The Christianization of Iberia (Georgian: ქართლის გაქრისტიანება kartlis gakrist'ianeba) refers to the spread of Christianity in the early 4th century by the sermon of Saint Nino in an ancient Georgian kingdom of Kartli, known as Iberia in classical antiquity, which resulted in declaring it as a state religion by then-pagan King Mirian III of Iberia. Per Sozomen, this led the king's "large and warlike barbarian nation to confess Christ and renounce the religion of their fathers". The king would become the main sponsor, architect, initiator and an organizing power of all building processes. Per Socrates of Constantinople, the "Iberians first embraced the Christian faith" alongside the Abyssinians, but most probably Kartli would become a second state after the Kingdom of Armenia, its longtime southern neighbor, that officially embraced the new religion. The Georgian and Armenian monarchs were among the first anywhere in the world to convert to a Christian faith. Prior to the Christological controversies their Caucasian Christianity was extraordinarily inclusive, pluralistic and flexible that only saw the rigid ecclesiological hierarchies established much later, particularly as "national" churches crystallized from the 6th century. Despite the tremendous diversity of the region, the Christianization process was a pan-regional and a cross-cultural phenomenon in the Caucasus. The Jews of Mtskheta, the royal capital of Kartli, that did play a significant role in the Christianization of the kingdom, would give a strong impetus to deepen the ties between the Georgian monarchy and the Holy Land leading to an increasing presence of Georgians in Palestine, as the activities of Peter the Iberian confirm, including the oldest attested Georgian Bir el Qutt inscriptions found in the Judaean Desert.
Iberia was a factor in a competitive diplomacy of the Roman and Sasanian Empires, and on occasion became a major player in proxy wars between the two empires. Iberia, a Georgian monarchy, that shared many institutions and concepts with the neighboring Iranians, being physically connected to their "Iranian Commonwealth" since the Achaemenid period through commerce, war or marriage, its adoption of Christianity meant that King Mirian III made a cultural and historical choice with profound international implications, though his decision was never tied with the Roman diplomatic initiatives. Iberia, from its Hellenistic-era establishment to the conversion of the crown, embarked on a new multi-phased process that took centuries to complete, resulting in the emergence of a strong Georgian identity.
Even though Iberia officially embraced Christianity in the early 4th century, the Georgian Orthodox Church claims Apostolic origin and regards Andrew the Apostle as the founder of the Georgian church, also supported by some Byzantine sources. Ephrem Mtsire would later explain Saint Nino's role with the necessity of Iberia's "second Christening". The archaeological artifacts confirm the spread of Christianity before the conversion of King Mirian in the 4th century. Some of the third-century burials in Georgia include Christian objects such as signet rings with a cross and ichthys or anchor and fish, clearly attesting their Christian affiliation. These can mean that the upper class Iberians had embraced Christianity much earlier than its "official Christianization" date.
According to The Georgian Chronicles and the Conversion of Kartli chronicle, a Cappadocian woman Nino converted Queen Nana and later King Mirian III to Christianity, that led to the Christianization process of the entire kingdom of Kartli and its people. Tyrannius Rufinus, Gelasius of Caesarea, Gelasius of Cyzicus, Theodoret, Socrates of Constantinople and Sozomen, whom Bacurius the Iberian, a royalty, a "little king" and a principal commander of emperor Theodosius I, served as one of the sources of the Georgian conversion to Christianity; all have the similar narrative of the Georgian tradition, the only major thing that differs per these Greco-Roman authors is Nino being an unnamed Roman captive who was brought to Iberia. According to Georgian sources, Nino was a daughter of Zabilon. When she went to Jerusalem to see her father once she asked if anyone knew where the Seamless Robe of Jesus was, she was told that it was kept "in the eastern city of Mtskheta, a country of Kartli [i.e. Iberia]." She would decide to go to Iberia and will eventually reach the mountains of Javakheti after four months of travel, in June. She stayed for two days at the Paravani Lake and then continued her travel towards the royal city of Mtskheta. When she reached the capital, she found herself at the pagan holiday held for god Armazi with King Mirian III taking part in the ceremony. Nino, shocked by the event, started to pray, resulting in the "severe wind" that destroyed the pagan idol. Later she was approached by the attendants of Queen Nana of Iberia who was suffering from a grave illness. She was asked to cure the queen. The queen was healed immediately, and Nino converted the queen to Christ. Hearing about the queen's healing, the king was "very surprised". He initially opposed his wife's new religion until he, too, encountered a miracle one day while hunting, riding and "looking over Uplistsikhe" through the woods of Tkhoti mountain when he suddenly was surrounded by a threatening darkness of the solar eclipse.
