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A royal charter of Prince Demetrius mentioning both berdzeni and saberdzneti, c. AD 1445-1452

Saberdzneti (Georgian: საბერძნეთი [sabeɾdznetʰi]) was an ambiguous geographic term used in medieval and early modern Georgian historical sources to refer to Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire,[1] while berdzeni (Georgian: ბერძენი) was a name for people who lived in those states.[2] Later the name saberdzneti came to mean simply "Greece" and berdzeni "the Greek".[3] Saberdzneti literally means "land of the berdzens" (i.e. "land of the Greeks.)[4]


The ethnonym berdzeni is presumed to be related to the pre-Greek Pelasgians (Πελασγοί, Pelasgoi), it being derived from the phonetical variant pel of the root ber. The dz of ber-dz-eni may be a variant of the Pel-as-goi, as s/z may have changed to dz in Georgian. This is also indicated by the existence of the stem bersen alongside berdzen in Georgian surnames like "Bersenadze".[5]

There is also another theory that berdzeni was actually coined from the Georgian word "wise" brdzeni (Georgian: ბრძენი),[6] thus saberdzneti would literally mean "land where the wise men live", possibly referring to the Ancient Greek philosophy.[7] The same root is also adopted in Abkhazian and Greece is referred as barzentyla (Барзентәыла).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Metreveli, p. 164
  2. ^ Metreveli, p. 233
  3. ^ Khintibidze, p. 105
  4. ^ Metreveli, pp. 233-235
  5. ^ Khintibidze, p. 104
  6. ^ Kamusella, Tomasz (2009) The Politics of Language and Nationalism in Modern Central Europe, Palgrave Macmillan
  7. ^ Rapp, Stephen H. (1997) Imagining History at the Crossroads: Persia, Byzantium, and the Architects of the Written Georgian Past, Volume 1, University of Michigan, p. 207