Научная статья на тему 'Some aspects of Georgian History in the light of Armenian historiography'

Some aspects of Georgian History in the light of Armenian historiography Текст научной статьи по специальности «История и археология»

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Аннотация научной статьи по истории и археологии, автор научной работы — Muskhelishvili David

This article takes a look at and substantiates the complete invalidity of the views of Armenian scientists (historiographers) on certain aspects of Georgian history. In particular, it shows the absolute unacceptability of Armenia's claims to Lower Kartli and Javakheti-time-honored ancient Georgian territories.

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Текст научной работы на тему «Some aspects of Georgian History in the light of Armenian historiography»



Academician at the National Academy of Sciences of Georgia,

Chairman of the History, Archeology, and Ethnology Commission of the National Academy of Sciences of Georgia, Chairman of the Scientific Center for the Study and Promulgation of History, Ethnology, and Religion, Chairman of the Board of the International Center of Christian Studies at the Georgian Church (Tbilisi, Georgia).



This article takes a look at and substantiates the complete invalidity of the views of Armenian scientists (historiographers) on certain aspects of Georgian

history. In particular, it shows the absolute unacceptability of Armenia's claims to Lower Kartli and Javakheti—time-honored ancient Georgian territories.

I n t r o d u c t i o n

Unfortunately, over the past few years, this kind of Armenia's approach has become an increasingly aggressive and stable tradition. It began with Moses of Chorene (the 5th century)—the father of Armenian historiography. This historian does not consider the Georgians to be the indigenous people of the Caucasus at all. According to him, "the northern territory on the other side of the Caucasian mountains," which is occupied by the "great and powerful tribe" of Gugars, is situated in Armenia. And this Armenian tribe is subordinated to the Armenian king. Since the "great and powerful tribe," as it turns out, actually lives on the southern boundaries of the East Georgian kingdom (Lower Kartli and Upper Javakheti), it stands to reason that this territory belongs to Armenia.

This is what Moses of Chorene believed, and his viewpoint is still fully shared by contemporary Armenian historiographers. And as a result, all textbooks, encyclopedias, and historical maps published both in Armenia and in those countries where there is an influential Armenian lobby present the southern half of the republic of Georgia and its oldest historical provinces of Kvemo (Lower) Kartli and Javakheti as the territory of so-called Great Armenia.

General Background

It is a well-known fact that in the Middle Ages confessional affiliation and ethnic identity sometimes intermingled, intercepting each other. For example, the term "Kartvelian people" (Georgians)


in the Caucasus referred not only to ethnic Georgians, but sometimes to Orthodox people of non-Georgian origin, just as "Somekhi" (Armenians) could, in addition to ethnic Armenians, mean any person of the Armenian faith, and so on. After making a fetish, so to speak, out of this "formula," contemporary Armenian historians (professors V. Arutiunova-Fidanian and P. Muradian particularly "excelled" here), wherever the ethnonym "Georgian" ("Iver" in Byzantine and "Vratsi" in Armenian) is found in the ancient Armenian and Byzantine sources, particularly if it applies to well-known people, arbitrarily use it only in the confessional respect to refer to "Orthodox Armenians." So all the famous political and cultural figures, such as David Curopalates (the 10th century)—initiator of the unification of feudal Georgia (whom, incidentally, Sharafkhan Bidlisi, a well-known Muslim historian of the 16th century, directly calls a Georgian); famous Georgian commander John Tornik Chord-vaneli (Chorchaneli)—founder of the Holy Monastery of Iviron on Mount Athos in Greece (980); Grigol Bakurianisdze—the Grand Domestic of Byzantium, church warden of Petritsoni (Bachkovo) Monastery in Bulgaria (1083), and so on, turned out to be Armenians for the simple reason that the Armenian historians who were their contemporaries called them "Vrats Curopalates," that is, "Georgian Curopalates" or "vratsi azgav," that is, "of Georgian origin," while the ethnonym "Georgian" in all these cases (even when the ethnic affiliation "of Georgian origin" is emphasized) should be understood in the confessional respect.

The absurdity of this "concept" is obvious, while authoritative Georgian sources are usually ignored. Meanwhile, Grand Domestic Grigol Bakurianisdze states in the Petritsoni Typicon written in Georgian and Greek, referring to himself: "We Georgians are a valiant people raised as warriors and, being laymen, have always been used to the hard life." Can we really doubt that in this context the ethnonym "Georgians" ("Ivers" in the Greek text) was used in precisely the ethnic and not the confessional sense? This phrase alone, not to mention all the other arguments, unequivocally settles the question of the ethnic affiliation of the Grand Domestic for the open-minded person.

