On historical geography of Caucasian Albania, Armenia and the albanian ethnos. Farida Mamedova

     There is every reason to believe that both in ancient period and early Middle Ages the territory of Albania was located within one and the same bounds. In the north, the territory of Albania stretched out to Derbent, to Sulak, in the south — to Arax, from Iberia in the west to the Caspian Sea in the east. According to synchronous sources of the 7-8 centuries, for instance, Albanian author Movses Kalankatuyskiy and Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi, the southern border of Albania in the 1 century A.D. passed along the river of Arax. The Albanian historian points out that the borders of Albania remained unaltered till 7-8 centuries.

According to the Armenian tradition, the territory of Azerbaijan in the ancient times and early Middle Ages was located to the north of Kura. A territory between the left bank of the river of Kura (left bank) and the river of Arax — the region of Artsakh (today’s Karabakh), Utik and Paitakaran — was considered to be Armenian.

Following the year of 387, the territory joined Albania, though both ethnically and culturally it was regarded as an eastern region of Great Armenia.

There is no unanimity in the Armenian science as regards this concept. A group of Armenian scientists is prone to link the right bank of Kura to the conquests of Armenian king Artashes I in the 2 century B.C.; another group — to the conquests of Armenian king Tigran II  in the 1 century B.C. Research into ancient and early medieval sources, teaties entered into between the two Empires — Rome-Byzantine and Persia, as well as study of numismatic material, analysis of the realities of Albania and Armenia made us to conclude the following as regards the historical geography of Armenia and Albania.

Note that the strategical position of Albania (Caucasian-Derbent passages), geographical location of Albania, Georgia, Armenia, the then foreign and internal political realities in each of them contributed to the reliable securuty of the Albanian borders. From the 3 century B.C. to the 8 century A.D., i.e. for 1000 years (with few exceptions) the territory of Albania remained within one and the same bounds. Changes occasionally occurred in the north-west of Albania, in the region of Kambiena (5 century), as well as in the region of Kaspiana-Paitakaran (in the south-east) which was conquered by Armenia in the 2-1 centuries B.C. Note that in the 1-3 centuries it was a part of Atropatena, and since 3 century once and for all joined Albania. Noteworthy is the fact that Albania escaped the conquests of Tigran II (see three maps: Farida Mamedova. Political history and historical geography of Caucasian Albania. Baku, 1986, ch.II).

When I adduced proofs and exposed groundlessness of Armenian models of right-bank Albania’s being a part of Armenia, Prof. B.A.Arutunyan, a leading expert in historical geography of Armenia, officially stated that they refuse to acknowledge the current Armenian concept as outdated and are presently engaged in creating a new one concerning the territory of Albania (Conference in Moscow, 4-8 May 1983).

Let’s consider now the real historical geography of Armenia. The first Armenian state emerged in Asia Minor in the 6 century B.C. and existed till 428. From the 6 century B.C. to 3 century B.C. Armenia was made of two satrapies-provinces (Eastern Armenia and Western Armenia), subordinated first to the Persian Empire — Ahaemenides, then Alexander the Great, later Seleucids. In the 2-1 centuries B.C. (under Artashes I and Tigran II) the borders of the Armenian state were expanded. Defeated by Roman general Pompey, Tigran II lost all the conquered lands. He owned Armenia proper within the limits of Armenian plateau (Manandyan Y.A. Tigran the Second and Rome. Yerevan, 1943, p.27, 47-48; Farida Mamedova, op.cit., p.118-120).

It has still to be specified, what territory is meant under «Armenian plateau.« The point is that all the histories of the Armenian people, after the words that Pompey reserved « inherited kingdom«  for Tigran II there follows an explanation that «indigenous territory of Armenia, i.e. Armenian plateau« is meant. It has to be kept in mind that the very notion «Armenian plateau« is a thing in itself that has still be clarified, what territory, what land? Encyclopaedias explain that these were lands that covered upper reaches of all the rivers of Asia Minor. In such a case there was no dynamics in the territory of Armenia prior to Pompey’s campaign and after Tigran II was defeated by Pompey.

