Some anthropological materials on the transformation of the peoples of Caucasian Albania.Ulduz Gashimova

08.04.2012 Выкл. Автор udi.az

          The formation of the nation is a complex and many – sided process. To explore it, joint efforts of not only historians, ethnographers, archaeologists, linguists but anthropologists are required  as well. The role of anthropology in the exploration of ethnogenesis is accounted for by the fact that the history of nation formation, to a marked degree, finds its parallels in anthropological peculiarities.

  It is currently accepted that anthropological studies make it possible to obtain valuable information on probable genetics kinship between various peoples and ethnic groups, to trace back their migration.

          It should be noted that methods of anthropological research into ethnic problems are thoroughly elaborated to apply various systems of indication. One of them is the, so called, odontological method based on the exploration of dental character. The method is appreciably notable for the fact that morphogenesis of dental characters is primarily conditioned by genetic factors and insignificantly dependent upon environment. Results of numerous studies are indicative that marking symptoms of dental system are useful in the general complex of differentiating features used by anthropologists for exploration of peoples, their relationship. Therefore the odontological method is widely applied when studying ethnogenesis matters. Note that vast materials have so far been accumulated worldwide (Zubov, 1973 Zubov, Khaldeyeva, 1982).

          One of such regions is Caucasus .  It  has to be kept in mind that the odontological studies were first ever carried on the territory of the former USSR (see R.S.Kochiyev’s article in the book titled «Ethnic Odontology of the USSR, 1979). It primarily focused on the research into  odontological type of indigenous peoples of Caucasus to clarify some aspects of their ethnogenesis and genetic relation regardless of language, culture and ethnic constitutions. Another important purpose was to study the isolation factor’s impact on the frequency of odontological characters which is of particular importance for the determination of diagnostic value of these characters, especially if the question is about Caucasus with its isolated populations based on relatively closed marriage circle. The material accumulated embraces 31 groups of Caucasian population, including three Azerbaijanian and three American groups, as well a group of Karabakh Armenians. The research program included 10 most taxonomically valuable odontological characters (Zubov, 1973).

          Fig 1 (referred to Kochiyev, 1979) shows a map of Caucasus, indicating the localization of all the groups reviewed.

          Fig 2 (referred to Kochiyev, 1979) is a generalized comparison of the Caucasian groups reviewed according to the complex of odontological characters.

          A diagram in Fig 2 enables to identify very interesting results. In particular, according to the complex of odontological symptoms Karabakh Armenians demonstrate exceptional  similarity to all Azerbaijanian groups as well as Lezghins, and striking distinction from Armenians on the Armenian territory proper.

          The author notes in plain terms that “for Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh (located in Azerbaijan), the most congenial are two groups – Azerbaijanians and Lezghins, in the first ten of groups identical with dental characters there are all three Azerbaijanian, Kumyk, Lezghin, three Black Sea, Adygei and just one Armenian”. He accounts it for “… excessive geographical isolation of Karabakh Armenians from the rest of the nation. Since the settings of Karabakh region with Armenians, the latter managed to preserve three language, culture, religion and ethnic self – consciousness and apparently assimilated and later include the nearest ethnic groups through merging with the population of Transcaucasion valley ( Kochiyev, 1979).  The author underscores the isolation factor impact, since, as he sees it, following the dissemination of Mohammedanism in late Middle Ages, Armenians of Karabakh turned into an islet of Christianity among surrounding Moslems–Azerbaijanians. In all probability, the religions isolation was accompanied by the cultural isolation, for odontological materials are illustrative of developments that occurred among Karabakh Armenians, characteristic of the population with closed conjugal circle (ibid).

          Such a detailed quotation of the cited work is essential for the simple reason that even a passing glance of expert at the quoted table contents makes it doubt in the correctness of such an interpretation.  From professional standpoint, it is obvious that differences  between Armenian  groups,  one from the  territory of Karabakh,  another – from that of Armenia  proper,  cannot be  accounted for by the  isolation  factor  impact for some  reasons. It’s be appropriate to focus one’s attention on  major  reasons.

          It should, first of all, be noted that the isolation (if any, it is moot point requiring a specific  population –  genetic  information on the group of  Karabakh Armenian which is  deficient in the  article) could result in the differences  regarding  frequencies of explored  characters  between Armenians  of Karabakh  and those Armenia  proper but could  hardly  discover  the  revealed identity between  Karabakh  Armenians and  Azerbaijanians.  Noteworthy is the fact that Karabakh Armenians  display similarity not only with  a territorially close group of Agdam Azerbaijanians but with Azerbaijanians of  Shemakha, Baku, as well as with Lezghins.