When we read articles by contemporary Armenian historians, the impression is created that Georgians, as such, did not exist at all. Only the common Armenians and the uncommon Armenians of Chalcedon, who for some reason were called "Georgians," that is, "Ivers" (in Greek) and "Vratsik" (in Armenian), actually existed.

Indeed, classic political scientist (as he calls himself) A. Migranian came up with this "constructive" thought, undoubtedly on the basis of contemporary Armenian historiography. In one of his interviews, calling the entirely natural reaction of the Georgian public to Russia's annexation of primordial Georgian land—Abkhazia and Shida (Inner) Kartli—cannibalism, he wrote in Izvestia (on 16 October, 2006): "For all specialists more or less well-versed in questions of the Transcauca-sus, it is obvious that such an ethnicity as the Georgians, as incidentally such a state as Georgia, did not exist in history before this territory became, first, part of the Russian Empire and then of the Soviet Union"!! In the same article, A. Migranian notes: "Gratitude, as a virtue, is found very rarely either in human relations or in relations between ethnicities. We do not have to look far for an example. I, an Armenian (!—D.M.), am very well aware of this.

"At one time, the Armenians delegated the younger branch of their princely and later royal family to Georgia to become the ruling dynasty of the Bagratuni. The Armenian princes and commanders extended the borders of the medieval Georgian state. The Armenians built the capital of Georgia and to this day all the more or less significant architectural monuments are a result of the patronage of the Armenian merchants and industrialists who lived and worked in Tiflis (!—D.M.).

"Mesrop Mashtots, the creator of the Armenian alphabet, also created an alphabet for the fraternal (!—D.M.) Georgian people. But never has any Georgian cultural or political figure ever mentioned, even in the interests of historical justice, the contribution of the neighboring people to the culture, science, and architecture of the Georgian state. So ingratitude is a characteristic trait both of individuals and of entire nations."


Indeed! Admittedly, the author of this raving tirade contradicts himself, without noticing it, by admitting that the Georgians and the Georgian state appear to have actually existed! But it is not entirely clear why these charitable Armenians did not labor for their own benefit, but for the "fraternal Georgian people," creating an alien culture, science, a capital city, and a state; especially since they lost their own statehood in the 11th century for almost an entire millennium!

Kvemo (Lower) Kartli

Relating how Arsacid King Valarshak (Vagharshak in Armenian) set up the Armenian kingdom, Moses of Chorene says: "Gushar, from the sons of Sharai, inherited the Dark Mountain, that is, Kangark and half (of the country) of the Javakhs, Kokhb, Tsob, and Dzor as far as the fortress of Khnarakert. But Vagharshak gave the Ashotsk possessions and Tashir domains to the descendants of Gushar Khaykid."1

It has long been established that Gushar is the eponym for Gugark. There is evidently a spelling mistake in the text and "perhaps Gowjar, now Gujareti, is more correct."2 I also uphold this viewpoint, with the only difference that I think that the original source should have said not Gujar, but simply Gugar, instead of Gushar.3

Keeping in mind the location of the "gawars" (regions) of Gugark listed by the Armenian historian, it is worth noting, with respect to the reliability of this reference, that the territory described (with the exception of "half (of the country) of the Javakhs") corresponds to two ancient, according to the Kartlis tskhovreba, provinces of the Iberian (Kartlian) kingdom: Gachiani and Gardabani, that is, of the historical region of Georgia—Kvemo (Lower) Kartli.4

But it should be kept in mind that even within the above-designated boundaries, Gugark seems to be the result of a long historical process. For one statement by Faustus of Byzantium (the 5th century) points in no uncertain terms to the fact that Gugark, Kokhb, and Dzor are different regions.5 Nor, evidently, did Khnarakert, Tashir, Ashotsk, and "half (of the country) of the Javakhs" initially belong to the territory of Gugark and using this name to describe them ensued from the time-honored political development of the mentioned province. In all likelihood the main nucleus of Gugark was Kangark, and possibly Tsob (Tsobopor), that is, the basin of the River Debeda-Chay, not including the River Kamenka.

In addition to everything else, this is indicated, first, by the geographical location of this gorge and its upper reaches (that is, Kangark) at the very southern edge of Gugark, on the border with Armenia. It stands to reason that this is why the Armenians could call all the rest of the territory lying further north Gugark6; second, this is also indicated by the fact that it was here, at the sources of the Debeda-Chay, that Gogarani,7 the ancient Georgian toponymic relict of this province was preserved, the name of the village that has now been renamed Gugark!

According to Ashkharatsuyts (a medieval geography of Armenia written in the 7th century), the boundaries of Gugark stretched further and, in addition to the above-mentioned provinces of South

1 Moses of Chorene, Istoria Armenii, New translation by N. Emin, Moscow, 1893, p. 58; Movsesi xorenalwoy Pat-mowEiwn hayol, [. 1910, p. 108.

