Nagorno-Karabakh in history

Actually, friendship between the different peoples in the USSR was an extremely dubious thing. Especially between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. If at the everyday level people were good friends (my Armenian acquaintances in Baku were hid in their neighbors by Azerbaijanis during the pogroms), then, of course, it is difficult to say the same about the national intelligentsia from both sides.

Back in the 60s, a whole historical school emerged in Azerbaijan, which was engaged in rewriting the history of Karabakh as an exclusively Azeri territory. Medieval Armenian scientists turned into Albanian ones. Yes, it’s true. There is such a term as “Caucasian Albania”, probably from the name of the Alvan area (it has nothing to do with the Balkan shipars). Movses Kagankatvatsi, became the Albanian historian Moses Kalankatuysky. Prince Sahl ibn Sumbat (in the Armenian version Sahl Smbatyan) also became an Albanian-Azerbaijani.

Ziya Buniyatov, the most authoritative Azerbaijani orientalist, wrote a work already in 1965, where he introduced the term “Armenian-speaking authors” of Caucasian Albania. He included in this category some of the creators of Armenian literature, like Mkhitar Gosh. And back in the 50s, Armenian and Azerbaijani scholars argued about what language people spoke in medieval Karabakh. The Armenians, of course, argued that the dialects of Artsakh are dialects of Armenian. Azerbaijanis – that the inhabitants of Karabakh are closer in language to the Lezghin branch of the Nakh-Dagestan family, and Armenian was never too close there. Although in a region with mixed populations, different languages were spoken.

Later, already in the 70s, Azerbaijani scientists tried to prove that the Karabakh Armenians are generally a special sub-ethnos, not entirely Armenian. Ukraine is not Russia, it seems, right? Armenian scientists reduced the discussion to the fact that in the southern Caucasus there were no real states at all, except for the kingdom of Bagratids. That is, they hinted that Azerbaijan should keep silent. And Karabakh is an exclusively Armenian land, where in fact there were no other peoples, and if there were, then they got smarter, received writing and other sciences, that was exclusively thanks to the wise Armenian rulers.

At the same time, the Azerbaijani historical school, if it noticed that Caucasian Albania was a Christian territory, then emphasized that the early medieval Albanian church was not at all related to the Armenian church. And in the tourist guide “Monuments of the History of Azerbaijan” in 1956, there was not a single mention of Armenian cultural monuments on the territory of the republic. Of the dozens of monuments of Karabakh, one was mentioned in the collection, without reference to its Armenian history.
Since the end of the 70s, the mention of Caucasian Albania has gradually ceased. The ancestors of Azerbaijanis appeared. There were also demolitions of ancient Armenian churches. And the growth of the Armenian national movement in Nagorno-Karabakh since the early seventies.

One way or another, under the noses of the supposedly omnipotent KGB of the USSR and the Central Committee (and possibly with their connivance or even leadership), completely destructive processes were going on in the Soviet country. The academies of sciences of the two republics at the expense of the union budget were building the ideological foundations of the nation states. This was clearly not the ideal of the “Soviet man” with only a vague sense of national identity.

Andrey Medvedev

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