Throughout their existence, Armenian and Georgian Bagratids were in close dialogue and embroiled in fierce rivalry. This simultaneous cooperation and competition are manifest in Bagratid visions of royal legitimacy. Whereas the earlier Armenian nucleus of the Bagratids declared direct biological descent from ancient monotheistic Jews (as articulated by the Armenian historian Movsēs Xorenacʻi [Moses of Chorene]), the Bagratid kings of Georgia perceived themselves as the progeny of the king-prophet David (as conveyed by Sumbat Davitʻis-że). The Georgian offshoot of the Bagratids accordingly cast asunder earlier Chosroid ancestral claims upon Nimrod in favor of the quintessential monotheistic king in the Hebrew Bible. In a corresponding development on the southern edge of the Byzantine Commonwealth, the monarchs of Aksum (Ethiopia) imagined themselves as the direct descendants of Solomon.
Through their alignment with Byzantium and the avowal of a Davidic pedigree, early Georgian Bagratid monarchs consciously distanced themselves from the Iranic models of kingship deployed by their predecessors. Emphasis upon Christian affiliation was strengthened, but the Christianity fostered by the Georgian Bagratids was in closer liturgical and Christological harmony with Constantinople. Georgian historiography was revived, first with combined accounts of multiple Bagratid reigns (i.e., The Chronicle of Kʻartʻli [Matiane kʻartʻlisay] and the aforementioned narrative by Davitʻis-że) and then with standalone royal biographies, that is, the “lives” (vitae) of Davitʻ II Aġmašenebeli “the Builder” (r. 1089–1125) and his great-granddaughter Tʻamar (r. 1184–1213). In historiographical works of the 12th and early 13th centuries, Bagratid rulers are routinely compared not only to biblical figures but also to personalities from Graeco-Roman and Hellenistic traditions. Such comparisons were unprecedented in Georgian historiography. Only under Queen Tʻamar, the first woman to govern Georgia in her own right, did a Bagratid historian engage pre-Bagratid kingship in a sustained manner. The atypical case of the anonymous Histories and Eulogies of the Sovereigns belongs to a concerted effort to validate Tʻamar’s enthronement as questions swirled about a woman’s fitness to rule. So serious was the debate that the renewed fascination in Iranian epic literature gathering steam in the 13th century was also co-opted by Tʻamar’s supporters. The poem Vepʻxistqaosani, The Knight in the Panther’s Skin, features two fictional women who are monarchs in their own rights—but simultaneously who are objects of courtly love. Though composed in Georgian at the height of the Bagratids’ pan-Caucasian empire, Vepʻxistqaosani is an expression of the Iranian/Iranic epic and not some genre of Byzantine literature. Yet another strategy in Tʻamar’s defense was the revival of traditions about Nino, the 4th-century holy woman whose activities had secured the conversion of the royal family.
As evidenced by their Davidic affirmations, the Bagratids and their allies did not slavishly replicate Byzantine political imagery. Instead, they selectively adapted elements to the Caucasian environment. In the early years of the presiding principate, before the rise of the Georgian Bagratids, Byzantine emperors had bestowed high-level honorifics upon the de facto rulers of eastern Georgia. Deviating from Byzantine custom but in accord with Caucasia’s Iranic social mores, esteemed titles like kuropalates became hereditary. Over time such honorifics inflated: for instance, nobelissimos and sebastos are attested for King Bagrat IV (r. 1027–1072), caesar for Giorgi II (r. 1072–1089), and panhypersebastos and basileus (emperor!) for Davitʻ II Aġmašenebeli.55 Later in his reign, Davitʻ intentionally abandoned Byzantine titles and gave precedence to local court terminology and concepts. Similarly, whereas contemporaneous visual sources often clothe Georgian monarchs in Byzantine robes and regalia, local court dress is also applied, as is the case with Davitʻ II Aġmašenebeli in a damaged fresco in the church of Ateni Sioni.56 Numismatic evidence from the zenith of Bagratid rule demonstrates an even deeper cross-cultural engagement with western Eurasia. Georgian coinage from the “golden age” tends to be struck according to Islamic and not Byzantine types, with Arabic inscriptions praising Bagratid kings and queens prominently featured. One issue features Tʻamar’s father, Giorgi III (r. 1156–1184), seated cross-legged, wearing Persian clothing and a simplified Byzantine crown. A falcon is perched on his arm. This is a reflection not only of the continued incorporation of much of Caucasia into the dār al-Islām and the conscious exploitation of Islamic models by the Christian Bagratids, but also of the persisting economic orientation of the isthmus to the Islamic world.57
At the summit of their power, the Georgian Bagratids imagined themselves as equals to the Byzantine emperors and as masters of a parallel Byzantium in “the East.” This claim is expressed not only in Bagratid intitulatio, but in numerous other ways including the spectacular apse decoration of the central church of Davitʻ Aġmašenebeli’s monastery at Gelatʻi that deliberately adapted Constantinopolitan models. Marriages drew together the Georgian and Byzantine courts. In the most dramatic example, the Georgian Bagratid princess Mary/Maria “of Alania” was successively wed to the Byzantine basileis Michael VII Doukas (r. 1065–1078) and Nikephoros III Botaneiates (r. 1078–1081). (“Of Alania” refers to Mary’s mother, the Alanian princess Borena.)58 Later, Queen Tʻamar exploited her biological relationship to the imperial Byzantine Komneni (Comneni) family so as to aid in the establishment of the empire of Trebizond during the Latin occupation of Constantinople following the Fourth Crusade.59 At the same time, Georgian royalty and aristocrats also linked themselves to Islamic rulers through marriage. King Davitʻ II thus arranged the union of one daughter, Kata, to the Byzantine prince Alexios Bryennios Komnenos and another, Tʻamar, to the Islamic ruler of Šarvān.60
By the 11th century, the Bagratids consciously projected themselves as a radical break from the Georgian and Caucasian past while emphasizing their rightful and intrinsic political autonomy. There are, however, some noteworthy continuities and parallels. Both Chosroids and Bagratids asserted genealogies from prominent Hebrew Bible figures, Nimrod and King David, respectively. And while pre-Bagratid, especially Arsacid and Chosroid, monarchs envisioned themselves as Sasanian-like šāhan šāhs ruling a parallel and autonomous kingdom in “the North,” Bagratids claimed to govern a parallel Byzantium in “the East” that was politically independent of Constantinople. But as noted, despite the deliberate shift in ecclesiastical and political imagery toward Byzantium, Bagratid Georgia maintained abundant connections to the Middle East and the Islamic Commonwealth. Over the course of the 11th century, Georgian and Armenian Bagratids countered the invasions of the Seljuq Turks and, though it is rarely acknowledged, engaged with them cross-culturally.61 As the kingdom of Albania faded in far eastern Caucasia, some Albanians were Armenized, whereas others became mixed with Arabs and especially pastoralist Turkic groups who settled in the Muğan (Mughan) Plain of what is now Azerbaijan. New Islamic polities were established; Islam has maintained dominance in Azerbaijan and Northern Caucasia ever since.
