Arian Kartli

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Arian Kartli or Aryan-Kartli (Georgian: არიან-ქართლი) was a country claimed by the medieval Georgian chronicle "The Conversion of Kartli" (მოქცევაჲ ქართლისაჲ, mokc’evay k’art’lisay) to be the earlier homeland of the Georgians of Kartli (Iberia, central and eastern Georgia).

The Georgian Chronicles relate the apocryphal story of Alexander the Great’s campaign into inner Georgia. Alexander reportedly brought Azoy (Azo), the son of the unnamed "king of Arian-Kartli", together with followers, to Mtskheta, principal city of Kartli, and charged him with the administration of Kartli in his absence. The 11th-century Georgian monk Arsen, the author of metaphrastical reduction of "The life of St. Nino" and tutor of King David IV of Georgia, comments on this passage: "We, Georgians, are descendants of the newcomers from Arian-Kartli, we speak their language and all the kings of Kartli are descendants of their kings".[1]

The identification of a polity medieval Georgian writers called Arian Kartli remains problematic. It seems to have preceded the Near Eastern conquests of Alexander the Great, but the precise location of this "kingdom", the date of its foundation, and the identity of its rulers cannot be determined by means of surviving documentary evidence. The word "Aryan" (Noble) comes from the ancient Indian language called Sanskrit or Ancient Iranian being in both cases of common Indo-Iranian origin [2] and suggesting a connection to Indo-Aryan or Iranian peoples. (Arian Kartli/Aryan Kartli) and Classical sources scholars have inferred that this land lay within the orbit of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. Herodotus' list of the Achaemenid provinces, which places the proto-Georgian tribes within the 13th and 19th satrapies, is significant in this regard.[3] These territories partially correspond to the historical Georgian southwest where a number of Georgian scholars, notably Giorgi Melikishvili, tend to place Aryan Kartli.

The early Georgian kingdom of Kartli/Iberia, which clearly emerges in historical accounts of Hellenistic period, seems to have shared the Iranian bonds of Arian Kartli.[3] Cyril Toumanoff equates the region with the Aranē (Greek: ‘Αράνη) of Ptolemy (V.6.18) and the Harrana of the Hittites.[4]


  1. ^ Giorgi L. Kavtaradze. The Interrelationship between the Transcaucasian and Anatolian Populations by the Data of the Greek and Latin Literary Sources. The Thracian World at the Crossroads of Civilisations. Reports and Summaries. The 7th International Congress of Thracology. P. Roman (ed.). Bucharest: the Romanian Institute of Thracology, 1996.
  2. ^ H. W. Bailey. ARYA, an ethnic epithet in the Achaemenid inscriptions and in the Zoroastrian Avestan tradition. Encyclopaedia Iranica. Vol. II, Fasc. 7, pp. 681-683.
  3. ^ a b Rapp (2003), p. 10.
  4. ^ Toumanoff, Cyril (1963), Studies in Christian Caucasian History, pp. 89-90. Georgetown University Press, cited in: Rapp (2003), p. 269.


  • Rapp, Stephen H. (2003), Studies In Medieval Georgian Historiography: Early Texts And Eurasian Contexts. Peeters Bvba ISBN 90-429-1318-5.
  • Kavtaradze, Giorgi L. Georgian Chronicles and the raison d'étre of the Iberian Kingdom (Caucasica II). (Archived 2009-10-25) Orbis Terrarum, Journal of Historical Geography of the Ancient World 6, 2000. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2001, pp. 177–237.

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