          In recurring to the realities of Armenia, it’d be appropriate to note that from the 1 century B.C. to 428 Armenia, by its political status, was a nominal state, in fact, a province of Persia and Rome-Byzantine. Armenia was ruled either by Persian or Roman placemen in the person of possibly Atropatenian or Iberian-Georgian princes. This meant that Armenian kings had no right of succession, i.e. were nominal, not actual rulers. In the period under consideration, Armenia was repeatedly divided between the two Empires — Rome and Persia, specifically  in 66 B.C.; 37; 298; 387, etc. According to these partitions, a part of Armenia joined Rome-Byzantine and was called Western Byzantine Armenia (to the west of the river of Euphrates) or Armenia Minor, another part joined Persia was called Eastern Persian Armenia (to the east of the river of Euphrates) or Armenia Major. Armenians started separating the histories of nationalities, a part of whom they formed.

It should be remembered that Armenians began creating their «History of Armenia« since 7 century, straight after the abolition of the Armenian statehood. Professor of Columbian University Nina Garsoyan was right in stating that «a picture imagined by Phaustos Buzand and Movses Khorenatsi reflects their own ideals — united Armenia counteracting menaces of Zoroastrian Persia.« In other words, they were tendentious in representing Armenia as a political unity. At the same time, Nina Garsoyan noted, Armenian Euphrate satrapies were autonomous and enjoyed greater political independence than the Armenian Arshakid state proper (Garsoyan N.G. Armenia in the 4 century. On specifying the terms «Armenia« and «loyalty«. — VON of AS of Arm. SSR, 1971, N 3). In addition to the above-stated, there is a great deal of facts, including the christening of the Armenian people headed by Trdat in the river of Euphrates, which is illustrative of Armenia’s stay far outside the bounds of Caucasus, namely in Asia Minor, along the two banks of the river of Euphrates.

There were attempts to revive the Armenian kingdoms in the 9-11 and the 12-14 centuries, the so called «wandering states.« Thus, in the 9-11 centuries, an Armenian state of Bagratides was established in the region of Kars, Erzerum (capital -Ani). As for subsequent centuries, an Armenian Cilician kingdom was created in the 12-14 centuries on another territory of Asia Minor, on the northern-eastern coast of the Mediterranean. Commencing from the 5 century, no Armenian political formations had ever been established on the territory of historical motherland of Armenians.

Note that since 15 century the Armenians closely link their history to the Armenian church. The importance of the Armenian church increasingly grew especially after the Catholicos See had been transferred from Cilicia to Echmiadzin, near Yerevan in 1441. Noteworthy is the fact that since that period the history of the Armenian people becomes known under the title of Echmiadzin period. At any rate, pre-revolutionary editions , i.e. editions prior to 1918 indicated the Echmiadzin period, while the Soviet historians consigned it to oblivion. Thus, sinse 15 century Echmiadzin is a consolidating, organizing force of the Armenian people, scattered around the world. So, from the 15 to the 20 centuries the Armenians were deprived of their own state.

With the emergence of Ottoman Empire the Armenians losm their hopes to create their own state on the historical motherland — the territory of Asia Minor they fix their eyes on Caucasius, historical Azerbaijan mature plans to purge Caucasus from Azeri Turks. Creators of the «History of Armenian people« introduce into a scientific turn a notion of Eastern Armenian, under which they mean Azerbaijanian lands only over the period from the 16 to 20 centuries, including Karabakh, Yerevan, Gyandja, Sunic — Zangezur. Thus, the notion «Eastern Armenia« shifts in space and time from the east of the river of Euphrates to Caucasus. Why Caucasus? The question is that a part of Armenians that lived in Eastern — Persian Armenia was actually placed in Eastern Anatolia. Here Armenians neighboured with Curds, as well as the Turkic — speaking confederation of the tribes of the 14-15 centuries Kara — goyunlu and Ag — goyunlu. Note that the Armenians witnessed the process of the creation of the states of these ethnoses in Southern Caucasus. In particular, in the 10 century Kurds created Nakhchevan — Arran Emirate, i.e. the state of Sheddadids, while the confederation of Turkic tribes created the states of  Kara — goyunlu and Ag — goyunlu to the South of Kura. The creation of these states is accouted for by the fact that, first, there had already been formed an ethnic environment for these state formations. In the 9 — 10 centuries, Kurds had already been incorporated into the space between the rivers of Kura and Arax. As for the Turkic — speaking tribes, since the 5 — 6 centuries they constitute here ethnic majority. It should also be taken into acount that there were local states in Caucasus, not Empires, which also provided opportunities for the creation of state formations. Tending toward Caucasus, Armenians nurtured and idea to purge the region from Caucasian Turks (a document of the 16 century is avalable), as well as dominate in Caucasus (Azerbaijan) due to Christians co-religionists — Albanians. For this to happen, it was necessary to benefit from geopolitics — Europe and Russia.

