Η Καυκασία είναι περιοχή στην Ευρασία η οποία συνορεύει στα νότια με το Ιράν, στα νοτιοδυτικά με την Τουρκία, στα δυτικά με τη Μαύρη Θάλασσα, στα ανατολικά με την Κασπία Θάλασσα και στα βόρεια με τη Ρωσία.
Η Καυκασία περιλαμβάνει την Οροσειρά του Καυκάσου και τις γύρω πεδιάδες.
Η Οροσειρά του Καυκάσου χωρίζει την Ασία από την Ευρώπη και οι χώρες της περιοχής θεωρούνται ότι ανήκουν είτε στη μία είτε και στις δύο ηπείρους. Το υψηλότερο σημείο είναι το όρος Ελμπρούς (5,642 μ) στη Ρωσία, το οποίο είναι το υψηλότερο σημείο στην Ευρώπη.
Τα Ρωσικά εδάφη περιλαμβάνουν το Κράι Κρασνοντάρ, το Κράι Σταυρούπολης και τις αυτόνομες δημοκρατίες της Αντιγκέας, της Καλμικίας, του Καρατσάι-Τσερκεσία, του Καμπαρντίνο-Μπαλκάρια, της Βόρειας Οσσετίας, της Ινγκουσετίας, της Τσετσενίας και του Νταγκεστάν.
Τρεις περιοχές στην περιοχή διεκδικούν την ανεξαρτησία τους, αλλά χωρίς αναγνώριση από τη διεθνή κοινότητα: η
- η Αμπχαζία,
- το Ναγκόρνο-Καραμπάχ και
- η Νότια Οσσετία.
Ο Καύκασος είναι περιοχή μεγάλης οικολογικής σημασίας. Μεταξύ των ενδημικών ζώων περιλαμβάνονται η λεοπάρδαλη, η καφέ άρκτος, ο λύκος, ο ευρωπαϊκός βίσονας, η ανατολικοευρωπαϊκή ερυθρά έλαφος και ο χρυσαετός.
Το φυσικό τοπίο του Καυκάσου έχει ανάμικτα δάση, με σημαντικές περιοχές πετρώδους εδάφους υψηλότερα από τα δέντρα.
Turkic-speakers arrived about 600 AD and gradually replaced the original Iranian languages.
The Mongols took over about 1240 and their western lands became the Golden Horde which about 1500 broke up and became the Nogai Horde.
In the nineteenth century the Nogai nomads were pushed southeast and the area populated by Russian agriculturists.
Horse-based Pastoral nomadism appeared in this area some time between 4000 and 1000 BC. There is not enough data to be more specific.
It is thought that
- the Northwest Caucasian languages are related to the ancient Hattite language and
- the Northeast Caucasian languages are related to Hurrian and Urartian.
This implies that the mountaineers of the Caucasus have been in their present location for a very long time.
According to the most common theory the Indo-European languages originated on the steppes north of the Caucasus and Black Sea. Some time before 3000 BC the Maikop culture appeared in Circassia and Kabardia. It is noted for its excellent gold and silver work. North on the steppe was the Yamnaya culture which was probably Indo-European.
Around 1000 BC there was a bronze-age Koban culture in the Kabardian area which may have been proto-Chechen.
Iron appeared in the eighth century BC.
Taman peninsula[επεξεργασία | επεξεργασία κώδικα]
The small western area around the Taman peninsula had a distinct history since it was in contact with the literate civilizations of the Mediterranean basin.
From the eighth century Greeks founded colonies around the Black Sea and we begin to have written reports. Maeotians was the Greek name for the peoples around the Sea of Azov. The Hellenized Sindi people appeared with a possible capital or seaport at Anapa. Both were perhaps ancestors of the Circassians. The Greek colonies exported grain and slaves to Byzantium and beyond – a system that continued until the Russian conquest. They formed a state called the Bosporian Kingdom which lasted in various forms until Roman times. The Byzantines spread Christianity into the mountains.
Around 1000 AD the Rus’ held Tmutarakan on the Taman peninsula. At this time we hear of Kassogs who were probably ancestral Circassians. As Byzantium declined the ports were taken over by the Genoese who held them until they were captured by the Turks around 1480.
The Turks spread Islam producing a mountain religion that was basically Islamic but with many Christian and pagan survivals. In the east Persian power held mountain Dagestan but did not reach the steppes.
Steppe[επεξεργασία | επεξεργασία κώδικα]
Since the Don and Volga are not significant barriers the history of most of this area is part of the general history of the Pontic-Caspian steppe. Since this area is far from the centers of literate civilization it is hard to know the details of what happened. Variations in dates below represent early ancestors, late survivals and other irregularities.
The pre-Scythian inhabitants of the steppe may have been Cimmerians who may have been a Thracians-Iranian mix with an Iranian elete.
From around the ninth century BC the nomads of the western steppe are described as Scythians (800 BC – 100 BC). They spoke an Iranian language and may have been the first to develop horse nomadism. Herodotus said that Scythians drove the Cimmerians from north of the Caucasus into Anatolia (about 700 BC), but this has been questioned.
