It is also the name of an ancient kingdom that had its center in this landscape.
In the Argonauts legend , Colchis was the home of the Medea and the target of Jason and the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece . According to the legend, the deceased men were sewn in bull skins in Colchis in the Kirkaean field and hung in willows. The women, however, were buried in the earth.
The fertile plain south of the Caucasus was inhabited by hunters and gatherers early on . To the east of the nearby mountain range, it was already 6000 BC. BC copper mined. The discovery of grape seeds testifies to viticulture around 5000 BC. Chr.
The Bronze Age Kura-Araxes culture of the 3rd millennium BC, named after the rivers, developed east of the actual Colchis . BC, which maintained trade relations as far as Mesopotamia . Archaeologically, the Colchis culture of the Middle Bronze Age (1700–600 BC) has been archaeological since the 2nd quarter of the 2nd millennium BC. In western Georgia. The culture is characterized by log architecture, specific ceramics, agricultural bronze tools and weapons.
A country of Qulha was found in Urartian sources in the 8th/7. Century BC Mentioned. Whether it is identical to the Colchis is controversial. This state was probably destroyed by the Scythians and Cimmerians at the end of the 8th century . Later smaller empires of these peoples are said to have emerged there.
In the 8./7. Century BC It is also first mentioned by the Greeks, and Greek ceramics appear for the first time. Eumelus of Corinth calls the country Colchida . Silver coins based on Greek models, but unlabeled, were minted in Colchis.
According to Herodotus (Historien IV, 37) the Persians live as far as the Red Sea , above them the Medes to the north , above these the Saspirs and above them the Kolchians. These live as far as the "northern sea" into which the Phasis river flows. The Kolchians are of Egyptian origin, soldiers of the legendary Egyptian ruler Sesostris , whom he left behind on Phasis . Herodotus can confirm this from his own experience, as the Kolchians have black skin and frizzy hair and the men circumcise . Furthermore, the Egyptians and Kolchians were similar in the way in which they made linen; lifestyle and language are also similar to one another.
There are, of course, authors who doubt that Herodotus ever reached the Black Sea himself. Patrick T. English reports from Herodotus that "negroes" lived in Sukhumi who, according to local tradition, were brought here as slaves either by a Georgian princess or by a Turkish landowner. He considers them the descendants of the old black Kolchians.
Herodotus also reports that the Colchians bring the Persians 100 boys and 100 virgins as tribute every five years.
There is a detailed description of the Colchis in the Hippocratic book Von Luft, Wasser und Landschaft . After that the area is swampy, humid, warm and wooded. The Phasis River has only a slight gradient. A lot of rain falls in all seasons. There is little temperature difference between the seasons. The land is protected from the north wind, when it blows it is weak and gentle. Only the warm cenchron wind sometimes blows violently. The residents live on stilts in the swamp and use dugouts as their main means of transport. They rarely go on foot, "neither into the city nor to the market" , but instead use the numerous canals. They drink the standing water, both when it is warm and putrid in summer and after rainfall. All fruits are indigestible, weak and badly grown because the land is so rich in water and because of the frequent fog they do not ripen properly.
For these reasons - the author believes that the environment determines the physique of the inhabitants - the Phaselier are large and so fat that you cannot see any joints or veins. They have a yellowish complexion, as if they had jaundice . Of all people, they have the harshest voices because the air here is foggy and cloudy.
Independent kingdom and Greek colonization
From the 6th century BC The Kingdom of Colchis was demonstrable as a slave-holding state on the Black Sea. The main area of the kingdom lay between the port city of Sukhumi in the north and the mouth of the Çoruh in the south. The south of the state-lying areas of tibareni , Mossynoikern , macro formers , Moschoi and MarErn indeed belonged to a Persian satrapy , but were repeatedly shake off the Persian rule.
In the 7th century BC The first Greek colonies emerged, such as Phasis , Dioskurias and Gyenos , which were probably all founded from Miletus . Later came Pityunt added. However, the colonies did not influence the political development. Colchis probably developed a great military power early on, as the slave trade flourished and it was able to maintain its independence for a long time.