Although obvious Iranic elements of kingship had been jettisoned by the Bagratids, others continued to flourish. Personal names drawn from the Judaeo-Christian tradition became more commonplace in eastern Georgia starting in the interregnum. But nobles and even the Bagratids continued to employ Iranic names, including Bagrat, Sumbat, and Rusudan. In the literary sphere, Iranic and Iranian epics experienced a dramatic revival. In terms of epics actually produced by Iranians in their language or translated into others, there is no evidence of their manuscripts having circulated among Georgians in the medieval Bagratid era (or earlier, for that matter). However, well before the ascendancy of the Bagratids, the structure and narrative elements of the Sasanian-era epic Xwadāy-nāmag had profoundly influenced early Georgian historiography. The Life of the Kings and The Life of Vaxtang, based closely upon an earlier (lost) Georgian epic-history, share the basic narrative architecture of the Iranian Xwadāy-nāmag.62The Life of the Kings’ treatment of pre-Christian history even incorporates several heroes from the remote Iranian epic past and acknowledges this Iranian heritage by repeatedly citing a source it calls Cʻxorebay sparstʻa, The Life of the Iranians. Although the Bagratids deliberately abandoned the Iranic model of kingship, starting in the 13th century, they and their aristocrats sponsored the writing of new Georgian-language epics. These poems featured Iranic heroes, courtly love, and exotic settings evoked in the Iranian epic. The most popular of the new works was the aforementioned Vepʻxistqaosani associated with Šotʻa Rustʻaveli (Shota Rustaveli). Remarkably, Vepʻxistqaosani makes no direct reference to Christ. Divine power is often evoked, but consistently in abstract terms. Such poems are reflections of Caucasia’s enduring bonds to Iran, which in many ways continued into the early modern period and beyond. Vepʻxistqaosani’s particular timing is connected to the burgeoning popularity of the Iranian epic in the Islamic world, including Ferdowsī’s well-known Šāhnāma. Significantly, the Iranian epic was not introduced to Georgia for the first time under the Bagratids. Moreover, the new deployment of this genre was shifted from historiography to the realm of fiction (though with certain historiographical overtones, e.g., the female monarchs featured in Vepʻxistqaosani, cf. Tʻamar).
The pan-Caucasian empire of the Bagratids evaporated with the ineffectual rule of Queen Tʻamar’s successors, the internal and external challenges faced by the Byzantine Empire, and the Mongol invasions. Notwithstanding the fragmentation of Bagratid power that was encouraged by the Mongol Īlkhāns as well as the destructive invasions of Timur (Tamerlane), rival factions of the sprawling Bagratid house dominated the upper echelon of Georgian politics until the early 19th century, when they were finally ousted by the tsars. Through new opportunities provided by the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, Georgia’s connections with the Mediterranean and Europe would attain unprecedented heights, though at the steep cost of imperial subjugation. But before direct Russian rule was imposed starting in 1801, Georgia would witness a final surge of Iranic expression through its close association with the Safavids.63
Discussion of the Literature
Students of Georgian history face three main challenges: the difficulty of Old and modern Georgian, a non–Indo-European language; aptitude in a variety of additional modern and premodern languages such as Armenian, Russian, Greek, Persian, Arabic, Syriac, Turkish, French, and German; and access to Georgian manuscripts and printed matter. These problems are compounded by the fact that Georgian has been written in three distinctive scripts (asomtʻavruli, nusxuri, and mxedruli). There are, moreover, several different scholarly systems of transliterating Georgian. The transliteration scheme used here is that adopted by the Library of Congress and the British Library. In most cases, names and titles have been rendered according to the language of publication (consider Georgian Javaxišvili and Russian Dzhavakhishvili).
Several general histories of Georgia are available in English. Although dated, W. E. D. Allen’s A History of the Georgian People is written in an engaging style and remains a useful introduction to premodern Georgia.64 Other accessible surveys include David Lang’s The Georgians,65 Donald Rayfield’s Edge of Empires,66 and, especially strong for the early modern and modern periods, Ronald Suny’s Making of the Georgian Nation.67 See also the insightful essays assembled by Suny under the title Transcaucasia, Nationalism, and Social Change.68 For a recent survey written in English by scholars based in Georgia, see Valeri Silogava and Kakha Shengelia’s History of Georgia.69 There are many comprehensive treatments in Georgian, including Ivane Javaxišvili’s pathfinding Kʻartʻveli eris istoria.70 Unfortunately, this fundamental work has not been translated into any other language, including Russian. The multi-author, Soviet-era sweep of Sakʻartʻvelos istoriis narkvevebi is still widely cited.71 Also beneficial as an introductory resource is Alexander Mikaberidze’s Historical Dictionary of Georgia.72
The rich corpus of premodern Georgian literature is catalogued and discussed in Korneli Kekeliże’s (Kekelidze’s) Kʻartʻuli literaturis istoria, available in numerous editions.73 This seminal study was adapted into German by Michael Tarchnišvili.74 Donald Rayfield’s The Literature of Georgia provides a solid overview in English.75 Premodern centers of Georgian literary production and dissemination, both at home and abroad, are explored by Levan Menabde.76 This Georgian publication, like many others produced in the USSR, contains a summary in English (or another Western language).
The best single-volume treatment of early Christian Caucasia—not only Georgia—is Cyril Toumanoff’s magisterial Studies in Christian Caucasian History.77 Toumanoff’s meticulous research builds directly upon the sturdy foundation laid by Nicholas Adontz’s explorations of Armenian history.78 The publications of Giorgi Melikʻišvili (Melikishvili) are also crucial.79 Charles King’s articulate and popular The Black Sea is markedly better for later periods and leaves the impression of an overreliance upon imperial perspectives and Russian-language scholarship.80 Even less successful for premodern times is the regional narrative by James Forsyth.81
Fundamental treatments of Georgia in and around the crucial period of late antiquity include David Braund, Georgia in Antiquity; David Lang, “Iran, Armenia and Georgia”; Iberia and Rome edited by A. Furtwängler et al.; Mariam Lortʻkʻipʻaniże (Lordkipanidze), Essays on Georgian History; Bernadette Martin-Hisard, “Le roi géorgien Vaxt’ang Gorgasal dans l’histoire et dans la legende”; and Ancient Christianity in the Caucasus, edited by Tʻamila Mgaloblišvili (Tamila Mgaloblishvili).82 An up-to-date scholarly survey of the whole of Georgian Christianity awaits its author, but in French see Michel Tamarati, L’Église géorgienne and the essays in the Ashgate/Variorum volume collected by Stephen Rapp and Paul Crego.83 The 6th and 7th centuries and the development of distinctive “national” churches in Caucasia are the subject of the outstanding L’Église arménienne et le grand schisme d’Orient by Nina G. Garsoïan.84 The Georgian and Armenian traditions of Saint Šušanik are probed by P. M. Muradyan.85