          It is also  rather make  distinctions between Armenians of Karabakh and Armenia proper. As has been noted above, our  research also focused on what characters  are dependent  upon the isolation factor in order to  properly evaluate the taxonomic  value of characters used for  marking of ethnic constructions. Results of special mathematical analysis showed that the isolation factor may affect the  frequencies of  characters of  the so called reduction  complex (number of  prominence on  molars, reduction of some elements of crown, etc.) and Karabelli  prominence while such a  taxonomically  important  character as spade-shaped form of  incisors  is not  dependent upon the isolation factor (Kochayev, 1979).

          The below-shown table indicates frequencies of major odontological characters in the reviewed group of Armenians, Azerbaijanians and Lezghins (data quoted from the Kochiyev R.S. article used in the table).  As is seen, according to the characters of the reduction complex ( number of prominence on molars), three are no distinction between compared groups, while spade – shaped from of incisors, i.e. character, not dependent upon the isolation factor, according to the Kochiyev’s data, is a precondition for strict differentiation between groups of Karabakh Armenians, Azerbaijanians and Lezghins, on the one hand, and Armenians of Goris and Alaverdy, on the other.

          It should also be noted that the isolation factor effect leads to the state of chaos in the distribution of characters. An eloquent testimony are extreme values of some odontological characters in the groups of Khevsurs, Jews, etc. The table indicates that no identical distribution of the frequencies of characters is typical for Karabakh Armenians.

Table. Distribution of major odontological characters in the groups of Armenians, Azerbaijanians and Lezghins, % (according R.S. Kochiyev data)

Groups

Characters

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Baku (Azerbaijanians)

1.00.

2.00

19.6

13.1

5.6

0.0

57.2

14.0

84.0

2.0

Shemakha (Azerbaijanians)

0.95

0.95

18.0

11.0

1.0

2.9

51.5

13.9

77.2

7.6

Agdam (Azerbaijanians)

0.90

0.00

16.0

15.3

6.1

1.0

57.9

9.0

94.0

3.0

Goris (Armenians)

2.80

7.47

23.4

9.4

1.9

1.9

51.0

3.4

90.7

6.5

Stepanakert (Armenians)

0.00

0.00

10.9

16.7

5.7

1.0

64.2

13.0

90.0

7.5

Alaverdy (Armenians)

4.71

9.44

26.0

14.0

4.0

2.8

54.4

13.0

93.9

4.7

Village of Kasumkent (Lezghins)

0.00

1.90

17.3

9.8

4.9

0.0

62.8

14.5

89.7

3.8

Notes 1) spade – shaped form of  medial incisor; 2) spade-shaped form of lateral incisor; 3) prominences of Karabelly; 4) geniculated  fold; 5) distal crest of trigonid; 6) internal middle additional prominence (t.a.m.i.) 7) Σ 3+, 3M2; 8) Σ 4 m 1; 9) Σ 4 M2; 1Σ0) reduction of upper lateral incisor.

To conclude, odontological material identified an apparent distinction between excerpts of Armenians from the territories of Armenia and Karabakh, on the one hand, and an evident similarity between Karabakh Armenians and Azerbaijanian and Lezghin group, on the other. However, the author of the  analysis interpretation of the materials  obtained cannot be  regarded correct not only from professional point  of  view but when adjusted for the current historical and ethnographic literature on reviewed regions (Aliyev, 1989; Mamedova, 1986). Author’s stand on the subject is incomprehensible especially as there is a simple and logic explanation of the said distinctions in the odontological material between Armenians from Karabakh and Armenians from Armenia proper. The explanation is that Armenians from Karabakh are offspring of  ancient Albanian  population of the region (like Azerbaijanians and Lezghins with ensuing likeness of these  group) who were afterwards Armenized religiously, culturally and linguistically. Note that the said similarity of odontological features of Karabakh Armenians with Azerbaijanians and Lezghins is indicative that the process of Armenization  of the Albanian population of Karabakh occurred  rather late; otherwise, when adjusted for religious and cultural  isolation of Karabakh Armenians, it’s be appropriate to expect greater differences in the frequencies of reviewed  characters between these group.

 

 

References:

 

  1. Zubov A.A. Ethnic odontology. M., 1973
  2. Zubov A.A, Khaldeyeva N.I. Odontology in  modern anthropology. M., 1989
  3. Kochiyev R.S. Transcaucasia and North Caucasus// Ethnic odontology of the USSR. M., 1979
  4. Mamedova F.D. Political history and historical geography of Caucasian Albania. Baku, 1986, ch. 2.
  5. Aliyev I.G. Nagorno Karabakh. History, facts, events. Baku, 1989.

     

Ulduz Gashimova   doctor of biologicalsciences,professor,Western University    Baku, Azerbaijan