ETHNIC ROOTS of the TATAR PEOPLE
Mirfatykh Z. ZAKIEV
An article from his book
TATARS: PROBLEMS of the HISTORY and LANGUAGE
Collection of articles on problems of lingohistory; revival and development of the Tatar nation. Kazan, 1995. Pp.12-37.
EDITOR'S NOTE: When reference is made to ancient "Turks" or "Turkic" peoples and languages in this text, it should be interpreted as referring to Turanians, meaning the Scythian- and Hun-related peoples, from which the Turkic peoples originate.
§ 1. Modern official historical science about ethnic roots of the Tatar people. The ethnic roots of the Tatar people are connected with its language bearing components – Turkic tribes. The (Russian – Translator’s note) official historical science asserts that the first Türks came to the Eastern Europe from Asia only in the 4 c. AD under a common name of Huns (in Turkic: hen or sen), allegedly in their movement from Asia to Europe, when the so-called Great Resettlement Of The Peoples began.
A popular belief of historians is that before the Great Resettlement Of The Peoples the Iranian-speaking tribes basically populated Eastern Europe, Western Siberia, Kazakhstan, Middle East, parts of Central Asia, and also the Near East. Such opinions are based on the premise described by Greek historians that Scythians, who lived in these regions in the 9th-3rd c. BC, and also the Sarmatians, who in the 3 c. BC-3 c. AD replaced the Scythians, were supposedly only Iranian-speaking.
Indo-European linguists came to such conclusions based on an exclusively Indo-Iranian etymology of Scythian and Sarmatian words given in the sources, persistently without considering other languages in these linguistic operations, especially Turkic languages. In the unstoppable desire ‘to prove’ the Iranian linguality of these populations these scientists completely dismissed those researches done before them, in which Scythians and Sarmatians were recognized to be basically Turkic-speaking.
Historians enthusiastically took the conclusion of the Indo-European linguists about exclusively Iranian-lingual Scythians and Sarmatians. They began to search for other historical evidence proving the adequacy of this theory. The Indo-European archeologists also gladly assigned all archeological cultures of the Scythian and Sarmatian periods in the mentioned regions to Iranian-lingual tribes. And Indo-European linguists, holding Scythians and Sarmatians as Iranian-lingual, refer to the archeological data for the proof of the conclusions. The vicious circle is closed: archeologists, guided by the opinion of the linguists, the archeological cultures of the Scythians and Sarmatians period allocated to Iranian-lingual tribes, and the Iranian linguists for confirmation of the theory refer to the conclusions of archeologists. And so the Indo-European linguists, historians, archeologists orient their work in the direction of expansion of their ancestral territory.
As to the region of the Volga and Urals, here again lived Scythians and Sarmatians, but near the Finno-Ugrian tribes, who basically were occupying a woodland zone. Therefore the archeological cultures of this region related to the period before the ‘arrival’ of Huns in the 4 c. are recognized as Iranian, and some as Finno-Ugrian [Khalikov A.H., 1969, 3, 373]. The Turkic archeological cultures, naturally, are not found, for, before the arrival of Huns in Eastern Europe, there were no Turks at all, supposedly.
The (Russian – Translator’s note) official historical science holds on to a disputed question about the time of the so-called Turkization of the Middle Volga and Urals. Some state that the first Turks penetrated this region as Huns after their arrival in Eastern Europe in the middle of the 4th c. Other scientists hold to the opinion that Turkization of the Middle Volga and Urals took place presumably only in the 8 c. in connection with the arrival here of the first Bulgars from the former Great Bulgaria of Northern Caucasus and Northern littoral of the Black Sea.
There are also differring opinions about the continuity between the Bulgars and Tatars. Some, mostly Tatar scientists, believe that Bulgars spoke a common Turkic language and were a language-bearing component of the Tatars. The others believe that Volga Bulgars spoke not a common Turkic, but a Chuvash-like language and that their arrival formed only the Chuvash people, and as to the Tatar people, they officially formed mostly from those Tatars who came to the Volga and Urals together with the Mongolian armies in the beginning of the 13 c., and naturally, subsequently were absorbed as part of the Chuvash speaking Bulgars and the local Finno-Ugrians. This view limits the roots of the Tatars in the Volga and Urals region to the 13 th century. We cannot miss to also note the presence of such scientists, who, on the basis of superficial study of Bulgar epigraphy are asserting that a part of the Bulgars, under the influence of the Kipchaks (Cumans, in Hungarian Kun), separated from the Chuvash-speaking Bulgars only in the middle of the 14 c. and thus started the formation of the Tatar people. There are even such scientists, who connect the formation of Tatar people with the arrival of the Kipchaks after a plague decimated the Bulgars in the middle of the 14 c. The Bulgaro-Chuvash words allegedly disappeared from the Bulgar epigraphy after the mass extinction of Bulgars in the middle of the 14 c.
Thus, there are various opinions on the time of the development of the Tatar people’s roots in the Volga and Urals: some attribute it to the 4 c., others to the 8 c., to the 9 c., to the 13 c., or to the 14 c.
The study of the beginning and the process of formation of the Tatar people or its language-carrying components is further complicated by some scientists (mainly the official Finno-ugrian school which seeks to prove an Uralic origin of the Hungarians) trying to place the so-called Magna Hungaria (Great Hungary) in the Middle Volga and Urals.
It is known that Arabian and Persian travelers of the 9th - 10th c. wrote about Magyars (Madjars, Majgars etc.) in the descriptions of the Middle Volga and always noted that Madjars spoke a Turkic language. In spite of the fact that the Volga Madjars unequivocally were Turkic-speaking, some scientists of the 19th and 20th c., based on equivalency of the Turkic ethnonym Madjar (variants: Majgar, Mojar, Mishar, Mochar) with the Hungarian self-name Magyar, associated them with Hungarian speaking Magyars and began to assert that in the Middle Volga and Urals in the 4th-8th c. lived Hungarians who formed ‘Great Hungary’ [Erdeyi I., 1961, 307-320]. The supporters of this point of view came to a conclusion that Turkic-speaking Mishars and Bashkirs were formed by a Turkization of those Hungarians who remained in our region after their main part left to the West in the 8th c.
In spite of the fact that Hungaro-Mishar and Hungaro-Bashkir theories were rejected completely in the beginning of the 20th c., and so was proved the inadequacy of the point of view about the presence of ‘Magna Hungary’ in the Middle Volga and Urals area in the 6th-8th c., our local archeologists have persistently searched for the traces of the Hungarians in this region and, at last, ‘found’ them in the region of the lower Kama and Belaya rivers. It is the Bolshie Tigany sepulcher in lower Kama [Khalikova E.A., 1976, 158-178] and Kushnarenkovo archeological cultures in the basin of the river Belaya [The Hungarians, 1987, 236-239].
The theory of the Hungarians on the Middle Volga and Urals is contradicted by the fact that neither in Tatar, nor in Bashkir languages there are any Hungarian borrowings. It would be possible to explain it by a late arrival of the Türkic-speaking ancestors of the Tatars and Bashkirs, only after the Hungarians already left for the West at the turn of the 8th-9th centuries. But then how to explain the complete absence of Hungarian toponymy in the studied region? Our opinion is that the Hungarians did not live in the Middle Volga and Ural regions, and that there was no ‘Magna Hungary’ there. Hence, the Eastern travelers, who all pointed to Madjars as Turkic-speaking, were writing about Turkic speaking Mishars, instead of Hungarian-speaking Magyars. Therefore the travel notes of the Arabian and Persian travelers do not provide a basis for the existence of the Hungarians in the Middle Volga and Urals region. Observing the similarity between Bolshie Tigany and Kushnarenkovo burials with the sepulchers in Hungary, it would be possible to explain that the sepulchers in Hungary belong to the Türkic people, who were somehow connected with Türks of our region.
As to Scythians and Sarmatians, who lived in the Volga and Urals area before the ‘arrival’ of the Huns here, we shall see below that they, in this region, were not Iranian-lingual at all. If they were Iranian-lingual, we should have in the Middle Volga and Urals a mass of Iranian toponyms. But we do not see such a phenomenon here.
