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The inhabitants (17)

Ancient tribes


ALBANIA (Ancient country) GEORGIA
  Alani (Alanoi, Alaunoi), a people, found both in Asia and in Europe, whose precise geographical positions and ethnographical relations are difficult to determine. They probably became first known to the Romans through the Mithridatic war, and the expedition of Pompey into the countries about the Caucasus; when they were found in the E. part of Caucasus, in the region which was called Albania by the Romans, but Alania by Greek writers, and where Alani are found down to a late period of the Greek empire. (Joseph. Ant. Jud. xviii. 4. s. 6; Lucan x.454; Procop. Pers. ii. 29, Goth. iv. 4; Const. Porph. de Adm. Imp. 42.) Valerius Flaccus (Arg. vi. 42) mentions them among the people of the Caucasus, near the Heniochi. Ammianus Marcellinus, who tells us more about the Alani than any other ancient writer, makes Julian encourage his soldiers by the example of Pompey, who, breaking his way through the Albani and the Massagetae, whom we now call Alani, saw the waters of the Caspian (xxiii. 5). In the latter half of the first century we hear of the Alani in two very remote positions. On the one hand, Josephus, who describes. them as Scythians dwelling about the river Tanais (Don) and the Lake Maeotis (Sea of Azov), relates how, in the time of Vespasian, being permitted by the king of Hyrcania to traverse the pass which Alexander had closed with iron gates, they ravaged Media and Armenia, and returned home again. On the other hand, they are mentioned by Seneca (Thyest. 629) as dwelling on the Ister (Danube); and Martial (Epigr. vii. 30) expressly calls them Sarmatians; and Pliny (iv. 12. s. 25) mentions Alani and Roxalani (i. e. Russ-Alans) among the generic names applied at different times to the inhabitants of the European Scythia or Sarmatia. Thus there were Alani both in Asia, in the Caucasus, and in Europe, on the Maeotis and the Euxine; and also, according to Josephus, between these two positions, in the great plains N. of the Caucasus; so that they seem to have been spread over all the S. part of Russia in Europe. Under Hadrian and the Antonines we find the European Alani constantly troubling the frontier of the Danube (Ael. Spart. Had. 4. s. 6; Jul. Capit. Ant. Pi. 6. s. 8, Marc. 22, where they are mentioned with the Roxalani, Bastarnae, and Peucini); while the Alani of the E. again overran Media and Armenia, and threatened Cappadocia. (Dion Cass. lxix. 15.) On this occasion the historian Arrian, who was governor of Cappadocia under Hadrian, composed a work on the Tactics to be observed against the Alani (ektaxis kat' Alanon), which is mentioned by Photius (Cod. lviii. p. 15, a., Bekker), and of which a considerable fragment is preserved (Arrian. ed. Dubner, in Didot's Script. Graec. Bibl. pp. 250-253). Their force consisted in cavalry, like that of the European Alani (the poluippon phulon Alanon of Dionysius Periegetes, v. 308); and they fought without armour for themselves or their horses. As another mark of resemblance, though Arrian speaks of them as Scythians, a name which was vaguely used in his time for all the barbarians of NW. Asia (cont. Alanos, 30), he speaks of them elsewhere (Tact. 4) in close connection with the Sauromatae (Sarmatians), as practising the same mode of fighting for which the Polish lancers, descendants of the Sarmatians, have been renowned. Ptolemy, who wrote under the Antonines, mentions the European Alani, by the name of Alaunoi Skuthai, as one of the seven chief peoples of Sarmatia Europaea, namely, the Venedae, Peucini, Bastarnae, lazyges, Roxolani, Hamaxobii, and Alauni Scythae; of whom he places the Iazyges and Roxolani along the whole shore of tile Maeotis, and then the last two further inland (iii. 5. § 19). He also mentions (ii. 14. § 2) Alauni in the W. of Pannonia, no doubt a body who, in course of invasion, had established themselves on the Roman side of the Danube. Ptolemy speaks of a Mt. Alaunus (to Alaunon oros) in Sarmatia, and Eustathius (ad Dion. Perieg. 305) says that the Alani probably derived their name from the Alanus, a mountain of Sarmatia. It is hard to find any range of mountains answering to Ptolemy's M. Alaunus near the position he assigns to the Alauni: some geographers suppose the term to describe no mountains, properly so called, but the elevated tract of land which forms the watershed between the Dniester and the Dnieper. The European Alani are found in the geographers who followed Ptolemy. Dionysius Periegetes (v. 305) mentions them, first vaguely, among the peoples N. of the Palus Maeotis, with the Germans, Sarmatians, Getae, Bastarnae, and Dacians; and then, more specifically, he says (308) that their land extends N. of the Tauri, where are the Melanchlaeni, and Geloni, and Hippemolgi, and Neuri, and Agathyrsi, where the Borysthenes mingles with the Euxine. Some suppose the two passages to refer to different bodies of the Alani. (Bernhardy, ad loc.) They are likewise called Sarmatians by Marcian of Heracleia (ton Alanon Sarmaton ethnos: Peripl. p. 100, ed. Miller; Hudson, Geog. Min. vol. i. p. 56). The Asiatic Alani (Alanoi Skuthai) are placed by Ptolemy (vi. 14. § 9) in the extreme N. of Scythia within the Imaus, near the Unknown Land ; and here, too, we find mountains of the same name (ta Alana ore, § § 3, 11), E. of the Hyperborei M.; he is generally supposed to mean the N. part of the Ural chain, to which he erroneously gives a direction W. and E.
