The Abasgoi or Abasgians were a tribe living on the territory of the historical kingdom of Colchis, on the eastern coast of the Black Sea.

They were first mentioned by the Roman historian Flavius Arrianus (2nd century); The Abasgoi had their principality (see Abasgia). At that time, they lived approximately between present-day Sokhumi and the Kodori River, north of the Apsilae, and were vassals of the Roman Empire. There is no information about their ethnicity in the sources. Because of their name, some researchers consider them to be the ancestors of the modern Abkhazians, while others consider them to be a Kartvelian tribe. The name Abasgoi itself is a modified form of the ethnonym Abkhazian by the Greeks and, according to another view, it is related to the ethnonym Abaza. By the 4th century, the Abasgoi moved and occupied the territory to the north of Sokhumi, thereby oppressing the Sanigs tribe living there, and at the same time, they became subordinates of the Kingdom of Lazica. In the middle of the 6th century, during the reign of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I, they were converted to Christianity, although according to the Byzantine historian Procopius of Caesarea (6th century), paganism was still widespread among them. From the 1st half of the 7th century, the ethnonym Abasgoi united all the tribes living in this area (the Abasgoi, as well as the Apsilae, the Mingrelians and Lazi, the Svans) and was equivalent to the Georgian tribal term Abkhazian (see Abkhazians). After the 8th century, foreign sources refer to the Abasgoi as Abkhazians, sometimes as the entire population of Western Georgia (Kingdom of Abkhazia), and sometimes as Georgians as a whole.

Literature: see in the article about Abasgia.

N. Lomouri