Spring 2005 (13.1)
Left: Dr. Zaza Aleksidze (also Alexidze)
Photo: Betty Blair
In 2003, Azerbaijan
International published a major article featuring the momentous
discovery and decipherment of the Caucasian Albanian alphabet
by Dr. Zaza Aleksidze, Director of the Institute of Manuscripts
in Tbilisi, Georgia. Search AZER.com for "Caucasian Albanian
Alphabet: Ancient Script Discovered in the Ashes" by Zaza
Aleksidze and Betty Blair, AI 11.3 (Winter 2003).
Since then two books (Georgian and Azerbaijani) have been published
that outline the details about this incredible, modern day discovery
of an ancient alphabet that was used in the territory, which
is now Azerbaijan.
The books (nearly identical in content) provide an analysis (identification
and decipherment) of the original lower layer of the Georgian
- Albanian palimpsest, which was discovered in St. Catherine's
Monastery on Mt. Sinai (Egypt). Dr. Aleksidze identified these
documents to be part of a Christian Lectionary (Service Book)
written in the Caucasian Albanian script which probably dates
back to the 5th century making it one of the earliest Lectionaries
known to exist in the world.
Above: New books in Georgian
and Azeri describing the process of discovery and decipherment
of these ancient scripts by Dr. Aleksidze.
Albanian script has been identified as the language spoken by
the Udi people who still exist today, although in small numbers.
They live in the villages of Nish and Oghuz in the foothills
of the Caucasus mountains in northern Azerbaijan and also in
the village of Oktomberi in eastern Georgia.
Research is continuing on this issue. Recently the German company
Volkswagen provided a grant to purchase equipment highly specialized
in reading palimpsests.
Left: St. Catherine's Monastery in Mt. Sinai,
Egypt, where the parchments of the 5th century Caucasian Albanian
Lectionary were found.
Zaza Aleksidze (Tbilisi), Dr. Jost Gippert (Frankfurt), Dr. Jean
Pierre Mahé (Paris) and Dr. Wolfgang Shulze (Munich) are
in the process of preparing the entire text (facsimile with the
transcription and translation). The conclusive results of this
research are scheduled to be published in Brussels in 2006.
These books will be of interest to a wide variety of scholars
in Caucasian studies, as well as those interested in ancient
scripts, liturgical and Biblical studies, and Sinai antiquities.
Georgian: Caucasian Albanian Script, Language and Literature:
Discovery in St. Catherine's Monastery on Mt. Sinai by Zaza N.
Aleksidze. Tbilisi: Biblical Theological College, 2003. 224
pages, paperback. ISBN 99940-755-1-9.
Azerbaijani: Qafqaz Albanlari Dillandilar (Caucasian Albanians
Spoke) by Zaza Aleksidze. Tbilisi: Artanuji Publishing House,
2003. 129 pages, paperback. ISBN 99940-11-61-8. E-mail: zaza_Aleksidze@hotmail.com.
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