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Mykola Zharkikh (Kyiv)

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Transcaucasia and Asia Minor

Nicholas Zharkikh

Starting from Derbent Rubruk's way went through relatively densely populated places, and the description is replete with geographical names. So, after two days' journey along the coast of the Caspian Sea, he arrived in the town Samaron, which is currently not known. After that he turned to the mountains to the south and another two days later arrived in the city Samag (Schemacha). The distance between Derbent and Schemacha – about 180..200 km, ie, rate of movement – just 50 km per day. Then the path went through the great plain of Moan (ie Mugan plain), where Rubruk noted Kura River, which flows from the land of the Georgians, and the Aras, which flows from Armenia. The place marked precisely – a place where the Aras flows in Kura (70 km south of Schemacha). Here Rubruk mentioned city Ganges (Ganja), which closes the output from the mountains into this valley, but he was not there (it is 200 km west of the crossing).

Next Rubruk raised by left bank of Aras up to its origins (11.23.1254 – 15.02.1255, just 84 days, the distance was not less than 750 km, ie the average rate of movement – only 9 km per day). Along the way he visited the headquarters of Mongol governor, who in the Russian version was called Batu, and in English – Baachu (probably Baiji Noyon). At Christmas (25 Dec 1254) he stayed in Naxua (Nakhichevan). This town is 300 km from the mouth of the Aras, that have the same rate of 9 km / day. Of course, most of this month (November 23 – December 25, 1254) Naxua held in the Mongolian headquarters, while his guide traveled to Tabriz.

In Nakhichevan Rubruk was detained by big snows for 19 days. Leaving out, and after 4 days came to country of Sahensa. According to N.P. Shastina it is not a proper name, but great title "shahinshah" (king of kings), which was applied to small princes of Zakharid family. Their capital was the city of Ani.

At this point it should be noted that in the Rubruk's text a two paragraphs are swapped. I changed their places on the basis of chronological instructions contained in these paragraphs. As a result route logic is straightening: entrance to the Sahensa's land – reception in Sahensa – stay in Aini in the Sahensa's land – leave the Sahensa's land to the land of Turks. In the correct sequence of text shall be read as follows:

On the [feast of the] Purification I was in a town called Aini, belonging to Sahensa, the position of which is very strong; and there are in it a thousand churches of Hermenians and two synagogues of Saracens. The Tartars have placed a bailiff in it. Five preaching friars found me there. Four of them had come from the Province of France, and the fifth had joined them in Syria; and they had only one infirm servant, who knew Turkish and a little French; and they had letters from the lord Pope to Sartach, to Mangu Chan and to Buri, like those you gave me, requesting that they be allowed to stay in his country, and to preach the word of God, etc. When I had told them what I had seen, and how they had received me, they took the road to Tefilis, where are some of their friars, to hold council with them as to what they should do. I told then that, thanks to those letters, they could get through if they chose, but that they must provide themselves well with patience and with reasons for their coming, for having no other mission than preaching, they would show them scant courtesy, especially as they had no interpreter. What they did after this, I know not.

In fifteen [should be corrected: 5] days from that city [Aini] we entered the country of the Soldan of Turkie on the (second) Sunday of Quadragesima, and the first town we found was called Marsengen. All the people in the burg were Christians: Hermenians, Curges and Greeks. The Saracens had only the lordship. The castellan said that he had received orders not to give provisions to any Frank, or to ambassadors of the king of Hermenia or of Vastacius; so from this place, which we reached on the [second] Sunday of Quadragesima, all the way to Cyprus, which I entered eight days before the feast of saint John the Baptist we had to buy our provisions. He who was guiding me procured us horses; he received also money for our provisions, but he put it in his purse. When we came to some field and saw a flock, he would carry off a sheep by force, and give it to his followers to eat, and was greatly astonished because I would not eat of his theft.

Aini in Rubruk is nothing more than Ani. It was a city located on defensible place, has many churches and two mosques. Even wonder why this assumption is not occurred to any of the commentators.