So in the (Russian – Translator’s note) official historical science, which arose and developed only on the basis of Indo-Europeanism, there is no uniform opinion until today on the beginning of the formation in the Volga and Urals region of the basic, language bearing component of the Tatar people.
§ 2. The historians about Scythians and Sarmatians. In modern (Russian – Translator’s note) official historical science the Scythians and Sarmatians are claimed to be Iranian-lingual (in particular, Ossetian speaking), but in the historiography of this problem we also meet other points of view.
In the second half of the 18 c. the Russian scientists began to be interested in the Greek historical sources. Herodotus' ‘History’, attracted the attention of the Russian historian Andrey Lyzlov, who knew well Russian and Western historical works. He was also familiar with the Turkic world, for he translated into Russian the work of S.Starovolsky ‘Court of Turkish Caesar’, published in 1649 in Polish in Krakow. In 1692 Andrey Lyzlov finished a manuscript, ‘Scythian history’. This work was published by a renowned public figure and a writer N.I.Novikov, partially at first in 1776, and then completely in 1787.
In his work, A. Lyzlov in the beginning proves his thesis that Türks (in his terminology: Tatars and Turks) descend from Scythians. In the subsequent sections of ‘Scythian history’ the author tells a history of mutual relations of the European peoples and Russians with Tatars and Turks, i.e. descendants of Scythians [Lyzlov A., 1787]. The historiographer of Herodotus ‘History’ A.A. Neukhardt from this deduced that “the name ‘Scythian history’ thus has appeared rather conditional” [Neukhardt A.A., 1982, 9]. The other expert on Scythians, S.A. Semenov-Zuser considers the work of A. Lyzlov ‘as the first composition, known to us, in the domestic literature’ [Semenov-Zuser S.A.,]. In the beginning of the 18th c. the interest in Scythians grows. At the request of Peter I, who was interested in the problems of the origin of the Slavs, the Viennese scientist G.W. Leibniz begins to study strenuously the history of the Slavs and in one of the letters in 1708 he writes: ‘Under Sarmatians I mean all Slavic tribes, which were named Sarmatians, before a name of Slavens or Slavs was known’ [Leibniz G.W., 1873, 211].
Further, Gotlib Ziegfrid Bayer, invited from Germany to the Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1725, addressed the Scythian-Sarmatian problem. He reasons: Scythians are people from Asia, and Slavs are autochthonous, therefore Scythians can’t be considered as ancestors of the Slavs. In his opinion, descendants of Scythians were Finns, Livs and Ests [Neukhardt A.A., 1982, 12].
The Russian historian of the 18th c. V.N. Tatischev considers the word Scythian as a collective name. He writes: ‘... The name Scythian covered many different peoples, such as Slavs, Sarmatians and Turks, Mongols, or all the North-Eastern part of Asia and Europe, including Germans, Persians and Chinese, and this name, evidently, died away at about the 10th century AD, when the awareness about peoples began to be more distinct: however, those peoples did not disappear, but have remained somewhere under other names till today... in the 13th century AD, for the Europeans the name Tatar has become famous, and these began to be used instead of Scythian’ [Tatischev V.N., 1962, 232-233].
M.V. Lomonosov believed that from Scythians were formed Finns, and from Sarmatians came Slavs [Neukhardt A.A., 1982, 17-18].
In the end of the 18 c. N.M.Karamzin begins to take interest in Scythian history and expresses an idea that in Herodotus' time all peoples of Eurasia were referred to under a collective ethnonym Scythians and Sarmatians [Karamzin N.M., 1818, 5-12].
In 19 c. archeological excavations give scientists an opportunity to prove that Herodotus and others Old Greek historians reflected adequately the history of the Eurasian peoples. Russian translations of the works of other Greek historians were published, creating conditions for a wide study of the ancient history of the land.
In 1838 the academician E.I. Eichwald, who earlier worked in Kazan and Vilnius universities, performed research on Herodotus' ‘History’ and, based on it, he tries to reconstruct the history of the Slavs, Finns, Turks and Mongols. He comes to a conclusion that the Scythians were not a uniform people, and the name Scythians meant those peoples who live now on the so-called Scythian territories [Eichwald E.I., 1838, Vol. 27].
In the first half of the 19 c. the German historian B.G. Niebuhr viewed Scythians as Mongols, which then included Turks [Niebuhr B.G., 1847].
In a work published in 1837 in Munich, K. Zeiss began a new stage in the study of Scythian history. For the first time he begins to identify Scythians with Iranian-lingual tribes. In favor of this opinion speak, in his opinion, the religion, and common Scythian and Persian words. [Dovatur A.I., 1982, 47].
In 1855, another German scientist, K. Neumann, based on religious and linguistic traits, asserts that Scythians were Turks, and Sarmatians were Slavs [ibis, p.50].
P.I. Shafarik considers Scythians as Mongols, who then included Turks; Sarmatians as Persians; Budins and Nevres as Slavs [Shafarik P.I., 1948; Dovatur A.I., 1982, 48].
In the 19th c. K. Mullenchoff analyzes from the point of view of Indo-European languages the Scythian and Sarmatian words and comes to a conclusion that Scythians were basically Iranian-lingual, that Iranian-lingual tribes earlier lived far to the north of Iran, and from them descended today’s Ossetians. [Dovatur A.I., 1982, 53].
After K. Mullenchoff, the Scytho-Iranian theory attracts many linguists and historians, who found additional materials in its favor. The theory became attractive, apparently, because it allowed expanding an ancestral home of Indo-European peoples. A distinctive feature of scientists of this orientation was their unity against dissidents, whom they aggressively criticized, even discounted them as incompetent, insignificant scientists.
But, despite this, at all times there were scientists who criticized the Scytho-Iranian theory and were proving the Slav, Turkic, Mongol or Finno-Ugrian linguality of Scythians.
§ 3. What is the basis for the Scytho-Iranian theory? If this theory reflects the reality, it should be based on all pertinent data: linguistic, religious - mythological, ethnographic and archeological data.
The noted expert on Scythian history L.A. Yelnitskiy, on the basis of the comprehensive analysis of historical works and factual materials, comes to a conclusion that the vestiges of Scythian culture remain in the cultures of Turko-Mongolian (and in a smaller degree in Slavic and Finno-Ugrian) peoples [Yelnitskiy L.A., 1977, 243]. Archeological materials, especially the so-called animal style art, also neither confirm nor deny the affinity of Scythian and Turko -Mongolian cultures. As to the religious attributes, it is possible to state the following: if Scythians were Iranian-lingual, they would have had a common deity with Persians, and would not be fighting them as long and persistently as described by Herodotus. Further we shall see, that the names of the Scythian gods can be explained based on the Turkic language.
The body of archeological material gives L.A. Yelnitskiy a basis to affirm that among Scythians there were few of the Iranian elements. He writes: ‘It inclines to think, besides, that it is possible to speak about Iranism of Cimmerians and Scythians only with reference to some components of these collective names’ [Yelnitskiy L.A., 1977, 241].
Hence, the Scytho-Iranian theory cannot be with certainty based on ethnographic, religious - mythological and archeological materials. The (Russian – Translator’s note) official historical science surmises that it is based on linguistic data, which has a decisive significance for the interpretation of ethnic ancestry of ancient tribes.
Emergence of the Scytho-Iranian theory begins with ‘finding’ of the Iranian roots in Cimmerian, Scythian and Sarmatian words preserved in various sources. K. Mullenchoff begins this etymological research, and Vs. Miller and M. Fasmer continue it. After them the Scytho-Iranian theory for (Russian – Translator’s note) official historical science becomes axiomatic.
In Soviet times V.I. Abaev was working persistently and purposefully on Scythian etymology from the point of view of Ossetian language, and he invented a separate Scythian or Scytho-Sarmatian language in the Indo-European language group. In his work, ‘Dictionary of Scythian Words’ are 353 Scythian words found in the sources, which by phonetical transformations are converted into Old Ossetian lexical units [Abaev V.I., 1949, 151-195].
