Historical Facts

Category: Статьи
Written by puahe Hits: 3937

                   Inhabitants of Azerbaijan in the 3rd to 1st millennium BCE

During decades Azerbaijani scholars strive to prove that the Azerbaijanis have long inhabited in this territory. This conception about the indigenity of Azerbaijanis mostly proved by the recent research of the Department of Genetics of Max Planck Institute (Germany). Analysis of DNA-based tests show that the Azerbaijani population is indigenous and has close genetic ties with European and Near Eastern groups.

On the basis of archaeological, linguistic and anthropological data, it is established that there was a historical-cultural and ethnic community of tribes inhabiting the Caucasus from the old times (the Upper Paleolithic Age). Later on, in the Neolithic Age, the wide settling of tribes was going on in the Caucasus, large ethnic groups and accordingly archaeological cultures were being formed from kindred tribes. That caused a differentiation within the Caucasian lingual and cultural community, and this process was followed by the formation of main ethnic groups among the Caucasian population.

The historical sources mention some tribes; inhabited in the Southern Azerbaijan in the 3rd to 2nd millennia BC, while there is no information about tribes, inhabited this period in the northern part of Azerbaijan, where Azerbaijan Republic is located.

The Lullubi were a group of tribes during the 3rd millennium BC, from a region known as Lulubum, now the Sharazor plain of the Zagros Mountains of the Southern Azerbaijan.

Lullubum appears in historical times as one of the lands Sargon the Great subjugated within his Akkadian Empire in the 23rd century BC, along with the neighboring province of Gutium to the south. Sargon's grandson Naram Sin defeated the Lullubi and their king Satuni, and had his famous victory stele made in commemoration. After the Akkadian Empire fell to the Kutians, the Lullubians rebelled against the Kutian king Erridupizir, according to the latter's inscriptions. Following the Kutian period, the Neo-Sumerian (Ur-III) ruler Shulgi is said to have raided Lullubi at least 9 times.

The successful king of Lullubi Anubanini could protect his country; moreover, he subdued neighbor countries. The famous rock carving depicting the Lullubian king Anubanini with the Assyrian-Babylonian goddess Ishtar, captives in tow, is now thought to date to the rein of Sargon the Great (23rd century BC); a Babylonian legendary retelling of the exploits of Sargon the Great mentions Anubanini as one of his opponents.

In the following 2nd millennium BC, the term "Lullubi" or "Lullu" seems to have become a generic Babylonian / Assyrian term for "highlander", while the original region of Lullubi was also known as Zamua. However, the "land of Lullubi" makes a reappearance in the late 12th century BC, when both Nebuchadnezzar I of Babylon (in c. 1120 BC) and Tiglath-Pileser I of Assyria (in 1113 BC) claim to have subdued it. Neo-Assyrian kings of the following centuries also recorded campaigns and conquests in the area of Lullubum / Zamua.

The Kutians (also Gutians, Quti and Kuti) were one of the tribes inhabited in the Southern Azerbaijan, on the west and southwest of the lake Urmia, presumably the central Zagros. This tribe began to flux to Mesopotamia at the beginning of the 22nd century BC and overran southern Mesopotamia when the Akkadian empire collapsed in approximately 2154 BC. The Sumerian king list represents them as ruling over Sumer after the fall of the Akkadian Empire, and indicate that Sumerian ensi keep their administrative position during the Kutian ruling. 

Next to nothing is known about their origins, as no "Kutian" artifacts have surfaced from that time; little information is gleaned from the contemporary sources. Nothing is known of their language either, apart from those Sumerian king names, and that it was distinct from other known languages of the region (such as Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite and Elamite). Most of Azerbaijani historians of our days claim that the Kutians had proto-Turkic origins. Moreover, they assert that Kutian and Lullubian had a state structure.

In 1950s soviet historian Zelik I. Yampolskiy discovered the name of the tribe Turukki in the cuneiform texts, which settled to the south of the Lake Urmia. The Turukkies (Turukhi) were subdued by the Lullubi. In 1980s Azerbaijani historian Yusif Yusifov discovered the name of another tribe- the Su (Sub), inhabited in these territories.