But the description Rubruk constructed so that admission by Sahensa presented separately and before the news of the arrival to Ani. It is possible that the local prince received him not in Ani (assuming another permutation of sentences in this place I do not dare). It is possible that Sahensa told Rubruk, that Catholic mission stayed in Ani and Rubruk deviated from his path up by Aras to meet with it (city Ani is near the river Akhurian about 50 km from its confluence with the Aras, that side of the Rubruk's road along the Aras).

For 20 days (13 January – 2 February 1255) Rubruk traveled only 230 km. Perhaps this time he stayed in Sahensa and Ani, which is not mentioned in the description.

Data on the 15 day trip from Aini to Marsengen contrary to all chronology, so Mr. Rockhill speculated "that city" was not Aini, but Nakhichevan. This assumption can not be adopted because from Marsengen to the top of Aras was 7 days' journey, so the road from Nakhichevan to Marsengen accounts for 33 – 7 = 26 days, not 15.

I assume a slip in Rubruk's text and one should not read "15 days" but "5 days". This assumption is fully resolves all contradictions. Indeed, in Aini he was on Purification (February 2), then went 5 days and on Sunday in Lent was in Marsengen. In 1255, this Sunday dropped on February 7, fully consistent with our expectation.

So, February 2 Rubruk came to the city Ani.

Even then, after 5 days (ie by 7 Feb 1255) Rubruk came into possession of the Turks (Rum sultanate). Turkish boundary castle he calls Marsengen. Modern Armenian historian B. Gazaryan it was Erzincan. It can not be accepted because Marsengen lying on the Aras and Erzincan – on the Euphrates far enough to west from Aras' source. In addition, the Erzincan (called Arsengen) Rubruk mentioned in the following section, describing the earthquake.

To approximate location of Marsengen we apply ratio. For this we need to determine what is considered as Aras' source, considering that further our travelers had to move west. Aras flows from the mountain ridge, whose highest point is Mount Bingöl (3189 m). Of course, this ridge Rubruk not raised, because there is no road to the west. At 20 km north of the mountain and 42 km south of Erzurum is Kyrykhan village at Arax from which one can drive west into the valley of the river Elmaly further decline at its current (names of rivers are: Kelhas – Perry – Munzur – Murat – flows into the Euphrates). This route can be called the south one. It in not acceptable for us because it is unclear how one can get from the mouth of Murat to Sivas except rising up Euphrates (and Rubruk descending on Euphrates).

Therefore, one should look at the town Köprüköy, located on Aras at 82 km northeast of Bingöl mountains and 55 km east of Erzurum. Here Aras flow changes direction from north to east and just west is convenient passage to the upper Euphrates valley. I think that Rubruk used that way. Tentatively I think that "Aras' source" is pass between the Euphrates basin to the west and Aras to the east (it lies just 10 kilometers east of Erzurum and 72 km north of Mount Bingöl).

Between the two well-localized points – Ani and Aras' source – the distance is 290 km (50 km down along r.Akhurian and 240 km up along the Aras).

Rubruk overcome this distance in 12 days, which gives the rate of motion of 24 km / day.

From Aini to Marsengen – 5 days or according to our proportion 120 km.

From Marsengen to Aras' source – 7 days, ie 170 km.

This distance leads us to the area between the towns Zaraphane (yl Ihdyr, Turkey) and Kağızman (Kars yl) on Aras river. Wikipedia notes that at Kağızman (more precisely, near the village Kötek (12 km northwest of Kağızman) preserved fortress Narin Kale (Köroğlu Kalesi – Kerim oglu castle). This is, in my opinion, is Rubruk's Marsengen.

Next Rubruk noted that from the Aras' source he crossed through the mountain (in my opinion, is seen above the pass east of Erzurum) and then 8 days descending down the Euphrates to the fortress Camath.

At this point we have to understand what constitutes Euphrates. Modern geography assumes that the Euphrates begins from the confluence of the Karasu (Western Euphrates) and Murat (Eastern Euphrates). In Soviet maps 1967 and 1984 the name Euphrates is also applied to large piece of Karasu River (ie they start Euphrates from the confluence of the rivers Karasu and Tuzla).