Under the title «History of Armenian people« of the 16, 17, 18 and 19 centuries its creators expound the history of the Azerbaijanian regions — Karabakh, Yerevan, Gyandja and Nakhchevan khanates. From the 18 century, Armenians via Poland penetrate into Russia, making all manner of promises to please the Russian courd, Russian Emperor Peter the Great by awaking his interest in the neccessity of liberating the so called «Eastern Armenia« from Turkish and Persian yoke. But, in fact, they concentrated on the liberation of Karabakh and Zangezur lands where the remainder of the Albanian Chistian population lived together with Turks.

In the Armenian editions, Karabakh Albanian melikstva ( feudal possessions, five in number) are called as Armenian. Even worse, the related historical developments were transferred to the history of the Armenian people.

A question of the liberation of Karabakh melikstva was put point — blank under Russian Empress Catherine the Second. A Potemkin`s draft on the subjrct said as follows: «…taking advantage of Persian muddle, it is imperative to seize Baku, Derbent, Azer lands, annex Ghilyan, to call the occupied territory «Albania« as the future heritage of Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich« (Khropovitskiy A.P., Readings in the Emperial Society of Ancient Russian history under Moscow University. Book 2, M, 1872, p.37). As is seen, the Russian governement was planning to revive not the Armenian but Albanian kingdom, giving due to historical realities. A letter of Potemkin addressed to Bezborodko says as follows: «It is possible to derive great profits from it and peacefully arrange this Armenian land (possibly, the town of Yerevan with environs which was an inherited propriety of Azerbaijanian khan with insignificant Armenian population — F.M.), and a part to form Albania, as well as the kingdom of Irakliy« (ЦГИA, ф.52, оп. 2 / 203, д. 37, л. 63-64).

It has to be kept in mind that Suvorov had blood relationship with Karabakh meliks. Hence, his interest and backing was evident. Suvorov`s plans included Albanian lands, as well as a territory around Yerevan that formed a part of Azerbaijanian Yerevan khanate.

According to the realities, Karabakh and Sheki khanates adopted the Russian citizenship in 1805. Over the period from 1806 to 1813 and from 1826 to 1827 all the khanates of North Azerbaijan were conquered.

Russian intrests made ir neccessary to raise the number of the Armenian population in Caucasus, concentrate a larger portion of Armenians — Christians with strong Russian orientation in the regions bordering on Turkey and Persia. By so doing, the Russian government sought to win the favor of the Armenian population of Turkey and thus gain a mainstay in Asia Minor. Thus, special articles were included in the Turkmanchay and Adrianopol Treaties, under which Armenians were allowed to settle down in Caucasus, in the lands of Georgia and Azerbaijan. It was the period where the first Armenian migrants came up in Karabakh and Zangezur. To accomodate these groups of Armenians, a special commission was set up. Note that in 1828-1830 only about 130,000 Armenians were settled in the region. Following the Turkmanchay Treaty in 1828, the Tsarist government created a state formation (division) unprecedented in the world history — the Armenian region composed of Azerbaijanian lands, including Yerevan,  Nakhchevan uyezds (districts) and Ordubad okrug (area) being administered by Tsarist officials. This was the first attempt to create an Armenian political formation on the territory of Azerbaijan. In 1849, the region was abolished and replaced by newly created Erivan, Nakhchevan, (Ordubad okrug),  Elizabeth and Baku provinces.

