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pengoyo

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I am very happy to see the Caucasian culture family is being added to the game. But I noticed that there is still a lack of cultural diversity in the Caucasus despite the region being very culturally diverse. So I decided to do a dive into the history of the region to find out more about what it looked like in the ancient era. These are my suggested new culture given my research while keeping game balance in mind (aka merging smaller cultures together and splitting larger one).

Note while I definitely think all the Caucasian cultures should be in a single culture family in I:R. For the purpose of adding some structure, I’ll present my proposal broken into the 3 Language families that the Caucasian culture group contains.


Khartvelian:
So I’d keep the Colchian and Ibero cultures that are already in the game, represented by green and white on my map respectively.

I’d add to these a new culture, Khaldian (Taochian is another possible name), shown in red on my map. This culture represent a combination of the southern Kartvelian people that were once independent but by the start of I:R have now been conquered. Note that this culture is also used to expand the Khartvelians further southwest into Anatolia as seems to be their historic range. Note it could have been stretched even further south, but I was working under an assumption that some of the Khartvelians had already been assimilated by the Armenians.
the Khaldians (combining the Tzannoi, Khalybes, Tibarenians, and others) along the coast and in the mountains to the south, til about Polemonion.
The Greeks occupied small parts of the coastal strip, while the tribes lived on the slopes. If we look at later sources, they still stretch all the way to about south of Kotyora on both the northern and southern side of the Pontic Mountains. I'd end their range around 1786. Most of these fell under the overlordship of Lesser Armenia, probably as tributaries. I don't think its worth presenting them as a separate tag though. Rather the southern slopes should be Khaldian majority, with the northern slopes having some of them in all current Graeco-Pontic provinces, and replacing the Pontic tribesmen there.

Another Khartvelian culture is the Suans (ancestors of the modern day Svans). These are the most linguistically distinct Khartvelian people and diverged from the rest of the Khartvelians around a 1,000 years before the start of I:R. They could be added if their area in the mountains was added to the I:R map. If added they should also be given a tag, Suania, that's a tributary of Colchis. The new Suania tag would control all the territory of the Suans culture except for the 2 west most teritories which aren't connected to the main Suans area. If this culture is not large enough for the devs to add (especially if the new territories are not added), then it can be left as Colchis as that's the closest related culture. Below you can see @Samitte's proposal for add new territories to the Caucus region.

Here's the next map update proposal, this time for Colchis and Suanetia. I've also included my interpretation of what Phasis based on the sources we have, with its port in the lake, and its rather large wetland. The terrain needs some more work, though, it is really hard to follow specific valleys without the heightmap.

Next up will probably be Inner Kartli, which has seen some large changes, or the Armenian heartland, which has mainly been made more sensible.

Legend:
Red Numerals - New Provinces.
Yellow Numerals - Reused provinces.

colchis.png

Disclaimer, W.I.P. image, mainly for the purpose of territories, any C&C welcome!

New Provinces:
I - Kukhlor Pass, an uninhabitable Mountain pass. This province is partial guesswork due to the highmap having been leveled here, but this is the approximate area of the Klukhor pass.
II - Anaklia (Anak'lia), covering the Swamplands around the mouth of the Enguri river. (Unlike what the same copy-pasted sentence on the internet claims, this is not Heraclea which historians place near the Adler peninsula)
III - Seti, covering the upper Enguri Mountain valley, a large province settled by hardy Suanians, the town of Seti lies at the very end of the valley.
IV - Ushguli, covering the uppermost Enguri Mountain valley, and the connection to Tsageri. An important area connecting the Suanian lands.
V - Tsageri, settled on another Mountain valley. This was one of the more densely settled valleys of Suania, together with Orbeli.
VI - Orbeli, covering the Mountain valley of the upper Rioni, connecting to Tsageri via a small pass. This was the most densely settled of the mountain valleys.
VII - Gebi, the uppermost part of the Rioni valley, which also connects to the Mamison Pass. It is a Mountain province.
Note: I was mistaken in an earlier post describing a pass on the other side of this province, its been a while since I read Braund's book.
VIII - Mamison Pass, another north-south route across the mountains goes via this Mountain pass.
IX - Kaspiskari, an exonym for a fort on this side of the Mamison pass, probably built by a group of Caucasian peoples belonging to the Circassians or Chechens. A Mountain province.

Remove and Reuse Provinces:
I - Modinakhe > Dimni, covering the Forested hills behind Vardistsikhe.