Before the analysis of Abaevan etymologies, let’s address the V.I. Abaev’s statement about the value of his studies: ‘I subjected to an analysis the undoubtedly Iranian elements and I hope that this ends the light-weighted and irresponsible speculations on Scythian material which do not have anything common with a science ‘ [Ibis, 148]. When a scientist lunges on potential opponents with such a zeal, it already tells about weakness of his positions. The Abaev’s etymologies in reality suffer an unsystematic character and many semantic inconsistencies.
V.I. Abaev and his predecessors begin the Scytho-Iranian etymology with personal names of the Scythian ancestor Targitai and his sons Lipoksai, Aripoksai, Kolaksai.
Targitai, in the opinion of the supporters of the Scytho-Iranian theory, consists of two parts: darga and tava. In Old-Iranian darga ‘long’ or ‘sharp’, tava ‘power, force’, Targitai is thus ‘Longostrong or Arrowstrong’ [Abaev V.I., 1949, 163; Miller Vs., 1887, 127].
From the perspective of the Turkic language the word Targitai consists from targy or taryg - Old Turk. ‘farmer’ and soi~toi - Turk. - ‘clan’; as a whole - ‘Clan or Ancestor of the Farmers’. Besides, the name Targitai is met not only in Herodotus, it also appears at Avars as a Turkic name. Theophilact Simocatta (the historian of the 7 c.) informs, ‘Targitiy is an outstanding man in the Avar tribe’ [Simocatta Th., 1957, 35]. Menandr the Byzantian informs that in 568 the Avar leader Bayan has sent Targitai to Baselius requesting a concession [Byzantian Historians, 1861, 392]. In 565 Avars sent the same Targitai as an ambassador to Byzantium [Ibis, 418]. In the 2nd c. Polien informs that Scythians, living by the Meotian (Azov) Sea, had a famous woman named Tirgatao [Latyshev S.V., 1893, 567]. Hence, these Scythians were also Turkic-speaking.
Lipoksai is a senior son of Targitai. The etymology for this word Abaev borrows from Fasmer. The second part, in his opinion, consists of a root ksaia~khsai ‘to shine, to sparkle, to dominate’, Ossetian. - ‘queen, dawn’; the first part is not clear, there can be a distortion instead of Khoraksais: compare Old Iran. hvar-xsaita ‘sun’, Pers. Xorsed [Abaev V.I., 1949, 189].
Let’s compare it with the Turkic etymology. Turk. soi ‘clan, family, relatives, ancestors, generation, offspring, stock, origin’; ak ‘white, noble, rich ‘; aksoi ‘a noble, rich clan; sacred clan, forefather’ etc. For Turkic peoples the names with an element soi is a usual phenomenon: Aksoi, Paksoi, Koksoi. The first part is lip~lipo~lep - ‘border’. As a whole, Lipoksai ‘Sacred Clan with (or Protecting) Borders, i.e. its Country’.
Arpoksai is a middle son of Targitai. The first part Abaev at once transforms in apra and ‘water’ and deduces from the Iranian roots ap ‘water’ and Ossetian ra, arf ‘deep’; apra ‘water depth’; ksaia ‘possessor’; apra-ksaia ‘Possessor Of Waters’ [Abaev V.I., 1949, 189].
Let’s compare it with Turkic etymology. We already know about the second part: aksoi ‘a sacred clan, noble clan’. The first part - arpa ‘ barley, grain, product ‘; arpalyk ‘possession of land’; Arpaksai ‘Head of a Clan Possessing Land, Territory, or Clan of the Farmers’.
Kolaksai is a younger son of Targitai. Per Fasmer and Abaev, the second part ksaia ‘shine, sparkle, dominate’, in Ossetian khsart ‘valour’, khsin ‘princess’, khsed ‘dawn’ etc.; the first part is not clear, maybe, it is a distortion instead of Khoraksais, compare Old. Iran. khvar-khshaita ‘sun’ [Abaev V.I., 1949, 189]. The supporters of the Scytho-Iranian theory sometimes lead this name to the phonetic form of Persian Skolakhshaia and pronounce Kolaksai by king of a Persian clan Skol (Skolot) ~ Scythians [Dovatur A.I., 1982, 207-208].
Let’s compare it with Turkic etymology. The second part of a word Kolaksai – aksai ‘a noble, sacred clan’; the first part – kola-kala ‘city, capital’; Kolaksai ‘Noble, Sacred Clan Having (Protecting) Capital, Country’.
If we arrange in order the Iranian etymologies for the names of the father Targitai and his three sons Lipoksai, Arpoksai and Kolaksai, we receive: Targitai ‘Longostrong’, Lipoksai ‘Shine Of The Sun’, Arpoksai ‘ ‘Possessor Of Waters ‘, Kolaksai ‘ Shine Of The Sun or Skolakhshaia’. There is no etymological, semantical and lexico-structural system.
Let’s consider the system in the Turkic etymology of the names of the father and his three sons. Targitai ‘Farmers Clan Noble Ancestor’, Lipoksai ‘Border Protecting Noble Clan’, Arpoksai ‘Protecting Possession Noble Clan’; Kolaksai ‘Protecting Capital (i.e. Kingdom) Noble Clan’. The last, the younger son, as relayed by Herodotus, accepts the kingdom from his father after he brought home the golden tools fallen from the sky: the plough, yoke, hatchet and cup [Herodotus, 1972, IV, 5].
Another word, the etymology of which serves as a proof of correctness for the Scytho-Iranian theory, is ethnonym Sak~Saka. As the ethnonym used by Persians for Scythians, it is considered to be a Persian word. But at the same time Persians could take it from the non-Iranian Scythians themselves. In the opinion of Abaev, Old Persian saka (with the meaning of Scyth) belongs to the totem of deer [Abaev V.I., 1949, 179]. Ossetian sag ‘deer’ from saka ‘branch, limb, deer horn, antler’. Many historians think that sak is a name of one of Scythian tribes, accepted by Persians as an ethnonym for all Scythians. None of the ancient authors notes the meaning of the ethnonym sak~saka in the sense ‘deer’, and Stephan Byzantian informs, ‘Saka are the people, so are named Scythians of ‘armor’ because they invented it’ [LatyshevV.V., 1893, Vol. 1, Issue 1, 265]. Here the word Saka approaches Turkic sak~sagy ‘protection, guard, cautious’. Besides, it should be noted that in Turk. sagdak ‘quiver’, i.e. ‘case for weapon of defense’. Sagai - ethnonym of Turkic people between Altai and Yenisei, part of Khakass people, Saka - ethnonym of the Yakuts. Thus, sagai~saka~sak is a Turkic word, which has passed into the ethnonym of one of Scyth tribes, and was accepted by Persians as their common ethnonym.
Ababa (Hababa) is the name of the mother of the Roman emperor Maximin, she was, apparently, an Alanian. Thinking that Alans are Iranian-lingual, Abaev etymologies this word thus: Iran. khi ‘good, kind’; vab ‘to weave’; thus, Khivaba ‘Good Weaver’. In Turkic ab ‘hunt’, eb~ev ‘home’, aba ‘father, mother, sister’, Ababa ‘Mother Of Hunt or Mother Of House’, i.e. ‘Fairy’ in a good sense.
Sagadar, per Abaev: saka- + - dar ‘having deers’ is the name of a tribe near Danube [Abaev V.I., 1949, 179]. In Turkic: saga - Turkic ethnonym, -dar-lar is the plural affix; Sagadar is ‘Sags’.
To prove the certainty of Ossetian speaking Scythians, Vs. Miller counted that in Scythian words the Ossetian plural affix –ma is repeated twenty times [Miller Vs. 1886, 281-282]. A more attentive analysis shows that -ma in words given by Miller may be identified with Turkic affixes of plural -ma (-la in Balkarian), or possession -my (-dy-ly), or similarity –mai.
