History of Ganja
A monument of the
ancient culture, the native land of the great Nizami - the town of Ganja
is located on the northeast bottom of Small Caucasus, on Ganja-Gazakh
lowland, on both banks of Ganjachay River. This town, which has played
a large role in social-economic, political and cultural life of Azerbaijan,
was on caravan crossroads, where the travelers stopped, and enjoyed conversations
with foreign scientists. Looking through the pages of its rich history,
in each line, we meet traces of ancient town, we hear its voice and we
feel its breath.
There are various points of view about
the history of formation of Ganja as a town. Some scientists consider
the foundation of town to the period BC, majority - to the beginning of
the Middle Ages.
Speaking about the history of town it is
impossible to overlook, that it formed as the social-economic and cultural
center. Ganja, as well as other cities of Azerbaijan (Kabala, Nakhichevan,
Sheki, Shemakha), is considered as a settlement, which had a favorable
geographical arrangement and gradually passed in a town.
Mausoleum of Dzhomard Gassab (Gassab -
a butcher), can be considered as one of the certificates of the age of
Ganja. Dzhomard Gassab lived during governing of the fourth khalif Ali
ibn Abutalib (656-661) and distinguished with his validity and honesty.
In the times when the population of the town professed idols he secretly
accepted Islam. The fact that someone could change his opinions and belief
secretly, speaks that in VII century there was a strong political authority
and influential clergy in Ganja.
Even in 1940 - ties, in time of archeological
excavations, the researchers came in such conclusion, that there were
settlements in territory of Ganja still BC.
There are different opinions in interpretation
of word "Ganja". "Dzhanza" - in Arabic, "Gandza" - in Georgian, in Pehlevi
it designated - treasure, place of storage of a crop. All of these interpretations
have no scientific basis. According Resler, this term is inherent in the
Azerbaijan language. In the other reason it is marked, that the given
term has connections with a tribe of Ganjak, which is closer to true.
There are scientific proofs that the tribe existed. A number of places
in Azerbaijan and Central Asia have connections to the name of the tribe.
The historians of Central Asia challenge and prove, that they originate
from the tribe.
In first half of VII century Persians destroyed
Ganja, and in second half Arabs did the same. In the end of VII century,
the town was an arena of fights between the Arabs and Khazars. In "Derbendname"
it is marked, that in the beginning of VII century and in VIII century.
The territory of Azerbaijan repeatedly was exposed to attacks, therefore
considerably has suffered and Ganja.
After Barda, the capital of Arran, Ganja begins
to play the important role in international trade, caravans frequently
stopped here. There were Arabian dinars and dirkhams in circulation.
Since X century, when Barda loses its role of
a capital, Ganja begins to play the important role in social-economic
and cultural life of the country. Trade and craft occupy the important
place in the life of the town. There is an economic potential for development
of craft. Iron, copper, aluminum and other mines, which are taking place
near Ganja, supplied the handicraftsmen with raw material. In process
of formation, Ganja, as the capital of the country, gave the special attention
also to strengthening of military power of town. There were fortress walls
constructed and ditches dug around the town in this period.
The rests of Ganja fortress,
being majestic at its times, are embodied in this photo. The angular tower
of the fortress is visible in the foreground; the other tower is in about
600 meters distance (marked with red arrow). This wall passes along the
bank of the river Ganjachay. Being a natural barrier at one time, now the
river constantly undermines the shabby walls of the fortress.
Because of easing of the khalifat in IX-X
centuries, independent feudal states of Shirvanshakhs, Sadjadids, Salaridids,
and Raevadits began to occur in Azerbaijan. In the middle of Х century,
Ganja was in the hands of the state of Salaradids. Later it became the capital
of the state of Shaddadids. During the reign of Fadlun I (895-1030), Ganja
got stronger even more. The Shaddadids constructed fortress, palaces, bridges,
and caravansaries here and began to mint money. There was a newer and stronger
fortress constructed around the town.
1063, the smith Ibragim has made famous
gates of Ganja. In process of transformation of Ganja to the large center,
its territory extended also: the new commercial and industrial quarters
were under construction. Silk and the silk products have won sympathies
of not only local, but also foreign buyers. Ganja was as a religious center
too. Therefore, the residence Albanian katalikost changed from Barda to
Ganja. Gatran Tebrizi wrote about this period: "Now Ganja has changed into
a paradise "
In the middle of ХI century Azerbaijan has undergone to invasions of Seljuk.
After the capture of Tebriz Togrul I (1038-1068) in 1054 moved his army
towards Ganja .
The ruler of Ganja Shavir has agreed to become Togrul’s vassal. He has presented
Togrul an expensive gift and ordered a khutba to read in his honor.
The invasions of Seljuks did not stop. In
70 years of XI century Fadlun III, the governor of Shaddads, seeing senselessness
of war, has surrendered, however a bit later, having taken advantage the
convenient moment, again has returned to authority. In 1086 Seljuk governor
Malik shah (1072-1092) has sent the commander Bugay to Ganja. Despite of
strong resistance of the local population, the Seljuks have grasped town.
During war, the governor of Ganja Fadlun III was imprisoned and more than
100 years the reign of the Shaddadid dynasty was fixed. Malik shah has assigned
the governing of Ganja to his son Gias ad-din Tapar. Gias ad-din Mukhammed
Tapar, even after his election as a sultan (1105-1117), still remained one
of the basic residents of Seljuk governors of Ganja.
In the first half of XII century Ganja some
times was exposed to Georgian invasions, in reply to it Seljuk army have
intruded Georgia and have plundered it.
Other event connected with Ganja, was an earthquake of huge force, which
has taken place on September 25, 1139. Kirakos Gandzaketsi wrote: " … the
fog and clouds wrapped the mountains and the plains, an awful earthquake
has taken place. Ganja has collapsed … As a result of it Kapazdag mountain
has collapsed and has fallen on springs, which flew down ravines, having
blocked them a way. So the lake was formed”. The lake Gek-gol (Gek- blue,
gol-lake) in the present time is in territory of the same reserve and is
one of the most picturesque places of Azerbaijan. But the author forgot
to mention or did not know that time about other seven lakes formed as a
result of this earthquake and also distinguished by the rare beauty. They
are - Maral-gol, Dzhehran-gol,Ordek-gol, Zalugolu, Aggol, Garagol and Shamligol.
Having taken advantage of the destruction of the town and absence of the
governor of town, the Georgian feudal lords have made invasion, have grasped
many trophies and have taken away with itself famous gates of Ganja. The
rests of this monument of material culture of Azerbaijan, because of miscontrol
and unsuitable condition, are in a courtyard of Gelat monastery of the Georgian
Long internal feudal wars have weakened the
Seljuk state. It has created conditions for strengthening of the local feudal
lords and occurrence of the new states. One of them was the state of Atabeks,
founded by Shamsaddin Eldaniz. Ganja became a residence of this state in
Arran. The beginning of XII-XIII centuries could be named as the period
of bloom of Ganja - the second capital of the state of Atabeks, for that
its products were known far outside the country, it has risen up to a level
" the mother of Arran cities". A fabric, which was produced here and referred
to as " Ganja silk ", has received a high estimation in the markets of the
neighboring countries and the Middle East.