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The Phasians (Georgian: ფაზიელები) (Phasiani, or Phasianoi; Greek: Φασιανοί) were a subdivision of the Colchian tribes located in the eastern part of Pontus. The Greek commander Xenophon, who encountered them during his march through Asia Minor to the Black Sea (401-400 BC), places them on the river Phasis. Here, the Phasis of Xenophon is not the common Graeco-Roman designation for the modern day Rioni River in Georgia, but rather the sources of Araxes in what is now northeastern Turkey.[1] At the time when Xenophon met them, the Phasians were in control of the long valley to the north of Cilligül Dağ,[1] and lived in the neighborhood of the Chalybes and Taochi, presumably proto-Georgian tribes.[2]

In his classic work On Airs, Waters, and Places, the Greek physician Hippocrates described the Phasians, c. 400 BC, as having "shapes different from those of all other men; for they are large in stature, and of a very gross habit of body, so that not a joint nor vein is visible; in color they are sallow, as if affected with jaundice. Of all men they have the roughest voices, from their breathing an atmosphere which is not clear, but misty and humid; they are naturally rather languid in supporting bodily fatigue."

The name of this tribe seems to have survived in the latter-day regional toponyms – Byzantine Phasiane, Armenian Basean, Georgian Basiani, and Turkish Pasin.[3]


  1. ^ a b Edwards, Robert W. (1988), The Vale of Kola: A Final Preliminary Report on the Marchlands of Northeast Turkey, p. 127. Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 42.
  2. ^ Suny, Ronald Grigor (1994), The Making of the Georgian Nation: 2nd edition, p. 9. Indiana University Press, ISBN 978-0-253-20915-3
  3. ^ Sadona, A. G. (2004), Archaeology at the North-East Anatolian Frontier, p. 58. Peeters Publishers, ISBN 978-90-429-1390-5.