In Russian
Huns - Contents
Ogur and Oguz
Western Huns 4th-10th cc.
Western Huns Income In Gold
Eastern Hun Anabasis
Stearns P.N. Zhou Synopsis
E. de la Vaissiere Eastern Huns
Bagley R. Hun archeology in China
Faux D. Kurgan Culture in Scandinavia
Dybo A. Pra-Altaian World
Alan Dateline
Avar Dateline
Besenyo Dateline
Bulgar Dateline
Huns Dateline
Karluk Dateline
Khazar Dateline
Kimak Dateline
Kipchak Dateline
Kyrgyz Dateline
Sabir Dateline
Seyanto Dateline

Caspian Dagestan during epoch of the Great Movement of Peoples
Dagestan Publishing, Makhachkala 1995, ISÂN 5-297-01099-3
Chapters 3-5


Book Contents Chapters 1-2 Chapters 3-5 Chapters 6-8 Chapters 9-11

Posting Foreword

Posting introduction see the contents page.

Poor print quality hurts the accuracy of this posting, but fortunately the contents are not impacted. Page numbers of the original are shown at the beginning of the page in blue. Page breaks in continuous text are indicated by //. Posting notes and explanations, added to the text of the author and not noted specially, are shown in (blue italics) in parentheses and in blue boxes, or highlighted by blue headers.



Modern theoretical works on origin of peoples and processes of their development in ancient and modern society show that the formation and development of any ethnic group is complex and multifaceted interaction between components contributing to the development and reproduction of ethnicity, such as: the presence of certain territory and stable language, and components that define ethno-cultural characteristics, “the existence of self-consciousness, expressed in self-name (ethnonym). Equally important is also the ethnos psyche. All specific properties of an ethnic group should be stable and traditional (Bromley, Yu.V. 1983. pp. 55, 57, 63, Bromley, Yu.V.  Kozlov, V.I. 1987, p. 6).

The culture of ethnos consist of such specific elements of spiritual and material culture “that are distinct by their tradition and stability (customs, rituals, religion, folk art, behavioral norms, habits, food, clothing, medicine, housing, etc.)” (Bromlei Yu.V. 1983, p. 55). Ethnos (in a narrow sense of the term)  is defined as “historically rooted in a particular area stable group of people with common, relatively stable traits of language //90// and culture, and consciousness of its unity and differences from other similar formations (consciousness), denoted in self-name (ethnonym)” (Bromley, Yu.V. 1983. pp. 57 - 58).

Latin historian of the end of the 4th cc. Ammianus Marcellinus quite clearly distinguished outward signs of ethnicity, in which the peoples of adjacent territories distinguish alien ethnicities among others: “Alans ... are fragmented into many tribes, to list them is not necessary. While they are coaching like nomads in the vast space at far distance from one another, but over time they united under a single name, and all are called Alans because of the uniformity of their customs, wild lifestyle, and uniformity of arms” (Ammianus Marcellinus. I, p. 241). Such approach to distinguishing other nations was typical for the ancient authors. We will try summarize the ethnic names of the Caspian littoral tribes during the era of Great Migration (2th - 8th cc.), provide their self-name, address language and appearance, drawn by their contemporaries.

The post-Attila Western Hunnic Empire in the European theater, and how the Caucasian Huns fit into the large picture.

Irnik Bulgars
460 AD
Djurash Masgut Bulgaria
460-500 AD

3.1. POPULATION OF “HUN'S COUNTRY” 2nd-9th centuries


2th-4th Centuries.

Since the middle of the 2nd century (defined as 160 AD), on the western coast of the Caspian Sea, to the north of Aluans (Albans) and Caspies lived “Unns” (Huns) or “Huns” (Dionisius, Claudius Ptolemy). Some authors of the 5th - beginnings of the 6th centuries, retelling information of //91// Dionisius about “Unns”, call them with a collective name used in the literature for all nomads. The early Byzantine historian Zosimus calles them as Dionisius, “Unns” (Zosimus, p. 713), the Roman geographer Julius Honorius (“Cosmography”, early 5th Century AD) calls them “Scyths-Huns (Julius Honorius, p. 1077), and the Latin writer Priscian, traditionally calls them Scythians (Theodorus Priscianus Caesariensis, fl. 500 AD, p. 1104).

Òhe authors of the 4th c. called the nomadic tribes in the Caspian “Huns”. So, Favstos Buzand (470's) informs that Huns, together with Maskuts, Alans and “other various nomadic tribes raided Armenia in the 430's (Favstos Buzand, p. 19-16). In the 460's, he reports that Huns, together with Alans, already fought on the side of Armenia against Persia (Favstos Buzand, p. 113).

Moisei Khorenatsi (5th c.) at even earlier time, 410s, names among participants of the events in the S.Caucasia (Moisei Khorenatsi, p. 131). Moisei Khorenatsi calls the places of Hun settlement “the land of Huns”, however the population of the country he calls with an ethnonym “Basils” (Moisei Khorenatsi, p. 131, 201) (Basils/Barsils are Khazar partner tribe; with time, references to Barsils fade, supplanted by references to Khazars; in the matrimonial partnership the paternal tribe is usually better known to the outsiders; the change in references may reflect the dynamics of matrimonial hierarchy in the union. Barsils-Khazars apparently maintained their allegiance to the Hunnic confederations, resisted Jujan pretentions, and forcefully revolted against Ashina Türkic takeover noted by S.Klyashtorny).

The contemporaries of the Hunnic campaigns in S.Caucasia and Near East know them as Huns (Eusebius Hieronymus, Claudius Claudian).

5th Century.

From the middle of the 5th c. the sources begin noting in the Eastern N.Caucasia steppes a conglomerate of tribes of the Hun circle. Armenian historian Egishe Vardapet the inhabitants of the country of the “Huns”  //92// or “Hailandurks” calls “Huns-Hailandurks” (Egishe, p. 31, 127) (The Kayi tribe, aka Hailandur, Kay, Kaiyg, Kian, Kiyan, Kiat, Ch. Hi 霫 and Si/Xi 奚, Qiang 羌族, Huyan 呼衍、呼延, Õóÿíü 呼衍, Jiang 姜, a perennial Hunnic and Türkic dynastic tribe, the earliest known marital partner of the Zhou, and the former marital partner of the 3rd c. BC Eastern Huns that carried their dynastic pedigree into the Ottoman times. Kayi go as No 2 Kaiyg on Mahmud Kashgari list, they were subjugated by Maodun in 200 BC, they played leading role in history of Kimeks, Western Kumans, China, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Persia, and Russia. Kashgari list depicts two more nearly identical tamgas, No 18 Tügers (also spelled Düver and Düğer, Töker or Tüker, these are the Tochars of Strabon and the Digor component of Ossetes) , and No 19 Becheneks (also spelled Bechenek, Pechenek, Pecheneg) . These three tamgas have an element of Kipchak tamga I and V element that also includes No 1 Kınıks “Today they are kagans”, these are Kangar dynastic tribe , No 16 Tutırkas (Dondurgas) and No 7 Begtilis (Begdilis or Beydilis) [M. Kashgari, Divanu Lügat-it-Türk, 1939 Reprint, Ankara, pp. 56-59]).

Prisk Pannonian knows in the Northern Caucasus other Hunnic tribes: Ugors, Saragurs, Onogurs (Prisk Pannonian, p. 843) (S.A.Pletneva in her book “Kipchaks” tells us that Kipchak tribe Saragurs - Sary - “Yellow” appeared in the N.Pontic only with Kipchaks in the 11th c., though they were recorded by Ptolemy as Sargati before 148 AD. The Onogurs gave the name of Phanagoria to the Greeks before 5th c. BC, a later myth refers to a presence among the first Greek colonists of a sailor with a patently Türkic name Onogur)

Events in the political history of the Hunnic tribes in the Northeast Caucasus abound with the facts of Huns' tight contacts with Iranian-speaking (Sic!) Maskut and Alan tribes (The author, not a linguist, follows or restates the false doctrine concocted in Russia at the end of the 19th - first part of the 20th c. that contradicts direct testimony of Biruni, ethno-linguistical analysis (e.g. Mamay H. Alans in Pyrenees, for one), ethnological and historical studies, and, as should be expected from a false, politically motivated and state-driven scientific paradigm, is totally unproductive (e.g. Agusti Alemany, 2000, “Sources on Alans”). Of the two premises used to fabricate the Alanian Iranism, one is a hoax, and the other is disputed. Biruni defined Alan language as a mix of Türkic and Horesmian, with no mention of 10th c. Middle Persian whatsoever. To call the ethnologically Türkic nomadic pastoralists of Türkic and Horesmian creole to be “of Iranian circle”, without quotation marks and ignoring their belonging to the “Türkic circle”, is a sheer misrepresentation, as is demonstrated by the author below. This type of misrepresentation is endemic to the Slavic-centric and European-centric pseudoscience). Information about Huns' contacts with Maskuts is in the works of Armenian authors of the 5th c. (Agafangel, Favstos), Buzand, Egishe), though about Maskuts living in the Huns' neighborhood also mentioned the authors of the 7th c. (Movses Kalankatuatsi, Armenian geography of the 7th century), and of the 8th c. (Ghevond). The information of the sources allows considering the presence of these military, political, and ethnocultural contacts to be an objective reality. Agafangel in his composition named the country “Masakha-Huns”, and describes its location within the limits of the northeastern part of the Caucasian Albania, and described its status in the political system of the Aluania state.

We can only admire the dexterity of the scientists with agenda: the written tradition of ancient contemporaries equated Masguts and Huns, a sequence of 6 authors separated by 3 centuries deliver their unprejudiced testimony, but some modern scientists use their own logical constructions to dismiss the evidence that is totally consistent with numerous other independent testimonies.

In historical aspect, in the 2nd c. BC the Masguts were Hunnic subjects, had a Hunnic viceroy, and participated in Hunnic campaigns in exchange for a share of booty. The viceroy belonged to the Shanyu immediate family, he was one of the Royal Princes, known as Shads and Tegins, and stayed in that position for about a decade, until another vacancy up the hierarchical ladder became available. Some 6-8 generations later, at around 100 BC Masguts accepted the first wave of the Hunnic refugees, probably of not very high status. The Huns fled to their subjects, first, and to their kins, second. They did not flee to non-Türkic aliens like Persians or Indians, because the refugees fled a military conflict, and were not in position to initiate a conquest. The second wave of the Hunnic refugees came after another military conflict with China at about 50 BC, or another 2 generations later, when the Hunnic Jiji Shanyu was killed. At that time can be expected an arrival of some higher status refugees, who initiated construction of their castles, now known a tepe. A third of the Hunnic refugees came another 8 generations later, after the debacle of 160 AD, suffered from China and its allies. At that time, the center of the Hunnic Empire moved to the land of Masguts in the Aral area, and Shanyu replaced his viceroy with the home rule. That empire is known as European Hun Empire, since it was the empire that reached Central Europe. The fourth, and last, wave came in about 215, or 2 more generations later, after another military defeat, when the eastern fringes of the empire were evacuated. Huns retained their supremacy among the Türkic pastoral tribes, and expanded their control to new sedentary subjects, taking over Sogdiana at about 350 AD. The archeological remains illustrate and elucidate the historical events fairly well, and the motion picture can be reconstructed in a number of vary emblematic aspects, from Hunnic caldrons and diadems to kurgan cemeteries and castles. The terminology used for the local tribes, like Masguts or Massagets, is somewhat conditional, because every author who described Masguts, later called Alans, noted that they consist of numerous tribes, each with their own individual name, there are too many names to mention, and the terms Masguts or Alans apply only to the leading tribe.

Another interesting trait that the Huns brought over to the Caspian area is the phonetical interchangeability of b and m that lasts to this day. The Huns brought this trait to China, and to the Eastern Europe. Practically every word with b has its twin with m, like Blkar/Mlkar for Balkars.

By the time of the 460 AD events, debated by the renowned scholars, the Hunnic/Masgut symbiosis lasted for 660 years, or about 26 generations, and the ethnic affiliation of Sanesan is as mute as the ethnic affiliation of the modern leaders of any ethnicity.

Favstos Buzand, describing the joint military //93// campaign of Maskuts, Huns and other tribes of Northeast Caucasus against Armenia, names Sanesan, who headed the campaign, “king of Maskuts and ruler of the Hun army ”.

The chronology of the military campaign by the king of Maskuts-Huns Sanesan, in the opinion of A.V.Gadlo, belongs to the end of the 4th - beginning of the 5th c. AD, and is a description of one of large seasonal raids of the Caspian nomads not reflected in other written monuments (Gadlo A.V., 1979, p. 37). In the opinion of A.V.Gadlo, the Agafangel's message about the land of Masakha-Huns can be dated to 460s, because till 458, in the records of Egishe, Maskuts lived north of the Derbent fortifications (Gadlo A.V., 1979, p. 31). We take as completely correct the opinion of A.V.Gadlo that the ancient authors' equating of the Maskuts and Huns, “testifies about certain integration of the Iranian-speaking (Sic!) Massaget descendants with the Türkic-speaking Huns” (Gadlo A.V., 1979, p. 36) (As it turns out, this is an integration of Türkic-lingual Masguts with Türkic-lingual Huns, where both ethnic terms are fuzzy phenomena: e.g. Kayis are Huns too, they are the Kayi Huns, and the land of Masaha-Huns may in fact be the land of Masaha-Kayis. Masguts were heavily Sogdianized or Horezmianized Türkic-speaking per Biruni “half-Horezmian half-Bajanak”, where Horezmian/Sogian is peculiar non-Iranian “Sprachbund” or areal grouping of languages per A.Dybo and W.B.Henning)..

6th Century.

In the 6th c. in the written sources appear indications testifying about heterogeneity of the Caspian Hunnic tribes. Procopius Cesarean (ca 536 AD) knows Huns of Eastern N. Caucasia (Procopius Cesarean, Ia, p. 112; II, p. 381), and almost always talks about them in plural, emphasizing their heterogeneity. Among the Hunnic tribes Procopius names only Sabirs (Savirs), constantly emphasizing their kinship with the Huns (Procopius Cesarean, 1a, p. 180-181; 1b, p. 221; II, p. 381, 407, 416). In some cases Procopius Cesarean uses a double ethnonym “Uunns-Savirs” or “Huns-Savirs” (Procopius Cesarean, 1à, p. 180-181; II, p. 432).

Procopius was the first of contemporary to him authors who noted Savirs among the tribes of the Hunnic circle. The information about Savirs in the Procopius records is dated by the time of the reign of the Persian king Kavad (488-496; 499-531).

