Origin of the Azerbaijanis

Origin of the Azerbaijanis

The Azerbaijanis are a Oghuz Turkic language people of the South Caucasus. Their ethnogenesis dates to the High Middle Ages, notably by assimilation of the Iranian inhabitants of the area.The modern Azerbaijani people are descendants of various ethnic groups that contributed to their ethnogesis. [ "the Azerbaijanis are of mixed ethnic origin" [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9011540?query=azeri&ct=eb "Azerbaijani"] - "Encyclopedia Britannica"]

Caucasian substrate

The Caucasian origin of the Azerbaijanis defines a link between Azerbaijanis and their pre-Turkification Caucasian past and mostly applies to the Azeri's of the Caucasus, most of whom are now inhabitants of the Republic of Azerbaijan. There is evidence that, despite repeated invasions and migrations, aboriginal Caucasians may have been culturally assimilated, first by Iranians, such as the Alans, and later by the Oghuz. Considerable information has been learned about the Caucasian Albanians including their language, history, early conversion to Christianity, and close ties to the Armenians. Many academics believe that the Udi language, still spoken in Azerbaijan, is a remnant of the Albanians' language. [http://www.lrz-muenchen.de/~wschulze/Udigen1.htm "The Udi Language"] , "University of Munich", Wolfgang Schulze 2001/2 (retrieved 19 June 2006).] Rare Caucasus Albanian Text]

This Caucasian influence extended further south into Iranian Azarbaijan. During the 1st millennium BCE, another Caucasian people, the Mannaeans ("Mannai") populated much of Iranian Azarbaijan. Weakened by conflicts with the Assyrians, the Mannaeans are believed to have been conquered and assimilated by the Medes by 590 BCE. [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9050573 "Mannai"] , "Encyclopedia Britannica" (retrieved 19 June 2006).]

Historical accounts

Ancient historians, including Herodotus, Polybius and Strabo, mention the Caucasus region as a mixed one, with Iranian and non-Iranian groups, such as the "Utii", a Caucasian group that still exists in Azerbaijan.Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume V18, Page 22)]

Strabo states:

Genetic testing

Although genetic testing proves the Turkification of the region rather than the Azeris being descendants of migrants from Central Asia, it also shows that the region is a mixed one. Though the population of Azerbaijan is culturally diverse, genetic testing has revealed common genetic markers that support an autochthonous background for most Azeris. A 2003 study found that: "Y-chromosome haplogroups indicate that Indo-European-speaking Armenians and Turkic-speaking Azerbaijanians from the republic are genetically more closely related to their geographic neighbors in the Caucasus than to their linguistic neighbors elsewhere."Ibid.] The authors of this study suggest that this indicates a language replacement of indigenous Caucasian peoples. There is evidence of limited genetic admixture derived from Central Asians (specifically Haplogroup H12), notably the Turkmen, that is higher than that of their neighbors, the Georgians and Armenians. [http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/AJHG/journal/issues/v71n3/023927/023927.html A Genetic Landscape Reshaped by Recent Events: Y-Chromosomal Insights into Central Asia] — American Journal of Human Genetics, 71:466-482, 2002 (retrieved 09 June 2006)] MtDNA analysis indicates that the main relationship with Iranians is through a larger West Eurasian group that is secondary to that of the Caucasus, according to a study that did not include Azeris, but Georgians who have clustered with Azeris in other studies. [http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/AJHG/journal/issues/v74n5/40813/40813.html Where West Meets East: The Complex mtDNA Landscape of the Southwest and Central Asian Corridor] — American Journal of Human Genetics, 74:827-845, 2004 (retrieved 09 June 2006)] The conclusion from the testing shows that the Azeris of the republic are a mixed population with relationships, in order of greatest similarity, with the Caucasus, Iranians and Near Easterners, Europeans, and Turkmen. Other genetic analysis of mtDNA and Y-chromosomes indicates that Caucasian populations are genetically intermediate between Europeans and Near Easterners, but that they are more closely related to Near Easterners overall.Ibid.]
Another study, conducted in 2003 by the "Russian Journal of Genetics", compared Iranian-language speakers of Azerbaijan republic (the Talysh and Tats) with Turkic Azerbaijanis of that republic and found that, the genetic structure of that populations, compared with the other Iranian-speaking populations (Persians and Kurds from Iran, Ossetins, and Tajiks),were more close to Turkic-language Azerbaijanis of republic, than to Iranian-speaking populations inhabiting other world regions. [http://www.ingentaconnect.com/search/article?title=azerbaijanis+in+iran&title_type=tka&year_from=1998&year_to=2005&database=1&pageSize=20&index=2 Genetic Structure of Iranian-Speaking Populations from Azerbaijan Inferred from the Frequencies of Immunological and Biochemical Gene Markers] — Russian Journal of Genetics, Volume 39, Number 11, November 2003, pp. 1334-1342(9) (retrieved 09 June 2006)]

