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Province of Kingdom of Armenia
189 BC–387 AD

Historical eraAntiquity, Middle Ages
• Artaxias I declaring himself independent
189 BC
• Given to Caucasian Albania by Sassanids
387 AD
Today part of Azerbaijan
Utik within the Kingdom of Armenia in 150 AD

Utik (Armenian: Ուտիք, also known as Uti, Utiq, or Outi) was a historic province of the Kingdom of Armenia. It was ceded to Caucasian Albania following the partition of Armenia between Sassanid Persia and the Eastern Roman Empire in 387 AD.[1] Most of the region is located within present-day Azerbaijan immediately west of the Kura River, while a part of it lies within the Tavush province of present-day northeastern Armenia.


According to Strabo, in the 2nd century BC, Armenians conquered from the Medes the lands of Syunik and Caspiane, and the lands that lay between them, including Utik,[2] that was populated by the people called Utis, after whom it received its name. Modern historians agree that "Utis" were a people of non-Armenian origin, and the modern ethnic group of Udi is their descendants.[3][4] According Robert Hewsen, the mountainous part of Utik (according to the administrative boundaries of Greater Armenia), Gardman and Tavush was a homeland of proto-Armenian tribes.[5] According to classical sources, Armenians settled as far as the Kura River in about the 7th century BC.[6] After the conquest of Armenia in the 4th[7] or 2nd century BC Utik still had also Armenian population.[8][9][10][11][12] The province was called Otena in Latin sources and Otene in Greek sources.[13]

According to the Armenian geographer Anania Shirakatsi's Ashkharatsuyts ("Geography", 7th century), Utik was the 12th among the 15 provinces of the Kingdom of Armenia, and belonged, at the time, to the Caucasian Albania (when the Utik and Artsakh provinces were lost by Armenia after its partition in the 4th century).[14] According to Ashkharatsuyts, Utik consisted of 8 cantons (gavars, in Armenian): Aranrot, Tri, Rotparsyan, Aghve, Tuskstak (Tavush), Gardman, Shakashen, and Uti. The province was bounded by the Kura River from north-east, river Arax from south-east, and by the province of Artsakh from the west.[15]

Greco-Roman historians from the 2nd century BC to the 4th century AD state that Utik was a province of Armenia, with the Kura River separating Armenia and Albania.[16][17][18] But the Armenian-Albanian boundary along the Kura River, confirmed by Greco-Roman sources, was often overrun by armies of both countries.[19]

According to Strabo, Armenia, which in the 6th century BC had covered a large portion of Asia,[20] had lost some of its lands by the 2nd century BC.[21] At the same time Strabo wrote: "According to report, Armenia, though a small country in earlier times, was enlarged by Artaxias and Zariadris". Around 190 BC, under the king Artashes I, Armenia conquered Vaspurakan and Paytakaran from Media, Acilisene from Cataonia, and Taron from Syria[citation needed]. Some have suggested that Utik was among the provinces conquered by Artashes I at this time,[12] though Strabo doesn't list Utik among Artashes' conquests.[21]

King Urnayr of Caucasian Albania invaded Utik. But in 370 AD, the Armenian sparapet Mushegh Mamikonyan defeated the Albanians, restoring the frontier back to the river Kura.[22] In 387 AD, the Sassanid Empire helped the Albanians to seize from the Kingdom of Armenia a number of provinces, including Utik.[1]

In the middle of the 5th century, by the order of the Persian king Peroz I, the king Vache of Caucasian Albania built in Utik the city initially called Perozapat, and later Partaw and Barda, and made it the capital of Caucasian Albania.[23][24]

Starting with the 13th century, the area covered by Utik and Artsakh was called Karabakh by non-Armenians.[citation needed]


In ancient times, the area was inhabited by Armenians and "Utis" (likely the ancestors of modern-day Udi people), after whom it was named.[12][verification needed][25] The early Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi wrote that the local princes of Utik descended from the Armenian noble family of Sisakan and spoke Armenian.[26]

Utik had been one of the provinces of Greater Armenia, the population of which is referred to by the name Udini (or Utidorsi) in Latin sources, and by the name Outioi in Greek sources.[11] However, Ancient Greco-Roman writers placed the Udis beyond Utik, north of the Kura River.[12]

Pliny the Elder names both the Uti and the Udini among the tribes living in eastern Transcaucasia and calls the latter a Scythian tribe ("Scytharum populus").[27] This suggests the possibility that some Iranian-speaking or, less likely, Finno-Ugric peoples may have settled in the area and adopted the language of the local Caucasian population).[12] More likely, however, the terms refer not to any specific ethnic group in the modern sense but simply the inhabitants of the eponymous region.[28]