2 N. Adonts, Armenia v epokhu Iustiniana, St. Petersburg, 1908, p. 424.

3 See: D.L. Muskhelishvili, Iz istoricheskoi geografii Vostochnoi Gruzii, Tbilisi, 1982, p. 6.

4 See: Kartlis tskhovreba (History of Georgia), Tbilisi, 2008, p. 16.

5 See: Fawstosi Biwzandalwoy PatmowEiwn hayol, [. 1913, p. 242; Istoria Armenii Favstosa Buzanda, Erevan, 1953, p. 123.

6 See: D.L. Muskhelishvili, op. cit., pp. 8, 9.

7 See: Akty, sobrannye Kavkazskoiu arkheograficheskoiu komissieiu, Vol. I, Tiflis, 1866, p. 402.


Iberia, Gugark also included Trialeti and almost the entire southwestern part of historical Georgia: Javakheti, Artaani, and Klarjeti.8

How can this be explained?

The thing is that, as we know, in order to protect the northern borders of the kingdom from military invasions, the Armenians created a so-called bdeshkhstvo (margraviate) in the territory of Gugark. Popular opinion had it that this bdeshkhstvo was established by Tigran the Great in the 1st century BC.9 The extended boundaries of Gugark, which Ashkharatsuyts testifies to, are evidently a consequence of the subsequent development of the political processes. It would be natural to presume that as Armenia expanded territorially to the north, the conquered lands were added to the domains of the Gugark bdeshkh and, in so doing, extended the boundaries of Gugark.

As we already know, Moses of Chorene considers the eponym of Gugark-Gushar to be Khay-kid, that is, a descendant of Khayk, the eponym of the Armenians. Consequently, for him, Gugark was initially an Armenian province. Gugark is also mentioned in Ashkharatsuyts as a time-honored Armenian region, although it is also emphasized that by the time this book was written, that is, by the 7th century, this territory belonged to the Iberian (Kartlian) kingdom.10

The same viewpoint also prevails in contemporary Armenian historiography.

In order to clarify how legitimate this idea is, the first thing we need to know is who the Gugars, the indigenous population of Gugark, were and to which ethnic group they belonged according to the same Armenian sources.

Let us turn to one of the earliest Armenian sources, to Faustus of Byzantium (the 5th century). He writes: "Maskut King Sanesan, extremely angry, was filled with hate for his tribesman, Armenian King Khosrow, and gathered all of his troops—Huns, Pokhs, Tavaspars, Khechmataks, Izhmakhs, Gats, Gluars, Gugars, Shichbs, Chilbs, Balasich, and Egersvans, as well as an uncountable number of other diverse nomadic tribes, all the numerous troops he commanded. He crossed his border, the great River Kura, and invaded the Armenian country."11 According to the context, we are talking here about different Caucasian tribes, and it is entirely obvious that the historian does not consider the Gugars to be an Armenian tribe.

More specific data about the question we are interested in can be found in Moses of Chorene himself. For example, when talking about Gushar Khaykid's inheritance, as mentioned above, the historian goes on directly to say: "Rule of the northern country situated on the other side of the Caucasian mountains (Valarshak.—D.M.) is entrusted to a great and powerful tribe; its patriarch is conferred the title of bdeshkh of the Gugars."12 It is obvious that this "great and powerful tribe" was not of Armenian origin, and since it lived to the north of Armenia "on the other side of the Caucasian mountains," it would be most logical to presume (particularly since Moses of Chorene began talking about the origin of the Alvans prior to this) that the historian implies Georgians here. And since the patriarch of this tribe was called "bdeshkh of the Gugars," it should be recognized that Gugars were indeed Georgians. The fact that Moses of Chorene means Georgians, in particular, Eastern Georgians, when referring to the "great and powerful tribe of Gugars," is confirmed by the text that follows: "Rule of the northern country situated on the other side of the Caucasian mountains is entrusted to a great and powerful tribe; its patriarch is conferred the title of bdeshkh of the Gugars, who came from

8 See: J. Saint-Martin, Mémories historiques et géografique sur l'Arménie, Vol. I, Paris, 1818, p. 366; Armenian Geography of the 7th century A.D. (attributed to Moses of Chorene), Text and translation published by K.P. Patkanov, St. Petersburg, 1877, p. 20; Géographie de Moïse de Corène d'après Ptolèmèe, Texte arménien traduit en français par le p. Arsène Soukry Mékhitariste, Venise, 1881, p. 34.

