Archil of Kakheti
Archil was a Christian
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 prince of the eastern Georgian
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 region of Kakheti
Kakheti is a historical province in Eastern Georgia inhabited by Kakhetians who speak a local dialect of Georgian. It is bordered by the small mountainous province of Tusheti and the Greater Caucasus mountain range to the north, Russian Federation to the Northeast, Azerbaijan to the Southeast, and...

 who flourished in the eighth century and was executed by the Arabs for having refused to convert to Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. Historians are divided as to the years of his activity and death, but Professor Cyril Toumanoff
Cyril Toumanoff
Cyril Leo Heraclius, Prince Toumanoff was an United States-based historian and genealogist who mostly specialized in the history and genealogies of medieval Georgia, Armenia, the Byzantine Empire, and Iran...

 of Georgetown University
Georgetown University
Georgetown University is a private, Jesuit, research university whose main campus is in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Catholic university in the United States...

 has relatively reliably established 736 to 786 as the period of his princely rule.

Archil's biography is related in the medieval corpus of Georgian chronicles known as The Life of Kartli. One of its parts, the c. 800 history by Pseudo-Juansher
Juansheriani were an offshoot of the royal Chosroid dynasty of Iberia whose appanage consisted of lands in Inner Iberia and in Kakheti....

, terminates with a brief account of Archil's tenure as prince, while another one – The Martyrdom of Archil, a brief text of uncertain age (between early 9th and late 11th centuries) inserted just after Ps.-Juansher’s chronicle – narrowly focuses on Archil's martyrdom.

Archil was a scion of the former royal dynasty of Iberia
Caucasian Iberia
Iberia , also known as Iveria , was a name given by the ancient Greeks and Romans to the ancient Georgian kingdom of Kartli , corresponding roughly to the eastern and southern parts of the present day Georgia...

Kartli is a historical region in central-to-eastern Georgia traversed by the river Mtkvari , on which Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, is situated. Known to the Classical authors as Iberia, Kartli played a crucial role in ethnic and political consolidation of the Georgians in the Middle Ages...

) – the Chosroids
Chosroid Dynasty
The Chosroids were a dynasty of the kings and later of the presiding princes of the early Georgian state of Iberia, natively known as Kartli, from the fourth to the ninth centuries. Of Iranian origin and a branch of the Mihranid House, the family accepted Christianity as their official religion c...

 – and a son of Prince Step’anoz II (r. 685-736). His rule coincided with the Arab conquests in Caucasia. The 736-7 expedition by Marwan b. Muhammad forced Archil and his brother Mihr to flee to the west through Egrisi
Lazica or Egrisi in Georgian |Georgia]], named after the Laz tribe, which at some time dominated the local ruling élite.The kingdom flourished between the 6th century BC and the 7th century AD. It covered part of the territory of the former kingdom Colchis and subjugated the territory of modern...

 into Abasgia where they joined the local dynast Leon I in the defense of Anacopia against the invading Arabs. Returning to Kakheti, Archil launched a program of reconstruction and Christianization
The historical phenomenon of Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire peoples at once...

 of his mountainous pagan subjects. The Georgian texts also relate the rise of the Georgian Bagratids, a future royal dynasty, during the time of Archil.

Around 786, eastern Georgia was subjected to another Arab invasion, this time led by Khuzayma b. Khazim, who had been reconfirmed as viceroy of Arab-controlled Caucasia (Armīniya) by the caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

Abu Abdullah Musa ibn Mahdi al-Hadi was the fourth Abbasid caliph who succeeded his father Al-Mahdi and ruled from 169 AH until his death in 170 AH ....

 (r. 785-786). Archil, in an untenable situation, pleaded for peace. Khuzayma b. Khazim promised Archil gifts in return for his acceptance of Islam, but the prince refused and was condemned to prison. Then the viceroy was informed of Archil being a descendant of the Chosroid kings who allegedly knew the location of a treasure hidden by the Byzantine emperor Heraclius
Heraclius was Byzantine Emperor from 610 to 641.He was responsible for introducing Greek as the empire's official language. His rise to power began in 608, when he and his father, Heraclius the Elder, the exarch of Africa, successfully led a revolt against the unpopular usurper Phocas.Heraclius'...

 while evacuating Caucasia in the 620s. Ibn Khazim intensified his effort to win Archil over to Islam and promised to make him "general" and "king", but when realized that his efforts were in vain, he had the prince beheaded
Decapitation is the separation of the head from the body. Beheading typically refers to the act of intentional decapitation, e.g., as a means of murder or execution; it may be accomplished, for example, with an axe, sword, knife, wire, or by other more sophisticated means such as a guillotine...


Archil was survived by two sons – Juansher and Iovane (John) – and four daughters: Guarandukht, Mariam, Mirandukht, and Shushan. Upon Archil’s death, Iovane evacuated to Egrisi while Juansher remained in Kakheti.

Archil has been canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church which commemorates him on June 21 (N.S.
Old Style and New Style dates
Old Style and New Style are used in English language historical studies either to indicate that the start of the Julian year has been adjusted to start on 1 January even though documents written at the time use a different start of year ; or to indicate that a date conforms to the Julian...

July 4).
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