One of the first state formations on the territory of modern Georgia and Abkhazia was the legendary kingdom of Colchis. It occupied the most advantageous geographical and economic position, dividing the world of nomads and farmers in the territories of the Transcaucasus, the Caspian region and the Middle East. The two largest cities of Colchis, the port of Phasis and Dioscurias, were the focus of the Transcaucasian trade. After some time, the original Greek colonies-settlements began to turn into independent states (with the local liquidity of the “Kolkhid” of the 3rd-2nd centuries BC.), And the local aristocracy received more and more power. Thanks to the access to the sea, the Colchis kingdom used to grow stronger as a state entity compared to its eastern neighbor, Iberia. And by the 2nd century, many small tribal alliances with policy centers along the Black Sea coast appeared on the territory of Colchis.
Historical science traditionally assumed that the Colchis kingdom was located on the east coast of the Black Sea, first appearing in the historical writings of Pindar and Aeschylus in the middle of the 1st millennium BC. er By the way, the official Georgian historiography believes that the Kolkhs who inhabited the kingdom had such a highly developed culture that they were able to gradually oust the Greek colonists from the sphere of political management, allowing them duty-free trade. It should be noted that numerous archaeological expeditions conducted in the Eastern Black Sea region did not find any signs of the existence of the state on the territory of the ancient Colchis. Despite this, the legendary land was mentioned more than once in the vicissitudes of ancient Greek mythology, becoming the scene of the most intense and incredible events.
The mythological Colchis played a significant role in the history of Greece, primarily due to the legend of the golden fleece keeper King Eete and his fairy-tale daughter Medea. One of the Platonic dialogues said: “the land is extremely large, and we inhabit only a small part of it from Fasis to the Pillars of Hercules,” that is, from the banks of the Rioni River (one of the largest water arteries of northwestern Georgia) to the Strait of Gibraltar. In addition to the history of the Argonauts, the biography of Prometheus is associated with this locality, the plot of which strikingly resembles the oldest Georgian legend about Amirani. Like the Greek character, Amirani for his “godless” views (taught people to forge iron) was chained to the rock of the Caucasian ridge, where his liver constantly pecked an eagle, and only a devoted hero dog remained near the owner, licking the chain that bound him.
Numerous local tribes, located on the territory of the Colchis kingdom, from time immemorial entered into the closest relations, and in some cases even had genetic links with the oldest population of the Aegean basin and Asia Minor. The Greeks first met the Kolkhs, probably even in the Mycenaean era, long before the start of large-scale Greek colonization - at the beginning of the second half of the second millennium BC. er
The famous legend about the Argonauts tells that the son of the sun god Helios, the powerful king Eet, used to rule in E-Kolkhida (as this state was called in Greek sources). In addition to other infinite riches, he had the coveted golden fleece - sheep skin with golden wool. Ancient authors (in particular, the historian Strabo) interpret the symbolic meaning of the legend of the “golden rune” in different ways. Apparently, this image has absorbed a number of cultural achievements of the Old Kartvel tribes: an established technology of sheep farming and highly developed metallurgy. The art of working iron and bronze very early began to develop in the southeastern Black Sea region, inhabited mainly by kolkha tribes.
In the ancient Greek tradition, an ancient tribe of the Khalibs is often mentioned, occupying the territory of the eastern coast of the Black Sea and actively participating in the ethnogenesis of the Georgian people. The Khalibs were famous for their extraordinary skills in iron processing, so the Greeks considered them to be the inventors of iron. In addition to iron and bronze artifacts found on the territory of the Colchis kingdom (which indirectly confirms the legend of the golden rune), the locals also succeeded in winemaking, fruit growing, planting and logging of ship wood, the production of flax, wax, tar and golden sand, which covered the precious bloom fleece, lain for a long time at the bottom of the river.
At the end of VI - the first half of V centuries BC. er Colchis became dependent on Persia. At the end of the II century BC. er The kingdom of Colchis was subordinated to the Pontic state, and in the first century BC. er - The Roman Empire as the province of Lazika. In the third century, Lazika gained a fairly wide autonomy, and at the end of the century, the Lazian kingdom (Egrisi) was formed on its territory, which gradually managed to subjugate the population of the Northern Colchis. Beginning in the 3rd century, significant changes occur in Colchis, primarily in economic terms - along with the former Kolkhids, gold coins began to appear in the Hellenistic manner. Historical information relates this period to the collapse of the Colchis kingdom and the transition of some rulers to a different form of coinage.
The new state entity, the Laz kingdom, existed for about 250 years, until in 562 it was absorbed by Byzantium, forming on its territory the province of Lazika with its center in the city of Phasis. At the end of the 7th century, Arabs came to Lazika, who established their hegemony here. The campaign of Murvan the Deaf reinforces the power of the Arabs to Anakopii (ancient fortress). In the 9th century, after the weakening of the Arab influence in the Transcaucasus, the Abkhazian kingdom was formed on the territory of the ancient Colchis, with its capital in the city of Kutaisi.
The presence of a highly developed culture among the inhabitants of Colchis is also evidenced by the peculiarities of the genesis of the Georgian language. There is a grandiose theory of linguist Marr devoted to the comparison of the Georgian language and the languages of other Caucasian tribes with the adverb of the Spanish Basques, where the scientist comes to a conclusion about a possible common ancestor language (this probably explained the similarity of the name of one of the most important Georgian kingdoms of Iberia with the Iberian Pyrenean). Modern linguists are more inclined to believe not in such a bold comparison, but in the morphological community of the Caucasian family and the presence of an ancient single language, on the basis of which Kartvelian, Adygei, Chechen, Ingush and Dagestan languages then occurred.