So, all the Scythian words assembled by V.I.Abaev in his ‘Dictionary of Scythian words’ could be re-etymologized with those languages, whose carriers lived and continue to live in the so-called Scythian regions, and with the subsequent comparison of the results of the Iranian, Turkic, Slavic and Finno-Ugrian etymological studies. Only on completion of this operation would it be possible to definitely tell what ethnoses lived under the common names of first Cimmerians, and then Scythians, Sarmatians, Alans-Ases. As the comparisons of the Iranian etymology with the Turkic show, the Scythians most likely were not Iranians, or among them were very few Iranian-lingual; basically they were Turks, it could be expected, and Slavs, and Finno-Ugrians, for these also have not fallen from the sky, and have lived in their (ancient ‘Scythian’) regions from the most ancient times.
§ 4. What the Scytho-Turkic etymology tells. Because the Scythian etymology of Herodotus from the point of view of the Iranian languages does not prove to be true, until now he is considered to be a frivolous linguist, even though he is recognized as an outstanding historian and ethnographer [Borukhovich V.T., 1972, 482, 493]. There are no doubts that if Herodotus' etymologies were subjected to research from the polyethnical point of view of the Scythian tribes, the scientific conscientiousness of Herodotus and the soundness of his linguistic descriptions of the Scythian peoples will prove to be true.
Now consider some Herodotus etymologies of the Scythian words, which do not find confirmation in the Iranian languages. For example, Herodotus informs that Scythians call Amazons by the name eorpata, which in Hellenic means ‘husband killers’: Scythian eor means ‘husband’, and pata means ‘to kill’ [Herodotus, 1972, IV, 110]. Here is observed a rather transparent Turkic etymology: eor~ir~er ‘husband’, pata~eata~wata ‘breaks, beats, kills ‘. As a whole, eorpata in this sense coincides with Turkic ervata ‘kills husband’.
Herodotus informs that the Scythian word enarei means ‘womanlike man’ [Ibis, IV, 67]. And the Greek doctor Hippocrates (5 c. BC) explains, that ‘between Scythians there are many eunuchs, they are engaged in female works and speak like women; such men are called enarei’ [Latyshev V.V., 1893, 63]. V.I.Abaev gives this word an Iranian etymology: Iran. a ‘not, without’, nar ‘man’, and a-nar-ia ‘not a man, half man’ [Abaev V.I., 1949]. This word almost coincides with Turkish ineir-anair, that is translated, as at Herodotus, ‘womanlike man’.
Per Herodotus, the Scythian word arimaspi means ‘one eyed people’. Scythian arima ‘one’, and spu ‘eye’ [Herodotus, 1972, IV, 27]. Assuming that under one eyed people meant half closed eyes, then arima can be determined as Turkic iarym ‘half, semi’, and spu~sepi’ slightly open eye’. Thus, Scythian arimaspi and Turkic iarymsepi ‘half blind, half open, half sighted’ almost coincide.
Herodotus connects the city Kizik with festival [Herodotus, IV, 76]. This city, located on the Asian coast of the Sea of Marmora, later called Tamashalyk, which means ‘show’. The same meaning is transferred by a Turkic word kizik~kyzyk.
In the first legend about an origin of Scythians Herodotus names as their primogenitors Targitai and his sons Lipoksai, Arpoksai and Kolaksai. As we have already seen above, these names are etymologized in Turkic more convincingly than in Iranian.
The second legend about an origin of the Scythians says that Heracleus, driving the bulls of Herion, came to an uninhabited country. Here he encountered bad weather and cold. Wrapped in a pork hide, he fell asleep, and at that time his horses disappeared. Waking up, Heracleus started to search for his horses. In one cave he found a certain creature – half maiden, half snake. She told Heracleus that she had the horses, but she would not give them back until Heracleus makes love to her. They had born three sons. She named them Agathirs, Gelon, and younger Scyth. On advice of Heracleus, the mother arranged a competition between sons. Only Scyth could pull a bow of his father and put on his belt, therefore he remained in the country. From this Scyth, son of Heracleus, descended all Scythian kings [Herodotus. 1972. IV, 8, 9, 10].
Turkic j (dj) freely alternates with y, which in Greek is usually conveyed as g. Heracleus in Turkic Jirakl-Iirakl ‘earthly wit’; the clever wins all others, hence, he is a giant, hero. In Greek Heracleus is ‘famed hero, giant’.
The first son of Heracleus is Agathirs, more correctly, Agathiros. Here -os is a Greek name ending; ir ‘man, male, people’; agad-agas-agach ‘tree, forrest ‘ (interdental d~th was written in Russian through Greek symbol theta and sounded as ‘f’: Theodor-Feodor, Skif-Scyth, Agathir-Agafir, etc.). Agathir is ‘forest people or people with tree totem’. Later we meet this ethnonym in the forms akatsir-agach eri with the same meaning. In Turkic language with the same semantics we have also ethnonyms Burtas (burta-as ‘forest people’), Misher (mish-er ‘forrest people’).
The middle son of Heracleus is Gelon, in - Turkic jelon-jylan-yilan ‘snake’. This is a natural name of the son of the mother - half snake.
The younger son of Heracleus is Scyth, more correctly, Skyth-Skyt. Scyth in Iranian is not deciphered. In Turkic the word skyth consist of ski-eski-iski and –t-ty-ly. Last affix is an affix of possession in Turkic languages; the first part eske ascends, apparently, to the word ishky, i.e. pychak ‘knife’. Isky-t, Isky-ly ‘with knife, man with knife’ [Zakiev M.Z., 1986, 35, 37, 38; Smirnova O.I., 1981, 249-255]. Is remarkable that Türks used the part eski (eske - ishky) as an independent ethnonym [Kononov A.N., 1958, 74]. Besides, it is necessary to keep in mind that the name of Scythians arises in Assyrian documents of 7 c. BC as Asguza-Iskuza-Ishguza [Yelnitskiy L.A., 1977, 25]. Here clearly appear the ancient name of Turkic tribes as-ash and guz-oguz (ak-guz).
Skolot is a self-name of Scythians, its etymology could not be explained through the Iranian languages. In Turkic skolot consists of the part isky-sko, -lo is an affix of possession, -t is a second affix of possession. Skolo is skyty-skyt-skit, Skolot is ‘people mixed with Scythians’.
Alongside with ethnonym Scyth Herodotus gives still another ethnonym Savromat, applied to the people related to Scythians. Later its changed form Sarmat begins to be applied instead of Scyth. Per Abaev, Savromat ~Sarmat is an Ossetian word with a meaning of ‘black armed or dark armed’ [Abaev V.I., 1949, 184]. To name one black armed, next should be others, for example, red armed or white armed. Therefore etymology of Abaev does not convince at all. In Turkic sarma ‘bags from calf fur with hair on outside’. A rope braided from the horsehair was pulled through the ears stitched to the top edge of such a bag and attached to the saddle. In it were transported bagged provisions [Khozyaistvo, 1979, 142]. Sarma-ty, Sarma-ly is ‘man with sarma’.
Herodotus talks of Argrippeas, that they eat tree fruits. The name of the tree with fruits used for food is pontik. A ripe fruit is squeezed through a fabric, and the extracted black juice is called askhi. They lick juice and drink it mixed with milk. From the thick of askhi they prepare bread [Herodotus, 1972, IV, 23]. Many historians identify Argrippeas with Bashkirs. It is quite probable, as the Bashkirs when meeting Greeks could introduce themselves with pride as irat ‘real men’, in their attempt to translate it to Greek translated only the second part - at (horse in Turkic) - gippei. So could appear the word Argrippei.
In this message there are words pontik and askhi, which can be etymologized as pontik - bun-tek - bunlyk, where Old Turkic word bun is ‘soup, broth’, and pontik means ingredients for soup; and as askhi-asgy, i.e. suitable for food (as-ash ‘food’). The Turks today are in fact making from the askhi dried pulp a pastille.
