Map highlighting the historical region of Javakheti in Georgia
|o Total||2,588 km2 (999 sq mi)|
(highest point: Didi Abuli)
|3,300 m (10,800 ft)|
|o Density||27/km2 (70/sq mi)|
Javakheti (Georgian: [dvt?i]; Armenian: , Javakhk) is a historical province in southern Georgia, corresponding to the modern Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda municipalities. Historically, Javakheti borders in the west to the Kura River (Mtkvari), and in the north, south and east with the Shavsheti, Samsari and Nialiskuri mountains. Principal economic activities in this region are subsistence agriculture, particularly potatoes, and raising livestock.
In 1995, the Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda districts, comprising the historical territory of Javakheti, was merged with the neighboring land of Samtskhe to form a new administrative region, Samtskhe-Javakheti. Armenians comprise the majority of Javakheti's population. According to the 2014 Georgian census, of the 41,870 inhabitants in Akhalkalaki Municipality (93%) and Ninotsminda Municipality 23,262 (95%) were Armenians.
In terminology, the name Javakheti is taken from javakh core with traditional Georgian -eti suffix; commonly, Javakheti means the home of Javakhs (an ethnic subgroup of Georgians), as for example, the word Ossetia is taken from Georgian Osi plus -eti. The -k suffix in Armenian has an identical meaning.
In the sources, the region was recorded as Zabakha in 785 BC, by the king Argishti I of Urartu and, probably, meaning one of the ethnic groups of Urartu. According to Cyril Toumanoff, Javakheti, together with Erusheti, was part of the Iberian duchy of Tsunda from the 4th or 3rd century BC. Since 2nd century BC to 5th century AD this region was a part of an Armenian province - Gugark, in Greater Armenia.
Saint Nino entered Iberia from Javakheti, one of the southern provinces of Iberia, and, following the course of the River Kura, she arrived in Mtskheta, the capital of the kingdom, once there, she eventually began to preach Christianity, which culminated by Christianization of Iberia.
One of the earliest Armenian sources, Faustus of Byzantium (the 5th century) writes: "Maskut King Sanesan, extremely angry, was filled with hate for his tribesman, Armenian King Khosrow, and gathered all of his troops--Huns, Pokhs, Tavaspars, Khechmataks, Izhmakhs, Gats, Gluars, Gugars, Shichbs, Chilbs, Balasich, and Egersvans, as well as an uncountable number of other diverse nomadic tribes, all the numerous troops he commanded. He crossed his border, the great River Kura, and invaded the Armenian country."
In the 5th century during the rule of Vakhtang I of Iberia Javakheti was a province of Iberia and after his death his second wife the Byzantine princess settled in Tsunda (part of Javakheti).
In the struggle against the Arab occupation, Bagrationi dynasty came to rule over Tao-Klarjeti and established the Kouropalatate of Iberia. Rulers of Tao-Klarjeti fought the Arabs from this region, and gradually incorporated surrounding lands of Samtskhe and Javakheti, along with a few other lesser lands, into its territory. For a long time, the region became a cultural safe-house and one of the most important religious centers of Georgia.
10th century Armenian historian, Ukhtanes, wrote about the family tree of Kyrion, the Catholicos of Iberia. The literal translation of this text is as follows: Kyrion "came from the Iberians in terms of country and lineage, from the region of the Javakhs." There can be no doubt that Ukhtanes believed Javakheti to be part of Iberia, and the Javakhs to be Iberians. Z. Aleksidze examines the viewpoint of this historian and the enlightened Armenian society of the 10th century on the problem that interests us in depth.
Between 9th-11th centuries part of Javakheti/Javakhk was ruled by Bagratid Armenia. In the mid-10th century, part of Javakheti was incorporated into Kingdom of Abkhazia. In 964 Leon III of Abkhazia extended his influence to Javakheti, and during his reign the Kumurdo Cathedral was built. In subsequent centuries, Javakheti remained in the hands of the unified Georgian monarchy and had a period of significant development, during which numerous bridges, churches, monasteries, and royal residences (Lgivi, Ghrtila, Bozhano, Vardzia, etc.) were built.
From the 11th century, the center of upper Javakheti became Akhalkalaki. From the 10th century, the center of lowland Javakheti was Tmogvi. From the 12th century, the domain was ruled by representatives of the feudal family of Toreli.
From the 13th century, the administrative borders of the region combined in addition Palakatsio (modern Turkey) and part of Samtskhe. In the 15th century, Javakheti was part of the principality of Samtskhe-Saatabago. Between 13th-14th centuries Javakheti/Javakhk was a part of vassal of Georgian Kingdom - Zakarid Armenia, ruled by armeno-georgian dynasty Zakarid-Mkhargrzeli. In the 16th century, the region, as well as the adjacent territories of western Georgia, was occupied by the Ottoman Empire. The Georgian population of Javakheti was displaced to inner regions of Georgia such as Imereti and Kartli. Those who remained gradually became Muslim.
In the first third of the 19th century, following the Russo-Persian War (1804-1813) and the Russo-Persian War of 1826-1828, Russia conquered the Southern Caucasus, and the whole of Georgia, along with the rest of the Caucasus, was incorporated within the Russian Empire. At that time Javakheti was inhabited by Georgian Muslims and after Russian conquest they mostly migrated to the Ottoman Empire. After Russian encouragement the area was resettled by Christian Ottoman Armenians. In 1828, because of luck, the Russian army in battle with the Turks made the decision real to move people to Samtskhe-Javakheti. Trialeti and Javakheti was filled with Christian Armenians and Caucasus Greeks. In the early 20th century, a large number of Armenian refugees from the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire, and Doukhobor sect members of Russian Empire, settled the region.
On December 3, 1829, General Ivan Paskevich created a special committee for relocation with chairmanship of governor Piotr Zaveleisky (Russian: ?. ?. ). The committee was created for the act for relocation. According to preliminary calculations, the committee planned to displace 8,000 families from Kars, Erzurum and Do?ubeyaz?t, but after a short time, the number was increased to 14,000.
The political target of the Russian Empire was to get ethnical colours in Georgia, while the king-loving Georgian people were not very happy with Russian rule. Because of this, some people refused to move Meskhetians from Imereti back to their homes in freed places of Javakheti and other southern regions.
After an offensive on Akhaltsikhe, the sons of Meskhetian families of the 16th-17th centuries (Tsitsishvili, Avalishvili, Muskhelishvili and others) got to Ivan Paskevich and requested the return of legitimate lands on according to conservated sigheles issued by Georgian kings. Paskevich refused their request with some regrets.
Georgia came fully under Soviet control in 1921, and Javakheti, along with other former Georgian territories, became part of the Georgian SSR. The remaining Muslim minority in Javakheti, also known as "Meskhetian Turks", were deported to Uzbekistan in 1944 during the regime of Stalin.
An expected improvement is the planned construction of the highway (financed by the US Millennium Challenge Account) to more effectively link the region with the rest of Georgia. Also, a railroad is planned to run from Kars, Turkey to Baku, Azerbaijan via the area (see: Kars Baku Tbilisi railway line), but the Armenian population of Javakheti are opposed to this rail link because it excludes and isolates Armenia. There is already another railroad linking Armenia, Georgia and Turkey, which is the Kars-Gyumri-Akhalkalaki railroad line. The existing line is in working condition and could be operational within weeks, but due to the Turkish blockade of Armenia since 1993, the railroad is not operational.
...Javakheti (called Javakhk by Armenians).
...Georgian region of Javakheti (Armenian Javakhk)...