Georgia’s membership in the Iranian world is explored in the publications of Toumanoff (especially his aforementioned Studies) as well as Stephen Rapp’s The Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes.86 The interface of Georgian and Iranian languages is specially investigated in Mzia Andronikašvili’s Narkvevebi iranul-kʻartʻuli enobrivi urtʻiertʻobidan.87 For Aramaic and its Caucasian “Armazic” idiom, see the studies of Konstantine Ceretʻeli (Tsereteli).88
Bagratid rule and the zenith of the medieval Georgian monarchy are engaged in many publications, including Antony Eastmond, Royal Imagery in Medieval Georgia; Wachtang Djobadze, Early Medieval Georgian Monasteries in Historic Tao, Klarjetʻi, and Šavšetʻi; the broad overviews of Roin Metreveli, including The Golden Age; Mariam Lordkipanidze, Georgia in the XI–XII Centuries; and the multi-author Ocherki istorii Gruzii.89 But the reader should be cautious: nationalist and ethnocentric visions abound. For the Mongol period, see the essays in Caucasus during the Mongol Period.90
The oldest examples of original Georgian literature are hagiographies. A testament to the cosmopolitan and cross-cultural environment of late antique Caucasia, the holy women and men celebrated in these earliest of Georgian texts are non-Kʻartʻvelians. Splendid critical editions were prepared by Ilia Abulaże (Abuladze) and published as the first two volumes of the indispensable Żveli kʻartʻuli agiograpʻiuli literaturis żeglebi.91 English translations of important Georgian-language vitae are featured in David Lang’s Lives and Legends of the Georgian Saints.92 For English renderings of the hagiographies of prominent Georgian Athonites, see Tamara Grdzelidze’s Georgian Monks on Mount Athos.93 Numerous Georgian vitae have been ably translated into French by Bernadette Martin-Hisard, including the vita of Grigol Xanżtʻeli.94
Mokʻcʻevay kʻartʻlisay, an ecclesiastical compendium celebrating St. Nino and the conversion of King Mirian, consists of six discrete texts: The Primary History of Kʻartʻli, The Conversion of Kʻartʻli, The Life of Nino, and three Royal Lists. The critical edition appears in Abulaże’s Żveli kʻartʻuli agiograpʻiuli literaturis żeglebi.95 An English translation was published in Constantine Lerner’s Wellspring of Georgian Historiography.96
The medieval section of Kʻartʻlis cʻxovreba, popularly but imprecisely called the “Georgian Chronicles,” comprises thirteen discrete texts composed between circa 800 and the 14th century: The Life of the Kings, a version of The Life of Nino (see also Mokʻcʻevay kʻartʻlisay above), an untitled account of the immediate Christian successors of Mirian (Rapp proposes the title Life of the Successors of Mirian), The Life of Vaxtang Gorgasali and an untitled continuation, The Martyrdom of Prince Arčʻil, Sumbat Davitʻis-dże’s Life and Tale of the Bagratids, The Chronicle of Kʻartʻli (Matiane kʻartʻlisay), The Life of King of Kings Davitʻ II, Histories and Eulogies of the Crowned, Life of Monarch of Monarchs Tʻamar, History of the Five Reigns, and Chronicle of a Hundred Years. The preferred critical edition of this corpus was prepared by Simon Qauxčʻišvili (Qaukhchishvili);97 the initial volume has been reprinted as Kʻartʻlis cʻxovreba: The Georgian Royal Annals and Their Medieval Armenian Adaptation.98 An English translation of the corpus through The Life of King of Kings Davitʻ II inclusive (but excluding Sumbat Davitʻis-dże) is featured in Robert Thomson’s Rewriting Caucasian History.99 In this essential publication, Thomson also translates the medieval Armenian adaptation of Kʻartʻlis cʻxovreba known as Patmutʻiwn Vracʻ. For this medieval Armenian text, see the rare tome Kʻartʻlis cʻxovrebis żveli somxuri tʻargmani, edited by Abulaże and reprinted as the second volume of Kʻartʻlis cʻxovreba: The Georgian Royal Annals and Their Medieval Armenian Adaptation.100 For a more recent Georgian edition with a complete English translation (though curiously edited by a well-known specialist of modern Georgia), see Kʻartʻlis cʻxovreba, supervised by Roin Metreveli.101
For the Georgian text of Rustʻaveli’s epic Knight in the Panther’s Skin, see the preferred edition by A. Baramiże, K. Kekeliże, and A. Šaniże. There are several translations into Western languages including the English attempted by V. Urušaże (Urushadze).102
Surviving Georgian charters from the 9th through the 15th centuries are assembled in Kʻartʻuli istoriuli sabutʻebi.103
The most important printed collection of early inscriptions was prepared by N. Šošiašvili.104 For inscriptions, see also Heinz Fähnrich’s Die ältesten georgischen Inschriften and Joseph Molitor’s Monumenta Iberica Antiquora.105 The best English introduction to Georgian coinage remains David Lang’s Studies in the Numismatic History of Georgia in Transcaucasia.106 Also vital are the Russian-language publications of E. A. Pakhomov and D. G. Kapanadze.107
On Georgian art see the Russian-language overview by Šotʻa Amiranašvili (Shota Amiranashvili).108 See also the aforementioned studies by Eastmond and Djobadze. There are numerous catalogs of premodern Georgian art, but in English see Medieval Georgian Ecclesiastical Art in the Georgian National Museum and National Treasures of Georgia.109 An accessible synopsis of early Christian architecture throughout Caucasia was published by Annegret Plontke-Lüning.110 More penetrating is the Russian-language study of 7th-century Caucasian church architecture by Armen Kazarian.111
Archaeological coverage to the Hellenistic age is plentiful, but see Charles Burney and David Lang’s The Peoples of the Hills, now somewhat dated; K. Kushnareva, Southern Caucasus in Prehistory; Otʻar Lortʻkʻipʻaniże (Otar Lordkipandize), Nasledie drevnei Gruzii; Gocha Tsetskhladze’s Die Griechen in der Kolchis; and Archaeology in the Borderlands, edited by Adam Smith and Karen Rubinson.112 Our current understanding of Homo georgicus is summarized in Abesalom Vekua and Davitʻ Lortʻkʻipʻaniże (David Lordkipanidze), Dmaniseli hominidebi.113
On the geography of the entire Caucasus region, though with an emphasis upon the various Armenias and Armenians, see Robert Hewsen’s Armenia: A Historical Atlas.114 See also the recently published Sakʻartʻvelos istoriis atlasi.115 On Georgian geography, the extensive studies of D. Berżenišvili (Berdzenishvili) are recommended.116 For later periods, see also Arthur Tsutsiev, Atlas of the Ethno-Political History of the Caucasus.117
Links to Digital Materials
Alekʻsiże, Zaza. “Four Recensions of the ‘Conversion of Georgia’ (Comparative Study).” In Die Christianisierung des Kaukasus = The Christianization of Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Albania). Edited by Werner Seibt, 9–16. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2002.Find this resource:
Bardavelidze, V. V. Drevneishie religioznye verovaniia i obriadovoe graficheskoe iskusstvo gruzinskikh plemen. Tʻbilisi: Izd-vo AN Gruzinskoi SSR, 1957.Find this resource:
Birdsall, J. Neville. Collected Papers in Greek and Georgian Textual Criticism. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2006.Find this resource:
Childers, Jeff W. “The Georgian Version of the New Testament.” In The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis. Edited by Bart D. Ehrman and Michael W. Holmes, 2d ed., 293–327. Boston: Brill, 2013.Find this resource:
Danelia, Korneli, and Zurab Sarjvelaże. Kʻartʻuli paleograpʻia. Tʻbilisi: Tʻbilisis damoukidebeli universiteti, 1997.Find this resource:
Horn, Cornelia B. Asceticism and Christological Controversy in Fifth-Century Palestine: The Career of Peter the Iberian. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.Find this resource:
Javaxišvili, Ivane. Tʻxzulebani. 12 vols. Tʻbilisi: Tʻbilisis universitetis gamomcʻemloba, 1979–1998. NB: the collected works of Javaxishvili.Find this resource:
Kavtaradze, Giorgi Leon. “Caucasica II. Georgian Chronicles and the Raison d’être of the Iberian Kingdom.” Orbis Terrarum 6 (2000): 177–237.Find this resource:
Kekeliże, Korneli. Etiudebi żveli kʻartʻuli literaturis istoriidan. 14 vols. Tʻbilisi: [Various publishers], 1956–1986. NB: the collected works of Kekeliże.Find this resource:
Khintibidze, Elguja. Georgian–Byzantine Literary Contacts. Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert, 1996.Find this resource:
Mačʻabeli, Kiti. Adreuli šua saukuneebis kʻartʻuli kʻvajvarebi = Early Medieval Georgian Stone Crosses. Tʻbilisi: n.p., 2008.Find this resource:
Mamulia, Guram. Klasobrivi sazogadoebisa da saxelmcipʻos čʻamoqalibeba żvel kʻartʻlši. Tʻbilisi: Mecʻniereba, 1979. English summary, “The Emergence of a Class Society and State in Ancient Kartli (Iberia),” 184–191.Find this resource:
Marr, N. Ia. Kavkazskii kul’turnyi mir i Armeniia. Erevan: Gandzasar, 1995.Find this resource:
Martin-Hisard, Bernadette. “Christianisme et Église dans le monde géorgienne.” In Histoire du Christianisme des origins à nos jours. Edited by Jean-Marie Mayeur Charles and Luce Pietri, André Vauchez, and Marc Venard, vol. 4, 549–603. Paris: Desclée, 1993.Find this resource:
Mgaloblišvili, Tʻamila. Klarjuli mravaltʻavi. Tʻbilisi: Mecʻniereba, 1991. English summary, “The Klardjeti Polycephalon,” 466–490.Find this resource:
Mgaloblishvili, Tamila, editor. Georgians in the Holy Land: The Rediscovery of a Long-Lost Christian Legacy. London: Bennett & Bloom, 2014.Find this resource:
Minorsky, V. A History of Sharvān and Darband in the 10th–11th Centuries. Cambridge, U.K.: Heffer, 1958.Find this resource:
Minorsky, Vladimir. Studies in Caucasian History: I. New Light on the Shaddādids of Ganja; II. The Shaddādids of Ani; III. Prehistory of Saladin. London: Taylor’s Foreign Press, 1953.Find this resource:
Patariże, Lela. Politikuri da kulturuli identobani IV–VIII ss-is kʻartʻul ertʻobaši: „kʻartʻlis cʻxovrebis“ samqaro. Tʻbilisi: Kavkasiuri saxli, 2009. English summary, “Political and Cultural Identities in [the] 4th–8th cc. Georgian Community: The World of [The] Life of Kartli,” 174–180.Find this resource:
Sxirtlaże, Zaza. Adreuli šua saukuneebis kʻartʻuli kedlis mxatvroba: tʻelovanis juarpatiosani. Tʻbilisi: Sakʻartʻvelos sapatriarkʻos saeklesio xelovnebis kvlevis cʻentri, 2008. English summary, “Early Medieval Georgian Monumental Painting: Telovani Church of the Holy Cross,” 304–330.Find this resource:
Thomson, Robert W. “The Writing of History: The Development of the Armenian and Georgian Traditions.” In Il Caucaso: Cerniera fra Culture dal Mediterraneo alla Persia, 493–520. Spoleto: Centro italiano di studi sull’alto Medioevo, 1996.Find this resource:
Toumanoff, Cyril. “Armenia and Georgia.” In Cambridge Medieval History, vol. 4/1, 593–636 and 983–1009. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1966.Find this resource:
Toumanoff, Cyril. “Chronology of the Early Kings of Iberia.” Traditio 25 (1969): 1–33.Find this resource:
Toumanoff, Cyrille. Les dynasties de la Caucasie chrétienne de l’Antiquité jusqu’au XIXe siècle: Tables généalogiques et chronologiques. Rome: n.p., 1990.Find this resource:
Trever, K. V. Ocherki po istorii i kul’ture kavkazskoi Albanii IV v. do n.e.-VII v. n.e. Moskva—Leningrad: Izd-vo AN SSSR, 1959.Find this resource:
Van Esbroeck, Michel. Les plus anciens homéliaires géorgiens: étude descriptive et historique. Louvain-la-Neuve: Institut Orientaliste Université Catholique de Louvain, 1975.Find this resource:
(2.) The history and deployment of such metageographical concepts are investigated in Martin W. Lewis and Kären E. Wigen, The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997).
(3.) For modern resonances, see Paul Manning, Strangers in a Strange Land: Occidentalist Publics and Orientalist Geographies in Nineteenth-Century Georgian Imaginaries (Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2012).
(4.) Manning, Strangers in a Strange Land, and on the development of the Georgian national movement, Ronald Grigor Suny, The Making of the Georgian Nation, rev. ed. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994). See also Stephen F. Jones, Socialism in Georgian Colors: The European Road to Social Democracy 1883–1917 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005).
(5.) See Peter B. Golden, “The Turkic Peoples and Caucasia,” in Transcaucasia, Nationalism, and Social Change: Essays in the History of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, rev. ed., ed. Ronald Grigor Suny (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996), 45–67.
(6.) For an overview of the Dmanisi finds, see Abesalom Vekua and Davitʻ Lortʻkʻipʻaniże, Dmaniseli hominidebi (Tʻbilisi: Sakʻartʻvelos erovnuli muzeumi, 2011). On Skull 5, dated to 1.8 million years ago, see Brian Switek, “Beautiful Skull Spurs Debate on Human History,” National Geographic (October 19, 2013).
(7.) In this essay, “Caucasian” is never used in a modern racial sense but invariably refers to the area named for the Caucasus Mountains. “Transcaucasus” (cf. Zakavkaz’e, Закавказье) is avoided because of its later Russian perspective.
(8.) For Caucasia and Anatolia, see Antonio Sagona, “Anatolia and the Transcaucasus: Themes and Variations ca. 6400–1500 B.C.E.,” in The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Anatolia, eds. Sharon R. Steadman and Gregory McMahon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 683–703. The cultural complexes of remote antiquity tended to be transregional and, in any event, do not strictly correspond to later political, cultural, and ethno-national categories and boundaries.
(9.) For an English-language introduction to these remote epochs, see K. Kushnareva, The Southern Caucasus in Prehistory: Stages of Cultural and Socioeconomic Development from the Eighth to the Second Millennium BC (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum, 1997).
(10.) For recent research on Kura-Araxes culture, see International Symposium on East Anatolia/South Caucasus Cultures: Proceedings I and II, eds. Mehmet Işıklı and Birol Can, 2 vols. (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge Scholars, 2015).
(11.) Kevin Tuite, “Early Georgian,” in The Ancient Languages of Asia Minor, ed. Roger D. Woodard (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 145. For Urartu and its inscriptions, see: G. Melikishvili (Melikʻišvili), Drevnevostochnye materialy po istorii narodov Zakavkaz’ia, vol. 1 (Tʻbilisi: Izd-vo AN Gruzinskoi SSR, 1954); idem, Urartskie klinoobraznye nadpisi (Moskva: Izd-vo AN SSSR, 1960); and K. V. Arutiunian, Korpus urartskikh klinoobraznykh nadpisei (Erevan: Gitutʻyun, 2001).
(12.) Bruno Jacobs, “Achaimenidenherrschaft in der Kaukasus-Region und in Cis-Kaukasien,” Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan 32 (2000): 43–102. For a survey of Achaemenid activity in Caucasia, see Florian Knauß, “Achämeniden in Transkaukasien,” in Fenster zur Forschung: Museumsvorträge der Museen der Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität Münster, eds. Sunia Lausberg and Klemens Oekentorp (Münster: Lit, 1999), 81–114.
