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Kingdom of Colchis
"Kingdom
c. 13th century BC–164 BC
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Colchis and Iberia
Capital Aea
Languages "Kartvelian languages
Government "Monarchy
Historical era "Iron age
 •  Established c. 13th century BC
 •  Conquest of "Diauehi 750 BC
 •  Disestablished 164 BC
Today part of  "Georgia
 "Turkey
 "Russia

Colchis ("/ˈkɒlkɪs/; "Georgian: კოლხეთი Kolkheti; "Greek Κολχίς Kolkhis) was an ancient "kingdom and "region on the coast of the "Black Sea, centred in present-day western "Georgia. It has been described in modern scholarship as "the earliest Georgian formation" which, along with the "Kingdom of Iberia, would later contribute significantly to the development of the "medieval Georgian statehood and the Georgian nation.[1][2] Internationally, Colchis is perhaps best known for its role in "Greek mythology, most notably as the destination of the "Argonauts, as well as the home to "Medea and the "Golden fleece.[3] It was also described as a land rich with gold, iron, timber and honey that would export its resources mostly to ancient Greece.[4]

Colchis was populated by Colchians, an early "Lazuri speaking tribe, ancestral to the contemporary Western "Georgians, namely "Svans and "Mingrelians, as well as the related "Lazs.[5] Its geography is mostly assigned to what is now the western part of "Georgia and encompasses the present-day Georgian provinces of "Samegrelo, "Imereti, "Guria, "Adjara, "Abkhazeti, "Svaneti, "Racha; modern "Russia’s "Sochi and "Tuapse districts; and present-day "Turkey’s "Rize, "Trabzon and "Artvin provinces.[6]

Contents

Geography and toponyms[edit]

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Colchis geographical satellite image. Black sea, Colchian lowlands and Caucasian mountains
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Colchian coins
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Colchian scent bottle fourth century BC

The kingdom of Colchis, Kolkhis[7][8][9][10] or Qulḫa[11][12][13] which existed from the c. 13th to the 1st centuries BC is regarded as an early ethnically "Georgian polity; the name of the "Colchians was used as the collective term for early Kartvelian tribes which populated the eastern coast of the Black Sea in "Greco-Roman ethnography.[14]

The name Colchis is thought to have derived from the "Urartian Qulḫa, pronounced as "Kolcha".[15] In the late eighth century BC, "Sarduri II the King of "Urartu, inscribed his victory over Qulḫa on a stele, however. the exact location of Qulḫa is disputed. Some scholars argue the name Qulḫa (Colchis) originally referred to a land to the west of Georgia.[16][17]

According to the scholar of Caucasian studies "Cyril Toumanoff:

Colchis appears as the first Caucasian State to have achieved the coalescence of the newcomer. Colchis can be justly regarded as not a proto-Georgian, but a Georgian (West Georgian) kingdom. . . .It would seem natural to seek the beginnings of Georgian social history in Colchis, the earliest Georgian formation.[1]

A second South Caucasian tribal union emerged in the thirteenth century BC on the Black Sea coast.["clarification needed][18][19] According to most classic authors, a district which was bounded on the southwest by "Pontus, on the west by the "Black Sea as far as the river Corax (probably the present day "Bzyb River, "Abkhazia, "Georgia), on the north by the chain of the "Greater Caucasus, which lay between it and Asiatic "Sarmatia, on the east by "Iberia and "Montes Moschici (now the "Lesser Caucasus), and on the south by "Armenia. There is some little difference in authors as to the extent of the country westward: thus "Strabo makes Colchis begin at "Trabzon, while "Ptolemy, on the other hand, extends "Pontus to the "Rioni River.

The name of Colchis first appears in "Aeschylus and "Pindar. The earlier writers only speak about it under the name of Aea (Aia), the residence of the mythical king "Aeëtes: "Kolchian Aia lies at the furthest limits of sea and earth," wrote "Apollonius of Rhodes.[20] The main river was the "Phasis (now Rioni), which was according to some writers the south boundary of Colchis, but more probably flowed through the middle of that country from the Caucasus west by south to the Euxine, and the Anticites or Atticitus (now "Kuban). "Arrian mentions many others by name, but they would seem to have been little more than mountain torrents: the most important of them were Charieis, Chobus or Cobus, Singames, Tarsuras, Hippus, Astelephus, Chrysorrhoas, several of which are also noticed by "Ptolemy and "Pliny. The chief towns were "Dioscurias or Dioscuris (under the "Romans called Sebastopolis, now "Sukhumi) on the seaboard of the Euxine, Sarapana (now "Shorapani), "Phasis (now "Poti), Pityus (now "Pitsunda), "Apsaros (now "Gonio), "Surium (now "Vani), Archaeopolis (now "Nokalakevi), Macheiresis, and Cyta or Cutatisium or Aia (now "Kutaisi), the traditional birthplace of "Medea. "Scylax mentions also Mala or Male, which he, in contradiction to other writers, makes the birthplace of "Medea.