  Our fullest information respecting the Alani is derived from Ammianus Marcellinus, who flourished during the latter half of the fourth century (about 350-400). He first mentions them with the Roxolani, the Iazyges, the Maeotae, and the Iaxamatae, as dwelling on the shores of the Palus Maeotis (xxii. 8. § 30); and presently, where the Riphaei M. subside towards the Maeotis, he places the Arimphaei, and near them the Massagetae, Alani, and Sargetae, with many other peoples little known (obscuri, quorum nec vocabula nobis sunt nota, nec mores). Again ( § 48) on the NW. of the Euxine, about the river Tyras (Dniester), he places the European Alani and the Costobocae, and innumerable tribes of Scythians, which extend to lands beyond human knowledge; a small portion of whom live by agriculture; the rest wander through vast solitudes and get their food like wild beasts; their habitations and scanty furniture are placed on waggons made of the bark of trees; and they migrate at pleasure, waggons and all. His more detailed account of the people is given when he comes to relate that greater westward movement of the Huns which, in the reign of Valens, precipitated the Goths upon the Roman empire, A. D. 376. After describing the Huns (xxxi. 2), he says that they advanced as far as the Alani, the ancient Massagetae, of whom he undertakes to give a better account than had as yet been published. From the Ister to the Tanais dwell the Sauromatae; and on the Asiatic side of the Tanais the Alani inhabit the vast solitudes of Scythia; having their name from that of their mountains (ex montium appellatione cognominati, which some understand to mean that Alani comes from ala, a word signifying a mountain). By their conquests they extended their name, as well as their power, over the neighbouring nations; just as the Persian name was spread. He then describes these neighbouring nations; the Neuri, inland, near lofty mountains; the Budini and Geloni; the Agathyrsi; the Melanchlaeni and Anthropophagi; from whom a tract of uninhabited land extended E.-wards to the Sinae. At another part the Alani bordered on the Amazons, towards the E. (the Amazons being placed by him on the Tanais and the Caspian), whence they were scattered over many peoples throughout Asia, as far as the Ganges. Through these immense regions, but often far apart from one another, the various tribes of the Alani lived a nomade life: and it was only in process of time that they came to be called by the same name. He then describes their manners. They neither have houses nor till the land; they feed on flesh and milk, and dwell on waggons. When they come to a pasture they make a camp, by placing their waggons in a circle; and they move on again when the forage is exhausted. Their flocks and herds go with them, and their chief care is for their horses. They are never reduced to want, for the country through which they wander consists of grassy fields, with fruit-trees interspersed, and watered by many rivers. The weak, from age or sex, stay by the waggons and perform the lighter offices; while the young men are trained together from their first boyhood to the practice of horsemanship and a sound knowledge of the art of war. They despise going on foot. In person they are nearly all tall and handsome; their hair is slightly yellow; they are terrible for the tempered sternness of their eyes. The lightness of their armour aids their natural swiftness; a circumstance mentioned also, as we have seen, by Arrian, and by Josephus (B. J. vii. 7. §4), from whom we find that they used the lasso in battle: Lucian, too, describes them as like the Scythians in their arms and their speech, but with shorter hair (Toxaris, 51, vol. ii. p, 557). In general, proceeds Ammianus, they resemble the Huns, but are less savage in form and manners. Their plundering and hunting excursions had brought them to the Maeotis and the Cimmerian Bosporus, and even into Armenia and Media; and it is to their life in those parts that the description of Ammianus evidently refers. Danger and war was their delight; death in battle bliss; the loss of life through decay or chance stamped disgrace on a man's memory. Their greatest glory was to kill a foe in battle, and the scalps of their slain enemies were hung to their horses for trappings. They frequented neither temple nor shrine; but, fixing a naked sword in the ground, with barbaric rites, they worshipped, in this symbol, the god of war and of their country for the time being. They practised divination by bundles of rods, which they released with secret incantations, and (it would seem) from the way the sticks fell they presaged the future. Slavery was unknown to them: all were of noble birth. Even their judges were selected for their long-tried pre-eminence in war. Several of these particulars are confirmed by Jornandes (de Rebus Geticis, 24). Claudian also mentions the Alani as dwelling on the Maeotis, and connects them closely with the Massagetae (In Rufin. i. 312):
Massagetes, caesamque bibens Maeotida Alanus.