Agathias especially emphasized an affiliation of the Savirs to the circle of the Hunnic tribes. Describing the siege of the Archeopolis in Lazika (Colchida), he informed that in the Roman army there was a group of hired Huns, “who are called Savirs” (Agathias, p. 88).

In the second half of the 6th - beginning of the 7th c. the Hunnic tribe of Savirs was already well known to the Byzantine historians. They name Savirs among other tribes of the Hunnic circle without any clarifications about their origin //95// (Menander Byzantine, p. 411, 415-416; Theophanes the Byzantine, p. 494; Theophilact Simocatta, p. 160).

Yeshu Stylite, describing the events of the 4th-5th cc., applies in relation to the Caspian Huns an ethnonym “Huns”. His data testify to that the territory controlled by the Hunnic tribes at that time had defined borders (Yeshu Stylite, p. 131).

Pseudo-Zacharius knows 13 peoples in within the “limits”, localized by him beyond the Caspian Gate, to the north of them: “Avgar, Sabir, Burgar, Alan, Kurtargar, Avar, Khasar, Dirmar, Sirurgur, Bagrasik, Kulas, abdel, ephalit” (Pseudo-Zacharius, p. 165). And the Huns, as the people who accepted Christianity in the middle of the 6th century, are rated by the author as five believing peoples of the Caucas, while the others 13, including Sabirs, were, in the definition of Pseudo-Zacharius, peoples pagan and barbarous (Pseudo-Zacharius, p. 165) (see table note for page 58).

The Arabian authors do not know Huns in the Caucasus, even for the events in the beginning of the Sassanid expansion in the Caucasus (end of 5th century). So, at-Tabari among the Northern Caucasus tribes making at that time constant attack on Armenia, are named peoples Abhaz, Bandjar, Balanjar and Alan (at-Tabari, II, p. 69). The same peoples, but already as allies of the Khahan of the Türks Sinjibu, are mentioned by the author later, in the description of events in the beginning of The Persian-Türkic stand-off in the Caucasus //96// during the rule of Hosrov (Khosrau, Khosrow) Anushirvan.

By same time belongs the early mention of Khazars at at-Tabari (at-Tabari, II, p. 69-70).

Al-Belazuri calls the population of the “Khazar lands”, including Caspian, for time of the Iranian domination of the Caucasus “Khazars” Or “Turks” (Al-Belazuri, p. 5-7).

7th century.

Armenian historian of the 7th c. Sebeos calls “people living at the Caspian gate” Huns (Sebeos, p. 8 30-31, 54, 164). In the “Armenian geography” are listed a few tribes of the Hunnic circle: Huns, Basils, Savirs.

In composition Movsesa Kalankatuatsi the population of “ the country of Huns ” is unequivocally designated by an ethnonym “Huns”. In chapters 9-45 of the second book, related to the events of the 7th century, the ethnonym “Huns” is used by the author 32 times (Movses Kalankatuatsi, II, p. 99, 102 - 103, 119 - 121, 123 to 125, 127 - 134). A number of researchers argue that the ethnonym “Huns” for the description of 630-670s events is an anachronism, at that time the prevailing position in the Caspian was already occupied by Khazars (Novoseltsev A.P., 1990, p. 74 - 75, 84). However in the second book of the “History of the Alvan country” the ethnonym “Khazars” is used only in 4 cases, concerning the events of the 7th c. (Movses Kalankatuatsi, II, p. 77-78, 100, 127).

But the author distinguished the “Huns” and “Khazars” in their ethnic attributes, and also by their territories (Movses Kalankatuatsi, II, p. 148). He also distinguished the supreme authority of each of the polities. So, the supreme ruler of the “Hun country” is called “prince of Huns”, and of the Khazar Kaganate is called “Khakan of Khazars” (Movses Kalankatuatsi, II, p. 127). Their relationship shows up only in military operations, in all other spheres of life of the Hunnic union, as testifies the source, the “Grand Prince of Huns” showed independence.

In the first book Movses Kalankatuatsi also mentions other tribes living at different times in the Caspian: Maskuts (Movses Kalankatuatsi, II, p. 128, 37, 38, 45, 48), Hailandurs, Basles (Movses Kalankatuatsi, II, p. 28, 33). In eight cases he also talks about Caspian Huns (Movses Kalankatuatsi, II, p. 28, 33, 38, 45, 62, 64).

8th century.

The Armenian historian Vardapet Ghevond knows at that time in the Caspian the “Huns country”, “Hunnic” cities. The author calls the population “Huns” (Ghevond, p. 27-28, 72, 80-81). The Huns are not confused with Khazars, who sometimes are allies of the Huns in some military operations (Ghevond, p. 28), and independently carry out other operations (Ghevond, p. 72). Later Armenian authors also narrate about the 8th c. Huns (Vardan the Great, p. 95; Stepanos Taronetsi p. 95).

The Arab historian al-Kufi (9th - begining of the 10th centuries) does not call with a special name //98// the population of the Caspian areas in that period, as a rule he tells about Khazar troops (al Kufi, p. 10, 14-15, 17-22, 24, 29-31, 35), which the Arab faced in the region. Only once al-Kufi mentions “other tribes of godless”, whose soldiers constituted the Khazar army (al-Kufi, p. 21).

At-Tabari, a contemporary of al- Kufi, to designate the main, opposing the Arabs of force in the Caucasus, applies two terms: “Khazars” and “Türks”, and mostly “Türks” (at-Tabari, II, p. 74, 76 - 80). For the time of the first Arabo-Khazar wars (640 - 650s) at-Tabari made distinction between the Türks and inhabitants of Balandjar (at-Tabari, II, p. 76). And for the period of Persian domination in S.Caucasia among the peoples campaigning in Armenia, the author names “Abhaz, Bandzhar, Alan” (at-Tabari, II, Ñ. 69). For time of the Türkco-Iranian confrontation the author names Türks and Khazars (at-Tabari, II, p. 70).

Ibn al-Athir (13th century) used the works at-Tabari, and contrasts the inhabitants of Balandjar with Türks and Khazars. The inhabitants of Balandjar , according to the author, were subordinated to the Türks, and in military operations served as their allies (Ibn al-Athir, p. 9, 13). The Balandjar people, together with some other tribes of the Northern Caucasus (“Abkhazians, Bandjars”) lived in the region before the arrival of the Türks. They lead active military operations against Persia, which paid them annual compensation //99// for abstaining from annual raids on the lands controlled by Persia (Ibn al-Athir, p. 9).

The population of the Caspian littoral in the time of the Arab military campaigns of the first half of the 8th century Ibn al-Athir called in different ways: Turks (Ibn al-Athir. pp. 13, 15, 21-23 25-26, etc.), Khazars (Ibn al-Athir. pp. 9, 24-26, 28, 30, 34) and “Balanjar” residents (Ibn al-Athir, p. 9). The also sources mention other Turkic tribes as Khazar allies (Ibn al-Athir, p. 23), and other Arab enemies along with the Khazars (Ibn al-Athir, p. 23), and the peoples “living beyond Balanjar” (Ibn al-Athir, p. 29).

In the majority of cases the author uses ethnonyms “Khazars” and “Türks” as generalized terms for the main military forces opposing the Arabs in the Caucasus military operations. More often the author calls “Türks”, in some military operations the “Türks” è “Khazars” oppose the Arabs as allies (Ibn al-Athir, p. 19, 26, 34). Ibn al-Athir does not have specific data about other Caspian peoples.

For al-Baladhuri (end of the 9th century) the main opposing force for the Arabs in the Caspian in the 7th-8th centuries were Khazars (al-Baladhuri, p. 5-7, 16-19).

Al-Yakubi uses ethnonyms “Khazars” and “Türks” as synonyms (al-Yakubi, p. 7-9).

Al-Yakubi calls the residents who stubbornly resisted the Arabs in what he called the “country of Türks” with ethnonyms “Türks” and “Khazars”,and in one case “the Khazar people” (al-Yakubi. pp. 7-9). Possibly, under al-Yakubi “Türks” in the events of 726 - 731 should be understood //100// the dependent on the >Khazars tribes of the Caspian region.



A great value in the ethnic process flow is disclosed by a self-name ((endoethnonym) of a people. Analyzis of the “History of Aluank country” sections where the author relays speeches of the Hun Great Prince Alp-Ilitver, and also of the copies of the letters he addressed to the upper spiritual and secular rulers of Armenia and Aluania attracts attention by the fact that Alp-Ilitver calls the country “Hunnic” (Movses Kalankatuatsi, II, p. 132). Some expressions of Alp-Ilitver relayed by the author of the “History of Aluank country” can serve as a proof that the Huns distinguished themselves from the neighboring peoples of Aluania and Armenia not only as a separate ethnic mass, but also as a society standing in cultural relation on a lower level of development (Movses Kalankatuatsi, II, p. 133).

Khazar Kagan Joseph illuminates the question of the Türkic peoples origin as related to Khazars. The letter of the Kagan (10th century) reflected the understanding of the Khazars about the origin of his people and other Türkic tribes. It is based on oral tradition, but, probably, also on some written sources. To confirm the accuracy of the information about the pedigree of Khazars and related tribes, the author refers to “genealogical books” of the Khazar ancestors (Joseph, I, p. 75). The records in these books had historical character, since telling about the rise of the Khazars, Kagan Joseph refers to the source of his information, “I have it written down.” (Joseph, II, p. 92).

The letter of Kagan Joseph gives a list of ten Türkic tribes with roots of common origin. In the expanded edition the letter of Kagan Joseph are named Aviyor, Turis, Avaz, Uguz, , Tr-na, Khazar, Yanur, B-lg-r, Savir (Joseph, II, p. 91-92), in the brief edition of the letter, the transcriptions of some ethnonyms are different (Joseph, I, p. 75).

King Joseph's reply letter, with tentatively reconstructed vowels, [] shows vocalization of Kokovtsoff P.K. Hebrew-Khazar Correspondence of the 10th c. Leningrad, 1932.

...You ask us also in your epistle: “Of what people, of what family, and of what tribe are you?” Know that we are descended from Japheth, through his son Togarmah [In the Hebrew Old Testament bible, Togarmah is the father of all Türks]. I have found in the genealogical books of my ancestors that Togarmah had ten sons. These are their names: the eldest was Ujur [Aviyor/Àâèéîð] (Uiur < Uiğur < Uigur), the second Tauris [Turis/Òóðèñ] (Taur < Tağur < Tagur = Tokhar), the third Avar [Avaz/Àâàç] (Uar = Avar = Abdaly/Ephtilite), the fourth Uauz [Uguz/Óãóç] (Uauz < Uğuz < Oguz = Oguz), the fifth Bizal [Biz-l/Áèç-ë] (Biz-l < Bečen < Bechen = Bajanak), the sixth Tarna [Tr-na/Òð-íà] (?), the seventh Khazar [Khazar/Õàçàð], the eighth Janur [Yanur/ßíóð] (aka Zagur/Zabuk/Zakhukh/Zebuc/Zabub = ZabulKabul?), the ninth Bulgar [B-lg-r/Á-ëã-ð], the tenth Sawir [Savir/Ñàâèð]. I am a descendant of Khazar, the seventh son. ...

From the spelling of words with silent ğ Uiur < Uiğur = Uigur, Tağur = Tagur = Tokhar, and Uauz < Uğuz < Oguz = Oguz can be seen that the Khazar dialect is similar to Kazakh and Oguz dialects, which do not articulate the common Türkic g.

In his list the Türkic tribes Khazars and Suvars are called relatives, but nevertheless different peoples. Kagan Joseph especially emphasizes that Khazars of the Joseph time descend from the sons of Khazar (Joseph, I, p. 74; II, p. 92), i.e. those Khazars who ethnically (?) and politically separated from a mass of the Türkic tribes. However, possibly Kagan Joseph means here not the Khazars as a whole, but just his clan. Then only the ruling royal clan had the Khazar origin, the other clans, mentioned by the Khazar Kagan many times in the letter, could //102// ethnically differ from Khazar Kagan and his relatives, and be one of the ten listed tribes (The ruling hierarchy of Khazar Kaganate is fairly well known: initial presiding Ashina Türk clan and Bulgar-Suvar-Khazar parliament of nobility, by the 10th c. replaced, as can be deduced from the letter, by ethnically Khazar presiding Kagan).

The ancient history given by Joseph is written obscurely with blurry colors. No clear information is given about Khazar infancy as a separate ethnic group. Even by the time of composing the letter, information about the ancient history of the Khazars has almost legendary character. Kagan Joseph noted: ”.... My ancestors were few in number...” (Joseph, I, p. 76). Apparently, the Khazars were not too distinguished among other Türkic tribes migrating to the Caspian areas at the time of the Great Movement of Peoples. The wars, which Khazars fought with many peoples, elevated and strengthened them.

Accepting the record of the Tes inscription (762), the Khazars that split from their tribe and established a domicile north of the Caspian Huns were refugees and a splinter, headed by chieftain Kadyr sometime around 600 AD. Their allies were Bersils headed by a chieftain Bedi, they likely were connected with the Khazars by matrimonial ties, were not necessarily of the Türkic origin, but in any case were unrelated by blood, two tribes united in a dual exogamy. The likelihood that the rebellious refugees carried along any tribal archives is nil, thus the chances that King Joseph could turn in the 10th c. to the archives of the 7th c. are way too remote. More likely, his origin information came from a verbal sherjere.

In addition, the first Kagan of the Khazars was an Ashina viceroy who assumed the title Kagan upon disintegration of the Western Türkic Kaganate, and established his own dynastic line. His Hatun (Queen, First Wife) was from the Bersil tribe. With time, and under political pressures, Khazars re-aligned with new, local tribes for matrimonial union, relegating the Bersil tribe to a status of the “old dynastic tribe”, and sending them to the background of the historical scene. If King Joseph was a Kagan, an offspring of the Ashina tribe, any records related to the ruling house sherjere would have been limited to the Ashina dynastic line, within the framework of the Ashina tribe and Ashina state. In that case, his genealogy would be closer to the version recorded by Rashid-ad-Din and Abulgazi. Alternatively, if King Joseph was a Bek (Prime Minister), which is probably more likely, he was either ethnically Jewish, or a converted ethnic Khazar. As a Jewish noble, he would not be privy to the Khazar or Ashina sherjere, taught to each member of the clan and tribe throughout their adolescence, and would only know, likely in broad strokes, what he can absorb from interviewing his underlings, because Jews did not have a tradition of learning their genealogy form childhood. But since he runs his personal genealogy from Yapeth, it is more likely that he is an extract from a Khazar family converted from Tengriism, his genealogy is part of his personal sherjere, and he relayed it as accurately as he was taught.

