Northwestern Caucasus in the Early Middle Ages: A Few Notes

In: Iran and the Caucasus

The paper is on the history of the Northwestern Caucasus between the turn of the eras and the 13th century. From among the many ethnic groups inhabiting this region since the times of Greek and Roman Antiquity, the Alans were probably the best known. Settling down first in the submontane tracts of the Northern Caucasus, they gradually ascended the accessible valleys and rendered themselves as masters of the whole area north of the Caucasus main ridge. Constantly having to find their way between the ambitions of Byzantium and the Khazar Khanate of the steppes, the Northwestern Caucasians successfully exploited the region’s natural resources and engaged in long-distance trade along a side artery of the Silk Road. In the 10th century, Alans embraced Christianity and created their own state, a staunch ally of Byzantium. Alania perished in consequence of the Mongol invasion at the beginning of the 13th century. Most of its inhabitants followed their new masters into Central Asia, some have found new homes in Byzantium, Hungary and their vicinity.

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