Абхазская интернет-библиотека Apsnyteka

V. E. Kvarchia

The historical and modern toponymy of Abkhazia (a history-etymological investigation)



This work presents the first attempt of a history-etymological investigation as a historical and modern toponymy of Abkhazia. It is based on the written materials cartographic and other sources and on the given lists of modern geograpic nomenclature of the region. The work is the result of all that has been done for the last decade by studing the toponymy of Abkhazia.
The territory of Abkhazia87 since olden days is populated part of the Caucasus. Connected with it names of settlements begin to appear in the sources from the VI century B. C. : Dioskuria (VI century B. C.), Gienos // Guenos (VI century B. C.), Pitius, Nitika (II century B. C.), Kign, Sebastopolis (I century B. C.) and others. From the boundary of our era greek and roman sources fix regional ethnotoponimies: apsili -Apsilia, sanik // sanig - Sanigia (A. D. I century), abask // abazg - Abazgia (A. D. II century), misimiane - Misminia (A. D. VI century), in which iokal names of Old Abkhazian (abkhazian and abazian) tribes are recognized.
The abkhazian name of the country Apsny {from apsua "abkhazian" and ny - locative suffix) in the form of Psyn was certified in arrnenian source (Ashharatsuitse) of the V century The georgian name of Abkhazian - Apkhazety went into use from A. D. VI-VII centuries. In the Middle Ages other nations Dolled abkhazian, abazian and Abkhazian by general term abaza // Abaza; in russian sources

87 As scientists think in ancient times abkhazian and adyg tribes were stretched from the river Choroh and al! over the Caucasus shore of the Black Sea, in the Middle Ages in the period of Abkhazian Kingdom the vast territory between Black Sea, river Choroh, Azerbaijan and river Kuban was called Abkhazia. To the moment of joining Abkhazia to Russia (1810 year) Abkhazia occupied the space between rivers Inguri and Kuban by the seashore and was called Bolsliaya (Major) Abkhazia. The other part which was colled Malaya (Minor) Abkhazia was settled in the north part of the Caucasus from the modern Karachai-Cherkessiau side.


as obezy, abaza, Abazia. The modern name "Abkhazia" represents russian varient of georgian Apkhazety from the end of VIII century.
The abkhazian name apsua (apys-ua) goes back to the form abzua (abyz - ua), which consists of abkhazian and adyg bzy (abyz) "language" and ua "people" - abyz-ua (apys-ua), word for word "language + people", i. e. "unilingual". At the same time the form abyz-a <- abaz-a should be considered more ancient, which denotes the same thing as abyz-ua (apys-ua) - from abyz "Language" + a - is a showing of plurality of the people's class. The same name underlies in the base of the ethnotoponymy Abask - abask, abazg // abasch -Abazgia, where the endings k - g - h go back to gu X vi - u "man, people".
The georgian name of abkhazian "apkhazi", megrelian "apkhaza", hence Apchazeti "Abkhazian", some scientists lead to the stern "abazg", however, there can be another explanation. The appearance of these terms in georgian sources links with the period when part of Abkhazian -Abazgia gains independence (VII-VIII centuries) from Byzantine. Just at that time dependent on Byzantine and Egrisy inhabitants of abkhazian Apsiliya could their kinsmen abazgian, with whom they were united by general name abyzua // apsua "unilingual", call descriptively - auakhaz (auaa - khaz) - word for word "independent people" -from auaa "people" + khaz (y) "independent, separate". The given local (apsilian) neologism was probably adopted by georgian language by means of persian afhaz, apkhaz, arabian abkhaz as the name of abazgi - apkhazy, hence georgian name Abazgia, and then Abkhazian kingdom and modern Abkhazia -Apkhazeti.
Persian and arabian mediation fully corresponds to persian and arabian status in the VIA/MI centuries in Georgia including its western part and Apsilia. All these well - known that the history of toponyms closely connected with the history of that ethnic (language) group and the territory on which they are settled.
It's natural that in toponymy of Abkhazian the overwhelming majority consists of abkhazian names. With the rare exception they are recognized in a general mass quite easily. One of the distinguishing features of some toponyms is umlaut - a, typical for


