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Kingdom of Iberia

Kingdom of Iberia
Vassal of the Seleucid Empire (302–159 BC), the Roman Empire (65–63 BC, 36–32 BC, 1–117 AD), the Byzantine Empire (298-363 AD).
Tributary state of Sassanid Persia (252-272 AD), vassal state of Sassanid Persia (363 AD-482 AD, 502-523 AD). Direct Sassanid Persian rule (523-580 AD).


ca. 302 BC–580 AD

Colchis and Iberia
Capital Armazi
Languages Georgian
Government Monarchy
Historical era Antiquity
 •  Pharnavaz I's reign ca. 302 BC
 •  Adoption of Christianity as state religion 326 ? AD/337 ? AD
 •  Disestablished 580 AD
Today part of  Georgia


  • Roger Rosen, Jeffrey Jay Foxx. Georgia: A sovereign country of the Caucasus
  • Thomson, Robert W. Rewriting Caucasian History (1996) ISBN 0-19-826373-2
  • Braund, David. Georgia in Antiquity: A History of Colchis and Transcaucasian Iberia, 550 BC-AD 562 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994) ISBN 0-19-814473-3
  • Lang, David Marshall. The Georgians (London: Thames & Hudson, 1966)
  • Toumanoff, Cyril. Studies in Christian Caucasian History. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1963
  • Edward Gibbon, Volume II, Chapter XLII, discusses Iberia as one of the areas in the "Barbaric world"

Further reading


  1. ^
  2. ^ Ronald Grigor Suny. The Making of the Georgian Nation. Indiana University Press, p. 13 ISBN 0-253-20915-3.
  3. ^ William Coffman McDermott, Wallace Everett Caldwell. Readings in the History of the Ancient World. p. 404.
  4. ^ a b (Armenian) Yeremyan, Suren T. «Իբերիա» (Iberia). Soviet Armenian Encyclopedia. vol. iv. Yerevan, Armenian SSR: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1978, p. 306.
  5. ^ Stephen H. Rapp. Studies in medieval Georgian historiography: early texts and Eurasian contexts, vol 601. Peeters Publishers, 2003. ISBN 90-429-1318-5, 9789042913189. P. 275. "While P’arnavaz may in fact be a fabrication, it is more feasible that over time the memory of the historical P’arnavaz accumulated a legendary facade."
  6. ^ Rapp, Stephen H. (2003), Studies In Medieval Georgian Historiography: Early Texts And Eurasian Contexts, pp. 141-142. Peeters Publishers, ISBN 90-429-1318-5.
  7. ^ Machabeli, pls. 37, 51-54, 65-66
  8. ^ Makalatia, pp. 184-93
  9. ^ Braund, pp. 126-27)
  10. ^ Braund, pp. 212-15
  11. ^ Apakidze, pp. 397-401
  12. ^ Spaeth 2013, p. 133.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^


See also

It has been advocated by various ancient and medieval authors, although they differed in approach to the problem of the initial place of their origin. The theory seems to have been popular in medieval Iberian peninsula and visit the local Georgians of the West, as he called them.

The similarity of the name with the old inhabitants of the Iberian peninsula, the 'Western' Iberians, has led to an idea of ethnogenetical kinship between them and the people of Caucasian Iberia (called the 'Eastern' Iberians).

Eastern and Western Iberians

The Bagrat III (975-1014), brought the various principalities together to form a united Georgian state.

Arab period

At the beginning of the 7th century the truce between Byzantium and Persia collapsed. The Iberian Prince Stephanoz I (c. 590-627), decided in 607 to join forces with Persia in order to reunite all the territories of Iberia, a goal he seems to have accomplished. But Emperor Arabs.

The continuing rivalry between Maurice to revive the kingdom of Iberia in 582, but in 591 Byzantium and Persia agreed to divide Iberia between them, with Tbilisi to be in Persian hands and Mtskheta to be under Byzantine control.

Fall of the kingdom

The early reign of the Iberian king autocephalic patriarchate at Mtskheta, and made Tbilisi his capital. In 482 he led a general uprising against Persia and started a desperate war for independence that lasted for twenty years. He could not get Byzantine support and was eventually defeated, dying in battle in 502.

However, after the Christianity.[15]

[13] The religion would become a strong tie between

Roman predominance proved crucial in religious matters, since King Mirian III and leading nobles converted to Christianity around 317 and declared Christianity as state religion. The event is related with the mission of a Cappadocian woman, Saint Nino, who since 303 had preached Christianity in the Georgian kingdom of Iberia (Eastern Georgia).

Adoption of Christianity and Sassanid Persian period

However, in the Peace of Nisibis (298) while the Roman empire obtained control of Caucasian Iberia again as a vassal state and acknowledged the reign over all the Caucasian area, it recognized Mirian III, the first of the Chosroid dynasty, as king of Iberia.

Decisive for the future history of Iberia was the foundation of the Sasanian (or Sassanid) Empire in 224 by Ardashir I.[12] By replacing the weak Parthian realm with a strong, centralized state, it changed the political orientation of Iberia away from Rome. Iberia became a tributary of the Sasanian state during the reign of Shapur I (241-272). Relations between the two countries seem to have been friendly at first, as Iberia cooperated in Persian campaigns against Rome, and the Iberian king Amazasp III (260-265) was listed as a high dignitary of the Sasanian realm, not a vassal who had been subdued by force of arms. But the aggressive tendencies of the Sasanians were evident in their propagation of Zoroastrianism, which was probably established in Iberia between the 260s and 290s.