All of these would probably be under Colchian control, except for IX - Kaspiskari, which would be under control of a tag to the north (though, it would suit to add in more Caucasian cultures in this area.)
So in the map above, Suans would be added to territories 3-8 and the pass including territory 1. 9 would be the Nakhamatean (see below)

Northeast Caucasian
This group is currently represent by the Albanians in game (orange on my map). As per @Samitte advise I'd expand them north a bit. I’d also split the Caspians from them (more on the Caspians below).

A new Northeast Caucasian culture is Nakhamatean (alternatively Durjuk/Dzurdzuk), marked with blue on my map. These are the historical ancestors of the Nakh people. While adding this culture would add some cultural diversity to the Legia, I think a new tag, Durjurkia, could be added. Durjurkia would control the 5 (or 6) territories of Nakhamatean culture in Legia and would be a tributary of Legia.

Also I'd recommend Dido (alternatively Didoian), marked with purple on my map. These are the historical ancestors of the Tsez people. Adding Dido would require carving into the impassible terrain (indicated by the purple dots) to nestle this culture in the Caucasus Mountains. Additionally I think new Tag, Didoya, should be added as the controller of these new territories. This tag could be left independent or as a tributary of Legia. The one purple territory already on the map is were I believe the ancestors of the Avars are during this period (this is definitely a bit tenuous) and since they are closely related to the Dido, I thought they could be represented with Dido culture in that area. Lastly, because the Dido culture is really small, especially if the new Mountain territories are not included, the Dido and Nakhmatean cultures could be combined. Either name could work, but I'd personally recommend Dido, as the term was in use during the I:R period and it is already a name that can be used to refer to a whole sub-branch of Northeast Caucasian.

I think both of these new tags would be good additions to the game as they add some more possibilities for game play in the region.

The new Northeast Caucasian culture I’d recommend is the Dido (or Didoian), marked with blue on my map. These are the historical ancestors of the Tsez. While adding this culture would add some cultural diversity to the Legia, I think a new tag, Didoya, could be added. This tag would be on the north side of the Caucasus Mountains and would control the dido culture area currently in Legia. Could even carve a bit into the impassible terrain (indicated by the blue dots) to more acurately nestle this tag in the Caucasus mountains.


Northwest Caucasian
This entire language family currently has no representative culture on the map despite being present and in power in the region during this era. To rectify this, I’d add the Cercetae and Heniochi cultures.

The Cercetaeans (or alternatively Zikian), coloured magenta on my map, are thought to be the ancestors of the Circassian people. I propose that the dominant culture of the Zygia tag become Cercetaean. Zygia is thought to have spoken a Northwest Caucasian language, most likely the precursor to Circassian, thus making Cercetaean, instead of Sindi, the dominant culture would better reflect this (I think Sindi and Bosporean should still be present in the tag to show the influence of Scythian and Hellenic culture). Additionally, this culture would help represent how Northwest Caucasian was thought to have extend much further north than its present distribution (there is some debate about whether the Maeotians and Sindi are Northwest Caucasian themselves, I decide to be conservative and leave those two cultures as Scythian in I:R). I think Cercetaean could be extended even further northward (the magenta dots), but that might create problems for Sindi as there would not be much of that culture left on the map. This might be fine as it could just represent Sindi having recently become the overlords of this area.

The Heniochians (alternative name could be Abasgian, but might be more contentious) are thought to be the ancestors of the Abkhazian people (note they might actually be a Khartvelian people, but as both linguistic groups are in the Caucasian family in I:R, that debate can luckily be side stepped). This culture would be found in the Heniochia tag (same area as the yellow on my map) and as such the Heniochia tag’s dominate culture and characters should be changed over to this culture. Note at only 4 or 5 teritories with Heniochian culture it is definitely the smallest of my proposed cultures. So if that is too small for I:R, the culture could be folded into the Cercetaean culture.


Iranian
I’d also add one new culture to the Iranian culture family, the Caspians. The Caspians might not actually be Iranian, but, either are Iranian or are heavily influenced by Iranian culture. And most sources I could find put them in southern Azerbaijan along the coast of the Caspian sea. They might also be the ancestors of the Talysh, Gilaks, and Mazandaranis. Note this might currently be represented in game by Albanians with the Zoroastrian religion. This would just make it more definitive. Note a new Caspian territory should be added to the map (the cyan dot) to allow access along the coast of the Caspian Sea.

Alternatively the new Caspian culture could be made part of the Caucasian culture group, but still with Zoroastrian as the religion of the pops and with an Iranian names list. This would be to represent the alternative threory that the Caspians were a heavily Iranianized Caucasian people. While I think this theory is less likely, it might be more interesting from a gameplay perspective as it would make the pops/area a unique combination.