abkhazian names: Abaza - Abazgia, Apsny, Abkhazia, Atara, Aradu, Adzybja, Agu-Bedia, Abgarkhuk and so on.
The considerable part of toponyms formed with the local geographic terms' help, where in the beginning of all names there is certainly presents the same umlaut - a: askha "mountain", akhu "hill", adgy! "ground", apsta "canyon", akyta "village", ahabla "settlement", abaa "fortress", abna "forrest", ashta "yard, plain, country - seat", amua "road", adzy "water", adzykh "spring", akuara "river", adzmakh "swamp", adzia "lake" and etc.
They more often match with antroponymic names and at the same time the geographic term is found in postposition and the first part is accompanied by the possessive affix of the second person e "his" or I "her" or r - the showing of the 3-d person of the plural number: Guadikhu (Quad - is the proper name + i "his" + khu "hill"). If the geographic term with adjective forms a toponym, it can take place in a preposition: Akuara eikua (akuara "river" + eikua "black"); Askha pshdza (askha "mountian" + pshdza "beautiful").
There are other productive models of word - adding for the toponymy of art:
noun (attribute) + noun (definable) - Ahatsha (aha - "stone + tsha "bridge"); Akhiakuara (akhia "chestnut" + kuara "river");
noun + verbal from -Achybgalara (achy "horse" + bgalara "fall"), Azknahara (az "meat" + knahara "to hang");
noun + participial -Aradu (ara "nut" + du "big");
noun + participial form of the verb with the adverbial particle ah or affix of relativity - z - Azy akhyrshiz (azy "cow" + "where was killed"), tsaaztou (tsaa "ice" + z - tou "keeping").
In abkhazian toponyms we can meet also two and four compound names. In the four compound names first two components are the nouns and the third is participial form of the verb of the past tense with adverbial particle - ah: Aimyrkhuba - is family name + atchy "horse" + aknibgeitsaz "where dropped"). In the four compound toponyms the first three are the nouns and the fourth is the same as in the three compound names: Dzyndzal Zykua amsh akhishyz (Dzyndzal - is a family name + Zykua - is proper name + amsh "bear" + akhishyz "where killed").
The numerals in toponymy are represented in general in trisyllabic


formations and in preposition: uydzybzara "the place between two rivers" (uy - "two" + dzy "water" + bzara "midst").
In abkhazian language the method of creation of words is of no small importance and the formation of toponyms is suffixal. From the toponymforming suffixal elements the most productive are:
aa - is a showing of plural number of the people's class - Achuan-aa, Auyts-aa, Gurul-aa;
ga - is the stem of the verb agara "to take away", it meets in hydronymics-Guaban-ga, Mtsa-ga, Bta-ga, Dsys-ga;
jy - is the stem of adjectives, ajy "old" - Abaa-jy, Acha-jy, Adjy-jy, Akamta-jy, Atsuta-jy;
cur, cyra - is the stem of the verb acra "to keep, to hold - a barrier" - Abgatsym-cyr, Tchahyr-cyra, Abzyh-cyra;
cua - the suffix of plurality - Abgydzra-cua, Akapta-cua, Adzyh-cua, Achaitra-cua;
n(y) - locative suffix - Aps-ny, Bzypa-n, Zuh-ny, Agyr-ny;
p, pa - is an old suffix with the meaning of "front, nasal or edge" - Hua-p, Bargia-p, Guara-p;
psy // psa - abkhazian and adyg stem with the meaning of "water, river", meets in the names of big rivers, but now in abkhazian language it's not productive: Aa-psy, Hy-psy, Lash-psy, Anakua-psy;
psh (rpsh) - from the word apsh "edge", and in the names of settlements of Western Abkhazian meets with element r(y) - of possessive pronoun of the 3-d person and plural number - Tsnd-ry-psh, Gag-ry-psh, Dzyh-ry-psh, Guym-ry-psh;
ra - it's a petrified suffix which gives to a Lexic stem a collective and obstructive meaning, with its help many names are formed - Al-ra, Aza-ra, Dzysh-ra, Apsh-ra, Akarma-ra;
pta - is a locative suffix from the stem ta "place" and possessive pronoun of the 3-d person of plural number - r - Abystar-ta, Akud-rta;
ta - is an old, locative suffix which preserves productivity in abkhazian word formation nowadays and also in toponymyart -Mchysh-ta, Kuydr-ta, Abaa-ta, Hasan-ta, Chypuy-ta;
tra - it's from the word atra "receptacle" - Abat-tra, Achai-tra, Alakatsia-tra;
typ - it's from the geographic term atyp "place, settlement" -Ahatsar-typ, Adzar-typ, Ashhar-typ;


