January 1, 2013

The History of Abkhazia.

"According to The Georgian Chronicles, the first inhabitants of what is now Abkhazia and the whole western Georgia were Egrosians, the descedants of Egros son of Togarmah, grandson of Japhet, son of Noah, who came from the land known as Arian-Kartli."

"... Abkhazia was conquered by Mithridates VI Eupator of Pontus between c. 110 and 63 BC, and then taken by the Roman commander Pompey."

"[T]he kingdoms of Abkhazia and Georgia [were united] into a single Georgian feudal state... reach[ing] the apex of its strength and prestige under the queen Tamar (1184–1213)."

"Towards the end of the 17th century, the principality of Abkhazia broke up into several fiefdoms, depriving many areas of any centralized authority. The region became a theatre of widespread slave trade and piracy. "

"In the Russian revolution of 1905, most Abkhaz remained largely loyal to the Russian rule, while Georgians tended to oppose it. As a reward for their allegiance, tsar Nicholas II officially forgave the Abkhaz for their opposition in the 19th century and removed their status of a 'guilty people' in 1907."

"On 24 October 2008 the railroad bridge of Shamgon-Tagiloni, connecting the city of Zugdidi in Georgia with the Abkhazian Gali district (populated mainly by Georgians) was destroyed. According to Georgian and French sources it was done by Russian army; Abkhazian sources maintained it was a Georgian diversion."


And so begins the new year project on this blog, which is to proceed, alphabetically, through the 206 countries of the world, and to read the "History of" page in Wikipedia. The idea is to have had it go through our head, at least once, something of what happened in each place. It is fitting that we start with Abkhazia, which may be an unfamiliar name. Much has happened there! It's touching to see that, to confront one's own persistent, nagging ignorance. But we are all fortunate to have woken up again this morning, still a human being on Planet Earth, and I want to perform a ritual — for the next 206 days — of adding a slight glimmer of awareness of those other human beings who live or who have lived over the long expanses of time and place.


It's apt that we encounter Noah on New Year's Day, Noah being our earliest example of an individual overindulging in alcohol.

ADDED: I found a nice Flicker stream of photos from Abkhazia. I recommend beginning here — at Stalin's bathroom — and then clicking to the "newer"/"older" button to see more.


rhhardin said...

The question is whether they had enough pencils. Centralized planning gets stuff like that horribly wrong.

sydney said...

The natural parts of it are very beautiful, the manmade parts, not so much. The statue of Bill Clinton did make me laugh, though.

Mitchell the Bat said...

Much has happened there! It's touching to see that, to confront one's own persistent, nagging ignorance.

What you've got hold of there, Professor, is dissatisfaction, not ignorance, if it persists and nags.

As for all those other humans, they were born, they lived, and then they died. And none of them have ever been in my kitchen.

But good luck with this new project, which sounds kind of nifty.

Anonymous said...

I taught geography for 35 years. My hat's off to you...

Clyde said...

It's never good to be a small, weak people surrounded by stronger neighbors. It's also never good to live at a major crossroads for conquerors like the Caucasus. When the elephants charge, the mice get trampled.

Kirk Parker said...

I'm with sydney--way too much cheap Soviet concrete there.

Bob_R said...

So, now one of the first things I did in 2013 was to look at a picture of Stalin's bidet. This year is not starting off well.

Kirk Parker said...

Oh, and if you like the Clinton statue, you've gone to far in the "old" direction: you're now in Priština (Kosovo), a mere 1400+ road miles from Abhkazia.

Anonymous said...

With Sydney, I note the ghastly soviet architecture that the Bolsheviks left behind.

The buildings show well the kind of work a centrally planned government does.

We can't see Obama-care as a thing, but those buildings give you an outward physical manifestation of what Obama-care looks like in comparison to nature or the voluntary work of freely contracting people.

edutcher said...

So, Noah's grandson found the place. Bet he built his house up on a hill someplace.

ganderson said...