I think these additional cultures would make the Caucasus Mountains feel like the ethnically diverse region it is. And with the new cultural integration system to be added in the next update, this cultural diversity can have a meaningful impact of the game through multi-ethnic states.


TL;DR (cultures separated by slashes are ones that the Devs can combine if they want to add larger cultures)
New Caucasian Cultures
Khaldian (red)
Dido/Nakhamatean (purple/blue)
Cercetaean/Heniochian (magenta/yellow)
Suans (turquoise) [if not big enough, combine into Colchian]

New Iranian Culture or Caucasian Culture with Zoroastrianism religion
Caspian (cyan)

I also have attached a map showing where I’d add these new cultures (note green, white and orange are Colchian, Ibero and Albanian respectively).
Caucasian Culture Map6.jpg

edit: formatting

edited: based on feedback from @Samitte, for more details see their reply down below (including a new Durjukia tag)
Caucasian Culture Map.jpg

Also you can check out a proposal by @Samitte to improve Armenia (plus the surrounding areas).
 
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@Samitte I would be very interested in your opinion of this proposal as you had suggested breaking Colchian up in the Caucasian and Anatolian culture thread.

This list looks good, thouhg I would split Colchian up even more. Along the Rioni, Colchians proper, north of there the Suanians, the Henochians in the north-west along the coast, and the Khaldians (combining the Tzannoi, Khalybes, Tibarenians, and others) along the coast and in the mountains to the south, til about Polemonion.

The Colchians proper, mostly inhabiting the lands along the Rioni (the Colchis region in game, plus the far north of Bekhyria and the Suaneti provinces along the river), the Suanians, living in and around the 5323 wasteland, the Heniochians, who lived on the coastal strip you indicated (I'd count 1750 and 1739 as Suanian, and the many tribes to the south till Polemonion, united as Khaldians
I had not gone as far as you had as I worried it would make the cultures too small. But your Khaldian proposal survives in a slightly modified form.
 

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Was already writing one, but then the sun decided to say hello and I went to grab some Vitamin D instead.


I’d add to these a new culture, Khaldian (Taochian is another possible name), shown in red on my map. This culture represent a combination of the southern Kartvelian people that were once independent but by the start of I:R have now been conquered. Note that this culture is also used to expand the Khartvelians further southwest into Anatolia as seems to be their historic range. Note it could have been stretched even further, but I was working under an assumption that some of the Khartvelians had already been assimilated by the Armenians and Greeks
I agree with a Khaldian grouping (of course :p). They probably would not have been assimilated by the Greeks at all, because Greek territory did not extend much beyond their coastal towns which were at this time still small. The Greeks occupied small parts of the coastal strip, while the tribes lived on the slopes. If we look at later sources, they still stretch all the way to about south of Kotyora on both the northern and southern side of the Pontic Mountains. I'd end their range around 1786. Most of these fell under the overlordship of Lesser Armenia, probably as tributaries. I don't think its worth presenting them as a separate tag though. Rather the southern slopes should be Khaldian majority, with the northern slopes having some of them in all current Graeco-Pontic provinces, and replacing the Pontic tribesmen there.

Namewise, Khaldian fits more in my opinion because most of Tayk/Tao is wastelands 5196 and 5197.

Northeast Caucasian

This group is currently represent by the Albanians in game (orange on my map). I’d keep them as they are, except, I’d split the Caspians from them (more on the Caspians below).
Was thinking of proposing the same as well. However their range likely extended much further north along the Caspian till at least 7603.

The new Northeast Caucasian culture I’d recommend is the Dido (or Didoian), marked with blue on my map. These are the historical ancestors of the Tsez. While adding this culture would add some cultural diversity to the Legia, I think a new tag, Didoya, could be added. This tag would be on the north side of the Caucasus Mountains and would control the dido culture area currently in Legia. Could even carve a bit into the impassible terrain (indicated by the blue dots) to more acurately nestle this tag in the Caucasus mountains.
How do they relate to the Durjuks/Dzurdzuks? Because thats about the same area I was thinking of proposing to add them. In my research I have the Dido mainly centred on what is wasteland in the game (inside 5325 and 5326) with the Durjuks/Dzurdzuks roughly in the range of provinces you marked blue. I would keep 1749 as Kolkhian though, and add 7629 to this larger grouping of peoples.

EDIT: Why I think 1749 should remain Kolkhian is because this area was Suanian, which are best folded into Kolkhian as opposed to this North-Central grouping.