See also


  1. ^ a b Chaumont, M. L. (1985). "ALBANIA". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. I, Fasc. 8. pp. 806–810. The more or less self-interested loyalty of the Albanians explains why the Sasanians helped them to seize from the Armenians the provinces (or districts) of Uti (with the towns of Xałxał and Pʿartaw), Šakašēn, Kołṭʿ, Gardman, and Arcʿax. (...) These territories were to remain in the possession of Albania; a reconquest by Mušeł (cf. Pʿawstos, ibid.) was unlikely.
  2. ^ Robert H. Hewsen. "Ethno-History and the Armenian Influence upon the Caucasian Albanians," in: Samuelian, Thomas J. (Hg.), Classical Armenian Culture. Influences and Creativity, Chicago: 1982, 27-40.
  3. ^ (in Russian) Shnirelman, Viktor A. Memory Wars: Myths, Identity and Politics in Transcaucasia. Moscow: Academkniga, 2003 ISBN 5-94628-118-6, pp. 226-228.
  4. ^ Hewsen, Robert H. “The Kingdom of Artsakh,” in T. Samuelian & M. Stone, eds. Medieval Armenian Culture. Chico, CA, 1983
  5. ^ Hewsen. Armenia, pp. 119, 163
  6. ^ Schmitt, R. (December 15, 1986). "ARMENIA and IRAN i. Armina, Achaemenid province". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Vol. II. pp. 417–418. Bordering on Media, Cappadocia, and Assyria, the Armenians settled, according to classical sources (beginning with Herodotus and Xenophon), in the east Anatolian mountains along the Araxes (Aras) river and around Mt. Ararat, Lake Van, Lake Rezaiyeh, and the upper courses of the Euphrates and Tigris; they extended as far north as the Cyrus (Kur) river. To that region they seem to have immigrated only about the 7th century B.C.
  7. ^ Robert H. Hewsen Armenia: A Historical Atlas. "Strabo's description of the expansion of Zariadris and Artaxias makes it clear just what lands the Orontids had originally controlled: apparently much of Greater Armenia from the Euphrates to the basin of Lake Sevan and possibly beyond to the juncture of the Kur and Arax Rivers (as Harut'yunyan believes and as depicted here)."
  8. ^ Chahin, Mark. The Kingdom of Armenia: A History. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2001, p. 181 ISBN 0-7007-1452-9.
  9. ^ Movses Khorenatsi, "History of Armenia," I.13, II.8
  10. ^ Movses Kaghankatvatsi, "History of Aghvank," I.4
  11. ^ a b "Wolfgang Schulze. The Language of the 'Caucasian Albanian' (Aluan) Palimpses". Archived from the original on 2001-10-30. Retrieved 2001-10-30.
  12. ^ a b c d e Igor Kuznetsov. Udis.
  13. ^ Ptolemy, Geography: Book V, Chapter 13.9
  14. ^ Anania Shirakatsi. Geography
  15. ^ Anania Shirakatsi, "Geography"
  16. ^ Strabo, Geography, 11.14.4,
  17. ^ Pliny the Elder, "The Natural history ", 6.39: "..the tribe of Albanians settled on the Caucasian mountains, reaches ... the river Kir making border of Armenia and Iberia"
  18. ^ Claudius Ptolemy, "Geography" 5.12: "Armenia is located from the north to a part of Colchida, Iberia and Albania along the line, which goes through the river Kir (Kura)"
  19. ^ "Encyclopedia Iranica. M. L. Chaumont. Albania". Archived from the original on 2007-03-10. Retrieved 2006-12-13.
  20. ^ Strabo, Geography, 11.13.5: "In ancient times Greater Armenia ruled the whole of Asia, after it broke up the empire of the Syrians",
  21. ^ a b Strabo, Geography, 11.14.5,
  22. ^ Pavstos Buzand, "History of Armenia," 5.13, 4th century AD.
  23. ^ V. Minorsky, A History of Sharvan and Darband in the 10th-11th centuries, Cambridge (Heffer and Sons), 1958
  24. ^ Movses Kalankatuatsi. History of Albania
  25. ^ Agathangelos, History of St. Gregory
  26. ^ Movses Khorenatsi, "History of Armenia," II.13, II.8
  27. ^ Pliny. Natural History, Book VI, Chapter 15.
  28. ^ Schulze, Wolfgang (May 2017). "Caucasian Albanian and the Question of Language and Ethnicity". Language and Ethnic Identity – via ResearchGate.

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