Iron Age


There has been discovered a bell shaped and cannelure stone column base while smoothing out small hills for the purpose of irrigating the cotton fields by the Garajamirli village at the beginning of 80s of last century. During the excavations the upper part of the base was destroyed, but however the inhabitant of the Garajamirli village Hamid Yusifov has kept its lower part in his yard.
Before this find two such kinds of bases with some remains of the building, constructed by mud-bricks, were found during the excavations of the monument Saritapa in Qazakh in 1958. A brief article, dealing with these finds and published by an archeologist Ideal Narimanov in the magazine “Советская археология”1 in Moscow, attracted the attention of the most researchers. Such bases of the columns of a building were found only in Persopolis, one of the central towns of the Achaemenids in Iran.
The construction remains, found in Saritapa, have proved the information of the Greek historian of the 5th century BC Herodotus, who insisted on the fact that the Southern Caucasus had been a part of the Achaemenid Empire.
The Achaemenid state was established in 550 BC. Kurus II (Cyrus in Greek sources), who was from Achaemenid dynasty and the ruler of Persia, a part of the state of Medes at that time, overthrew the last Median king Astyages and established the Achaemenid state. Having occupied other states, the first kings of that state Cyrus II (550-530 BC), his son Cambyses II (530-523 BC) and Darius I (522-486 BC) created an extraordinarily huge for that time empire. According to Herodotus, the boundaries of that empire reached the Great Caucasian range in the North (Her. III, 97).
Except the territory of former Medes, the Achaemenid Empire covered the huge area from the North-East of Africa (including Egypt) on the West up to the valley of the Indus River in India on the East, from the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean on the South up to the Great Caucasus mountains on the North.
The Achaemenid culture was a combined form of the cultures of all the peoples, who lived on that great territory at that time. Herodotus names about 70 peoples.
The researches show that the Southern Caucasus, especially its south-eastern part, where Azerbaijan Republic is nowadays situated, was a part of Medes2 long before the Achaemenids, in the VII century BC. Having moved to the South through the passage, situated between the Caucasian mountains and the Caspian Sea (Darband passage), the northern nomads the Skyths established their state on the south-eastern Caucasus and ruled here about 80 years3. At the beginning of the VI century BC the king of Medes Cyaxares drove the Skyths out and reestablished the former power of the state of Medes (Her. I, 106). Consequently, the Southern Caucasus became the Achaemenids’ territory by inheritance.
Along with these historical events before the excavations in Saritapa, the manufacture of toreutics (artistic metalworking), seals (mostly found in Mingachevir), and the ceramic materials, which are very characteristic to the Achaemenid culture, were repeatedly found in the territory of the southern Caucasus. But before the finds of the constructive remains it was considered that the rule of the Achaemenids in the south Caucasus was symbolic4.
In the 90s of the last century carrying out excavations in Gumbati in Eastern Georgia, the joint Georgian-German archeological expedition found out the remains of the building, erected by mud-bricks with 5 column bases of Persopolis and Saritapa type5.
The above mentioned column base, found next to the Garajamirli settlement of Shamkir region, showed that there were also the remains of a large building of Achaemenid time. However, it was impossible to start the excavations due to the lack of financial capability. In 2000 I took part in the conference, held in Tbilisi on “The Caucasian Iberia and Its Neigbours during Achaemenid and Post Achaemenid Time”, met with the professor of Halle University of Germany Andrey Furtwangler, who carried out the excavations in Gumbati, and the director of the Archeological centre of Georgia, the academician of the Academy of Sciences of Georgia Otar Lordkipanidze, and offered them to create a joint expedition to carry out the archeological excavations in Garajamirli. The representative of the Munich museum, doctor Florian Knauss, who took part in the Gumbati excavations, the representative of Halle University Gundula Mechnert and the representative of the National Museum of History of Georgia, Professor Yulon Gagoshidze come to Baku in 2001 in order to get acquainted with the Achaemenid time monuments, found in Azerbaijan. They got acquainted with the Achaemenid time materials of Saritapa excavations in the National Museum of History of Azerbaijan. The author of these words, professor Ideal Narimanov, who carried out excavations in Saritapa, went to Shamkir with his colleagues from Germany and Georgia and got acquainted with the column base in Garajamirli and the place, where it was found. The place, where the column base was found, has been fully smoothed out. However, according to the found fragments of Achaemenid time ceramics and some other signs it has become clear that some remains of the constructed building would have been able to be found if the excavations were carried out.
The great scientific significance of carrying out archeological excavations here was out of any question. However, it was in need of financial aid. We didn’t have enough financial capability for that. The German archeologists promised to find financial means we needed for the carrying out the mentioned excavations.
Afterwards, with the initiative of the representative of Munich museum Florian Knauss “Gerda Henkel Foundation” agreed to finance our expedition. Finally, on July 30, 2006, under the general leadership of the author of this information Ilyas Babayev the expedition started excavations in Garajamirli. The expedition worked every year up to 2012.
During all these period of time the German group of the archeologists went on working under the guide of Florian Knauss. Georgia was represented by the research worker of the National Museum of History of Georgia Yulon Gagoshidze.
Several columns bases, many pieces of them, fragments of the ceramic vessels of Achaemenid time were discovered in the ditch for water supply from the artesian well near a small hill on the first day of the expedition. These finds were the evidence of the remains of a palace type building here.
An excavation site was set on this hill. The hill was named Idealtapa after the lately passed away archeologist Ideal Narimanov, who carried out the excavations in Saritapa and who for the first time in the Caucasus discovered the remains of the building of Achaemenid time.
It has become clear that Idealtapa was situated 220m to the North from the place, where the column base of Achaemenid time was found at the beginning of the 80s. Alongside with the excavations, the expedition examined the surrounds and found out that there had been the construction remains of Achaemenid time in the area of about some km2.
It has become clear that the largest place of Achaemenid time, known in the South Caucasus up to now, is situated near the settlement of Garajamirli. Probably, the main administrative centre of the Achaemenids in this region (the satrap residence) was located here.
Under the sponsorship of “Gerda Henkel Foundation” the international archeological expedition has been carrying out excavations in Garajamirli for 6 years (2006-2011).
The expedition has defined that there was a propleus of a more significant palace type building, situated more than 200m to the West from that place.
The 22x23m propleus has got a porch with 2 columns on the eastern side, a hall with 4 columns, and another porch on the western side with 4 columns too, surrounded by other rooms on the southern and northern sides. The 1m wide walls led to the North and to the South from the porch, and they comprised a total fence of the palace complex (Pic. 1-2).