The Khazar and the Bersil tribes were ascribed to the Uchuks, i.e. to the lowly right western wing of the Oguz tribes. In the transition from the European Hunnic Empire to the First Türkic Kaganate, their classification changed from the Eastern Wing of the European Hunnic Empire to the Western Wing of the First Türkic Kaganate, and remained the same Western Wing, or Nushibi, in the successor Western Türkic Kaganate. The list of the King Joseph enumerates the tribes of their Tele confederation in the Western Wing: Ujur/Uigur, Turis/Tağur = Tokhar, Avar/Uar = Avar, Uguz/Oguz, Bizal/Bečen, Tarna, Õàçàð, Yanur/ZabulKabul?, Bulgar, Savir.

The apparent contradiction between the Tes inscription (762) on the events of 600s  and the record of Moisei Khorenatsi (5th c.) on the events of  410s, that place Basils/Barsils in the Western Türkic Kaganate and in the Caucasus littoral respectively, is probably only apparent; Barsils were in fact located in the Caucasus littoral which at 600s belonged to the realm of the Western Türkic Kaganate.



Specialists on ethnic processes point to a close relationship of the ethnos with language, which “is not the only a condition for the forming ethnos, but also a result of ethnogenesis”.Language serves as a key objective attribute of the ethnos, and as a symbol of ethnicity (Bromley, Yu.V., Kozlov, V.I. 1987, p. 6).

Pseudo-Zacharius (aka Zacharias Rhetor - Translator's Note) has a message that still in the first third of the 6th c., in 544 (Pigulevskaya N, 1941, p. 86) or 520 (Djafarov Yu.R., 1985, p. 87) during stay with the Huns of a Christian mission from the Caucasian Albania headed by bishop Kardost, was produced a “Testament”, //103// i.e. the Holy Bible in the Hunnic language, as writes the author, “in their language” (Pseudo-Zacharius p. 166)

This fact testifies that the population of the “Hun country” at that time already had a common everyday language. Production of such important in its ideological influence on the Hun population work, as was the “Testament”, “ could not be done in a language of any one, even a powerful tribe. The contents of the work had to be understood by at least a significant part of the population.

The “History of the Aluank country” has two copies of letters written from the Great Prince of Huns Alp-Ilitver. One of them is addressed to the Aluank Catholicos Elizar and Aluank Prince Varaz-Òðäàt, another one is addressed to the Armenian Catholicos Sakhak and Armenia Prince Grigor. The letters requested an establishment in capital of the “Hun country” Varachan a separate church seat (Movses Kalankatuatsi, II, p. 133). The author does not note anything unusual about the language in which these documents were written. This allows to suggest that the letters were written in the Aluank and Armenian languages, because all author's attention is concentrated on the contents of the text in the documents, and the script language is not something unusual for the Aluank writer. Apparently, in the Alp-Ilitver country were translators who knew the languages of the countries with which Huns maintained mutual relations (Aluania, Armenia, Georgia, Persia, Byzantium).

In addition to addressing the translation, which should not have been a problem since multilingualism is a norm in the Caucasus, the question of the alphabet is more puzzling. The newly developed Armenian and Albanian alphabets are unlikely candidates for diplomatical correspondence, and the number of people literate in these ecclesiastical alphabets must have been extremely limited, but it can't be excluded that the scribe had to travel with the letter to read it. The spread of the Türkic runiform script of the western Central Asian variety is possible because the abundance of the inscriptions demonstrates the widespread literacy of the lay population, and both western and eastern sources of population had a tradition of written diplomatic communications. The Greek alphabet is also a suitable candidate, with a long tradition of being a common alphabet for many nations.

Pigulevskaya N.V. Syrian sources on the history of the USSR peoples. Ans. Editor Struve M. Academy of Sciences, 1941

Of exceptional interest is the account on introduction of writing to the Huns. About Kardost and the “men” with him it states that they taught some “of the Huns”. Apparently then the visitors learned the Hun language.

“They remained there for 7 years (literally, “a week of a year”) //87// and composed there the Scripture in the Hunnic language”. If the arrival of Kardost is dated by 537, thirty-four years after the capture of the prisoners in the city of Amida in 503, the consequent mastering of the language and translation took another seven years, and then about 544 “the Scripture was publicized”. In respect to the translation language it is clear that it was the Hunnic language, but the used script can only be surmised. In 568 the (Karmichion = Red Huns) Turks brought a Kagan's letter to Constantinople, which was τό γράμμα τό Σκυθικον (the letter from Scythians) [Menander, Fragmenta, 18; t. 4, p. 226, ed. Dc Boor, II, p. 451.]. It is likely that both the Hun and the Turkic, called the Scythian, script (of the letter) were in the Sogd-Manichean or Sogdian script. The reason for this premise is the following. The Huns in their forward movement came to the areas populated by Sogdians, where they could get familiar with that script. On the other hand, Kardost, who came from Arran that was the area inhabited by the Aryans, who maybe spoke one of the Iranian vernaculars; in that case his familiarity with the Sogdian script may not be surprising. In any case, this is only a suggestion that so far (1941), however, it did not evoke opposing arguments. Multiple reasons allow to suggest that Kardost and Makar were dealing with the Huns who were the Huns-Sabirs. The Byzantine writers make numerous references to the “Huns, called Sabirs”. In the middle of the 6-th c. they were fighting sometimes on the side of the Persians, sometimes on the side of the Romeans (Romans); they numbered about one hundred thousand people. Breaking through the Caspian Gates, they attacked the Byzantine provinces.

Although the Irano-Arrano-Arian premises are wrong and irrelevant, the substance of N.V. Pigulevskaya suggestion, without the verbal fluff, is solid: the Huns operated the Silk Road alongside with Sogdians for at least 6 centuries, must have been familiar with the Syriac script used by the Sogdians for record-keeping, had a Silk Road taxing system documentation, and used Sogdians for their diplomatic missions. The Albanian bishops were definitely comfortable the Syriac script, since they translated the Bible from Syriac to Albanian, and the Syriac script and language were lingua franca of the Middle East, especially in ecclesiastic sphere. By the 5th c. AD the Sogdian Syriac script was well-known across Central Asia, from Mediterranean to China.

Al-Ystahri (10th c.) noted //104// that the “language of Khazars is unalike the language of Turks and Persians, and in whole is unalike the languages of any people we know” (Al-Ystahri, p. 45). Possibly, the author characterized the language of the local Caspian population, associated by him with the Khazars.

The follower of al-Ystahri, ibn Hawqal (10th century), apparently visited Caucasus, and noted the existence of 360 languages of the Caucasian peoples in the region, and of the Azeri and Persian as widely used languages: “This ridge (Kabk) is colossal; it is said it has 360 languages; earlier I disavowed it, until I myself saw many cities, and every city has its own language besides Azeri and Persian” (Ibn Hawqal, p.97).

This testimony of Ibn Hawqal flies in the face of the Rissian and Persian postulates that Azeris were “Türkified” after, in one version, Kipchaks came to dominate N.Caucasus in the 11th c., and in another version, Kipchaks came to dominate N.Caucasus as the troops of the Mongolian conquest in the 13th c., widely found in the authorized versions of their respective historiographies.

The Arabian traveler al-Garnati (11th century) also recorded a multitude of languages in the Dagestan, including Khaidak, Türkic, Alanian, Asian (Azeri), Arabian, Persian, and Tabasaran, which were spread among the nearest neighbors of Derbent (al-Garnati, I, p. 26).

The analysis of the proper names of the Huns' tribal chiefs and military leaders of the Caspian points to their Türkic and Persian origin (Zilfeldt-Simumyagi A, p., 1988, p. 84; Gadlo A.V., 1979 p. 148-149; Klyashtorny S.G., 1984, p. 21; Djafarov Yu.R., 1985, p. 79). The analysis of the gods in the Hunish pantheon also testifies about their Turkic and Persian attribution (Gadlo A.V., 1979 p. 146-147; Klyashtorny S.G., 1984, p. 21; Novoseltsev A.P., 1990, p. 80).

These facts illustrate the deep ethnic integration in the Hunnic society.

N.V.Pigulevskaya identified the Hunnic and Türkic script (Pigulevskaya N.V. 1941, p. 86), N.A.Baskakov classified the Hunnic language as western Türkic branch of the Türkic languages (Baskakov N.A., 1960, p. 106-107). À.Í. Bershtam suggested that Hunnic language was the elite language in the Hunnic society (Bernshtam A.N. 1951, p. 167), however the discussed facts allow to stipulate that the Hunnic language was a language of all Hunnic society (A.N.Bernshtam's position is somewhat tarnished, he participated in the Stalinist repression which killed an uncountable number of Turkologists, Orientalists, and their works).

The exception must be taken to the references to Persian in Russian scientific literature, on two reasons: the state Stalinist chauvinist policy dictated denigration and diminishing of the Türkic presence in the country, history, and culture; and the loose attribution of linguistic traces to the Persian language, without appropriate etymological analysis. Both tendencies keep lingering in the post-USSR Russian science, but after 1990s their constructs are being dismantled daily, and now resemble more tulle than Swiss cheese.



Sources practically do not have records on the appearance of the Huns in the Caspian littoral. But first review the descriptions of the European Huns appearance preserved in the writings of the Latin authors. Bishop of Clermont Apollinaris Sidonius, who lived during about 430 - 480, in one of his poems describes the appearance of  Hun: above the round body rises a narrow head, under a forehead in the slots is vision, but no eyes; penetrating into the brain container light barely reaches his sunken eyeballs, that however are not closed;... for the two tubes of the nose not to protrude over the cheeks, a tied around tape squeezes the gentle nostrils, so that they can fit under the helmets... the distended area of the cheeks becomes wider if the nose does not rise in the middle. The remaining parts of the bodies at the men are distinguished in beauty; //106// broad chest, powerful shoulders, stomach astringed under intestines. The standing height  is average...”.(Apollinaris Sidonius, p. 1090).

Ammianus Marcellinus complets the exterior of the Huns with such typical features: “they grow old beardless and devoid of all beauty ... all of them are distinguished by stout and strong extremities, stocky scruffs...”.(Ammianus Marcellinus. I, p. 1021).

Claudius Claudian agree in his impressions on the appearance of the Huns with other authors. He wrote: “They have ugly appearance and shameful on the outside bodies...”.(Claudius Claudian. II, p. 1055). But all these descriptions are generalized descriptions of the  appearance of the Huns. Here how looked a real representative of the Hun tribe, the King of the European Huns Attila in the description of Jordanes: “In appearance, Attila was short in stature, with broad chest, large head, and small eyes, with thin beard, touched by gray, with flat nose, with hideous complexion (of skin),he was displaying all signs of his origin.” (Quoted from Zasetskaya I.P. 1994, p. 154).

Prisk Pannonian, who visited the court of Attila in 448, depicted his experience in a detailed description, but however, does not express any negative feelings about the appearance of Attila himself, his entourage, or the Hun women. On the contrary, all of whom had to meet the members of the Byzantine embassy had to meet at a court of the Hun King, were distinguished by elegance of manners, kindness, and strict adherence to tradition (Prisk Pannonian. pp. 681-682, 684-691, 693).

We have a few descriptions of the Caspian Dagestan population, as a rule, of the soldiers participating in military operations in the S.Caucasia during the Hunnic period. Movses Kalankatuatsi included in his composition a story about combat on the eve of a battle between the leader of the Hun army and a Persian soldier during the rule of the shah Shapur II (309 - 379). The Hunnic leader is described: “At that stepped out a Hun from the Huns called Honagur... The Hun was tall, of a giant height, and dressed in chain amour, on a huge head he had a riveted helmet. A copper plate protected his forehead three spans (handbreadth) in width. The staff of a huge spear was from a strong cedar wood. His sword shined with flame and incited horror just by its looks” (Movses Kalankatuatsi, II, p. 66). To show the power of an enemy and by that to reinforce the importance of a victory, the author could somewhat exaggerate the image of the Hun. One aspect is beyond doubts: the Hunnic leader made an extraordinary impression (We should note that the “name” of the strongman bogatyr is generic: Hongur is “Hun tribe” with an Armenian accent, an unreal name for any individual, although the story might still be true, a leader offered a contest between a Hungur and a Persgur, to save the lives of his troops. Surely the “leader” was not a leader, was put up the best warrior, who could ethnically be anything: Hun, Masgut, Alan, Alban, Sabir, Bulgar, Khazar, etc., including the local Caucasian tribes).

We have a satirical description of the appearance of the Hun's Kagan (i.e. Tun-Yabgu Kagan, the Kagan of the Western Türkic Kaganate, 618–628, i.e. this is the image of the member of the ruling Ashina tribe, who was a Türkic Ashina king of his Hunnic subjects; Ashina was a member tribe of Se/Sek 塞 ~ Saka tribes, so we have a caricature description of a Saka tribesman, supposedly Iranian-lingial), who was leading, together with the Byzantine emperor Hieraclius, the siege of the Tbilisi citadel in the 627. The besieged made an image of the Djebu-Khakan from a huge squash. And: ”... They brought a huge pumpkin one kangun (~ meter) in width and a kangun in length. And they draw on its face of Hunnic Kagan: instead of eyelashes have made invisible lines, a beard place left disgustingly naked, made nostrils a span in width, rare moustache, so it was easy to recognize him” (Movses Kalankatuatsi, II, p. 80).

Though the typical features are intentionally exaggerated, the authors of the portrait noted the main features: large round head not elongated; bold skull, probably a derision of a custom to shave off the head hair; wide nostrils; weak facial hairiness.

The common typical features of the Huns, according to the authors, were first of all large head, narrow shape of the eyes, wide face, flat nose, and weak facial hairiness.”

I.P. Zasetskaya believes that European Huns, from the descriptions of their appearance, belonged to the tribes of the Mongoloid race (Zasetskaya I.P. 1994. pp. 154-155). AP A.P.Novoseltsev also believes that Djebu-Khakan was a Mongoloid, judging from his caricature (Novoseltsev A.P. 1990, p. 113). To the same conclusion came earlier A.R. Zilfeldt-Simumyagi (Zilfeldt-Simumyagi A.R. 1988, p. 83).

The armies of the Huns, Türks, Khazars, etc., who were involved in the military campaigns in S.Caucasia, consisted of ethnically diverse tribes. Therefore a description of the appearances of a leader or their individual unusual representatives cannot be taken as their typical appearance. For example, under the rule of Djebu-Khakan authority were “all tribes and clans living in the mountains or in the valleys, //109// on the land or on the islands, settled or coaching, who shave their heads or braid their hair” (Movses Kalankatuatsi, II, p. 78). He mobilized members of all these peoples for war with Persia, it was them who were besieging the citadel of Tbilisi in 627, and stormed Derbent a little earlier. Here is how the eyes of eyewitnesses saw the taking of Derbent: “... when (the soldiers guarding the city) have seen terrible crowd of ugly and high-cheekboned people, without eyelashes, with long women-like flying hair, storming mounted on the horses...” (Movses Kalankatuatsi, II, p. 78). That is a typical portrait of the Mongoloids.

