History of the Caucasus

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Etchmiadzin Cathedral in Armenia, completed in 303 AD, UNESCO World Heritage Site, religious centre of the Armenia.
Palace of the Shirvanshahs in Azerbaijan, completed in 13th or 14th century AD, UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One can divide the history of the Caucasus region into the history of the Northern Caucasus (Ciscaucasia), historically in the sphere of influence of Scythia and of Southern Russia (Eastern Europe), and that of the Southern Caucasus (Transcaucasia; Caucasian Albania, Georgia, Armenia), in the sphere of influence of Persia, Anatolia and Assyria.

In modern times, the Southern Caucasus and a part of the Northern Caucasus (Dagestan) formed part of the Persian Empire, while the Russian Empire conquered and annexed the Northern Caucasus in the course of the 19th century in the Caucasian Wars (1817-1864). In 1813 and 1828 by the Treaty of Gulistan and the Treaty of Turkmenchay, the Persians conceded sovereignty over the Southern Caucasus and Dagestan to Russia.[1]

The Northern Caucasus became the scene of intense fighting during the Second World War. Nazi Germany attempted to capture the Caucasus region from Soviet control in 1942 by a two-pronged attack towards both the western bank of the Volga (intending to seize the city of Stalingrad) and by a drive southeast towards Baku, a major center of oil production. The Nazis intended to establish a Reichskommissariat Kaukasus to control the Caucasian territories of the Soviet Union. Considerable parts of the northern Caucasus fell under German occupation, but the invasion eventually faltered as it failed to accomplish either goal, and Soviet soldiers drove the Germans back west following the Battle of Stalingrad (1942-1943).

Following the end of the Soviet Union, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia became independent in 1991.

The Caucasus region has become the setting for various territorial disputes since the collapse of the Soviet Union, leading to the Nagorno-Karabakh War (1988–1994), the Ossetian-Ingush conflict (1989–1991), the War in Abkhazia (1992–1993), the First Chechen War (1994–1996), and the Second Chechen War (1999–2009).


Further information: Prehistoric Georgia and Prehistoric Armenia

Stone Age[edit]

Bronze Age[edit]

Iron Age[edit]

Classical Antiquity[edit]

Georgian (Iberian) flag in 4th-6th centuries
Georgian Kingdoms of Colchis and Iberia 600BC-150BC

Middle Ages[edit]

Kingdom of Georgia at the peak of its power under Tamar of Georgia and George IV of Georgia (1184-1223).

Modern history[edit]

Karte des Kaukasischen Isthmus. Entworfen und gezeichnet von J. Grassl, 1856.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]