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The State of Atropatena

There occurred great changes in all territories of Macedonian rule after the death of Alexander the Great, as well as there was shaped the slavery state of Atropatena in the south of Azerbaijan.

The territories of Atropatena boundaries with the river of Aras in the North, mountains of Lagros in the west, the lands of medians in the south and the Caspian sea and the tribes that occupied the south shores of this sea in the North – East.

There were mentioned the names of different tribes, such as myuks, caspians, matiens, mards (amards), cadusians, elimeys, anariaks, which surrounded the lands of Atropatena in antique and middle Ages sources.

There is no any discussion about the linguistic origin which the settlers of Atropatena belonged to, but we are considering that, as Atropatena consisted of different origins, they spoke in various languages. The name of the state of Atropatena is as ancient as the history of country. According to the oldest sources the name of the state was referred to the name of subordinated governor of Akhamani dynasty – Atropat. Several scientists consider that, Atropatena means “(the state) belonging to Atropat” and is the initial form of modern Azerbaijan. This name changed as Atropatakan, Adurbadaqan, Azerbaijan and finally during the period of Arabian caliphate it accepted its contemporary version. According to the representatives that mentioned above – has shown the name of Atropat, may be wasn’t the name of governor who captured Minor Asia (at present, South Azerbaijan) but this title (which means, “atr”-fire, “pat”-leader) was the name of priest of Zoroastrianism.

But according to the sources, referred to the 1st millennium BC, Y.B.Yusifov showed that, there was existed the area of Andirpatianu (Andarpatian) near the river of Kiziluzen even in the 8th -7th centuries BC.

This name, which meaning related to the “flat area with mountains and hills”, “Mountains ridge” or “foothill area” later was referred to the whole south Azerbaijan, as well as Northern Midia. And at the result of phonetic changes (Andirpatianu – Andirpatian – Adirpatiqan – Adebayqan – Adirbiycan – Azirbaycan) adopted its modern version.

Obviously Alexander the Great drove out Atropat from the authority, because of that he led the troops of midians, kadusians, albanians and sakasens in the context of Daria’s army in Akhamani – Greek wars. And Alexander the Great gave the governance of Midia firstly to Oksidat, then to Arsak. According to some sources, in the first years Atropat wanted to struggle against Alexander the Great, but after some period, he understood that there was no any meaning began to normalize relations with Alexander the Great. So, in 328 BC again it was returned to his authority. Atropat married his daughter to Perdicca – close friend confederated and was a commander of Greco – Roman cavalry and strengthened his position.

During the campaign of Alexander the Great to India the influence of Atropat, who put down the uprising, implemented by Bariaks in 324 BC and strengthened. After the meeting with Atropat in Nisey plains, Atropat did not let him to go and took him to Suz. Amazon women that were given to Alexander as gifts in Suzian weddings by Atropat also strengthened his positions. And that’s why, Atropat was an independent ruler and there is no doubt that, after the death of Alexander the Great he came to the throne of Perdicca in 323 BC. Nevertheless, the governing of Perdicca did not last long and he was killed during the campaign to Egypt by his soldiers. The empire of Alexander was divided between his soldiers. The soldier of Alexander, Selevk (321-281 BC) that became the governor of Syria and Babylon established new, great empire in Iraq and in the Middle Asia soon. This empire fought against Rome and the state of Parfia, created in 3rd century BC in the South-West of Middle Asia (at present time, in Turkmenistan) by Arshakids and which had been existed for 5 centuries (until 276 BC).

During the last Iranian-Byzantine war in the year of 603, the people of Albania were subjected to new trials. At the result of military actions, which was resulted behalf on Sasanid Empire, lots of provinces that were subordinated to Byzantine passed to the power of Iran.

In the same year Albanian Catholicos Viro utilized from vague circumstances and began the struggle against Sasanid regime together with his supporters. But troops, sent to After that Bactria, Sogdiana and Parfia became independent, the Selevkid governor Antiox III (223-187 BC) did his last best to return these lands. His Eastern campaign (209- 205 BC) was successful and the lands till India became under the control of Antiox.