(13.) For a reconstruction of the Achaemenid satrapal network, see Bruno Jacobs, Die Satrapienverwaltung im Perserreich zur Zeit Darius’ III, Tübinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients, series B, vol. 87 (Wiesbaden: L. Reichert, 1994).
(14.) Lori Khatchadourian, Imperial Matter: Ancient Persia and the Archaeology of Empires (Oakland: University of California Press, 2016). See also Elspeth R. M. Dusinberre, Empire, Authority, and Autonomy in Achaemenid Anatolia (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2013).
(15.) “Persianate” is avoided here because of its usual association with Islam.
(16.) See, e.g., Achaemenid Culture and Local Traditions in Anatolia, Southern Caucasus and Iran: New Discoveries, eds. Askold Ivantchik and Vakhtang Licheli = Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia 13 (2007); and Julon Gagoshidze, “The Achaemenid Influence in Iberia,” Boreas 19 (1996): 125–136. Cf. Otar Lordkipanidze, “Introduction to the History of Caucasian Iberia and Its Culture of the Achaemenid and Post-Achaemenid Periods,” Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan 32 (2000): 3–19.
(17.) See the excellent investigation by Sebouh David Aslanian, From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011).
(18.) On Armazic, see Konstantine Ceretʻeli (Tsereteli), Semitologiuri da kʻartʻvelologiuri študiebi = Semitological and Kartvelological Studies (Tʻbilisi: Logosi, 2001).
(19.) Greek inscriptions found on Georgian territory are catalogued in Sakʻartʻvelos berżnuli carcerebis korpusi, Tʻinatʻin Qauxčʻišvili ed., 3 vols. (Tʻbilisi: Logosi, 1999–2000).
(20.) David Braund, Georgia in Antiquity: A History of Colchis and Transcaucasian Iberia 550 BC–AD 562 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1994), 213–215, including a translation of the Armazi Bilingual. For this important inscription, see also Konstantine Ceretʻeli, Šenišvnebi armazis bilingvis arameul tekʻstze = Zamechaniia k arameiskomu tekstu armazskoi bilingvy (Tʻbilisi: Mecʻniereba, 1992); and G. V. Tsereteli, Armazskaia bilingva (Tʻbilisi: Izd-vo AN Gruzinskoi SSR, 1941).
(21.) For Georgian, see especially Mzia Andronikašvili’s Narkvevebi iranul-kʻartʻuli enobrivi urtʻiertʻobidan, vol. 1 (Tʻbilisi: Tʻbilisis universitetis gamomcʻemloba, 1966). A second installment was published in 1996. See also the overview by Th. Chkeidze (Tʻ. Čʻxeiże), “Georgia: Linguistic Contacts with Iranian Languages,” in Encyclopædia Iranica, ed. Ehsan Yarshater, vol. 10/5 (New York: Bibliotheca Persica Press, 2001), 486–490.
(22.) Stephen H. Rapp Jr., The Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes: Caucasia and the Iranian Commonwealth in Late Antique Georgian Literature (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014), 121–124.
(23.) Florian Knauß, “Der ‘Palast’ von Gumbat und die Rolle der Achaimeniden im transkaukasischen Iberien,” Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan 32 (2000): 119–130.
(24.) Rapp, Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes, 204–220 et sqq. On Mcʻxetʻa see also Gocha R. Tsetskhladze, “Ancient West and East: Mtskheta, Capital of Caucasian Iberia,” Mediterranean Archaeology 19/20 (2006/2007): 75–107.
(25.) Rapp, Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes, 226–227; and M. K. Andronikashvili (Mzia Andronikašvili), “Onomasticheskie elementy grecheskikh nadpisei severnogo Prichernomor’ia v kartvel’skikh iazykakh,” in Kavkaz i Sredizemnomor’e (Tʻbilisi: Izd-vo Tbilisskogo Universiteta, 1980), 37–41.
(26.) For a detailed discussion of the circa 800 provenance of The Life of the Kings and the editorial activity of the 11th-century archbishop Leonti Mroveli, see Stephen H. Rapp Jr., Studies in Medieval Georgian Historiography: Early Texts and Eurasian Contexts, Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 601, Subsidia 113 (Louvain: In aedibus Peeters, 2003), especially 101–168. See also E. Xoštaria-Brose, Leonti mroveli da “kʻartʻlis cʻxovreba” (Tʻbilisi: Mecʻnereiba, 1996).
(27.) Rapp, Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes, 227–232.
(28.) The script itself could be regarded as a sacred object: Antony Eastmond, “Textual Icons: Viewing Inscriptions in Medieval Georgia,” in Viewing Inscriptions in the Late Antique and Medieval World, ed. Eastmond (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 76–98.
(29.) Cf. the uncritical report by Tara Isabella Burton, “Ancient Script Spurs Rethinking of Historic ‘Backwater,’” National Geographic (September 16, 2015), http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/150916-caucasus-writing-republic-of-georgia-grakliani-iron-age/.
(30.) Braund, Georgia in Antiquity, 40–47.
(31.) See now Jost Gippert, “The ‘Bun-Turks’ in Ancient Georgia,” in Studies on Iran and the Caucasus Presented to Prof. Garnik S. Asatrian on the Occasion of His 60th Birthday, eds. Uwe Bläsing, Victoria Arakelova, and Matthias Weinreich (Boston: Brill, 2015), 25–43. For Middle Iranian bun, see D. N. MacKenzie, A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary, corrected ed. (London: Oxford University Press, 1986), 20.
(32.) Peter B. Golden, “Cumanica I: The Qipčaqs in Georgia,” Archivum Eurasiae Medii Aevii 4 (1984): 45–87.
(33.) The rich archaeological finds of Aramzis-qʻevi are documented in A.M. Apakidze (Apʻakʻiże) et al., Mtskheta: Itogi arkheologicheskikh issledovanii, vol. 1 (Tʻbilisi: Izd-vo AN Gruzinskoi SSR, 1958), with English summary, “Archaeological Excavations at Armazis-khevi Near Mzkhetha in 1937–1946,” 275–282.
(34.) On the historical provenance of the Georgian script, see Tʻamaz Gamqreliże, Ceris anbanuri sistema da żveli kʻartʻuli damcerloba (Tʻbilisi: Tʻbilisis universitetis gamomcʻemloba, 1989); translated into English as Thomas V. Gamkrelidze, Alphabetic Writing and the Old Georgian Script: A Typology and Provenience of Alphabetic Writing Systems (Delmar, NY: Caravan Books, 1994). The recently deciphered Caucasian Albanian script is discussed in Zaza Alekʻsiże, Kavkasiis albanetʻis damcerloba, ena da mcerloba (Tʻbilisi: Bibliur-tʻeologiuri instituti, 2003).
(35.) For this context, see Charles G. Häberl, “Iranian Scripts for Aramaic Languages: The Origin of the Mandaic Script,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 341 (2006): 53–62.
(36.) Versions of her vita are preserved in Georgian and Armenian: Iakob Cʻurtaveli, Martwlobay šušanikisi, ed. Ilia Abulaże (Tpʻilisi: Saxelmcipʻo universitetis gamomcʻemloba, 1938); and P. M. Muradyan, Surb Šušaniki vkayabanutʻyunə (Erevan: Gitutʻyun, 1996).