9 See: J. Marquart, Ërânshahr nach der geographie des Ps. Moses Xorenaçi, Berlin, 1901, p. 95.

10 See: Géographie de Moïse de Corène d'après Ptolèmèe, pp. 34, 35.

11 Fawstosi BiwzandaÏwoy PatmowÊiwn hayoÏ, [. 1913, p. 242; Istoria Armenii Favstosa Buzanda, p. 123.

12 Moses of Chorene, op. cit., p. 59; Movsesi xorenaÏwoy PatmowÊiwn hayoÏ, p. 108.


a descendant of Mikhrdat, the satrap of Darekh, brought by Alexander and appointed as ruler over the Iberian captives."13

So it is entirely clear that the "descendant of the ruler of the Iberians," whom we already know as bdeshkh, is the "patriarch of the great and powerful tribe of Gugars," that is, the Gugars are identical to the Iberians, or to be more precise, are one of the East Georgian (Kartlian) tribes which the Georgians called "Gogarani:" the correct grammatical form of the plural of the nominative case is retained, as already mentioned, in the name of the village in the Pambak Gorge.

This interpretation of Moses of Chorene's point of view is also confirmed by the fact that a little further on he mentioned a "certain Mikhrdat, the great Iberian bdeshkh, who descended from Mikhr-dat, the satrap of Darekh, and was appointed by Alexander over the Iberian captives, as mentioned above,"14 who supposedly lived under Armenian King Artaxias (2nd century BC). So Moses of Chorene equated the great noble of the Armenian kings, "bdeshkh of the Gugars," with the "great bdeshkh of the Iberians;" consequently, the Gugars are Iberians! This is why Moses of Chorene's "bdeshkh of the Gugars Ashush"15 is called "bdeshkh of the Iberians" in Ghazar Parpetsi (5th century), Movses Kaghankatvatsi (7th century), and Stepanos Orbelian (13th century).16

Hovhannes Draskhanakerttsi (the 10th century) presents extremely significant evidence to confirm these facts. For example, in his History ofArmenia, he deliberately lists "our (i.e. Armenians'.— D.M.) neighbors: Greeks, Egers, Gugars, and Utiyts."17 There can be no doubt that here the Gugars imply the Iberians or Eastern Georgians, just as the Egers imply the Megrels, or to be more precise, Western Georgians in general, and the Utiyts mean the Alvans.

Another fact presented by Hovhannes Draskhanakerttsi is just as important, when he mentions the "great Corepiscopa [Chorbishop] who ruled over the part of Gugark situated next to the Alan gates."18 This refers to the principality of Kakheti, and so, as we see, not only Kartli but also Kakheti and the Darial Gorge are called Gugark.19

So why did Moses of Chorene, and the whole of contemporary Armenian historiography that followed him, think that Gugark/Gogarani was an Armenian province? Perhaps the author of Ashkharatsuyts is right in saying that although Gugark/Gogarani belonged to the Iberian (Kartlian) state during his time, it resulted from the Iberians (Kartlians) seizing Armenian land?

Moses of Chorene is definitely biased. Indeed, first, he knows that "the great and mighty tribe of Gugars" living in "the northern country on the other side of the Caucasian mountains" is not Armenian. Nevertheless, contradicting himself, he thinks Gushar, the eponym of this tribe, is Khaykid, that is, Armenian. Moreover, from his rather garbled recitation, we know that "the descendant of the ruler of the Iberians" is "the patriarch of the great and powerful tribe of Gugars," while the "bdeshkh of the Gugars" (he is also "the patriarch of the great and powerful tribe of Gugars") and the "great bdeshkh of the Iberians" both descended from the "ruler of the Iberians." The impression is created that Moses of Chorene is deliberately not revealing everything. But according to the context, perhaps even against his will, it is entirely obvious that the "Gugars" and "Iberians" are identical ethnic concepts, although the historian does not mention this directly anywhere.

As for Ashkharatsuyts, it should be noted that the information in this book that interests us is to a certain extent correct. The thing is that whereas its final edition dates to the turn of the 6th and

13 Moses of Chorene, op. cit., p. 59; Movsesi xorenaÏwoy PatmowÉiwn hayoÏ, p. 108.

14 Moses of Chorene, op. cit., p. 64; Movsesi xorenaÏwoy PatmowÉiwn hayoÏ, p. 117.

15 Moses of Chorene, op. cit., p. 201; Movsesi xorenaÏwoy PatmowÉiwn hayoÏ, p. 356.

16 See: Uazaray FarpeÏwoy PatmowÉiwn hayoÏ, Tfuis, 1904, p. 52; Movsesi KauankatowaÏwoy PatmowÉiwn AuowaniÏ Ajxarhi, B. 1913, p. 132; PatmowÉiwn nahangin Sisakan arareal Stefanosi Orbelean Arqepiskoposi SiwneaÏ, B. 1911, p. 60.