  Being vanquished by the Huns, who attacked them in the plains E. of the Tanais, the great body of the Alani joined their conquerors in their invasion of the Gothic kingdom of Hermanric (A.D. 375), of which the chief part of the European Alani were already the subjects. In the war which soon broke out between the Goths and Romans in Maesia, so many of the Huns and Alani joined the Goths, that they are distinctly mentioned among the invaders who were defeated by Theodosius, A.D. 379-382. Henceforth we find, in the W., the Alani constantly associated with the Goths and with the Vandals, so much so that Procopius calls them a tribe of the Goths Hgotthikon ethnos: Vand. i. 3). But their movements are more closely connected with those of the Vandals, in conjunction with whom they are said to have settled in Pannonia; and, retiring thence through fear of the Goths, the two peoples invaded Gaul in 406, and Spain in 409. (Procop. l. c.; Jornandes, de Reb. Get. 31; Clinton, F. R. s. a.; comp. Gibbon, c. 30, 31.)
   In 411 the Alani are found in Gaul, acting with the Burgundians, Alamanni, and Franks. (Clinton, s. a.) As the Goths advanced into Spain, 414, the Alani and Vandals, with the Silingi, retreated before them into Lusitania and Baetica. (Clinton, s. a. 416.) In the ensuing campaigns, in which the Gothic king Wallia conquered Spain (418), the Alans lost their king Ataces, and were so reduced in numbers that they gave up their separate nationality, and transferred their allegiance to Gunderic, the king of the Vandals. (Clinton, s. a. 418.) After Gunderic's death, in 428, the allied barbarians partitioned Spain, the Suevi obtaining Gallaecia, the Alani Lusitania and the province of New Carthage, and the Vandals Baetica. (Clinton, s. a.) Most of them accompanied Geiseric in his invasion of Africa in the following year (429: Africa, Vandali), and among other indications of their continued consequence in Africa, we find an edict of Huneric addressed, in 483, to the bishops of the Vandals and Alans (Clinton, s. a.); while in Spain we hear no more of them or of the Vandals, but the place of both is occupied by the Suevi. Meanwhile, returning to Europe, at the time of Attila's invasion of the Roman empire, we find in his camp the descendants of those Alans who had at first joined the Huns; and the personal influence of Aetius with Attila obtained the services of a body of Alani, who were settled in Gaul, about Valence and Orleans. (Gibbon, c. 35.) When Attila invaded Gaul, 451, he seems to have depended partly on the sympathy of these Alani (Gibbon speaks of a promise from their king Sangiban to betray Orleans); and the great victory of Chalons, where they served under Theodoric against the Huns, was nearly lost by their defection (451). Among the acts recorded of Torismond, in the single year of his reign (451--452), is the conquest of the Alani, who may be supposed to have rebelled. (Clinton, s. a.) In the last years of the W. empire the Alans are mentioned with other barbarians as overrunning Gaul and advancing even into Liguria, and as resisted by the prowess of Majorian (Clinton, s. a. 461; Gibbon, c. 36); but thenceforth their name disappears, swallowed up in the great kingdom of the Visigoths. So much for the Alani of the West.
   All this time, and later, they are still found in their ancient settlements in the E., between the Don and Volga, and in the Caucasus. They are mentioned under Justinian; and, at the breaking out of the war between Justin II. and Chosroes, king of Persia, they are found among the allies of the Armenians, under their king Saroes, 572-3. (Theo. phylact. ap. Phot. Cod. lxv. p. 26, b. 37, ed. Bekker.) The Alani of the Caucasus are constantly mentioned, both by Byzantine and Arabian writers, in the middle ages, and many geographers suppose the Ossetes of Daghestan to be their descendants. The medieval writers, both Greek and Arab, call the country about the E. end of Caucasus Alania.
   Amidst these materials, conjecture has naturally been busy. From the Affghans to the Poles, there is scarcely a race of warlike horsemen which has not been identified with the Alani; and, in fact, the name might be applied, consistently with the ancient accounts, to almost any of the nomade peoples, confounded by the ancients under the vague name of Scythians, except the Mongols. They were evidently a branch of that great nomade race which is found, in the beginning of recorded history, in the NW. of Asia and the SE. of Europe; and perhaps we should not be far wrong in placing their original seats in the country of the Kirghiz Tartars, round the head of the Caspian, whence we may suppose them to have spread W.-ward round the Euxine, and especially to have occupied the great plains N. of the Caucasus between the Don and Volga, whence they issued forth into W. Asia by the passes of the Caucasus. Their permanent settlement also in Sarmatia (in S. Russia) is clearly established, and a comparison of the description of them by Ammianus Marcellinus with the fourth book of Herodotus can leave little doubt that they were a kindred race to the Scythians of the latter, that is, the people of European Sarmatia. Of their language, one solitary relic has been preserved. In the Periplus of the Euxine (p. 5, Hudson, p. 213, Gail) we are told that the city of Theodosia was called in the Alan or Tauric dialect Ardabda or Ardauda, that is, the city of the Seven gods. (Klaproth, Tableaux de l'Asie; Ritter, Erdkunde, vol. ii. pp. 845--850; Stritter, Mem. Pop. vol. iv. pp. 232, 395; De Guignes, Hist. des Huns, vol. ii. p. 279; Ukert, vol. iii. pt. 2. pp. 550--555; Georgii, vol. i. p. 152, vol. ii. p. 312.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited October 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


