Resolution of International Scientific Conference «Issue of Ethnic Identity of Zichis/Jikis and Zichia/Jiketi in the History of Georgia»
27, April, 2016
“Georgian-Circassian historical and cultural relations”
International Scientific Conference
“Issue of ethnicity of Jikis and Jiketia in the history of Georgia “
12-13 December, 2015 Tbilisi, Georgia
Since in Caucasology historiography practically nothing has been done to study a problematic issue like the history of one of the important regions of Medieval Georgia – Jiketi and an ethnic identity of its indigenous population Jikis, Circassian (Adyghean) Cultural Center initiated the international conference. The conference was attended by the scholars of interdisciplinary sciences.
The main goal of the conference:
– To define a place and role of Jiketi in the history of Georgia ;
– To bring more clarity to the issue of ethnic affiliation of Jikis;
– Actualization of the problem.
International scientific conference which was dedicated to the anniversary date of Prof. G.Rogava and was held within the forum “Georgian-Circassian historical and cultural relations” was attended by the scholars (linguists, historians, ethnologists, archaeologists) from 7 countries. Conference participants, who worked in two sections, listened and reviewed 25 reports, adopted the resolution and concluded:
Almost two-thousand-year old ethnonym Zichi occurs in ancient Greek, Latin sources as well as in Byzantine historiography of the 6-10th cc. According to these data, accommodation area of Zichis coincides with the historical inheritance of the Circassians / Adyges. Italian authors of the 12-15th cc. call all the Adyges “Zichis” . A Genoese traveler, the author of the first monographic description of Circassia J. Interiano titled his book that had been published in 1502 in Venice, thus: ” Life and country of Zichis who are called Circassians…” (Lat .: “La vita et sito de sichi, chiamati circassi …”). In the following period, when an ethnonym “Circassian” was used to denote ‘Adyges” (12th c.), the name “Zichi” gradually disappeared from European sources. It has been preserved in Georgian sources under the name “Jiki” till the19th century.
Zichis – according to Georgian sources Jikis – were the aborigine population of the Caucasus. Their historic homeland are the northwest Caucasus mountain, foothills and the Black Sea regions. In addition to the historical homeland since the 1st c. BC Jikis permanently resided along with the local Georgian population on the historical territory of Georgia, in particular, in the present Gagra-Sochi. To the east and south-west there resided the Georgians and Apkhazs. At the end of the 4th c. a new surge of Jikis moved to the historical territory of Georgia. Since the end of the 6th c. a new, relatively small surge of Jikis migrated the same territory. According to Georgian sources, “Jikis settled on the uttermost territory of Apkhazia“.
At the start of the 8th c. after the defeat of Arabians by Georgian royal troops at Anakopia, Georgian jurisdiction has been restored on the territory from the river of Minor Khazareti up to the Kelasuri river. Till the mentioned period this territory was under the sway of Greece, then of Rome, finally of the Byzantine Empire. Byzantine Caesar recognized this fact. At the end of the 8th c. Leon II had to strengthen the rights of Georgian kings once again. The Jikis who were residing at the border area of the Georgian state were under the patronage of Georgia.
In the 6th c. Jikis converted to Christianity. In 538 Byzantines sent a bishop in Nikopsia to control them. Later, in 840 Nikopsia Episcopal was transformed into a principal Episcopal, which had been subjected to Mtsketa patriarchate since the 10th c.
Jikis were devoted to Georgian kings. Georgian kings especially respected and trusted them. Presumably, the territory from the river of a minor Khazareti up to present Gagra was a royal domain. Jikis who were residing there create a kind of buffer together with the Georgians and guarded the Georgia from the attacks of steppe nomads. As the most of sources inform , by the 18th c. Jiketi covered the territory of Gagra-Sochi, and the territory from the Kerch Strait including Sochi up to the Psou river belonged to Circassia. The changes in the location of Jiketi are accurately reflected by the Georgian historian Vakhushti Bagrationi (18th c.): “The territory away from Apkhazia, to the west of the Cappeti water, since the Bagrations’ time to date has been called Jiketi. But in “Gorgasali’s life” Jiketi is called the territory to the north of this Jiketi, particular, across the Caucasus Mountains to the sea.”
Since the 19th c. Russia has been conducting active military transactions to conquer the Caucasus. The last stage of the Caucasian war was Jikis. Jikis resettled and have been in internally exile up to date. Gagra-Sochi area has been entirely emptied. By 1870 there were only three Moldavians, one Greek and two Circassian villages there. In the later period the area was divided into domains by Russian officials, the largest part of which was in property of the Grand Prince.
The issue in the relationship between Jikis and Georgians is noteworthy from linguistic viewpoint, as well. Special linguistic studies proved that the Common Kartvelian and Common Circassian proto-languages display common origin, genetic kinship, which is based on the basic vocabulary fund ( “Circassian-Kartvelian etymological dictionary” compiled by Prof. M. Chukhua contains more than thousand roots and stems), regular and natural correspondences of morphological and phonological inventories occur systematically. Borrowed words demonstrate similarity with genetically common roots. Apart from mutual borrowing the entries which entered from the third source are revealed, as well. This indicates that the language contacts were homogenous and reflected featured regional data .
Anthropological studies give more weight to conclusions of paleolinguistics and historical-comparative linguistics. The latter outlines Circassian and Kartvelian (western Kartvelian) common anthropological type. The outcomes of biological (resp. genetic) data seem to be trustworthy and demonstrate that the national body (genetics) of Circassians as well as Georgians, has been mostly built on the basis of endemic Y chromosome G2a (more) and J2a (less) haplogroups, which at the same time approve the autochthony of Georgians and Circassians.
The conference takes for granted that the historical-ethnographic picture of Circassian subethnic groups, and, therefore, of entirely Adyghean ethnic unity is based on proto-Jikian and Common Caucasian layers in favor of the first.