Whether originally Iranian or Caucasian, it is relatively certain and accepted by most scholars that Azeris are not descendants of Turkic tribes, although they have certainly been affected by them.Request quotation|date=February 2008"The New Encyclopedia Britannica" (2002). Page 756, ISBN 0-85229-787-4 (retrieved 17 Feb. 2007).] "Grand Dictionnaire Encyclopédique Larousse" (1982). Page 921, ISBN 2-03-102301-2 (retrieved 17 Feb. 2007).] Failed verification|date=February 2008 "The World Book Encyclopedia" (2003). Page 997, ISBN 0-7166-0103-6 (retrieved 17 Feb. 2007).] "Azeris", "Encyclopedia Americana", volume 1. Grolier Inc., New York (1998) ISBN 0-7172-0130-9 (retrieved 18 Feb 2006).]

Genetic testing has also revealed Iranian Azeris to group more with other Iranian peoples [http://www.isna.ir/Main/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-727489&Lang=P "Cambridge Genetic Study of Iran"] , "ISNA (Iranian Students News Agency)", 06-12-2006, news-code: 8503-06068 (retrieved 9 June 2006).] while Azeris from the Republic of Azerbaijan group more with Caucasian peoples.

Iranian substrate

The Iranian origin of the Azerbaijanis defines a link between present-day Azerbaijanis and their pre-Turkification Iranian past and mostly applies to Iranian Azeris. It is supported by historical accounts, by the existence of the Old Azari language, present day place names, cultural similarities between Iranian peoples and Azerbaijanis, and archaeological and ethnical evidence. It is also favored by notable scholars and sources, such as Vladimir Minorsky, Richard Frye, Xavier De Planhol, Encyclopaedia of Islam, Encyclopaedia Iranica, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Grand Dictionnaire Encyclopedique Larousse, and World Book Encyclopedia.

Historical accounts and the ancient Azari language

According to Vladimir Minorsky, around the 9th-10th century:

Professor. Ighrar Aliyev also mentions that the Arab historians Baladhuri, Masudi, Ibn Hawqal and Yaqut have mentioned this language by name. [Professor Ighrar Aliyev. The History of Aturpatakan. Persian Translation by Dr. Shaadman Yusuf. Balkh Publishers. Tehran. 1999.] Medieval historians and scholars also record that the language of the region of Azerbaijan, as well as its people there, as Iranians who spoke Iranian languages. Among these writes are Al-Istakhri, Al-Masudi, Ibn al-Nadim, Hamzeh Esfahani, Ibn Hawqal, Al-Baladhuri, Moqaddasi, Yaghubi, Hamdallah Mostowfi, and Al-Khwarizmi. [ [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v3f3/v3f2a88b.html "Azari: The Iranian Language of Azerbaijan" in Encyclopedia Iranica by E. Yarshater] ]

