AZERBAIJAN FROM ANCIENT TIMES TO THE ACCEPTANCE OF ISLAM

The resolution of urgent problems of our
democratic country makes it important to
identify ourselves by shedding light on some
of the dark pages of our history and to bring
up a new generation of young intellectuals.
Despite the past obstacles, we have managed
to reveal the valuable pages of our history
and to introduce them to the people.
Each representative of our nation is full
of pride when they study its historical
past and cultural heritage.

Heydar Aliyev

The people of Azerbaijan, who gained their independence at the end of the 20th century, have a rich and ancient history.

Bordering the Major Caucasus in the north, the Alagoz Mountains and East Anadolu, including the Goycha Lake in the west, the Caspian Sea in the east and the borders of Sultaniyye-Zendjan-Hemedan in the south, the historical lands of Azerbaijan are some of the most ancient cultural sites of modern civilization. Azerbaijani people, the second largest Turkic nation after the Anadolu Turks, have maintained a rich culture and traditions in their lands.

We've inherited a great culture.
Each citizen of Azerbaijan must try to deserve
this heritage and feel the responsibility for the past,
present and future of our country,
which has a great historical past,
rich culture and high moral traditions.

Heydar Aliyev

The historical lands of Azerbaijan are located in the region of the Caspian-Mediterranean Sea-Iranian plateau, where most ancient civilizations emerged and developed.

A part of the lower jaw of the azykhantrope
Ancient ethnic societies, the predecessors of the Azeri nation, made a great contribution to the formation of ancient cultural civilizations, established in the region, including the Shumer-Babil culture and to political and military life as well as the history of ancient state establishments of the Near and Middle East. This fact has been proven by scientific research, and especially by way of archeological excavations that have been conducted in our country and other surrounding states.

The territory of Azerbaijan is rich with archeological monuments testifying to the fact that our country is one of the most ancient cradles of civilization. Archeological finds, discovered in the Azykh, Taghlar, Damdjylly, Dashsalahly, and Gazma (Nakhichevan) caves and other historical sites, including the lower jaw of the Ashol man - Azykhantrop, who lived 300-400,000 years ago, also prove Azerbaijan to be one of the sites of the formation of ancient human beings.

Due to this finding, the territory of Azerbaijan has been included on the map of the most ancient inhabitants of Europe.

Azerbaijan is one of a few unique countries,
which were the cradles of humanity and
civilization. Life appeared here in the
early stages and the azykhantrope found
in the Azhykh cave proves Azerbaijan
to be one of the dwellings of ancient
primitive human beings. The rock carvings
and hieroglyphs of Gobustan and Gemiqaya,
patterns of material culture of the Kur-Araz
and Khodjaly cultures and the Kurgan finds
prove that Azerbaijan had a developed
culture even a thousand centuries before Christ.

Heydər Əliyev
Rock carvings (Gemigaya)

The population of Azerbaijan, one of the most ancient cradles of humanity, created a high culture since the Paleolithic Age. In the periods of Mesolithic and Neolithic the population of Azerbaijan led a sedentary lifestyle and engaged in farming, cattle-breeding and other handicrafts. The cultural and economic progress of Azerbaijan expanded even at that time long ago. The Kur-Araz civilization, formed in the late 4th millennium -3rd millennium BCE, spread to other regions of the South Caucasus, East Anatolia and North Caucasus.

Rich material patterns of culture, especially of grain, cropping tools and housing instruments, as well as various kinds of handicraft products show that the Azerbaijani people created one of the ancient sedentary civilizations.

At the same time the people of Azerbaijan have the most ancient traditions of state system establishment. Its historical age is nearly 5 million years. The first state establishments or ethnic-political units appeared in the Urmia Lake basin in late 4th-early 3rd milleniums BCE. The most ancient states established in that area played a significant role in the military and political life of the whole region. Ancient Shumer, Akkard and Ashshur states, established in Dejle and Ferat valleys and even the Hettite state in the Minor Asia had close contacts with each other at that time.

