Slide The truth
is everyone's right
| | About Documents Questions

Where is the historical-geographical territory of Karabakh?

The territory between the Kura and Aras rivers where nowadays Karabakh is situated was an ancient land belonging to Azerbaijan where different tribes once lived independently. The development of economic and cultural relations between the territories of these tribes paved the way for the creation of Azerbaijan state-Caucasian Albania in the latter years of the fourth century B.C. Caucasian Albania came to an end when this territory was occupied by the Arab Caliphate in 705 A.D. The Caucasian Albania that emerged in northern Azerbaijan covered the territories of Azerbaijan from the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range in the north, including southern parts of Dagestan (Derbend and its surrounding area), to the Aras River in the south, and from the shore of Goyche Lake and the sources of the Gabirli (Iori) and Ganich rivers in the west to the Caspian Sea in the east. Caucasian Albania was divided administratively into principalities (regions), and these were also divided into several provinces. During that period, Caucasian Albania consisted mainly of ten principalities. Six of these were on the left bank of the Kura River and four on its right bank. The capital city of Caucasian Albania was originally Gabala, although this was replaced by Barda in the fifth century.[1]

At the beginning of the eighth century, the territory of Azerbaijan was incorporated into the Arab Caliphate. After this occupation of Azerbaijan by the Arab Caliphate, ancient Caucasian Albania was renamed Arran by the Arabs. During the early Middle Ages, Azerbaijan territories north of the Aras River were incorporated into Arran province. Arran territory at that time bordered onto Darband and the Caspian Sea in the north-east, Tbilisi in the west, and the Aras River in the south-west. However, in the later Middle Ages, Arran covered only the land between the Kura and Aras rivers, where the territory of what is nowadays Karabakh is situated.[2]

During the Arab Caliphate, Karabakh was still the political center not only of Azerbaijan but also of the entire region, as it had been of Caucasian Albania. The city of Barda, the administrative center of Karabakh and the official residence of the representative of the Arab Caliphate, thus began to play a role in the developing trade center.[3] Due to the level of its development, Barda was also referred to as the “Bagdad of Arran” by Arab historians and travelers. Well-known scholars of that time who lived in Barda, such as Sadallah al-Bardai, Said ibn Amr al-Azdi al-Bardai, and Abu Bakr al-Bardai, spread the glory of Azerbaijan throughout the Arab Caliphate.[4]

The upper and lower parts of Karabakh, which enjoyed close economic and cultural ties with each other throughout history, were geographically considered to be part of Arran, and its centre.[5] Regarding the borders of Karabakh, Mirza Jamal Javanhir writes the following in his book entitled “The History of Karabakh”: “According to ancient historical texts, the borders of Karabakh are: in the South the River Araz-from Hudafarin Bridge to Sinig Bridge. At present the population of Gazakh, Shasaddin and Damarchi-Hasanly lives near this bridge, for which the Russian Tatars use the Russian name, Krasniy Most, which is the Red Bridge. In the east the border is the Kur[a] River, which flows into the Araz River at Javad village and on to the Caspian Sea. In the north the border is the Goran River, which flows from the Yelizavetpol (Ganja) border of Karabakh to the Kur[a] River, down to the Araz River. In the west the border is the high mountains of Karabakh called Kusbak, Salvarti and Erikli”.[6]

When the Safavid Empire (1501-1736) was established in Azerbaijan in the sixteenth century, the Empire was divided into 13 administrative beylerbeyliyi (units-provinces) and the Karabakh region was included in the Karabakh Beylerbeyliyi, with its capital in Ganja. The Karabakh Beylerbeyliyi covered the historical Arran region, more precisely the land between the Kura and Aras rivers, and at the end of the seventeenth century its borders even extended to Tbilisi, as well.[7] This Karabakh Beylerbeyliyi remained almost unchanged during the Ottoman Empire (1588-1606 and 1724-1735). Karabakh during that time therefore covered the same territory as the Karabakh Beylerbeyliyi that had been created during the rule of Shah (Emperor) Ismayil I, the founder of the Safavid Empire.[8]