Gubben Noak Gubben Noak
var en hedersman
när han gick ur arken
plantera han på marken
mycket vin ja mycket vin ja
detta gjorde han

Mikael Bellman

jaynie said...

Great project.

Clyde said...

Thank goodness for Swedish-English machine translation.

lge said...

Stalin's bathroom is even worse than my bathroom, and mine is a 50's baby-blue tub/toilet/sink from Sears. But at least my tub isn't wall-papered in paisley, or whatever that effect is.

William said...

From the looks of it, Abkhazia is the kind of place that Borat and his neighbors in Kazakhstan look down upon. I wonder if Abkhazian emigres ever feel homesick or anything except I'm glad I'm out of that shithole. During the gulag years, many Abkhazian prisoners probably felt that things could be worse, that they could still be home.

tiger said...

Ahhh, something to look forward to!

Among man other things I like geography, learning new stuff and trivia so thanks, Professor!

Chuck Currie said...

"The region became a theatre of widespread slave trade and piracy."

When the subject of "slave trade" comes up, how many automatically think, Abkhazia.

After Stalin's bidet, the one thing that stood out to me was the abundance of palm trees. Returning travelers or invading hoards.


wyo sis said...

I was struck by how familiar a lot of the scenery looks.
The architecture is Soviet looking, but not really all that different from lots of places in the United States. I could see places where it looks like 400 sq feet of living space is about what they have. So, this "new" small space living isn't all that new.
It looks like it's cold there.

ricpic said...

To think, there have been whole peoples, whole regions, whole cultures that risen and fallen without the wisdom of ricpic. How could that be, I ask myself, how could that be?

David said...

I thought we were going to get an older picture of Stalin's bathroom, perhaps with Old Joe brushing his teeth. Or worse.

Great photos and great project idea. I look forward to it.

I'd love to visit the Black Sea some day, but it means I'd have to travel.

ganderson said...

Ooops CARL Mikael Bellman!

Christy said...

The history of hillfolk strikes me as remarkably similar across time and the earth.

Was this the home of the golden fleece?

tim maguire said...

I probably won't comment much on these posts, but I will do my best to come along for the ride.

Chip Ahoy said...

This could be improved.

Google Earth.

It can whisk you there from where you are in the most interesting way. You type Abkhazia in the corner and it suggests Abkhazia, Georgia and you go, why yes, that's it, take us there, and it turns the world around and presents Europe with a little orange arrow that says "here you go Abkhazia, Georgia right there."

And you go, well take us down please and it does and you see it's all mountains and you go more and go into the mountains and more until you're down there and you go, what the hell, you dump me in the snow? Take me back up and look for a town. And you realize there are no towns.

Silly me, I don't have the towns turned on. View. Sidebar. Click borders, populated places, islands, geographic features, photos, panoramio, 360 cities, roads, 3d building, click everything. And still nothing in Abkhazia.

Conclusion: there's nothing at all to see in Abkhazia. People went there. Took pictures. You can see the pictures people took in Abkhazia. They all confirm, there's nothing there to see.

deborah said...

Cool idea, but sounds daunting to do daily for 206 days. Even if we were to aim at finishing by the end of October, that would leave us with 95 days to play with, or at least 9 days per month. Maybe we could spread it out a little, so it doesn't turn into a slog?

deborah said...

These items caught my eye:

"The written history of Abkhazia largely begins with the coming of the Milesian Greeks to the coastal Colchis [the kingdom ruling at that time] in the 6th-5th centuries BC."

"In 1555, Georgia and the whole South Caucasus was divided between the Ottoman and Safavid Persian [current Iran, but expanded at the time] empires, with Abkhazia, along with all of western Georgia, remaining in the hands of the Ottomans. As a result, Abkhazia came under the increasing influence of Turkey and Islam, gradually losing its cultural and religious ties with the rest of Georgia. According to the Soviet historical science Turkey after the conquest has aimed at obliterating the material and spiritual culture of Abkhazia and forcibly convert the population to Islam, which led to numerous insurrections (in 1725, 1728, 1733, 1771 and 1806)."

