Mkhitar Gosh's Colophon


The Aghuanian Chronicle

Translator's Preface

[i] Mkhitar (Mxit'ar) Gosh was a major intellectual figure in Armenian life of the late 12th and early 13th centuries. At the time of his death in 1213, he had authored more than a dozen works, including the codification of Armenian law (the Armenian Law Book), the Fables, a number of prayers, sermons and theological works, and the short chronicle translated below; he twice had received the title of doctor of the Church (vardapet); had served as confidant and advisor to many of the most important Armenian princes of the day; and as a teacher had inspired a generation of students, many of whom became prominent theologians and historians of 13th century Armenia. Biographical information about Gosh is found in the History of the Armenians written by Kirakos of Gandzak (d. 1270/71) [chapters 4-5, 13-14 , and 15-16], and in the colophon or postscript to Mkhitar's own Law Book. A discussion of Gosh's life and times is available on another page of this website (see the Translator's Preface to Gosh's Fables). An excellent and accessible study of Gosh may be found in the Introduction to Robert W. Thomson's The Lawcode [Datastanagirk'] of Mxit'ar Gosh (Amsterdam-Atlanta,GA, 2000).

Gosh's Colophon is appended to only one of the suviving manuscripts of the Law Book, MS No. 1237, which is housed at the Mxit'arist Library in Venice. The classical Armenian text was published by the philologist Ghewond Alishan on pp. 338-353 of his Hayapatum (Venice, 1901). The same text is currently available online as part of the Armenian Classical Digital Library Project, where it appears as Appendix B to Movse's Kaghankatuats'i [Dasxurants'i]'s 10th-11th century History of the Aghuans (Armenian fonts required). This is the text translated below. An earlier English translation, made by C. J. F. Dowsett, entitled "The Albanian Chronicle of Mxit'ar Gosh", appeared in the journal Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 21(1958) pp. 472-490. Dowsett's translation contains a brief introduction and valuable notes which identify individuals and places mentioned in the text. As Dowsett observed, though several Muslim sources (such as Ibn al-Athir, al-Isfahani, and Qazvini) briefly mention some of the same events described in the Colophon, Gosh's information is unique in its detail.

[ii] Gosh begins the Colophon by noting that the list of patriarchs or kat'oghikoi of the Aghuan Church found in Dasxurants'i's History is not complete, and that he wanted to bring it down to his own period. It was his hope that future historians would continue this tradition. Indeed, one such future author was Kirakos Gandzakets'i who provided an extended list of the Aghuan kat'oghikoi in chapter 10 of his own History. The land of the Aghuans (also Ar'an, Aghuania, Aghbania, Caucasian Albania) comprised parts of modern Dagestan and Azerbaijan, Armenia's eastern neighbor. Iranian and Armenian political and religio-cultural influence was particularly strong here in the ancient and medieval periods, as may be seen from the archaeological record and from primary historical sources from the fifth century on, including Dasxurants'i's History and Gosh's Colophon. [For an English translation of Dasxurants'i's History see The History of the Caucasian Albanians by Movses Dasxuranc'i translated by C. J. F. Dowsett (London, 1961).] Following the list of kat'oghikoi, Gosh describes events occurring in Aghuania from 1130 to 1162. This description includes information about Saljuq rulers such as Qara-Sonqur, Chavli, Fakhr al-Din, Rawwadi, Chaghri-Shah, and Ildegiz, not met with elsewhere. Gosh's account terminates abruptly with the events of 1162.

The best secondary source on the period covered in Gosh's Colophon remains V. Minorsky's Studies in Caucasian History (London, 1953). The maps, text, and bibliography in Robert H. Hewsen's Armenia, A Historical Atlas (Chicago, 2001) also are valuable.

The transliteration employed here is a modification of the Library of Congress system, substituting x for the LOC's kh, for the thirteenth character of the Armenian alphabet. Otherwise we follow the new LOC system for Armenian, which eliminates diacritical marks above or below a character and substitutes the single or double quotation mark to the character's right. In the LOC romanization, the seventh character of the alphabet appears as e', the eighth as e", the twenty-eighth as r', and the thirty-eighth, as o'.

Robert Bedrosian
Long Branch, New Jersey 2007

The following chronological tables may be useful as accompaniments to the translation. The tables open in separate windows, for persistence. When opened, use ALT-TAB to toggle back to this page or to other documents. Additional tables are available on another page of this site: Chronological Tables. Maps are available on our Maps Page.

Rulers of Armenia and of Eastern and Western Empires
Kat'oghikoi and Corresponding Secular Rulers of the Armenians
Rulers of Armenia and Iberia/Georgia

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