The total area of the hill, where the palace remains are situated, is about a hectare. According to the excavations, carried out here in 2008-2011, it has been determined that there are the remains of a really very great palace on this hill, named Garbantapa. Only a little part of the palace has been discovered and a general shape of the building, situated here, has been determined so far. This building is approximately 63m (East-West) x80m (North-South), while its total area is 5040m2. The walls, erected by mud-bricks, were saved for 1.6m high in the central part. The building had large halls, long corridors and a porch from the eastern side. Two types of the monolithic bases were made in the halls and the porch (Pic. 4, 5).

The bell shaped bases, the sides of which were decorated like drooping palm branches, have been discovered only in two halls so far (Pic. 6).

Such kinds of bases were used at the beginning of the V century BC while building the palace of Darius I and Xerxes in Persepolis. The rectangular stair-step bases with round pillow shaped shelf above it were placed in the porch and other halls (Pic. 7).

Such kinds of bases were used while building the palace of Cyrus II (Persian Kurus), the establisher of the Achaemenid Empire, in Pasargadae.
The porch is 8m wide and 25m long. 12 column bases were placed there; and a large hall for audience with dimension of 25x27m and total area of 675m2 was situated behind the porch. Only a little part of the porch has been cleared up so far.
A hall with 4 bell shaped bases of columns has been fully uncovered in the western part of the palace. The total area of this hall is 121.8m2. Other halls area attached to it from the North and the South. The doors of the rooms were fixed in the stone step bearings with a round hole in the centre.
The marks of the bad fire, charred parts of the wooden roofing remained in some halls. Only a few parts of the palace complex have been cleared up.
1km to the South-East from that hill, named by us Rizvantapa the expedition has discovered the remains of the other great enough building of the Achaemenid time. These building used to have large and relatively small rooms. There was a three-step stone stairs. The expedition was carrying out excavations at about 1km far from Gurbantapa at Darayatagi, and found out some constructive and other remains of the material culture.
Various ceramic vessels of Achaemenid time dominate among the finds (Pic. 8).