Physical-geographic characteristics[edit]

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Map of Colchis and Iberia by "Christoph Cellarius printed in Leipzig in 1706

In "physical geography, Colchis is usually defined as the area east of the "Black Sea Coast, restricted from the north by south-western slopes of the "Greater Caucasus Mountain Range, from the south by the northern slopes of the Lesser Caucasus in Georgia and Eastern Black Sea (Karadeniz) Mountains in Turkey, and from the east by "Likhi Range, connecting the Greater and the "Lesser Caucasus Mountain Ranges. The central part of the region is Colchis Plain, stretching between "Sokhumi and "Kobuleti; most of that lies on the elevation below 20 m above sea level. Marginal parts of the region are mountains of the Great and the Lesser Caucasus and Likhi Range.["citation needed]

Its territory mostly corresponds to what is now the western part of "Georgia and encompasses the present-day Georgian provinces of "Samegrelo, "Imereti, "Guria, "Adjara, "Abkhazeti, "Svaneti, "Racha; the modern "Turkey’s "Rize, "Trabzon and "Artvin provinces ("Lazistan, "Tao-Klarjeti); and the modern "Russia’s "Sochi and "Tuapse districts.[6]

The climate is mild humid; near "Batumi, annual rainfall level reaches 4,000 mm, which is the absolute maximum for the continental western Eurasia. The dominating natural landscapes of Colchis are "temperate rainforests, yet degraded in the plain part of the region; wetlands (along the coastal parts of Colchis Plain); subalpine and "alpine meadows.["citation needed]

The Colchis has a high proportion of Tertiary relict plants and animals, with the closest relatives in distant parts of the world: five species of "Rhododendrons and other evergreen shrubs, "wingnuts, "Caucasian salamander, Caucasian Parsley Frog, eight endemic species of lizards from the genus "Darevskia, Caucasian adder, "Robert's vole, and endemic cave shrimps.[21]

History[edit]

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Second century BC Greek bronze torso from Colchis, "Georgian National Museum
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Colchian pendants, riders and horses on wheeled platforms "Georgian National Museum

Prehistory and earliest references[edit]

The eastern Black Sea region in antiquity was home to the well-developed "Bronze Age culture known as the "Colchian culture, related to the neighboring "Koban culture, that emerged toward the Middle "Bronze Age. In at least some parts of Colchis, the process of urbanization seems to have been well advanced by the end of the second millennium BC, centuries before "Greek settlement. The Colchian Late "Bronze Age (fifteenth to eighth century BC) saw the development of significant skill in the smelting and casting of metals. Sophisticated farming implements were made, and fertile, well-watered lowlands and a mild climate promoted the growth of progressive agricultural techniques.["citation needed]

Colchis was inhabited by a number of related, but distinct, tribes whose settlements lay along the shore of the Black Sea. Chief among those were the "Machelones, "Heniochi, "Zydretae, "Lazi, "Chalybes, "Tabal/"Tibareni/"Tubal, "Mossynoeci, "Macrones, "Moschi, "Marres, "Apsilae, "Abasci,[22] "Sanigae, Coraxi, Coli, "Melanchlaeni, "Geloni and "Soani (Suani). These Colchian tribes differed so completely in language and appearance from the surrounding "Indo-European nations that the ancients provided various wild theories to account for the phenomenon.

"Herodotus regarded the Colchians as an "Ancient Egyptian race.[23] "Herodotus states that the Colchians, with the "Ancient Egyptians and the "Ethiopians, were the first to practice "circumcision, a custom which he claims (without historical proof) that the Colchians inherited from remnants of the army of "Pharaoh "Sesostris. Herodotus writes, "For it is plain to see that the Colchians are Egyptians; and what I say, I myself noted before I heard it from others. When it occurred to me, I inquired of both peoples; and the Colchians remembered the Egyptians better than the Egyptians remembered the Colchians; [2] the Egyptians said that they considered the Colchians part of Sesostris' army. I myself guessed it, partly because they are dark-skinned and woolly-haired; though that indeed counts for nothing, since other peoples are, too; but my better proof was that the Colchians and Egyptians and Ethiopians are the only nations that have from the first practised circumcision." "Apollonius of Rhodes states that the Egyptians of Colchis preserved as heirlooms a number of wooden tablets, which show, with considerable accuracy, seas and highways.