17 I. Draskhanakerttsi, Istoria Armenii, Translation from the Old Armenian, introductory article and comments by M.O. Darbinian-Melikian, Erevan, 1986, p. 140.

18 Ibid., p. 206.

19 See: D.L. Muskhelishvili, op. cit., pp. 13-15.


7th centuries, older sources were doubtlessly used when describing the Transcaucasian countries.20 In particular, I think that the description of the territorial structure of Iberia presented in the source corresponds to the situation in the second half of the 4th and first half of the 5th centuries.21 This was the time when Gugark/Gogarani ultimately joined Iberia, which was noted by the author of Ashkharatsuyts. He of course knew that Gugark/Gogarani used to belong to Armenia as a large administrative formation and so, when describing his country, he also included this district in it. Ashkharatsuyts is the oldest book about geography and we should not expect its author to take us on excursions into history. It is possible (under the influence of Moses of Chorene?) that he sincerely believed that Gu-gark/Gogarani was Armenian land.

We think that everything said above contradicts this. Indeed, if the indigenous residents of this province, the Gugars/Gogarans, were Georgians, which Armenian sources unequivocally show, it stands to reason that their land should have also initially belonged to the Iberian kingdom.

Are there any arguments in favor of such a presupposition? Yes, there are.

We find the earliest mention of Gugark/Gogarani in Strabo, who knew this province as Goga-rene (compare with the Georgian "Gogarani"!). This well-known place in his Geography (XI, 14, 5) reads: the Armenians, who had become stronger by the beginning of the 2nd century BC, in particular King Artaxias deprived "the Iberians of the foot of the Paryaderes, the Chorzene, and Gogarene, which is on the other side of the Cyrus," that is, Kura. Consequently, as the geographer clearly indicates, Gogarene/Gogarani was an Iberian region that was conquered by the Armenians, whereby its territory was defined as lying to the southeast of the River Kura. This location entirely coincides with the one Moses of Chorene suggests for Gugark. And here we must also recall, with respect to the evidence of the Greek geographer, the statement by the Armenian historian about the "great bdeshkh of the Iberians," to whom "Artaxias entrusted rule of the northern mountains and Pontic Sea."22 This full semantic and chronological coincidence only confirms the reality of the situation.

Consequently, according to Strabo's graphic evidence, which is confirmed by Moses of Chorene, Gogarene/Gogarani was an Iberian (Kartlian) region conquered by the Armenians, whereby its territory (Gogarene/Gogarani) was defined as lying to the southeast of the River Kura.

This was the Armenians' first expansion toward Iberia (Kartli).23

For several centuries, this region was a bone of contention between neighbors. During the political collisions, immigration of the Armenians also apparently took place. In the second half of the 4th century, Gugark/Gogarani ultimately became part of the Iberian (Kartlian) kingdom.24

It was this political fate that seems to have given Moses of Chorene and some other Armenian sources (Ashkharatsuyts and Gakhnamak, etc.) reason to regard Gugark/Gogarani as an Armenian province.

Unfortunately, this trend continues in contemporary Armenian historiography.

It was Gugark/Gogarani, that is, the province of Kvemo (Lower) Kartli, that also remained an inviolable part of the Georgian state after the Arabs conquered Eastern Georgia in the mid-7th century. Later, when the comprehensive development of feudal relations caused the early feudal Iberian (Kartlian) state to disintegrate at the end of the 8th century into separate feudal principalities, Gugark/ Gogarani remained within the Tbilisi Arab Emirate that broke away from the Caliphate.25

20 I S.T. Eremyan, Hayastan= =st «A}xarhaIoyI»-i, Erevan,| 1963, p. 14ff.

21 D. Muskhelishvili, Main Questions of Georgia's Historical Geography, Vol. I, Tbilisi, 1977, Chapter 2, Para. 6 (in Georgian).

22 Moses of Chorene, op. cit., p. 64; Movsesi xorenaÏwoy PatmowÊiwn hayoÏ, p. 117.

23 See: I. Javakhishvili, Granitsy Gruzii v istoricheskom i sovremennom rassmotrenii, Transl. from the Georgian by E. Khoshtaria-Brosse, Tbilisi, 1919, p. 33.

24 See: D.L. Muskhelishvili, Iz istoricheskoi geografii Vostochnoi Gruzii, pp. 10-13.

25 See: D. Muskhelishvili, Main Questions of Georgia's Historical Geography, Vol. II, Tbilisi, 1980, Chapter 1, Para. 2-4 (in Georgian).