The etymology of the Scythian word Kaukas (Caucasus) is interesting. The first part - kau - in Turkic means ‘gray-yellow-white’, it is used in ethnonym kyuchak~kyfchak~kypchak ~kyu~kiji etc.; kyu swan ‘swan’. The fact that in the word Caucasus kau-kyu expresses the meaning of ‘whiteness’ is proved by another Scythian name of Caucasus - Kroukas. Pliny Segund (1 c. AD) writes that Scythians call the Caucasian mountains by the name Kroukas, i.e. ‘white from snows’ [Latyshev V.V., 1896, Vol. 1, Issue. 2, 185]. In Turkic kyrau is ‘frost, frozen dew, snow’. The second part of words Caucas and Kroukas is -kas, it means ‘rock, rocky mountain’. Compare: in the Altai language kaskak ‘steep slope’, common Altaic kad~kaz ‘bluff, cliff’.
An interesting Scytho-Turkish material is present in the Scythian mythological words.
Gestia – the Goddess of the home hearth - in Scythian is Tabiti, apparently, from word tabu ‘find, swindle’.
Zeus – the Supreme God, king and father of the gods and people - in Scythian is Papei, in Turkic babai ‘primogenitor’.
Geia - impersonation of the Earth, she gave birth to Uranium (sky), Mountains, Pont (Sea); Geia in Scythian - Api, in Turkic Ebi ‘primogenitor mother’ [Zakiev M.Z., 1986, 27].
The Scytho-Turkic etymologies given above show that among Scythians, certainly, were Turkic tribes. Therefore the opinion fixed in the (Russian – Translator’s note) official historical science that there is only one Scythian language, that it is solely of the Iranian group, that allegedly first Turks came to Europe only in the 4th c. AD under an ethnonym of Huns, that there was Turkization of Volga and Urals population that began only in the 4th or 7th century AD - all this, naturally, does not correspond to reality.
§ 5. A general view of the historians on ancient Turks. In the postulates of the (Russian – Translator’s note) official historical science, the Türkic tribes are considered rather young, diverging only 6-8 thousand years ago from the Türkic-Mongolian genus. And in the world historical science they find a place only from the 4th-3rd centuries BC, as Huns of Central Asia. Responsibility for this lies first of all with the Turkologists, who until today have not managed a detailed study of the ancient Türks. Even the relatively scarce data available on Huns is extracted not by Turkologists [Gumilev L.P., 1960], and therefore it is no wonder that the Mongolian scientists have begun to identify Huns with Mongolian tribes [Sukhbaatar G., 1976].
In the 19th century, scientists found that language of the American Indians has many lexical units with the semantic system reminiscent of Turkic words. In the 20th c. these similarities were established for many parameters, and the scientists came to a conclusion that in the languages of American Indians the traces of the Turkic languages were preserved very clearly [Zakiev M.Z., 1977, 32-35]. If to note that these Indians came from Asia to America 20-30 thousand years ago and had no links with Türks any more, the presence of the traces of the formed Türkic language in the Indian languages, left by the Türks 20-30 thousand of years ago, shall be recognized.
The bright and uncontestable traces of Türkic language are preserved in cuneiform texts of Sumerians, who lived in Mesopotamia between Euphrates and Tigris 6 thousand years ago [Suleimenov O., 1975, 192-291; Zakiev M.Z., 1977, 36]. Zaki Validi Togan, in his works written in the 1920's, was the first in Turkology to state an opinion that clear traces of Türks were kept in the languages of American Indians, Sumerians, and Elamites [Validi Z., 1981, 10-17].
Per the Assyrian and other Eastern ancient written sources the name Udy (Kuty) is traced from a deep antiquity, namely from the IIIrd millennium BC; they can be connected with Caspian Udy, later Udyns, Bodins, Budins [Yelnitskiy L.A., 1977, 4]. We believe that Udy is later Uzy (Türks), more so because the sounds d-z in various Turkic dialects easily replace each other.
The Indian and Chinese written sources of the turn between II and I millennium BC name the tribal names of the Eastern Asian nomads: Dai, Se (Ti), and Unu etc. Later they can be found among Cimmerians and Scythians, and some of them as Sai, Dai, Huns, Unns, are recorded in the Western part of Eurasia, down to borders of Northern Italy [Yelnitskiy L.A., 1977, 4]. So and Huns are well-known Turkic tribes. Consequently, long before our era the Türks lived in both Europe and Asia, and they, naturally, were both among Cimmerians, and among Scythians-Sarmatians.
There is a justified opinion of the scientists that Etruscans who lived in the 1st millennium BC in the North Western part of Apennine peninsula and who created an advanced Pre-Roman civilization were also Türkic in their origin. The genetic ancestry of Etruscan language in the (Russian – Translator’s note) official historical science has not been established yet, but there are detailed studies, including by a Turkish scientist – a daughter of Sadri Maksudi Adilya Aida, proving a Turkic character of Etruscan inscriptions [Adilya Aida, 1992, 390].
Thus, Turks formed 20-30 thousand years ago and lived in different regions of Eurasia under various ethnonyms. Ethnonym Türk by itself is known in history only from the 5th-8th c. AD, prior to that it was an ordinary cognomen alongside with other Türkic ethnonyms. Scientists began to apply it as a common name to designate all Türkic peoples only since the 19th-20th centuries.
The historians living in times much closer to Scythians and Sarmatians quite often identified them with Türkic tribes. At the same time in no case they identified Scythians and Sarmatians with Iranian-lingual tribes. So, Philostogori (4 c. AD) has noted, that ‘these Unns are probably those people, whom ancients named Nevrs’, i.e. Scythians [LatyshevV.V., 1900, 741].
Theophan the Byzantian (5 c.) considers Huns as Scythians. He writes: ‘Meanwhile Scyth Attila, son of Omnudiy, brave and proud man, removed his senior brother Vdela, assumed sole authority over Scythians, which also are named Unns, and attacked Thracia’ [Theophan the Byzantian, 1884, 81]. On the other side, he depicts Türks as Massagets: ‘East from Tanaid live Turks, in antiquity called Massagets. Persians in their language call them Kermikhions’ [Byzantian Historians. SPb., 1861, 492]. In this record of Theophan deserves an attention the fact that he knew well both Massagets (one of the Scythian tribes), and Persians. If Scythians-Massagets spoke Persian, he would inevitably note this detail. But Theophan identifies Massagets with Türks, not the Persians.
In the second half of the 5th c. Zosim expressed with some confidence that Unns are Royal Scythians [LatyshevV.V., 1890, 800].
In the 6th c. Menander (Byzantium) writes, ‘Turks, in antiquity called Sakas, sent to Justinian an embassy with peace offers’ [Byzantian Historians. SPb., 1861, 375], and about Scythian language he says ‘Türkic barbarous language’ [Ibis, 376]. In other place Menander writes: ‘...So all the Scythians from the tribes of the so-called Turks gathered up to a hundred six men’ [Ibis, 417].
Procopii Caesarian (6 c.) one of Scythian tribes - Amazons - identifies with Huns and Sabirs [Procopii Caesarian, 1950, 381]. Also, by Cimmerians he means Turks-Huns, Utigurs, Kutrigurs ‘This swamp flows into Euxine Pont. The peoples, who live there, in antiquity were called Cimmerians, now they are called Utigurs’ [Procopii Caesarian, 1950, 384-385].
Agathii (6 c.) also calls Huns of Azov Sea as Scythians [Agathii, 1953, 148].
Theophilact Simocatta (7th c.) also marks that eastern Scythians usually are called Türks: ‘Expelled from the empire, he (Khosrov) left Ktesifon and, crossing river Tigris, hesitated, not knowing what to do, since some advised him to go to the Eastern Scythians, which we habitually call Turks, others advised to go to Caucasus or Atropine mountains and to save his life there’ [Simocatta Th., 1957, 106].
Theophan Confessor (8th c.) under the name Khazars also means Scythians: ‘this year Basileus Leo married his son Constantine to the daughter of Khagan, master of Scythians, having converted her to Christianity and re-naming her Irena’ (before baptism her name was Chichak) [Chichurov I.S., 1980, 68].