Northwest Caucasian
This entire language family currently has no representative culture on the map despite being present and in power in the region during this era. To rectify this, I’d add the Cercetae and Heniochi cultures.

.... (cut out he middle to make it smaller)....

The Heniochians (alternative name could be Abasgian, but might be more contentious) are thought to be the ancestors of the Abkhazian people (note they might actually be a Khartvelian people, but as both linguistic groups are in the Caucasian family in I:R, that debate can luckily be side stepped). This culture would be found in the Heniochia tag (same area as the yellow on my map) and as such the Heniochia tag’s dominate culture and characters should be changed over to this culture. Note at only 4 settlements with Heniochian culture it is definitely the smallest of my proposed cultures. So if that is too small for I:R, the culture could be folded into the Cercetaean culture.
I think your second proposal to tie together the Heniokhians with the other Northwest Caucasian (NWC) groups has merit. Its hard to find one defining name for all of them since they are such a diverse bunch, but I would go with Zygian/Zikhian, since I believe there's still debate on whether the Kerketaeans/Cercetaeans were originally NWC or not. Though my material on this is a bit older and this debate might not be the case anymore. As for this wider grouping, I would add provs 1740 and 7622 to that as well, to incorporate some more NWC peoples.

Iranian
I’d also add one new culture to the Iranian culture family, the Caspians. The Caspians might not actually be Iranian, but, either are Iranian or are heavily influenced by Iranian culture. And most sources I could find put them in southern Azerbaijan along the coast of the Caspian sea. They might also be the ancestors of the Talysh, Gilaks, and Mazandaranis. Note this might currently be represented in game by Albanians with the Zoroastrian religion. This would just make it more definitive.
As I mentioned before, I'd extend their range a bit further north. The Kaspians are sadly even more obscure then the other groups in the area, which is why I am hesitant at splitting them off. Especially when by Strabo's time are gone. (Assimilated, moved, dead, no mention of where they went)

I think these additional cultures would make the Caucasus Mountains feel like the ethnically diverse region it is. And with the new cultural integration system to be added in the next update, this cultural diversity can have a meaningful impact of the game through multi-ethnic states.
Fully agreed.


Lastly, how did you make the map like that? It looks like an ideal method to visualise my proposal for cultural changes in other parts of the region.
 
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Was already writing one, but then the sun decided to say hello and I went to grab some Vitamin D instead.
Well there's not much sun here in Canada right now so I don't have that distraction lol

I agree with a Khaldian grouping (of course :p). They probably would not have been assimilated by the Greeks at all, because Greek territory did not extend much beyond their coastal towns which were at this time still small. The Greeks occupied small parts of the coastal strip, while the tribes lived on the slopes. If we look at later sources, they still stretch all the way to about south of Kotyora on both the northern and southern side of the Pontic Mountains. I'd end their range around 1786. Most of these fell under the overlordship of Lesser Armenia, probably as tributaries. I don't think its worth presenting them as a separate tag though. Rather the southern slopes should be Khaldian majority, with the northern slopes having some of them in all current Graeco-Pontic provinces, and replacing the Pontic tribesmen there.
That makes sense. And I agrree that they shouldn't be a separate tag given I:R start date.


Namewise, Khaldian fits more in my opinion because most of Tayk/Tao is wastelands 5196 and 5197.
I agree, but figured I'd give the devs options

Was thinking of proposing the same as well. However their range likely extended much further north along the Caspian till at least 7603.
Awesome, was debating this myself.

How do they relate to the Durjuks/Dzurdzuks? Because thats about the same area I was thinking of proposing to add them. In my research I have the Dido mainly centred on what is wasteland in the game (inside 5325 and 5326) with the Durjuks/Dzurdzuks roughly in the range of provinces you marked blue. I would keep 1749 as Kolkhian though, and add 7629 to this larger grouping of peoples.
The Durjuks/Dzurdzuks are thought to be related to the Dido as they are both Northeast Caucasian but they are the Nakh branch, where the Dido are the Avar branch (and the Albanaians are the Lezgic branch). While most linguistic analyses put the Nakh branch as distinct from the Avar branch, as neither group is a major player durring this time and they are geographically close I was planing on using the blue culture to represent a combination of Northeast Caucasians in the North part of the Caucasus Mountains.

You are definitely right the the Dido are more into the impassible terrain then the Durjuks (hence my suggestion to add some new territories there) and so it might make more sense to use Durjuk instead of Dido as the name of the culture. I had gone with Dido as at least the sources I found had them present in this time period where as the Durjuk seem to have been present in the Roman era.