Whether this is a description of the Türkuts (“Türküt” is synonymous with Türk, it is either an archaic Türkic plural form, or Mongolian form, Artamonov must be using the Russian-concocted term for Ashina Türks of the Türkic Kaganate, first suggested by L.Gumilev to designate the multi-ethnic population of the First Türkic Kaganate, i.e. as a politonym), though “Türkuts” storming Derbent in 627 were few and the main forces consisted from representatives of their subject tribes, on the contemporaries this army made an impression as people “with free-flowing hair”, possible only in case of overwhelming majority of the “Türkut” soldiers. It is known that the Avars subjected to the Türks wore braids, while the Bolgars (Bulgars) and Khazars shaved their heads (Artamonov M.I. 1962, p. 155-156), and the Savirs (aka Suvars, Sibirs), apparently, had their hair free-flowing, like women. Agathias, describing the events from 552 to 558, noted that the rulers of Francs “wear their hair beautifully falling behind on the shoulders, and divided in front in the middle, instead of the hairdo of the Türks and Avars, not combed, free-flowing or unattractively braided” (Agathias, p. 14). It is very probable that Agathias under the Türks nevertheless meant Huns-Savirs, who lived in the Northern Caucasus and were well-known to the Byzantine writers of that time ().

Some Arabic geographers preserved a description of the Khazars. Al-Ystahri, for example, notes that the Khazars are not like the Türks; they are dark-haired (which means that the Türks commonly were not dark-haired), and they are also divided into two classes: they are called “Kara - Khazars”; they are swarthy, even almost black, liker Indians; another class is white, marked by beauty and outward qualities. Every slave that comes to us from the Khazars, belongs to the pagans, who allow the sale of the children and subjugation of each other, but living among them Jews and Christians, like the Moslems, due to their religious views do not allow a slavery of each other” (al-Istahri, p. 49). This statement confirms Ibn Hawqal (Ibn Hawqal, p. 115). (This seems to imply that the Türks are not brunettes, their hair is light, which in turn conflicts with pronounced Mongoloidness)

Al-Ystahri definition, “Every slave that comes to us from the Khazars”, apparently, shows that al-Istahri judgments about Khazars are based on personal observations of the people coming to the eastern slave markets from the country of Khazars. Zilfeldt-Simumyagi noted that “a variety of travelers and writers took for “Khazars” every ethnic group coming from the Khazar state, or formerly part of the huge territory //111// federation, headed by the Khazars proper” (Zilfeldt-Simumyagi A.R. 1988, p. 84).

Possibly, al-Istakri did not discriminate between the Khazars and their subject population of the Caspian “Huns country”, and therefore he saw two classes of Khazars. Probably, the second type without marked attributes of the Mongoloid type, the “white, very beautiful and externally appealing”, can be attributed to the local population of the Caspian. It is this type of the young men and girls that was taken from the Dagestan areas conquered by the Arabs to the the markets in Derbent (al-Kufi, p, 19, 49, 51, 58, 55-56).

The external appearance of the Caspian Huns is complemented by the description of the dress. Al-Ystahri, and later Ibn Hawqal noted that the basic clothing of “Khazars and their neighboring peoples are jackets and man's tunics” (Al-Ystahri, p. 51; Ibn Hawqal, p. 115). The anciet writers also describe the dress of the European Huns nearly identically.

“Their clothing is most simple ...”,  notes Claudius Claudian (Claudius Claudian, p. 196). Ammianus Marcellinus gives a more detailed description of the Huns clothing: “They are dressed in linen garments or sewn from skins of wood mice, once put on tunic of weathered color is not changed or removed not before from long-term wearing shreds in tatters. They cover their heads with crooked hats ... protect feet with goat skins, the shoes not fitted on any shoetree prevent walking with unhampered steps” (Ammianus Marcellinus. I, p. 338). It is seen from the description //112// that the Hun clothing was a linen tunic, probably complemented by fur clothing for the cold season.

The appearance of the Caspian Huns could be complemented by the descriptions of their psychological constitution, but the written sources mostly have reports about Hunnic behavior in the fighting situation, and their life habits are almost unknown. Al-Mukaddasi (middle of the 10th century) left a very laconic and controversial characteristic of the Semender inhabitants: “Most of its inhabitants are Christians, people mild and loving foreigners, but engaged in robbery” (al-Mukaddasi, p. 5).

Analysis of the written sources shows that in the period from the 4th to the 7th cc., in the N.-E. territories of the N.Caucasia was forming a new ethnic community, which contrasted itself from the adjacent ethnic entities by a self-name “Huns”. In the process of ethnogenetic blending, characterized by cultural interaction between the nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes of the Irano-lingual (Sic!) and Türco-lingual circles, with a part of the agricultural population, by the end of the 7th c. coagulated common particular features of material and spiritual culture of the N.-E. N.Caucasia population, known in the sources under the name “Hun”.

In fact the Huns, and peoples of the Hun confederation, played a role in the ethnogenesis of some modern Dagestani peoples (Gadjieva. S.Sh. 1961. pp. 16-27). Researchers studying ancient layers of the modern Dagestan languages, find there traces of Hunno-Bulgarian influence (Djidalyaev N.S. 1990. pp. 11-54). Turkic influence can also be traced in the Dagestan onomastics (Genko A.N. 1941. pp. 104-105, I. Abdullaev, I.Kh. 1976, p. 25; Mikailov K.Sh. 1976, p. 192), researchers found a significant amount of Türkisms in many modern languages of the Dagestan peoples (Djidalyaev N.S. 1990. pp. 55-232; Turkic-Dagestani linguistic contacts. 1982).

In Russian science after the 1944 decree of the Communist Party against ancientization of the Türkic history, expression of such direct statements would be suicidal even without their publication, no puns and quotation marks intended. To admit that some people of the Former USSR carry ethnogenetic inheritance of the 2nd c. AD Huns was still a breakthrough even in the 1995, testifying of the honesty, integrity, and fearlessness of the author, and presage the upcoming crescendo of unrestrained science.



Revelations of the written sources about economic state of the Hun society are quite incomplete. In the initial period in the Caspian Dagestan (end of the 4th - beginning of  the 5th c. AD) the Huns are known to the ancient writers as people who are ignorant of agriculture, their main occupation was nomadic herding and hunting (Ammianus Marcellinus, I, p. 1021-1022; II. p . 237, 239; Claudius Claudian, p. 1055) (Huns are given an incredible initial period lasting 250 years, from ca 160 to ca 430, longer than the whole history of the United States). However, it seems that at that time Huns used agricultural products from trade or predatory raids on sedentary countries. While Claudius Claudian writes that the Huns do not engage in farming and even “...avoid the gifts of Ceres ...”,another ancient author Sidonius Apollinaris notes that “...they often are short on Ceres (i.e. bread) and constantly short on Lieya (wine) (Lieya i.e. Liber i.e.  Liber Pater, alt. fem. Libera, Roman deity of wine and a companion in the pair Ceres and Liber, i.e. nread and wine)...”.(Claudius Claudian, p. 1055, Apollinaris Sidonius, p. 1092). However, Prisk Pannonian noted that European Huns instead of wheat used millet, and instead of wine used barley drink “Camos” - “so called in the native language //115// honey” (Prisk Pannonian, p. 684). Apparently, was meant buza. At the reception at the Hun King Attila, as evidenced by Prisk Pannonian, the guests were served luxurious meals, but Attila ate meat and bread (Prisk Pannonian, p. 690).

The word buza, in a number of dialectal variations, is shared by all 35+ Türkic languages from Danube to Kamchatka, by both the Oguz and Ogur branches, while its cognate IE beer is shared only by a regional part of the IE languages, pointing to a cultural borrowing from the Pra-Türkic, either directly or indirectly. See E.N.Shipova 2000 Turkisms in Russian. Buza is a fermented barley drink, nowadays called beer in English.

Prisk Pannonian confused two Türkic words, the word kumiss, which he calls “camos“, a Türkic fermented mare's milk used form Scythians to 70+  modern Türkic people, with the word for buza beer. In the description of the Türkic nomads the word kumiss has fossilized into a a form of a Scythian triad: “horse-riding, flesh-eating, and kumiss-drinking”,applied to the horse pastoralists from Scythians to latter-day Türkic people of New Time.

Apparently, animal husbandry at that time was the economic backbone of the Hun society. The herd composition of the 4th c. Huns is mostly horses, but perhaps in small quantities also goats. Ammianus Marcellinus states that the Huns sewed boots from goat hides (Ammianus Marcellinus. II, p. 1021). Horses were a special breed, the same Ammianus Marcellinus observed that the European Huns' horses “were enduring, but ugly in appearance” (Ammianus Marcellinus. II, p. 1022).

Equine Genetic Support

Bjornstad et al. (2003) set out to test the theory that the native Norwegian Nordland/Lyngen and Fjord horse breeds would show a genetic similarity to the native Mongolian horse due to the accompaniment of horses in a proposed migration of humans from Central Asia to Norway. They used 26 STR microsatellites in collected blood and hair samples, and showed the close genetic relationship between the breeds as predicted and not between these horses and, for example, Standardbred trotters. In addition, “The presence of primitive phenotypes in the Fjord horse, such as a dark eel stripe along the back and occasionally transverse stripes on the legs, suggests that the breed is old and could be traced directly back to the Asiatic wild horse”. (p. 56) They estimated that there is the about the same distance between the Fjord horse and its descendant the Icelandic horse as there is between the Fjord horse and the Mongolian horse – therefore about 875 years. Assuming that this estimate is roughly accurate then the people who brought the horse left Mongolia about 150 BC - which is in agreement with the historical evidence...

On today's scale, the Hunnic horse demography is truly astronomical. The Eastern Hun population at the turn of the eras is estimated at 3 mln, or 600,000 families; their combined herd numbered around 20 mln horses; if only 5 to 10% of them reached Europe on their migration, 150-300,000 Hun people brought along 1-2 mln horses. An order of magnitude larger number of nomads already lived in Eastern Europe or migrated to the Eastern Europe with the Huns, nearly each tribe with their distinct horses. On the Huns' breed of  horses wrote N. Egami, The k'ua-t'i, the tao-yu, and the tan-hsi, the strange domestic animals of the Huns, Memoires of the Research department of Toyo Bunko, vol. 13, 1951. According to the 8th-10th c. Tanghuyao, Huns, Khazars, and Türks, and also tribes Sygir, Bokli, Kibir, Aidyr, and Dulat bred the same breed of the peculiar superbly deft horses.

Little has changed in the Hun economy in the next century (5th-6th cc.). The Huns themselves define their economic situation at the beginning of the 6th c. thus: “We live by weapons, by bow and sword, and snack on different meat food” (Pseudo-Zacharius, p. 150). Pseudo-Zacharias (mid-6th c.), listing thirteen barbarian peoplesin the North Caucasus, including the Sabirs, noted that they “exist by the meat of livestock and fish, wild beasts, and weapons” (Pseudo-Zacharius, p. 165). During that period the animal husbandry remains the Huns main economic sector, where hunting and fishing probably are ancillary lines.

Pseudo-Zacharias, describing the events of the beginning of the 6th c. related to the successful mission to the Huns of the Christian preacher //116// Kardost who  Christianized some part of the Hun tribes, notes that among the Byzantine emperor gifts sent to the Huns on that occasion were wheat, wine, oil , flax, and fruits (Pseudo-Zacharius, p. 166), the agricultural products apparently highly valued by the Huns. Huns were presented 30 mules, a type of the draft animals not usable in the Huns' economy. To the same period (529) belongs a report that another preacher Bishop Makar “planted plants, sowed various seeds” in the land of the Huns (Pseudo-Zacharius, p. 167). Apparently, reference is to fruit trees and some crops that were unknown among the Huns. Procopius Cesarean's account of the first half of the 600s also testifies that the North-Eastern Caucasus Huns engaged in horse husbandry (Procopius Cesarean. 1, p. 112).

In the first third of the 700s. are observable some changes in the economy of the Hun circle tribes in the North-Western Caspian littoral. Movses Kalankatuatsi in the “History of Alvan country” describes a meal in the camp of Türkut troops (First Türkic Kaganate), who in 628 invaded Albania; Huns troops participated in the campaign. Among the products used by the Huns the author names meat of “unclean” animals (camels, horses), camel and horse milk, wine, and also “thin bread, fried in a pan” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II. pp. 88-89) (It is funny, the lavash, which Movses Kalankatuatsi found odd and did not know a name of, now is a prized national Armenian dish). We see that the Hun and Turk diet at that time included not only the livestock products, //117// but also of agriculture (rye, wheat), and viticulture (“Wine” could be kumiss and buza beer, but all grown produce and products, including wine, most likely were provisioned by local subjects, obligated in advance by the Logistics department. The only exception are plants that once planted do not require maintenance: apples, grapes, melons, etc).

Chinese annals describe Huns as the most advanced and cultured society of all aliens. Because of the peculiarity of the Russian Turkology, the Russian 20th c. science retreated by 300+ years back, and started pretending that the Türkic people, including Huns, were primitive loose bands, illiterate and savage, randomly roaming to rob their good sedentary neighbors. Hence the reflexive recitation of these concepts by numerous scholars, in this case that the Huns were blessed in the 7th c. by learning the advances of high western civilization: rye, wheat, and grape, as though they left the Noah kindergarten in pristine ignorance just 2 weeks ago. Any comprehension of the Russian reflexive historical chauvinism was utterly exterminated from the national consciousness by the mid 20th c.

However, sources give no direct data on the development of agriculture at the Huns in this period. Movses Kalankatuatsi, the principal author on the history of the Hun society at the end of the 7th c., describing in detail some aspects of the Hun life (ideology, social development), says nothing about the level of productive economy among the Huns. He only notes that the “Country of Huns” is distinguished by abundance. Analysis of the thoughts that prevailed in the Hun society at the end of of the 7th c. described by  Movses Kalankatuatsi indicates that along with horse-breeding, the agriculture also played at that time a leading role in the Hun economy, it is also manifested in the Hun description of their land as “earth-born homeland” (Movses Kalankatuatsi, I, p. 199) (Reading of coffee suds would provide as many arguments. In a country so little suitable for agriculture, where historical harvest is about 7:1, with chronic draughts and crop failures, the idee fixe notion that tilling is blessing and animal husbandry is primitive is beyond comprehension).