And the king got alone, and he walked over the hills and woods scared and terrified. He stood at one place and became desperate over his life. And when he recovered his consciousness, and decided to his heart: "So this is it, I had my god and found no joy. Let the one preached by Nino, the cross and the one that was crucified and does the healing, by his glory - isn't he powerful enough to save me from this trouble? As I am lively into a hell and I don't know, how the whole world was this destroyed, or is it just for me. Let, if this is only for me to be in trouble like this, O God of Nino, enlighten the darkness and show me the place of mine and I will recognize your name, and will erect a pillar of Cross and will respect it and will build a house for me to pray, and will be obedient to Nino's faith of Rome.
When at last, he called Christ, his wife's new God, for help - the daylight immediately returned. The king jumped down from the horse, raised his hands up to the "eastern sky" and said:
You are the God over all the other Gods and Lord over all the other Lords, God, who is proclaimed by Nino.
After saying this, the king promised again to the new God to erect "a pillar of Cross". When safely returned to the capital, greeted by his "queen and the entire nation" of Kartli, the king "shouted loudly" where was his "savior and mother, a stranger lady", Nino. When told, he with his army went directly to her. At the urging of Nino, the king laid the foundations of a church to commemorate his new faith, Christianity. When the church was completed, the king sent ambassadors to the emperor Constantine the Great requesting him to send clergy to help establish the faith in the kingdom. Per Sozomen, Constantine hearing the news of the Christian conversion of Iberia, "the emperor of the Romans was delighted, acceding to every request that was proffered." Foundation of the Georgian Church and spread of a new religion in Kartli were made possible mostly by the activities of kings and aristocracy. King Mirian III's main church-building activity in Mtskheta saw the construction of the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, according to the Georgian tradition connected with the Seamless Robe of Jesus, brought by a pious Jew named Elias, an eyewitness of the Crucifixion of Jesus, to Mtskheta from Jerusalem in the first century. The Samtavro Monastery, king's own sepulchre church, was built outside the city though. This remembers the situation of the church buildings of Constantine the Great and his family outside of the Roman pomerium. But the sepulchre of the first Christian Georgian king was inside the church whereas the sepulchres for the members of the Constantinian dynasty were located in an own imperial mausoleum near the church. Also, the Constantinian churches were devoted to the cult of Christian martyrs, whereas the earliest history of the Georgian church had no martyrs.
After the conversion and Christianization of the monarchy, the Georgians intensified their contacts with the Holy Land. A pre-Christian Iberia have had a Jewish community as early as the times of Nebuchadnezzar II and there were close and deep connections in the Iberian ideology of the sacred - with the holiness of Jerusalem. This Iberian fascination with Jerusalem and Zion, largely predates the claims Georgia's "Byzantinizing" Bagrationi monarchs to have descended directly from King David. Iberia by having a direct connection to Jerusalem, had several monasteries there already. It was Jerusalem where Rufinus met Bacurius, and by the end of the fourth century a Georgian monastery was founded there. During the reign of Vakhtang I, the Georgian hero-king, the Georgian church would receive the rank of Catholicos and be recognized autocephalous by the Church of Antioch.