I think your second proposal to tie together the Heniokhians with the other Northwest Caucasian (NWC) groups has merit. Its hard to find one defining name for all of them since they are such a diverse bunch, but I would go with Zygian/Zikhian, since I believe there's still debate on whether the Kerketaeans/Cercetaeans were originally NWC or not. Though my material on this is a bit older and this debate might not be the case anymore. As for this wider grouping, I would add provs 1740 and 7622 to that as well, to incorporate some more NWC peoples.
I had actually gone with Cercetaeans/Kerketaeans specifically because I thought the name not being associated with either the Zygia or Heniochia tags would make a better combined name for the two cultures. But I will admit that there does still seem to be debate about to what group the Cercetaeans belong, though it seemed, at least to me, to lean more in Northwest Caucasians favour than the debate about the Maeoteans or Sindi.

I had debated province 1740 as there seems to be a lot of debate about how far Khartvelian people extend up along the coast during this period. So this change I'm a little more hesitant on, though it would increase the size of the Heniochian/Cercetaean culture.

The Kaspians are sadly even more obscure then the other groups in the area, which is why I am hesitant at splitting them off. Especially when by Strabo's time are gone. (Assimilated, moved, dead, no mention of where they went)
I agree that this is the most tenuous new culture I suggested. I mainly included them for three reasons. The first is that Albanian is a rather large culture and this was the only reasonable one I could find for splitting it up. The second is that they seemed to be around during the Persian empire (though a century still gives them plenty of time to already have disappeared). The third is that there is a claim (though I can't find evidence for it besides they are thought to be Iranians) that the Caspians are the ancestors of the Talysh, Gilaks, and Mazandaranis. The Talysh are at least an Iranian people just south of where I propose to place the Caspians. And them moving south during the I:R period is some that seem at least reasonable to me.

Lastly, how did you make the map like that? It looks like an ideal method to visualise my proposal for cultural changes in other parts of the region.
I downloaded a empty paintable map (the one I used is linked here) and then just cropped and edited it with GIMP (but any Photoshop style program will work). Though a bit tendious, the bucket tool was my friend for filling in the colours.

I updated the map to include your recomend changes. Also 7605 is territory I have debated making blue (it's the one now marked with a blue square) as this is another one I have been debating as it could be used to represent other Northeast Caucasian people who actually reside in the impassible terrain.

Edit: details/clarity

Edit: Thinking about it more, could add Albanian to 7605 instead of Dido/Durjuk
 
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You are definitely right the the Dido are more into the impassible terrain then the Durjuks (hence my suggestion to add some new territories there) and so it might make more sense to use Durjuk instead of Dido as the name of the culture. I had gone with Dido as at least the sources I found had them present in this time period where as the Durjuk seem to have been present in the Roman era.
Kartvelian sources have quite some interactions between the Durjuks and Iberians, starting with the Durjuk wife of Pharnavaz I (299-234 BCE). Of course they are not perfect, when is a chronicle ever, and have some very obvious problems. But the Kartvelian/Durjuk interactions seem to have some toponymic and archaeological support as well.

I agree that this is the most tenuous new culture I suggested. I mainly included them for three reasons. The first is that Albanian is a rather large culture and this was the only reasonable one I could find for splitting it up. The second is that they seemed to be around during the Persian empire (though a century still gives them plenty of time to already have disappeared). The third is that there is a claim (though I can't find evidence for it besides they are thought to be Iranians) that the Caspians are the ancestors of the Talysh, Gilaks, and Mazandaranis. The Talysh are at least an Iranian people just south of where I propose to place the Caspians. And them moving south during the I:R period is some that seem at least reasonable to me.
Had a look at the research behind that. While the article doesn't mention the Caspians specifically, I agree that it is certainly reasonable. Especially with the coastal strip leading from there to Gilan (which I just noticed is missing in game!).


I downloaded a empty paintable map (the one I used is linked here) and then just cropped and edited it with GIMP (but any Photoshop style program will work). Though a bit tendious, the bucket tool was my friend for filling in the colours.
Cheers! Thats going to speed up some things a lot.


I updated the map to include your recomend changes. Also 7605 is territory I have debated making blue (it's the one now marked with a blue square) as this is another one I have been debating as it could be used to represent other Northeast Caucasian people who actually reside in the impassible terrain.
I was thinking on them too, while most of them were in the Wasteland part of the map, that province probably had some Caucasian peoples living there. I'd make them Albanian as opposed to blue. Where the Dido/Durjuks were more involved with the Kartvelians, that side of the Caucasus seemed to be more related to the Albanian side.
 

