გ. ქავთარაძე - "არიან-ქართლის" საკითხისათვის (4 )

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Ivane Javakhishvili Institute

of History and Ethnology



The localizaton of Arian-Kartli mentioned in the old Georgian Chronicles (e.g. “The Christening of Kartli”, the Georgian Chronicle of the 9th century) has been among the unsolved problems of Georgian historiography. By the generally accepted opinion Arian-KartIi should be searched south-west of modern Georgia, in the north-eastern parts of Anatolia, in the territory of south-western part of historical Georgia. As to “The Christening of Kartli”, Alexander the Great, after having arrived in Kartli (Iberia), installed his close supporter Azo as a king in Mtskheta. Azo is a king's son of the country of Arian-Kartli, and he took his countrymen and idols Gatsi and Ga with him from his old homeland to Mtskheta. Arseni Beri, the author of metaphrastical reduction of “The life of St. Nino” and tutor of the Georgian king David, the Restorer, explained this information in the following way: “We, Georgians, are descendants of the newcomers from Arian-Kartli, we speak their language and all the kings of Kartli are descendents of their kings”. In our opinion in the term “Arian-Kartli” was reflected the very popular idea of the Classical times, that the Babylonian king Nebukhadnezzar II of the 7th-6th centuries took the captives from among the Iberian and Libyan people, whom he had taken as prisones and resettled them on the right side of the Pontus Sea after having attacked the land of the Libyans and Iberians. The information  about the migration of Iberians (i.e. ancient Georgians) from Africa (Libya) and the Iberian peninsula (Western Iberia) by the Babylonian king Nebukhadnezzar, was ascribed to the historian Megastenes of the late 4th - early 3rd centuries BC already at the Classical times. This information concerning the resettlement of the population of the Iberian peninsula to the Caucasus was created by the old Greek and Roman authors in consequence of wrong use of old ethnonyms. A similar phenomenon – a wrong use of an ethnonym – we have presumably also in Xenophons “Anabasis”. There in the final part only such countries and tribes were enumerated which, in accordance with the basic text, were on the route of Greeks. Among others there is mentioned an ethnonym “Hesperitae” (VII, VIII, 25). The problem of settlement of Hesperitae is a crucial one, because of their location, by some scholars, in Speri (İspir), on the upper flow of Chorokhi (Choruh), the Achaemenian empire is thought to be spread there at the beginning of 4th century BC and as the consequence the term “Arian-Kartli” should emerge as the reflection of the Iranian dominance in this part of Georgia, with the meaning Arian (or Persian) Kartli. /გვ. 53/ I think the fact must be taken into consideration that at the time of the identification of the Hesperitae and the definition of their location, Tiribas, mentioned in the final part of the “Anabasis” as a governor of the Phasianoi and Hesperitae, in accordance with the basic text, was the satrap of Western Armenia (IV, IV, 4). Thus in the final part of the "Anabasis", the main function of Tiribas – that of a ruler of Western Armenia – was changed to the task of a ruler of the Phasianoi and Hesperitae and instead of Armenians, subjects of Tiribas whose country was situated on the route of Xenophons Greek companions, are mentioned Hesperitae. Consequently, the question is inevitable: Was the population of Western Armenia, mentioned in the basic part of “Anabasis”, implied under the name of “Hesperitae” of the final part of the same text? The validity of such an assumption can be reinforced by the fact that the Greek word εσπερα means “west” and εσπεριος/εσπερος – “western”. It is important to notice that Strabo used the term Hesperitae of Libya to designate Western Libyans (XIV, I, 39). Therefore it seems quite possible that the term of the final part of the “Anabasis”, “Hesperitae” or “inhabitants of west” was used for the designation of Western Armenians, and this fact was apparently dictated by the wish to detach them from the Armenians who lived in the satrapy of East Armenia and the territory of which the Greeks passed, until they reached the land of the satrapy of Western Armenia (cf. IV, III, 1, 3,4, 20; IV, IV, 1-4). In a similar way for the distinguishing of the Chalybes, living at the Black Sea littoral from the Chalybes of the East Anatolian highlands, the ethnonym “Coites” was used (cf. III, V, 17; IV, III, 3; IV, IV, 4). Therefore we can approve that the final part of the “Anabasis” from the point of view of its contents is by no means contradictory to the main basic part. Consequently, we must exclude any possibility to consider the West Armenian “Hesperitae” of Xenophons “Anabasis” as a Kartvelian tribe or as a population of Speri, of the upper flow of Chorokhi and therefore the idea of the dominance of Achaemenid Persia in the territory of Speri. Another example of a wrong use of the ethnonyms we can find in Flavius Arrians “Campaign of Alexander”. According to Flavius Arrian, in 329-328 BC, the king of the Central Asian Chorasmeans, Pharasmanes, escorted by 1500 horsemens, appeared before Alexander the Great who stayed at that time on the bank of the Central Asian river Oxus (modern Amu-Daria); he told Alexander that he lived in neighbourhood