Ebn al-Moqaffa’ (d. 142/759) is quoted by ibn Al-Nadim in his famous Al-Fihrist as stating that Azerbaijan, Nahavand, Rayy, Hamadan and Esfahan speak Pahlavi (Fahlavi) and collectively constitute the region of Fahlah. [ Ibn Nadeem, “Fihrist”, Translated by Reza Tajaddod, Ibn Sina publishers, 1967. ابن نديم در الفهرست مي‌نويسد:(= اما فهلوي منسوب است به فهله كه نام نهاده شده است بر پنج شهر: اصفهان و ري و همدان و ماه نهاوند و آذربايجان. و دري لغت شهرهاي مداين است و درباريان پادشاه بدان زبان سخن مي‌گفتند و منسوب است به مردم دربار و لغت اهل خراسان و مشرق و لغت مردم بلخ بر آن زبان غالب است. اما فارسي كلامي است كه موبدان و علما و مانند ايشان بدان سخن گويند و آن زبان مردم اهل فارس باشد. اما خوزي زباني است كه ملوك و اشراف در خلوت و مواضع لعب و لذت با نديمان و حاشيت خود گفت‌وگو كنند. اما سرياني آن است كه مردم سواد بدان سخن رانند).ابن ندیم، محمد بن اسحاق: «فهرست»، ترجمه‌ي رضا تجدد، انتشارات ابن سینا، 1346Original Arabic. Ibn Nadeem, Al-Fihrist. www.alwaraq.com accessed in September, 2007.فأما الفهلوية فمنسوب إلى فهله اسم يقع على خمسة بلدان وهي أصفهان والري وهمدان وماه نهاوند وأذربيجان وأما الدرية فلغة مدن المدائن وبها كان يتكلم من بباب الملك وهي منسوبة إلى حاضرة الباب والغالب عليها من لغة أهل خراسان والمشرق و اللغة أهل بلخ وأما الفارسية فتكلم بها الموابدة والعلماء وأشباههم وهي لغة أهل فارس وأما الخوزية فبها كان يتكلم الملوك والأشراف في الخلوة ومواضع اللعب واللذة ومع الحاشية وأما السريانية فكان يتكلم بها أهل السواد والمكاتبة في نوع من اللغة بالسرياني فارسي ]

A very similar statement is given by the medieval historian Hamzeh Isfahani when talking about Sassanid Iran. Hamzeh Isfahani writes in the book Al-Tanbih ‘ala Hoduth alTashif that five “tongues” or dialects, were common in Sassanian Iran: Pahlavi (Fahlavi), Dari, Parsi (Farsi), Khuzi and Soryani. Hamzeh (893-961 A.D.) explains these dialects in the following way:cquote|Pahlavi (Fahlavi) was a dialect which kings spoke in their assemblies and it is related to Fahleh. This name is used to designate five cities of Iran, Esfahan, Rey, Hamadan, Man Nahavand, and Azerbaijan. Parsi (Farsi) is a dialect which was spoken by the clergy (Zoroastrian) and those who associated with them and is the language of the cities of Pars (Fars). Dari is the dialect of the cities of Ctesiphon and was spoken in the kings' /dabariyan/ 'courts'. The root of its name is related to its use; /darbar/ 'court* is implied in /dar/. The vocabulary of the natives of Balkh was dominant in this language, which includes the dialects of the eastern peoples. Khuzi is associated with the cities of Khuzistan where kings and dignitaries used it in private conversation and during leisure time, in the bath houses for instance. [(Mehdi Marashi, Mohammad Ali Jazayery, Persian Studies in North America: Studies in Honor of Mohammad Ali Jazayery, Ibex Publishers, Inc, 1994. pg 255)]

Ibn Hawqal states:

It should be noted that Ibn Hawqal mentions that some areas of Armenia are controlled by Muslims and others by Christians. [Ibn Howqal,Surat al-ardh. Translation and comments by: J. Shoar, Amir Kabir Publishers, Iran. 1981."ارمنیه دو قسمت است: داخلی و خارجی. در ارمنیه ی خارجی شهرهایی از آن مسلمانان و به دست آنان است و خود مسلمانان فرمانروای آنجا هستند و دست ارامنه از دست آن قطع گردیده است و به کلی تحت حکومت پادشاهان اسلامی است: از جمله این شهرها ارجیش، منازجرد و خلاط است. و حدود ارمنیه خارجی معین است یعنی از مشرق به بردعه و از مغرب به جزیره و از جنوب به آذربایجان و از شما به نواحی روم در سمت قالیقالا محدود است]

Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn al-Husayn Al-Masudi (896-956), the Arab historian states:

Al-Moqaddasi (d. late 4th/10th cent.) considers Azerbaijan as part of the 8th division of lands. He states: “The languages of the 8th division is Iranian (al-‘ajamyya). It is partly partly Dari and partly convoluted (monqaleq) and all of them are named Persian”. [Al-Moqaddasi, Shams ad-Din Abu Abdallah Muhammad ibn Ahmad, Ahsan al-Taqasi fi Ma’rifa al-Aqalim, Translated by Ali Naqi Vaziri, Volume one, First Edition, Mu’alifan and Mutarjiman Publishers, Iran, 1981, pg 377المقدسي، شمس‌الدين ابوعبدالله محمدبن احمد، احسن التقاسيم في معرفه الاقاليم، ترجمه دكتر علينقي وزيري، جلد 1، چاپ اول، انتشارات مؤلفان و مترجمان ايران، 1361، ص 377.]

Al-Moqaddasi also writes on the general region of Armenia, Arran and Azerbaijan and states:

Ahmad ibn Yaqubi mentions that the “People of Azerbaijan are a mixture of ‘Ajam-i Azari (Ajam is a term that developed to mean Iranian) of Azaris and old Javedanis (followers of Javidan the son of Shahrak who was the leader of Khurramites and successed by Babak Khorramdin).“ [(Tārīkh-i Yaqūbī / talīf-i Aḥmad ibn Abī Yaqūbi ; tarjamah-i Muḥammad Ibrahim Ayati, Intirisharat Bungah-I Tarjamah va Nashr-I Kitab, 1969.]

Zakarrya b. Moháammad Qazvini's report in Athar al-Bilad, composed in 674/1275, that “no town has escaped being taken over by the Turks except Tabriz” (Beirut ed., 1960, p. 339) one may infer that at least Tabriz had remained aloof from the influence of Turkish until the time. [ [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v3f3/v3f2a88b.html "Azari: The Iranian Language of Azerbaijan"] (Encyclopedia Iranica by E. Yarshater)]

From the time of the Mongol invasion, most of whose armies were composed of Turkic tribes, the influence of Turkish increased in the region. On ther hand, the old Iranian dialects remained prevalent in major cities. Hamdallah Mostawafi writing in the 1340s calls the language of Maraqa as “modified Pahlavi”(Pahlavi-ye Mughayyar). Mostowafi calls the language of Zanjan (Pahlavi-ye Raast). The language of Gushtaspi covering the Caspian border region between Gilan to Shirvan is called a Pahlavi language close to the language of Gilan. [«مستوفي، حمدالله: «نزهةالقلوب، به كوشش محمد دبيرسياقي، انتشارات طهوري، 1336Mostawafi, Hamdallah. Nozhat al-Qolub. Edit by Muhammad Dabir Sayyaqi. Tahuri publishers, 1957.]

Even after the Turkic invasions and subsequent Turkification of the area, which lasted several centuries, travelers and scholars cited Persian being used up to the 17th century in Tabriz. Even the Ottoman Turkish explorer Evliya Çelebi (1611–1682) mentions this in his Seyahatname. He also reports that the elite and learned people of Nakhichevan and Maragheh spoke Pahlavi, during his tours of the region. Additionally, the old Pahlavi based language of Azerbaijan is now extinct.

Also, the Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary, published in 1890, writes that Azeri's are only linguistically Turkic and Iranians by race:

The book "Man", published in 1901, comes to the same conclusion:

Modern Opinions

Professor Richard Frye also states:

Moreover, according to Grand Dictionnaire Encyclopedique Larousse:

According to Professor Vladimir Minorsky:

According to Professor Xavier De Planhol:and

Prof. Gernot Windfuhr states:

According to Professor. Tadeusz Swietochowski:cquote|According to the most widely accepted etymology, the name "Azerbaijan" is derived from Atropates, the name of a Persian satrap of the late fourth century b.c. Another theory traces the origin of the name to the Persian word azar ("fire"') - hence Azerbaijan, "the Land of Fire", because of Zoroastrian temples, with their fires fueled by plentiful supplies of oil.Azerbaijan maintained its national character after its conquest by the Arabs in the mid-seventh century a.d. and its subsequent conversion to Islam. At this time it became a province in the early Muslim empire. Only in the 11th century, when Oghuz Turkic tribes under the Seljuk dynasty entered the country, did Azerbaijan acquire a significant number of Turkic inhabitants. The original Persian population became fused with the Turks, and gradually the Persian language was supplanted by a Turkic dialect that evolved into the distinct Azerbaijani language. The process of Turkification was long and complex, sustained by successive waves of incoming nomads from Central Asia. [Azerbaijan:Historical Background Vol. 3, Colliers Encyclopedia CD-ROM, 02-28-1996] The Encyclopedia Britannica States:

Place names, culture, and archaeological evidence

Many place names in present day Azerbaijan and Iranian Azarbaijan have Persian roots. Tabriz, Baku, Absheron, Ganja, and the country (as well as people) name itself Azerbaijan, are just a few examples. It should also be noted that many of the cities in these regions were founded before Turkic tribes ever reached the area. The first mention of Baku was in 885, before the Turkic invasions of the 10th and 11th centuries.

Archaeological evidence discovered in these regions show a large Zoroastrian, a monotheistic Iranian religion, influence along with an Iranian presence of more than 3000 years, starting with the settlement of the Medes in the area, both of which shaped the Iranian identity of the region that lasted until the Turkic invasions. [http://www.iras.ucalgary.ca/~volk/sylvia/FireTemple.htm "Various Fire-Temples"] - "University of Calgary" (retrieved 08 June 2006).] However, no evidence has been discovered that the Huns ever created permanent settlements in the area, as some Turkish historians claim. pp. 385-386]

Scholars see cultural similarities between modern Persians and Azeris as evidence of an ancient Iranian influence. [http://www.bartleby.com/65/az/Azerbaij.html "Azerbaijan"] - "Columbia Encyclopedia" (retrieved 08 June 2006).] Azeri's celebrate a number of Iranian holidays, most notably Norouz. Researchers also describe the lives of Azeri villagers and Persian villagers to be very similar in terms of tradition and culture. The literature of the region was also written in Persian, with writers such as Qatran Tabrizi, Shams Tabrizi, Nezami, and Khaghani, writing in Persian prior to and during the Oghuz invasions.

Also, remnants of former Iranian tribes that survived Turkification also provides evidence of the Iranian character of Azeri's. The Talyshs and Tats are both an Iranian people who speak Iranian languages, with Tats speaking a dialect of Persian. [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=tly "Report for Talysh"] — "Ethnologue" (retrieved 08 June 2006).] [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=ttt "Report for Tats"] — "Ethnologue" (retrieved 08 June 2006).]

Genetics and physical appearance

A recent study of the genetic landscape of Iran was completed by a team of Cambridge geneticists led by Dr. Maziar Ashrafian Bonab (an Iranian Azarbaijani). [http://www.gen.cam.ac.uk/Research/balloux.htm "Maziar Ashrafian Bonab"] — "Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge" (retrieved 09 June 2006)] Bonab remarked that his group had done extensive DNA testing on different language groups, including Indo-European and non Indo-European speakers, in Iran. [http://www.isna.ir/Main/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-727489&Lang=P "Cambridge Genetic Study of Iran"] — "ISNA (Iranian Students News Agency)", 06-12-2006, news-code: 8503-06068 (retrieved 09 June 2006)] The study found that the Azerbaijanis of Iran do not have a similar FSt and other genetic markers found in Anatolian and European Turks. However, the genetic Fst and other genetic traits like MRca and mtDNA of Iranian Azeris were identical to Persians in Iran. Some new genetic studies suggest that recent erosion of human population structure might not be as important as previously thought, and overall genetic structure of human populations may not change with the immigration events and thus in the Azerbaijanis case ; the Azeris of Azerbaijan republic most of all genetically resemble to other Caucasian people like Armenians, [ [http://www.eva.mpg.de/genetics/pdf/Y-paper.pdf Testing hypotheses of language replacement in the Caucasus] ] and people the Azarbaijan region of Iran to other Iranians. [ [http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1808191 Is urbanisation scrambling the genetic structure of human populations?] ]