After the death of Nadir Shah Afshar on 29 June 1747, the Afshar Empire fell to pieces and semi-independent and independent khanates (kingdoms) were established in the territory of Azerbaijan. Two khanates were established in the territory of the former Karabakh Beylerbeyliyi: Ganja khanate (1747-1804) and Karabakh khanate (1747-1822). The Karabakh khanate, in the eighteenth century, covered the territory of today’s Karabakh, bordering with the Khudaferin Bridge over the Aras River and Cavad, Zardab, and Alvand villages in the south, the Kura River in the east, the Goran River that lay between Ganja and Karabakh khanates in the north, and the Karabakh mountains and Nakhchivan khanate in the west.[9] The territory of the Karabakh khanate covered an area of approximately 18,000 km2,[10] 182 km. from north to south and 273 km. from east to west.[11]

[1] Mahmudov Y.M., and Şükürov K.K., Qarabağ: real tarix, faktlar, sənədlər (Bakı, 2009), p. 14. See also: Azərbaycan tarixi (Seven volumes), Vol. 2, (Bakı: Elm, 2007), pp.14-22. See also: Məmmədov, Tofiq, Qafqaz Albaniyası ilk orta əsrlərdə (Təhsil nəşriyyatı, 2006), p. 44-51.

[2] Azərbaycan tarixi, Vol. 2, (2007), pp. 181-185. See also: Bünyadov, Ziya, Azərbaycan VII-IX əsrlərdə (Bakı: Pedaqogika, 2004), pp. 92-95.

[3] Минорский, В.Ф., История Ширвана и Дербенда X-XI веков (Москва, 1963), p. 38.

[4] Каджар, Ч., Старая Шуша (Баку, 2007), p. 34.

[5] Əl-Əhəri, Əbu Bəkr əl-Qütbü, Tarix-e Şeyx Uveys (Translation from Persian language, preamble, comments, and notes by M.D.Kazımov and V.Z.Piriyevin) (Bakı, 1984), p. 57. See also: Nəcəfli, Tofiq, “XV-XVII yüzilliklərdə Qarabağın ictimai-siyasi həyatı”, in Yılmaz, Reha (ed.), Qarabağ bildiklərimiz və bilmədiklərimiz (Qafqaz Universiteti, 2010), p. 65.

[6] Qarabağnamələr, Vol. 1, (Bakı, 1989), pp. 107-108. See also: Piriyev V. Z., Azərbaycan XIII-XIV əsrlərdə (Bakı, 2003), p. 100. See also: Mahmudov and Şükürov, Qarabağ: real tarix, faktlar, sənədlər, p. 11. See also: Nəcəfli, “XV-XVII yüzilliklərdə Qarabağın ictimai-siyasi həyatı”, pp. 65-66.

[7] Эфендиев, Октай, Карабах в составе государств Каракойунлу, Аккойунлу и Сефевидов (XV-XVII вв.), Карабах-Очерк истории и культуры (Баку, 2004), pp. 68-69.

[8] Məmmədov, Hüsaməddin, Gəncə-Qarabağ əyalətinin müfassəl dəftəri (Şuşa nəşriyyatı, 2000), pp. 5-6.

[9] Qarabaği, Mirzə Camal Cavanşir, “Qarabağ tarixi”, in Akif Fərzəliyev (ed.), Qarabağnamələr (Bakı: Yazıçı, 1989), pp. 107-109. See also: Qaradaği, Həsənəli, Qarabağ vilayətinin qədim vəcədid keyfiyyəti və övzaları”, in Nazim Axundov (ed.), Qarabağnamələr (Bakı: Yazıçı, 1991), p. 352.

[10] Sami, Şemsettin, Kamusu’l – A’lam, Vol. 5, (Kaşgar neşriyat, 1996), p. 3621.

[11] Mirzə Camaloğlu, Rzaqulu bəy, “Pənah xan və İbrahim xanın Qarabağda hakimiyyətləri və o zamanın hadisələri”, in Nazim Axundov (ed.), Qarabağnamələr (Bakı: Yazıçı, 1991), p. 206.