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DOI: 10.23671/VNC.2019.73.42911

CAUCASIAN ALANIA AND SASANIAN IRAN: SOCIO-POLITICAL MECHANISM OF COOPERATION

Bzarov, Ruslan S.
Izvestia SOIGSI. 2019. IIS 34 (73).
Abstract:
The present article highlights peculiarities of territorial and political unity of Alania in the
VI‑VIIth cent., which were reflected in written, archaeological and language sources. Of special
importance were the relations of Alania and Sasanian Iran. The participation of Alanian forces in
the military operations of Iran in the South Caucasus is noted in the literature; as for the mountain
Alanians of that epoch, they were represented as the mercenary guards of communications,
trade participants, and migrants from the plain. However, the significance of the information,
accumulated by the archaeologists, goes beyond the suggested common interpretations, its original
historical implication is revealed only in the context of social and political processes. In written
sources, which reflected the events of the VI‑VIIth cent., the Alans are referred to as independent
people, who concluded an alliance with the Persians, who, in their turn, established their rule in the
Georgian lands, and then strengthened the northern border, constructing fortresses in the mountains
of Alania. It should be noted that the ruler of Alania is referred to with the Persian title «shah», the
Arab «malik» and the Greek «basileus», which are traditionally translated as «king». There are solid
grounds to suppose that the military strategic cooperation with the Persians was used as a foreign
policy instrument for greater concentration of power and political unity of Alania. Archaeological
sources help to reconstruct the picture of instituting control over the mountainous territories by the
Alanian nobles. Along with centralizing of the royal power in the VI‑VIIth cent., there is a wave
of Sasanian import and in the mountainous areas there appears a net of monuments of the plain
«Alanian culture». Their common «military» features, simultaneity of creation and location in the
key points of control over the Central Caucasus on both sides of the Greater Mountain Range allow to
presume the establishment of permanent vicegerent centres. In the folklore and in the toponymy there
is a common name for the military estate, which settled in the vicegerent centres and in the conjoint
with the Persians fortresses of the mountain area – tsartsiata (by implication «military settlers»,
literally «frontier guards»).
Keywords: the 6-7th century Alania, Sasanian Iran, Alanian permanent vicegerent centers, Persian military bases, military settlers the tsartsiata
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