The most ancient states of Azerbaijan were following active foreign policies and successfully defended their lands from foreign invadors. One of the ancient tribes of Azerbaijan - Quti even defeated their strong neighbor-Akkard state and expanded their borders to Iranian plateau and ruled these areas for nearly one hundred years. Along with making use of the state organization rules of Akkards and Shumers, whom they subdued, they also spread the advanced state organization culture of ancient Azerbaijan to these countries.

Ancient state organizations of Azerbaijan Lullubi and Kutii , that ruled the territories beginning with the Urmiya lake sometimes covering Dejle and Ferat valleys till Iran plateau played an important role in the history of ancient state organization of the East.

Unlike other ancient eastern countries kuties elected their leaders and the power was not hereditary. Kuti leaders ruled the country through their succesors. Succesors were free in the governing. Evidently all these factors contributed to the long ruling of ancient states of Azerbaijan on the areas covering Dejle and Ferat valleys till Iran plateau.

With time passed, the culture of state organization became more highly developed and new improved and larger states were established.
Late 1 millenium B.C.-early 1 millenium A.C. Azerbaijan was notable for the establishment of such strongly organized states like Manna, Skif, Atropatena and Albania. These states played a great role in the development of the state organization of Azerbaijan, economic and cultural history of the country and in the formation of a single nation.

Manna which established in early 1st millennium B.C. and followed the traditional state organization of Azerbaijan was an important stage in the history of the state organization of Azerbaijan. The state, which appeared in the Urmia basin-the site of ancient states, occupied a significant place in the history of the world state organizations not only for its antiquity but fot the high level of development.
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Manna, that annexed other small local states in the Urmiya basin expanded from the Araz river on the north (and even far to the north of it) till the Caspian Sea on the north-east.

Manna took an active part in all the events in the region and led successful fights with its strong neighbors Ashshur and Uratly, attempting to occupy Azeri lands. Skifs and Kimmers, residing in Azerbaijan at that time also took an active part in the struggle against Ashshur and Urat occupants.

The power of the leaders of Manna was absolute and hereditary. Yet despite that the leaders ruled the country under the support of the council of the elders and that proves that Azerbaijan has ancient traditions of ruling through consultations.

Manna that existed for nearly 300 years on the south of our lands and led to the repeated attacks of strong neighbors is an important historical factor proving that our country had strong traditions of state organization since ancient times.


Kimmers and Skiths as well as saks and massagets, which were of the same community as the skiths started to play an important role in the military and political life of Azerbaijan late 8th century-early 7th century B.C. These tribes which were the most ancient inhabitants of Eurasia flowed to the south from the passes of the Caucasus mountains and Derbent and after consolidating on the south foothills of the Major Caucasus in North Azerbaijan and spread to the south to the area of Manna and the east of Anadolu.


Along with other tribes the communities of Georgian turks also existed within the Kimmer-Skith-Sak communities. The records of forefather of history Herodot (5th century B.C), based on his own observations also prove that. He wrote that skiths fed on horse milk; their kindren massagets dressed in a similar way and led a similar life-style. They worshiped the God of the Sun, and sacrificied the horse- the quickest animal on the Earth to the God of the Sun moving fastest in the Sky.

The Skiths established the strong Skythian state and contributed to the formation of a single nation on the territory of the country. The Skithian-Massaget leaders gained success in the defense of the lands of Azerbaijan from foreign invaders.

