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Ethnic map of the Caucasus in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. During that period Saspers inhabited the area between Ch'orokhi, Mtkvari, Araxes and Euphrates rivers

Saspers (Georgian: სასპერები, sasp'erebi, other names include Saspeirs, Saspines, Sapinians, and Sapirians) are a people of uncertain origin mentioned by Herodotus.[1] According to the most widespread theory, they are a Kartvelian tribe,[2][3][4] however, their origins have also been attributed to Scythian people.[5] Their approximate homeland was located between the Ch'orokhi river and the sources of rivers Tigris and Euphrates. The toponym İspir (Sper) is thought by some to be derived from their name.[6] After its establishment, they constituted a significant part of the population of the early Georgian kingdom of Iberia and played a large role in the ethnogenesis of the Georgian nation.[2]

Beyond the Persians, to the north, are the Medes; and next to them are the Saspirians. Contiguous to these, and where the Phasis empties itself into the northern sea, are the Colchians.[7]
— Herodotus

The Saspires were originally associated with the Iberians and appear to have emerged from the Lesser Caucasus to the east.[8] The Saspires occupy the space in the line between Matiene and Colchis. The Sasperes must have extended through the space between the western bank of the river Cyrus and the Armenian Highland. The Saspires, should have occupied, in modern geography, the eastern part of Greater Armenia. The Alarodians and Saspires were joined in one command, and both were dressed like the Colchians, thus implying strong connection between the three.[9] The Colchians themselves, were not classified as belonging to any Satrapy. The Colchians, however, attended the army of Xerxes as auxiliaries. This means that these tribes were of great number. The incredible number of tribes of Mount Caucasus is spoken by ancient as modern historians.[10][11] The Armenia of Herodotus (in Terpsichore, 52) extended westward to Euphrates in the quarter towards Cilicia, and southwards to Mount Masius in Mesopotamia[12] and from the position given to the Saspires. Tt should be confined on the east by the mountains which separate the course of the Araxes from the eastern sources of the Euphrates, amongst which is Mount Ararat. Herodotus assigns the valley traversed by the Araxes to the Kartvelian saspires. They constituted a significant part of the population of the early Georgian Kingdom of Iberia and played a large role in the ethnogenesis of the Georgian nation.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Persian Army and Tribute Lists in Herodotus , A. G. Laird Classical Philology Vol. 16, No. 4 (Oct., 1921), pp. 305–326
  2. ^ a b Grammenos, Dēmētrios; Petropoulos, Elias (2007). Ancient Greek colonies in the Black Sea 2, Volume 2. Archaeopress. pp. 1113–1114. ISBN 9781407301129. Retrieved 2015. 
  3. ^ Salia, Kalistrat (1980). Histoire de la nation géorgienne. pp. 30–41. Retrieved 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Reisner, Oliver; Nodia, Ghia (2009). Identity Studies, Vol 1. Ilia State University Press. p. 51. Retrieved 2015. 
  5. ^ Armenia as Xenophon saw it , Vahan M. Kurkjian, 1958
  6. ^ T. A. Sinclair, "Eastern Turkey an Architectural and Archaeological Survey", Volume 2, 1989, p272.
  7. ^ Melpom 37
  8. ^ Diakonoff, 1984
  9. ^ Polym. 79
  10. ^ Mr. Tooke's Russia, vol. 2
  11. ^ Memoir of the Map of the Countries between the Euxine and the Caspian, 1788
  12. ^ Clio. 18