(37.) Lela Patariże, “Kʻartʻveltʻa gakʻristianeba ‘kʻartʻlis cʻxovrebis’ mixedvitʻ,” in Kʻristianoba sakʻartʻveloši (istoriul-etʻnologiuri gamokvleveni) (Tʻbilisi: n.p., 2000), 8–16, with English summary, 126.
(38.) James R. Russell, Zoroastrianism in Armenia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, 1987); Rapp, Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes, 142–160; and Albert de Jong, “Armenian and Georgian Zoroastrianism,” in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism, eds. Michael Stausberg and Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina (Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2015), 119–128. On the diversity of late antique Zoroastrianism, see: Patricia Crone, The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran: Rural Revolt and Local Zoroastrianism (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2012); and Michael Shenkar, Intangible Spirits and Graven Images: The Iconography of Divinities in the Pre-Islamic Iranian World (Boston: Brill, 2014).
(39.) Tamila Mgaloblishvili and Stephen H. Rapp Jr., “Manichaeism in Late Antique Georgia?,” in “In Search of Truth”: Augustine, Manichaeism and Other Gnosticism: Studies for Johannes van Oort at Sixty, eds. Jacob Albert van den Berg, Annemaré Kotzé, Tobias Nicklas, and Madeleine Scopello (Boston: Brill, 2011), 263–290.
(40.) Cf. A. Plontke-Luening, “Narratives about Early Church Buildings in Armenia and Georgia,” in Sovremennye problem izucheniia istorii Tserkvi: Sbornik dokladov mezhdunarodnoi konferentsii MGU (Moskva: Palomnik, 2014), 454–469.
(41.) On Vaxtang and his complex image, see: Rapp, Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes, 271–329; idem, Studies in Medieval Georgian Historiography, 197–242; and Bernadette Martin-Hisard, “Le roi géorgien Vaxt’ang Gorgasal dans l’histoire et dans la legende,” in Temps, mémoire, tradition au môyen age (Aix-en-Provence: Université de Provence, 1983), 207–242.
(42.) The image of Vaxtang as defender of Christendom represents an engagement with Byzantine imperial ideology and almost certainly belongs to the 9th-century layer of the text. For Byzantine ideology of this epoch, see John Haldon, The Empire That Would Not Die: The Paradox of Eastern Roman Survival, 640–740 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016).
(43.) Rapp, Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes, 243–258.
(44.) Stephen H. Rapp Jr., “The Georgian Nimrod,” in The Armenian Apocalyptic Tradition: A Comparative Perspective, eds. Kevork B. Bardakjian and Sergio La Porta, Studia in Veteris Testamenti Pseudepigrapha 25 (Boston: Brill, 2014), 188–216.
(45.) For this date and the interregnum, see Cyril Toumanoff, Studies in Christian Caucasian History (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1963), 357–416.
(46.) On the Armenian “protectorate,” see Nina Garsoïan, “The Marzpanate (428–652),” in The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times, ed. Richard G. Hovannisian, vol. 1 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997), 112.
(47.) On monasticism in Georgia, see the essays in Samonastro cʻxovreba udabnoši: gareja da kʻristianuli aġmosavletʻi = Desert Monasticism: Gareja and the Christian East, ed. Zaza Sxirtlaże (Tʻbilisi: Garejis kvlevis cʻentri, 2001).
(48.) The development of Caucasian “national” churches is explored in Nina Garsoïan, L’Église arménienne et le grand schisme d’Orient, Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 574, Subsidia 100 (Louvain: In aedibus Peeters, 1999).
(49.) Rapp, Studies in Medieval Georgian Historiography, 413–440.
(50.) The contours of this network and important Georgian cultural centers abroad are discussed in Levan Menabde, Żveli kʻartʻuli mcerlobis kerebi, 2 vols. (Tʻbilisi: Tʻbilisis universitetis gamomcʻemloba, 1961 and 1980).
(51.) See the essays in Georgian Athonites and Christian Civilization, ed. David Muskhelishvili (New York: Nova, 2013). Some of the contributions, including those of Alessandro Bruni and Stephen Rapp, were carelessly printed without footnotes.
(52.) In turn, Georgian witnesses are vital for the reconstruction of the Jerusalemite liturgy: Peter Jeffery, “The Lost Chant Tradition of Early Christian Jerusalem: Some Possible Melodic Survivals in the Byzantine and Latin Chant Repertories,” Early Music History 11 (1992): 151–190; and Daniel Galadza, “Sources for the Study of Liturgy in Post-Byzantine Jerusalem (638–1187 CE),” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 67 (2013): 7594, esp. 86–88.
(53.) There are many popular treatments of this important era, including Roin Metreveli, The Golden Age: Georgia from the 11th Century to the First Quarter of the 13th Century (Tʻbilisi: Artanuji, 2010).
(54.) For the pan-regional background of the Bagratids, see the various works of Toumanoff, including Studies in Christian Caucasian History. See also Stephen H. Rapp Jr., “Recovering the Pre-national Caucasian Landscape,” in Mythical Landscapes Then and Now: The Mystification of Landscapes in [the] Search for National Identity, eds. Ruth Büttner and Judith Peltz (Erevan: Antares, 1996), 13–52. On Armeno-Georgian families, see A. P. Kazhdan, Armiane v sostave gospodstvuiushchego klassa vizantiiskoi imperii v XI–XII vv. (Erevan: Izd-vo AN Armianskoi SSR, 1975).
(55.) Stephen H. Rapp Jr., “Imagining History at the Crossroads: Persia, Byzantium, and the Architects of the Written Georgian Past,” vol. 2 (unpublished PhD diss., University of Michigan–Ann Arbor, 1997), 560–581.
(56.) Antony Eastmond, Royal Imagery in Medieval Georgia (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998).
(57.) For Islamic aspects of the self-image of the Armenian Bagratids, see Lynn Jones, Between Islam and Byzantium: Aghtʻamar and the Visual Construction of Medieval Armenian Kingship (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007). See also: Antony Eastmond, “Other Encounters: Popular Belief and Cultural Convergence in Anatolia and the Caucasus,” in Islam and Christianity in Medieval Anatolia, eds. A. C. S. Peacock, Bruno De Nicola, and Sas Nur Yıldız (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2015), 183–215; idem, “Inscriptions and Authority in Ani,” in Der Doppeladler: Byzanz und die Seldschuken in Anatolien vom späten 11. bis zum 13. Jahrhundert, eds. Neslihan Asutay-Effenberger and Falko Daim (Mainz: Verlag des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums, 2014), 71–84; and Seta B. Dadoyan, The Armenians in the Medieval Islamic World: Paradigms of Interaction, Seventh to Fourteenth Centuries, vol. 1 (London: Transaction, 2011).
(58.) Lynda Garland and Stephen Rapp, “Mary ‘of Alania’: Woman and Empress between Two Worlds,” in Byzantine Women: Varieties of Experience 800–1200, ed. Garland (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), 91–123.
(59.) Cyril Toumanoff, “On the Relationship between the Founder of the Empire of Trebizond and the Georgian Queen Thamar,” Speculum 15 (1940): 299–312. See also A. A. Vasiliev, “The Foundation of the Empire of Trebizond (1204–1222),” Speculum 11 (1936): 3–37.
(60.) Life of King of Kings Davitʻ II in Kʻartʻlis cʻxovreba, vol. 1, Qauxčʻišvili ed., 334; Thomson, trans., 325. For Šarvān, see V. Minorsky, A History of Sharvān and Darband in the 10th–11th Centuries (Cambridge, U.K.: Heffer, 1958).
