Some features of Caucasian Albania material culture. Elyas Babayev

   The first state formation on the territory of North Azerbaijan it was Caucasian Albania. The emergence of this state was a result of century – old social and economic development of country. Other factors influenced on this process.

          Including the geographical region, where state Albania was sprang up later in the middle of  I  century B. C. South Caucasus was a part of Ahemenidian Empire. According V A. C. Greek historian information Ahemenidian Empire borders stretched to Big Caucasian mountain ridge on the North. More than 70 tribes and people were a part of those times Iran Empire of Ahemenids the Gerodot refers. But he has no information about Albanians. And he mentioned Caspians on this area. It being known Caspians together with some other tribes formed XI provinces and paid contribution to Treasury – 200 talants (2).

          Should think that tribes consolidation under the command of Albanians was not finished and Albanians were with Caspians in VI B.C (3).

          The military contingent and contribution was placed at Ahemenids by Albania for participation in Iran (4) military marches and besides manpower, which was used by Iran tzars while building their huge palaces (5).

In all probability, the consolidation of Albanian tribes took place during Ahemenidian Iran supremacy at South Caucasus. It is no coincidence that first time Albanians were mentioned in connection with Gavgamel battle in 331 B.C.  between Greeks and Macedonians and Iraq (6).

The entry of South Caucasus and Albania into Ahemenidian Iran, Albanians participation in Iran marches to Greece affected not only in written original sources but on monuments of Material culture too.

In connection with above mentioned is a great interest the rests of big buildings palace type with stony bell form columns in Saritepe Kazah (7) and not far from village Garadjamila Shamkir regions of Azerbaijan (8) and in Gumbaty oriental Georgia (9). The influence of Ahemenidian Iran is retraced also on many life makes of local population (10).

It was Ahemenidians time when ancient Azerbaijan tribes first came into contact with ancient Greek culture.

The state Albania was formed after Ahemenidian Empire fall in the end of IV B.C. (11).

Caucasian Albania frontiers placing is a great interest. Voluminous literature is dedicated to this problem. No doubts I dare say almost all territory of modern Azerbaijan South Daghestan and Alazan valley was covered by Caucasian Albania.

However Armenian historiography is mistaken when consider that Caucasian Albania covered oriental Caucasus ( South Caucasus) only to the north from Kura river (12). Often refer to Greek geographer Strabon ( 65 B. C – 21 A. C. ) expressing such erroneous opinion. But Strabon writes that on the south-west in Cambicine region, Albania is contiquous to Armenia. To be precise Strabon writes that Cambicene Armenians are contiquous to Ebers (Albanians) (13).

          Further Strabon writes that Kura flows through territory of Albania — «O de KnroV O diarrewn thnAlbanian…» (14). In Greek word «diarrewn» means exactly through. Therefore Kura was not southern border of Caucasian Albania.

          The lower reaches of Kura river flow through Albania. As archeological material analysis shows both banks Material culture is identical,

          Many rests of different constructions, tens of thousands of various archeological finds were found in site of ancient town Gabala- capital city of Caucasian Albania since formation of Albania in the end of IV B. C. till the middle of V A.C. and also in Mingechaur, Shemaha, Agsu and Ismailli region, South Daghestan as a result of extensive archeological excavations during many years.

          These excavations and information given by written original sources allow full enough elucidate material and spiritual culture and also many cardinal problems of Caucasian Albania history.

          State formation and close contacts with elipistik world had strong influence on all spheres of local population life.

          Rapid building development is being observed in Caucasian Albania. The information about cities of Albania can be found starting from I A.C. First record of Cabalaka as Albanian prevalent city was made by Pliny Starishi in his encyclopedic work “ Natural history ”in the middle of I A.C. It shows that Cabalaca was prevalent but not sole one. Really already 29 cities and other populate areas were mentioned by Klavdy Ptolomei later in II  A.C. ( 16)

          Archeological excavations in Gabala, Mingechaur, Shemaha and some other site ancient towns demonstrate that even in the middle of I B.C. some settlements in Albania situated in places convinient for handicraft and commerce began to grow. China entered the system of commercial ways of that time in the end of II B.C. and as a result Great Silk Way was formed. One of the most busy roads of this way was passing through Caucasian Albania along Caspian western seaboard from South to North (17).

          Roofing tile from III B.C. and baked brick was used in Albania for some constructions roofing (18).

          Coins were widely used in commerce in Albania. The most ancient coins found in Azerbaijan are Alexander the Great coins. As an imitation silver coinage has bee started in Albania in the beginning of III B.C. Both local and imported coins were used on the markets of Albania (19).

          Also stamps (20), adornments and other articles brought from antiquity were being used in Albania.

          Many earthenware vessels in Caucasian Albania were made under antique culture influence.

          As a whole the material culture of Caucasian Albania has peculiar features. This culture was principally based on local traditions. But connection with outer world influenced also influenced on.


  1. Nech. 111. 97.
  2. Nech.  111. 92.
  3. Trever K.V. Essays of history and culture of Caucasian Albania

IV B. C . – VII A. C . M.L. 1959, p.50-52; Babayev I.A. The sities

of Caucasian Albania in IV B. C. – 111 B.C. – 111 A.C., Baku, 1990,


  1. Nech. Vii, 67,86
  2. Babayev I.A.Cities  p.43
  3. Arr. Anab.,III ,II,13
  4. Narimanov I.T. Finds Baz Col. V-IV B.C. in Azerbaijan. Soviet archeology, 1960, No 4, p. 162-164
  5. E. Fyrtwangler, Florian Knaus, Andreas Egold.  Yumbati archeologische expedition in Kachetina. 1994. S/ 177-211
  6. Ibid, p363-381
  7. Babayev I.A. The sities… p. 40- 44
  8. Ibid, p.45-48
  9. The history of Armenian nation. From ancient times to our days.

Erevan. 1980, p.42.

  1. Strab.,IV, I
  2. Strab.,IV, 2
  3. Plin NH, V, 29
  4. PloI.,V,II
  5. Babayev I. The Great Silk Way in Azerbaijan. In collection with the same name., Baku, 1998, p.16-30
  6. Babayev I. Antique tile of Caucasian Albania- Soviet archeology, 1974, No 2: The sities , p. 73-86
  7. Babayev I., Kaziev S.M. Coins found in Cabala, ellins epoch,, Numismatics and Epigraphics, Moscow 1071, The same authors The sities, 152-165.
  8. Babayev I.A. Monuments of gliptic ancient epoch and early medieval. Ref. Cand, diss., Baku, 1965
  9. Babayev I.A. The sities., p.138-142

Elyas Babayev doctor of history, the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography Academy of Science of Azerbaijan.