The remains of palace constructions of a size like that haven’t been discovered up to now behind the borders of the capital cities of the Achaemenids, situated in the territory of Iran.
Therefore, it is supposed that the administrative centre of the Achaemenids in the Southern Caucasus (the satrap residence) was located nearby the Garajamirli settlement.
The power of the Achaemenid Empire came to an end in 330 BC due to the eastern attacks of Alexander the Great. Possibly at that time the administrative centre we study lost its significance and ceased the existence. The new independent state of Caucasian Albania with its capital in Gabala appeared after this event in the territory of North Azerbaijan.
Our international expedition carried out excavations in 2006-2011 under the sponsorship of “Gerda Henkel Foundation” and was supported by the local authorities and public organizations of Shamkir region.
The head of the Shamkir region Nazim Veysov repeatedly visited our excavation sites and offered his help. Our excavation sites have been visited by the extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassadors of Federal Republic of Germany Per Stankina and Herbert Quelle.
In 2011 our excavation sites were visited by the First Vice President of the National Academy of Sciences Arif Hashimov, with the presence of whose there was also held a scientific conference in the region. The results of our expedition have been enlightened in many articles, published in Azeri, English, German and Russian, in the reports at international conferences, TV programes and current press.
Unfortunately, in 2012 the German side couldn’t assign financial means for our expedition, so no excavation has been carried out this year.
However, it is necessary to continue the excavations of the palace, which is 2500 years old.
These excavations are scientifically very significant not only for the studies of the ancient history of Azerbaijan but also the whole Caucasus, Near East and Middle East.
1. Нариманов И.Г. Находки баз колонн V-IV вв. до н.э. в Азербайджане // СА, 1960, №4, с. 162-164.
2. Бабаев И. О времени установления Мидийско-Ахеменидского господства на Южном Кавказе и отражении его на памятниках материальной культуры этого регион. // В кн.: Международная научная конференция. «Археология (IV) и этнология (III) Кавказа». Тбилиси, 2002, с. 43-44.
3. Хазанов А.М. Социальная история скифов. Москва, 1975, с. 220.
4. Левиатов В.Н. Азербайджан с V века до н.э. по III в.н.э. // ИАН Аз ССР, 1950, №1, с. 68; Тревер К.В. Очерки по истории и культуре Кавказской Албании IV в. до н.э.-VII в.н.э. Москва-Ленинград, 1959, с. 50
5. Furtwangler A, Knauss F. Gumbati Archaologisсhe Expedition in Kachetian. 1995, Eurasia Antigua. 2, 1996. s. 363-391.

Ilyas Babayev



The list of the published articles, dealing with the archeological excavations of Shamkir-Garajamirli expedition