"The Russian annexation of two major Georgian kingdoms [Georgia, Abkhazia] between 1801 and 1810facilitated the empire’s expansion far into the Caucasus region...As a result of harsh government reaction allegedly 60% of the Muslim Abkhaz population, although contemporary census reports were not very trustworthy — became Muhajirs, and emigrated to the Ottoman possessions between 1866 and 1878...Large areas of the region were left uninhabited and many Armenians, Georgians, Russians and others subsequently migrated to Abkhazia, resettling much of the vacated territory.[13] According to Georgian historians Georgian tribes (Mingrelians and Svans) had populated Abkhazia since the time of the Colchis kingdom. After the Russian takeover large numbers of Abkhazians fled to the Ottoman Empire in the period 1864-1878.Those Abkhaz, who did not convert to Christianity, and who remained in Abkhazia were declared by the Russian government a "refugee population" and deprived of the right to settle in the coastal areas."

"Meanwhile, in 1870, bound peasants, including slaves, were liberated in Abkhazia as a part of the Russian serfdom reforms. This reform triggered the moderate development of capitalism in the region. Tobacco, tea and subtropical crops became more widely grown. Industries (coal, timber) began to develop. Health resorts started to be built. A small town of Gagra, acquired by a German prince Peter of Oldenburg, a member of the Russian royal family, turned to a resort of particular tourist interest early in the 1900s (decade)."

Then came the Bolsheviks.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

I call bullshit on Stalin's bathroom. That hardware - and a bidet! - are anything but pre-1953 fixtures.

Kirk Parker said...


Oh, come on! The Soviets were the wave of the future! Of course they had plumbing that was in advance of its time.

wyo sis said...

They remodeled Stalin's bathroom? And left that huge rusty pipe? Savages.

Chuck Currie said...

Two things I have learned from history, and Abkhazia is a perfect example:

One - nothing is permanent. Consequently, the USA is reaching its "used by date".

Two - there is always some fraction of human kind that wants to be the boss of you, and they will kill you to if you disagree.


دردشة ومنتديات عراقنا said...

thank you
شات عراقنا
دردشة عراقنا
جات عراقنا
شلة عراقنا
شات العراق
دردشة عراقية
شات كيكه
دردشة عبدالله
منتدى دردشة عراقنا
منتدى عراقنا

Mitch H. said...

It's also never good to live at a major crossroads for conquerors like the Caucasus.

The Caucasus was not really a crossroads, but rather a backwater, a land of small places, where the detritus of defeat, despair, and dispossession washed up into tight corners. The great steppe to the north, now that was the crossroads of the region, and peoples thundered across that great road as predictably as the tides, and almost as swiftly.

If the Abkazi had lived to the north, their fragments would have been driven into central Europe or the Balkans in two generations, like everyone before them. And probably, their cultural cousins were, indeed, carried along with whomever, dissolving into one steppe confederation after the next. In a certain sense, the many peoples of the Caucasus are like cultural-historical strata, little flecks of long-gone nationalities deposited on the narrow slopes of some high canyon wall.

When the subject of "slave trade" comes up, how many automatically think, Abkhazia.

Well, if they're of a historical mindset, they think "Circassian slave trade", since "Circassian" was the classical name for the region. Mountainous regions with poor soil generally specialize in the export of human surplus, either as soldiers or as slaves. Often both at the same time.

Crunchy Frog said...

Interesting project - while you are at it, could you assign each country one of the 206 bones in the human body?

Lessee... Abkhazia - left distal pinkie toe bone

You never notice it until it's gone.

Seraina said...

Hey, thanks for sharing my Flickr photos!
By clicking on the pictures you'll find more information about traveling in Abkhazia, in case you're interested. Best wishes, Seraina