Chapter 16

Section 2

A Gateway of Migration

Food-gathering cultures of Mesolithic type, as represented by discoveries near Nalchik (Russia) in the central Caucasus, continued in this region until quite late. They were replaced in the later part of the 3rd millennium bc by the Kuban culture, which left its remains in many thousands of burial mounds, or kurgans, on the steppes of Ciscaucasia. This Kuban culture, which lasted through the Late Bronze Age into Early iron age times, was undoubtedly stimulated by contact with the higher civilization of Mesopotamia. The grave furniture of the kurgans, as in the famous royal grave at Maykop (Russia), included metalwork of great refinement, often ornamented with animal motifs. A common weapon was the shaft-hole copper battle-ax, of a type also found in central and northern Europe. There is evidence that the distribution of this weapon resulted from a migration of horse-riding folk, the so-called Battle-Ax people, who spread Indo-European speech. Their place of origin is not certain, but it was more probably in the east than in the west of their area of spread.

A History of Outside Control

The North Caucasus region of Russia faces perennial instability, with violence occurring on a regular basis in places like Chechnya and Dagestan. Despite the challenges this area poses to Moscow, it is a long-standing geopolitical imperative for Russia to control the North Caucasus. The North Caucasus consists of the republics of Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia and Adygea. Unlike the South Caucasus states of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, this area remained part of Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union.Geographically, the North Caucasus is part of the transcontinental Caucasus zone, sandwiched between the Black Sea to the west and the Caspian Sea to the east. The Russian steppe lies to the north, with the highlands of Asia Minor to the south. Internally, the region is dominated by the Greater Caucasus mountain range. The high, rugged terrain creates pockets of ethnic and linguistic groups, with over 40 such groups within Dagestan alone. The Caucasus serves as a key defensive buffer for Russia, protecting against Islamic powers like Turkey and Iran to the south. But the region has historically been difficult for Russia to subdue. As the Russian empire expanded it began wresting control of the Northern Caucasus from the Persians and Ottomans in the 18th century. There was fierce resistance to Russian rule, which was seen by locals as another external occupier.

Migration brings Religions

A German philosopher, Karl Marx, predicted that a communist system would replace capitalism. In a communist society, he argued, citizens would own property together, and everyone would share the wealth. To move their society toward communism, Soviet leaders adopted a command economy, a central government makes all important decision, took control of all the major sources of the state’s wealth, including land, mines, factories, and transportation systems. Government planners decides what products would be manufactured, what crops would grow, what prices merchants would charge. The Soviet government created enormous collective farms, large teams of laborers working together.
cultures & achievements of Russia & western republics
Transcaucasia as a migration route
Thriving commercial regions of Mediterranean Europe: because of the trade routes near the Black sea.
A Variety of cultures: because of the presence of so many trade routes, Transcaucasia has been affected by many different people and culture.
Migration Brings Religions: The people of Transcaucasia follow a number of different religions. However most people belong to either the Christian or the Islamic faith. Conflict: the region’s diverse population has not always lived in harmony. Tensions seldom erupted into open hostility under the rigid rule of the Soviets.

Economic Potential

one of the major economic regions of the Soviet Union. It includes the Georgian SSR, Azerbaijan SSR, and Armenian SSR.Area, 186,100 sq km. Population, 12.5 million (1971), 51 percent of which is urban. The average population density is 67.2persons per sq km. The predominant peoples are Azerbaijanis, Georgians, Armenians, and Russians.The modern economic profile of the Transcaucasian Economic Region basically took shape during the years of Soviet power,when the Transcaucasus was transformed from an economically backward, predominantly agrarian colonial frontier of theRussian Empire into a mighty industrial and agricultural complex. The place of the region in the nationwide system ofterritorial division of labor was determined with due regard for its specific natural and geographic conditions, the highpopulation concentration, and historically established labor habits. In the national economy the Transcaucasian EconomicRegion stands out for development of its complex of petroleum extraction and petrochemical production, for the extraction ofnonferrous metal and manganese ores and a number of nonmetallic mineral products, and for machine building. Thecultivation of subtropical and heat-loving industrial crops is very important, as are grape-growing, fruit-growing, and industryfor processing agricultural raw materials.The power system of the region has developed rapidly. The main types of fuel resources are petroleum and gas (AzerbaijanSSR), the extraction of which ran to 20.2 million tons and 5.5 billion cu m in 1970.

Modern Life in Transcaucasia

The name Caucasus is a Latinized form of Kaukasos, which the ancient Greek geographers and historians used; the Russian Kavkaz is of the same origin. The ultimate derivation is thought to be from Kaz-kaz, the Hittite name for a people living on the southern shore of the Black Sea. This ancient nomenclature reflects the historical importance of the region: the Greeks made the mysterious range the scene of the mythical sufferings of Prometheus, and the Argonauts sought the Golden Fleece in the land of Colchis (modern Kolkhida), nestling against the range on the Black Sea coast. The ranges also became a major land route for cultural diffusion from south to north of the Middle Eastern Fertile Crescent civilizations.

The peoples of the region have exhibited an extraordinary ethnic and cultural diversity since early times: the Colchians , for example, as described in the 5th century bc by the Greek historian Herodotus, were black-skinned Egyptians, though their true origin remains unclear. In subsequent centuries, successive waves of peoples migrating across Eurasia added to and were molded by the more established groups in the region. Not surprisingly, a greater variety of different languages are spoken in Caucasia than in any other area of similar size in the world. Ethnic and cultural diversity in Transcaucasia was preserved by the geographic isolation of the many small ethnic groups that settled in the region’s inhospitable mountainous terrain.