To understand the causes of the current unrest, conflict and war in the Caucasian states, you must know the historical features of Russian government in this enormous region of the Northern Caucasus and Transcaucasia. The events of the 1990s - the Azerbaijan-Armenian war, the wars of Georgia with South Ossetia and Ingush, and especially the war in Chechnya - show the consequences of conquest or annexation by the Russian empire. The modern history of this region rests upon the stages and peculiarities of early Russian administration. Many boundaries which were established by Tzarist officials in the 18th and 19th centuries still exist and exert decisive influence on the course of national and religious conflicts.
The national-liberation and separatist movements in the Transcaucasia and Northern Caucasus have their origins in the Caucasian campaign of the 1820s to the 1860s, during which the theocratic Shamil state created in Chechnya and Daghestan was destroyed and Russian rule imposed on the whole northern Caucasian region. The 18th and 19th centuries also saw the penetration of Turkey and Persia into the region and the wars between Russia and Turkey and between Russia and Persia for dominance in the vast area between the Black and Caspian Seas. These tensions also continue today.
A great part of the original Russian records on these matters have been lost through the ravages of time, war, accident and earthquake. But a unique collection of these archive documents has been preserved. At the direction of the Russian governor-general in the Caucasus, the Proceedings of the Caucasian Archaeographical Commission published between 1866 and 1904 in Tiflis (Tbilisi), Georgia, some 14,000 of the most vital documents in 12 large portfolio volumes.
The material thus preserved includes documentation on the history of Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Daghestan, Chechnya, Ossetia, Kabardin-Bulkaria, Cherkessia and Abkhazia. Many secret service reports about the situations in Turkey and Persia are also included.
The archive covers a wide political and social range. There are numerous documents on the economic development of the region, including the origins of the oil industry in Azerbaijan and Chechnya, on the creation of ports and transport links. There is material on religious affairs, explaining the distribution and strength of Christianity and Islam in the Caucasus, as well as information on tribal structures which remains relevant today.
Most documents are in Russian. Documents in the first portfolio volume are in Turkish, Arabic and Persian and have not been listed.
From the Introduction by Professor G.L. Bondarevsky
Institute of Socio-Political Studies, Russian Academy of Science
The English version of the document list was prepared under the general guidance of Professor G. L. Bondarevsky by the Board of Scientific Editors in Tbilisi (Tiflis), Georgia: Professor N. Kikvadze, editor in chief; T. Georgadze; V. Mirzaeva; M. Djaparidze.
Documents are listed from 11 of the 12 great volumes prepared in 1868-1904 by the Caucasus Archaeographical Commission.
Approximately 14,000 documents are listed.
Volume V includes a section on Ancient Christian Monuments in the Caucasus a list of 286 Monasteries and Temples. In addition there is a further list of 43 Monasteries and Temples in Volume VI part II.
There is also here a list of 99 ancient charters, orders, deeds, etc, from 1398-1827.