BASIAN, BATTLE OF
(1202). Decisive battle between the Georgians and the Seljuk Turks of Rüm near
Basian, in the vicinity of Erzurum (in modern Turkey); the date is
usually given as 1203 but recent research suggest that the battle was
fought in the summer of 1202. Under the rule of Kings David IV Aghmashenebeli and Giorgi III, Georgia emerged as one of the most powerful states in the Near East. The reign of Queen Tamar (1178–1213) further underscored Georgian might after a large Islamic coalition was crushed in the battle of Shamkhor in 1195. Alarmed by the Georgian success, Sultan Rukn ad-Din Suleiman Shah of Rüm (1196–1204) rallied the forces of the Muslim principalities against Georgia. The massive Islamic army (estimates range between 150,000–400,000 men) advanced toward the Georgian borders in 1203 and was met by the 90,000-strong Georgian army under David Soslani at
Basian. The Georgian army was deployed with western (apkhazni da
imerni) and eastern (amerni da her-kakhni) Georgian troops on flanks and some 40,000 men under Shalva and Ivane Akhaltsikheili in the center while Zakaria Mkhagrdzeli led the advance guard.