Questions of Abkhazian history in the book by P. Ingorokva ‘Georgi Merchule - Georgian writer of the 10th century’, by Zurab V. Anchabadze

Prof. Zurab Anchabadze (Achba): (1920-1984) historian, first rector of the Abkhaz State University.

Prof. Zurab Anchabadze (Achba): (1920-1984) historian, first rector of the Abkhaz State University.

Zurab Anchabadze (Achba) (1920, Gagra - 1984, Sukhum) - a historian specialising in Caucasian studies, organiser of higher education, honoured scholar of the Abkhazian ASSR (1961), Doctor of Historical Sciences (1960), Professor (1963), Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences of the Georgian SSR (1980). A. graduated from the historical faculty of SGPI [Sukhum State Pedagogical Institute (named after M. Gorky)]  (1941), postgraduate studies at the Institute of History named after I.A. Dzhavakhishvili (1943), where he also worked as a junior researcher (1943–1956). A. headed the Department of History at the AbIJaLI [Abkhazian Institute of Language, Literature & History] named after D.I. Gulia (1956–1958), led the Department of History of the Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus at the Institute of History of the Georgian Academy of Sciences (1958–1973). In 1948, A. defended his Candidate’s thesis on the topic: "Mingrelia and Abkhazia in the 17th century", and in 1960 his doctoral dissertation on the topic "From the history of mediaeval Abkhazia (ethnic development of the Abkhazians and Georgian-Abkhazian relations)". The main areas of A.'s research-activities cover the problems of ancient and mediaeval history of Abkhazia, Georgia, and the mountain peoples of the Caucasus, the ethnogenesis of Abkhazian tribes, the formation of the Abkhazian people, the emergence and development of the early mediaeval Abkhazian principality and the Abkhazian Kingdom, the ethnocultural development of the Abkhazians in the Middle Ages, the peculiarities of the socio-economic development of mountain-societies, the nature of mountain-feudalism, relations of the North Caucasian peoples with Russia, etc. A. was the rector of the SGPI (1974–1978) and AGU [Abkhazian State University] (1979–1984); deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and Georgia. He was awarded orders and badges: the Order of the Red Banner of Labour, "Badge of Honour", "Excellence in Education of the USSR", twice awarded the Honorary Diploma of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Kabardino-Balkarian ASSR (1957, 1968).

Questions of Abkhazian history in the book by P. Ingorokva ‘Georgi Merchule - Georgian writer of the 10th century’

Proceedings of the Abkhazian Institute of Language, Literature, and History named after D.I. Gulia. Vol. XXVII. - Sukhum, 1956. pp. 261-278.

(Reprinted from the edition: Z. V. Anchabadze. Selected Works (in two volumes). Volume II. - Sukhum, 2011. - pp. 223-246.). In Russian.

In his book, P. Ingorokva [recte Ingoroq’va – editor] devotes a significant place to the history of Abkhazia. Almost entirely dedicated to this issue is the fourth chapter of the book, entitled "The feudal state of Western Georgia (‘Abkhazian Kingdom’) and information about it in the work of Georgi Merchule" (pp. 114-295).

What specific information about the Abkhazian Kingdom is contained in G. Merchule's work ‘The Life of Gregory of Khandzta’? First of all, it is reported that Gregory and his companions went to ‘Abkhazia’ with the aim of creating monastic abodes there and were well received by the Abkhazian king Demetrius and (vid. ‘The Life of St. Gregory of Khandzta’, ed. N.Y. Marr. ‘Texts and Research on Armeno-Georgian Philology’, 1911, pp. 100ff.), in this work, some historical figures of ‘Abkhazia’ (Dmitri II, Bagrat Sharoeli and others) are mentioned, and finally, in the well-known formula - "Kartli is considered a vast country, in which church-services are performed and all prayers are conducted in the Georgian language" (ibid, p. 113) - G. Merchule meant not only Kartli proper, but also West Georgia (‘Abkhazia’).

All these facts are well known in Georgian historiography, but, nevertheless, P. Ingorokva decided to write a whole study on the basis of these brief notices, which occupies about 10 printed sheets in his book.

So, what prompted P. Ingorokva to undertake such an extensive study? The reason for this was his belief that "the views on the history of West Georgia – ‘The Abkhazian Kingdom’, which are accepted in Georgian historiography, do not correspond to reality" (p. 116). P. Ingorokva specifically refers to the following "views": 1) the question of the ethnic affiliation of the ‘Abazg[ian]s’ of antiquity and the ‘Abkhaz[ian]s’ of the Middle Ages, 2) the question of the time and conditions of the formation of ‘The Abkhazian Kingdom’, and 3) the question of the nature of the national policy of the Abkhazian Kingdom (see pp. 116-117 of his book).

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See also:

+ The Ibero-Caucasian hypothesis and the historiography of Abkhazia, by Kevin Tuite
+ The value of the past: myths, identity and politics in Transcaucasia, by Victor A. Shnirelman
+ In Defence of the Homeland: Intellectuals and the Georgian-Abkhazian Conflict, by Bruno Coppieters
+ Zviad Gamsakhurdia: “Abkhaz Nation Doesn’t Exist!”




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