The sources do not have information on the Hun economy in the 8th c., because main place in the reports by the authors on the North-East Caucasus at that time is occupied by the events of the Arab-Khazar wars.

The Arab authors of the 9th-10th cc. as the most important sector in the economy of the population of the  Caspian littoral Dagestan name viticulture and horticulture. The sources reported on the vineyards around Semender that impressed witnesses with their size. Al-Balkhi and al-Istahri cite four thousand grape vines, Ibn Hawqal cites forty thousand. Al-Muqaddasi writes that Semender has “many orchards, grape vines, and trees...”.(Al-Balkhi, p. 62, 118; al-Istahri, p. 47; Ibn Hawqal, p. 114; al-Muqaddasi, p. 5). //118//  Who owned these extensive plantations, who tended to them, this source does not contain information (But if that was an ordinary observation, typical for other people in the Caucasus, the authors would not emphasize it, which allows to infer that that was a distinctive trait of the Hun economy).

The analysis of the written sources show that if in the 4th to 6th cc. the main branch of the North-East Caucasus Hun Society economy was nomadic animal husbandry (horses, goats) and the associated processing of dairy products, and also hunting and some fishing, in the 7th c. besides cattle husbandry (horses, camels) were also developed viticulture and associated wine production, gardening, and apparently cultivation of grains.

Chinese annals describe that as early as the 2nd c. BC the Huns welcomed and patronized Chinese (not necessarily ethnically Chinese) peasants to grow cereals and their other traditional cultures. In areas without Chinese peasants, local tribes with traditional subsistence performed the same task. Out of necessity, the Huns and other Türkic nomadic tribes had to engage in agriculture also, but agriculture was viewed as the lowest occupation, and was abandoned as soon as an alternative could be developed. Unlike the cereal agriculture, which all nomadic pastoralists abhorred and disparaged, the non-work-intensive viniculture and fruit-growing were accepted and widespread.


The first information about crafts at the Hun-circle tribes comes from the ancient authors. Ammianus Marcellinus mentioned that Hun woman is weaving (Ammianus Marcellinus, I, p. 1022). Ammianus Marcellinus observed that the Huns have clothes sewn from linen or pelts of wood mice (Ammianus Marcellinus. II, p. 236). The author may be reffering to different types of seasonal clothing. The clothing at the Huns was very precious and was worn out to the limit, apparently, Huns were receiving flax in trade exchange or robberies. About linen available to the Huns also mentions Movses Kalankatuatsi //119// (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II., P. 63) (As the Türkic word “kenevir” > kenebir >  cannabis for hemp demonstrates, hemp was known as a traditional raw material in the pre-Herodotus Scythian time, and likely much earlier in the Sredny Stog time, before the first wave of the horse husbandry Kurgans set out on circum-Mediterranian anabasis that took them, with elements of their culture and language, to Iberia and Brittania, and on a shortcut route to Balkans and Apennines. The Hunnic hemp textile must be as much old).

Sidonius Apollinaris speaks also of the band the Huns used in for artificial cranial deformation of their children (Sidonius Apollinaris, p. 1090). The bands were either braided or weaved. Huns also knew to make ropes for arkans (lassos), apparently of wool (Ammianus Marcellinus.11, p. 238; Movses Khorenatsi, p. 131; Stepanos Taronetsi, p. 41).

The Huns had developed processing of leather, wool and their products. Huns sewed fur clothing, Ammianus Marcellinus describes a type of the Huns' leather footwear: “the shoes not fitted on any shoetree prevent walking with unhampered steps” (Ammianus Marcellinus. II, p. 238). Probably they are rawhide sharp-nosed shoes that makes it difficult to walk (Depictions of Scythian, Hunnic, and Türkic boots are abound, and well explored). The burduks (bladders) for storage of liquids also were produced from leather. Is known a fact that when the army of Türks and Huns used burduks filled with sand and stones to build a dam  to block the river (Kura) and cause flooding in the besieged Tbilisi (627) (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 107). The Hun skills for tanning hides were quite high, they produced leathers impenetrable by arrows (Procopius Cesarean. 11, p. 408). Of wool, besides the above mentioned ropes, also was produced felt. By the first decades of the 4th c. are dated reports of the sources that some tribes of the Hun circle in the North-Eastern Caucasus used felt to manufacture protective arms //120// (armor) (Movses Khorenatsi, p. 149; Stepanos Taronetsi, p. 45; Vartan the Great, p. 57) .

This review of the written sources serves more to demonstrate the inadequacy of the sources than illuminate the Hunnic economy. As it happened, the main line of the Hunnic economy was horse husbandry, and N.V. Pigulevskaya cited at least one number, that the “Huns, called Sabirs” numbered about one hundred thousand people. That should allow a researcher to establish the Sabir portion of the Hun army at maximum 20,000 cavalry equipped with 80-100,000 horse train, and the 20,000 of total households, 600,000 herd of horses belonging to the tribe, and 60,000 km2 of pasturing ranges needed to sustain the herds. At 20% annual crop, the Sabirs harvested 120,000 heads of horses per year, most of which not only was available for trade, but needed to be traded off, to preserve the pastures for the tribal horses. A sizable number of the crop was traded as raw materials, like hides, hooves, and meat preserves (sausage, meat jerky, stockfish). Another cottage industry was manufacture of composition bow and arrows, since the quality of the nomadic bows, with proven technology retained for millennia in each family, far exceeded that of the sedentary nations, and the demand for them was huge and sustained. The trade in the horse husbandry surpluses was the main fare of the Hunnic economy, although in the historical books it is not as glamorous as the war booty.

At 20 solidi a head, the GDP of the Sabir horse husbandry in the 4th c. reaches 2,400,000 solidi on the Byzantine market, or 120,000 lb of gold at 20 solidi/lb, or 48,000 kg of gold. We can guesstimate that the local market would provide only 10% of that, or 4,800 kg of gold annually (Angeliki E. Laiou, Editor-in-Chief, The Economic History of Byzantine: From the Seventh through the Fifteenth Century 2002, Dumbarton Oaks, http://www.iisg.nl/hpw/byzantium.pdf).

Each tribe was responsible for its own trade, and the Sabir horses competed against the Kayi ( , , ), Hun ( ), Bulgar, Khazar, etc. horses for the market share. In spite of the competition, and maybe as a result of devastations caused by the relentless wars, by the 8th c. a horse went for 60 solidi, or 3 lb of gold. At such prices, no wonder that the Scythians, Huns, Türks, and their subdivisions not only had plenty of gold to go around and to supply the kurgans of their deceased with amounts of gold that supported millennia of grave-dogging treasure hunters, but also lived in abundance.

Fig. 2. Tools of Trade Fig. 3. Vessels Fig. 4. Apparel accessories
1 - 15 - Palaca-syrt settlement 4th - 7th cc.
1 - fragment of millstone, 2-3 - whorls,
4 - adze, 5-6-awls, 7-14-needles
1 - 3 - stone, 4-14 bone
1-11 - Palaca-syrt burials: 6th-5th cc. (4th-5th cc. ?)
1-11 - ceramics
1 -13 - Palaca-syrt burial 4th-5th cc.
1-3 - belt clips,  4 - belt tip
5-7 - buckles, 8-10 - fibulae, 11-12 earrings,
13 - diadem pendants,
1, 2, 5, 10-13 - bronze, 3, 4, 7 - silver, 6 - lignite jet, silver, 8 - silver, iron, 9-iron, bronze.

The Huns had developed bone carving craft, mostly (popularized by) the manufacture of arrowheads. Ammianus Marcellinus, noting the high skill level of the Hun bone carvers, wrote that the Huns fight in ranged combat “... with arrows fitted with skillfully made tips of bone...”.(Ammianus Marcellinus. II, pp. 238) (Confusing Savirs and Huns is improper, and ethnological understanding of the Savirs is insufficient, but the Huns at large are credited with invention and use of whistling arrowheads, an antique precursor of the tracer bullets; of arrowheads with hook notches, an antique precursor of the fragmentation bullet that stays in the target, and poisoned arrowheads. Savirs are credited with invention and use of armor-piercing arrowheads. The carved-bone artifacts of the nomadic culture are at the museums across Eurasia).

The Hunnic woodcraft also was at the highest level. Of wood were manufactured some types of weapons: clubs, bows, arrow shafts, spears, poles with iron hooks at the end for expanding wall cracks (Ammianus Marcellinus. II, p. 238; Favstos Buzand, p. 15; Yeshu Stylite, p. 157; Zosimus, p. 800, Procopius Cesarean. II, p. 408; Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 82). Of wood were produced some utensils (ladles, dishes). The Huns have mastered a skill of wood carving art. Movses Kalankatuatsi gives a detailed description of the “roundish” wooden cross made by Varachan “skillful carpenters” during Christianization of the Huns by the Israil mission (682): “ ...decorated it (cross - L.G.) with various pictures and glued to it pictures of animals copied with careful accuracy, and painted it from top to bottom with paint. Also on the right side he attached with strong nails beautiful light crosses. At the bottom was a hole carved on all four sides like a lily. In it stood a silver cross with a relict from the cross of the Lord” //122// (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 203).

From the above description it is clear that to produce the cross were necessary high enough carver skills. The cross was decorated with various pictures, probably made by one of the Israil embassy participants, whose name the “History of Alvan country” gives as “skilled artist” Moses (Movses Kalankatuatsi I, p. 206).

The listed above Hunnic crafts were traditional home crafts, with the objects manufactured in each family (Fig. 2, 3, 5).

Sources contain records on high mastery of the Hun warriors' metal offensive and defensive weapons: swords, spears, lances, armor, helmets, and visors. Metalworking crafts of the Huns were highly developed (Fig. 4, 5, 6), but in the iron industry, and in nonferrous metal production (copper, silver, gold) was used labor of artisans from Albania, Georgia, and Armenia, captured during invasions or supplied as taxes by subjected to the Huns territories of the S.Caucasian countries (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 131). Among the jewels popular among the Huns were golden or silver “dragon images” - decorations associated with pagan symbols (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 198).

If not for the metalwork we would never have learned that the analysis of the Hun's territory was only partial, that the Hun state included Albania, Georgia, and Armenia as dependencies, taxed in favor of the Huns. Even within the scope of this study, aside from the larger picture of the European Huns as a whole, the footprint of the Caucasian Hunnia was far greater than that presented in the section on the Hun state and depicted on the map Fig.1.

For some period between the 160 AD and 558 AD, the Caucasian Hunnia came into possession of the Albania, Georgia, and Armenia, and included Masguts/Alans. The events leading to the Hunnic supremacy, the process of achieving their supremacy, the adversaries they faced in achieving supremacy, and the administrative system of retaining supremacy appear to be left out from this study and possibly from the sources. The downward slide is also left unclear, relations with Persia and Byzantine remain in the shadows: were the Arabs chipping off the Albania, Georgia, and Armenia provinces from the Persia or from the Hunnia, was the loss of the Albania, Georgia, and Armenia to the Arabs a first unstated phase of the “Arabo-Khazar” wars that first diminished the Hunnia to the North Caucasus, and then dismembered it, allowing the Khazar rise to power? What was the territorial dynamics during the Hunnic hegemony, how long it lasted between the 160 AD and 558 AD? The Hunnic Caucasian expansion should be viewed in the context of the “Hionite” expansion into the Khorasan and Northern Parthia.

Another aspect is the taxation of the dependent states and population, the viceroyal apparatus resident in the dependent countries, and the cultural and linguistic impact of being a member of the Hunnic confederation. It is clear that the dependency went beyond a military alliance with nominal submission, which is limited to mandatory participation in the suzerain's wars and paying a periodical homage. The taxing system implies assessment and collection, and related enforcement. That would explain the Hunnic punitive expeditions organized to enforce the submission of the contractual tribute, and capture of the slices of population as an enforcement tool. In better detail the objectives and execution of identical Hunnic punitive expeditions are described for the Eastern Huns in the histories of the “Eastern Han Dynasty” (155-220 AD), and “Later Zhao” (319–351). The economic side of the dependency is the extension of the military conquest, which is a Caucasian theater of the Hunnic Eastern Europe expansion. The Hun's income in gold has increased by the same amount that was lost by the previous patrons of the Albania, Georgia, and Armenia, which are known, albeit imprecise, amounts.

On the use of dependent labor, in the modern analogy with the Nazi's use of slave labor, no credit is given to the masses of Slavic, Jewish, and other prisoners for the production of the Fau ballistic missiles, what they were producing were Nazi Germany weaponry. The metalworking criteria must be if and what was produced in Albania, Georgia, and Armenia outside of the Hunnic-organized production.

To Ammianus Marcellinus belongs a testimony that in the Hun society in 4th c. was developed trade. He wrote, //125// that the Huns “... are engaged in buying and selling...”.(Ammianus Marcellinus. II, p. 238). Apparently, during that period of the Hun society development, the trade had primarily domestic nature of commodity exchange between the various tribes of the Hun circle (I.e. one horse-selling nomad sells to another horse-selling nomad horse hoofs and hides, a superbly delighted idea). But in the middle of the 5th c. the European Huns, for example, demanded of the Romans: “Fairs should have equal rights and safe both for the Romans and the Huns” (Prisk Pannonian. II, p. 676). Apparently, the subject is the trading in the border areas (Repressive trade policies of the sedentary dictatorships caused more military conflicts with the nomads than any other cause. Having 120,000 heads of surplus product annually, in our Savir example, created a powerful impetus to advocate free trade, best described for the Huns, but also recorded for the Alans in the pre-Hunnic period, For Northern and Southern Huns in and around China, Türks, Uigurs, etc. Only the Türkic empires patronized and supported unlimited free trade regime).

We noted above that certain agricultural products (cereals, wine, flax) the Caspian Huns traded from the neighboring sedentary nations. But apparently by the early 7th c. the trade occupied prominent place in the economy of the Hun society. Among the conditions submitted in 628 to Albania by Djebukagan (Tun-Yabgu Kagan), was not only a consent of Albania submission to the Türks and transfer of towns and fortresses, but also to allow ”...the trade to my troops...”.(Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 121). M.I.Artamonov made a (dumb) explanation to this point in the conditions of the Türks, he believed that the subject was the “income from trade” (M. Artamonov, I. 1962, p. 150). However, the content of the text can be interpreted as a requirement to give the Hun warriors a predominant right to trade within Albania (Another galimatia, they did not need favoritism, they needed to sell their horses, and do it again and again, which is possible only with fair trade without forced advantages or preferential treatment). An anonymous Persian author of “Hudud al-Alem” at the end of the 10th c. (982/983) described the Hun city Semender as a major trading center, with many markets and merchants. (Hudud, p. 32).