FASSIS (Ancient city) KOLCHIS
  Lazi (Lhasoi, Arrian, Peripl. p. 11; Plin. vi. 4; Lazai, Ptol. v. 10. § 5), one among the many tribes which composed the indigenous population which clustered round the great range of the Caucasus. This people, whose original seats were, according to Procopius (B. G. iv. 2), on the N. side of the river Phasis, gave their name, in later times, to the country which was known to the Greeks and Romans as Colchis, but which henceforth was called Regio Lazic. They are frequently mentioned in the Byzantine writers; the first time that they appear in history was A.D. 456, during the reign of the emperor Marcian, who was successful against their king Gobazes. (Prisc. Exc. de Leg. Rom. p. 71; comp. Le Beau, Bas Empire, vol. vi. p. 385.) The Lazic war, the contest of Justinian and Chosroes on the banks of the Phasis, has been minutely described by contemporary historians. (Procop. B. P. ii. 15, 17, 28, 29, 30, B. G. iv. 7 - 16, Agath. ii. iii. iv. pp. 55 - 132, 141 ; Menand. Protect. Exc. de Leg. Gent. pp. 99, 101, 133 - 147; comp. Gibbon, c. xlii.; Le Beau, vol. ix. pp. 44, 133, 209 - 220, 312 - 53.) In the Atlas (pt. i. pl. xiv.) to Dubois de Montpereux (Voyage Autour du Caucase, comp. vol. ii. pp. 73 - 132) will be found a map of the theatre of this war. In A.D. 520, or 512 according to the era of Theophanes, the Lazi were converted to Christianity (Gibbon, l. c.; Neander, Gesch. der Christl. Religion, vol. iii. p. 236), and, under the name of Lazians, are now spread through the country near the SE. angle of the Euxine from Guriel to the neighbourhood of Trebizond. Their language, belonging to the Indo-Germanic family, appears to contain remains of the ancient Colchian idiom. (Cosmos, vol. ii. note 201, trans.; Prichard, Physical Hist. of Mankind, vol. iv. p. 263.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


