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Mithridates I (Mihrdat) was the 1st-century king of Iberia (Kartli, modern eastern Georgia) whose reign is evidenced by epigraphic material. Cyril Toumanoff suggests A.D. 58-106 as the years of his reign.

Two inscriptions unearthed at Armazi, Georgia, – one bilingual in Aramaic and Greek, and the other in Greek – identifies Mithridates (Mirdat) as the son of the "great king" Pharsamanes (P'arsman), apparently the Pharasmanes of Iberia of Tacitus’s Annals. The stone inscription in Greek speaks of Mithridates as "the friend of the Caesars" and the king "of the Roman-loving Iberians." It also reports that the Roman emperor Vespasian fortified Armazi for the Iberian king in 75.[1]

Mithridates is ignored by the medieval Georgian chronicles which, instead, report a joint rule of Kartam (Kardzam) and Bartom (Bratman) – in the time when Vespasian’s destruction of Jerusalem in 70 spurred a wave of the refugee Jews to Iberia – and then of their sons – Parsman and Kaos – and grandsons – Azork and Armazel.[2] Several moderns scholars, such as Cyril Toumanoff, consider the Iberian diarchy a pure legend and a "deformed memory of the historical reign of Mithridates I".[3] Of these royal pairs, Professor Giorgi Melikishvili identifies "Azork" as Mithridates’s possible local name and "Armazel" as a territorial epithet, meaning in Georgian "of Armazi."[4]

There is another Greek inscription – found in Rome – an epitaph for Amazaspus, who is named as brother of King Mithridates of Iberia. The inscription records Amazapus’s death at Nisibis, while accompanying the emperor Trajan on his Parthian campaign of 114-117.[5]

Some modern scholars identify Mithridates I with the king Flavius Dades, known from a single Greek inscription around the edge of the base of a large silver dish found at Armazi. The dish was part of the inventory of a rich Roman-era burial conventionally known as "the Bersoumas burial" after the high dignitary Bersoumas to whom, the inscriptions says, this piece was presented by the king Flavius Dades. There is no mention of him in the medieval Georgian written tradition and appears to be the only Roman name attested in the Iberian ruling house, evidently indicating that he held Roman citizenship. The identification of this monarch and his place in the Iberian royal dynasty remains problematic, however.[5]

References

  1. ^ Suny, Ronald Grigor (1994), The Making of the Georgian Nation, p. 15. Indiana University Press, ISBN 0253209153
  2. ^ Rapp, Stephen H. (2003), Studies In Medieval Georgian Historiography: Early Texts And Eurasian Contexts, p. 288. Peeters Publishers, ISBN 90-429-1318-5.
  3. ^ Toumanoff, Cyril (1969), Chronology of the Early Kings of Iberia. Traditio 25: pp. 12-14.
  4. ^ Giorgi L. Kavtaradze. The Interrelationship between the Transcaucasian and Anatolian Populations by the Data of the Greek and Latin Literary Sources, pp. 212-213. The Thracian World at the Crossroads of Civilisations. Reports and Summaries. The 7th International Congress of Thracology. P. Roman (ed.). Bucharest: the Romanian Institute of Thracology, 1996.
  5. ^ a b Braund, David (1993), King Flavius Dades. Zeitschrift fur Papyrologie und Epigraphik 96; 46–50.
Preceded by
Pharasmanes I
King of Iberia
58 – 106
Succeeded by
Amazaspus I
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