History of Ganja

On the map of Azerbaijan   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.
 Mausoleum of Jomard Gassab       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.
Map of the Eldegizes state      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.
Ganja fortress      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.
Ruins of fortressThe 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 Ő 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.
Part of the gates      In 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 ŐI century Azerbaijan has undergone to invasions of Seljuk. After the capture of Tebriz Togrul I (1038-1068) in 1054 moved his army towards Ganja .
Albanian chirch 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.
Mountain Kapaz - memorial of 1139 year            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.

Geoy-Gyol lake and Kapaz mountain      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 Republic.
      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.

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