Since the author does not offer even a rudimentary quantitative economical analysis correlated with with demographic base and compared with the economic and taxing profiles of the surrounding sedentary polities, the qualitative assessment is utterly unsubstantiated, and the analysis boils down to the emotions of the victims of the Hunnic ambitions, enforcements, and retaliations. On the background of the Persian, Bysantine, Arabic, and Viking depredations, the Hunnic raids appear mild and pale. There is much of a caricature element in the premises, quotations, and in the assessments.

Not a small income source of the Hun society were annual raids of the Hunnic troops on the S.Caucasian countries. The Hun society was at the level of development when, according to the characteristics of (Friedrich) Engels: “The war ... is now run only for the purpose of plunder, it becomes a perpetual trade” (Engels F. 1982. pp. 189-190). In practice all adult males in the Hun society were soldiers. Claudius Claudian noted that the among Huns is considered great “to swear by killed parents” (Claudius Claudian, p. 1055), i.e. the fathers killed in battle were a pride of the children. During the 4th-6th cc. predatory raids were a main occupation of the male population of the Hun circle tribes in the Caspian Dagestan, their main source of income. Favstos Buzand, describing the events of 330s associated with the unsuccessful Christianization attempt of the Maskut and Hun tribes, emphasizing these peoples' barbaric way of life, noted that they do not visualize other occupations except for robbery and embezzlement. “How can we subsist with such multitude of troops? How can we live, if not by our innate custom not to mount the horses?” (Favstos Buzand, p. 14) - so objected the barbarian tribes in response to the Albanian Catholicos Grigoris preaching the Christian virtues. The Huns held unworthy engagement any other occupation but the war (Apparently, after their horse husbandry occupation, without which are no horses, cavalrymen, and the war).

Ammianus Marcellinus noted that housework among the Huns //127// was done by female population and children - “all that by the age and sex is not suitable for the war...” (Ammianus Marcellinus. II, p. 241). Pseudo-Zacharias names military campaigns as the main occupation of the Huns in the first third of the 6th c. (Pseudo-Zacharius, p. 150). Also in the Addition to Ptolemy relating to 555, among Savir occupations in the last place after animal pastoralism, fishing, and hunting lists plundering raids: “... thirteen people live in tents, suvsist on meat of livestock and fish, wild beasts, and weapons” (Pseudo-Zacharius, p. 165).

Possibly, even in that period begins a transition process by some part of the “Country of Huns” population to a semi-settled lifestyle, which is reflected in the sources.

The military raids for plundering, as was noted above, were almost annual events, their duration could be shor, but Huns could also remain in the occupied territories for a year (Favstos Buzand, p. 15).

Huns drove away into slavery population of the captured cities and villages. Precise data on the number of captives is absent, the ancient authors mainly report outline information (Egishe, p. 116, Yeshu Stylite, p. 131; Pseudo-Zacharias, p. 166, Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 186). Movses Kalankatuatsi recalls numbers of one predaceous campaign (664) - 1,200 captives (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 153-154).

The predaceous expeditions were capturing flocks of sheep and herds of horses. Movses Kalankatuatsi reports on 120 thousand heads //128// of cattle and 7 thousand horses, captured by the Huns in 664 in Albania. Were especially prized war trophies, and also luxury objects and weapons - “horse and spear ornaments, inlaid with gold swords, shields, excellent clothes produced by the art of Greeks...”,“silver goblets and carved drinking vessels entirely (finished) with gold .. “ (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 125-126, 133).

All captured wealth the Hun soldiers divided among themselves, but the division principles are unknown, although some evidence suggests that by the middle of the 7th c. the best part of the booty was becoming a property of higher commanders and chiefs of tribal alliances (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I. p. 120, 133).

Starting from the 6th c. in the sources appear information that Persia and Byzantium, which led grueling wars for dominance in the Caucasus, conclude treaties with Hunnic leaders for protection of their subjugated territories from invasions of the enemy (Procopius Cesarean. 1b. pp. 230-231; II, p. 407; Menander Byzantian, p. 415). The Huns, as allies of one side, were robbing only the territory subject to the other side (Procopius Cesarean. 1b, p. 231). The allied relations were paid for very generously by the Persia and Byzantium. One of the reasons for the Hun campaign in 513 in the land dominated by Persians was that Byzantium promised Huns great gifts if they sever their alliance with Persia. The Huns demanded from Persians to raise their payment: “Either give us what (give) Rameis, and we will confirm the treaty with you, or //129// if you do not give us, accept the war” (Pseudo-Zacharius. p. 150).

The size of the reward is stated by Procopius Cesarean. He tells that Alans and Savirs, having concluded an alliance with Byzantium, “undertook for three kentariuses (300 lb of gold) not only to protect the land of Lazes from any depredation, but also so devastate Iberia that the Persians would not be able to enter it” (Procopius Cesarean. 1b. p. 231). The report relates to the events of the Perso-Byzantine war over Lazika (550-555).

Persia and Byzantium also used paid military assistance of the Huns in the military operations during the “battle” for the Caucasus. Byzantine, Armenian, and Syrian writers of the 5th - 6th cc. repeatedly point to the Hun warriors, “selling their mercenary help once to these, another to those” (Agathias, p. 88, 116, Procopius Cesarean. II, p. 407, Theophanes Byzantian. pp. 130-131; Pseudo-Zacharias, p. 163). The Hun military assistance stipulated terms of the agreement defining the duration of its validity, the size of the Hun mercenary troops, and the size of the payment. The time of the military assistance agreement was conditional on the duration of the military operations, at the end of which the Hun army was returning to their territory (Agathias, p. 117). The size of the Hun mercenary troops was quite large. Thus, in 521 AD the Hun King Ziligd (Zilgbi) (In 521 the “Hun King” was Bulyak-Bolgar Djilki, “Bolokh”(aka “Bolah”, “Valakh”) r. 520-522, and “Zilgbi” is a slight distortion of Djilki/Jilki, pointing to the earlier origin of this nickname, given after the month of his birth, Djilki = “Horse”.Attila also was Attila Djilki. The part -bi of the compound stands for “Master, Lord” in dialectal forms Bi, Bai, and Bek, fem. Bika. The name Bulyak-Bolgar points to his mom, who was from the Bilyar Bulgarian tribe from the Oka-Kama confluence; naming sons after the tribe of mothers was an established royal naming convention, first detectable in Chinese records about the Shanuys of the Eastern Huns, with Yui part standing for Uigur mother from the maternal dynastic tribe Yui/Hui/Sui/Suibu. The distorted Russian transcription “Ziligd” make the name barely recognizable) sent to the aid of the Persians 20-thousand army, in the 527 the same number of Huns led by the leaders Stirax and Glonis tried to break through lands //130// of the Byzantium ally, the ruler of the Huns Boariks (Boyarkyz) (Theophanes Confessor. pp. 130-136).

In 531, a 3000-strong Hun troop (Actually, Savirs. Confusing Savirs with the Huns would make the Huns taking over Bactria in 130 BC, a patented nonsense) fought in Byzantine Armenia as an ally of Persia (Procopius Cesarean. 1a, p. 180). In 551 12,000 Huns joined the Persian army preparing a siege of the city Archaeopolis, however, according to a source only 4000 were retained (Procopius Cesarean. II, p. 416). In the repeat siege of the Archaeopolis in 555 only a small detachment of the Huns (500 men) was attached to the Persian army, at the same time on the Byzantine Empire side fought a 2000-strong detachment (Agathias pp. 88, 117) (Near Archaeopolis, Persian established a base Onoguris, apparently manned by the Onogurs [Agathias 2.22.3]. The Byzantines send Sabir Hun mercenaries to Archaeopolis to delay the approaching Persians [3.17.5].  Agathias calls Savirs the Savir Huns, but that does not make them, and likewise the Onogurs, the Huns any more than Innuits are French Canadians). The fees paid for military assistance were apparently determined in advance. Agathias indicates that the Huns received the “agreed upon pay” (Agathias. p. 117). Yeghishe reports that the Persian king Peroz (459-484) sent the Huns payment for military assistance (taking the Alanian Gates, military operations for a year in Albania) “huge treasures” (Yeghishe, p. 370). The King of the Huns Ziligd (Zilgbi) was bribed by Byzantines with rich gifts to ensure support of the Hun troops (Theophanes Confessor, p. 130). Eight thousand of the Hunnic warriors, released by the Persians during the siege of Archaeopolis (551), were “richly gratified with money” (Procopius Cesarean. II, p. 417).

Military assistance was greatly enriching a certain part of the “Country of Huns” population - prominent commanders, a part of the Hun army soldiers (There is no reason nor justification for this unjust and derogatory jibe. Unlike the Russin draftees serving under a threat of death, or Persian solders chained in groups to their posts, the nomadic population was a population of free people, they were volunteering for dangerous mercenary service to benefit of their families, and were as much dangerous to their unfair commanders as they were for the enemies. Division of the pays and spoils was a communal affair, the first principles of which was fairness and conformance to tradition. To some, though lesser degrees, these principles also covered dependent foot soldiers).

The main income source in the 7th c. Hun society was becoming not the military //131// spoils, but taxes and impositions levied on the population of the occupied territories. The predatory campaigns, which were “permanent vocation” of the Huns, grew into the war for political dominance (They must have lost their touch, the Huns unlearned centuries of their experience with sedentary people in China, and Savirs unlearned their Bactrian experience, just to fit into the Russian perversion of the classical Marxism).

M.I. Artamonov defined the 664 campaign of the Hun Prince Alp Ilitver against Albania not a regular raid, but as a war “to force Albania into some form of connection, most probably dependent on the Huns” (Artamonov M.I., 1962 pp. 182-183). The sources do not contain precise information on the terms of peace treaty between Albania and the “Kingdom of Huns”.Movses Kalankatuatsi names only one condition, a “marriage. of Djuanshar, Prince of Albania, to the daughter of Alp Ilitver”.However, describing the events of the new negotiations with the Huns undertaken after the murder of Djuanshar  (669), Movses Kalankatuatsi notes that the new ruler of Albania Varaz Tiridat through his messenger Catholicos Eleazar expressed to the Huns his “true humility and love” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I. p. 186), apparently fully confirming the terms of the 664 treaty. The new peace treaty placed Albania in the political dependency on the Huns, who were recognized as “helpers and protectors of power” of the Albanian leaders.

The population of the Huns' dependent territories was imposed with various kinds of levies and taxes. Movses Kalankatuatsi notes that in the Albania occupied by the Türks (629) the entire population was levied a poll tax at the rate of didrahma (8.8 g of silver) “in accordance with the regular census of Persia” //132// (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 131), additional fees paid fishermen and artisans in precious metals and iron. Particularly heavy burden for the population of the subordinated territories was a forced relocation of captured artisans, which led to a weakening of the Albania economy.

5. CITIES in the country of Huns




The earliest information on the cities in the territory  of the Hun tribes circle date to the beginning of the 6th c. Pseudo-Zacharias in his Supplement to the Ptolemy geography writes: “Bazgun is a land with its own language, which is adjacent and extends to the Caspian gates and the sea located within the Hun limits. Outside the gates live Burgars with their own language, people pagan and barbaric, they have cities, and Alans, they have five towns” (Pseudo-Zacharius, p. 165) It is difficult to imagine what were the cities in the “land of Huns” in the Caspian littoral in the 6th c.

Ammianus Marcellinus (4th c.) called the Hun encampment a city: “Having reached a grass-rich area, they draw their wagons in a circle and feed like beasts, and when the pastures are sapped, they load their city on the wagons and move on” (Ammianus Marcellinus. II, p. 241). Prisk Pannonian (mid-5th c.) gives a description of the capital of the Attila's Hunnic state nothing like the Hun “city” of Ammianus Marcellinus. He writes: “From there, we soon reached a village where dwelt the King Attila; I say village //134// resembling a very expansive city...”.(Prisk Pannonian, p. 693).

Than the author describes magnificent architectural buildings of Attila court that astonished by its elegance the high Byzantine official. Prisk Pannonian noted that his settlement-city Attila preferred to the captured European cities (Prisk Pannonian, p. 693). Apparently, the city of Attila differed by something from the European cities, perhaps, by the traditional structure and architecture of the houses, making it more habitual to the Huns. Perhaps, in the 6th. the cities in the Caspian littoral “country of the Huns” also looked like large villages (A typical Tatar village, with spaced far apart wooden houses decorated throughout with brightly painted carved friezes, closely matches Ammianus description. In Russia, this style decoration is called with Tatar word “terem”;that style also closely matches descriptions and archeological remains of the royal courts of the Türkic and Hunnic rulers in the east).

Beginning from the 7th c., the authors not only point to the existence of cities at the Huns of the Caspian littoral, but also call out their names.


The brief edition of the 7th c. “Armenian geography” for the first time indicates that the Huns north of Derbent have a “city Varachan and other cities” (Armenian geography. I, p. 38). The expanded edition not only named “the city of the Huns Varadjan”,but also named the two others - Chungars and Msndr (Armenian geography. II, p. 30) (Chungars is phonetically allophonic to Hungar/Hongar and Hunoguria/Honoguria ~ Phanagoria, and Msndr appear to be Semender with transposed sm-. Phanagoria at that time was a prominent city, and may very well be known to Armenian traders and historians. It appears that the Armenian geographer names three Hunnic capitals he is aware of, the capital of Kayis Varachan and the capital of Savirs Semender on the Caspian littoral, and the capital of Onogurs on the Black Sea littoral). Varachan in the source stands out particularly, as the capital of the country - the “city of the Huns”.Movses Kalankatuatsi has related to the 682 information of only one city in the “Country of Huns” - Varachan, which the author awards with the epithet “magnificent” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 192). Why Movses Kalankatuatsi calls Varachan magnificent is difficult to assess, because the text has no description of the city, any interesting buildings, or residential //135// structures.

Apparently, Varachan was at the time a city known in the countries neighboring with the Huns. The epithet “magnificent” may be replaced by another epithet meaning “famous, celebrated” (Novoseltsev, A.P. 1990, p. 123) (Novoseltsev - another deep thought to cite). It more accurately reflects the status of the city as the capital of the “Country of Huns” (Novoseltsev - another deep thought to cite). The Great Prince of the Huns, Alp Ilitver calls Varachan “our city” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 132), this can also serve as proof that Varachan was a recognized among the Huns capital city. To the Varachan, after a long dangerous journey arrived the mission of the Albanian bishop Israil (682). There was located the residence of Alp Ilitver, in  the vicinity of the city were located the sacred at the Huns places of serving the pagan cults (In the Russian lingo of Soviet times, all religions were cults, while the cult of Stalin was not a cult at all. Heresies and paganism are Christian terms , adopted into the Soviet lexicon: Catholicism is a Christian cult, and Tengriism is a Pagan cult). In Varachan and its vicinities occurred important to the Hun community events related to religious reform of 682.

