Why Did the Aghvans Disappear?
Why Did the Aghvans Disappear?
Strabo has reported the existence of 26 ethnicities with their own kingdoms and languages in Aghvank. The Islamic historians have also mentioned the diversity of the languages of the region. It seems that the Aghvans were the largest group of them all. Examining all the races and tribes who ever lived in Aghvank in detail is not the goal of the present subject, save it is noteworthy that scholars have counted Mukhoi (Mughan according to some), Casps, Gels (Gils), Leks, Gargars, Udins (Utis), Silvis, Lupins, Chilbs, Shichbs, Gardman, Olond, Lahij, Egersuans, Balasich, Khechmataks, Tavaspars, Poskhs, Tats, Talishes, Gluars, Gats, Budugs, Khinalugs, Khibivans, Khrsans, Kriz, Pukuans, among others as ethnicities who live or once lived in the region loosely referred to as Aghvank or Caucasus Albania. Interestingly not a single one of these has ever been linked in any way to Turks while a number of them such as Talishes, Tats and Lahijis are certainly of Iranian origin.
This enormous diversity is the main reason given for the extinction of the Aghvans. There was never a strong cultural, linguistic or religious link to bind all these ethnicities together as an accomplished nation-state. This also explains why even in the presence of an alphabet, conceived by the Armenian inventor of Armenian and Georgian alphabets, Mesrop Mashtots, the Aghvans were unable to withstand the calamities visited upon them in the shape of invasions of nomadic tribes starting with the Arabs and going on with the centuries long Turkic incursions. It is believed that parts of these were forced into Islam at the time of the Arabs and the rest assimilated with the Armenians.
When he was asked how the Aghvans who had a writing system did not survive, Bartold cited Kharazmis as another nation with written culture who also disappeared from the scene of history. Trever believes that the dispute between the followers of Armenian and Georgian Church in Aghvank in the seventh century drove the Aghvan alphabet, which was only created a couple of centuries before, into a corner. Each sect chose to use the writing system of the respective church instead of the Aghvan alphabet. The Arab invasion that followed shortly lessened the chances of the survival of the written Aghvan culture.
The relatively stable short periods of the Aranshahs had also to deal with the disputes between the kingdoms which led to the final dissolution of Aghvank as a nation and a state. Foreign occupiers constantly usurped the rule of the region. The Arab Mazidi dynasty who later called themselves Shirvanshahs, ruled over the northeastern part of Aghvank, which became known as Shirvan, from the latter 9th to the early 11th century. They were able to extend their rule over Shamakhi, Sheki and Qabalah. The Salarian rulers of Gilan took over Shirvan and Darband (Derbend) then came the Khazars and the Shaddadians. Later came the Turks and despite desperate attempts to muster up as much help as they could, the resistance of these local rulers could not hold back the Turkish hordes which finally imposed the Oghuz domination in the region that had already stopped being what was known as the Aghvanits Ashkhar, the land of the Aluanians. The Mongol invasions of later centuries (1220s AD) into the region followed by numerous other gangs of Turco-Tatar plunderers warped the ethnic picture of Aghvank to a higher degree, divided the region into khanates (little kingdoms ruled by a khan) and slowly but surely this ancient country ceased to exist.
A direct metamorphosis of all the Aghvan ethnicities into Turks is out of the question, thus, the claim that the Aghvans were the ancestors of the “Azeris” is nonsense. Turks should be asked how on earth all the Christian Aghvans suddenly became Turks while their church was closely related to that of the Armenians which even appointed the Catholicos of the Aghvans. It has already been noted that the application of the blanket fake term “Azeri” to all the inhabitants of fake “Azerbaijan”, not unlike the Kemalist genocidal law of calling all the inhabitants of Turkey Turks, was contrived to erase the identities of the ethnicities still living in the region. In both cases, the Turkic element was a minority but in this cunning manner and the discriminatory measures employed against these non-Turkic peoples - by clever abuse of the fertile poisonous Bolshevik ground in the “Azeri” case - such as depriving them of the study of their languages, the practice of their religions, destruction of their cultural heritage, has weakened them to the benefit of the Turks.