Despite the royal enthusiasm for the new religion, and its adoption within court circles, Christianity took root slowly in the rural districts of the kingdom. The first steps in the Christianization of Iberia's countryside occurred in the late fifth and early sixth centuries when after it within a generation, the indigenous monastic traditions took deep root, and facilitated the spread of Christian faith into the more peripheral regions of Kartli. Sometime in the 530s or 540s, Thirteen Assyrian Fathers arrived in Mtskheta, whose activity would result in the establishment of some sixteen monasteries and other churches all around Georgia, many of whose sixth-century foundations still can be observed today.
Estimates of the conversion date by historians have ranged over much of King Mirian's long reign. Foreign and Georgian scholars' proposed dates are the following: AD 312, 317, 318, 320, 323, 325/6/7/8, 330/1/2/3/4/5/6/7. Once widely-accepted AD 337 for Iberia's conversion, is favored nowadays by many scholars to be AD 326, possibly a "third Sunday after Easter" per John Zosimus, that was on May 1, the year traditionally held by the Georgian Orthodox Church.
Apart from the historians, Iberia's conversion is of greater interest during decades of debates, to the Astronomy scholars - who maintain that there is a high possibility that the total solar eclipse of AD 319, May 6 is the exact date of the Georgian conversion, an eclipse that actually happened in the 4th century and reached eastern Georgia, and this "eclipse hypothesis" is not new. An eclipse per model ΔT≈7500 with solar azimuth angle being about 290° would make King Mirian and his fellow hunters - or royal entourage - witness the totality of it, but not the townspeople nearby. The visibility conditions for the king on the Tkhoti mountain could have been similar to the Solar eclipse of July 11, 2010 as seen at sunset from the mountainous terrain of Patagonia. During the eclipse of AD 319, observers at lower elevations near Mtskheta, would have seen the sky grow prematurely dark and then slightly brighter, without the Sun reappearing over the horizon. At higher elevations nearby such as where the king might have been, totality of an eclipse may indeed have been a remarkable sight. L. V. Morrison and F. R. Stephenson according to their geophysical model ΔT≈7450±180°, do not contradict this scenario and an intriguing possibility, but it remains an open question whether the ancient and medieval written accounts are trustworthy, if they are really based on actual facts.
Bacurius (Georgian: ბაკურ იბერიელი) was a Roman general and a member of the royal family of Iberia (modern Georgia) mentioned by several Greco-Roman authors of the 4th and 5th centuries. It is accepted, but not universally, that all these refer to the same person, an Iberian "king" or "prince", who joined the Roman military ranks. Scholarly opinion is divided whether Bacurius can be identified with one of the kings named Bakur (Georgian: ბაკური), attested in medieval Georgian annals, who might have taken refuge in territories obtained by the Eastern Roman Empire during the Roman–Persian Wars that were fought over the Caucasus.Ammianus Marcellinus, Tyrannius Rufinus, and Zosimus report that Bacurius was "king of Iberians", but Gelasius of Caesarea does not call him king, but merely scion of the kings of Iberia. Bacurius was a tribunus sagittariorum at the Battle of Adrianople with the Goths in 378 and then served as dux Palaestinae and comes domesticorum until 394, when he became magister militum and commanded a "barbarian" contingent in Emperor Theodosius I’s (r. 379–395) campaign against the Roman usurper Eugenius and met his death, according to Zosimus, at the Battle of the Frigidus. According to Socrates of Constantinople, Bacurius had also fought in Theodosius's earlier campaign against Magnus Maximus.All contemporary sources are unequivocal in praising Bacurius's military skills and courage. Rufinus, whom Bacurius visited several times on the Mount of Olives and served him as a source of Christianization of Iberia, describes the general as a pious Christian, while the rhetorician Libanius, with whom Bacurius held correspondence, evidently regards him as a pagan and praises him both as a soldier and a man of culture. The oldest Georgian Bir el Qutt inscriptions mention Bacurius.Emirate of Tbilisi
The Emirs of Tbilisi (Georgian: თბილისის საამირო t’bilisis saamiro, Arabic: إمارة تفليسي Imārat Tiflisi) ruled over the parts of today's eastern Georgia from their base in the city of Tbilisi, from 736 to 1080 (nominally to 1122). Established by the Arabs during their invasions of Georgian lands, the emirate was an important outpost of the Muslim rule in the Caucasus until recaptured by the Georgians under King David IV in 1122. Since then, the city has been the capital of Georgia to this day.Energy in Georgia (country)