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Kartvelian sources have quite some interactions between the Durjuks and Iberians, starting with the Durjuk wife of Pharnavaz I (299-234 BCE). Of course they are not perfect, when is a chronicle ever, and have some very obvious problems. But the Kartvelian/Durjuk interactions seem to have some toponymic and archaeological support as well.
Thanks for the information. That definitely gives them support IMHO.

I guess the follow up is do you think the should get a tag on the North side of the Caucasus Mountains? I did come across a mention, citing Georgian Chronicles, of the Durjuks blocking the Dariel Pass during the reign of King Mirvan I (though this would be about 150-200 years after I:R start).

I could see giving a Durjuk tag all or most of the blue culture area in Legia (though I'll admit its probably a bit of a stretch, but so are a lot of the tags in I:R)

Especially with the coastal strip leading from there to Gilan (which I just noticed is missing in game!).
Yeah I'd notice it was missing too (especally when I did a Parthian campaign). I don't know the region too well, so didn't know if that part of the coast was particularly treacherous there.

Cheers! Thats going to speed up some things a lot.
No worries. Glad I could help :)

I was thinking on them too, while most of them were in the Wasteland part of the map, that province probably had some Caucasian peoples living there. I'd make them Albanian as opposed to blue. Where the Dido/Durjuks were more involved with the Kartvelians, that side of the Caucasus seemed to be more related to the Albanian side.
That makes sense to me. Thanks.

edit: details/tag proposal
 
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I guess the follow up is do you think the should get a tag on the North side of the Caucasus Mountains? I did come across a mention, citing Georgian Chronicles, of the Durjuks blocking the Dariel Pass during the reign of King Mirvan I (though this would be about 150-200 years after I:R start).
The political status of the Durjuks is hard to pin down. The Georgian Chronicles initially portrays their Siedlungslegende as a people beholden to the Khazars, which if we take into account the long line of nomadic peoples that lived north of the Caucasus they are probably a stand in for Scythians. So there is some basis to have them as a tributary vassal. They also seemed to be able to muster quite large forces by themselves, even when accounting for exaggeration.

I could see giving a Durjuk tag all or most of the blue culture area in Legia (though I'll admit its probably a bit of a stretch, but so are a lot of the tags in I:R)
Gotta row with the oars you have. Most of the smaller tags on the Pontic coast are a stretch. But weighing historicity, gameplay, and player expectations I'd say this is a tag worth adding. And having them as a tributary there would not invalidate what we know of them, and provide a bit more je ne sais qoui for this part of the map.

Yeah I'd notice it was missing too (especally when I did a Parthian campaign). I don't know the region too well, so didn't know if that part of the coast was particularly treacherous there.
No it should have been pretty easy goings. Mostly plains and hills squished inbetween the mountains and the Caspian. Which would have been a bit higher, but that doesn't make a big difference here. Compared to the route that exists along the Black Sea along the NW Caucasus it looks like a breeze.
 
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I was thinking on them too, while most of them were in the Wasteland part of the map, that province probably had some Caucasian peoples living there. I'd make them Albanian as opposed to blue. Where the Dido/Durjuks were more involved with the Kartvelians, that side of the Caucasus seemed to be more related to the Albanian side.
So I went back and tried to find info on who was in territory 7605. In my search I found the Khundzia, which reminded me that I had found previously that at least as early as the 5th century (AD/CE unfortunately) the area was inhabited by Avars (who still inhabit the area). And while the Avars and Dido are different people, they are both from the same branch of Northeast Caucasian. This is why I was leaning towards the territory being blue. But eight centuries is a lot of time, but I couldn't find anything earlier talking about that specific area of the Caucasus Mountains.

edit: word
 
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The political status of the Durjuks is hard to pin down. The Georgian Chronicles initially portrays their Siedlungslegende as a people beholden to the Khazars, which if we take into account the long line of nomadic peoples that lived north of the Caucasus they are probably a stand in for Scythians. So there is some basis to have them as a tributary vassal. They also seemed to be able to muster quite large forces by themselves, even when accounting for exaggeration.

Gotta row with the oars you have. Most of the smaller tags on the Pontic coast are a stretch. But weighing historicity, gameplay, and player expectations I'd say this is a tag worth adding. And having them as a tributary there would not invalidate what we know of them, and provide a bit more je ne sais qoui for this part of the map.
I was think it'd be good to add them for game play purposes and having them as tributary nicely resolves the problem with Legia.

