azerbaijan’s cultural relics in the global civilizational context
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D.Sc. (Hist.),Corresponding Member of the National Academy of
Sciences of Azerbaijan(Baku, Azerbaijan).
D.Sc. (Hist.),senior fellow at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography,
National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan(Baku, Azerbaijan).
;. // / /./
Azerbaijan is one of the oldest seats of civilization. Throughout its history, its people created ahighly developed and original material and spiritual culture. Its contribution to the treasure-trove ofworld civilization cannot be overestimated. This article is the first attempt in national historical sci-ence to cover the geographical range of Azerbaijans cultural relics, which are all interconnected andan intrinsic part of the global culture.
he authors take a look at the globalcivilizational context of Azerbaijans
cultural relics and trace their historical ori-gin in Karabakh and Western Azerbaijan.
A fragment of a mandible of a hominid (Azykhanthropus) and traces of the pebble culture dis-covered in 1968 in the Azykh Cave (Fizuli District of present-day Azerbaijan) were two valuableadditions to the history of world culture confirming that man lived there during the Paleolithic Age.They also meant that the ancestors of homo sapiens probably lived in Azerbaijan, as well as through-out the whole of the Central Caucasus and Asia Minor. Similar sites of ancient men were discoveredin Africa.
The finds testify that Azerbaijan was one of the earliest seats of human civilization. A compar-ative analysis suggests that the local Mesolithic and Neolithic cultures were closely related to theCentral Caucasian and Mediterranean cultures.1
The Taglar Cave, not far from the Azykh Cave, is an invaluable Neolithic monument with threecultural layers: two of them date back to the Mousterian, and the third, the upper one, to the UpperPaleolithic Age.2
The petroglyphic drawings of Gobustan can be described as absolutely unique and, therefore,very important. The early rock painting and other archaeological relics (ancient sites, settlements,burials, etc.) dated to different periods of earliest human history found in Beiukdash, Kichikdash, andJingirdag-Iasyly Tepe were carefully studied.
The archaeological diggings of 1973 and 1983 at the Shongar site, which revealed stone Meso-lithic implements, a small quantity of animal bone remains, and 26 chipped stone tools, allow us todescribe it as one of the most exiting discoveries.3 The early petroglyphs universally recognized asworks of art usually represent people and animals. Most figures are depicted in isolation or in groupcompositions (collective dances, collective labor, hunting, animal fights, wild animals attacking graz-ing cattle, and other scenes).
The Beiukdash and Kichikdash mountains are found in the coastal zone, which explains thenumerous representations of boats, several types of fish, and fishing nets.
The pictures of boats dated to different periods, the archaeological finds from the GobustanStone Age settlementsstone sinkers for fishing nets, bone implements used to make fishing nets, aswell as objects shaped as fish hooks and also fish bonestestify to the fact that as early as ancienttimes people were engaged in fishing as their main occupation. One of the petroglyphs that showsover 100 boats is another confirmation of this.
The earliest Gobustan boats date back to the late Stone Age; the latest boat representations weremade during the early centuries of our era. There are lineal representations of wooden and wicker boats.4
When in Gobustan, Thor Heyerdahl, a well-known Norwegian scholar, discovered many common fea-tures between the local rock boat paintings and representations of Viking boats that were several thou-sand years older and concluded that the Azeri and Norwegians had common cultural roots.
The Norwegian scholar went even further in his surmises: Azerbaijan, and not Europe, waspart of the fermenting kettle of brewing civilization with navigators that spread early trade and cultur-al impulses far and wide. Many clues are still invisible about the human history prior to the suddencultural bloom in Egypt, Sumer and the Indus valley some five millennia ago. But with advancedtechnology, some day the answers may be found under the sand and sea. The challenge for scholars isto look deeper into foreign relations in the region of present-day Azerbaijan to determine what thoseprehistoric roots and linkages were.5
1 See: M. Guseynov, Arkheologia Azerbaidzhana. Kamenny vek, Baku, 1975, pp. 24, 25, 28.2 Ibidem.3 See: D. Rustamov, F. Muradova, Petroglify Gobustana, Baku, 2003, pp. 72-73.4 Ibidem.5 Th. Heyerdahl, The Azerbaijan Connection Challenging Euro-Centric Theories of Migration, Azerbaijan Inter-
national, Spring 1995, No. 3.1.