Hurrian is a conventional name for the language of the Hurrians (Khurrites), a people who entered northern Mesopotamia around 2300 BC and had mostly vanished by 1000 BC. Part of them settled in the Southern Azerbaijan.

Cimmerians, Scythians and Sakas

At the beginning of the 1st millennium BC, more precisely, at the 1st quarter of the 7th century BC Cimmerians, after them Scythians and Sakas fluxed to Azerbaijan. The Cimmerians or Kimmerians were an ancient  people living north of the Caucasus and the Sea of Azov as early as 2300 BC until they were driven southward by the Scythians into Anatolia during the 8th century BC. The first historical record of the Cimmerians appears in Assyrian annals in the year 714 BC. These describe how a people termed the Gimirri helped the forces of Sargon II to defeat the kingdom of Urartu. They settled territories, called Gamir or Uishdish, one of the provinces of Mannae together with Scythians at the beginning of the 7th century BC. The later geographer Ptolemy placed the Cimmerian city of Gomara to the north and northwest of the Lake Urmia.

The Scythians were the equestrian tribes who inhabited large areas in the central Eurasian steppes between the 7th century BC and 4th century AD. Following Cimmerinas they, led by Ishpaka, settled down territories between Mannea and Urartu at the beginning of the 7th century BC. Ishpaka was an ally of Mannea and Urartu. His successor Partatua established a kingdom between Mannea and Urartu in the middle of the 7th century. Relying his support Mannean king Akhsheri became an independent from Assyrian vassalage. But Manneans could not get this support in 650 BC, when Assurbanipal assaulted Mannea. At this time Partatua established friendly relations with Assyria and married a daughter of Assyrian king Essarhaddon. According to Herodotus, the Median king Cyaxares destroyed the Scythian kingdom at the beginning of the 6th century BC. Most of the Scythians left Azerbaijan for their previews settlements on the north shore of the Black Sea; and their remnants mixed with the local population.   


Azerbaijan during antiquity: Manna, Atropatena and Caucasian Albania

Mannea/ Manna

Mannea (usually in Azerbaijan- Manna) is the oldest Azerbaijani state, which located in the territory of present-day Southern Azerbaijan, around of the Lake Urmia, between the 9th to 6th centuries BC. At that time Mannea was neighbor of the ancient Near Eastern empires Assyria and Urartu, as well as other small buffer states. The capital city Izirtu/ Zirta was located near to the southeast of lake Urmia.

One of the first mentions of Mannea is from the Assyrian records from 9th century BC. In the records of Shalmaneser III, Manneans are mentioned around the area of Lake Urmia in 843 BC. This record also mentions the name of the first Mannean king Udaki.

The Mannaean kingdom began to flourish around 850 BC. The Mannaeans were mainly a settled people, practicing irrigation and cattle breeding and horses.

By the 820s BC they had expanded to become the first large state to occupy this region since the Kutians. Beginning around 800s BC, the region became contested ground between Urartu, who built several forts on the territory of Mannea, and Assyria. During the open conflict between the two, ca. 750-730 BC, Mannea seized the opportunity to enlarge its holdings. The Mannaean kingdom reached the pinnacle of its power during the reign of Iranzu (ca. 740-719 BC). Iranzu was an ally of the Assyrians, and this alliance was against Urartu. His goal was to return the occupied lands by Urartu. At this time, king of Urartu Rusa I sought to press for the riot the peripheral governors against the central government. In 719 BC, the governors Mitatti and Bagdaddi revolted against Iranzu. Assyrian king Sargon II moved his army to Manna for the help Iranzu to suppress the mutiny. 

After Iranzu his son Aza became the king of Mannea, but his short reign mentioned as a period of riot. The ruler Aza was assassinated and had been deposed by Ullusunu with the support of the Urartians king Rusa I. In 716 BC, king Sargon II of Assyria moved against Mannea and took Izirtu, and stationed troops in Parsua.