uaa - is from the word auaa "people" -Abjy-uaa, Aguy-uaa, Akhy-uaa, Akuara-uaa;
khua (r-khua) - it's an old form of the modern abkhazian word akhu "hill, mountain", which meets with the possessive pronoun of the 3-d person of plural number - r(y) and also without it, generally, in the names of settlements of Western Abkhazian - Blabyr-khua, Blat-khua, Apts-khua;
ua (p-ua, ryu-ta) - it's from the words aua, auara "lair, cave; deep ravine", which uses without augment or with the possessive pronoun and sometimes with locative suffix ta-Abla-ua, Ketuan-ruaT Ampy-ruata.
In the foothill part of Abkhazian we can meet such names as Tsabal (in greek sources as Tsibil), Djampal, Pskal, Chatskal, Tkuarchal, Hadzal, Chkhuartal and others. From the first sight general for all these names - a! - can be accepted as some topophormant. However as a matter of fact we can mark out three different endings pal // bal, kal, chal // dzal which formed from the different lingual sources: Old-Greek pil "narrow passage, gorge11, kal - from turkish kala "fortress", dzal -from abkhazian adzal "ridge".
There are marked some phonetic processes in abkhazian toponymy which are not alien to abkhazian language:
the transposition of the sounds - Alra <- Aria, Alguysta <-Laguysta, Tryshta «— Tyryshta;
the substitute of the one sound to the other (substitution) -Mramba «- Bramba, Ashashra -e-Ashashla;
the reduction of the second component of the compound name - Kiakh ztou <- Kiakh, Shoudyd ishha <- Shoudyd;
the reduction of the separate sounds - Arasadzauya <~ Asadzauya, Abakhuatsa <— Abakhuats;
the augment of the sounds - Kynrypsh <- Kynirypsh, Bytha <-Byntha.
In geographic names of Western Abkhazian exist such sounds as: s', ts', z', dz', h', which are typical for bzyb dialect. However they are expressed nowadays more weaker than in the past and sometimes they are not recognized at all.
With the semantic classification of abkhazian toponymy we can mark out such names which let to judge the representatives of nations and family names. Many toponyms reflect the features of the country's


relief, its animal and vegetable kingdom. The considerable interest represents the names which point to ethnographic life of nation, historical events, ethnic movements and etc. The most substantial semantic groups are:
1. The names in stem of which are ethnonyms (athnotoponyms), names of country; Apsny - from apsua (abkhazian name itself), Abkhazia - from apkhazy (the foreign name of abkhazian), later in the names of microtoponyms - Auria ibgalarta "there, where jew fell", Abalgar inkharta "the residence of bulgarian", Atara ermankua "armenian Atara, Charkiaz idzykh "Cherkess's spring", Chachan duy "gipsy's field", Agrkua rtyp "Megrels1 settlement", Byrzen ikiapta "the residence of greek", Aurys imya "the road of russian man".
2. Names which connected with patrimonial names; the patrimonial names are not much in use now, part of them are forgotten, but maintained in toponymy - Bashylaa rynkharta "the residence of Bashilovs - modern family name Smyr", Dahukuaa rarkha "The Dohukov's valley -Avidzba", Beramaa rashta "The Beramov's country-seat-nowTsviszba", Giargialla rynkharta "the Gergials'residence - modern family name Shershelia", Altychaa rdzykh "the Altychevs' spring - modern family name Sungulia" and etc.
3. Toponyrns with personal names and family names; they are very much in microtoponymy, the names of countries are generally formed of princely and noble family names: Eshba - Eshkyt "the Eshbas village", Kats (personal name) - Katsihabla "Kats's settlement" and etc. In the names are preserved family names which doesn't exist nowadays in Abkhazia: Mguyz, Gudou, Altei, Akhal-ipa, Erny, Tsytsmaa, Byrch, Shuguydz, Barou, Mug, Mpaad, Pshtcha, Abratch,Adykua, Myztsy, Kuyrdgial, Inatcha, Chagiam, Ryhyty, Kiach, Hymar.
To the number of now forgotten persona! names regard the following names: Shaman, Tyrma, Bygda, Pypyn, Sasran, Bits, Tur, Bybra, Tarmach, Nal, Guaz, Bylgia, Kylkydz, Kiapatch, Guyndyra, Tsgyna.Akki, Eristou, Kamsasa, Hzyr, Kydinut, Tumudz, Kauyd,Alygu, Mumysh, Zampyl, Kypa, Alou, Mdar, Byt, Babyz, Tutuh, Kunus, Lupagu, Chahmyrza, Kuban, Bash, Zakia, Shiataz, Guyguyn, Mursal, Tumkuatch, Zaz, Thusou, Hal, Mukiyn, Dziamardy and so on.
Women names are rarely represented in toponymy: Rabia, Titra, Chuba, Maka, Hanifa, Nan, Ziza, Kamachych, Tsits, Guashia, Darihan,