Georgia had a total primary energy supply (TPES) of 4.793 Mtoe in 2016. Electricity consumption was 11.5 TWh in 2016. Electricity production was 11.6 TWh, of which 81% from hydroelectricity and 19% from natural gas. It is estimated that only 25% of Georgia's total energy is used.Georgian Orthodox Church
The Georgian Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church (Georgian: საქართველოს სამოციქულო ავტოკეფალური მართლმადიდებელი ეკლესია, translit.: sakartvelos samotsikulo avt'ok'epaluri martlmadidebeli ek'lesia) is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church in full communion with the other churches of Eastern Orthodoxy. It is Georgia's dominant religious institution, and a majority of Georgian people are members. The Georgian Orthodox Church is one of the oldest churches in the world. It asserts apostolic foundation, and its historical roots must be traced to the early and late Christianization of Iberia and Colchis by Saint Andrew in the 1st century AD and by Saint Nino in the 4th century AD, respectively.
As in similar autocephalous Orthodox churches, the Church's highest governing body is the Holy Synod of bishops. The church is headed by the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, currently Ilia II, who was elected in 1977.
Orthodox Christianity was the state religion throughout most of Georgia's history until 1921, when it was conquered by the Russian Red Army during the Russian-Georgian War and became part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.). The current Constitution of Georgia recognizes the special role of the Georgian Orthodox Church in the country's history, but also stipulates the independence of the church from the state. Government relations are further defined and regulated by the Concordat of 2002.
The church is the most trusted institution in Georgia. According to a 2013 survey 95% respondents had a favorable opinion of its work. It is highly influential in the public sphere and is considered Georgia's most influential institution.Georgians
The Georgians or Kartvelians (; Georgian: ქართველები, translit.: kartvelebi, pronounced [kʰɑrtʰvɛlɛbi]) are a nation and indigenous Caucasian ethnic group native to Georgia. Large Georgian communities are also present throughout Russia, Turkey, Greece, Iran, Ukraine, United States, and throughout the European Union.
Georgians arose from the ancient Colchian and Iberian civilizations. After Christianization of Iberia by Saint Nino they became one of the first who embraced the faith of Jesus in the early 4th century and now the majority of Georgians are Eastern Orthodox Christians and most follow their national autocephalous Georgian Orthodox Church. There are also small Georgian Catholic and Muslim communities in Tbilisi and Adjara, as well as a significant number of irreligious Georgians.
A complex process of nation formation has resulted in a diverse set of geographic subgroups of Georgians, each with its characteristic traditions, manners, dialects and, in the case of Svans and Mingrelians, own regional languages. The Georgian language, with its own unique writing system and extensive written tradition, which goes back to the 5th century, is the official language of Georgia as well as the language of education of all Georgians living in the country.
Located in the Caucasus, on the crossroads of predominantly Christian Europe and Muslim Western Asia, Georgian people formed a unified Kingdom of Georgia in the early 11th century and inaugurated the Georgian Golden Age, a height of political and cultural power of the nation. This lasted until being weakened by Mongol invasions, as well as internal divisions following the death of George V the Brilliant, the last of the great kings of Georgia. Thereafter and throughout the early modern period, Georgians became politically fractured and were dominated by the Ottoman Empire and successive dynasties of Iran. To ensure the survival of his polity, in 1783, Heraclius II of the eastern Georgian kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti forged an alliance with the Russian Empire. The Russo-Georgian alliance, however, backfired as Russia was unwilling to fulfill the terms of the treaty, proceeding to annex the troubled kingdom in 1801, as well as the western Georgian kingdom of Imereti in 1810. Russian rule over Georgia was eventually acknowledged in various peace treaties with Iran and the Ottomans, and the remaining Georgian territories were absorbed by the Russian Empire in a piecemeal fashion in the course of the 19th century. Georgians briefly reasserted their independence from Russia under the First Georgian Republic from 1918 to 1921, and finally, in 1991 from the Soviet Union.Kingdom of Hereti
The Kingdom of Hereti (Georgian: ჰერეთის სამეფო), was a medieval monarchy which emerged in Caucasus on the Iberian-Albanian frontier. Nowadays it roughly corresponds to the southeastern corner of Georgia's Kakheti region and a portion of Azerbaijan's northwestern districts.