ments in the village of Alayaz. The stone monuments at the Urud cemetery shaped like rams and theinscriptions on them, together with the representations of deities (ongons) done in relief, are the bestproof of the fact that Turkic artifacts were widespread across the Caucasian Albania, the historicalterritory of present-day Azerbaijan.8
Another monument of Azeri architecturethe mausoleum of the emirs of the Azeri Kara Ko-yunlu stateis found in the village of Jafarabad. The twenty-sided building built of dressed tufa was12 meter-high (not counting the now absent cupola). The wide frieze running under the cupola con-tained an Arabic inscription, done in large Naskh script with suls elements. The text said: In thename of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful! Koran, II-256. Supreme and most honorable amir PirHusain, let (Allah) prolong his justice, former al-amir al-deceased, who achieved forgiving mercy, al-amir Sad, may he rest in peace, during the reign of supreme sultan, most honorable sovereign, sultanof sultans of the East and South, sovereign of the state and religion Pir Budag khan and Yusuf noyon,let Allah prolong their reign, all generosity (invested with nobleness and good morals), support ofthe sovereigns and sultans, refuge of the downtrodden and outcast, patron of the wise men andthose craving knowledge, patron (helper) of the wandering dervishes and those taking the path ofdivine knowledge (mystics), glory of the state and religion, ordered for a blessed sepulcher to bebuiltdate: 15 Rajab 816 Year of Hegira = 11.10.1413.9
Another monument of Azeri architecture is also found in Zangezur, at Selim Pass. The T-shapedcaravan-serai, a rare and therefore highly interesting architectural monument, has a gable roof ofdressed stone slabs. Its detailed architectural description can be found in V. Sysoevs MaterialyKavkazskoy arkheologii (Caucasian Archeological Materials) compiled in 1907 and 1908.
Inside, the building was divided into two premises; the main one stretched from the north tothe east; the second, perpendicular to the first (in full accordance with the T-shaped plan), stretchedfrom the left to the right. The first was 15 arshins long and 7 arshins wide; the second 45 arshinslong and 21 arshins wide (1 arshin = 5 m 60 cm). There is an Arabic inscription over the doorcarved in stone.
The Arabic inscription was mounted while the caravan-serai was in the process of construc-tionan important and highly relevant fact. There is other proof that the monument was built by anAzeri architect: the shape of the stone, the carving technique and the paleographic features are iden-tical to the inscription found above the entrance to the mausoleum of Yahya bin Muhammad (d. 704Year of Hegira or 1305) found in the village of Mamedbeyli (Zangelan District, Republic of Azerbai-jan), one of the points on the Great Silk Road. This inscription features the name of Maj ad-Din Ali,an architect and founder of the Karabakh architectural school of Azerbaijan. Several architecturaldetails relate the caravan-serai at Selim Pass to the same architect, together with several other con-structions found along the Arax River, on the Great Silk Road that connected European countries withthe Middle East via Azerbaijan.
Choban Salduz-noyon, vizier of Abu Said, built the bridges at the confluence of the Arpachaiand Arax rivers, as well as above Daralaiaz and in Koprukend on the Great Silk Road that connectedthe Middle East and Europe via Kars and Erzurum in Anatolia.
A place of veneration of Ahi Tawakkul is found in the village of Alayaz; it consists of the foun-dations of a ruined mausoleum and other ruined buildings. The stone stele bears what remains of aninscription in the Naskh script: This is the burial (of the late) forgiven martyr (who needs the graceof Most High Allah) Ahi Tawakkulmay Allah forgive his sins (in the month of Muharram ninethousand fifty year. Muharram 950 Year of Hegira = 6.4-6.5 1543).10
Until 1918, the territory of Western Azerbaijan abounded in mosques, madrasahs, maqtabs,mausoleums, hanegas, and other cultic Muslim constructions. The State Historical Archives of the
8 See: M.S. Neymat, Korpus epigraficheskikh pamiatnikov Azerbaidzhana, Vol. III, 2001, p. 10.9 Ibid., pp. 66-67.10 Ibid., pp. 58, 66, 71, 75.
Azerbaijan Republic contains information about the number of Azeris and the Turkic-Azeri names ofthe villages. Today, out of several mosques of the early 20th centurythe Ancient Shakhar (city)Mosque, the Main (Gey) Mosque, the Hajji Novruzalibek Mosque, the Hajji Imamverdi Mosque, themosque of Mirza Safibek, and the mosque of Hajji Jafarbekonly the Main (Gey) Mosque remainsstanding in the city of Irevan (Erevan). The Armenian authorities transferred the surviving mosque tothe Iranian embassy.11
Until 1915, there were 38 Shia mosques in the Zangezur District alone; the entire Irevan Gu-bernia contained 382 Shia and 9 Sunni mosques.12 There were also mosque parish