SHEMAKHA, a town of Russian Transcaucasia, in the government of Baku, 70 m. W. of the town of Baku, and in 40 38' N. and 48 40' E. It has some 20,000 inhabitants, consisting of Tatars (75%), Armenians and Russians. Shemakha was the capital of the khanate of Shirvan, and was known to the Roman geographer Ptolemy as Kamachia. About the middle of the 16th century it was the seat of an English commercial factory, under the traveller Jenkinson, afterwards envoy extraordinary of the khan of Shirvan to Ivan the Terrible of Russia. In 1742 Shemakha was taken and destroyed by Nadir Shah of Persia, who, to punish the inhabitants for their creed (Sunnite Mahommedanism), built a new town under the same name about 1 6 m. to the W., at the foot of the main chain of the Caucasus. The new Shemakha was at different times a residence of the khan of Shirvan, but it was finally abandoned, and the old town rebuilt. The Russians first entered Shirvan in 1723, but soon retired. In 1795 they captured Shemakha as well as Baku; but the conquest was once more abandoned, and Shirvan was not finally annexed to Russia until 1805.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)