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Article title

Křesťanství na Kavkaze v raném středověku: upevnění arménské a gruzínské identity a apoštolská tradice


Title variants

Christianity in the Caucasus in the early Middle Ages: consolidation of Armenian and Georgian identity and the apostolic tradition

Languages of publication



In late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, the Caucasus represented an important crossroads of civilizations, which brought together Judaism, Christianity, and even early Islam. The Christianity in the Caucasus has one of the oldest church structures in the world: the Armenian Apostolic Church (Hay Ar.ak’elakan Yekeghetsi) is often classified in the same category as the pre-Chalcedonian ancient Eastern oriental churches, and in the early Middle Ages the Georgian churches (sakartvelos martlmadidebeli ek‘lesia) developed into the current that later became known as Orthodoxy. Both the Armenian and the Georgian church traditions show a similar development during the 4th – 7th centuries CE, and they rely on the apostolic tradition as their fundamental argument for their own independence (autocephaly; i.e., having their “own head”). These “self-governing” churches have their own highest patriarch (later, the term catholicos was adopted for this function), and their autocephaly was later reaffirmed in the context of the 11th century and the Crusades. A textual analysis of the surviving primary sources from this period, in comparison with the numerous secondary sources, reveals not only common sources of inspiration, but also a multi-layered phenomenon of period religious polemics. In the local conception, Caucasian “holy cities” such as Mtskheta and Etchmiadzin were a “new Zion” that oscillated between the image of Jerusalem and Constantinople. The resulting picture indicates a very early construction of a religious identity which continued to manifest itself with practically unchanged features through the course of the Middle Ages, as well as into the early and later modern periods, as a cornerstone of future “national” identity.


  • Slovanský přehled, redakce, Historický ústav AV ČR, v.v.i., Prosecká 76, 190 00 Praha 9, Czech Republic


Document Type

Publication order reference


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