1. İ .Babayev: Şəmkir rayonunun Qaracəmirli kəndində Beynəlxalq Azərbaycan-Almaniya-Gürcüstan arxeoloji ekspedisiyasının 2006-2007-ci illərdə qazıntıları haqqında. // AMEA Arxeologiya və Etnoqrafiya İnstitutu. 2006-2007-ci illərdə Azərbaycanda arxeoloji və etnoqrafik tədqiqatların yekunları. A.A.Abbasovun 70-illik yubileynə həsr olunan elmi konfransın materialları. Bakı, 2007, s. 70-72.
2. İ.Babayev, F.Knauss, Y.Qaqoşidze. Azərbaycan-Almaniya-Gürcüstan Beynəlxalq arxeoloji ekspedisiyasının Şəmkir rayonunun Qaracəmirli kəndində 2006-2007-ci illərdə apardığı arxeoloji qazıntıların ilkin nəticələri // Şəmkirin arxeoloji irsi, tarixi və memarlığı. Bakı, 2007, s. 10-30.
3. İ.Babayev, F.Knauss, Y.Qaqoşidze. Ein Perserbau in Azerbaydzan. Ausqrabung auf dem Ideal Tepe bei Karacamirli. 2006. // Archaologishe Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan. Band 38. Berlin, 2006, s. 291-330.
4. İ.Babayev, F.Knauss, Y.Qaqoşidze. An Achaemenid “Palace” at Qarajamirli (Azerbayijan). Preliminary Report on the Excavations in 2006. // Achamenid Culture Traditions in Anatolia, Southern Caucasus and Iran. New Discoveries. Edit by Askold Ivanchik and Vakhtang Licheli, Brill, Leiden, Boston. 2007. p. 31-45.
5. И.Бабаев, Ю.Гагошидзе, Ф. Кнаусс. Раскопки памятника Ахеменидского времени вблизи селения Гараджамирли Шамкирского района Азербайджана. Первые итоги и перспективы.// Кавказ. Археология и этнология. Международная научная конференция. 11-12 сентября 2008 г. Азербайджан, Шамкир, Баку, 2009, с. 192-196.
6. İ.Babayev, F.Knauss, Y.Qaqoşidze. A Persian Propylaeum in Azerbaijan. Excavations at Karacamirli. .// Кавказ. Археология и этнология. Международная научная конференция. 11-12 сентября 2008 г. Азербайджан, Шамкир, Баку, 2009, с. 196-201.
7. İ.Babayev, F.Knauss, Y.Qaqoşidze. Azərbaycan-Almaniya-Gürcüstan Beynəlxalq Şəmkir-Qaracəmirli arxeoloji ekspedisiyasının çöl-tədqiqat işləri haqqında. // Azərbaycanda arxeoloji tədqiqatlar. Bakı, 2008, s. 136-139
8. İ.Babayev, F.Knauss, Y.Qaqoşidze. Excavations in the Achaemenid Palatial Complex near the village Karacamirli in the Shamkir region. Азербайджан страна, связывающая Восток и Запад. Обмен знаниями и технологиями в период «Первой глобализации». Симпозиум. Баку, 1-3 апреля 2009 г. с. 88-89.
9. Раскопки дворцовых зданий ахеменидского времени вблизи селения Гараджамирли Шамкирского района. Там же. с. 92-95.
10. F.Knauss, I.Babayev, C.Eminli. Ausqrabungen bei Karacamirli 2006-2007. // ZAKAS-Zenutrm fur Archaologie und kulturgschichte des Schwarzmeeuraumes. Archaelogia Cirkumpontika. Heft 5, 2009, Halle. s. 4-9.
11. İ.Babayev, F.Knauss, C.Eminli, E.İsgəndərov. Beynəlxalq Şəmkir Qaracəmirli arxeoloji ekspedisiyasının 2009-cu ildə qazıntıları haqqında. // Azərbaycanda arxeoloji tədqiqatlar. 2009. Bakı, 2012, s. 294-298.
12. И.Бабаев, Ю.Гагошидзе, Ф.Кнаусс. Ахемениды на Кавказе. // Материалы II Международного Конгресса Кавказоведов. Тбилиси, 2010, s. 38-381.
13. Florian Knauss, Yulon Gagoshidze. Ilyas Babayev. A Persian Proplaеum in Azerbaijan. Excavations at Karacamirli. // Axemenid Impakt in the Black Sea. Communucation of Powers. Danimarka Aarhus University Press-2010. p. 111-122.
14. Ilyas Babayev, Gundula Mehnert und Florian Knauss. Die axaimenidische Rezidenz auf dem Gurban Tepe. Ausqrabungen bei Karacamirli 3. Vorbericht. // AMIT. Archaologishe Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan. Band 41, Berlin, 2009. s. 283-321.
15. İlyas.Babayev, Yulon.Qaqoşidze, Florian.Knauss. Qaracəmirli kəndində Əhəmənilər dövrü tikintiləri. // «Azərbaycan arxeologiyası». 2009, №2, s. 58-71.
16. И.Бабаев, Ю.Гагошидзе, Ф.Кнаусс. Некоторые итоги и перспективы раскопок дворцовых зданий середины I тыс. до н.э. в Гараджамирли (Азербайджан) // Материалы конференции в Шамкире. Античные и средневековые города. Баку, 2012. с. 110-121.
17. İ.Babayev, F.Knauss. Die achaimenidsche Rezidenz bei Karacamirli. Ausqrabungen auf dem Gurban Tepe und auf dem Rizvan Tepe. // AMIT, Band 42, Berlin, 2010, s. 237-266.
18. İ.Babayev, Y.Qaqoşidze, F.Knauss. Qaracəmirlidə Beynəlxalq arxeoloji ekspedisiyasının araşdırmalarının beşinci ilinin ümumi nəticələri. // Azərbaycanda arxeoloji tədqiqatlar. Bakı, 2011, s. 448-453.
19. Ильяс Бабаев. Юго-восточный Кавказ в Мидийско-ахеменидское время. // Место и роль Кавказской Албании в истории Азербайджана и Кавказа. Баку, 2012, с. 76-84.
20. И.Бабаев, Ю.Гагошидзе, Ф.Кнаусс. Ахеменидский админстративный центр (сатрапская резиденция) на Южном Кавказе. // Azərbaycanın qədim şəhər mədəniyyəti dünya urbanizasiya kontekstində. Beynəlxalq elmi konfransın tezisləri. Bakı, 2012. s. 17-19.