According to "Pliny the Elder:

The Colchians were governed by their own kings in the earliest ages, that Sesostris king of Egypt was overcome in "Scythia,[24] and put to fight, by the king of Colchis, which if true, that the Colchians not only had kings in those times, but were a very powerful people.[25][26]

Many modern theories suggest that the ancestors of the "Laz-"Mingrelians constituted the dominant ethnic and cultural presence in the region in antiquity, and hence played a significant role in the ethnogenesis of the modern "Georgians.[27][28]

Persian rule[edit]

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Gold ornaments made by Colchians of the sixth century BC

In the thirteenth century BC, the Kingdom of Colchis was formed as a result of the increasing consolidation of the tribes inhabiting the region. This power, celebrated in "Greek mythology as the destination of the "Argonauts, the home of "Medea and the special domain of sorcery, was known to "Urartians as Qulha (aka Kolkha, or Kilkhi). The Colchian kingdom of "Tabal was conquered by the "Assyrian emperor "Shalmaneser III in the 830s BC. Being in permanent wars with the neighbouring nations, the Colchians managed to absorb part of "Diauehi in the 750s BC, but lost several provinces (including the "royal city" of Ildemusa) to the "Sarduri II of Urartu following the wars of 750–748 and 744–742 BC. Overrun by the "Cimmerians and "Scythians in the 730s–720s BC, and invaded by "Assyria, the kingdom disintegrated and eventually came under the "Achaemenid "Persian Empire toward the mid-sixth century BC. The tribes living in the southern Colchis ("Tibareni, "Mossynoeci, "Macrones, "Moschi, and "Marres) were incorporated into the nineteenth "Satrapy of Persia, while the northern tribes submitted "voluntarily" and had to send to the Persian court 100 girls and 100 boys every five years. The influence exerted on Colchis by the vast Achaemenid Empire with its thriving commerce and wide economic and commercial ties with other regions accelerated the socio-economic development of the Colchian land. Subsequently the Colchis people appear to have overthrown the "Persian Authority, and to have formed an independent state.["citation needed] According to Ronald Suny: This western Georgian state was federated to Kartli-Iberia, and its kings ruled through skeptukhi (royal governors) who received a staff from the king.[29]

Greek colonization[edit]

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Colchian Axes from Tli Cemetery

The advanced economy and favorable geographic and natural conditions of the area attracted the "Milesian Greeks, who colonized the Colchian coast establishing their trading posts at "Phasis, "Gyenos, and "Sukhumi in the sixth-fifth centuries BC. It was considered "the farthest voyage" according to an ancient Greek proverbial expression, the easternmost location in that society's known world, where the sun rose. It was situated just outside the lands conquered by "Alexander the Great. "Phasis and "Dioscurias were the splendid Greek cities dominated by the mercantile oligarchies, sometimes being troubled by the Colchians from the hinterland before seemingly, assimilating totally. After the fall of the Persian Empire, a significant part of Colchis, locally known as "Egrisi, was annexed to the recently created "Kingdom of Iberia ("Kartli) in c. 302 BC, however, soon Colchis seceded and broke up into several small princedoms ruled by sceptuchi. They retained a degree of independence until conquered (circa 101 BC) by "Mithridates VI of Pontus.

Under Pontus[edit]

Mithradates VI quelled an uprising in the region in 83 BC and gave Colchis to his son Mithridates, who, soon being suspected in having plotted against his father, was executed. During the "Third Mithridatic War, Mithridates VI made another of his sons, "Machares, king of Colchis, who held his power, but for a short period. On the defeat of "Mithridates VI of Pontus in 65 BC, Colchis was occupied by "Pompey,[30] who captured one of the local chiefs (sceptuchus) Olthaces, and installed Aristarchus as a "dynast (65–47 BC). On the fall of Pompey, "Pharnaces II, son of "Mithridates, took advantage of "Julius Caesar being occupied in "Egypt, and reduced Colchis, "Armenia, and some part of "Cappadocia, defeating "Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus, whom Caesar subsequently sent against him. His triumph was, however, short-lived. Under "Polemon I, the son and heir of Zenon, Colchis was part of the "Pontus and the "Bosporan Kingdom. After the death of Polemon (8 BC), his second wife "Pythodorida of Pontus retained possession of Colchis as well as of Pontus, although the kingdom of Bosporus was wrested from her power. Her son and successor, "Polemon II of Pontus, was induced by Emperor "Nero to abdicate the throne, and both Pontus and Colchis were incorporated in the Province of "Galatia (63) and later, in "Cappadocia (81). "Phasis, "Dioscurias and other Greek settlements of the coast did not fully recover after the wars of 60-40 BC and Trebizond became the economical and political centre of the region.[31]

Under Roman rule[edit]

Despite the fact that all major fortresses along the seacoast were occupied by the Romans, their rule was relatively loose. In 69, the people of Pontus and Colchis under "Anicetus staged a major uprising against the "Romans which ended unsuccessfully.

