Afro-Abkhazians are a group of Black Caucasians that occupy Eastern Europe in the Abkhazia region.

Located in the Caucasus mountains, along the Black Sea, Afro Abkhazians have historically called the border between Russia and Georgia home.

While there’s no argument that this population of Afro-Caucasians exists, historians disagree on how they settled in Eastern Europe.

Photo of Afro-Abkhazian family from “Caucasus. Volume I. The peoples of the Caucasus”, St. Petersburg., Kovalevsky P. I., 1914, | Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Some believe that hundreds of enslaved people were transported to the village of Adzyubzha in the 17th Century during the slave trade to work specifically on citrus plantations. It’s a theory that could be true as Abkhazia was indirectly under Turkish rule under the Ottoman Empire for at least 300 years, beginning in the late 1500s. 

The discrepancies with this theory are geographically speaking, Abkhazia is a difficult area to reach and it’s unclear if Abkhazia was technically under Ottoman rule.  But given context clues of the region during this time, bordering country Armenia was under Turkish rule.

Historians believe the enslaved were through via Egypt, which was also under Turkish rule at the time. Egypt served as a slave-trading center during this time,  which supports the theory that people of African descent were brought over as slaves.

The other theory among scholars is that Afro Abkhazians are descendants of the ancient Colchians – people who lived in Colchis which is now considered present-day Abkhazia. Ancient Greek historian Herodotus was reportedly the first to note that Black people occupied the region as early as 5th Century B.C.  during a visit.

In his early claims and analysis, he reportedly stated, “I have drawn some conclusions on the basis of some marks: First they are dark and have curly hair,” when referring to Afro-Abkhazians.

Little remains known about how many Afro-Abkhazians exist today. Those who remain are believed to have reportedly settled in surrounding areas such as Chlou, Pokvesh, Agdarra, Merkulov, and Sukhumi.