The Georgian Names of Armenia and Armenians

The Georgian Names of Armenia and ArmeniansIn Georgian, Armenians are referred to as “Somekhi”, while Armenia is called “Somkheti”. In medieval Georgian accounts, the region inhabited by Armenians was called “Somkhiti”, which has been the past geographical term for Armenia. In the 18th century, the name “Somkhiti” changed into “Somkheti”, becoming a new Georgian exonym of Armenia.

Modern scholars think that “Somkhiti”/”Somkheti” derived from “Sukhmi” or “Sokhmi”, which have been the names of an ancient region located along the upper Euphrates and its inhabitants.

According to a Professor of Caucasian Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London David Marshall Lang, the name “Sokhmi” seemed to had been transformed into “Somekhi” to refer to the Armenians in general and “Somkheti” in relation to their country.

“Sokhmi” is stated to be a variant of the word “Meskhi” from the vocabulary of the Mushki people, one of the proto-Armenian tribes inhabiting the Armenian Highlands (as described by Igor Diakonoff). According to Professor James R. Russell from Harvard University, “Somekhi” preserves the old name of Mushki, Moscheni, which was mentioned by Pliny in the 1st century AD.

The below-presented map was printed in Tiflis (present-day Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia) in 1902. It shows a region populated by Armenians and encompassing the historic settlement of Dmanisi (in the map shown as Думаниса in Russian) that has been known to Georgians as Somkheti (Сомхетия in Russian).

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