The message in the ‘Russian Primary Chronicle’ (12th c.) also deserves an attention, that Scythians, Khazars and Bolgars are the same people: ‘When the Slavs, as we already spoke, moved to the lower Danube area, came from Scythians, i.e. Khazars, so-called Bolgars and stayed on Danube’ [Russian Primary Chronicle, 28].
We have seen above that in the initial Russian history the Scythians and Sarmatians were considered to be Türks, for example, A. Lyzlov, V.N. Tatischev etc. Western historians also had this view at first. So, the English historian of the 19th c. V. Mitford in the ‘Histories of Greece’ writes: ‘There are places in the world where inhabitants differ strongly from other people in customs and lifestyle. Among them it is worth to note those called Scythians by the Greeks, and by the contemporaries - Tatars’ [V.Mitford, 1838, 419]. Here it is necessary to note that in the West, then under the name Tatars were understood almost all Eastern peoples, but the Moslem Türks were nevertheless considered as real Tatars.
In the middle of the 19th c., Russian historians and geographers were convinced that Scythians were Türkic speaking. So, R. Latama wrote in 1854 in the Bulletin of Russian geographical society: ‘The Türkic origin of the Scythians nowadays... does not require any special proofs’ [Latama R., 1854, 45].
Thus, there were scientists who considered Scythians as solely Türkic speaking, i.e. they created Scytho-Turkic theory, whereas others adhered to the Scytho-Iranian theory.
In our opinion, neither is adequate. Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians, certainly, were polyethnical, among them were ancestors of those peoples, who occupy now the so-called ancient Scythian territory - Eastern Europe, Siberia (except for Far East), Kazakhstan, Central Asia, Middle and Near East. Among all peoples of this extensive region the Türks have a significant place. This important factor, and that Scythian ethnological, mythological and linguistic traces were mostly preserved among Turkic peoples, incontestably proves that among ancient Cimmerians, Scythians and Sarmatians were many more Türks than ancestors of the Slavs, Finno-Ugrians, and even Iranian-lingual Ossetians (if the last belonged to Scythians at all).
§ 6. Which ancient peoples of Eurasia were Turkic speaking? The (Russian – Translator’s note) official historical science asserts that first Turks came to Europe only in the 4th c. AD under a name of Huns, and in Asia BCE they were known only as Huns . If the Turkic language existed 20-30 thousand years ago (considering its traces in the languages of American Indians), there are no reasons to think that they lived somewhere outside of Eurasia. Therefore it is surely reasonable to look for Türks among the first Chinese, Indian, Assyrian, and Greek written sources.
In North Iranian, Caspian, and Caucasus ethnonymy and toponymy, and also per Assyrian and other ancient Eastern written sources as far back as the 3rd millennium BC there were known people Udy, which correspond to Caspian Udy, later Udyns, Bodins, Budins [Yelnitskiy L.A., 1977, 4]. The Indian and Chinese sources between II and I millennium BC give the tribal names Dai, Se (Ti), Unu, names found among Scythians as Sai, Dai, Huns, their territories extend to the borders of northern Italy [Yelnitskiy L.A., 1977, 4]. In the post-Scythian period these tribes are found as Uzes-Guzes, So, As, Unnu-Gun-Sen.
Tochars are Turkic people, who lived in the 3rd-2nd millennium BC in Eastern Europe, not later than the middle of the 1st millennium BC they lived in Central Asia [BSE, Vol. 26, 126]. In the 2nd c. AD Ptolemy still places Tagars (Tochars) in Western Europe, near Dacia [LatyshevV.V., 1893, 232].
It is interesting to note that German Indo-Europeanists bestowed the ancient Tochars with a unique Iranian language. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, in oases of Xinjiang were found monuments with writing in a distinct Western-Iranian dialect. When checking a text translated from Sanskrit to Uygur, a German Turkologist found that the text was translated to Uygur not directly from Sanskrit, but through Tochri. Based on this message the other German scientists named the Iranian texts ‘Tocharian’. ‘ They connected the Uygur word ‘Tochri’ with the name of ‘Tocharian’ people, who, on the evidence of the ancients, lived in Bactria. The name ‘Tocharian language’ survived until now, despite the vigorous protests of many scientists’ [Krauze V., 1959, 41, 44]. Here the breach of logic is evident: the Uygur text did not say that Tochri spoke an Iranian, most likely they were Türks, if Uygurs used their language. Besides, we know that Tochars in Central Asia in antiquity were closely connected with Saka-Massagets, which in the 5th-7th centuries are known as Turkic people among Ephtalites-Türks and Türks. Mahmud Kashgari also regards Tagars (Tochars) as Türks. The root of the word ‘Tocharistan endured in topo- and ethnonymy, connected with Uzbeks and Kazakhs’ [Tolstova L.S., 1978, 10]. Tochars took an active part in the formation of the Uzbeks. Such people as Tochars, very broadly widespread (from Eastern Europe to Central Asia), cannot undergo Turkization so quickly, and, most likely, Tochars were Türks from the very beginning.
And from the standpoint of etymology the ethnonym Tochar (tokh~tog~thag ‘mountain, tree, forest’, ar ‘people, man’, Tochar ‘mountain and forest people’), Tochars should be classical Türks, which does not exclude other tribes among them, for example, ancient Iranian-lingual tribes.
Ethnonymically close to Tochars are biblical Togars (Togarma) and Scythian Tavrs. In the Bible (in Genesis) story, son of Yaphet, Homer had three sons: Askenaz, Rithat and Dogarma (Ch. 10). This Bible chapter was written in most ancient times. Later, Dogarma~Togarma becomes a usual ethnonym for Türks in Old Hebrew language. Khazars, who accepted Judaism, were also called Togarma. The part Togar-Tochar is clearly visible in this ethnonym, meaning ‘mountain or forest people’; -ma, maybe, is an interrogative particle, compare: sin Togarmo? ‘Are you Togar?’; or a truncated indicator of the adjective affix of the 1-st person singular: Togarmyn - Togarmy ‘I am Togar’. The fact that the Jews gave Türks an ethnonym Togarma well before our era tells about the presence of Türks in Europe from the most ancient times.
Tavr is the other dialectal pronunciation of the same ethnonym Togar-Tochar: tav-tau ‘mountain, forest, tree ‘, er ‘people, man’, Tauer-Tavr ‘forest or mountain people’. We know them well among Cimmerians and Scythians: they lived in Tavria. Herodotus regards this territory as Scythian native, a mountainous country, which begins from the mouth of Ister (Danube) and reaches up to the Kerch strait [Herodotus, 1972, IV, 99]. Stravon calls the Crimean peninsula Tavrian and Scythian [LatyshevV.V., 1890, 122]. Eustaphy (12 c. AD) writes, that ‘the tribe of Tavrs received its name, reportedly, from the animal ox’ [Ibis, 195]. From the standpoint of Türkic language the name of an animal ox, Tavr, most likely came from tuar (tal-tuar) ‘an animal’, or ox was brought to Greece from Tavria, and therefore was referred to as Tavr.
The Tavrs were members of the Scythian confederation. When Scythians had to fight the advance of Darius army, the peoples of confederation called a meeting, which included ‘kings of Tavrs, Agathirs (Agathir-Agacher - M.Z.), Nevrs, Androthags, Melanchlens, Gelons, Budins and Sauromats’ [Herodotus, 1972, IV, 102]. If these tribes were Iranian-lingual, they would not battle with Iranian-lingual army of Darius, and Darius would not pursue his kinfolk that shared Iranian deity and language. There is a reason to deem that among the listed Scythians most were Turkic speaking.
Before proceeding to the description of the Scythian people, here are a few words about Sogdians, proclaimed by Indo-Europeanists as Iranian-lingual. The Indo-Europeanist scientists attribute some Indo-European language to almost all peoples whose names are known from the sources, but whose languages are not described. So, ‘one of the literary languages, in which the documents and fragments of works of the religious literature were found at archeological explorations in Central Asia, was named Sogdian’ [Bartold V.V., 1964, Vol. 2, Part 2, 461]. In the Chinese history Sogdians are regarded as Turks. In their origin they are closely associated with Sakas, who we also deem as Turkic-speaking. Later Sogdians became Uzbeks, and in the opinion of Indo-Europeanist historians, they also became Tadjiks.
