Before the Arab Caliphate

Karabakh is one of the most ancient regions not only of Azerbaijan but also of the entire world. The site of the most ancient human beings was found in the Azykh cave of this region. It proves Azerbaijan to be one of the cradles of mankind, along with Karabakh, the Mediterranean Sea basin, and East Africa. The researcher of the Azykh cave, Azerbaijani scientist M.Guseynov, wrote: "River stone instruments discovered in the Azykh cave are close to those of the Orduvay culture of East Africa.  At the same time, the instruments were prepared in different ways, thus making it possible to single out the Guruchay culture composed of the labor instruments found in the lower layers of the Azykh cave… The Guruchay culture can be dated back to 1 million 200 thousand years ago".

The jawbone of the Azykh human — Azykhantrope - was found in the Acheulian layer of the Azykh cave in 1968. It is assumed that Azychanthropus lived 350-400 thousand years ago. The mustye culture of Karabakh was mainly represented by the Taghlar cave. The continuation of the archeological investigation of Karabakh may also prove the high level of development of Mezolite and Neolite periods of the Stone Age. Great changes occurred in the life of Karabakh in the Neolite (6-4th millenniums B.C.), Bronze, and the first Iron age (late 4th-early 1 millenniums B.C.). The late Bronze and early Iron ages (13-8th centuries B.C) were called the Khodjaly-Gedebey culture. Agate beads with cuneiform, once belonging to the Assyria ruler Adad nirar, were found in the archeological monument of the Khodjaly cemetery of that period. These findings and a number of others confirm the existence of economic and culture relations with the Near East.

Ethno-political processes developed along with the industrial and cultural ones. The strong state of Manna appeared in the south of Azerbaijan (9-6 centuries B.C), and it managed to protect its independence in the fight with Assyria and Urartu. Urartu's intervention bypassed the lands of the North Azerbaijan, including Karabakh. The Armenian ethnos did not exist at that time in the South Caucasus (Transcaucasia). Prominent researches and collective monograph authors expressed unanimous views on the political history of Transcaucasia. The major part of Urartu was located out of the bounds of the USSR. The areas of compact settlement of Armenians of the ancient period and Middle Ages were also out of the bounds of the present-day Armenia SSR. The situation changed in times of the Midia state (672-550 B.C), which put an end to the wealth of Urartu. Midia subdued the South-Eastern Transcaucasia. Such states were typical of the Achamenid period (550-330 B.C).

The political processes stepped to a new stage following the overthrow of the Achamenid state by Macedonian Alexander. As a result, after the death of Macedonian Alexander, who ruled for a short period of time, his empire fell into a number of states, and Atropatena appeared in the south of Azerbaijan, while Albania appeared in the north. (In the recent time Azerbaijani historians enriched Atropatena and Albania studies with new scientific works. They made a great contribution to the correction of scientific facts of that period that was so much falsified by Armenian authors. We think it unnecessary to cite them here). Atropatena owned the northern lands of Azerbaijan in the 4th B.C, and part of the lands that constituted Karabakh were subdued to that very state. Albania, which was established simultaneously with Atropatena, existed in the 4-8th centuries B.C and played a great role in the history of Azerbaijan of nearly 1200 years. Albania covered the entire territory of Karabakh, and it did everything possible to hold this region in its hands and reached its aim with few exceptions.

Just as Karabakh belonged to the Azerbaijani Albanian state, so too did the ethnic groups residing here – Udis, Sods, Gargaris, and others—constitute Albanian tribes. In this case, the Armenian notion of historical lands of Albania being an integral part of Armenia lacks any scientific-historical justification. Unlike Armenians, the Azerbaijani state of Albania continued to pursue an independent policy, and the historical regions of Karabakh were part of its territory. According to research, "the study of sources and realities of the 1st-4th centuries convinces us that the southern border of Albania ran along the Araks River."


The all-Turk prominent monument of the oral folklore literature epos Kitabi Dede Gorgut also proves that Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan and different Turkic tribes lived in the country. The epos Dede Gorgut was widely spread in all the regions of Azerbaijan, including Karabakh, and the basin of the Goycha lake in the 6-7th centuries. As stated in this valuable national epos, some Oghuz heroes even met with him to express their respect. The famous Oghuzname (from the Kitabi-Diyarbekir written by Abu Bekr Tehrani in 1470), written by the instruction of the Aggoyunlu ruler Uzun Gasan (1453-1478), proved that the Goycha lake pastures and Karabakh belonged to ancient Oghuz Turks, that the forefather of the Oghuz Turks, Oghuz Khagan, was buried on the Goycha lake shore and that Bayandur Khagan lived and was buried in Karabakh on the Goycha lake pastures.


Karabakh in times of the Arabian Caliphate

The main changes in the history of Karabakh are associated with the invasion of the Arab Caliphate and the elimination of the Albanian state as a result. Prior to the Arab invasions, the population of Karabakh ethnically had Azerbaijani-Albanian roots, but the disastrous policies of the Arab Caliphate towards Azerbaijan led to religious dominance by Armenians, eventually resulting in the Armenianization of the population. These processes, including the Gregorianization and Armenianization, were extensively studied by academician Z. Buniyatov.