Nushka, Kudia, Hyka, Taba, Malenia, Huampala, Dakia, Kuata, Kypa, Ronitsa, Totia, Hanym, Katch, Abtysh, Alsabet, Mychych, Titla, Tsisa; Chut, Uard, Guashiana, Tysh, Msubir, Mshiatna, Tchakhusna and others.
4. Toponyms which reflect the relief of Abkhazia: they are very much and they are also formed with the local geographic terms' help.
5. Names which keep in its stem botanical terms; this group consists more than 70 aspects of vegetable cover of Abkhazia not counting names of the melons: Akhia-ra "chestnut grove", Al-ra "alder- tree grove", Ashymha-ra "cherry-laurel grove", Akhiatsa-ra "nettle grove", Adj-azy "old oak", Akhiatsa-ra "horn-beam grove", Ashy-ra "beech grove", Ashyts-ra "box-tree grove", Aa-ra "yew-tree grove", Apsa-ra "fit-tree grove", Akhuazy-ra "rhododendron grove", Aisyr-ra akhu "cane hill", Agdar-ra "fern square", Akarmara "place where the hop appears" ...
6. Names formed with zoological and hunting terms' help: Atsygmuya "marten's road", Shabysta kuara "chamois's river", Bgaztou "Jackal's place", Atsyskyra "place where birds are caught", Abgakhuchy akhyrshyz "place where fox was killed" Akytyshiara "hunting's place on pheasants", Hyshishiara "hunting's place on the kites", Zykua amsh akhiishiyz "place where Zykua killed a bear", Adumbei akhytarshyz "there where aurochs was killed" and etc.
7. Names connected with cattle-breeding; from the old times cattle-breeding was one of the main occupations of abkhazian: Aaptra "spring settlement", ahuatra "pigsty", ahuar rykhkaara "fence for bull calfs", achguara "enclosure calfs for horses" and etc.
8. Toponyms links with agriculture and gardening: this group is also extensive by its structure, here we can meet such names as: Amkhdu "big (corn) field", Anyshu eikuatswa "black earth", acharta "bread's field", Esma Ibambatra "Esma's Cotton-plant", Atsakhu "granary's hill", Machalka "garden for wisp", Adzakhuatra "vineyard", Akatskhyrtra "barberries' place", Arasatra "undergrowth walnut", Ahuasatra "alycha garden", Abachhyra "medlar field", Atchatra "apple garden" and etc.
9. Toponyms formed with the help of military, military-sport terms: Abaa-akhu "old fortress", Ar rymua "army road", Abaa guashi "fortress gates", Abirak ztagylou "there where flag hangs", Ar rtuarta "army's settlement" Aibashyrta "place of battle", Apshyrta "observation post",


Atchyruyra "the races, the place of races", Akhahy rpara "place where stones are pushed" and others.
10. Names connected with navigation: Abyku "cape", Akra "lighthouse", Agbachahuarta "dock", Anyshkhtsara "moorage", Askhua nykuarta "place of boats walking", Gbapshyra "place where can observe a ship" and etc.
11. Toponyms connected social terms: Apsha idzykh "royal's spring", Ahtynra "throne's place", Chachaa rashta "Chachba's country-seat", Ahaa rhabla "Settlement of Ahwba", Ah idzykh "prince's spring", Akuaskia "noble's house", Apsha ibaa "royal's fortress" and others.
In abkhazian toponymy are also expressed other semantic groups such as: names which keep cosmic and coloured designations, terms of spiritual culture and folk-lore and etc.
Comparable analysis of geographic names of the north-west Caucasus and also facts of greek and roman written sources let us to mark out the ancient layer in abkhazian toponymy. First of all these are names with the following endings: kua, p(a), psy and maybe gu which go back to abkhazian- adyg level. We should refer n(y), psh, ra, ta, hia, ua, shiha, dzha, dzyh, kuara, shta, tsuta, kyt to ancient local toponymforming stems - suffixes which, in general, are represented in abazian language.
Abkhazian toponymy in its own general mass is transparent but there are names which pronounced with difficulty and its appearance hints on its abkhazian origin - Kaldakhuara, Myku and etc. In abkhazian toponymy represents such names which seem to be the foreign contribution.
The most ancient of them should treat the toponyms fixed in the old-Greek sources: Dioskuria (modern Suckum), Nitika (modern Gagra), Pitius (modern Pitsunda), Gien // Guenos (near town Ochamchira). It's possible that to the Old Greek stem pil "ravine" go back the endings of the names of ravines of Kodorian canyon - Tsa-bal (in the source Tsi-bil), Dsumpul, Kyrk-pal. Kodorian canyon where the main road passed to the South Caucasus was olways the stumbling - block stone for all invaders which had ever appeared on abkhazian territory.
Undoubtedly that Sebastopolis is Roman name which substituted in the beginning of our era well-known name "Dioskuria". It's thought


