1902 Encyclopedia > Shemaha, Eastern Caucasus

Eastern Caucasus



it was shaken to its foundations, and in consequence the seat of the governor was removed to Baku ; in 1872 (16th January) there occurred a still more terrible shock, from which the town has never recovered. Silk manufacture is the principal industry in Shemaha. In 1873 there were one hundred and thirty silk-winding establishments, owned mostly by Armenians. The industry has, however, since 1864 considerably declined.

The district of Shemaha (4426 square miles), corresponding to the ancient khanate of Shirvan, lies along the southern slope of the main chain of the Eastern Caucasus. It contains a population of 97,801 inhabitants (1S73), of whom 8493 are Russians, 14,838 Armenians, 73,124 Tartars, 638 Jats (old Persian tribe), and 708 Jews. As everywhere in Transcaucasia, the number of males is considerably in excess over the females (100 to 81). The district occupies a sparsely-wooded mountainous region, completely shut up on the north, and open to the dry, large, and mostly desolate valley of Kura on the south. The climate is generally healthy, rather dry and moderately warm ; in the lower parts the people stiffer from malarious fever. The annual rainfall in Shemaha is.14o52 inches, the mean summer temperature 73° Fahr., winter 3I°. The soil, mostly of the Tertiary formation, is very rich and of considerable variety. This district occupies in Transcaucasia a foremost place in vine-growing and in the silk industry. The vine region, in the south-west of the district, is a long strip of land of breadth varying from 4 to 20 miles. The highest level of the vine is about 2500 feet above the sea. The plant is left unprotected in winter, and owing to the abundance of water occasioned by the melting snows and the heavy rains in spring, there is no need of irrigation. According to a general survey made in 1875 there are in the district 3098 vineyards, occupying a total of 1754 acres. The other products are principally wheat, cotton, and rice. In 1875 the annual vintage at Shemaha was calculated at about 62,160 gallons. The best wine is that of Matrassy. The province of Shirvan, now the district of Shemaha; has been frequently the theatre of terrible struggles and bloodshed. It was conquered by the Persians in 1501 under Shah Ismail T., and it continued with brief interruptions to be a part of the Persian dominions until the fall of the Safawi dynasty.

Shemaha, the capital of Shirvtin, was sacked in 1712 by the Lesghians; eight years later the town and the whole province were devastated by a certain Daghestani, Ala ud-Daulah, who was later recognized by Persia as the khan of Shirvan. In 1724 the kbanate was taken by Turkey, but ten years later Nadir Shah of Persia roconquered it after terrible ravages. On the departure of Nadir Shah soon afterwards Shirv:in enjoyed independence under the rule of Mahmud Seyyid, who rebuilt Shemaha. The Russians entered Shirvan first in 1723, but soon retired. In 1795 they captured Shemaha as well as Baku ; but the conquest was once more abandoned, and Shirvitn was not finally annexed to Russia until November 1805 after the voluntary submission of its last khan



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