Odontological research on the population's ethnogenesis and its connections also corroborate this. After the fragmentation of the Arab Caliphate, the Syunik and Arsak-Khachen principalities emerged in Albania's territory. Khachen, formed in the Arsak territory, was considered by I. A. Orbeli as "a part of ancient Albania." Hence, it's natural that no Armenian state emerged among those that reappeared after the Caliphate's collapse, highlighting the absence of Armenian statehood in the South Caucasus unlike Azerbaijan and Georgia. This period, from the 9th to the early 13th centuries, especially during the Sajids-Atabegs-Shirvanshahs period, saw Azerbaijan's increasing power throughout the South Caucasus. The Sajids and Atabegs effectively united Azerbaijan's historical lands politically. The Khachen principality reached a high level of development during Hasan Jalal's reign (1215-1261) of the Mehranid dynasty. Notably, alongside titles like "Prince of the Khachen States" and "Magnificent Prince of the Khachen and Arsak States," Hasan Jalal is also referred to as the "Ruler of Albania," indicating the connection between his titles and the history of Azerbaijan - Albania. During his rule, the Gandzasar Monastery, considered one of the most valuable gems of Albanian architecture, was constructed.



Karabakh as one of the political centers of Azerbaijan
(XIII- the 40s of XVIII)

During the rule of Kharezmshah Djelaleddin, when the Atabeg state was weakened by the first intervention of the Mongolians (1220-1222), Karabakh was under his control (1225-1231).

In period of the second intervention of Mongolians and the completion of Azerbaijan's occupation (1231-1239) Karabakh like other lands of Azerbaijan was part of the Mongolian khaganate (1239-1256) and later of Hulakues (Elkhanies) state (1256-1357). The information of this period of Karabakh's history is much wider and well studied.The word combination "Gara bagh" (black garden) referred to a specific territory during that period. V. Piriyev wrote: "The name of the Arran Karabakh was first mentioned in the creation of Radhid ad-Din "Jami al-Tawarikh" in connection with the events of 1284". At that period Karabakh was composed of the single area that connected the mountain and foothill regions of Arran. Karabakh played an important role in the political history of Elkhanis state in the 13-14th centuries. V.Piriyev noted that the permanent wintering of Mongolian rulers in Karabakh caused a number of events of state importance. It would be enough to say that two of the Mongolian rulers (Gazan khan and Arpa khan) ascended the throne in Karabakh, and two others (Argun khan and Abu Said) died there." Karabakh was part of Azerbaijan in the 13-14th centuries as well and Azerbaijan Turks dominated the population of the region.

In the 15th century, Karabakh was part of Azerbaijani states—the Garagoyunlu (1410-1467) and Aggoyunlu (1468-1501). Yet in times of Garagoyunlus an event occurred in the life of Karabakh which told on its further history. The dynasty of the former Albanian ruler Gasan Djelal (Djelali) was attached the title of the melik (ruler) from the Garagoyunlu shah Djahan in the 15th  century. Later the property of Djelalis was dividec in five feudal principalities (Gulistan, Djeravert, Khachyn, Varanda and Dizaq)…

The centralization of all the lands of Azerbaijan was initiated with the establishment of the Safavid state (1501). The lands of Azerbaijan were completely centralized as a single state in the mid 16th century. Thus, the Safavid state of Azerbaijan became the second larger region after the Osmanly empire. At that period the ethnic and political predominance of Armenians was not possible. On the contrary, the ethnic and political borders of Azerbaijan became clearer then. Safavids established four principalities in Azerbaijan including the Karabakh or Ganja province. The detailed journals worked out in that regions creates clear picture of the administrative division of the said principality. According to the date of 1593 the Ganja-Karabakh province fell into 7 regions and 36 districts. Almost all of 1.3 thousand geographical names were taken from Azerbaijan language. None of them belonged to Armenians.

After the Safavids lost their strong positions, the lands of Azerbaijan became the center of wars between Iran, Russian, and the Osmanly empire.

At that period the Ganja-Karabakh lands were part of the Osmanly empire. The journals worked out in times of the Osmanly empire also prove the domination of Azerbaijanis among the region's population. According to the census enumerations the population of the Ganja-Karabakh province totaled 122 thousand people in 1727. Azerbaijanis accounted for 80.3 thousand people (66%), Armenians (if exactly the armenified Albanians converted to gregorianism) — for 37.8 thousand people (31%), Kurds — for 3.7 thousand people (3.1%). At the reported period the Albanians that were converted to gregorianism intensified their political activity under the active support of Russia. Nadir shah Afshar who came to power overthrowing the last Safavid ruler Abbas the third applied cruel punitive measures to the Turkic-Muslim population of the Ganja-Karabakh province that did not recognize his government. This factor helped consolidation of the Karabakh Albanian meliks and provoked the separatism. After the death of Nadir his state fell into pieces and new states-khanates were established in Azerbaijan. In other words, Azerbaijan restored its independence through creation of such states. Two Azerbaijan khanates, Ganja and Karabakh, were established on the territory of the former Ganja-Karabakh province.

Institute of History named after A.Bakykhanov of ANAS