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Title: Christian Population of Majar City and Its Neighborhood: Evidence from Archaeological and Written Sources
Authors: Kolesnikova, M. E.
Колесникова, М. Е.
Keywords: Majar hillfort;City of Majar;Mission;Temple;Diocese;Metropolitanate;Encolpion;Icon;Christianity;Khachkar
Issue Date: 2022
Citation: Babenko, V.A., Kolesnikova, M.E., Stepanyan, K.R. Christian Population of Majar City and Its Neighborhood: Evidence from Archaeological and Written Sources // Oriental Studies. - 2022. - 15(5), pp. 904-918. - DOI: 10.22162/2619-0990-2022-63-5-904–918
Series/Report no.: Oriental Studies
Abstract: The article deals with the issue of Christian communities of different denominations to have resided in the city of Majar, the latter localized around Majar hillfort on the Kuma riverside. Christian cult objects have been discovered in the commercial and crafts quarter of the hillfort. Archaeological and written sources make it possible to identify certain groups of Christians —Orthodox, Catholic, and Gregorian (Armenian) ones — within the city’s population. Goals. The study aims to summarize data on Christians in Majar. Nowadays, there is archaeological evidence confirming Majar had been also inhabited by ethnic Russians and Armenians. Materials and methods. The work analyzes the First Sophia Chronicle, sources on Latin missionary activity in the Golden Horde published by Ph. Bruun, A. Malyshev, and R. Hautala, a 1774 map of the Caucasus compiled by Georg Treitel, and archaeological materials. The study employs a number of research methods, such as the historical/systemic, historical/comparative, and cartographic ones. Results. The year 1245 had witnessed earliest contacts between the papacy and the Mongol Empire. In 1260, relations between the Golden Horde and the Byzantine Empire were set up. And in 1267, Metropolitan Kirill II of Kiev received a jarlig from Khan Mengu-Timur. Rulers of the Golden Horde were seeking to achieve various domestic and foreign policy goals through the agenda of religious tolerance. Franciscan missions, parishes of the Alan Metropolitanate, Diocese of Sarai, and the Armenian Church were functioning across the early 14th-century North Caucasus. Some 16th–18th century written sources attest to the presence of a Christian temple within the hillfort of Majar. Materials published by Ph. Bruun, A. Malyshev, and R. Hautala provide evidence Majar and its neighborhood used to host several Franciscan missions throughout the 14th century. Christian cult objects (encolpion cross, copper icon) discovered in the territory of Majar’s trade and crafts quarter testify to that Orthodox Christians had also lived there and had a temple of their own. The Armenian cross-stone (khachkar) which had been part of a church and found at the ancient site suggests there may have been an Armenian community and an Armenian temple too. Conclusions. The available evidence of the presence of different Christian denominations in Majar insufficiently reveals their role in the city’s life. And it gets urgent to localize the Christian quarter at the ancient site of Majar. So, the search for archival materials and archaeological explorations of the site should be continued.
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