After Alexander the Great had conquered the Persian Empire, a certain Ason from Pontus is said to have conquered all of Georgia, including Colchis and its neighboring state Iberia . After Ason was driven out of Iberia under the leadership of King Parnawas , Colchis fell into loose dependence on his empire and was thus the only part of Georgia that did not belong to Iberia. After the death of Parnawas' successor Saurmag, Colchis became independent again. In the period that followed, there was an economic boom, which brought great wealth to the state. In the 2nd century BC It lost its independence to Pontos.
Part of Pontus
From the 2nd century BC Colchis was part of the expanding Pontus. Mithridates VI. von Pontus had Colchis rule by his brother Mithridates Chrestos, who was soon executed on suspicion of treason. During the third Mithridatic war , his son Machares became ruler of the Colchis. When Pontus, however, 66 BC. BC was finally defeated by Rome after three wars , Colchis also came under Roman control.
Colchis in the Roman sphere of influence
After his victory over Pontus, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus handed over the Colchis in 65 BC. BC Aristarchus to reign. After the fall of Pompey in 47 BC In BC Mithridates' son Pharnakes II tried to take advantage of Caesar's stay in Egypt to regain his father's empire. a. also Colchis. But soon he was defeated by Caesar in the battle of Zela . Under Polemon I , Colchis belonged to the Roman vassal state of the Bosporan Empire . Later the Colchis was an independent vassal of Rome.
However, the interior of the country was subject to little Roman influence. In the 1st century AD, Lasian tribes immigrated to the Colchis from the southeast and mingled with the local population. In the second half of the century, the Kingdom of Colchis disintegrated into smaller empires. In the south the kingdom of the Heniocher and that of the Macronern , in the center Lasika (Lazika), the state of the Lasen , and in the north the kingdoms of the Abschiler and Abasgen . Lasika soon became the most powerful of these and became the successor state to Colchis. After the Roman Empire and the Parthian Empire had grown to the borders of Colchis, the conflicts between the two states were often carried out in Colchis.
There, in the late late antiquity , in the 6th century AD, there were repeated violent battles between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Sassanids (especially between 541 and 562). Today the region belongs to Georgia .
The first Greek trading establishments on the coast emerged in the 7th century BC. They connected Colchis with the ancient world, particularly Greece and Asia Minor, and resulted in a flourishing economy. The Greek colonies, however, had little political influence, but limited themselves to trade. The main cities were Dioscurias , Phasis and Gyenos . Inland trading centers were Dablagomi, Wani and Kutaisi . The trade is also documented by numerous coin finds, such as coins from Samos and Sinope . A separate coin, the so-called "Kolkhuri Tetri", was also minted at the instigation of the state. This was widespread in the commercial centers on the coast and inland and continued until the 2nd century BC. In circulation.
Above all luxury goods were imported, including precious tableware, wine, spices and jewelry. Export goods were wood, linseed oil, resin and wax, gold and iron as well as pheasants, horses and linen. The Colchis was known for the canvas made there. Wine is also said to have been grown in Colchis early on . In addition, slaves were exported.
The ancient gold mining was legendary, as the Argonauts legend can tell. In fact, gold was probably pounded with ram skins in the rivers of Svaneti . Especially during the Hellenistic period, under King Saulakis, large amounts of gold were mined in Svaneti. In 2004 , geologists from the Ruhr University Bochum found the world's oldest gold mine in the village of Sakridissi, where as early as 3000 BC, 50 km southwest of Tbilisi . Gold was mined underground. The settlement for 2000-3000 people that had formed around the mine is also being excavated. Since the 19th century numerous finds of golden objects have been made, especially on the coast of the Black Sea, which prove the high-quality metal art of the Kolchians. Temple jewelry with granulated gold pearls, tiaras, finely chased pendants in the shape of a gazelle or turtle can be admired today in the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi.
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- Hominid find from Dmanisi , David Lordkipanidze 2001.
- Epoc, p. 65.
- Epoc, pp. 63f.
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- Histories II, 104
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- O. Kimball Armayor: Did Herodotus ever go to the Black Sea? P. 60.
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- Colchis . In: Heinrich August Pierer , Julius Löbe (Hrsg.): Universal Lexicon of the Present and the Past . 4th edition. tape 9 . Altenburg 1860, p. 655 ( zeno.org ).
- Heinz Fähnrich: History of Georgia from the beginnings to Mongol rule. P. 58f.
- The oldest gold mine of mankind. In: Weltonline Wissen. September 10, 2007, accessed October 2, 2009 .