After the death of Muhammad in 632, Arab armies swept northwards through Iran, captured Tbilisi in 645 and established an emirate here. While not being interested in colonizing Eastern Georgia, they forced King Stepanoz II to pay tribute and obey their commands.
Georgian culture was continuing to develop uninterrupted, and the Silk Road was meanwhile flourishing. By the X century Arab rule in Western Georgia had weakened and the Byzantine Empire was rapidly expanding. Byzantine Emperor Basil II was able to retake most of Georgia and unite east and west as one nation.