The Massaget state inflicted a hard defeat on the strongest empire of that period-the empire of Iran-Ahameni. Ahameni ruler Kir the Second, which invaded large territories in the Near and Middle East, after occupying south lands of Azerbaijan made an attempt to annex the north part of our country and for this purpose he made a proposal to the widow of a Massaget ruler Tomiris. However, aware of the mean plans of Kir and attaching great importance to the fame of the country and its independence, Tomiris declined his proposal and swearing to the God of the Sun rushed into the fight and smashed down much stronger troops in 530 B.C. Unconquerable Kir himself was killed in this battle. The victory over Kir the Second, that turned such strong states as Media Empire, Lidia, Babilistan into ruins, occupied large areas from the Central Asia to the boundaries of Egypt including Parfiya and thus attached the name Kir the Great, was one of the most joyous events in the History of Azerbaijan.

In period of the Skithian state favorable conditions were created for the interaction between Azeri culture and the culture of skyths widely spead in Eurasia.
Atropat
The ancient culture of Azerbaijan started to develop rapidly and became even richer. Material patterns of culture, discovered during archeological digs and names of places that had survived since the Skithian-Sak-Massagets times clearly prove this fact.


Despite the development of complicated political anmd military events and the occupation policy of neighbor countries that attached great military and strategic importance to Azeri lands, rich in natural resources our country still developed their traditions of state organizations and even ent\riched them. Thus, neither long-term occupation regime of Ahameni-Iran empire nor invasions of Macedonian Alexander could destroy the culture of the state organization in ancient Azerbaijan.

The state organization of Azerbaijan restored immediately after the death of Macedonian Alexander. The state of Atropatena appeared on the south of our country while Albania emerged on the north. All the historical lands of Azerbaijan were included into these two local states.

The state of Atropatena covered the south part of the country. In fact the state organization of Azerbaijan restored even before the invasions of Alexander. The southern lands of Azerbaijan forming a separate satrapate along with other lands of collapsed Midia Empire were ruled independently by Ahameni satropat Atropat even in times of Ahameni government. This part of Azerbaijan was called Midia-Atropatena, Midia Minor and Midia of Atropat by name of Atropat and sometimes Atropatia or Atropatena at that time.

Far-seeing politician and famous military leader Atropat the Third led major attacking force of Ahameni put forward against Alexander. These forces were mainly composed of military groups concentrated on the north and south of Azerbaijan. After the defeat by Atropat the Third Alexander acquainted with the cammanding talent of Atropat abandoned the idea of facing him and tried to approach to the Azeri leader. Thus, the invasions of Macedonian Alexander bypassed Azerbaijan. Later Atropat even deepening reapproachment with the Macedonian ruler, married one of his close relatives thus transforming Atropatena to the first state independent off Greece Macedonia for the first time in the entire East.


Restoration of independent state traditions in Azerbaijan promoted big progress in all spheres of economic and cultural life in the south regions of the country. The strong state Atropatena played a great role in the international contacts of the whole region and maintained wide trade relations with the Caucasus, Volga region, Central Asia, India, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, the basins of the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea. The country's own currency dominated the inner market.

The interraction between Eastern and Greek state organizations also had a positive impact on the state organization of Atropatena. That caused the wide spread of Greek language in the country and improvement of legal standards along with other fields. The rules of the state organization even perfected at that time.

The rulers of Atropatena, making profit of the traditions of state otganization existing in Greece and Ancient East as well as Azerbaijan managed to consolidate their government. Due to that Atropatena preserved its independence in the fight with Parfia and Selevki states and uniting with Pafians smashed down the Roman troops that entered the country. At that time the troops of Atropatena were thought the strongest forces of the entire region. Atropatena advanced 40 thousand infantrymen and 10 thousand cavalry in the battle with Roman invaders.

Wide relations were established between Atropatena, which was a strong military and potilical force in the Near and Middle East and Roman Empire. Roman Empire attached a great importance to Atropatena as part of its eastern policy. The envoys of Atropatena visited Rome and hold talks with ancient emperor Oktavian August (27 B.C.-14 A.C.) The Roman Emperor entrusted the rulers of Atropatena to govern the neighbor Armenian kingdom. Armenian tsars beware of ther military and political power of Atropatena tried to severe ties with this country. For this purpose Armenian Tsar Tigran married off his daughter to Atropatena ruler Mitridat. Later Armenian kingdom became dependent of Atropatena and was governed by Atropatena rulers.