According to traditional accounts, the name of the province originated from the legendary patriarch "Heros", the son of Thargamos, who founded the city of Hereti (later known as Khoranta) at the Alazani River.Kingdom of Iberia (antiquity)
In Greco-Roman geography, Iberia (Ancient Greek: Ἰβηρία Iberia; Latin: Hiberia) was an exonym (foreign name) for the Georgian kingdom of Kartli (Georgian: ქართლი), known after its core province, which during Classical Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages was a significant monarchy in the Caucasus, either as an independent state or as a dependent of larger empires, notably the Sassanid and Roman empires. Iberia, centered on present-day Eastern Georgia, was bordered by Colchis in the west, Caucasian Albania in the east and Armenia in the south.
Its population, the Iberians, formed the nucleus of the Georgians (Kartvelians). Iberia, ruled by the Pharnavazid, Arsacid and Chosroid royal dynasties, together with Colchis to its west, would form the nucleus of the unified medieval Kingdom of Georgia under the Bagrationi dynasty.In the 4th century, after the Christianization of Iberia by Saint Nino during the reign of King Mirian III, Christianity was made the state religion of the kingdom. Starting in the early 6th century AD, the kingdom's position as a Sassanian vassal state was changed into 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).
The term "Caucasian Iberia" is also used to distinguish it from the Iberian Peninsula in Southern Europe.Kingdom of Imereti
The Kingdom of Imereti (Georgian: იმერეთის სამეფო) was a Georgian monarchy established in 1455 by a member of the house of Bagrationi when the Kingdom of Georgia was dissolved into rival kingdoms. Before that time, Imereti was considered a separate kingdom within the Kingdom of Georgia, to which a cadet branch of the Bagrationi royal family held the crown. This started in 1260 after David VI revolted against Mongolian rule and fled to Abkhazia. This was the result of the Mongolian conquest of Georgia during the 13th century which decentralized and fragmented Georgia, forcing the relocation of governmental centres to the provinces.
Imereti was conquered by Giorgi the Brilliant, who was subject to the Mongols, and united Imereti with the east Kingdom of Georgia. From 1455 onward, however, the kingdom became a constant battleground between Georgian, Persian and Turkish forces. Between 1555 and 1804 it was a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire. On 25 April 1804 Solomon II of Imereti accepted Russian vassalage and in 1810 he was removed from the throne. During the time that Imereti was a vassal state, the Mingrelia, Abkhazia and Guria princedoms declared their independence from Imereti and established their own governments. In Persian - Azeri nomenclature the name of the region was changed to "baş açıq" which literally means "without a head scarf".Kutais Governorate
The Kutais Governorate (Russian: Кутаисская губерния; Georgian: ქუთაისის გუბერნია) was one of the guberniyas of the Caucasus Viceroyalty of the Russian Empire. It roughly corresponded to most of western Georgia and most of Artvin Province (except Hopa and Yusufeli districts) of Turkey between 1878 and 1917. It was created out of part of the former Georgia-Imeretia Governorate in 1846. It also included Akhaltsikhe uyezd before its cession to the Tiflis Governorate in 1867.Lazica
Lazica (Georgian: ეგრისის სამეფო, Egrisis samepo; Laz: ლაზიკა, Laziǩa; Greek: Λαζική, Lazikí; Persian: لازستان, Lâzestân; Armenian: Եգեր, Yeger) was the Latin name given to the territory of Colchis during the Roman/Byzantine period, from about the 1st century BC.List of historical states of Georgia
This is an incomplete list of states that have existed on the present-day territory of Georgia since ancient times. It includes de facto independent entities like the major medieval Duchies (saeristavo).List of volcanoes in Georgia (country)
This is a list of active and extinct volcanoes in Georgia.Mirian III of Iberia
Mirian III (Georgian: მირიან III) was a king of Iberia or Kartli (Georgia), contemporaneous to the Roman emperor Constantine the Great (r. 306–337). He was the founder of the royal Chosroid dynasty.