According to one Assyrian inscription, the Cimmerians (Gimirru) originally went forth from their homeland of Gamir or Uishdish on the shores of the Black Sea in "the midst of Mannai" around this time. The Cimmerians first appear in the annals in the year 714 BC, when they apparently helped the Assyrians to defeat Urartu. Urartu chose to submit to the Assyrians, and together the two defeated the Cimmerians and thus kept them out of the Fertile Crescent. At any rate, the Cimmerians had again rebelled against Sargon by 705, and he was killed whilst driving them out. By 679 they had instead migrated to the east and west of Mannea.

The Mannaeans are recorded as rebelling against Esarhaddon of Assyria in 676 BC under their ruler Akhsheri. The king Ahsheri, who ruled until the 650s BC, continued to enlarge the territory of Mannea, although paying tribute to Assyria. However, Mannea suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Assyrians around 660 BC, and subsequently an internal revolt broke out, continuing until Ahsheri's death. Also in the 7th century BC, Mannea was defeated by the advancing Scythians, who had already raided Urartu and been repelled by the Assyrians. This defeat contributed to the further break-up of the Mannaean kingdom. King Ahsheri's successor, Ualli, as a vassal of Assyria, took the side of the Assyrians against the Iranian Medes (Madai), who were at this point still based to the east along the southwest shore of the Caspian Sea and revolting against Assyrian domination. The Medes and Persians were subjugated by Assyria. However, the Neo Assyrian Empire which had dominated the region for three hundred years began to unravel, consumed by civil war after the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 BC. The upheavals in Assyria allowed the Medes to free themselves from Assyrian vassalage and make themselves the major power in ancient Iran at the expense of the Persians, Manneans and the remnants of the indigenous Elamites whose kingdom had been destroyed by the Assyrians. Erisinni son of Ualli is the last recorded ruler of Mannea. Mannea became then an ally of Assyria against the emerging Median state, but due to the weakness and fall of Assyria in the last decades of the 7th century BCE, Mannea became part of the Median Empire. The Medes conquered the remnants of Mannea in 590 BC.

The Mannean territories remained under Median Empire before its conquest by the Achaemenids in 550 BC and Azerbaijani territories were one of the provinces (satrapies) of this empire. Alexander the Great defeated the Persian armies at Granicus (334 BCE), followed by Issus (333 BCE), and lastly at Gaugamela (331 BCE) and the Achaemenids Empire was destroyed totally in 330 BC.

After the death of Alexander and collapse of his empire two new kingdoms emerged in Azerbaijan: Atropatena in the Southern Azerbaijan; Caucasian Albania in the Northern Azerbaijan.

Culture. Religion. Economy. Mannean’s culture was very close to the Near Eastern civilization, more precisely to the Assyrian. Moreover, it was impacted by the Scythian culture, which proves the artifacts, found in Zivie. But Manna had the distinctive art,  indescribable elegance and beauty that is unique in their contemporary civilizations. They have been called the art of making glazed bricks. Bricks with colorful designs that they plan to remain intact after nearly 3000 years. Beautiful specimens in the Museum of East Ancient bricks found in Tokyo.

Ancient Manneans were pagans and worshiped natural object such as Sun, Moon or mountain, tree and etc. They sculpted the stone idols as mentioned Assyrian cuneiform.

The economy was based on farming and livestock-raising (especially of cattle and sheep). They grew grain and various orchard crops, and are known to have used implements to make flour. They raised cattle, sheep, goats, dogs, and in its later phases, horses.