No it should have been pretty easy goings. Mostly plains and hills squished inbetween the mountains and the Caspian. Which would have been a bit higher, but that doesn't make a big difference here. Compared to the route that exists along the Black Sea along the NW Caucasus it looks like a breeze.
Well then it's existance would have made expanding in my Parthian campaign easier.
 
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None of us is familiar with the area, therefore everything below is based on what we think about the effects on gameplay.

The Cercetaeans (or alternatively Zikian), coloured magenta on my map, are thought to be the ancestors of the Circassian people. I propose that the dominant culture of the Zygia tag become Cercetaean.
I think your second proposal to tie together the Heniokhians with the other Northwest Caucasian (NWC) groups has merit. Its hard to find one defining name for all of them since they are such a diverse bunch, but I would go with Zygian/Zikhian, since I believe there's still debate on whether the Kerketaeans/Cercetaeans were originally NWC or not. Though my material on this is a bit older and this debate might not be the case anymore. As for this wider grouping, I would add provs 1740 and 7622 to that as well, to incorporate some more NWC peoples.
I had actually gone with Cercetaeans/Kerketaeans specifically because I thought the name not being associated with either the Zygia or Heniochia tags would make a better combined name for the two cultures. But I will admit that there does still seem to be debate about to what group the Cercetaeans belong, though it seemed, at least to me, to lean more in Northwest Caucasians favour than the debate about the Maeoteans or Sindi.

I had debated province 1740 as there seems to be a lot of debate about how far Khartvelian people extend up along the coast during this period. So this change I'm a little more hesitant on, though it would increase the size of the Heniochian/Cercetaean culture.
We think it would be better to have TWO separate cultures, Zygian or Kerketaean/Cercetaean in Zygia and Heniochian or Abasgian in Heniochia.
That would make each of the two countires more unique (and somewhat more challenging).
With a combined culture they would feel too similar to each other.
It would also ecourage any player to conquer the other country very soon because that would give them same culture POPs.
But with separate cultures, every country in the Caucasus would have their own culture (except the greek city-states) and Zygia and Heniochia would not have a single obviously right path for expansion.

TLDR, we strongly favor two cultures as @pengoyo initially proposed.

was think it'd be good to add them for game play purposes and having them as tributary nicely resolves the problem with Legia.
We support that. That would be a nice buffer state between the more advanced kingdoms and the nomadic tribals.

Caspians
:
Would they get an own country tag (perhaps client state)?
 
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Would they get an own country tag (perhaps client state)?
I'd argue no. The area the Kaspians lived in starts out under Atropatene, then becomes part of Armenia, Albania and Parthia at various times. Beyond the occasional nomadic invasions, only two groups really reach some kind of independence/vassal status that we know of on the Caspian shore. The Lp'nik/Lyphinnioi/Lupones and Bazkan. (Both part of the Albanian culture in game) The latter probably moved into the area, but likely did so from north of the river during/because of a nomadic invasion.
 
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None of us is familiar with the area, therefore everything below is based on what we think about the effects on gameplay.
A lot of the information on this area during this period is sparse and debated. So I think gameplay is a useful deciding factor.

We think it would be better to have TWO separate cultures, Zygian or Kerketaean/Cercetaean in Zygia and Heniochian or Abasgian in Heniochia.
That would make each of the two countires more unique (and somewhat more challenging).
With a combined culture they would feel too similar to each other.
It would also ecourage any player to conquer the other country very soon because that would give them same culture POPs.
But with separate cultures, every country in the Caucasus would have their own culture (except the greek city-states) and Zygia and Heniochia would not have a single obviously right path for expansion.

TLDR, we strongly favor two cultures as @pengoyo initially proposed.
That's a good point I hadn't considered. I was mainly think them having the same culture might make for more natural allies as they won't have any opinion malus. But I think you're right that a small neighbor of your culture is more tempting for conquest.

We support that. That would be a nice buffer state between the more advanced kingdoms and the nomadic tribals.
Agreed

Caspians:
Would they get an own country tag (perhaps client state)?
The references to them that I could find were all before I:R (during the Persian empire). So to me they seem like a group that has been thoroughly conquered and might already have disappeared. So I think it makes more sense for them not to have a tag.

edit: wording
 
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I should also add, from a gameplay perspective, adding the Caspians culture slightly strengthens Atropatene and weakens Albania.
 
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Semi-Bumping this, but.

