The issues of Caucasian Albania (Northern Azerbaijan) in Ahatanhel Krymsky studies: historical, geographical, and ethnographical aspects.Halymonenko Hryhory

   The last decade has demanded from Ukrainian science the development of humanitarian branches of education one wouldn’t dare to think of during the times of communist ideology. One of such problems is a new comprehension of modern political history, which cannot be solved without the unbiased approach to the history of ancient peoples and historical geography, of course.

   The last decade showed to the world indeed the fatal consequences of methodology based on concept of creating by order, which was used for writing and propaganda the whole nations histories. Just therefore, the whole regions in many countries stay at the stage of human sense, economics and ecology destruction. Unfortunately, Azerbaijan couldn’t avoid the same destiny.

The boundaries determination of the country was dictated from outside and bringing to the forcible decisions of so-called scientific base brought about a lot of problems, including those of political nature, to Azerbaijan as well as to other countries involved into the swirl of communist ideology.

Natural wealth of Azerbaijan, particularly the huge oil deposits and the riches of the Caspian Sea, attract the world society’s attention to this country, in spite of having been represented to the world by the Kremlin as a secondary one. The wish to continue using the method of dictation in the sphere of economic planning compels some countries to resort to the specific elucidation of historical geography of former USSR republics.

This matter also fully concerns the territory of Azerbaijan, and the historical Caucasian Albania in particular.

Ukraine as a member of GUUAM organization is interested in the very close cooperation with its strategic partner Azerbaijan, which implies mutual relations in all branches of humanitarian science and politics.

Realizing the huge intellectual potential of Ukrainian science, the Kremlin excluded the branch of oriental studies from its further plans of development. Having annihilated all participants of this sphere headed by Ahatanhel Krymsky in the 30s, the communist centre provided the understanding of Oriental issues, which satisfied only its interests.

For Ukrainian oriental studies under new conditions it would be quite incorrect to aim only at countries of so-called «classical languages» of the Middle East: Turkey, Iran, and Arabic countries. Very soon we are going to make sure that Ukrainian oriental studies ought to deal with Caucasian studies long ago, as Russian oriental school did. Unfortunately we should admit that the scientific views of the best representatives of that school, as for example Bartold and Bertels, get somewhat tendentious interpretation nowadays. Of cause, it was caused by political guidelines of countries involved in the range of Caucasian problems. Since the most developed centres of Caucasian studies reside in Moscow and St. Petersburg, their officials’ conclusions may be influenced on by political tendencies, which are generally inherent to humanitarian science of any country. If we take into consideration that the number of Azerbaijan Diaspora in Europe and America and, consequently, the number of scientists of Azerbaijan origin in scientific centres of those countries is comparatively small, the issues of the political history and historical geography of Azerbaijan are scarcely and, perhaps, tendentiously dealt with there.

Therefore, it seems that the most important problem of the Azerbaijan history science is not the preserving the vital researches inside the country, but bringing its burning problems outside Azerbaijan as well, to educate and support the scientific manpower in those countries, which are or may become the strategic partners of Azerbaijan.

The department of Oriental Studies of Taras Shevchenko University of Kiev will most probably become the most prospective scientific centre in Ukraine where the Azerbaijan studies can be successfully developed. Indonesian, Hebrew, Korean, Urdu languages are studied here along with so-called «classical languages». In addition, such new specialties as Uzbek Studies and Georgian Studies were launched at our Department for the first time in the history of Ukrainian Oriental Studies. For the time being the Azerbaijan language is studied as a secondary specialty at the Turkish language Section. However this comparatively narrow specialization doesn’t let deal tightly with the problems of the whole system of the Azerbaijan Studies science.

It is reasonable that the topics of this conference attracted attention of the Ukrainian delegation. After all, the patriarchy of our Oriental Studies Ahatanhel Krymsky, the author of the brilliant research «Nizami and his epoch», was closely connected with the beginnings of Ukrainian Oriental Studies. It is indicative that A. Krymsky repeatedly applied to the problem of Caucasian Albania. Krymsky published his great research «Pages from the history of Northern or Caucasian Azerbaijan (Classical Albania). Kabala. Sheky» in collections «To Serhiy Fedorovich Oldenburg» (1934) and «To commemoration of academician N.Y.Marra» (1938).

Besides , many articles, touching the history and culture of Azerbaijan, which were published in various encyclopedias, came from Krymsky ‘s pen. These are the articles about Khazars, Shirvan khanate, Nizami, Hagani, Burhaneddin, Fuzuli. A young Azerbaijan researcher who early died Valery Marchenko elucidated the role of A. Krymsky, as a pioneer of Ukrainian Azerbaijan studies in his research. Ancient

Azerbaijan literature in Krymsky works» (Magazine Radyanske literaturoznavstvo. -l97l. — p.138.l40).