From around the second century BC the Sarmatians (c. 500 BC – 400 AD?) replaced the closely related Scythians, either as an ethnonym or ruling group.
The Siraces (300 BC – 200 AD) were a group of Hellenized Sarmatians who lived along the Kuban.
To their east and north were the Aorsi (100 BC – 100 AD), also a Sarmatian group.
In the first and second centuries AD the Alans (100 AD – 1239) came from the east and took over from the Sarmatians. Since the Scythians, Sarmatians and Alans spoke similar languages the names may represent different dominant groups ruling similar people.
From about 370 AD the Huns (376-469) overthrew the Alans, but many Alans continued to live in the area and later re-emerged. As a result of the Hun attack many Alans moved west and joined the Huns and Goths in attacking the Roman Empire.
Around 600 AD the Western Turkic Kaganate took over the lower Volga – perhaps the first appearance of Turkic languages in this area.
The obscure Sabir people (c. 460 – 700s), who may have been Turkic, lived near the Caspian.
After 630 the Khazars (c. 630 – 969), who had a Turkic-speaking ruling class, formed a state mainly on the lower Volga which lasted until it was destroyed by the Rus’ about 969. Around 635 the Turkic Bulgars (c. 480 – 1014) were established west of the Khazars.
The Alans re-formed a state (c. 700 – 1240) in Kabardia which was Christianized by the Byzantines.
The rise of Islam led to the Arab-Khazar Wars (642-737) and in 737 Arabs briefly reached the lower Volga.
The Pechenegs (c. 800 – 1100) moved from north of the Caspian into this area perhaps around 850. They pushed or were pushed westward and were eventually broken up in wars with the Byzantines.
Behind them came the Cumans – Kipchaks (?-1241), two peoples that are hard to distinguish. Like the Pechenegs they continued west and fought the Rus’ and Byzantines. The appearance of the Kipchaks may mark the final establishment of Turkic languages north of the Black Sea.
After the Mongols conquered the eastern side of the Caspian Subutai found himself in what is now Azerbaijan.
In 1223 he crossed the Caucasus (via Derbent?), defeated the Cumans and nearly everyone else, defeated the Rus’ near the Don and returned east.
In 1236-1241 the Mongols conquered Russia and part of Eastern Europe, so they must have taken this area about this time. It was perhaps at this time that the Turkic Karachay and Balkars and the Iranian Ossets (Alans) left the steppe and sought refuge in the Caucasus mountains where they remain today.
The Mongol Empire broke into four parts before 1300 and the western part became known as the Golden horde. The conquerors quickly adopted the Kipchak Turkish language of their subjects so that the Golden Horde was also called the Kipchak Khanate. They adopted Islam at some point, perhaps the 1250s or just before 1313. Nogai Khan and Tokhtamysh fought major battles on the Terek River.
When the Golden Horde broke up about 1500 the steppe nomads came to be called the Nogai Horde. They were to some degree subjects of the Crimean Khanate which was in turn a semi-independent vassal of the Ottoman Empire.
In 1557 the Nogais east of Azov broke off and formed the Lesser Nogai Horde, a name that gradually went out of use.
Around 1630 the Kalmyks migrated west from Dzungaria and occupied the land around the north end of the Caspian Sea, driving the Nogais south and west. In 1771 a significant part of them returned to Dzungaria and the Nogais returned east and north.
A few Russians were on the lower Terek by about 1520 and Cossacks were somewhere on the Don by 1550.
In 1556 Russia took Astrakhan and interacted with Kabardia for a few years before losing interest in the area south of the Volga and Don. Russian peasant colonization of the steppe continued to expand southward toward the north of this area. Russia took and lost Azov several times before gaining it permanently in 1774.
In 1783 Russia annexed Crimea and thereby took over the Crimeans’ claim to rule the Nogais. Russian settlement began mainly on the North Caucasus Line along the Kuban and Terek Rivers between the mountains and steppe. This was used as a base for the conquest of the mountains.
In 1792 Black Sea Cossacks (former Zaporozhians) were settled on the lower Kuban and the area between the Yeya and Kuban Rivers became the Black Sea Host Territory.
In 1794 some Don Cossacks settled on the great bend of the Kuban. The Terek Cossacks were pushed west and became the Caucasus Line Cossack Host. In 1825 Volga Cossacks arrived in the center. Further north Cossack and peasant settlements were mixed. in the northeast the Kalmyks retained most of their land while the Nogais were pushed southeast to land south of the Kalmyks in what is now the Nogai Raion of Dagestan.
Εσωτερική Αρθρογραφία[επεξεργασία | επεξεργασία κώδικα]
- Caucasus: A Journey to the Land Between Christianity and Islam By Nicholas Griffin
- Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus By Svante E. Cornell
- The Caucasus By Ivan Golovin
- Ομώνυμο άρθρο στην Βικιπαίδεια
- Ομώνυμο άρθρο στην Livepedia
- BBC News: North Caucasus at a glance, September 8 2005
- United Nations Environment Programme map: Landcover of the Caucasus
- United Nations Environment Programme map: Population density of the Caucasus
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