Atropatene was an ancient kingdom established and ruled under local dynasties starting in the 4th century BC and included the territories of modern-day Iranian Azerbaijan and some south districts of the Northern Azerbaijan. Its capital was Gazaka/Ganzak. Atropatene also was the nominal ancestor of the nameAzerbaijan. This kingdom comes to be known to the Greeks as "Media Atropatene" after Atropates, and eventually simply "Atropatene". More precisely, according to Strabo this kingdom was named after its first king Atropates. The Arsacids called it 'Aturpatakan' in Parthian, as did also the Sassanids who eventually succeeded them. It was during the Arab period that Aturpatakan became Adarbaygan, Adarbayjan or Azerbaijan. According to the etymological theory, literally, the name "Atropates" itself translates from old Avestian language as "Protected by the (Holy) Fire", thus Atropatene means "Land of protected by (Holy) fire". This etymology directly links the country to its pre-Islamic religion, Zoroastrianism.

Following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, the Macedonian's conquests were divided amongst the diadochi at the Partition of Babylon. The former Achaemenid satrapy of Media was divided into two states: The greater (southern) part - Media Magna was assigned to Peithon, one of Alexander's bodyguards. The smaller (northern) region, which had been the sub-satrapy of Matiene, became Media Atropatene under Atropates, the former Achaemenid governor of all Media, who had by then become father-in-law of Perdiccas, regent of Alexander's designated successor.

Shortly thereafter, Atropates refused to pay allegiance to Seleucus, and made Media Atropatene an independent kingdom about 312 BC. It subsequently lost the Media prefix in the name and came to be known simply as Atropatene. The dynasty Atropates founded would rule the kingdom for several centuries, first independently, then as vassals of the Arsacids (who called it 'Aturpatakan'). It was eventually annexed by the Arsacids, who then lost it to the Sassanids, who again called it 'Aturpatakan'. Although the below list is incomplete, they are the known ruling Kings of Media Atropatene.

There is no any record about Atropatene about 100 years. In 223 Atropatene was defeated by the Seleucid Greek King Antiochus III the Great and its king Artabazanes became his vassal. He is said to be a paternal grandson of the Persian King Darius II from his marriage to the daughter of Gobryas.

During II-I centuries BC Roman Republic and Parthian Empire waged wars for the subjugation of the Near Eastern and South Caucasian countries. At that time Atropatene ruled Artavasdes I  (from 56 BC until 31 BC), who was an ally of the Parthians in the battle of Carrhae in 53 BC. In 38 BC when Roman Triumvir Mark Antony led his campaign against the Parthian Empire, Artavasdes I was again an ally of the King Phraates IV of Parthia. Antony moved with his army in fast marches to Phraaspa, the strong fortified capital of Media Atropatene, where Artavasdes I had got his family to safety. Meantime Artavasdes I had joined the army of Phraates IV. Antony was not able to take Phraaspa and besieged the city, but Artavasdes I and the Parthian commander Monaeses destroyed two legions of Antony's general, Oppius Statianus, who had slowly followed with the siege machines of the Antony's troops. Antony could not capture Phraaspa without these machines. Therefore he had to withdraw to Armenia.

So Artavasdes I had maintained his ground against the Romans but his domain had been severely ravaged. Besides his stronger ally Phraates IV treated him condescending and gave him only little booty and was near depriving him of his dominion. Therefore in 35 BC Artavasdes I offered Antony an alliance against Parthia, and Antony gladly accepted.To deepen this friendship Alexander Helios, the son of Antony and Cleopatra VII, was betrothed to Artavasdes I’s daughter Iotapa, although both were infants in 34 BC. In 30 BC Iotapa left Alexandria Egypt, after Egypt was invaded by Octavian (future Roman Emperor Augustus) and his army. Artavasdes I later managed escape probably as a result of the outbreak of civil war between Phraates IV and Tiridates II of Parthia, a rival claimant to the Parthian throne. He took refuge with Augustus who received him friendly, gave him back his daughter Iotapa and made him a Client King of Lesser Armenia. He died around 20 BC, and probably he was succeeded by Ariobarzanes II, ruled sometime from 20 BC to 4 AD and he was appointed by the Roman emperor Augustus to serve as a Roman Client King of Armenia Major from 2 BC until 4. In 4, Ariobarzanes II died and was succeeded his son Ariovast in his Kingship of Media Atropatene. Azerbaijani historian Igrar Aliyev considers him as a last independent king of Atropatene. About 20 AD after death of Ariovast Atropatene became a vassal of the Parthian Empire.