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Georgian lion from Colchis

The lowlands and coastal area were frequently raided by fierce mountain tribes, with the "Soanes and "Heniochi being the most powerful of them. Paying a nominal homage to "Rome, they created their own kingdoms and enjoyed significant independence.

"Christianity began to spread in the early first century. Traditional accounts relate the event with "Saint Andrew, Saint "Simon the Zealot, and Saint Matata. The "Hellenistic, local "pagan and "Mithraic religious beliefs would, however, remain widespread until the fourth century. By the 130s, the kingdoms of "Machelones, "Heniochi, "Egrisi, "Apsilia, "Abasgia, and "Sanigia had occupied the district from south to north. "Goths, dwelling in the "Crimea and looking for new homes, raided Colchis in 253, but were repulsed with the help of the Roman garrison of "Pitsunda. By the third-fourth centuries, most of the local kingdoms and principalities had been subjugated by the Lazic kings, and thereafter, the country was generally referred to as Lazica ("Egrisi).["citation needed]

Rulers[edit]

Little is known of the rulers of Colchis;

Note: During his reign, the local chiefs, sceptuchi, continued to exercise some power; one of them, Olthaces, is mentioned by the Roman sources as a captive of "Pompey in 65 BC["citation needed]

In mythology[edit]

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"Jason and the "Argonauts arriving at Colchis. "Argonautica tells the myth of their voyage to retrieve the "Golden Fleece. This painting is located in the "Palace of Versailles.

In Classical "Greek mythology, Colchis was the home of "Aeëtes, "Medea, the "Golden Fleece, fire-breathing bulls "Khalkotauroi[32][33] and the destination of the "Argonauts.[34][35]

Colchis also is thought to be a possible homeland of the "Amazons.[36][37][38][39][40][41] "Amazons also were said to be of "Scythian origin from Colchis.[42]

According to the Greek mythology, Colchis was a fabulously wealthy land situated on the mysterious periphery of the heroic world. Here in the sacred grove of the war god "Ares, King "Aeëtes hung the "Golden Fleece until it was seized by "Jason and the "Argonauts. Colchis was also the land where the mythological "Prometheus was punished by being chained to a mountain while an eagle ate at his liver for revealing to humanity the secret of fire.