The Armenian historian of the 8th c. Ghevond in his book does not mention city Varachan, though he knows the “Hun” city Targu. Describing a joint campaign in 737 of the Arab commander Marwan and the Armenian prince Ashot, without specifying the name of the city Ghevond writes: “After defeating the city troops, he captured the city. After the city was taken, when people saw that the enemy has prevailed against them, many of them threw their property into the sea, while others threw also themselves into the sea, and perished in its depths” (Ghevond, p. 80).

Why Ghevond dropped the name of the city in question? Maybe he meant there //136// the “Hun city Targu”,which he spoke about earlier, and therefore deemed unnecessary to name it again. It is likely that here he speaks of the Hun capital city known to everybody, and it is not necessary to specify its name. So did a  Russian chronicler in the story of Svyatoslav Igorevich campaign against Khazars (965). He wrote that Svyatoslav took the city, i.e. Khazar capital Itil: “... beat Svyatoslav Kozars and their city and Belo Veja (Belo Veja is a Slavic calque of Türkic Sarkel ~ White Fort, located not on Itil, as the Khazar capitl, but on Don river) took” (PVL (Tale of Bygone Years), p. 47). Is Ghevond talking about the same “magnificent Varachan city”,which was so admired by Movses Kalakatuatsi only 55 years before the events described by Ghevond? Apparently not by chance the Armenian writer of the 13th c. Vartan the Great, no doubt familiar with writings of his predecessors, describing the same raid of Marwan, calls the city seized by the Arabs Varachan: “Marwan went to a campaign against Varachan - the city of the Huns, and came back a winner” (Vartan the Great, p. 95). A.P. Novoseltsev believes that Ghevond meant not Varachan, but Samandar (Novoseltsev, A.P. 1990, p. 122). (Novoseltsev - sic!)

Location Varachan is defined only in the expanded version of the “Armenian geography”,which indicates that it is located west of Derbent at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains, i.e. in the foothills (Armenian geography. II, p. 30) (At the foot and in the foothills is not the same, at the foot may be in a lowland on the coast). Movses Kalankatuatsi thoroughly describes the route of the Albanian embassy to the Hun capital Varachan (682), dwells extensively on the difficulties and hardships experienced by the travelers, names many //137// en route settlements. But all details stop at the city Choga (Chor ~ Prince's ?), then Movses Kalankatuatsi hurriedly says: “Finally, before the forty day fast, they arrived at the magnificent city Varachan” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 124). According to Movses Kalankatuatsi, the journey from the capital of Caucasian Albania city Partav to Varachan took 51 days of travel (Eremian S.T. 1939. pp. 133-134). The road ran through the Caucasus Mountains across the Main Caucasus Ridge (Darial Pass 42.75°N. 44.6°E), then by the Caspian Littoral Plain to the city Choga (?), and thence to Varachan. The above analysis of the route from the city Partav to Varachan led to a conclusion that the route to Varachan described by Movses Kalankatuatsi was known in the 7th c. and was traditionally used by the diplomatic embassies of Albania and likewise of the “Country of Huns”.

Presumably, Varachan existed as a capital of the “Country of Huns” up to 737 (i.e. ca 650-737). After Varachan was devastated, the city Semender became a capital of the “Land of Huns”.

It appears that at one time coexisted two locations of the Central Command Bülün Jar, one in the Kayi territory right on the Caspian coast in a narrow pass between the mountain spurs and the Caspian Sea at 42.6°N 47.9°E (42.8°N 47.1°E) 40 mi or 65 km (alternatively 78 mi or 125 km) north of Derbend 42.1°N. 48.3°E, that passes on in the earlier Armenian records as Varachan, and the other evacuated Bülün Jar in the river gorge in the mountains, in the later Kayi territory, that passes on in the later Arabic records as Balanjar. Both cities (or fortresses, as in those times a city was a fortified settlement) are associated with the Haidak country, one earlier immediately north of Derbent, the other in the mountains at a distance from Derbent. The later Bulgarian annals refer to the second Bülün Jar using Arabic form of the name, and although they call the northern Haidak inhabitants Bulgars, they imply that they were different Bulgars, but leave their ethnicity obscure. Confusion between two  Bülün Jars may explain the seemingly contradictory references to Varachan. The habit of referring to the new city location with the name of  the evacuated original city ubiquitous nomadic trait with numerous examples, like the Taman Bandja/Phanagoria reincarnated as Bandja on the Samara Bend, and many “Eske” ~ “Old” vs. “Yeni” ~ “New” toponyms: Iske Archa/Yeni Archa, Echke-Kazan/Yeni-Kazan, Iske Yorty/Yeni Yorty etc.

“Guznain” consisting of two cities (at-Tabari) indicates that Guznain is not a city, but a derogative designation for the tribes, a la “Tribal Land, Tribal Area”,like the modern Waziristan in Afganistan/Pakistan. In the Maslama days it was the twin city Semender/Targu. At at-Tabari, the route of Maslama raid was Shirvan-Khazar's Derbent - Semender/Targu - Belenjer. Prior to the Varachan (“Old” Belenjer) evacuation to the river Sulak, Guznain must have included Semender/Targu and Varachan, and in the period between the Aguan-Savir treaty and Arab capture of Derbent () may also included Derbent. Naturally, this conjecture is only based on the phonetical allophone of the names Varachan and Belenjer.

Guznain is mentioned below in the context of Semender, but it is clear that Guznain ~ country (city as a stand-in for country) of Guzes, and Varachan is that stand-in city. Varachan/Khamzin/Khasin/Khashin/Khaizan/Djidan/Jendan/Guznain are the  versions of the name for the country, city, principality, and the kingdom of Suvar, after the name of the Huns-Savirs. The conjecture of M.I. Artamonov who perceived Guznain as a name of a specific city and even located it at the site of the modern village Kaya-Kent (Kayakent)  42.4°N 47.9°E, 30 mi NE of Derbent (M.I. Artamonov) conflicts with the semantic of the name and references in the sources. Khamzin is the most powerful kingdom in these territories, with a capital Varachan (Masoudi). After devastation inflicted by the Arabs, “Khamzin” split into two parts, a Bulgar tribe of Savirs-Suvars and a tribe Barsils-Bersuls (spousal tribe of the Kai tribe). The southern Savir part was later called after the main city Khamzin (Varachan, “Old” Belenjer, capital of Kayis and then of Suvars), apparently after the Arab-appointed local ruler Khamza (Hamza). In 721/2 Varachan, or the future Khamzin, surrendered to Jarrah and promised to pay an annual tribute to the Arabs. In 732/3 Maslama found Khamzin (Varachan, Guznain), Belenjer (“New” Belenjer on the river Sulak), and Semender abandoned. In 739/40, Khamzin mounted a stubborn resistance to the Marwan's Arabs, the fortress fell after a month-long siege, and was destroyed, the Arabs captured 500 people into slavery, and imposed an annual tribute of 30,000 mudds (مد)x(1 mudd = 8.7 l ~ 2 gal) of grain. In 762/3, Khazars defeated the Arab army of Musa ibn Ka'b, and liberated Varachan (Khamzin), Lakz and Alan. In 791, Khazars repulsed an attack by al-Fadl Ibn Yahya al-Barmaki (Orig.: al-Fadl ibn Yahya ibn Khalid al-Barmaki) on Khamzin and forced him to flee.

Arab writers counted 72 tribes in the mountainous Caucasus, with their own languages. In the eastern part of the Caucasus, they point out eleven “Kings of the Kabh (or Kabkh? Or Kabch?) Mountain” who possess principalities Serir, Mascat, Filan, Lakz, Shabiran, Khamzin, Miran, Tabarsaran, Tuman, Zirikirin, and Sindan or Mazdan. Serir was the most northern, in the northern mountains of Dagestan, occupying part of today's Avaria. South of Serir were located Tuman, Zirikirin, Khamzin, and Sindan. They were all located north of Derbent on in the territories of the later possessions Dargaw, Kara Kaitag and Derbent. From the Serir capital to Humradj to the Khamzin (Haizan) run a road across the mountains and gorges with 12 rest stops along the way.

The Savir King professed simultaneously three religions: on Friday he prayed with the Muslims, on Saturday the Jews, and on Sunday with the Christians. 10 farsakhs (57 km) from Khamzin in the city Ranhaz was a huge tree; people gathered there every Wednesday, hang fruits, worshiped and offered sacrifices.Bishop Israel encountered  this Tengrian ritual in 7th c. in the country of Huns (This is a best highlight of the syncretic nature of Tengriism and religious tolerance of the Hunnic Türks).

That Savirs committed to supply the Arabs 300 m3 of grain annually sounds peculiar. Pastoralists do not produce grain, and that Savirs were horsemen and cavalrymen is documented very thoroughly. Savirs could not produce their own grain, but may very well delivered the grain produced by others. Either Savirs levied a grain tax on their subject agricultural population, and Arabs demanded that they passed on to them the collected tax, or the Arabs demanded that Savirs levied a grain tax on their agricultural subjects, or the Savirs' obligation was only the delivery of the grain, but not its collection. The only alternative is that Savirs yielded to gain time to mobilize forces and restore their independence.


It is believed that city Semender is first mentioned in the expanded version of the 7th c. “Armenian geography” under the name Msndr (Armenian geography. II, p. 30). However, this source has no information about it.

Majority of Arab writers not only mention Semender, but also give description of the city, its neighborhoods, describe topographic features, and its geographical position.

At-Tabari first mentions this city under rather strange circumstances. Reporting on the Maslama raid against Belenjer in 732/733, at-Tabari describes the road to the city via Bab-el-Abwab (Derbent), and Guznain (Varachan). And just below he notes that “'Meanwhile Maslama was advancing to Derbent and then to Semender...”.(at-Tabari. I, p. 82). What is that? A lapsus of the author, or the Belenjer and Semender are a single city possibly divided into two parts by a river, with each having its own name, like the later Khazar capital Itil. Describing the Arab raid against Semender in 737 headed by Marwan, at-Tabari reports that the 150-thousand strong Arab army split into two parts: 120-thousand strong army led by Marwan apparently passed through the mountain, reaching the “valley of Bab-Allan” and thence Marwan “went to Semender, the Khazar town” at-Tabari, (I. p. 86). Also there, but in all likelihood by the seaside route came a 30,000-strong  force headed by the ruler of Derbent Oziid bin Sallam (at-Tabari. I, p. 87). Leaving Semender in the rear, as the Khazars abandoned the city, Marwan moved on and defeated Khazars. At-Tabari no longer touches on the fate of  Semender.

Al-Kufi mentions Semender in connection with the campaigns of the Arab generals Jarrah (721/722), Maslama (727/728), and Marwan (737/738), described in detail above. Per al-Kufi, the Arab armies were reaching Semender first coming to Balanjar, and sometimes through the lands of Alans (Al-Kufi. pp. 19-20, 41, 49).

That the Arabs had to drag their troops and supply trains through the torturous mountain roads to Alans and Balanjar even after they devastated the country, instead of the luxurious coastal route with a short mountain hop, shows that they were not welcome there, and the scourged land still remained a perilous enemy territory

The Arab geographer Ibn Khordadbeh, with information belonging to the second half of the 9th c., wrote in his geographical treatise that “the city Samandar is located beyond Bab (Derbent). Everything beyond it /city/ is in the hands of Khazars” (Ibn Khordadbeh, p. 109). We can conclude that city Semender was a kind of Khazar border fortress in the south.The same Ibn Khordadbeh geographical treatise lists the names of major Khazar cities - Hamlidj, Belenjer, Beida, and then describes what kingdoms are north of Derbent, and among them unexpectedly names the city Semender (Ibn Khordadbeh, p. 109). Why Semender is not named among the other Khazar cities, but was distinguished by the author? The same information regarding Semender repeats Ibn al-Faqih, who wrote in the early 10th c. (Ibn al-Faqih, p. 41).

Al-Balkhi (10th c.) tells that Semender is located between Derbent and Itil 2 farsahs (13 km) from the border of the Serir kingdom (al-Balkhi, p. 62).

Al-Ystahri adds that the road from Derbent to Semender was 4 days of travel and then to Itil further 7 days of desert travel (al-Istahri, p. 39). Ibn Hawqal repeats al-Istahri, increasing the distance between Itil and Semender to 8 days' journey (Ibn Hawqal, p. 118), and Al-Masoudi places Semender somewhere halfway between Derbent and Itil, with the road from Derbent to Semender measured in 8 days of travel (al-Masoudi. II, p. 191).

The evidence of al-Istahri and Ibn Hawqal at a first glance contradicts the earlier //140// information of Al-Masoudi about Semender location. If al-Masoudi talks about eight days' journey from Derbent to Samandar, the above other authors point to 4 days. This apparent contradiction led to a suggestion of two Semenders existing at different times in different places (Magomedov, M.G. 1983. pp. 58-60.) But let us turn to the sources.

Al-Ystahri, writing at the end of al-Masoudi (950) life, cites such information about the route from Derbent to Itil: “...when you pass Mukan, then to Bab-ul-Abwab (Derbent), two days' journey across the Sharvanshah country; then you cross that country to Semender in 4 days' journey and from Semender to Itil seven-days journey by a desert” (al-Istahri, p. 39). From the al-Istahri text is not clear what country laid between Derbent and Samandar.

In the south-north direction, the sequence is Mukan (Mugan, 39.8°N 48.1°E) - Sharvanshah - Derbent - Semender - Itil. The Sharvan or Sharvanshah was not far from the sea south-east of the present Kuba, it is a modern village called Sharvanshahi (41.4°N 48.5°E). Accordingly, Mugan - Sharvanshah distance is 112 mi or 180 km, traversed in 6 days travelling 30 km/day)

Ibn Hawqal speaks more clearly. Here's how he presents this information: “... and when you cross Mukan to the border of Bab-ul-Abwab (Derbent) in two days' journey from the Sharvanshah land, you'll travel to the Semender land for 4 days, and it is also inhabited area, and from the Semender to Itil 7 days journey by the steppe” (Ibn Hawqal, p. 107).

Ibn al-Hawqal and Ystahri talk about Semender lands, not the city Semender as does Masoudi. And the four days' journey from Derbent, defined by them, are to the southern border of “Semender land”,and the Semender city apparently was deep in this land.

