COSTA MESA — Mazda Press has announced the publication of Dr. George Bournoutian’s new book: The 1823 Russian Survey of the Karabagh Province: A Primary Source on the Demography and Economy of Karabagh in the Early 19th Century.
At the end of 1822, following the flight of Mahdi-qoli Khan of Karabagh to Iran, Russia annexed the province and sent two officials to conduct a survey of the population of Karabagh and the taxes collected by the last khan. The survey, composed of 35 registers in Russian, was completed in the spring of 1823 and send to Tiflis, the Russian headquarters for the Caucasus. In 1866 the government printing office in Tiflis published a very small quantity of the survey for official use. The document became rare and, for all intents and purposes, unobtainable.
Following the demands of the Armenians of Nogorno-Karabagh for self-determination, Azeri historians, led by the late Ziya Buniatov, started a campaign to deny the Armenian historic presence in the region. First, they prepared new editions of books by local Persian-speaking Muslim chroniclers (written in the 18-19th centuries and published in Baku in Russian and Azeri translations between 1921 and 1970), and blatantly deleted most references to the Armenians. Second, they sent the new editions free of charge to many university libraries in Europe, Russia and the US. Third, they announced that the Armenians of Mountainous Karabagh had arrived there only after 1828, when Russia, following the Treaty of Turkmenchay had encouraged the settlement of thousands of Armenians from Iran into the region. This became and remains the official Azeri view (see the Azerbaijan Embassy in DC website).
Although, Bournoutian in his three previous books, as well as two articles has totally refuted the Azeri claims, the absence of concrete population figures for Karabagh presented a problem. One either had to rely on Armenian sources (written between the 16th and 19th centuries and unacceptable to the Azeris as biased) or the abovementioned out-of-print Russian and Azeri unadulterated versions. Although both sources mention an Armenian presence in the region, they either present unsubstantiated and exaggerated figures or have no demographic information whatsoever.
The 1823 Russian Survey of Karabagh, conducted by neutral officials, lists the number of families and their ethnicity in some 300 villages and 300 nomad pastures. It also lists the various taxes paid to the khan’s treasury by each group. It proves conclusively that, in 1822, six years prior to 1828, the Armenians formed the overwhelming majority (some 97%) in the five districts, which later formed Nagorno- Karabagh. Furthermore, the Armenian villages were larger, more productive and the Armenians paid more taxes per capita than the Muslims. The high economic productivity of the Armenian villages is a further indication of their long presence in the region.
Bournoutian’s annotated translation (first in any language) from the Russian original edition (located at the former Lenin Library in Moscow) of this 380-page survey, has a great deal of other information on the demography and economy of Karabagh, which will be of primary interest to scholars of Transcaucasia. It includes a lengthy introduction and commentary, an appendix and maps and should, once and for all, end the discussion regarding the Armenian historic presence in or claims to Nagorno- Karabagh. The book (xiv+467pp. $45.00), available in mid-October can be ordered from Mazda Press, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, or Armenian bookstores.

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