(61.) On Caucasia and the Seljuqs, see the publications of A. C. S. Peacock, including “Georgia and the Anatolian Turks in the 12th and 13th Centuries,” Anatolian Studies 56 (2006): 127–146; and “Nomadic Society and the Seljūq Campaigns in Caucasia,” Iran and the Caucasus 9.2 (2005): 205–230.
(62.) Rapp, Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes, especially 353–375. Rapp proposes the title Hambavi mepʻetʻa for the lost Georgian myth-history.
(63.) For the rejuvenated Irano-Caucasian nexus under the Safavids, see, e.g., Iran and the World in the Safavid Age, Willem Floor and Edmund Herzig eds. (New York: I. B. Tauris, 2012); and Hirotake Maeda, “Parsadan Gorgijanidze’s Exile in Shushtar: A Biographical Episode of a Georgian Official in the Service of the Safavids,” Journal of Persianate Studies 1 (2008): 218–229.
(64.) W. E. D. Allen, A History of the Georgian People from the Beginning down to the Russian Conquest in the Nineteenth Century (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., 1932).
(65.) David Marshall Lang, The Georgians (New York: Praeger, 1966).
(66.) Donald Rayfield, Edge of Empires: A History of Georgia (London: Reaktion Books, 2012).
(67.) Ronald Grigor Suny, The Making of the Georgian Nation, rev. ed. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), originally published in 1988.
(68.) Transcaucasia, Nationalism, and Social Change: Essays in the History of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, ed. Ronald Grigor Suny, rev. ed. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996).
(69.) Valeri Silogava and Kakha Shengelia, History of Georgia from the Ancient Times through the “Rose Revolution” (Tʻbilisi: Caucasus University Publishing House, 2007).
(70.) Ivane Javaxišvili, Kʻartʻveli eris istoria, repr. in his Tʻxzulebani, vols. 1–2 (Tʻbilisi: Tʻbilisis saxelmcipʻo universiteti, 1979 and 1983).
(71.) Sakʻartʻvelos istoriis narkvevebi, esp. vols. 1–3 (Tʻbilisi: Sabčotʻa sakʻartʻvelo, 1970–1979).
(72.) Alexander Mikaberidze, Historical Dictionary of Georgia (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2007).
(73.) Korneli Kekeliże, Kʻartʻuli literaturis istoria, esp. vol. 1 (Tʻbilisi: Sabčotʻa sakʻartʻvelo, 1960).
(74.) Michael Tarchnišvili, Geschichte der kirchlichen georgischen Literatur, Studi e Testi, vol. 185 (Città del Vaticano: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1955).
(75.) Donald Rayfield, The Literature of Georgia: A History (Oxford: Clarendon, 1994).
(76.) Levan Menabde, Żveli kʻartʻuli mcerlobis kerebi, 2 vols. (Tʻbilisi: Tʻbilisis universitetis gamomcʻemloba, 1961 and 1980).
(77.) Cyril Toumanoff, Studies in Christian Caucasian History (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1963).
(78.) Nicholas Adontz with Nina G. Garsoïan, Armenia in the Period of Justinian: The Political Conditions Based on the Naxarar System (Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 1970).
(79.) E.g., K istorii drevnei Gruzii (Tʻbilisi: Izd-vo AN GSSR, 1959); and Żiebani sakʻartʻvelos, kavkasiisa da axlo aġmosavletʻis żveli istoriis dargši (Tʻbilisi: Jali, 1999).
(80.) Charles King, The Black Sea: A History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
(81.) James Forsyth, The Caucasus: A History (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2013).
(82.) David Braund, Georgia in Antiquity: A History of Colchis and Transcaucasian Iberia 550 BC–AD 562 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1994); David Marshall Lang, “Iran, Armenia and Georgia,” in Cambridge History of Iran, ed. E. Yarshater, vol. 3/1 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 505–536; Iberia and Rome: The Excavations of the Palace at Dedoplis Gora and the Roman Influence in the Caucasian Kingdom of Iberia, eds. A. Furtwängler, I. Gagoshidze, H. Löhr, and N. Ludwig (Langenweißbach: Beier & Beran, 2008); Mariam Lordkipanidze (Lortʻkʻipʻaniże), Essays on Georgian History (Tʻbilisi: Mecʻniereba, 1994); Bernadette Martin-Hisard, “Le roi géorgien Vaxt’ang Gorgasal dans l’histoire et dans la legende,” in Temps, mémoire, tradition au môyen age (Aix-en-Provence: Université de Provence, 1983), 207–242; and Ancient Christianity in the Caucasus, ed. Tamila Mgaloblishvili (Richmond: Curzon/Caucasus World, 1998).
(83.) Michel Tamarati, L’Église géorgienne des origines jusqu’a nos jours (Rome: Imprimerie de la Société Typographico-Editrice Romaine, 1910); and Languages and Literatures of Eastern Christianity: Georgian, eds. Stephen H. Rapp Jr. and Paul Crego, The Worlds of Eastern Christianity, 300–1500, vol. 5 (Farnham: Ashgate/Variorum, 2012). See also 20 Centuries of Christianity in Georgia, ed. Rismag Gordeziani (Tʻbilisi: Logosi, 2004).
(84.) Nina Garsoïan, L’Église arménienne et le grand schisme d’Orient, Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 574, Subsidia 100 (Louvain: In aedibus Peeters, 1999).
(85.) P. M. Muradyan, Surb Šušaniki vkayabanutʻyunə (Erevan: Gitutʻyun, 1996).
(86.) Stephen H. Rapp, Jr., The Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes: Caucasia and the Iranian Commonwealth in Late Antique Georgian Literature (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014).
(87.) Mzia Andronikašvili, Narkvevebi iranul-kʻartʻuli enobrivi urtʻiertʻobidan, vol. 1 (Tʻbilisi: Tʻbilisis universitetis gamomcʻemloba, 1966), with extensive English summary, “Studies in Iranian-Georgian Linguistic Contacts,” 545–571.
(88.) E.g., the essays in Konstantine Ceretʻeli (Tsereteli), Semitologiuri da kʻartʻvelologiuri študiebi = Semitological and Kartvelological Studies (Tʻbilisi: Logosi, 2001).
(89.) Antony Eastmond, Royal Imagery in Medieval Georgia (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998); Wachtang Djobadze, Early Medieval Georgian Monasteries in Historic Tao, Klarjetʻi, and Šavšetʻi (Stuttgart: F. Steiner, 1992); Roin Metreveli, The Golden Age: Georgia from the 11th Century to the First Quarter of the 13th Century (Tʻbilisi: Artanuji, 2010); Mariam Lordkipanidze, Georgia in the XI–XII Centuries, ed. George B. Hewitt (Tʻbilisi: Mecʻniereba, 1987); and Ocherki istorii Gruzii, vols. 2–3 (Tʻbilisi: Mecʻniereba, 1988 and 2002).
(90.) Caucasus during the Mongol Period—Der Kaukasus in der Mongolenzeit, eds. Jürgen Tubach, Sophia G. Vashalomidze, and Manfred Zimmer (Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2012).
(91.) Żveli kʻartʻuli agiograpʻiuli literaturis żeglebi, ed. Ilia Abulaże, vols. 1–2 (Tʻbilisi: Sakʻartʻvelos ssr mecʻnierebatʻa akademiis gamomcʻemloba, 1963/1964; and Mecʻniereba, 1967).
