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Posted 27 December 2000 - 04:26 PM

The Georgian Chronicle

Translator's Preface

The Georgian Chronicle occupies an unusual position among Armenian historical sources. Unlike the majority of Armenian
literary sources, this work was not originally composed in Armenian. The original was written in Georgian in separate
sections by several individuals between the 6-13th centuries. Sometime in the late 12th or early 13th centuries, an
unknown cleric translated or abridged the then extant Chronicle into classical Armenian. It is this medieval Armenian
rendering which is translated here. The Chronicle describes the history of Iberia/Georgia, Armenia's northern neighbor,
from legendary times to the 12th century, and is a rich source of unique information on such topics as Caucasian
ethnography, Armeno-Georgian relations, the history of Iran, the history of the Jewish community of Georgia and its role in
the Christianization of the country; the birth of Islam,and the coming of the Saljuqs.

Considerable controversy surrounds this work. Since the Georgian original which the medieval Armenian writer used has
not survived, the very nature of the work is in question. Was the Armenian a translation, an abrldgement, or a version of
the Georgian? Based on currently available Georgian sources, this question cannot be resolved. This is because until
relatively recently, the only complete Georgian text was an early 18th century revision (work of a commission appointed by
king Vaxtang VI) which, regrettably, expanded some passages and removed and/or rearranged other passages. Thls 18th
century text also incorporated additional documents from the 13-14th centuries. Fortunately, the individual books of the
Chronicle (pre-Vaxtang revision) survived as separate works. However, as a result of the zeal of Georgian editors, no full,
unadulterated Georgian text of the Chronicle predates the Armenian version. For this reason alone the Armenian version
is valuable.

All elght extant Armenian manuscripts derive from a single exemplar made between 1279 and 1311 and housed at the
Matenadaran in Erevan, Armenia. M.F. Brosset published a French translation of it in Additions et eclaircissements a
l'Histoire de la Georgie (St. Petersburg,1851). The classical Armenian text, translated in the present volume, was
published by At'. T'iroyan as Hamarhot patmut'iwn vrats' (Concise/Abridged History of the Georgians) in Venice in 1884.
T'iroyan hlmself added the title, based on a colophon appearing in the Chronicle. All surviving copies are defective,
terminating abruptly in mid-sentence. There is considerable variation in the spelling of names of people and places and
occasional anachronlsms, such as references to "Baghdad", and the "Turks" and "hejub". To date the most detailed study
of the Chronicle is Ilia Abuladze's comparatlve analysis of the Armenian text and the corresponding Georgian passages
(Tbilisi,1953, in Georgian). Yustin Abuladze (1901) concluded that the Armenlan was a translation of the Georgian, and
that since the Armenian is much shorter, the orlginal Georgian must have been shorter. I. Javaxishvili, on the other hand,
thought the Armenian was an abrldgement. S. Kakabadze considered it a variant or version of the Georgian. Father
Nerses Akinian suggested that the translator/adaptor may have been an Armenian diophysite, perhaps Simeon
Pghndzahanets'i. Apparently the Armenian chroniclers Mxit'ar of Ani (12th century) and Mxit'ar Ayrivanets'i (13th century)
used the Chronicle in its Armenian edition, while the historian Step'annos Orbelean (d.1304) referenced the Chronicle in

Unlike the Georgian original, which was a collectlon of individual books written by different authors having different styles,
the Armenian version is one man's work. The style is straightorward and more chronographical than literary. Occasionally,
Armenian equivalents for Georgian words are provided parenthetically, and it seems that the translator/adaptor had
Armenian sources such as Agat'angeghos and Movses Xorenats'i by his side and drew upon them for additional details.

The present translation follows C. Toumanoff's proposed chronologies for the regnal years of kings and other officials, and
also his distinction between Iberia (or East Georgia) prior to 1008 and Georgia (the union of East and West Georgia)
thereafter. For further information on Iberia/Georgia see C. Toumanoff's Studles in Christian Caucasian History
(Georgetown, 1963), W.E.B. Allen's History of the Georgian People (New York, 1971, reprint of the 1932 edition), and
D.M. Lang's Lives and Legends of the Georgian Saints (Crestwood, N.Y., 1976). The transliteration employed is a
modification of the Library of Congress system.

Robert Bedrosian
New York, 1991

A Note on Pagination


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