The Armenian ASX names the Dzurdzuks/Durjuks the Nakhmatean-k', probably informed by the Iaxamatai (read: Naxamatai) of Ptolemy. Would this be a reasonable alternative name for them in your opinion? It predates the Georgian works by a bit, and makes for a more Latinised spelling of the name. (Naxamatai/Nakhamatean)

Also looked a bit more into the Caspians in a few Armenian language articles but found nothing not already confirming what we knew. Either a Caucasian or Iranian people (though this article argues the K-S part of their name hints more at a Caucasian origin) who by Strabo's time had dissapeared and the area they lived in was mostly occupied by Cadusians, Amardians, Armenians, and Albanians.

EDIT: Clarified the first point a bit.
 
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Semi-Bumping this, but.
No worries, thanks for the info.

The Armenian ASX names the Dzurdzuks/Durjuks the Nakhmatean-k', probably informed by the Iaxamatai (read: Naxamatai) of Ptolemy. Would this be a reasonable alternative name for them in your opinion? It predates the Georgian works by a bit, and makes for a more Latinised spelling of the name. (Naxamatai/Nakhamatean)
Oh that is interesting as the Dzurdzuk/Durjuks are thought to be the precursors of the Nakh people and Naxamatai/Nakhamatean look a lot etymologically closer (especially the latter which even includes the word Nakh in it). Could use Nakhamatean for the culture and Durjukia for the tag?

Also looked a bit more into the Caspians in a few Armenian language articles but found nothing not already confirming what we knew. Either a Caucasian or Iranian people (though this article argues the K-S part of their name hints more at a Caucasian origin) who by Strabo's time had dissapeared and the area they lived in was mostly occupied by Cadusians, Amardians, Armenians, and Albanians.
I guess an alternative is to make the Caspians part of the Caucasian culture group, but given them the Zoroastrian religion as I have read one theory for the Iranian sounding names on that Egyptian scroll of Caspian names is that they might have been Caucasian culture that was heavily influenced by Iranian culture (a given some other sources alluding to them being Zoroastrianism, it seems giving them Zoroastrianism as the marker of their Iranian influence could make sense). So while I think they were more likely Iranian, having them be Caucasian with Zoroastrian religion would be more unique from a gameplay perspective, which might make it worth it given there is some ambiguity.
 
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Samitte

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Oh that is interesting as the Dzurdzuk/Durjuks are thought to be the precursors of the Nakh people and Naxamatai/Nakhamatean look a lot etymologically closer (especially the latter which even includes the word Nakh in it). Could use Nakhamatean for the culture and Durjukia for the tag?
Yeah sounds find to me.

I guess an alternative is to make the Caspians part of the Caucasian culture group, but given them the Zoroastrian religion as I have read one theory for the Iranian sounding names on that Egyptian scroll of Caspian names is that they might have been Caucasian culture that was heavily influenced by Iranian culture (a given some other sources alluding to them being Zoroastrianism, it seems giving them Zoroastrianism as the marker of their Iranian influence could make sense). So while I think they were more likely Iranian, having them be Caucasian with Zoroastrian religion would be more unique from a gameplay perspective, which might make it worth it given there is some ambiguity.
Yeah, that could make for an interesting combination.
 

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Added Suans culture. I put them where I could find evidence for them. Though I wonder if they should also be further east in this time period as I've seen mention of the Roman/Byzantines wanting Suania to control a pass to block the Persians (and maybe the Scythians), but I couldn't find which pass that would be. Maybe the strategic pass is the Mamison pass?

Alternatively the culture could be left as it is, but just the tag could also control the Mamison pass.
 

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Added Suans culture. I put them where I could find evidence for them. Though I wonder if they should also be further east in this time period as I've seen mention of the Roman/Byzantines wanting Suania to control a pass to block the Persians (and maybe the Scythians), but I couldn't find which pass that would be. Maybe the strategic pass is the Mamison pass?

Alternatively the culture could be left as it is, but just the tag could also control the Mamison pass.
Could likely be the Mamison pass, there are/were a bunch of old Svan communities near there, and Glola lies right in the path towards the Mamison pass. In fact, you can get to Kartli via the Mamison pass if you go right (left brings you to Scythia) and then go up the Roki pass and down the Liakhvi valley.
 

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Well in that case I'll give the Suans the benefit of the doubt as it at least makes Suania more strategically located.

Also made the new Kaspaki territory you proposed Nakhmatean (the ancestors of the Chechens among others) as that's the culture I have near the pass. Though where exactly the border between Northeast (Nakhamatean) and Northwest (Cercetaean) Caucasian is hard to pin down as the North Caucasus isn't well documented during this period.