Even in the first years of Antiox’s reign the governor of Media, Molon organized the revolt against the Selevkids (222-220 BC). After that uprising Antiox invaded to Atropatena, ruled by Atrobarzan and in 220 BC he made this land obey. Old Atrobarzan did not fight against Antiox and recognized the supremacy of Selevkids, but preserved interior independence.

Anyway, after that Antiox lost the battle against Rome in Magnezia in 190 BC, Atropatena released from this supremacy. After the death of Antiox during the uprising in Elimaida political crisis in this country strengthened and his successors couldn’t preserve the state of Selevkids.

During the weakening of Selevkid state the soldiers of Antiox created the new state of Armenia in the west Atropatena in 189 BC and this new created state enlarged its regions behalf on neighbourhood countries.

In the middle of the 2nd century, Parfia occupied Media and Mesopotomia. There is no doubt that, Atropatena became under the subordination of magnificent Parfia too. And Southwest Asia became the front of struggle between Rome and Parfia for sometimes.

At the beginning of 1st century, conflict between Rome and Pont was strengthened. So, general Litsiny Lukull, who was sent to the East by Roman Senate in 71 BC destroyed the troops of Mitridat VI (the king of Pont) and captured Armenia Tigran II (95-55 BC), who was put into the throne by Arshakids (he was captured by Arshakids for a time; according to some sources he was a relative of Arshakids by mother line) in last the battle against Lukull near the capital city of Tigranakert in 69 BC, although alban, iber, Atropatenian tribes helped to Armenia.

Again in 68 BC Tigran was defeated by Lukull near the city of Artaksat. Nevertheless Tigran could invade and destroyed Cappadocia.

Great general G. Pompey that was appointed to the post of Lukull captured Armenia and subordinated Tigran to Rome. But Atopatena wasn’t mentioned among the states, occupied by Pompey.

In 36 BC, Atropatena was captured by general Antony, who married to Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt. Antony attacked to Atropatena with the aid of Armenian tsar Artabazan II and besieged one of the basis castles of the region-Fraaspa. Atropatena that was ally of Parfia at that time possessed a great and powerful army. Atropatena, which had a huge capital city-Qazaka and such castles as Vera, Aganzana and Fraaspa was able to assemble 50 thousand soldiers to its army.

During the besiege of Fraaspa the king of Parfia Fraat IV and governor of Atropatena Artabaz III often attacked to the troops of Antony. The tsar of Armenia betrayed and run from the battle field (because of his betrayal Antony executed Tigran in Alexandria in 34 BC and gave the head of him and governing of Armenia to the tsar of Atropatena). That’s why, Antony lost his soldiers and deviated from Atropatena.

According to some sources, after this victory there became misunderstanding between Atropatena and Parfia in division of captures. So, at the end of 1st century BC and at the beginning of 1st AD century the governors of Atropatena Artabaz and Ariobarzan signed the alliance with Rome and at the result of it obtained the throne of Armenia for a little time.

Soon, nevertheless Atropatena approached to Parfia again. In 20 AD, after the governing of last ruler from Atropatians, Ariovast, Parfia brought to the throne the relative of Parfians by mother line. So that, after 350 years of governance of Atropatian dynasty, this state was reigned by little Arshakids till the beginning of the 3rd century, until the occupation of this country by Sasanian Empire.

The slavery state of Atropatena was one of the states that played an important role of the life of region from the 20s of the 4th century BC till the 3rd century AD. Atropatena played an essential role in the restoration and development of ancient traditions of Azerbaijan, as well as in the process of shape of ethnic identity in Azerbaijan.

About Ismayil bey Zardabli

Author of t extbook for the higher educational institutions "THE HISTORY OF AZERBAIJAN, from ancient times to the present day"