History of Azerbaijan

Information about Azerbaijan history

The favorable geographic and climatic conditions of Azerbaijan furthered the appearance of humanity on its territory from great antiquity. The history of Azerbaijan begins in the Paleolithic era. In the northwest of Azerbaijan, on Aveydag Mountain and in the caves of Azikh in Garabag, stone tools have been found. Aside from this, the lower jaw of one of the most ancient forms of Neanderthal man was found in Azikh cave. Relics from the Bronze Age have been found in Khojali, Gadabey, Dashkesan, Ganja, Mingechevir and Nakhchivan. Not far from Baku, in Gobustan, at the place of settlement of ancient people, rock carvings about 10,000 years in age have survived. Here is a rock with an inscription in Latin relating to an expedition of the centurions of the Roman Legion in Gobustan in the 1st century AD: "In the time of Domician Cesar August Germanic, Luciy Yulij Maxim, and Centurion XII of the Legion of Blitzkrieg".

In the late 3rd - early 2nd millennium A.D., the preconditions for the origins of civilization were formed. The genesis of state formation on the territory of Azerbaijan were the tribal unions of Manna and Media, and following them, the Caduceus, Caspians, Albans and others also inhabited the territory of Azerbaijan in the 1st millennium A.D. In the 9th century B.C. the Manna state formed, and in the 7th century the other large ancient state, Media, appeared spreading its power over a huge territory very rapidly. This state reached its greatest power under the rule of czar Kiaksar (625-584 A.D.), becoming the biggest empire in the Orient at the time. In the middle of the 4th century A.D. leadership in Media passed into the hands of the Achaemenid dynasty. The state of Achaemenids fell under the assault of Alexander the Great's military, and at the end of the 4th century a new state, Atropatena (The Country of the Fire Keepers), was formed. Fire-worship, or Zoroastrianism, was the main religion of Atropatena. Household and cultural life in the country reached a high level; the pekhlevy written language was used: money circulation increased; handcrafts were developed and in particular the manufacture of woolen cloths was widely famous. In the 1st century A.D. the Albanian Caucasian state formed. At the beginning of the 4th century in Albania, Christianity was accepted as the state religion; temples were erected through the entire country, many of which have been preserved to the present day. At the beginning of the 5th century an Albanian alphabet was created, consisting of 52 characters.

Throughout its history, Azerbaijan was more than once exposed to the invasions of foreign aggressors: raids of nomadic tribes, Huns and Khazars and others roared through the Derbend passage. In the middle of the 7th century, an Arabian invasion of Azerbaijan began. During the opposition Javanshir, an Albanian commander and leader of the feudal possession of Girdiman, became famous. At the beginning of the 8th century, the Arabian caliphate captured Azerbaijan. Islam became the main religion of Azerbaijan. In the 9th century, a large popular rebellion occurred which grew into a peasant war, under the leadership of Babek. The war enveloped a huge territory, equal to the territories of the modern European states. For 20 years, Babek was the leader of a peasant state thanks to his leadership and organizational talents. In the second half of the 9th and first half of the 10th centuries, number of feudal states formed and gained power. Among them was the Shirvanshahs' state, with its center in Shamakhi town taking a special place. It existed up to the 16th century and played a huge role in the history of medieval Azerbaijan.

Over many centuries the Azeri people, scientists, poets and authors, architects and art workers, created a high culture, making their contribution to the treasure house of world civilization. An outstanding monument of Azerbaijan folk literature is the heroic epic "Kitabi Dede Gorgud". In the 11th and 12th centuries outstanding scientists Makki ibn Ahmed and Bahmanyar, poets and philosophers Khatib Tebrizi, Khagani, poetess Mehseti Ganjevi and others lived and created. In Azerbaijan are preserved masterpieces of architecture from this era: the mausoleums of Yusuf ibn Kuseyir and Momine-khatun in Nakhchivan and others. The peak of the public and the cultural ideas of Azerbaijan of this period was the creativity of Nizami Ganjevi (1141-1209), which is among the best of world culture. The economic and cultural rise of Azerbaijan was interrupted in the 1320's and 1330's by the Mongolian invasion, and from the end of the 14th century the intrusions of Tamerlane's armies crossed Azerbaijan.