M. Kashgari classifies the Sogdak people as Türks. And the etymological ethnonym sounds Turkic: -dak~dyk~lyk is a Turkic adjective affix; Sag ‘health, wit’, Sog ‘milking’, Su ‘water’, Sogdak ‘healthy, clean, milker - milking, or ‘ healthy, or water, river people’.
Chinese historians identified Sogdians with Aorses (aor-auar-avar) or Alans, whose Turkic language is noted by the ancient authors themselves. V.V. Bartold, traditionally considering Aorses and Alans as Iranian-lingual, writes: ‘the Chinese at that time knew a name Suy or Sude for the country of Aorses or Alans, which, in the opinion of the late Sinologist Khirt, was the word Sogdak or Sugdak. Turks called so the area and Sogdian people in Zeravshan’ [Bartold V.V., 1964, Vol. 2, Part 1, 550]. V.V. Bartold is inclined to reason that an allegedly Sogdian language of the Iranian type has turned into Türkic [Bartold V.V., 1964, Vol. 2, Part 2, 467]. We know that languages do not alter into other languages. Therefore it is more reasonable to admit that Sogdians (Sogdak) were Turkic-speaking from the beginning.
The Kushans created in the 1st-2nd c. AD a Kushan empire in Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northern India and Eastern Turkestan (called by today’s Chinese ‘New Territory’ Xinjiang – Edit). They are also considered as Iranian-lingual, but the fact that at the same time many historians identify Kushans with Ephtalites-Türks [Procopius Caesarian, 1876. The comment of G. Destunis, 60] and that they later transformed into Turkic people tells about Turkic speaking of Kushans. But, unfortunately, Kushans are very poorly studied, and their ethnic ancestry is not confirmed.
Let’s proceed now to Scytho-Turkic peoples. First of all it is important to consider the so-called Agathirs. As this was already said in the 4th paragraph, this ethnonym in Turkic means ‘forest people or people with tree totem’. Later this ethnonym is seen as Acatsir (Acats ‘tree, wood’) and Agach Eri with the same meaning.
Acatsirs were in closest relationship with Frakians, more correctly pronounced Thracians, i.e. Thracs. The Indo-Europeanists traditionally attributed an Indo-European type language to the Thracs (Thracians). Therefore it is impossible to recognize as a correct opinion that they spoke one of the Indo-European languages, they also were not studied from the standpoint of Turkic languages [Budagov B.A., Geibullaev G.A., 1988, 126].
Melankhlen is an ethnonym translated into Greek, apparently, from Türkic, for only Türks have Black Hats (Karakalpaks), who explained to Herodotus their ethnonym as Black Hatters, but Herodotus has understood it as ‘Black Coaters’ and has translated to Greek as Melankhlen.
We already discussed Gelons, Tavrs and Budins (Ud-Uz) as Turkic- speaking tribes; Philastorgiy identifies Nevrs with Huns.
Herodotus also knew, in the Scythian times, the former ethnonym of Kangars (Russ. Pechenegs). Herodotus wrote: ‘This horse mail the Persians call angareion’ [Herodotus, 1972, VIII, 98]. This word comes from Turkic ethnonym Khangar-Kangar. Among Persians Kangars served as the couriers, and consequently in the Persian language ‘courier’ was linked with the word khangar.
About Scythians and Sarmatians, whose ethnonym for Greeks became a general name, we already spoke and recognized them as Türkic speaking people. We also learned above about Massagets (Tissagets, Thissagets) and Ephtalites (White Huns ) as Türkic-speaking people.
Among Sarmatians at the end of the 1st c. BC are Aorses, ethnonym from which originate Auar-Avar with the Greek ending -s, -os. Later, Auars-Avars are a known Turkic ethnos.
About Alans-Ases it is possible to say the following. They are considered Iranian-lingual by mistake or based on a tradition of recognizing all Scythians and Sarmatians as Iranian-lingual. As recognized by their contemporaries, and by their traces, and also based on the ethnonymy, Alans-Ases should be recognized as Turkic speaking people [Zakiev M.Z., 1986, 40-43; Laipanov K.T., Miziev I.M., 1993, 97-113; Miziev I.M. 1986, 78-94; see also below ‘Alans: Who are they?’].
Naturally, the hypotheses about Turkic people among Scythians and Sarmatians require additional thorough researches. But already now it is possible to tell with confidence that Turks among Scytho-Sarmatians occupied a significant place.
Summarizing, it is possible to tell with confidence that in Europe and in Asia the Türkic people lived from the most ancient times. Opinion about the beginning of Turkization of Eastern Europe, Volga and Urals only from the 4th c. with the arrival of the first Türks-Huns from Asia, is incorrect. If in the 4th c. there was a mass movement of peoples from the periphery of the Roman empire to its center, it was not a great resettlement, but a liberation movement, in which Huns were actively participating.
§ 7. Ethnic components and ethnolinguistic continuity of development of the Tatar people in the Middle Volga and Urals. The Turkic language of the Middle Volga and Ural region (i.e. Idel-Ural region) was formed by consolidation of various, first of all, Türkic speaking, but partly also of Turkicized Finno-Ugrian speaking components. As with other peoples, for external relations it carried the ethnonym of the dominant component. Today one, tomorrow another group dominated this region, and therefore in different periods of history the Türkic-speaking people of Idel-Ural region carried various common ethnonyms.
We can reconstruct the names of the Türkic components of the ancestors of the Tatar people, starting with the ethnonyms of the tribes that became the constituent elements of the local Bulgar and Tatar Türkic speaking people, and also from the Idel-Ural region ethnotoponymy.
The first Turkic ethnonym of this region reaching us was Biar (versions: Biger, Biler, Buler), the root of which is bi ‘rich, owner, hero’; the second part ar is from a word er ‘people, males’, Biar is ‘rich people, owners’. Biler (local pronunciation Buler) is formed from the same word Bi, but with a plural ending. Variations of the word bi is bik-bek, from this root came the ethnonym Biger (Bik-er), with which our ancient Udmurt neighbors, following ancient tradition, still call Tatars.
We meet in Herodotus an ethnonym of the same meaning, but in a different Turkic phonetic shell. Next to Argippeans (Ar-gippei is Turkic ir-at, the part at is translated by Herodotus into Greek by the word gippei) it marks Iyrks, an ethnonym which consists of iyi~iye, that corresponds to the word bi: iyi~iye ‘owner, good, rich’, erk ‘man, male’. The scientists have established that Argippeans (irat) are the ancestors of Bashkirs, and iyrks are ancestors of Biars (Bilyars). So, the Turkic speaking tribes - ‘rich owners’ (Iyrk, Biar, Biler, Biger) already lived in the Idel-Ural region in the 9th-8th c. BC. And their ethnonym in the form Biger has reached our days as one of the Tatar names, and in the form Biar it was the name of the historically known state Biarm (mine Biar), in Russian - Biarmia, in European - Biarmlanda.
It is probable that among Biars already dwelt Turkic tribes Kipchaks, whose ethnonym means ‘fair faced, fair haired’ (kyu-kyf-kyp ‘white, yellow - white’, chak ‘exact, just’; Kipchak ‘Whites’; Chak~Sak can be an ethnonym of one of Turkic tribes: Kyp - Sak ‘White Saks’). The Slavs translated this ethnonym in their language and instead of ethnonym Kipchak applied a word Polovets, from an adjective polovyi ‘pale yellow’.
That Kipchaks already occupied not a last place among Biars tells the presence of the meaning of this ethnonym also in the Bulgarian period. The Bulgar State began to develop on the territory of Biarm, where Kipchaks occupied a notable place.