By the end of the 9th century, Ashot Barepasht, founder of the Armenian kingdom of the Bagra-tunis, captured the southern provinces of Gugark/Gogarani.26 This was the Armenians' second expansion toward Eastern Georgia.27 According to the extremely exaggerated statement by Armenian historian of the 13 th century Vardan the Great, Ashot appears to have conquered the whole of Iberia, Albania, and the entire Caucasus. However, Hovhannes Draskhanakerttsi, a contemporary of Smbat Tiezerakal (890-914) and Ashot Erkat (914-928), the son and grandson of Ashot Barepasht, indicates that they ruled the town of Samshvilde (Shamshulde), a major center of the southern part of Kvemo Kartli. In particular, the historian says: "King Ashot (son of King Smbat) set off, went to the Gugark country, and reached a large fortress, which in Iberian was called Shamshulde, that is, Three Arrows, for the people who lived around the fortress were subordinate to his father."28 It is interesting to note that the old Georgian town of Samshvilde (the impressive ruins of which have survived to this day), which, according to Georgian sources, is the center of one of the eristavs (provinces) of the Kartlian kingdom, is also mentioned in Ashkharatsuyts as precisely a "Georgian town."29

Further it should be emphasized that Hovhannes Draskhanakerttsi, as can be seen from the context, does not think the "country of Gugark," where Ashot Erkat went and where "tribes" live (in the context, the Armenian word "zazgs" would be more correctly translated as "tribes," "people," and not "ethnicities")30 that are subordinate to the Armenian kings, is Armenian. But since the name of the fortress of the country, according to him, is Georgian, there can be no doubt that he believes the "tribes who live around the fortress" to be Georgians, and the "country of Gugark" itself to be part of Georgia (Kart-li). And despite the fact that the etymology offered by the medieval Armenian historian is not entirely precise ("Samshvilde" in Georgian does not mean Three Arrows, or to be more precise, Three Bows, but "the place where bows are made"), he is, of course, much more objective, believing, like the author of Ashkharatsuyts, that the town is Georgian, than the contemporary Armenian translator of his History of Armenia, who translates «i lezow Vral» in the Armenian text as "in the Iberian language" (?!), and not simply "in Georgian;" and regards the town of Samshvilde as an Armenian fortress.31

So this passage from an authoritative source without a doubt explains the ethnic essence of the "country of Gugark." This is precisely why, when Ashot Barepasht, the ruler of Armenia, conquered the southern provinces of Gugark/Gogarani at the end of the 9th century, he assumed the title "ishkhan of the ishkhans of the Armenians and Georgians,"32 that is, "prince of princes in Armenia and Georgia."33 This political situation also continued later when the so-called Lore-Tashir, or Ta-shir-Dzoraget, "Armenian kingdom" of the Kyurikids,34 subordinate to the Ani kingdom, was created in this territory at the end of the 10th century, right up to the mid-11th century.35 Indeed, after his reign, the title of Ashot Barepasht was passed on to his successors, the kings of the Ani state, who, for example, Gagik I Shahenshah (990-1020, suzerain of the Kyurikids, and his son Smbat (1020-1041), were called "kings of the Armenians and Georgians."36

This title was due to the fact that the Armenian kings, Ashot I Barepasht in particular, who was also ishkhan of the ishkhans of the Armenians, as well as his son Smbat I Tiezerakal, according to

26 See: Stefanosi TarineÏwoy Asoukan PatmowÉiwn Tiezerakan, 1885, p. 117.

27 See: I. Javakhishvili, op. cit., p. 37.

28 I. Draskhanakerttsi, op. cit., p. 202.

29 J. Saint-Martin, op. cit., p. 358; Armenian Geography of the 7th century A.D. (attributed to Moses of Chorene), p. 17.

30 I. Draskhanakertskiy, History of Armenia, Transl. with comments and index by I. Abuladze, Tbilisi, 1937, p. 56 (in Georgian).

31 I. Draskhanakerttsi, op. cit., p. 345.

32 Stefanosi TarineÏwoy Asoukan PatmowÉiwn Tiezerakan, p. 158.

33 Vseobshchaia istoria Stepanosa Taronskogo Asokhika po prozvaniiu, Moscow, 1864, p. 107.

34 Mecin Vardanay Bar>rberdeÏwoy PatmowÉiwn Tiezerakan. M., 1861, p. 129.

35 See: Stefanosi TarineÏwoy Asoukan PatmowÉiwn Tiezerakan, pp. 256, 279; Vseobshchaia istoria Stepanosa Taronskogg Asokhika po prozvaniiu, pp. 108, 203; Kartlis tskhovreba, pp. 154, 159.