of the Colchians and Amazons and offered to accompany him and to get the supply for his campaign if Alexander wished to conquer the tribes who lived in the region extended to the Pontus Euxinus (i.e. Black Sea). Alexander replied to the king of the Chorasmeans that he had no time now to begin a campaign to Pontus, but after the conquest of Asia and his return through the Hellespontus and Propontidis to Greece, he would break deeply into Pontus with the help of all his forces, both marine and military ones and only then he would accept Pharasmanes' help (XV, IV, 14,15). The historiographical literature contains quite a competent remark, namely that it is incredible that the author of “Peripluses of the Black Sea”, Flavius Arrian, thought the residence of Colchians to be in Central Asia, in the neighbourhood of Chorasmeans and not in the environment of Trapezunt on the Black Sea. This error appeared obviously in the Greek manuscripts: it is difficult to imagine the king of Central Asian Chorasmeans to be mentioned in the original text together with the Colchians. That the text by Arrian concerns the Pontic region and not Central Asia, beside the fact that it refers to Colchians, Amazons and Pontus Euxinus, can to some degree be stated by Alexander the Great's words, that he would go towards the Pontus after his return to Greece through the Hellespontus and Propontidis (i.e. after his return from Central Asia) using land – as well as marine forces. This last remark makes clear that he was not about to return to Central Asia. If, on the one hand, the king of Chorasmeans, Pharasmanes, mentioned by Arrian, expected Alexander's help against his neighbours – the Colchians and Amazons – on the other hand, by the information of Georgian and Armenian Chronicles, Alexander the Great installed his follower as a ruler after his arrival in Kartli (Iberia). As we already know, according to “The Christening of Kartli”, Alexanders follower, Azo, was the son of the king of Arian-Kartli and he took his compatriots to Kartli. I think in the north-eastern parts of Anatolia should be searched the country of Pharasmanes, the enemy of the Colchians and Amazons. The name of this country presumably was mixed up with the designation of the country in Central Asia – “Chorasmii”. In connection with the problem concerned, we must pay attention to Strabo's information that by Artaxias (the Armenian king Artashes I) and Zariadr (the Armenian military leader Zareh) Armenian lands were enlarged by cutting off from Iberians beside the Gogarene, the slopes of Pariadres mountains and Chorzene (XI, XIV, 5). This event can be dated to the 2nd century BC. Chorzene, apparently included the old Georgian provinces Tao-Klarjeti and Kola-Artaani and was located in the area, the central part of which is the mountaneous ridge of Arsiani (modem Yalnizçam Dağlari), mentioned as mountains of Chorasuns in the “Life of St. Grigoli of Khantza” by Giorgi Merchule of the 10th century. So we can assume that in Flavius Arrian's “Campaign of Alexander” under the name of the Chorasmean king Pharasmanes the ruler of the Iberian province of Chorzene should be identified, and that the information by the Georgian Chronicles about the son of the king of Arian-Kartli, Azo, who became king in Mtskheta (Kartli) because of the help of Alexander the Great, with the information by Flavius Arrian is in a certain way connected. As to the problem of the implication of the information about the first Iberian king, Azo or Mihrdat/Mithridates, of the Georgian and Armenian Chronicles, we should assume that certain events seem to have really taken place in Central Transcaucasia in the late fourth - early third centuries B.C. which were somehow connected with the processes which caused the emergence of the statehood in Iberia (Eastern Georgia). The above data are genuine witnesses of these /გვ. 54/ events, the initial stimulus of which has been given by Alexander the Great's conquest of the Achaemenid empire and which was connected with the emergence of the Iberian (East Georgian) statehood in post-Alexander's times. If in the “The Christening of Kartli” the name of Alexander's lieutenant is Azo who took his fellow countrymen from his old homeland, Arian Kartli, to Mtskheta, in the information of the “Life of the Kings” the name of Alexander the Great's close supporter is Azon and different from “The Christening of Kartli” he was installed by Alexander as a patrician: “Alexander conquered all Kartli... and left over them (the Iberians, – G.K.) as patrician one Azon by name, son of Iaredos, a relative of his from the land of Macedon; and gave him 100,000 men from the land of Rome, which is called P'rotat'os…” (I, 18). It is not at all understandable why Azon's troops are designated in the Chronicle as Roman soldiers. For the author of “The Life of the Kings” as well as for the whole Georgian literature of the Early Middle Age, the distinction between the Romans (Hromni) and Greeks (Berdzeni) is very well known. After the death of Mithridates VI Eupator and the capitulation of the king of Armenia, Tigranes II, - both events took place in 66 B.C. – the Romans strove for the widening of their influence in Transcaucasia. This region had an exceptionally great strategic importance as a defensive barrier against the penetration of the northern nomadic tribes. At the same time, Transcaucasia connected trade