As writes Ibn Fadlan, when the embassy of the Ruler of the Faithful Al Muktadir arrived to Bulgaria, a more common ethnonym of these people in Arabic was Sakaliba ‘fair, pale yellow’. Hence, Kipchaks then understood well the meaning of this ethnonym and have translated this meaning to Arabs (as they translated it to Slavs), from this meaning ‘fair faced’ the visiting Arabs formed Arabic ethnonym Sakaliba. Therefore it is possible to assert that the translation in the historical literature of the Arabic word Sakaliba as Slavs does not withstand criticism neither from the standpoint of ethnonymy, nor from a standpoint of mutual relations between tribes: if Sakaliba were Slavs, the Bulgars among the Slavs could not remain Turkic speaking.
The first king of Sakaliba, Almas Shilki, was of the Bulgar people, and the state created by Almas Shilki was referred to as Bulgaria, therefore this name gradually superseded the common ethnonym Sakaliba - Kipchak. It is supported, additionally, by the fact that Bulgars from the very beginning were Kipchak-speaking.
The various historical sources point to the presence near Sakaliba-Kipchaks of the tribes Eskele, who in the 9th-7th c. BC occupied a prevailing position among others Türkic tribes, and had relations with ancient Greeks, passing their ethnonym to the Greeks as the common name for all Türks, and not just for the Eurasian Türks. Eskele ~ Eskethe ~ Eskete in the Greek pronunciation sounded as Skythai-Skyths, in West-European - as Skyts, and in Russian - as Skif…
One of most ancient Turkic ethnonyms was a word As-Az-Oz-Uz~Ud, met in the Assyrian sources as the name of tribes living in the 3rd millennium BC. We know, that Bulgars in another way were called Ases (the wife of Anrey Bogolubsky, a Bulgar, was called ‘Yass princess’). Next to Bulgars-As lived tribes Su-As ‘river As’. Mari, the ancient neighbors of Tatars, until now traditionally call Tatars by the ethnonym Suas, and call the modern Chuvash (historical Veda) - Suaslamari.
The ancestors of Perm Tatars carried an ethnonym Ostyak, which was formed from Os-As and an affix –lyk-tyk-tak; ostyak~ostyk ‘weighty’.
As was established by the scientists, the other name for Ases was Alan. As relayed by ancient authors, Alans spoke Turkic-Kangar language, the ethnonymic data also supports that they were Turkic speaking [Zakiev M.Z., 1986, 41; Miziev I.M., 1990, 73-96; Laipanov K.T., Miziev I.M., 1993, 97-113]. But, trusting the statements of Indo-Europeanists about exclusively Iranian linguality of Alans, the Hungarian scientist Nemet, having found an Iranian-Ossetian text in Hungary, attributed it to the local Alans. Thus appeared an ‘incontestable proof’ of Ossetian linguality of Alans, who in all other attributes are close to the Hungarian Kuns, i.e. Kumans-Kipchaks [Nemet Yu., 1959, I960].
As the ethnotoponymics of Tatarstan shows, the Alans-Ases also joined the make-up of the Tatar people as Alans.
One more ethnonym, formed with a word As, is Burtas ‘forest As’, who lived between Bulgars and Khazars on the coast of Volga. Burtases joined the make-up of Tatars as their significant component.
The other component of Tatars, with ethnonym meaning ‘forest people’, is Mishars (Majgars, Mochars, Mojars, Magyars). Judging by the semantics of the ethnonym and by the Mishar’s pronunciation of the root Agach as Akats, the Mishars historically originate from Akatsirs (Agathirs, in Russian depicted as Akafirs), which were in Scythian times quite noted tribes in the Northern Black Sea area.
The Ethnonym Bulgar itself means ‘river people’, we meet an ethnonym with the same meaning, Suar, who lived next to Bulgars.
On the ethnotoponymy data in the component mix of the Tatar people also joined ancient Kangars, who later (in Russian. – Edit.) were referred to as Pechenegs. The ethnonym Khangar was known in the time of Herodotus, i.e. in 6th-5th c. BC, now as Kungur it is known as the name of the city in the Perm area. There is also a city of Osa, which name comes from the ethnonym Os~As. This opinion is supported, in addition, by the fact that the former ethnonym of Tatars, who were living in the vicinity of this city, was Ostyak, i.e. Os-tyk~Os-lyk, meaning ‘of Oss, Ossian’.
In the formation of the ancestors of Tatars also took part Huns, i.e. tribes Sen in the Tatar pronunciation, this word Bashkirs pronounce as Hen, from it come both Hun and Gunn. About it tells the presence of ethnohydronym Sen in the territory of Tatarstan.
In the component composition of the ancestors of the Tatar people were also Türks, who in the 6th c. created the Great Türkic Kaganate, and the Khazars, from whom split the Volga Bulgars. Apparently, here we should also list Sarmatians and Kumans, who also fused into the mix of the Tatar ancestors. We surmise that ethnonym Sarmat, as ethno-hydronym and ethno-ononym Sarman, and also the family name Sarman ascend to the same root sarma - the ‘hide bag’. Ethnonym Kushan, found in Central Asia, and ethnotoponym Kashan (a perished city on Kama river) is the same word: Kashan~Koshan is the pronunciation of Volga Türks, Kushan - is the pronunciation of Central Asian Türks.
A special word about the Tatar component that came to Idel-Ural region from Central Asia with the Mongol army and joined the make-up of the Bulgaro-Tatar people. The arriving Tatars, which spoke a Central Asian Türkic dialect, were so insignificant in numbers, that they were very quickly absorbed among local Türks.
The ethnonym Tatar does not come directly from these Central Asian Tatars. It was first spread among the Western and Eastern Europe as a political and geographical term to designate all eastern peoples, only later it began to apply to designate all Moslem Türks, and only in the 19th c. the ethnonym Tatars was accepted as the self-name of Bulgaro-Türks-Moslems of the Idel-Ural (Volga-Kama)region.
Thus, the ancestors of Tatars of Volga and Urals were formed by a long consolidation of various ancient Turkic tribes, some Chuvashes - former Veda, naturally, entered the mix, Turkicized Maris, Mordvas and Udmurts also joined in. But ethnolinguistic customs of the Idel-Ural region developed long before our era, and the ancestors of Tatars never lost these basic traditions, i.e. in this region a developing ethnolinguistic continuity existed from the most ancient times until now.
It is recognized that language is a determining attribute of an ethnos, therefore the ethnolinguistic problems of continuity or discontinuity in the development of the people first of all are studied based on the language data. The Tatar language belongs to Türkic languages, but together with Bashkir it represents an original language, distinct from the Türkic languages of other regions.
Linguists have determined that an original language union formed in the Middle Volga and Urals area from the Türkic ancestors of the Tatar, Bashkir and Chuvash languages, and from the Finno-Ugrian ancestors of the Mari, Udmurtian and Mordovian languages [Serebrennikov B.A., 1972; Zakiev M.Z., 1987, 176 - 182]. It means that specific features of some languages gradually penetrated into others in a long mutual influence. As a result the Türkic language of the Volga and Urals region under the impact of local Finno-Ugrian languages received some lexical, phonetical and grammatical features that distinguish it from the Türkic languages of other regions. Precisely as well the Finno-Ugrian languages of this region under the influence of the local Türkic languages received such features that distinguish them from Finno-Ugrian languages of other regions. Hence, the Türkic language of the Idel-Ural region (i.e. the language of the ancestors of Tatars, Bashkirs and Chuvashes) was formed in this region with colloquial features, versus of being introduced from other regions, for example, from Near East, from Middle East or from Central Asia etc. If to appraise that mutual influence of different groups of languages at the phonetics and grammar level gives appreciable results only after millennia of contacts, it is compelling to recognize that the Idel-Ural language union of the Türkic and Finno-Ugrian languages was formed in the deep antiquity in the Scythian or pre-Scythian times. Since then remained the ethnolinguistic continuity in the development of the Tatar people in the Idel-Ural region, referred to differently in different time, because different tribes were leading in different times. To state it in other words, the ethnolinguistic structure of the Tatar people remained stable, despite the repeated changes of the ethnonyms, though at different times it accepted in its fold a part of the new coming tribes, and assimilated among local Türks: at first the Common Türkic-speaking Bulgars, and then Tatars with Central Asiatic attributes of the language.
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Translated by Norm KISAMOV