Albania that appeared on the north of the country covered territories from the Caucasus mountains including the south of Derbent (Derbend with adjacent regions) to the River River Araz on the south, from the Goycha lake basin and upper Qabyrry (Iori) and Qanykh (Alazan) to the north-the lands of Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea shore. Gabala and later Barda (after the fifth century) were the centers of this mighty state.

The material and moral culture of Northern Azeri lands even strengthened in times of Albania. Azeri alphabet then called Albanian emerged and schools opened at that period. The country accounted for over 30 cities-the important commercial and cultural centers.


Albania which located at the junction of the North and South and East and West and the site of interaction of different, ethnic societies religions and cultures continued to develop specific and rich culture.


Turkic ethnic communities, residing in the country and increasing in number played a great role in the life of the country. Christianity were spreading in the country along with worshipping of the Moon, the Sun, the only God-Allah. Independent Albanian church directly reported to the Rome from the religious point of view.


The traditions of the state organization in Azerbaijan improved in times of Albania. Albanian rulers were the wordly and religious leaders of the country. They, simulteniously, made laws and were the commanders of the country's military troops. The number of military troops exceeded 80 thousand people (60 thousand infantrymen and 22 thousand of cavalry).

Djavanshir
A discussion council operated in the palace of Albanian rulers. Albanian leaders themselves controlled the council and religious meetings. Like Atropatena, Albania also had its state currency. Albaniya which had quite strong and perfect state organization in its time successfully fought Parfia and the Roman Empire which threatened the independence of the country.
The troops of the Roman Empire trying to occupy the country had been inflicted hard defeats by Albanian fighters more that once. The Roman Empire had to abide the military and political power of Albania and mutual relations were established between the two countries. Albanian envoys also visited Rome and met with Emperor Oktavian August.

The country maintained wide trade relations and political contacts with other countries as well.

Albanian ruler, prominent state official Djavanshir led wise, far-seeing and active foreign policy against such strong neighbors as Byzantium, Sasanies, Khalifate and Caspian Empires that attempted to occupy the country, and managed to preserve the independence of the country owing to his leadership talent and brave heroism.

The heroism of such military leaders as
Djavanshir and Babek has become a school
of patriotism and embodiment of the unity
of the nation and integrity of Motherland.

Heydar Aliyev

Babek
Albaniya which interacted with regional countries and had a power of military-political and cultural influence also maintained wide contacts with the Mediterranean countries including the Roman Empire. The first sources, including patterns of rich material culture, found during archeological digs prove the development of wider contacts between north part of Azerbaijan and foreign countries in times of Albania. International ways communicating the Near East with the Caspian khagans and Eastern Europe and passing via Albania positively influenced the foreign trade contacts of the country as well.

Within the first years A.C. our country survived the hardest period of its history: in the thirs century it was occupied by the Sasani-Iranian Empire, in the seventh century by Arabian caliphate.

New comers settled on the most fertile lands and strategically important regions. They were granted wide privileges. The strangers initiated the policy of terminating the local residents of Azerbaijan. However, the Iranian and Arabic tyranny, lasting for 600 years could not destroy ancient traditions of state organization in Azerbaijan. The process of formation of Azeri nation continued even in conditions of constant unbearable invasions and persecution.

Despite the invaders' attempt to assimilate the local population, the internal relations especially commercial ones developed between all regions of the country due to the fact that the entire Azerbaijan had been part of the said empire within a long period of its history. Significant progress was achieved in establishment of ethnic-political and cultural unification of north and south, east and west regions of Azerbaijan. The process of establishment of a single nation intensified at that time.


The ethnic community of turks dominating the local population in the first hundread years A.C. and were much stronger and organized from the military and political point of view played a great role in the formation of a single nation. Oghuz turks prailed over other tribes within the community.