(Machelones, Arrian, Peripl. p. 11; Anon. p. 15), a subdivision of the Colchian tribes situated to the S. of the Phasis. Anchialus, prince of this people, as well as of the Heniochi, submitted to Trajan. (Dion Cass. lxviii. 19; Ritter, Erdkunde, vol. x. p. 116.)

Hiberes, Iberes

IBERIA (Ancient country) GEORGIA


Near them(Phtheirophagi) are the Soanes, who are no less filthy, but superior to them in power,--indeed, one might almost say that they are foremost in courage and power. At any rate, they are masters of the peoples around them, and hold possession of the heights of the Caucasus above Dioscurias. They have a king and a council of three hundred men; and they assemble, according to report, an army of two hundred thousand; for the whole of the people are a fighting force, though unorganized. It is said that in their country gold is carried down by the mountain torrents, and that the barbarians obtain it by means of perforated troughs and fleecy skins, and that this is the origin of the myth of the golden fleece--unless they call them Iberians, by the same name as the western Iberians, from the gold mines in both countries. The Soanes use remarkable poisons for the points of their missiles; and even people who are not wounded by the poisoned missiles suffer from their odor. Now in general the tribes in the neighborhood of the Caucasus occupy barren and cramped territories, but the tribes of the Albanians and the Iberians, which occupy nearly all the isthmus above-mentioned, might also be called Caucasian tribes; and they possess territory that is fertile and capable of affording an exceedingly good livelihood.

This extract is from: The Geography of Strabo (ed. H. L. Jones, 1924), Cambridge. Harvard University Press. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.


KOLCHIS (Ancient country) GEORGIA
(Heniochoi). A people in Colchis, north of the Phasis, notorious as pirates.

Heniochi, Heniochian: Perseus Project index


(Moschoi). A people of Asia, dwelling in the southern part of Colchis.

Koraxoi, Coraxi


Apsilae, Absilae, Apsilii (Apsilai, Apsilioi), a people of Colchis, on the coast of the Euxine, subject successively to the kings of Pontus, the Romans, and the Lazi. They are mentioned by Procopius as having long been Christians. In their territory were the cities of Sebastopolis, Petra, and Tibeleos. (Arrian, Peripl. Pont. Eux.; Steph. B.; Plin. vi. 4; Justinian. Novell. 28; Procop. B. G. iv. 2; Agathias, iii. 15, iv. 15.)


(Manraloi, Ptol. v. 10. § 6), a people on the coast of Colchis, whose name has been traced in the modern Mingrelia.


  Moschi (Moschoi, Hecat. Fr. 188, ap. Steph. B. s. v.), a Colchian tribe, who have been identified with the Meschech of the prophet Ezekiel (xxvii. 13; Rosenmuller, Bibl. Alterthumsk, vol. i. pt. i. p. 248). Along with the Tibareni, Mosynaeii, Macrones, and Mardae, they formed the, 19th satrapy of the Persian empire, extending along the SE. of the Euxine, and bounded on the S. by the lofty chain of the Armenian mountains. (Herod, iii. 94, vii. 78.) In the time of Strabo (xi. pp. 497-499) Moschice (Moschike)-in which was a temple of Leucothea, once famous for its wealth, but plundered by Pharnaces and Mithridates-was divided between the Colchians, Albanians, and Iberians (comp. Mela, iii. 5. § 4; Plin. vi. 4). Procopius (B. G. iv. 2), who calls them Meschoi, says that they were subject to the Iberians, and had embraced Christianity, the religion, of their masters. Afterwards their district became the appanage of Liparites, the Abasgian prince. (Cedren. vol. ii. p. 770; Le Beau, Bas Empire, vol. xiv. p. 355; St. Martin, Memoires sur l'Armenie, vol. ii. p. 222.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Names of the inhabitants


Worship Athena Asia, Phrixus and the ram with the golden fleece among the, voyage of Jason to land of (Colchis), search for the Argo, demand the restoration of Medea from Alcinous, settle among the Phaeacians.

Worships of the inhabitants

Helius, Zeus & Selene

ALBANIA (Ancient country) GEORGIA
As for gods, they honor Helius, Zeus, and Selene, but especially Selene; her temple is near Iberia. The office of priest is held by the man who, after the king, is held in highest honor; he has charge of the sacred land, which is extensive and well-populated, and also of the temple slaves, many of whom are subject to religious frenzy and utter prophecies. And any one of those who, becoming violently possessed, wanders alone in the forests, is by the priest arrested, bound with sacred fetters, and sumptuously maintained during that year, and then led forth to the sacrifice that is performed in honor of the goddess, and, being anointed, is sacrificed along with other victims. The sacrifice is performed as follows: Some person holding a sacred lance, with which it is the custom to sacrifice human victims, comes forward out of the crowd and strikes the victim through the side into the heart, he being not without experience in such a task; and when the victim falls, they draw auguries from his fall and declare them before the public; and when the body is carried to a certain place, they all trample upon it, thus using it as a means of purification.
This extract is from: The Geography of Strabo, ed. H. L. Jones, Cambridge. Harvard University Press
Cited Jul 2002 from Perseus Project URL bellow, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.

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