Opposition

The Azeris in Iran and the Azeris in the Republic of Azerbaijan are not exactly the same people ethnically, [ [http://www.eva.mpg.de/genetics/pdf/Y-paper.pdf Testing hypotheses of language replacement in the Caucasus] ] [ [http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1808191 Is urbanisation scrambling the genetic structure of human populations?] ] although have linguistic,historic and religious bonds. This is supported by genetic testing that has shown Azeris in the republic of being mainly of Caucasian descent, while Azeris in Iran being of Iranic descent. Encyclopaedia Britannica states:

*Although Genetic testing proves the Turkification of the region rather than Azeris being of Turkic stock, it also shows that the region is a mixed one. Though the population of Azerbaijan is culturally diverse, genetic testing has revealed common genetic markers that support an autochthonous background for most Azeris. A 2002 study found that: "Y-chromosome haplogroups indicate that Indo-European-speaking Armenians and Turkic-speaking Azerbaijanians from the republic are genetically more closely related to their geographic neighbors in the Caucasus than to their linguistic neighbors elsewhere." [ [http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/AJHG/journal/issues/v71n3/023927/023927.html A Genetic Landscape Reshaped by Recent Events: Y-Chromosomal Insights into Central Asia] — American Journal of Human Genetics, 71:466-482, 2002 (retrieved 09 June 2006)] The authors of this study suggest that this indicates a language replacement of indigenous Caucasian peoples. There is evidence of limited genetic admixture derived from Central Asians (specifically Haplogroup H12), notably the Turkmen, that is higher than that of their neighbors, the Georgians and Armenians. [ [http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/AJHG/journal/issues/v71n3/023927/023927.html A Genetic Landscape Reshaped by Recent Events: Y-Chromosomal Insights into Central Asia] — American Journal of Human Genetics, 71:466-482, 2002 (retrieved 09 June 2006)] MtDNA analysis indicates that the main relationship with Iranians is through a larger West Eurasian group that is secondary to that of the Caucasus, according to a study that did not include Azeris, but Georgians who have clustered with Azeris in other studies. [ [http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/AJHG/journal/issues/v74n5/40813/40813.html Where West Meets East: The Complex mtDNA Landscape of the Southwest and Central Asian Corridor] — American Journal of Human Genetics, 74:827-845, 2004 (retrieved 09 June 2006)] The conclusion from the testing shows that the Azeris are a mixed population with relationships, in order of greatest similarity, with the Caucasus, Iranians and Near Easterners, Europeans, and Turkmen. Other genetic analysis of mtDNA and Y-chromosomes indicates that Caucasian populations are genetically intermediate between Europeans and Near Easterners, but that they are more closely related to Near Easterners overall.ibid.] Another study, conducted in 2003 by the "Russian Journal of Genetics", compared Iranian-language speakers in Azerbaijan (the Talysh and Tats) with Turkic-language Azerbaijanis and found that,

*Ancient historians, including Herodotus, Polybius and Strabo, mention the region as a mixed one, with Iranian and non-Iranian groups, such as the "Utii", a Caucasian group that still exists in Azerbaijan.Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume V18, Page 22)]

Oghuz arrival

Ibn al-Athir, an Arab historian, declared that the Oghuz Turks had come to Transoxiana in the period of the caliph Al-Mahdi in the years between 775 and 785. In the period of the Abbasid caliph Al-Ma'mun (813 – 833), the name Oghuz starts to appear in the works of Islamic writers. By 780, the eastern parts of the Syr Darya were ruled by the Karluk Turks and the western region (Oghuz steppe) was ruled by the Oghuz Turks.

Oghuz dominance in Southwestern Asia begins in the 11th century, with the Seljuk Empire. The Southwestern Turkic dialects gradually supplanted the Tat, Azari, and Middle Persian dialects in northern Iran, and a variety of Caucasian languages in the Caucasus, particularly Udi, and had became the dominant during the High to Late Medieval period, under the rule of the White Sheep Turkomans and Black Sheep Turkomans (14th to 15th century), the process of Turkification being mostly complete by the Safavid period (16th century).

References

See also

*History of Azerbaijan
*History of Iran
*Azerbaijan
*Azerbaijani people
*Turkification


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