Babken H. Harutyunyan
The so-call Albanian or Aghvan Kingdom was formed at the end of the second century B.C. or beginning of the first century. It was a confederation of 26 tribes and undoubtedly was composed of 26 administrative units in the beginning.
According to the dates of Strabo, Plinius Secundus, Claudius Ptolemaeus and as well as of “Ashkharatsuyts” (Armenian geography) by Movses Khorenatsi, the borders and territory of the latter are illustrated and an attempt is made to clarify the names of rivers and ascertain their current names. For example, Strabo’s mentioned Sandobanes is corrected to become Sardobanes or Zardobanes and is identified with Turyan-chay; Roitakes is corrected to become Rostakes and identified with Gyok-chay and Xanes with Gardman or Girdiman-chay. The river name Albanos and the city Albana are not connected to the name Alban, these emerged from the name, Lpnats River or Lpnats City, and from the influence of the country name Albania, which was accepted in the Greco-Roman world.
The district-division of so-called Albania or Aghvank, which has reached us through the “Ashkharatsuyts”, refers to the period of Aran’s or Ran’s marzpanate, when the Persian court merged the 19(20) districts Great Armenia’s Artsakh and Utik into the latter.
Archbishop M. Barkhudaryants and academician S. Yeremyan were engaged with the issue of the district- division of the Left Bank of Kura in so-called Aghvank, using the dates provided in the “Ashkharatsuyts”, in the work of the historiograph of the Eastern lands of Armenia Movses Kaghankatvatsi, reports by historiograph Ghevond (Levond) and other sources. M. Barkhudaryan’s locations are discussable, mainly incorrect, while S. Yeramyan’s locations are notably acceptable.
The district-divisions of so-called Aghvank or Albania are presented using the materials of public sources on the subject and the results of former researchers’ studies. The district Ekhni is located in the territory adjacent to the present-day settlement of Lagodekh; Bekh in the area of present-day Belokan or Belakan; Kambejan in the lower part of the basin of present-day river Iori all the way to the River Kura; Shake, currently Shaki in the area surrounding the city Shaki, which incorporated at different times the province of Hoghmagh to the west of the district Shaki; Vostan in the area surrounding the capital city of Kapaghak; Haband, whose name in different manuscripts was known as Hambasi (distorted version); to the east of Kapaghak, and Vostan-i-Martspanan is identified with Jora Pahak and the territories south of it. Kaghadasht or Kaghats Dasht (field) and Dasht-i-Baghasakan, were located near the river Kura and fields north of the Caucasus mountain range all the way to the Caspian Sea.
It is necessary to note that due to the incorrect annotations made by transcribers in the “Ashkharatsuyts”, in one case the name of the district of Vostan is omitted and in another case the word vostan in Vostan-i-Martspanan or Marzpanan is omitted, which has caused a misunderstanding. In this same vein, transcribers have omitted the word dasht from Kagha (Kaghats) dasht (field) or Dasht-i-Baghasakan, thinking that it was a repetition. Because of this, the number of provinces on the left bank of Kura number 11.
Nonetheless, the number of districts in so-called Albania or Aghvank during the reign of the Mazkut kingdom was much numerous and later reduced by the Persian court during the marzpanate when tribal districts were united in the districts of Vostani-Marzpanan, Kaghats Dasht and Dasht-i-Baghasakan. Using the description by Asian Sarmatia of “Ashkharatsuyts”, it is possible to disclose that until the establishment of Persian rule, Shighpk, Jighpk, Kaspk, Pakhk, Paskhk, Khsrvank and Mazkutk and other districts existed. The research reveals that the number of provinces during the kingdom’s reign numbered 20/21 and even 21/22. They were Ekhni, Bekh, Kambejan, and Hoghmagh, which was most probably created later, Shake, Geghavu, Vostan, Haband, Kaghadasht or Kaghats Dasht, Jor, Pakhk (probably Paskhk – B.H.), Tavaspark, Hejmatakk, Izhmakhk, Gatk (probably Vatn – B.H.), Gghuark, Shighpk, Jighpk, Lpink, Baghasjik (also Kaspk – B.H.) and Kaghadasht or Kaghats Dasht , later called Hejeri.