that the stem pol "town, settlement" is represented in the name of settlement Tchabyrkhua (Tshintskar) - Kiantcha-pyl, the first part of which has the same sound as kign of roman sources which were localizing not far from this territory.
In the 13 century, thanks to genoas, on the territory of Abkhazia appeared such Italian names as Saint-Angelo (modern Satanddza), Saint Masso (modern Satamasha), Saint Sofia (modern village Alahazy) and others.
From the end of the XVI century turkish influence intensifies on Abkhazia. At the same time appeared turkish forms of Sukhum -Shisumuni, Shisernum or Eskisumun; word for word "Old Sukhum", and also toponym Baladag (modern Gagra). In 1724 Suhkum renamed in turkish Suhkum-kale. From that time turks begin to control the road to the North Caucasus through Kodorian canyon, in accordiance with that in toponymy of this region penetrate turkish lingual elements: Ps-kal, Chats-kal from turkish kala "fortress", Kala-sur// Kelasur (abch. Kelasur), word for word "fortifications", Amtkel (abch. Amtkial) from turkish kel "lake". There are also the names of villages in abkhazian toponymy: Markhiaul, Arsaul, where ul is "village", Baglan "mooridge". Some turkish names such as: Kiur - dere, Kavakluk, Dereke; and others appeared latery, thanks to armenian and iaz which came from Turkey in Abkhazia in the beginning of the XX century.
In the second part of XIX century, in the result of intensive intrusion of russian names, historically established toponymy of Abkhazia begins radically changing. This process gains purposeful character especially after the unlucky revolt of abkhazian people against the fixed regime of russian state which finished in 1866-1878 years by forced eviction part of abkhazian in Turkey. In the period of 1868-1917 years almost half of settlements of the region and Abkhazia itself were renamed and began to name as Sukhum's region. As a result there appeared such names as: Ermolovka, Primorsk, Evdokimovka, Pilenkovo, Vladimirovka, Olginskoe, Petrovskoe, Petro-Pavlovskoe, Ekaterinskoe and etc. in abkhazian toponymy also represents kartvelian layer. It consists of two levels. The first is more ancient group - consists of the names which meet in eastern Abkhazia, which in XIV-XVII centuries was part of abkhazian - megrelian principality - Sabediano and then part of Megrelia. This group concerns such names as: Tskurgil "cold


spring", Tshentskar "horse's water", Pshiahatskar "Pshlaha Wittr, Okum and others.
More extensive circle consists of other georgian and rnegreluin names which appeared in Soviet epoch - in the period of debauch of georgian chauvinism in Abkhazia in 1937-1953 years. Just at that time the most names of the settlements of the region were renamed. As a result here appeared such georgian and megrelian names as: Odishi, Akhalsopeli, Akhaldaba, Akhali Afcni, Agaraki, Gantiadi, Gvenobani, Zegani, Marani, Zenobani, Mtiscalta, Tsabliani and so on. These urgent renames were accompanied by perversion of the history of abkhazian nation. The initiator of this miserable occupation was georgian literary critic P. Ingorokva which has many passionate followers in Tbilisi nowadays.
It should be said that in present time by the solution of the Parliament and Government of Republic of Abkhazia the historical aspect of abkhazian toponymy was at last reestablished.
As a matter of fact the considering toponymy and foreign desseminations are the reflection of the History of Abkhazia and abkhazian nation. In it, as it must be, abkhazian names compose the overwhelming majority. The materia! itself represents the substantial interest not only for linguists but also for ethnographers, historians, geographers and many others.


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