Apollonius of Rhodes named Aea as the main city (Argonautica, passim). The main mythical characters from Colchis are:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b CToumanoff. Cyril Toumanoff, Studies in Christian Caucasian History, p 69,84
  2. ^ David Braund, Georgia in Antiquity: A History of Colchis and Transcaucasian Iberia, 550 BC-AD 562, Oxford University Press, USA (September 8, 1994)
  3. ^ W.E.D. Allen, A history of the Georgian people (1932), p. 123
  4. ^ Nigel Wilson, Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece, p.149
  5. ^ Antiquity 1994. p. 359. The Great Soviet Encyclopedia:Значение слова "Колхи" в Большой Советской Энциклопедии; The Cambridge Ancient History, John Anthony Crook, "Elizabeth Rawson, p. 255
  6. ^ a b Andrew Andersen, History of Ancient Caucasus, p. 91
  7. ^ Castles of God: Fortified Religious Buildings of the World, Peter Harrison p196
  8. ^ Greek Tragedy, Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz p151
  9. ^ Dark of the Moon, Tracy Barrett p190
  10. ^ Ancient Epic, Katherine Callen King The Argonautica before Appolonius
  11. ^ The Pre-history of the Armenian People, Igor Mikhailovich Diakonov, p75
  12. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 1, p1040
  13. ^ Archaeology at the north-east Anatolian frontier, Claudia Sagona, p35
  14. ^ Georgia in Antiquity: A History of Colchis and Transcaucasian Iberia, 550 BC-AD 562, David Braund Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994. Pp. 359
  15. ^ O, Lordkipanidze. (1991). Archeology in Georgia, Weinheim, 110.
  16. ^ M. Salvini, Geschichte und Kultur der Urartäer (Darmstadt, 1995) 70f.
  17. ^ Bremmer, J. N. (2007). "The Myth of the Golden Fleece". Journal Ancient Near Eastern Religions, 6, 9-38.
  18. ^ D. Braund, Georgia in Antiquity: A History of Colchis and Transcaucasian Iberia 550 BC–562 AD, Oxford University Press, 1996.
  19. ^ James Stuart Olson, An Ethnohistorical Dictionary of the Russian and Soviet Empires, p. 242
  20. ^ Apollonius, "Argonautica, II.417.
  21. ^ Denk, Thomas; Frotzler, Norbert; Davitashvili, Nino (2001-02-01). "Vegetational patterns and distribution of relict taxa in humid temperate forests and wetlands of Georgia (Transcaucasia)". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 72 (2): 287–332. "ISSN 0024-4066. "doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.2001.tb01318.x. 
  22. ^ According to some scholars, ancient tribes such as the Absilae (mentioned by Pliny, 1st century CE) and Abasgoi (mentioned by Arrian, 2nd century CE) correspond to the modern Abkhazians (Chirikba, V., "On the etymology of the ethnonym 'apswa' "Abkhaz", in The Annual of the Society for the Study of Caucasia, 3, 13-18, Chicago, 1991; Hewitt, B. G., "The valid and non-valid application of philology to history", in Revue des Etudes Georgiennes et Caucasiennes, 6-7, 1990-1991, 247-263; "Grand Dictionnaire Encyclopédique Larousse, tome 1, 1985, p. 20). However, this claim is controversial and no academic consensus has yet been reached. Other scholars suggest that these ethnonyms instead reflect a common regional origin, rather than emphasizing a distinct and separate ethnic and cultural identity in antiquity. For example, Tariel Putkaradze, a Georgian scholar, suggests, "In the 3rd-2nd millennia BC the Kartvelian, Abhaz-Abaza, Circassian-Adyghe and Vaynakh tribes must have been part of a great Ibero-Caucasian ethnos. Therefore, it is natural that several tribes or ethnoses descending from them have the names derived from a single stem. The Colchian Aphaz, Apsil, Apšil and north Caucasian Apsua, Abazaha, Abaza, existing in the 1st millennium, were the names denoting different tribes of a common origin. Some of these tribes (Apsils, Apshils) disappeared, others mingled with kindred tribes, and still others have survived to the present day." (Putkaradze, T. The Kartvelians, 2005, translated by Irene Kutsia)
  23. ^ http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Hdt.+2.104&fromdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0126
  24. ^ The Shrines and Sepulchres of the Old and New World: Records of Pilgrimages in Many Lands, and Researches Connected with the History of Places Remarkable for Memorials of the Dea, Or Monuments of a Sacred Character; Including Notices of the Funeral Customs of the Principal Nations, Ancient and Modern, Volume 1, Richard Robert Madden, Newby, 1851, p293
  25. ^ An Universal history, from the earliest account of time, Volume 10, George Sale, George Psalmanazar, Archibald Bower, George Shelvocke, John Campbell, John Swinton, p136 B.II.
  26. ^ Plin, I, xxxiii, c. 3.
  27. ^ Miniature Empires: A Historical Dictionary of the Newly Independent States, James Minahan, p. 116
  28. ^ Cyril Toumanoff, Studies in Christian Caucasian History, p 80
  29. ^ The Making of the Georgian Nation: 2nd Ed, Ronald Grigor Suny, p 13
  30. ^ Pompey, Nic Fields p29
  31. ^ Rayfield, Donald (2013). Edge of Empires: A History of Georgia. ReaktionBooks. p. 28. "ISBN "9781780230702. 
  32. ^ The Origin of Pagan Idolatry, George Stanley Faber p409
  33. ^ The Facts on File Companion to Classical Drama, John E. Thorburn Colchian Bulls p145
  34. ^ The Routledge Handbook of the Peoples and Places of Ancient Western Asia: The Near East from the Early Bronze Age to the Fall of the Persian Empire, Trevor Bryce p171
  35. ^ World Mythology: An Anthology of Great Myths and Epics, Donna Rosenberg p218
  36. ^ Celebrate the Divine Feminine: Reclaim Your Power with Ancient Goddess Wisdom: Joy Reichard p169
  37. ^ John Canzanella: Innocence and Anarchy p58
  38. ^ Margaret Meserve: Empires of Islam in Renaissance Historical Thought p250
  39. ^ Diane P. Thompson: The Trojan War: Literature and Legends from the Bronze Age to the Present p193
  40. ^ Andrew Brown: A New Companion to Greek Tragedy p66
  41. ^ Mark Amaru Pinkham: The Return of the Serpents of Wisdom The Amazons, The Female Serpents
  42. ^ William G. Thalmann: Apollonius of Rhodes and the Spaces of Hellenism Apollonius of Rhodes, p.130

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]

"Coordinates: 42°N 42°E / 42°N 42°E / 42; 42

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