Introduction

Caucasia, the territory bounded by the Black and Caspian Seas and taking its name from the Caucasus Mountains, has been a vibrant centre of Christianity since late antiquity. By the reign of Constantine the Great, monarchs of the eastern Georgian district of K'art'li (Greek Iberia) and Armenia had already embraced the Christian God; soon afterwards Christianity also took root in nearby Lazika/Colchis and Caucasian Albania. As Cyril Toumanoff (1963) and others have demonstrated, in many respects early Christian Caucasia constituted a single historical and socio-cultural unit. However, divergent responses to the imperial contest for Caucasia and the processes leading to the establishment of separate Armenian and K'art'velian 'national' churches ultimately led to a clear religious break, beginning in the early seventh century. Despite this ecclesiastical estrangement, Armeno-Georgian relations have endured to the present day, not least because of the shared experience of invasion and conquest by foreign imperial powers as well as the persistence of the extensive, bicultural Armeno-Georgian frontier zone. Any investigation of Christianity in Georgia must therefore take into consideration the history of neighbouring lands, especially Armenia.

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