routes with the Northern Pontic area on the one hand, and with Central Asia, India and China on the other hand. At the end of his reign (in 66-67) Nero (54-68) initiated a grandiose plan for a new Caucasian expedition. As to Tacitus’ information, there were also many detachments from Germany, Britain, and Illyria summoned and sent on by Nero to the Caspian passes, in the expedition which he was preparing against the Albanians (Hist. 1,6,2). If we would also take into account the fact that relations of Rome with Parthia simultaneously improved as never before, then an explanation of the expectation of a threat coming only from the north for the eastern regions of the empire and, correspondingly, Nero's preventing measures would be most plausible. Whatever may have been the nature of the projects conceived and then abandoned by Nero, they would have more likely involved an action together with Parthia than against it – the common interest in the preservation of peace was now cemented by a common danger coming from beyond the Caucasus. Already Lucan (39-65) mentioned Alans in connection with the Caspian Gate. The Alans, striving for the lands south of the Caucasian Mountains, posed a grave threat to the stability in Transcaucasia, and the Roman military strategy demanded the participation in the defence of this area. The danger of the intrusion of the northerners seems to have been actual enough at the time of Vespasian. The enhancement of the Cappadocian province by two legions and a governor of the consular rank because of the constant offensives by barbarians is usually ascribed to this threat. It seems that the main task of the Romans in Transcaucasia was not only to block the penetration of the northern barbarians via the Caucasus, but also to have a possibility to direct them according their own strategical interests. Even only the existence of such a threat was an important weapon in the Roman hands against their eastern adversaries. The manipultion of such hardly manageable forces as the northern nomads was an extremely difficult and dangerous task and required the involvement of the Roman military detachments in the area.  The army units were needed in Cappadocia as well as the garrisons in Transcaucasian sites as a guarantee of the realisation of the Roman designs. The availability of the allied regional power would be of a certain significance. From this view-point the attraction of the Iberians has a paramount implication. A.D. 77 – the date of the displacement of the Roman legion, Legio  XVI Flavia Firma, from Syria to Satala, Armenia Minor, and its unification with Legio XII Fulminata in the same expedition corps - is considered as an indication of the date of the invasion of Alans, and, at the same time, of the Roman counter-offensive. This date finds a confirmation and can be even fixed more precisely by the time when the Romans helped the Iberians to fortify Harmosike which was afforded in 75 – independently of the fact whether it took place as a precaution against attacks of enemies or only as a consequence of their attacks. In the opinion of scholars, this fact means that in 75 Roman troops and engineers were already in Iberia and that therefore Fronto's expedition should have begun before this date. The information about the activity of the Romans in Iberia was taken from a Greek inscription found in the vicinity of Mtskheta, the capital of Iberia: “Imperator Caesar Vespasianus Augustus..., Imperator Titus Caesar, son of Augustus..., and Domitianus Caesar, son of Augustus..., strengthened walls for Mithridates, king of Iberians...”". The diplomatic language of the inscription must not obscure the fact that Roman military troops were stationed in Iberia and that Nero's plans which were frustrated by the outbreak of a revolt in the west, have been adopted and largely fulfilled by Flavian emperors. The Roman troops in Iberia, represented by legionaries from XII Fulminata or XVI Flavia, were under the control of the legate of Cappadocia. At the same time, an inscription of Marcus Hirrius Fronto Neratius Pansa found at Saepinum (Sepino in Terravecchia), informs us about his post as “leg(atus) pr(o) pr(aetore) [imp(eratoris) Caesaris Vespasiani Aug(usti) exercit]us qui in A[---]”. In M. Torelli’s opinion, Hirrius Fronto's post, taking into account the approximate date of the inscription - A.D. 75 (the time of the incursion of the Alani into Parthia and the erection of a defensive wall for the Iberian king), as well as Fronto's particular experience of political and military affairs in the East, must be interpreted as that of a commander of an eastern expedition, and the text could be completed by the following form: “leg(atus) pr(o) pr(aetore) [imp(eratoris) Caesaris Vespasiani Aug(usti) exercit]us qui in A[rmeniam Maiorem or in A[lanos or in A[lbanos missus est---]”. But we are not quite sure if the fortification of the walls of Harmozica (Armaztsikhe) by Vespasian was intended exclusively against the Alans. They might also have been directed against the Parthians; as it is known, in 76 M. Ulpius Trajan, the father of the future emperor, received triumphal insignia for some diplomatic victory over the Parthian king, Vologaeses I. It seems that the relations between Rome and Parthia drastically changed under Vespasian, who, in /გვ. 55/ contrast to Nero, was not eager to have common defensive projects with the