According to the early medieval Georgian annals and hagiography, Mirian was the first Christian king of Iberia, converted through the ministry of Nino, a Cappadocian female missionary. After Christianization of Iberia he is credited with establishment of Christianity as his kingdom's state religion and is regarded by the Georgian Orthodox Church as saint and is canonized as Saint Equal to the Apostles King Mirian (Georgian: წმინდა მოციქულთასწორი მეფე მირიანი).Traditional chronology after Prince Vakhushti assigns to Mirian's reign—taken to have lasted for 77 years—the dates 268–345, which Professor Cyril Toumanoff corrects to 284–361. He is also known to the contemporary Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus and the medieval Armenian chronicles.Prehistoric Georgia
The prehistory of Georgia is the period between the first human habitation of the territory of modern-day nation of Georgia and the time when Assyrian and Urartian, and more firmly, the Classical accounts, brought the proto-Georgian tribes into the scope of recorded history.Principality of Guria
The Principality of Guria (Georgian: გურიის სამთავრო, translit.: guriis samtavro) was a historical state in Georgia. Centered on modern-day Guria, a southwestern region in Georgia, it was located between the Black Sea and Lesser Caucasus, and was ruled by a succession of twenty-two princes of the House of Gurieli from the 1460s to 1829. The principality emerged during the process of fragmentation of a unified Kingdom of Georgia. Its boundaries fluctuated in the course of permanent conflicts with neighboring Georgian rulers and Ottoman Empire, and the principality enjoyed various degrees of autonomy until being annexed by Imperial Russia in 1829.Principality of Svaneti
The Principality of Svaneti (Georgian: სვანეთის სამთავრო, translit.: svanetis samtavro) was a small principality (samtavro) in the Svaneti region of the Greater Caucasus mountains that emerged following the breakup of the Kingdom of Georgia in the late 15th century. It was ruled successively by the houses of Gelovani and Dadeshkeliani, and was annexed to the Russian Empire in 1858.Saint Nino
Saint Nino (Georgian: წმინდა ნინო, ts'minda nino; Armenian: Սուրբ Նունե, Surb Nune; Greek: Αγία Νίνα, Agía Nína; sometimes St. Nune or St. Ninny) Equal to the Apostles and the Enlightener of Georgia (c. 296 – c. 338 or 340) was a woman who preached Christianity in Georgia, that resulted from the Christianization of Iberia.
According to most widely traditional accounts, she belonged to a Greek-speaking Roman family from Kolastra, Cappadocia, was a relative of Saint George, and came to Georgia (ancient Iberia) from Constantinople. Other sources claim she was from Rome, Jerusalem or Gaul (modern France). According to legend, she performed miraculous healings and converted the Georgian queen, Nana, and eventually the pagan king Mirian III of Iberia, who, lost in darkness and blinded on a hunting trip, found his way only after he prayed to "Nino’s God". Mirian declared Christianity the official religion (c. 327) and Nino continued her missionary activities among Georgians until her death.
Her tomb is still shown at the Bodbe Monastery in Kakheti, eastern Georgia. St. Nino has become one of the most venerated saints of the Georgian Orthodox Church and her attribute, a grapevine cross, is a symbol of Georgian Christianity.Trialeti culture
The Trialeti culture (Georgian: თრიალეთის კულტურა, also known as the Trialeti-Vanadzor [Kirovakan] culture), is named after the Trialeti region of Georgia. It is attributed to the late 3rd and early 2nd millennium BC. Trialeti culture emerged in the areas of the preceding Kura-Araxes culture.