36 K. KostaneanÏ, Vimakan taregir, S.-Peterbowrg, 1913, pp. 13, 20; D. Muskhelishvili, Agjakala—krepost Gagi. Sbornikpo istoricheskoi geografii Gruzii, Vol. I, Tbilisi, 1960, p. 133.


Armenian historians Vardan the Great, Hovhannes Draskhanakerttsi, and Pseudo-Shapukh Bagratu-ni,37 conquered the Georgian lands, particularly a large part of Gugark/Gogarani.

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At the end of the 10th century, as already mentioned, the so-called Lore-Tashir or Tashir-Dzor-aget kingdom arose on this land with its center in the town of Samshvilde. The northern border of the kingdom, which separated it from the Tbilisi emirate, passed along the River Algeti.38

Armenian historiography unequivocally considers the above-mentioned kingdom to be Armenian. But this is not so. The ruling dynasty was of course Armenian, but the territory and indigenous population, as we already know, was Georgian. Let us listen to what Stephanos of Taron has to say about this: "King David, son of Gurgen (founder of the Tashir-Dzoraget kingdom.—D.M.) and his brother Smbat ruled [at that time] the countries of Tashir and the Iberian lowland, having the extensive fortress of Shamshulde [Samshvilde] as their place of residence; soon he also took possession of the town of Dmanik" (the well-known Georgian town of Dmanisi.—D.M).39

Keeping in mind all we know about Gugark/Gogarani, this evidence from the Armenian historian essentially does not tell us anything new and only confirms that the Tashir-Dzoraget kingdom that arose in the territory of Gugark/Gogarani with its center in Samshvilde and the town of Dmanisi and "countries of the Iberian lowlands" were a Georgian kingdom, in terms of territory and the indigenous population, headed by an Armenian dynasty.

And, finally, the fact that medieval, in contrast to contemporary, Armenian historiography is more objective is unequivocally confirmed by a statement by Armenian historian of the 13th century, author of Chronographic History, Mkhitar Ayrivanetsi, who around 981 wrote: "At that time the kingdom of Bagratuni began to rule over the Georgians, for Gurgen ruled in Georgia and his brother Smbat in Armenia."40 This presumes the emergence of the Tashir-Dzoraget kingdom, and Mkhitar Ayrivanetsi's words best sum up all that was said above about Gugark/Gogarani and its indigenous population: there can be no doubt that the Gugark/Gogarani country was initially a province of the Iberian (Kartlian) kingdom, and the Gugars/Gogarans were an East Georgian, or to be more precise, Kartlian tribe.

However, the term "Somkhiti" (the Georgian name for Armenia.—D.M.) was retained in the historical geography (of Georgia.—D.M.) in memory of the time the Armenians ruled in this region. This name (for this territory.—D.M.) was entirely unknown in the olden days and was not encountered until the beginning of the 10th century."41 Contemporary Armenian historiography, however, ignoring the authoritative evidence of the Armenian medieval historians and essentially relying only on the biased statement of Moses of Chorene and inappropriate interpretation of Ashkharatsuyts, to this day stubbornly adheres to the unsubstantiated opinion that the ancient Georgian province, which in the Georgian sources is called "Gachi-ani" and corresponds to medieval "Kvemo (Lower) Kartli", has always belonged to Armenia...


A similar trend was also revealed with respect to another ancient Georgian province—Javakheti. In contemporary Armenian historiography, this region is also considered to be "primordially Armenian," and its indigenous population, the Javakhs, to be Armenians.

37 See: PatmowÊiwn {aphoy Bagratownwoy, 1921, p. 65.

38 See: Kartlis tskhovreba, p. 154; D. Muskhelishvili, Main Questions of Georgia's Historical Geography, Vol. II, Tbilisi, 1980, p. 211.

39 See: Stefanosi Tar¿neÏwoy Asoukan PatmowÊiwn Tiezerakan, p. 256; Vseobshchaia istoria Stepanosa Taronsko-go Asokhika po prozvaniiu, p. 184.

40 M. Ayrivanetsi, Chronographic History, Transl. from the ancient Armenian, preface, comments, and index by L.S. Davlianidze-Tatishvili, Tbilisi, 1990, p. 74 (in Georgian).

41 I. Javakhishvili, op. cit., p. 39.


In fact, we know that the Armenian source of the 7th century, Ashkharatsuyts, when listing the "gawars" of Gugark, also mentions "Javakhk" among them (the Armenian name for Javakheti), and in the extensive edition of the source—"Upper Javakhk."42 But we already know that, first, the region of Gugark/Gogarani itself (and all of its indigenous population) was primordially Georgian; and second, how the text of this source should be adequately interpreted (see above).