In the series of articles dedicated to «Caucasian Albania, Krymsky gives thoroughly collected bibliography on the subject of research, hence we can conclude, that before his publication the topic was little learned. The most valuable thing in these publications is the method of research that Ukrainian Azerbaijan researchers are intended to apply in their further researches. In determining the ethnic structure of Kabala and Shaky population, Krymsky proceeds above all from historical sources (Strabon, Ptolemeus’ «Geography», Masudi). He compares this material with the works of contemporary European authors, often calling in question their conclusions, as for example I. Markvarts. By the way, he calls even Kagankatvatsi a «bad stylist».

Krymsky represents a broad panorama of belief changes in this region of Azerbaijan: from verification of ancient Albanian sanctuary of the Moon, in which human sacrifices as well as sun worshiping took place till the Christianity and Islam. Krymsky makes a conclusion, that Kabala (Kabalaka) and Shaky were the cities with big political authorities in the first years of the new era.

Christianity spread in Albania in 4th century.

At the same time it is known that Sevada-Ishhan from Shaky was subordinate to a caliphate governor of Azerbaijan. Thus, we can observe mixed ethnic and confessional situation. Neither Arabic potentates, nor sovereign from Azerbaijan dynasty of Salarids considered Christianity to be of any political power. Most likely it was caused by diversity of ethnic structure in this region of Azerbaijan.

A.Krymsky came to a conclusion that Albanian native population consisted of Iberian-Caucasian representatives, that is a nation similar to Avar-Andians, Laks, Udins and Chechens. A. Krymsky also notes rather early tendency to turkization of this region too. Starting from the year of 620, when Khazar dominion was established and Kabala became the residence for Khazar rulers, this region of Azerbaijan became more Turkic. In honor of Khazar prince Shat five Albanian towns were given the following names (they all begin with sh-): Shamhor, Shaki, Shirvan, Shamahi, Shaporan.

Unfortunately, A.Krymsky does not touch the issue of Khazars’ belief belonging, who  professed Judaism in certain period. Perhaps, there was a continuing process of conversion to Islam on their part. At least Masudi wrote that artisans and merchants in Albanian towns of the 10th century had been Moslems, and A. Krymsky also marked this.

A. Krymsky gives some interesting information about the political history of Azerbaijan Albania of the 10th century, when Arabic Shirvanshah removed from power the representatives of pro-Moslem dynasties, who had been appointed by Sasanids and could take shelter with Albanian rulers, as our orientalists considered.

Summing up all the above-mentioned, we should note that A.Krymsky’s works as well as the materials of this conference are a great help for Ukrainian Azerbaijan Studies for developing such branches of Caucasian Studies as political history and historical geography of Azerbaijan. We must admit that attempts to equalize the genetic origin of a nation with its state language are a great delusion of some orientalists. Hence we may call in question the right of Ukraine for the territory of Southern Ukraine, or the right of Russians, whose ethnic structure almost prevails in peoples of Ugrian-Finnic origin.

As it seems to us, the basis of Azerbaijan nation consists of representatives of the multilingual peoples of Caucasian family, particularly, of Albanians who in the course of time merged together with Turks-Oguzes who were united by a single language, which then became common for the whole nation. To my mind, when considering the issue of Azerbaijanis being autochthon, we should take into account not only a language factor, but a political (migration) factor as well, which resulted in forming the single Azerbaijan-Turkic nation.

We can definitely say that Albanians are a historical component of a modem Azerbaijan nation; consequently, the cultural heritage of Caucasian Albania was handed to the treasure house of Azerbaijan nation.

I offer to begin close cooperation in the sphere of science and education with the object of faithful elucidation of problematic issues concerning history, geography, ethnography, literature, and compilation of new programme on Azerbaijan Studies in educational establishments of Ukraine.



1.Krymsky A. Bibliographichniy pokazhchik. – Kiev, 1972. – 168 s.;

2.Krymsky A. Shodoznavstvo (Oriental Studies). Works in five volumes. – Kiev, 1974. – VolumeV. – 640 s.;

3.Marchenko V. Davnia azerbaijanska Literatura u doslijenniah A. Krymskoho. – Kiev, 1971. – Rad. literaturoznavstvo. – № 1. – S. 59 – 66;

4.Marchenko V. Oblicham na Shid. – Kiev, 1971. – Dnipro. – № 1. – S. 138– 140;  5.Alekseyev V. O sostoyanii Vostokovedeniya v Kieve. – K., 1923. kn.2, S.131 – 132;

6.Aliev K. Mitridat iz Atropateny. – Baku, 1986. – 192 s.;

7.Voprosy Kavckazskoy Albanii (redaktor Igrar Aliev). – Baku, 1962.– 1962. – 194 s.;

8. Antologiya pedagogicheskoy mysli Azerbaijana. – M.: 1989;

9. Abbasov A.A., Aliev I.G., Buniatov T.A. Azerbaijantsi. – Baku, 1998. – 299 s.

Halymonenko Hryhory Ivanovych doctor of philological science, professor, Head of Turkic language Chair, Dean of Oriental Languages Department at National Taras Shevchenko University of Kiev