City of Erzurum, which Rubruk was not mentioned in this place (in chapter 52), lies near the Karasu River. The fact that he visited it, clearly shows the text of the 35 th chapter ("I passed them [ministers of the Mongols] on the road at Arseron (Erzurum) on the border of Turkie") and 51th chapter ("And beyond the mountain in which it rises is a goodly city, called Aarserum, which is the Soldan of Turkie's"). So I think that the way of Rubruk was in Karasu valley (Western Euphrates).

For fortress Camath N.P. Shastina explains:

The fortress was situated on a high hill, from which originates the western tributary of Euphrates – Karasu.

In this phenomenal comments mistakenly everything. Karasu is not a tributary of Euphrates. Source of Karasu is near the mountain Kargapazary 40 km north of Erzurum. There was no settlement.

In fact, if we put 250 km from Erzurum down the Karasu – Euphrates, our path will be past Rubruk's Arsengen (modern Erzincan), where he noted disastrous earthquake, and ends near the town Kemah (40 km west of Erzincan). I think it is – Camath from Rubruk's notes: 1, lies on the Euphrates; 2, a distance roughly corresponds to 8 days of road; 3, Euphrates turns to south 60 km west of Kemah, ie the scale of description one can assume that it lies on this curve; 4, in this town preserved sufficiently large fortress; 5, finally, the same name.

Contemporary photo of the castle Kemah

If we understood Rubruk's text literally, it will turn out that he was in Camath at February 22, 1255 (February 14 + 8 days). He then spent a month (until March 21) to overcome 175 km from Camath to Sivas. Apparently, tracked him deep snow on those mountains very pretty decent travel slowdown.

On the way to Sivas "we crossed the valley in which the Soldan of Turkie had been defeated by the Tartars". The name of this plain he not recorded, but from other sources that battle June 26, 1243 there was the plain Köse Dağ (ie Bald Mountain).

On the issue of place of this battle one had to face the great divergence of views:

1. N.P. Shastina in comments to Rubruk: between Erzincan and Sivas (106 km west of Erzincan);

2. : between Erzincan and Gümüşhane – 40 km north of Erzincan;

3. : near the town Chman-Katuk (as in Kirakos of Gandzak), 60 km northeast of Sivas – is 170 km southwest of Erzincan;

4. Rakova Snejana "" (2002): between the cities of Karin (Erzurum) and Erzincan (80 km east of Erzincan).

In these calculations the distance from Erzincan I understood the expression "between A and B" as 1/2 of the distance from A to B.

The conclusion from this simple but not very comforting: the exact location of this battle is unknown. In context of Rubruk's journey one should search this plain on his way from Kemah to Sivas.

Next Rubruk began to move faster. For one week (March 28 – April 4, 1255), he overcame the 175 km and reached Caesarea of Capadocia (modern Kayseri city). The direction of movement is evident – down along the river Kizil Irmak, somewhere way is a modern highway.

After 15 days (April 19, 1255), he came to Iconium (Konya, 300 km from Kayseri).

Next point of his journey recorded after 17 days (May 5, 1255) – is "Curta, a port of the king of Hermenia". This town now called Kızkalesi, it lies on the Mediterranean coast just east of the mouth of the river Göksu, 200 km southeast of Konya. In Kızkalesi preserved two fortresses (one on the island, the second – on the coast), perhaps something preserved from the time of Cilician kingdom. In this harbor, he spent 12 days and then got in the capital of Cilicia kingdom – the city of Sis (now it is called Kozan, 190 km northeast of Kızkalesi ). He returned to port Auax – the largest port of Cilicia. This port also named Ayas. It is often identified with the modern city of Adana, forgetting that it is 50 km from the sea. I think that the port located on the beach near the mouth of the River Seyhan. On the Google map you can see here a small village Aydinlilar.

Please be aware that on the map of Cilician Armenia [Mikayelyan G.G. History of Armenian state Cilicia. – Yerevan: 1952] Ayas port shown separately from Adana, on the eastern shore of the Yumurtalik bay in the Gulf of Iskenderun. At this place is now the town Yumurtalik.

This trip took some time, so he came to Cyprus June 17, 1255 (he had to sail by sea 150 – 200 km). Here he came to Nikosia, then went to Tripoli in Palestine, and finally returned to Acre, from which he left three years ago.