  In an effort to enlist the support of Turkish Armenians and hierarchially subordinate them to the pro-Russian patriarchate (Echmiadzin), the Tsarist government made concessions to the Armenian Echmiadzin church, including a provision, under which the independent Albanian church and Albanian patriarchate were abolished and subordinated to the Armenian-Gregorian church (ЦГИА, справка 1907 г., ф.821, оп. 139, (173) ед. хр.96). Later on (1909-1910), the Armenian-Gregorian church with the permission of Russian synod destroyed, among the old archives, the archives of the Albanian church to thus wipe off any traces of the Albanian literature (ЦГИА, ф.821, оп. 10, д.89). At the same time, the Armenian clergy was and is currently engaged in destroying the Albanian cult Christian monuments, as it did at one time with the Georgian monuments, according to Belichko V.L. In fact, after that the Albanians of Karabakh came to be Armenized and named Armenians. Thus, Albanians lost their ethnic self-consciousness. Of interest is a document of the Russian synod with reference to an Albanian- Christian who sought to change his religion into Lutheranism, for he was wrongly considered to be Armenian due to his professing Gregorianism (ЦГИА, ф.821, оп.150, д. 477, год 1908). Nevertheless, a portion of Karabakh Albanians moved to the left bank of Kura where there had long lived Udins.

As viewed by the Armenian scientists (their latest model), prior to the 5 century Albania was not the uniform ethnopolitical whole. The Armenian scientists make a distinction in the population of Albania. The one in the right bank of Kura which, to their thinking, was an indigeneously Armenian ethnos that dominated in the marzbanstvo (region ruled by governor-general) Albania and that started Armenizing the Albanians, residents of the left bank of Kura. As for the Armenian population proper of the right bank of Kura, it was, for some reason, called, in their view, as Albanian and assumed the Albanian self-consciousness and Albanian outlook (Акопян А., Юзбашян К.Н., Мурадян П.М. К изучению истории Кавказской Албании, ИФЖ  АН Арм.ССР, 1987, № 7, с.169-171).

It is quite evident that self-consciousness and self-name (ethnonym) are stable components of ethnic community, so they cannot be assumed at the very same time in the 5 century with the establishment of the new administrative division — Albanian marzmanstvo, as naively viewed by our Armenian counterparts. Suffice it to say that the Armenian sources (Korun, Egishe, Lazar Parbetsi, Khorenatsi, Sebeos, Gevond, Phaustos Buzandatsi and Albanian author Movses Kalakatuyskiy) refer to no Armenians in the right and left banks of Kura, they report on Albanians only.

The authors of the concept put forward the probability of isolation of a portion of an ethnic massif and its incorporation into another ethnic environment with subsequent formation of self-consciousness, different from self-consciousness of original ethnos. As viewed by our opponents, such a situation was allegedly typical for Albania over the period from 428-450 to the 10 century and reflected in the Armenian sources of the 5 and subsequent centuries, as well as in the «History of Albanians« by Movses Kalankatuyskiy. It should, first of all, be noted that such theoretical assertions ought to be corroborated by facts which our reviewers dispose not and, hence, fail to refer to. Groundlessly, they assert that in 428 Sasanids established three marzbanstvo in Transcaucasia — «Armenia«,  «Albania« and «Iberia.« In fact, the abolition of statehood in Armenia did not at all mean the establishment of identical political status in Albania, an eloquent testimony to which is, according to sources (Korun, Egishe, Parbetsi, Kalankatuyskiy, Kanonkirk), the king’s power in Albania up to 506 inclusive, while it was Armenia only that became marzbanstvo. In accordance with the concept of our reviewers, the Albanian marzbanstvo allegedly included the regions with the Armenian population as well (Utik, Artsakh — right bank of Kura area).

Thus, in accordance with their concept,  the term «Albania« denoted a certain political and confessional unity. Even if the Albanian political association were much more independent that the Armenian one and included in the 5 century two ethnically different components — Albanian and Armenian, then the first would prevail over the second, so no mechanical acquisition  of Albanian self- consciuosness by the Armenian population but mere de-ethnization  of the Armenian population of the right bank of Kura would take place due to the leading role of political factor , as inconsciently referred to by Armenian counterparts themselves. If the concept of the Armenian scientists is correct, this process would be preceded by long contacts between the two ethnoses — Albanians and Armenians within the limits of ethnic borders with double ethnic self — consciuosness (Albanian and Armenian) and, under such circumstances, one self — consciuosness would assimilate another. In such a case, the Armenian scientists would have to agree with the presents and long existence of the Albanian ethnos, like the Armenian one, not only on the left bank, but, undoubtedly, the right bank as well. Moreover, if the stand of the Armenian counterparts were correct, Sasanids having established the marzbanstvo of Albania would try to introduce the Persian self — consciuosness here, but not Albanian or Armenian. Had the Armenians or Georgians or Albanians, entering the Caucasian Kustak, called Adurbadagan, a political — administrative silf — consciuosness «Adurbadagans«, their local Armenian, Georgian and Albanian one? R.Hewsen disagrees with the opinion of the Armenian scientists who considered the population of the space between the rivers of Kura and Araz (i.e. the right bank of Kura) to be Armenian. He maintains that the population was of autochtonous Caucasian origin. At the same time, Hewsen asserts that there was no Albanian people as such but just the federation of Caucasian tribes with Albanians as its core (Robert H. Hewsen. Ethnohistory and the Armenian influence upon the Caucasian Albanians, № 4. Classical Armenian Culture. Chico (Cal), 1982. Influences and Creativity. University of Pensylvania. Armenian texts and studies, p. 27 — 40).