These invasions slowed, but didn't stop the development of Azerbaijan's culture. In the 13th-14th centuries, outstanding poets Zulfugar Shirvani, Ahvedi Maragi, and Izeddin Hasanoglu, scientist Nasreddin Tusi (founder of the Maraga observatory), philosopher Mahmud Shabustari, historians Fazlullah Rashidaddin, Muhammad Nakhchivani and others vastly expanded the knowledge base of the area's culture.

The main centers of Azeri culture in the14th and 15th centuries were Tebriz and Shamakhi. In this period, the palace of the Shirvanshahs was erected in Baku - a masterpiece of medieval Azeri architecture; they also constructed the Blue mosque in Tebriz and other treasures.

At the beginning of the 16th century, the state of the Sefevids, with its capital in Tebriz, played a significant role in the history of Azerbaijan. The founder of this state was the Shah Ismail I (1502-24). For the first time, all of Azerbaijan was unified into one sovereign state.

From the middle of the 18th century, on the territory of Azerbaijan, the process of formation of independent states, or khanates, began. Different khanates were well known for various kinds of crafts. Sheki was the center of silk spinning, in the Shirvan khanate the manufacture of fine utensils and weapons was developed, in Gub - carpet making, and so on. The historical conditions of the 17th-18th centuries saw the foundations of expression of the culture of Azerbaijan. One outstanding monument of national creativity is the heroic epic "Koroglu", named after the national hero, the leader of the peasants acting against foreign and local aggressors. The outstanding monuments of Azeri poetry of the 17th-18th centuries include the creativity of the great poet, Fuzuli.

In the first half of the 19th century, as a result of the Russian-Iranian wars, the State of Azerbaijan appeared, divided in half As a result of the Gulistan and Turkmenchay peace treaties of 1813 and 1828 between Russia and Iran, the Carabag, Ganja, Shirvan, Sheki, Baku, Derbend, Cuba, Talish, Nakhchivan, Erivan khanates and other territories came under the rule of Tsarist Russia. In the subsequent period the Russian Empire and petroleum industry played a big role in the development of Azerbaijan and its capital, Baku. Petroleum in Baku has been extracted from time immemorial.

In the second half of the 19th century, the unprecedented growth of oil extraction began. The first large industrial enterprises appeared. Primitive petroleum wells were replaced with gushing boreholes. Since 1873, steam engines began to be used in drilling. High profits drew local and foreign capitals into the petroleum industry of Baku. In 1901, about 50% of all global oil extraction happened around Baku. In the middle of the 19th century the German firm Siemens constructed two copper-smelting factories in Gadabey, which completed one fourth of copper smelting in Imperial Russia. On May 28, 1918 the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was proclaimed. It was the first republic in all the Muslim East. The Republic existed for almost 2 years and was overthrown by the Soviet Union. On April 28, 1920 the eleventh Red Army entered the capital of Azerbaijan. According to the Constitution of 1936, Azerbaijan became an allied republic in the structure of the USSR.

After the disintegration of the USSR, the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan accepted the declaration "On the restoration of the State Independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan", and the sovereign Azerbaijan Republic was proclaimed. Since obtaining independence in 1991 Azerbaijan has faced a number of serious problems, connected with the economic chaos brought about by the difficulties of the transition to a market economy. The contract signed in September 1994 with a consortium of international petroleum companies, called "The Contract of Century", has brought great wealth to the country.

In spite of any adversity, the Azeri people always have a belief in the future and a large optimism. And today, when our young Republic is following the road of independent development, we trust that Azerbaijan will occupy the place in the world that it deserves, according to its past, present and future.

Over several millennia, the talents of many people in numerous invaluable works have embodied the bright and many-sided history of Azerbaijan. Certificates of the centuries-old history of Azerbaijan are its monuments of history and culture. In the country, the ruins of antique and medieval cities, defenses - fortresses and towers, magnificent monuments of architecture - temples, mosques, khanegies, mausoleums, palaces, caravanserais and others have been preserved.