The primary, autochthonous population of Southern Europe, viz. the Iberian peninsula, Italy, and the Mediterranean islands, was Iberian. This population was called proto-Iberian, the later European population stemming from it.
The population inhabited: Iberian peninsula, Mediterranean and Aegean basins, Balkans, modern Greece, Caucasus, territory of modern India and Asia Minor and Palestine.. This is the area of diffusion of the proto-Iberian people which had many offshoots. These people had a single basic language with many dialectal branches, and even if these dialects assumed the character of separate languages, they remained kindred and developed as mutually related languages, in particular, Basque, Lusitanian, Etruscan, Pelasgian, Georgian, Sumerian and etc.
The considerable part of the Asia Minor population belonged to the proto-Iberian race, represented by the Meskhians or Moschoi, Cappadocians, Colchians, Taochoi, and others.
Of the numerous branches of Iberian, at present Pyrenean (Spanish) Iberian or Basque and Caucasian Iberian or Georgian (with its related tribes in the Northern Caucasus) have survived. The rest have already been assimilated into the Indo-European part of mankind. The Indo-Europeans seem to have arrived in Europe later, viz. after the second millennium B.C., whereas the proto--Iberian or palaeo-Mediterranean and palaeo-Caucasian population is believed to have been on the upgrade from earliest times to the third millennium B.C. The decline of these people, i. e. their numerical diminishment and assimilation by the newly arriving Indo-Europeans, commenced in the third millennium.
X X X
I B E R I A
The particular province of the Immaculate Mother of God
The Kingdom of Iberia (4th century BC5th century AD) established in Eastern Georgia by the Georgians (Kartvelians). The king of Iberia, Parnavaz I unified the territory from the Caucasus Range till the source of the River Euphrates and was a reformer of the Georgian alphabet (284 BC). He was also founder of the dynasty of Parnavazians (284 BC). The capital of this Kingdom was Mtskheta, existing at the mouth of the Rivers Mtkvari and Aragvi.Mtskheta existed on a very useful place - in the junction of the roads from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea, and from the East Europe to Front Asia, that helped the fast development of the town.
Residence of the Kings of Iberia was the citadel on the high mountain opposite to Mtskheta - Armaztsikhe.
According to the legend, when Christ died on the cross in Jerusalem, two Georgian Jews, Elioz Karsneli and Longinoz Mtskheteli returned, bringing with them the Robe (tunic) of our Lord. The sister of Elioz, pressing it to her heart, expired on the spot. According to the legend, the tunic is buried with in the holy ground of Mtskheta.
In the 4th century AD, Equal-to-the Apostles Saint Nino of Cappadocia took Christianity to the Kingdom of Iberia. In 337 it was adopted as the state religion by the rulers of Iberia, King Mirian and Queen Nana. St. Nino, according to an instruction from above, found the place where the Robe of the Lord was hidden. On this place King Mirian built a magnificent temple in the name of 12 Apostles where the holy robe was kept.
The church of St George, Bodbe, which houses St Nino's shrine.
In the IV-V cen. there was a process of establishing feudal relations in Georgia. This period is a difficult foreign-political condition for Iberia. The union with Romans couldn't protect the country from the aggression of Sasanides, which especially became stronger from the first half of the V cen. when Persians conquerred the neighbouring countries of Iberia - Armenia and Albania and came to the borders of East Georgia. The Wars between Georgians and Persians began. Especially must be noted the second half of the V cen. when the King of Iberia was Vakhtang Gorgasali. The King Vakhtang was a good warrior, clever and vigorous governor. In his period the Iberian Apostolic church became independent. Iberia strengthened again and annexed several neighbouring territories. Vakhtang Gorgasali also held a big constructing activity too. Founding Tbilisi as a city is related to his name, which was only a fortress before. But in the beginning of the VI cen. Vakhtang Gorgasali was killed in the struggle against Persians.
The main Georgian sources of the history of the Kingdom of Iberia are the old Georgian chronicles collected in Kartlis Tskhovreba ("History of Georgia").