Culture. Religion. Zoroastranism, which holy book is “Avesta”, was a main religion of the population of Atropatene. A religious philosopher called Zoroaster simplified the pantheon of early Iranian gods into two opposing forces: Ahura Mazda (Illuminating Wisdom) and Angra Mainyu (Destructive Spirit) which were in conflict. Zoroaster's ideas led to a formal religion bearing his name by about the 6th century BCE and have influenced other later religions including Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity and Islam.

Greek language and literature spread throughout Atropatene, what proves by the script on the on the wall of the temple Hercules in Kerifto.  The spread of Greek influence and language is also shown through coinage.  Atropatene minted coin after Alexander the Great.

Caucasian Albania

The Caucasian Albania is the first state in the Northern Azerbaijan. Although the Southern Azerbaijan mentioned in the Sumerian cuneiforms from III millennium BC, first record about the Northern Azerbaijan dates back to the 5th century BC, when Herodotus mentions Capsians on the west shore of the Caspian Sea. And the first statehood emerges after collapse of the Empire of Alexander the Great at the end of the 4th century BC.

The Caucasian Albania covered all eastern Transcaucasia, which included most of the territory of modern day Azerbaijan Republic and part of the territory of Dagestan, also the Alazani valley of Georgia. The kingdom's capital during antiquity was Gabala (Kabalaka), according to Ptolemeus.

The Greek historian Arrian mentions the Caucasian Albanians for the first time in the battle of Gaugamela, where the Albanians, Medes, Cadussi and Sacae were under the command of Atropates. The kingdom of Albania emerged in the eastern Caucasus in the 4th or 3rd century BC and along with the Georgians and Armenians formed one of the three nations of the Southern Caucasus.

Herodotus, Strabo, and other classical authors repeatedly mention the Caspians, but do not seem to know much about them; they are grouped with other inhabitants of the south-west shore of the Caspian Sea, like the Amards, Anariacaes, Cadusis, Albans, and Utis (Eratosthenes apud Strabo, 11.8.8), and their land (Caspiane) is said to be part of Albania (Theophanes Mytilenaeus apud Strabo, 11.4.5).

Ancient chronicles provide the names of several tribes that populated these districts, including the regions of Artsakh and Utik. These were Utians, Mycians, Caspians, Gargarians, Sakasenians, Gelians, Sodians, Lupenians, Balas[ak]anians, Parsians and Parrasians. According to Robert H. Hewsen, these tribes were "certainly not of Armenian origin", and "although certain Iranian peoples must have settled here during the long period of Persian and Median rule, most of the natives were not even Indo-Europeans."

There was an enduring relation of Albania with Ancient Rome. The Latin rock inscription close to Boyukdash mountain in Qobustan, Baku, which mentions Legio XII Fulminata, is the world's easternmost Roman evidence known. In Albania, Romans reached the Caspian Sea for the first time. The Roman coins circulated in Caucasian Albania till the end of the 3rd century AD. Two denaris, which were unearthed in the 2nd-century BC layer, were minted by Clodius and Caesar. The coins of Augustus are ubiquitous. The Qabala treasures revealed the denaris of Otho, Vespasian, Trajan and Hadrian.

In 69-68 BC Lucullus, having overcome Armenian ruler Tigranes II, approached the borders of Caucasian Albania and was succeeded by Pompey. After the 66-65 BC wintering Pompey launched the Iberian campaign. It is reported by Strabo upon the account of Theophanes of Mytilene who participated in it. As testified by Kamilla Trever, Pompey reached the Albanian border at modern Qazakh district of Azerbaijan. Igrar Aliyev showed that this region called Cambysene was inhabited mainly by stock-breeders at the time. When fording the Alazan river, he was attacked by forces of Oroezes, King of Albania, and eventually defeated them. According to Plutarch, Albanians "were led by a brother of the king, named Cosis, who as soon as the fighting was at close quarters, rushed upon Pompey himself and smote him with a javelin on the fold of his breastplate; but Pompey ran him through the body and killed him". Plutarch also reported, that "after the battle, Pompey set out to march to the Caspian Sea, but was turned back by a multitude of deadly reptiles when he was only three days march distant, and withdrew into Lesser Armenia". The Romans, led by the general of Mark Anthony’s army Publius Canidius Crassus, again marched on Albanian territories in 36 BC, during the reign of Albanian king Zober. Albanian kingdom defeated again, but Albanians could keep their independence. The first kings of Albania-- Oroezes, Cosis and Zober ,were certainly the representatives of the local tribal nobility, to which attest their non-Armenian and non-Iranian names.

