Cultures > Colchis

Colchis

Background

Colchis (/ˈkɒlkɪs/; Georgian: კოლხეთი Kolkheti; Greek Κολχίς Kolkhis) was an ancient kingdom and region on the coast of the Black Sea, centered in present-day western Georgia. It has been described in modern scholarship as "the earliest Georgian formation" which, along with the Kingdom of Iberia, would later contribute significantly to the development of the medieval Georgian statehood and the Georgian nation.[1][2] Internationally, Colchis is perhaps best known for its role in Greek mythology, most notably as the destination of the Argonauts, as well as the home to Medea and the Golden fleece.[3]Colchis was populated by Colchians, an early Kartvelian-speaking tribe, ancestral to the contemporary Western Georgians, namely Svans and Mingrelians, as well as the related Lazs.[4] Its geography is mostly assigned to what is now the western part of Georgia and encompasses the present-day Georgian provinces of Samegrelo, Imereti, Guria, Adjara, Abkhazeti, Svaneti, Racha; modern Russia’s Sochi and Tuapse districts; and present-day Turkey’s Rize, Trabzon and Artvin provinces.[5]Mithradates VI quelled an uprising in the region in 83 BC and gave Colchis to his son Mithridates, who was soon executed being suspected in having plotted against his father. During the Third Mithridatic War, Mithridates VI made another of his sons, Machares, king of Colchis, who held his power but for a short period. On the defeat of Mithridates VI of Pontus in 65 BC, Colchis was occupied by Pompey,[29] who captured one of the local chiefs (sceptuchus) Olthaces, and installed Aristarchus as a dynast (65–47 BC). On the fall of Pompey, Pharnaces II, son of Mithridates, took advantage of Julius Caesar being occupied in Egypt, and reduced Colchis, Armenia, and some part of Cappadocia, defeating Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus, whom Caesar subsequently sent against him. His triumph was, however, short-lived. Under Polemon I, the son and heir of Zenon, Colchis was part of the Pontus and the Bosporan Kingdom. After the death of Polemon (8 BC), his second wife Pythodorida of Pontus retained possession of Colchis as well as of Pontus itself, though the kingdom of Bosporus was wrested from her power. Her son and successor Polemon II of Pontus was induced by Emperor Nero to abdicate the throne, and both Pontus and Colchis were incorporated in the Province of Galatia (63) and later in Cappadocia (81). Phasis, Dioscurias and other Greek settlements of the coast did not fully recover after the wars of 60-40 BC and Trebizond became the economical and political centre of the region.[30]

Sources

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