Parthians and prefered to have plans not only independent of them, but even predetermined by the need to overcome the traditional, though not always quite evident, Parthian opposition in the east. Everything was done by Romans to create a solid barrier to eastern enemies and to encourage a pro-Roman orientation of Iberia and Albania. The presence of the Roman troops in central and eastern parts of Transcaucasia was not, as it seemed, a short-termed event (not to speak about its western part which was nearly constantly under their authority). In the poem Silvae of Statius (45-96), composed in 95, the Caspian Gate is represented as the natural sphere of operations of the Cappadocian army. The existence of the Latin and Greek inscriptions in the territories between the Caspian Sea and Iberia is presumably connected with the aforementioned Roman and Iberian common strategical interests in the controlling of the passes located in this area. The extention of domains of the Iberian king to the east, what was simultaneously the guarantee of the expansion of their political power and the achievement of the superiority over their eastern adversaries, would be of course in the interest of the Roman empire. Therefore the participation of the detachment of Legio XII Fulminata in the campaign of the Iberian king against Albania, an ally of Parthians, seems to be very likely. All these data give us the possibility to assume that the story about the p'rotadosean followers of Azon, the ruler of Iberia installed by Alexander the Great of “The Life of the Kings”, must be connected with the Roman times. As it was already above underlined, Azon's troops are designated not as Macedonians, but as Roman soldiers by the text of “The Life of the Kings”. Only in the middle of the second part of the first century A.D., the necessity of the involvement of Roman troops in Central Transcaucasia to prevent an undesirable offensive from the north, as well as the pretensions of the south-easterns powers to extend their control of the area emerged. As the word “p'rotadoselni” of “The Life of the Kings” cannot be derived from Greek πρότακτος Georgian  p' renders Greekφ, not π, it would not be less plausible to propose the connection of the word “p'rotado-selni”, which means people of P'rotado,with the name of Hirrius Fronto, a commander of an eastern expedition in Iberia under Vespasian. He presumably helped to construct the fortifications of Harmozica in Iberia. It is known that, even if military units had a permanent title, they could still, for convenience or for flattery, be called by the name of their commander. Maybe the term under discussion designating initially the army unit under the command of Hirrius Fronto, was afterwards understood (already before the compilation of “The Life of the Kings”) as the Greek expression, πρόταττω,  with the meaning of “place or post in front”. At the same time, the title of Azon of “The Life of the Kings” - the commander of the p’rotat’oseans – “patrik”, translated in English as patrician, is maybe the reflection of Hirrius Fronto’s title adlectio inter patricios, received by him in 73/74, i.e. immediately before his eastern expedition. If we take into account the traditional opposition of Albanians to Romans and the location of the inscriptions which mentioned Legio XII Fulminata in the former Albanian territory, then the campaign of Hirrius Fronto’s expedition against Albanians, and consequently the completion of the important lacuna in the Saepinum inscription by adding Albanos to the end (exercit]us qui in A[lbanos), would become most plausible. We can not exclude that Albania, at that time, was under the control of the Alans; different from Iberia Albania did not assist Romans in the course of their recent campaigns. In such a case, Th. Mommsen’s conjecture of the Albanians of the above fragment of Tacitus to the Alans would have only the factual indication of the real state of affairs. In Tacitus’ information, citing the words of the Iberian king, Pharasmanes I, there was a war among Iberia and Albania in the middle of the first century A.D. Pharasmanes, who showed himself as a skillfull diplomat, seems ultimately to have succeeded in the deterioration of the Roman-Albanian relations. To sum up, we should assume that the narrative about the first Iberian king in the story of Azon of “The Life of the Kings”, the Macedonian conqueror of Iberia, seems to have been mixed with a still unknown source which was dedicated to Roman activities, presumably to those of the Flavian period (69-96) in Central Transcaucasia. The control of the Caucasian passes could give the most favourable opportunity of the preservation of Pax Romana in the Near East. The military units in Cappadocia and the garrisons in Transcaucasian sites served as a guarantee for the fulfilment of Roman plans. The Iberians, having the supremacy over the Caucasian Gate, were the most important ally of the Romans in the region. The close collaboration between the Romans and the Iberians, based on  their joint strategical interests as parts of one and the same orbis terarrum, required the integration of Roman military contigents in the Iberian society. The information of “The Life of the Kings” about the dissolvement of the p'rotodoseans in the Georgian society should be explained exactly by this fact.


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