The population of Caucasian Albania of the Roman period is believed to have belonged to either the Northeast Caucasian peoples or the South Caucasian peoples. According to Strabo, the Albanians were a group of 26 tribes which lived to the north of the Kura river and each of them had its own king and language. Sometime before the 1st century BC they federated into one state and were ruled by one king.

Strabo wrote of the Caucasian Albanians in the 1st century BC: 'At the present time, indeed, one king rules all the tribes, but formerly the several tribes were ruled separately by kings of their own according to their several languages. They have twenty-six languages, because they have no easy means of intercourse with one another.'

Albania is also mentioned by Dionysius Periegetes (2nd or 3rd century AD) who describes Albanians as a nation of warriors, living by the Iberians and the Georgians.

In 1899 a silver plate featuring Roman toreutics was excavated near Azerbaijani village of Qalagah. The rock inscription near the south-eastern part of Boyukdash's foot (70 km from Baku) was discovered on June 2, 1948 by Azerbaijani archaeologist Ishag Jafarzadeh. The legend is IMPDOMITIANO CAESARE·AVG GERMANIC L·IVLIVS MAXIMVS> LEG XII·FVL. According to Domitian's titles in it, the related march took place between 84 and 96. The inscription was studied by Russian expert Yevgeni Pakhomov, who assumed that the associated campaign was launched to control the Derbent Gate. The later version, published in 1956, states that the legion was stationing in Cappadocia by that time whereas the centurion might have been in Albania with some diplomatic mission because for the talks with the Eastern rulers the Roman commanders were usually sending centurions.

In 1953 twelve denarii of Augustus were unearthed. In 1958 one denarius, coined in c. 82 AD, was revealed in the Şamaxa trove.

During the reign of Roman emperor Hadrian (117-138) Albania was invaded by the Alans, an Iranian nomadic group. This invasion promoted an alliance between Rome and the Albanians that was reinforced under Antoninus Pius in 140 AD. Sassanians occupied the area around 240 Ad but after a few years the Roman Empire regained control of Caucasian Albania.

Indeed in 297 the treaty of Nisibis stipulated the reestablishment of the Roman protectorate over Caucasian Iberia and Albania. But fifty years later Rome lost the area that since then remained an integral part of the Sasanian Empire.

Culture. Religion. According to archeological evidence and some ancient author,religion of the ancient Albanians was idolatry. Strabo mentions three of polytheistic gods: Zeus, Helios and Celena, the goddess of Moon. He indicates that Moon goddess is widely worshiped in the Caucasian Albania, because of that the priest of this temple was the second person in the Albanian society after their king.

In 1926, an archaeological inspection of Yaloylutepe area of Nukha was held by D.M.Sharifov, where they opened interments with peculiar shapes and decorations with ceramics. These excavations were the beginning of subsequent appearance of interments of Yaloylutepe type in different regions of Azerbaijan and the eastern Georgia. Yaloylutepe culture characterizes the material culture of the Caucasian Albania. Ornamental silver dishes, jewelry, as well as ceramic pottery found in Mingachevir and other places belong to this culture. Another culture, which characterized the Caucasian Albanian material culture is Jar-Burial Culture , an archaeological culture that was widespread in the second century B.C. to the eighth century A.D.

Albanians began to use glassware and water mills at the beginning of the 1st century AD.