Between Rome/Byzantium and Persia

[11] From the first centuries C.E., the cult of

The next two centuries saw a continuation of Roman influence over the area, but by the reign of King Pharsman II (116 – 132) Iberia had regained some of its former power. Relations between the Roman Emperor Hadrian and Pharsman II were strained, though Hadrian is said to have sought to appease Pharsman. However, it was only under Hadrian's successor Antoninus Pius that relations improved to the extent that Pharsman is said to have even visited Rome, where Dio Cassius reports that a statue was erected in his honor and that rights to sacrifice were given. The period brought a major change to the political status of Iberia with Rome recognizing them as an ally, rather than their former status as a subject state, a political situation which remained the same, even during the Empire's hostilities with the Parthians.

While another Georgian kingdom of Colchis was administered as a Roman province, Iberia freely accepted the Roman Imperial protection. A stone inscription discovered at Mtskheta speaks of the 1st-century ruler Mihdrat I (AD 58-106) as "the friend of the Caesars" and the king "of the Roman-loving Iberians." Emperor Vespasian fortified the ancient Mtskheta site of Arzami for the Iberian kings in 75 AD.

Iberia during the Roman Empire.

This close association with an invasion (65 BC) by the Roman general Pompey, who was then at war with Mithradates VI of Pontus, and Armenia; but Rome did not establish her power permanently over Iberia. Nineteen years later, the Romans again marched (36 BC) on Iberia forcing King Pharnavaz II to join their campaign against Albania.

Roman period and Roman/Parthian rivalry

The period following this time of prosperity was one of incessant warfare as Iberia was forced to defend against numerous invasions into its territories. Some southern parts of Iberia, that were conquered from Kingdom of Armenia, in the 2nd century BC were reunited to Armenia and the Colchian lands seceded to form separate princedoms (sceptuchoi). At the end of the 2nd century BC, the Pharnavazid king Farnadjom was dethroned by his own subjects and the crown given to the Armenian prince Arshak who ascended the Iberian throne in 93 BC, establishing the Arshakids dynasty.

His successors managed to gain control over the mountainous passes of the Caucasus with the Daryal (also known as the Iberian Gates) being the most important of them.

Pharnavaz, victorious in a power struggle, became the first Egrisi), and seems to have secured recognition of the newly founded state by the Seleucids of Syria. Pharnavaz is also said to have built a major citadel, the Armaztsikhe, and a temple to the god Armazi, and to have created a new system of administration, subdividing the country into several counties called saeristavos.

Pharnavaz I and his descendants

The story of Alexander’s invasion of Kartli, although legendary, nevertheless reflects the establishment of Georgian monarchy in the Hellenistic period and the desire of later Georgian literati to connect this event to the celebrated conqueror.[6]

The written sources for the early periods of Iberia's history are mostly medieval Georgian chronicles, that modern scholarship interpret as a semi-legendary narrative.[5] One such chronicle, Moktsevai Kartlisai (“Alexander’s, who massacred a local ruling family and conquered the area, until being defeated at the end of the 4th century BC by Prince Pharnavaz, at that time a local chief.

The Moschi, mentioned by various classic historians, and their possible descendants, the Saspers (who were mentioned by Herodotus), may have played a crucial role in the consolidation of the tribes inhabiting the area. The Moschi had moved slowly to the northeast forming settlements as they traveled. One of these was Mtskheta, the future capital of the Kingdom of Iberia. The Mtskheta tribe was later ruled by a principal locally known as mamasakhlisi (“father of the household” in Georgian).

In earliest times, the area of Caucasian Iberia was inhabited by several related tribes stemming from the Kura-Araxes culture, collectively called Iberians (or Eastern Iberians) in Greco-Roman ethnography.

Map of Iberia and Colchis by Christoph Cellarius printed in Leipzig in 1706

Early history


and Iberia from each other. Colchis, which divided Likhi Range According to another theory, it is derived from a Colchian word, "Imer", meaning "country on the other side of the mountain", that is of the [4]'s theory, the ethnic designation of "Sber", a variant of Sver, was derived the word "Hber" ("Hver") (and thus Iberia) and the Armenian variants, Veria and Viria.Ivane Javakhishvili The letter "s" in this instance served as a prefix for the root word "Ver" (or "Vir"). Accordingly, in following [4] The provenance of the name "Iberia" is unclear. One theory on the etymology of the name Iberia, proposed by



  • Name 1
  • History 2
    • Early history 2.1
    • Pharnavaz I and his descendants 2.2
    • Roman period and Roman/Parthian rivalry 2.3
    • Between Rome/Byzantium and Persia 2.4
    • Adoption of Christianity and Sassanid Persian period 2.5
    • Fall of the kingdom 2.6
    • Arab period 2.7
  • Eastern and Western Iberians 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Sources 6
  • Further reading 7

The term Caucasian Iberia is used to distinguish it from the Iberian Peninsula in Western Europe.

Starting in the early 6th century AD, the kingdom's position as a Sassanian vassal state was changed into effectively direct Persian rule. In 580, king Hormizd IV (578-590) abolished the monarchy after the death of King Bakur III, and Iberia became a Persian province ruled by a marzpan (governor).


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