As viewed by the Armenian authors, the «History of Albanians« by Kalankatuyskiy was created in the epoch of domination of centrifugal tendences among the Armenian nobility to thus back up a certain group of Armenian feudals, resisting the formation of centralized Armenian state under the aegis of Bagratides. A question arises: why should the author of the «History of Albanians« should uphold the independence of his motherland from Armenian solely for the purpose to subordinate his country to another state with another people and alien dynasty? As is known, the motherland of Kalankatuyskiy is Albania located from the river of Araz to Derbent, ruled by the dynasty of Mihranides, the gloryfication of which was the main purpose of the work. In the meanwhile, the state of Bagratides was created in the 9 — 11 centuries, on the area around the town of Ani, to the south — west of Albania. Besides, in admitting the reality of such circumstances concomitant to the creation of the «History of Albanians«, it`d be appropriate to expect that the work would be of naked anti — Bagratid nature. It is astonishing that Bagratides are not practically mentioned in the source.

As for Albanians, written sources and material culture are indicative of the dominating ethnos in Albania (since 1 centure A.D.) — Albanians despite ethnic diversity. Contributing to the formation of Albanian ethnic community were factors as follows:

1. territorial and state unity which is traced in Albania within the bounds of the entire country from the 3 century B.C. to 8 century A.D., from 9 to 15 centuries in Artsah and Sunik, political and administrative units (rule of Saak — Sevada, Senekerim, Hasan Jalal), and since 15 century — in the newly formed Karabakh melikstvo;

2. Albanian self — consciousness fixed in the self — name ethnonym Aluank— Albanians is traced approximately from the 1 century B.C. to the 8 century A.D. within the bounds of the entire country, and after the downfall of Albanian kingdom as a residual event, so both the ethnonym and Albanian self — consciousness are traced in the 9 — 19 centuries in one of the parts of the country — Artsah. Antithesis «we« — «they« is clearly traced back till the 12 century, not clearly — till the 19 century.

Albanian author Kalankatuyskiy (7-8 centuries) distinguishes Albanians from Armenians and other ethnosis, genetically draws them out of another tribe of Iafet, from ceturians (Kalankatuyskiy 1,2), Khorenatsi (7-8 centuries), sparating Albanians from Armenians and calling them «ever lying Albanians« (Khorenatsi, III, 3, 6; Phaustos Buzandatsi). The Albanian self — consciousness is traced in an effort to revive in Artsakh (today`s Nagorno Karabakh) in the 9 — 13 centuries the Albanian kingdom as witnessed in an epigraphics of Gandzasar cathedral of the 13 century which says that the cathedral was built by Albanian king Hasan Jalal at urgent request of the Albanian patriarch for Albanians; in the emergence of «Albanian chronicle« by M.Gosh in the 12 — 13 centuries; in a letter of Udins, 18 century, addressed to Peter the Great which says as follows: «we are Agvans and Utians by nation«; when Armenian author of the 18 century Arakel Tavrizskiy calls Karabakh «the country of Albanians — Agvans«; when Albanian Catholicos Esai Hasan Jalal wrote in the 18 century his history of Christian population of Karabakh, called it «A brief history of Albanians« and himself as Albanian.