What do other ancient Armenian sources tell us?

For example, Armenian scientist of the 10th century Ukhtanes talks about the family tree of Kyrion, the Catholicos of Georgia. The literal translation of this text is as follows: Kyrion "came from the Georgians in terms of country and lineage, from the region of the Javakhs."43 There can be no doubt that Ukhtanes believed Javakheti to be part of Georgia (Iberia), and the Javakhs to be Georgians. Z. Aleksidze examines the viewpoint of this historian and the enlightened Armenian society of the 10th century on the problem that interests us in depth.44

When relating about his ancestors, the representatives of the once illustrious Georgian feudal family of Orbeli, 13 th century historian, Armenianized Georgian Stepanos Orbelian, states that they received many estates from the rulers of Kartli (Georgia), including the fortress of Orbeti, "settled in the borough of Orbeti and, after a long time, were called Orbuls, that is, Orbets, after the name of this fortress, since this tribe (that is, Georgians.—D.M.) had the custom of naming its princes after the place they lived, for example, Eristavs from (the region) Ereti, Javakhurs from Javakheti, Kakhetian from Kakheti ... and many more."45

Despite the fact that not all of Stepanos Orbelian's etymology is correct, the assertion that many of the Georgian princely names came from their estates (which is extremely legitimate in a developed feudal society) is entirely correct. However, I am interested in something else: it is of course clear from the context that, for this Armenian historian too, Javakheti (and he uses precisely the Georgian form of the name of the region) and its population (to designate which he again uses the ancient Georgian term "javakhurni"—in Armenian "javakhurkn") are a Georgian region and Georgian tribe.

And another passage from Stepanos Orbelian's History reads: in 1178, the Georgian noble, amir-spasalar (commander-in-chief of the Georgian troops) Ivane Orbeli, rose up against King George III and "all the heads (of feudal families.—D.M.) and the Georgian nobility were unanimous with Ivane and all set off together and came to see him at the estate (called) Darbazi: the eristavs of Kartli ... and Javakhs: Kakha and his sons, and Great Gamrekeli and Jakeli Memna" and others.46 This reference shows again that Javakhs (in the Armenian text, the Georgian form "javakhurni" > "javakhurkn"), whom the historian lists by name (Kakha Toreli and his sons, Great Gamrekeli Toreli and Memna Jakeli), are Georgians, Georgian nobles.

Such is the opinion of Armenian historians, who were the contemporaries, or almost the contemporaries, of the events and people about which they wrote.

Unfortunately, contemporary Armenian historians do not take this into account and do not only consider Javakheti a province of Armenia, but also identify the Javakhs, the indigenous population of the region, with Armenians, including the ancient Georgian (Meskhetian) feudal family of Jakeli, while the documents show when and on whose initiative mass settlement by Armenians of this ancient Georgian territory took place: in 1830, on the initiative of the Russian vicegerent in the Caucasus, Ivan Paskevich, up to 30,000 Armenians from Turkey were settled in the Akhaltsikhe (Meskheti) and mainly in the Akhalkalaki (Javakheti) districts.47

42 See: Géographie de Moïse de Corène d'après Ptolèmèe, p. 34.

43 Ibid., p. 20.

44 See: Z. Aleksidze, "Javakheti and Gugareti in the Geopolitical Consciousness of Ancient Armenian Historians," in: Ukhtanes, Collection, Mravaltavi, Tbilisi, 2005 (in Georgian).

45 PatmowÉiwn nahangin Sisakan arareal Stefanosi Orbelean Arqepiskoposi SiwneaÏ, B., 1911, p. 371.

46 Ibid., p. 384.

47 See: Z. Ivanenko, Grazhdanskoe upravlenie Zakavkaz'em, Tiflis, 1873, pp. 265, 266; I. Javakhishvili, op. cit.,

p. 64.


C o n c l u s i o n

To sum up the above, ancient Gugark/Gogarene should be situated in the basin of the Debeda-Chay River. The ancient Georgian name of this province was "Gogarani," which has been retained on the upper reaches of the river in the name of the village that has now been renamed "Gugark."

The indigenous population of the region, the Gugars/Gogarans, was an East Georgian, or to be more precise Kartlian, tribe. I. Marquart48 and H. Hubschmann49 were also of the same opinion.

Javakheti is also an ancient Georgian province, while the indigenous population of the region, the "javakhurni," according to the information of the ancient Armenian sources, was one of the East Georgian tribes.

48 See: I. Marquart, Eranshahr nach oter Geographie des Ps. Moses Xorenagi, Berlin, 1901 (22:116).

49 See: H. Hübschmann, Die altarmenishen Ortsnamen, Strassburg, 1904 (9:276).

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