Like other Turkic tribes, the first oghuzs also came and settled in the South Caucasus, including Azeri lands by the pass of Derbend once Turkic "Iron gate" and by other mountain passes of the Major Caucasus (one of mountain passes of Gakh district of Azerbaijan is still called Hun-Y.M.). The first information on Dede Gorgut's grave locating in in Derbend and the name Bayat connected with the name of the land of Bayats (oghuz tribes bayats) related to Dede Gorgut and attached to one of the tower gates prove this fact.


Ancient turks, and oghuzs, settling on the wide areas of Eurasia tried to take control over this important pass "Iron Gates" communicating the north and south part of the land i.e. the Gypchag plain with the South Caucasus.


This is proved by facts placed in the oghuzname called "Kitabi-Diyarbekriyye", written by Abu Bekr al-Tehrani al-Isfahani by the order of the most prominent ruler of Oghuz turks Aggoyunlus Uzun Hasan and the fact that Aggoyunclus and Garagoyunlus, giving birth to our nation, were among the most ancient inhabitants of the South Caucasus and Asia Minor. The said author thoroughly studying the origin of great grandfather-the founder of Aggoyunlu state Gara Yuluk Osman finally came to the Oghuz khagan. He cited areas included into the great Turkic state, headed by Oghuz khagan and points out that this great ruler that had been the forefather of all oghuz turks died on the shore of the Goycha lake.
The fact that Azeri lands had been part of the state ruled by Oghuz khagan and his death on the Goycha lake shore proves the country to be one of the most ancient oghuz-turkic settlements.

Dede Gorgut
The author of "Kitabi-Diyarbekriyye" wrote that Oghuz's grandson Bayandyr khagan also lived "on the Karabakh winter camps and the pastures of the Goycha Sea, convened meetings there and divided the land between his sons depending on their talents and then died". Abu Bekr al-Tehrani al-Isfahani confirmed that the twentieth grandfather of Aggoyunlu Gara Yuluk Osman sungur bek had been the contemporary of the prophet Mohamed. He took part in the war with godless on the borders near the pastures of the Alagoz and Goycha lakes and was killed in one of the battles. Saktur khan, the fourteenth grandfather of Gara Yuluk Osman was brave in battles for Alindja tower and managed to snatch it out from the godless. Gypchag khan, which was the contemporary of Harun ar-Rashid, also held wars with the godless for the tower of Alindja and released it after defeating the enemy.

These facts, the historical reality, coinciding with the chapters of "Kitabi-Dede-Gorgud" and with the events, occurring in times of the prophet Mohamed and caliphate occupation proved Azerbaijan to preserve its traditions of strong state organization and independence.

Unlike other nations and ethnic groups, Turkic tribes settled and dominated both northern and southern parts of Azerbaijan. Therefore, Turkic language turned to the principal means of communication of national minorities and ethnic groups residing on the territory of Azerbaijan. The Turkic language also performed a function of a bridge communicating the north and the south of the country. This factor played a great role in the formation of a single nation at that time.

At the said period the population of Azerbaijan did not have a single religion, worshipping the single God. Ancient turls had not come to worshipping of the single God. Such trends as Zardushtlug, fire-worship, belief in the Sun, the Moon, the Sky, the Stars, the Ground, Water and others still dominated that perod. The Christianity was mainly spread on the north -a nimber of regions in Albania, mainly in western mountainous regions. But, Albanian church operated in conditions of sharp differences with neighbor Armenian and Georgian churches.

Under such complicated conditions Turkic tribes which turned to the strongest leading military and political power were the main carriers of traditions of state organization of Azerbaijan. In period when monotheism was not yet been established Turkic ethnic communities and Turkic language fulfilled the function of the bridge in the whole country. Turkic ethnic communities also played leading role in preservation of traditions of independence and state organization of Azerbaijan.
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