Among ethnic components there is the unity of culture, including the religion and language. Note that the Albanian confessional unity existed from the 5 century A.D. to the 19 century with the Albanian patriarch autocephal church and the Albanian patriarchate as organizing and consolidating force. It was Strabo, Ippolyte, Movses Kalankatuyskiy, Korun, Sebeos, Khorenatsi, «Book of letters«, Zakharius Ritor, Etum, Arab authors.

Owing to the peculiar nature of historical destinies, written monuments of Albania of local origin have survived in the Old Armenian language. It is quite evident that the Armenian clergy worked hard over the Albanian epigraphics and manuscripts, thoroughly deleted any traces. They demonstrate consummate mastery in this area, for the Azerbaijanian population had to preserve the Armenian epigraphics.

What happened to the Albanian ethnos? During the Arab conquests, greater part of Albanian, who lived in the lower reaches of the rivers of Kura and Arax, having been Islamized and assimilated with Turkic — speaking peoples who settled down here. A remaining part of the Armenian population, living in the mountainous regions (Arabs did not go up mountains), in the north-west of Albania, as well as in the south — west, adhered to Christianity or Monophisite trend which made them later related to the Armenian church, or Diophisite trend which brought them later nearer to the Georgian church. If there were a third trend in Christianity, then Albanians, as Z.N.Alexidze noted, would adhere to this third trend to preserve their identity and survive till our days. In the meantime, a part of direct descendants of Albanian — Udins contrived to survive and reside in Kabala and Oguz regions and thus successfully resisted the process of Gregorianization and Armenization.

Nevertheless, the Echmiadzin church tried to assimilate them. It prohibited Udins to attend the Albanian churches (church, cloister named after Apostle Egishe, first Albanian Apostle and enlightener of the 1-2 centuries whom Udins of Kabala region also called as «Kala Gergets« — «A large prayer house«). Even more, Echmiadzin built a special Armenian church for Udins in 1853. However, Udins stopped attending both the Albanian church of Apostle Egishe and the Armenian church to avoid Gregorianization and preserve their originality. Note that Udins enriched Christianity with adherents of paganism, Islam, created a religion based on syncretic unity of primordial — religious pagan views with Christianity and partly with Islam. The feast ceremonies presented the mixture of Udin paganism and Christian cult with their sources going back to ancient Albanian ones which are easily traced. Thus, during a «black feast« Udins carry their share of the deceased to the cemetery which goes back to the Albanian ritual of allotting a share of the deceased — «duty for the peace of soul« which, as far back as in the 5 century was granted to the church (Aguen canon of the 5 century). As far back as Strabon noted this ritual as saying that Albanians bury the deceased together with things he owned. In considering that present-day Udins do not attend churches, they prefer to come to the cemetery and distribute it among passers — by.

Udin fairy — tales, folklore with their laconicism and rich content still preserved legends, going back to the Old Albanian society. Udins narrate a legend about the Old Albanian brave Christian saint, princess Taguhi, whose cult was revered in Albania in the 4 — 5 centuries. Note that the Albanian hagiographical literature revered the cult of Albanian Taguhi at the level of Armenian and Georgians saints — Ripsime and Gayane.

With the purpose of Armenization of Udins in the places of their residents, Armenian schools were opened in 1854 to last till 1937. In 1931 — 1933, it was desided to teach both in the Russian and Udin languages. However, since 1937 the Udins were not trained their native language owing to the fact that their language did not go outside places of their residence. From 1938 to 1951, Udins were trained in Azeri, since 1952 — in Azeri and Russian. Note that in Oktomberi, Georgia the training was in the Georgian language.

Thus, throughtout the centuries Udins have been successful in preserving their identity, culture, language, religion, self — consciousness, ethnonym (self — name).

The role of Udins is similar to the role of Celts in the life and formation of Anglo — Saxon nation, French nation.

As distinguished from Armenians, Udins are autochtons, their language relates to Nakh — Daghestan linguistic family (while the Armenian language relates to Indo — European family), alphabet of Udins is made of 52 phonemes, like Albanians (Armenian alphabet is made of 26 letters). Note that the Armenians failed to Gregorianize them.

Udins are direct descendants of Albanians who are, in turn, one of the ancestors of the Azerbaijanian people and many peoples of Daghestan.

Farida Mamedova  corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan, Head of «Humanitarian disciplines« Chair under the Western University, Chairman of the Executive Committee «The Caucasus Albania Research Center»