(92.) David Marshall Lang, Lives and Legends of the Georgian Saints, rev. ed. (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1976).
(93.) Georgian Monks on Mount Athos: Two Eleventh-Century Lives of the Hegoumenoi of Iviron, trans. Tamara Grdzelidze (London: Bennett and Bloom, 2009).
(94.) Bernadette Martin-Hisard, “Moines et monastères géorgiens du 9e siècle: La Vie de Saint Grigol de Xancta,” Revue des études byzantines 59 (2001): 5–95 and 60 (2002): 5–64. An English translation of this important source has recently been published but has apparently not been subject to the peer-review process of academic publications. It must therefore be used with caution: George Merchule, The Life of St. Gregory of Khandzta, Theophan Eirik Halvorson trans. (T ʻbilisi [?]: The Diocese of Nikozi and Tskhinvali, 2015).
(95.) Żveli kʻartʻuli agiograpʻiuli literaturis żeglebi, ed. Abulaże, vol. 1, 81–163.
(96.) Constantine B. Lerner, The Wellspring of Georgian Historiography: The Early Medieval Historical Chronicle The Conversion of K’art’li and The Life of St. Nino (London: Bennett and Bloom, 2004).
(97.) Kʻartʻlis cʻxovreba, ed. Simon Qauxčʻišvili, 2 vols. (Tʻbilisi: Saxelgami, 1955; and Sabčotʻa sakʻartʻvelo, 1959).
(98.) Kʻartʻlis cʻxovreba: The Georgian Royal Annals and Their Medieval Armenian Adaptation, ed. Stephen H. Rapp Jr., vol. 1 (Delmar, NY: Caravan Books, 1998).
(99.) Robert W. Thomson, Rewriting Caucasian History: The Medieval Armenian Adaptation of the Georgian Chronicles (Oxford: Clarendon, 1996). Davitʻis-dże’s eleventh-century history is not transmitted in all recensions of Kʻartʻlis cʻxovreba. For the updated Georgian text and an English translation, see Sumbat Davitʻis-dże, Cʻxorebay da ucqebay bagratoniantʻa, ed. Goneli Araxamia (Tʻbilisi: Mecʻniereba, 1990), translated in Rapp, Studies in Medieval Georgian Historiography, 337–412.
(100.) Kʻartʻlis cʻxovrebis żveli somxuri tʻargmani, ed. Ilia Abulaże (Tʻbilisi: Stalinis saxelobis tʻbilisis saxelmcipʻo universitetis gamomcʻemloba, 1953), repr. Kʻartʻlis cʻxovreba: The Georgian Royal Annals and Their Medieval Armenian Adaptation, Stephen H. Rapp Jr., vol. 2 (Delmar, NY: Caravan Books, 1998).
(101.) Kʻartʻlis cʻxovreba, ed. Roin Metreveli (Tʻbilisi: Artanuji, 2008); and History of Georgia: Kartlis Tskhovreba (Tʻbilisi: Artanuji, 2014).
(102.) Šotʻa Rustʻaveli, Vepʻxistqaosani, ed. A. Baramiże, K. Kekeliże, and A. Šaniże (Tʻbilisi: Saxelgami, 1951); and Shota Rustaveli, The Knight in the Panther’s Skin, trans. V. Urushadze (Tʻbilisi: Sabčotʻa sakʻartʻvelo, 1986).
(103.) Kʻartʻuli istoriuli sabutʻebi IX-XIII ss., eds. Tʻ. Enukʻiże, V. Silogava, and N. Šošiašvili (Tʻbilisi: Mecʻniereba, 1984). See also Kʻartʻuli istoriuli sabutʻebi XIV–XV saukuneebi, eds. Tʻinatʻin Enukʻiże, Nino Tʻarxnišvili, and Babilina Lominaże (Tʻbilisi: Xelnacertʻa erovnuli cʻentri, 2013).
(104.) Kʻartʻuli carcerebis korpusi, vol. 1: Aġmosavletʻ da samxretʻ sakʻartʻvelo, ed. N. Šošiašvili (Tʻbilisi: Mecʻniereba, 1980).
(105.) Heinz Fähnrich, Die ältesten georgischen Inschriften (Boston: Brill, 2013); and Joseph Molitor, Monumenta Iberica Antiquora: Textus Chanmeti et Haemeti ex Inscriptionibus, Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 166, Subsidia 10 (Louvain: L. Durbecq, 1956).
(106.) David Marshall Lang, Studies in the Numismatic History of Georgia in Transcaucasia, Numismatic Notes and Monographs 130 (New York: American Numismatic Society, 1955).
(107.) E. A. Pakhomov, Monety Gruzii (Tʻbilisi: Mecʻniereba, 1970); and D. G. Kapanadze, Gruzinskaia numizmatika (Moskva: Izd-vo AN SSSR, 1955). See now Giorgi Dundua and Tʻedo Dundua, Kʻartʻuli numizmatika, part 1 (Tʻbilisi: Artanuji, 2006).
(108.) Shota Amiranashvili, Istoriia gruzinskogo iskusstva (Moskva: Izd-vo Iskusstvo, 1963).
(109.) Medieval Georgian Ecclesiastical Art in the Georgian National Museum, ed. Nana Burčulaże (Tʻbilisi: Sakʻartʻvelos erovnuli muzeumi, 2012); and National Treasures of Georgia, ed. Ori Z. Soltes (London: Philip Wilson Publishers, 1999).
(110.) Annegret Plontke-Lüning, Frühchristliche Architektur in Kaukasien: Die Entwicklung des christlichen Sakralbaus in Lazika, Iberien, Armenien, Albanien und den Grenzregionen vom 4. bis zum 7. Jh., Österreichische Akadamie der Wissenschaften Philosophisch-historische Klasse Denkschriften 359 (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2007).
(111.) Armen Kazarian, Tserkovnaia arkhitektura stran Zakavkaz’ia VI veka: formirovanie i razvitie traditsii, 4 vols.(Moskva: Locus Standi, 2012–2013).
(112.) Charles Burney and David Marshall Lang, The Peoples of the Hills: Ancient Ararat and Caucasus (New York: Praeger, 1972); K. Kh. Kushnareva, The Southern Caucasus in Prehistory: Stages of Cultural and Socioeconomic Development from the Eighth to the Second Millennium BC (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum, 1997); Otar Lordkipandize, Nasledie drevnei Gruzii (Tʻbilisi: Mecʻniereba, 1989); Gocha R. Tsetskhladze, Die Griechen in der Kolchis (Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert, 1998); and Archaeology in the Borderlands: Investigations in Caucasia and Beyond, eds. Adam Smith and Karen Rubinson (Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, 2003).
(113.) Abesalom Vekua and Davitʻ Lortʻkʻipʻaniże, Dmaniseli hominidebi (Tʻbilisi: Sakʻartʻvelos erovnuli muzeumi, 2011).
(114.) Robert H. Hewsen, Armenia: A Historical Atlas, Christopher C. Salvatico cartographer-in-chief (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001).
(115.) Sakʻartʻvelos istoriis atlasi, eds. D. Musxelišvili and D. Berżenišvili (Tʻbilisi: Artanuji, 2016).
(116.) D. Berżenišvili, Narkvevebi sakʻartʻvelos istoriuli geograpʻiidan, multiple vols. (Tʻbilisi: Mecʻniereba, 1979-).
(117.) Arthur Tsutsiev, Atlas of the Ethno-political History of the Caucasus, trans. Nora Seligman Favorov (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014).