Both authors leave unclear the extent of the Semender possessions and //141// the location of the city. Based on the Masoudi evidence about 8 days' journey to the Semender city and Ibn Hawqal and al-Istahri evidence about 4 days' journey to the. “Semender land”,we can conclude that the city was 4-days' journey from the southern border of their possessions. Thus the contradiction between the Masoudi information and information of two other Arab authors is removed. The total distance from Derbent to Itil remains the same for all three authors - 15 days of travel.

Al-Mukkadasi and anonymous Persian author (both authors wrote in 980's) report that Semender is a seaside city (al-Mukkadasi, p. 4; Hadud, p. 32).

Êing Joseph wrote that the border “of the Khazar country” turns from the city Semender to Bab al-Abwab (Derbent) (Joseph. II, p. 100), indicating that the location of  Semender is in northern coastal plane.

In the literature settled an opinion that city Semender at one time was a capital of the “'Khazar Country”.The source of this notion is the report of the 10th c. Arab geographer Al-Masoudi, who wrote: “The people of Bab al-Abwab (Derbent) suffer from the neighboring kingdom called Djidan, which belongs to the Khazars, with the capital city called Semender located at a distance of eight days' journey from the Bab (Derbent). Now it is still inhabited by the Khazar tribe, but since in the early days of Islam it has been conquered by Salman ibn Rabiah al-Bahili (Arabic سلمان بن ربيعة الباهلي‎, died 650) (Orig.: Suleiman ibn Rabiah al bagali), the throne of the kingdom was moved to Itil, further away by seven days of travel. The Khazar kings now live in Itil” (al-Masoudi. I, p. 43).

It is believed that //142// in that part of his composition al-Masoudi talks about Semender as a metropolitan city of Haidak (Djidan), as it was at the time of al-Masoudi, and about Semender as transferred to Itil former capital of the “Khazar Country”.In our opinion however, is possible a different understanding of the Al-Masoudi content in the story about Haidak (Djidan) and its capital.

The author points out that Semender is in his time (943) is a capital city of Haidak (Djidan), and Itil is the capital of the “Khazar Country” (Considering that Gelon/Djidan first figure in the middle of the 5th c. BC in Herodotus, and then in the 2nd c. BC pops out as the “old” dynastic maternal clan Huyan 呼衍、呼延 of the Eastern Huns in Shiji, ans then separates from the Eastern Huns to play a prominent independent and still dynastic role in the history of China and surrounding nations, and then pops out in 943 AD at al-Masoudi, the longevity of the cohesive Kayi tribe is one of the longest in the recorded history). In the past, namely when the Semender city was destroyed by the Arabs, the capital of the Khazars was moved to the river Itil to the Itil city. Where was the capital of the Khazars  before that, and the name as it was known the author of this work does not state. In another book, written in the year of his death, “Book of Notification and Review”,al-Masoudi clearly indicates that the first capital of the Khazar kingdom was the city Belenjer. He writes “Khazar's river that runs through the city of Itil, the present capital of the Khazar kingdom. Prior to that time the capital was the city of Belenjer” (al-Masoudi. III, p. 33).

In our opinion, in his first book quoted above, the author referred to Semender in connection with Itil city and then about the Khazar country for two reasons. First, al-Masoudi had to name the exact date of the transfer of the Khazar kings' throne, necessitated by such event as the destruction of Semender*.

* B.N. Zakhoder believed that transfer of the Khazar capital to the Itil river happened after 722/723s. (Zakhoder B.N. 1962, p. 177), V.F. Minorsky also defined that date as 723 (Minorsky V.F. 1963, p. 143). Gumilev states 721 (Gumilev L.N. 1992, p. 60). Al-Masoudi named different dates: in one of the books he wrote that it happened during the Arab Caliph Uthman (644-656), in another he states 735 (Minorsky V.F. 1963. Note 95, p. 143). A.V. Gadlo agrees with the first date of al-Masoudi (i.e. 644-656?) (Gadlo A.V. 1979, p. 152).).

Secondly, al-Masoudi had to define the exact location between the new Khazar capital and Semender, well known at the al-Masoudi time. The Belendjar, from which the Khazar kings apparently counted their ancestry, in the 10th c. no longer existed, and it was needed to correlate the reference to it with a noted city in the Caspian region, in particular with Semender, which was destructed later, in 969 (al-Masoudi died in 956).

In the 1963 edition of al-Masoudi book “Nuggets of gold” (translation by V.F. Minorsky) the story about Haidak (Djidan) and its capital has somewhat different content. Here is the passage in full. “The people of al-Bab (Derbent) suffers great losses from the Haidak (Djidan) kingdom, whose people is a part of the Khazar Kings' land. The capital /of the last/ was Samandar, a city lying at a distance of eight days' journey from al-Bab (Derbent). Now it is inhabited by the people from Khazars, but since in the early days of Islam it was conquered by Salman ibn Rabiah al-Bahili (Orig.: Suleiman ben Rabi'a al-Bahili), the governorship was transferred from there to the city of Atil, at a distance of seven days from /Samandar/” (al-Masoudi. II, p. 192). As we see, V.F. Minorsky removed the contradiction in the second part of the quote //144// by introducing in the text the words “of the last”,which explain that Semender was formerly a capital of the Khazar kings. However, this does not resolve another conflict in the writing of al-Masoudi. It follows (from the emendation) that al-Masoudi in his first book names the early Khazar Kings' capital Semender, and in the book written 13 years later he names Beledjer as their original capital.

Al-Masoudi gives account about Semender and the Haidak (Djidan) Principality in Chapter 17, which gives description of Derbent and “adjacent to these places kings and tribes”.After describing the Caucasus, the kingdom Tabarsaran, and having barely started the story about Haidak (Djidan), he interrupts it with a lengthy digression, rich with information about the present Khazar capital Itil and the Khazar state (al-Masoudi. II. pp. 192-201). Having finished the story about the present Khazars, Masoudi continues description of the land near Derbent with a phrase: “Let us now return to the description of Bab ul-Abwab (Derbent), tribes living in the vicinity of the wall, and to the description of the Kabh” (Caucasus) (al- Masoudi. II, p. 202). And then follows new information about Haidak (Djidan) and its nearest neighbors (al-Masoudi, II. pp. 202-205). It appears that the end of the quote with information about Itil was a departure from the planned account and was not directly related with Semender.

A.V. Gadlo in his book repeatedly emphasizes, and we stand in solidarity with him, that Semender was never a Khazar town, let alone its capital. It was one of the major cities of the “Country of the Huns”,and after destruction of its capital Varachan it became //145// the capital city of the “Country of the Huns”.Khazars used Semender during military campaigns of the Arab-Khazar wars as a base for organizing moves against the Arabs (Gadlo A.V. 1979, p. 152 on).

The history of the Semender city is interrupted in the second half of the 10th c. In the 969, Semender was crushed by the Ruses (Vikings), Ibn Hawqal tells about it. He nearly repeats the al-Istahri story about Semender,  up to the phrase: “I do not know of any populous place in the Khazar lands besides Semender” (al-Istahri, p. 49), compare Ibn Hawqal: “I do not know that in the Khazar lands was another gathering place besides Semender” (Ibn Hawqal, p. 115). However, this phrase was just a tribute to the traditions of Arab writers, who were placing information about the famous Semender, Ibn Hawqal could not report anything new on Semender. When the Ibn Hawqal's book was being written (approximately 977), Semender already laid in ruins for 8 years after the destruction inflicted by the Ruses (Vikings) in 969. Here's how this tragic event is described by the author: “Khazars also have a city called Semender, it is located between the Khazars and Bab-ul-Abwab (Derbent). There are many gardens, and they say that they contain about 40,000 vines. All this perished along with the country, and it was very full of vines and grapes. It was inhabited by Muslims and others, and the city had mosques, Christians had churches, synagogues and the Jews had synagogues. Then came Ruses (Vikings), destroyed it all, and crushed everything that belonged to the Khazar, Bulgar, and Burtas people on the river Itil” (Ibn Hawqal, p. 114).

It is possible that in 1064 Semender was rebuilt and re-populated. In our opinion, two sources allow this to be asserted. Under 1064 the author of the Derbent Chronicle reports that “the remnants of the Khazars numbering three thousand families arrived to the city Kahtan of the Khazar country (or: to Kahtan in the (former) Khazar territory). They rebuilt it and settled in it” (Tarikh al-Bab, p. 75).

Information about city Kahtan in the literature received various interpretations. V.F. Minorsky believed that Khazars returned to Barshalia (Bashly), which he equated with the early capital of the “Country of Huns” city Varachan (Minorsky V.F. 1963. pp. 128-129), A.P. Novoseltsev believes that it is impossible to identify Kahtan with known cities (Novoseltsev, A.P. 1990 p. 231). We believe that Kahtan possibly is differently transcribed by the author of the chronicle name of Semender.

Kahtan is mentioned as a name of an Arab tribe in al-Masoudi. He wrote that the king of the Haidak (Djidan ) Principality... “asserts that he is an Arab of the /tribe/ Kahtan. At the present time, namely in 332/943, he is known as Salifan (i.e. Sylifa), and in his State are no other Muslims but him, son,  and his family. I think that all kings of that country are called with that designation” (al-Masoudi. II, p. 202).

The ruler of the principality Kayidag > Haidak (Djidan/Jidan) in 943 was a Moslem (> Arab [religion]) (Khazarian) viceroy titled with Chinese designation for viceroy “Sylifa” 苏李发?/葛李发? (> Salifan), Turkic “Elteber/İltäbär”, and in the Kayidag principality he was an alien from a Khazar ruling administration (and likely with family ties to the Khazar Kagan, like a brother, brother-in-law, and the like), likely from the tribe recorded in the Chinese annals as Puku - Bugu people, who phonetically resemble the ethnonym Bulgar (> Bu(l)gu 布谷/布库/布苏), whose leader was also an Elteber recorded with Chinese equivalent title as Sulifa Kenan Bain (Sulifa Khan Bayan?). Along the same speculation, Kenan could be a tribal/clan name, and it is also is phonetically resembling the tribe (Kenan ~ Kahtan). Too many resemblances between 2 sets of three words for a random coincidence. These resemblances argue against equating Semender and Kahtan, unless viceroy had a nickname Kenan/Kahtan used to denote his residence town.

It is possible that in the Derbent chronicle the capital city of the country king Salifan, by origin from the Arab tribe Kashtan, was called Kahtan. If that //147// is so, the subject may be the Haidak capital city Semender, according to Ibn Hawqal devastated in 969, i.e. 25 years after al-Masoudi reported on it. After 95 years, the remnants of the Khazars (in our opinion, a reference to descendants of the Semender inhabitants) returned to Samander, rebuilting it from scratch. It is possible that the author of the Derbent chronicle placed under 1064 a last reference on the Semender city in the written sources - the late capital of the “Country of the Huns”,and one of the most important cities in the land ruled by Khazars.

The location and affiliation of Kahtan the Derbent chronicle defined as a territory somehow related to the Khazars - “Kahtan of the Khazar country”,or may be possible another translation as “Kahtan of the (former) Khazar territory” (Tarikh al-Bab, p. 75).  The second option in our opinion is more precise, because the “Semender Possession” was a dependency of the Khazar Kaganate, but with an independent governance, consequently nominally it was not a part of the “Khazar Country”.Apparently, after Semender was devastated by the Ruses (Vikings), the city and its possessions laid in ruins until 1064, and the return of three thousand families of its residents to Kahtan-Semender was a significant event, worthy of being noted in the annals among most important events in the history of Shirvan and Derbent. One circumstance remains unclear, where the “remnants of the Khazars” came from, where they lived until 1064. Perhaps they waited out the Rus (Vikings) raids somewhere in the mountains, like for example in Serir, whose //148// ally they often were in the first decades the 9th c.

A.P. Novoseltsev suggests an alternate translation of the Derbent Chronicle passage for year 1064 on Khazars: “In the same year, the remnants of the Khazars numbering 3,000 families (homes) arrived to the Kahtan city from the country of Khazars, rebuilt it and settled there” (Novoseltsev, A.P. 1990, p. 231). According to the author, his translation is more accurate than the translation of V.F. Minorsky, although grammatically V.F. Minorsky has done it correctly (Novoseltsev, A.P. 1990. Note 680). Allowing a supposition that the Turkish author Munadjim-bashi, a copyist of the “History of Shirvan and al-Bab (Derbent)“, could transpose the original phrase, A.P. Novoseltsev offers his understanding of the content in the phrase. Per A.P. Novoseltsev, it comes out that in 1064 Khazars arrived to Kahtan from the Khazar country, much of which was seized by Alans (Novoseltsev, A.P. 1990. pp. 193-194). We believe that the source does not allow this interpretation of its contents (Novoseltsev - sic! It appears that Novoseltsev has an agenda - to minimize the Türkic content of the events, and advance the false stereotype of IE content, following the Stalinist-time tracks, and holding the Alans as Scytho-Sarmato-Alano-Iranians somehow akin to the Slavic Russians. That allowed Stalinist scientists to portray indigenous peoples as invading aliens destined for authorized genocide and wholesale deportations).


Ghevond defined Targu as a Hun city (Ghevond, p. 28). The author tells that Targu was besieged by the Arab troops during the raid of the Arab commander Maslama (713/714) into the “Land of Huns”.Ghevond locates the “city of the Huns” Targu somewhere north of Derbent. Describing the raid of the Arab troops, Ghevond indicates that the route to Targu passed through the Chor Pass and some part of the “Country of Huns” (Ghevond. p. 28). Apparently, the city was in the foothills, //149// because the Arab commander besieging Targu fled, abandoning the supply train and harem, and “headed to the Kokaz mountain, cut down a path through the forest, and thus breaking through, barely escaped the enemy...”.(Ghevond, p. 28) (Modern Makhachkala territory covers two Hunnic cities, Semender and Targu, with Targu located against the mountain Tarki-tau, and Semender located on the Dagestan Corridor, a narrow strip of land between the Caspian Sea and the spurs of the Great Caucasus Range. The etymology of both names is quite transparent,  Semender preserved the semantics of its name in the Dargwa language, Mahiyachkala = Adobe Fortress, which in Türkic is Saman Kala, with the base of its original name. Targu, accordingly, is the Türk city located at the Türkic mountain, in the local Dargwa dialect form).

Belenjer (Balanjar)

This city is named only by the Arab authors - al-Kufi, at-Tabari, al-Baladhuri, al-Yakubi, Ibn Khordadbeh, Ibn al-Faqih, al-Masoudi, Ibn al-Athir, and the Persian Anonymous. At-Tabari describes the Maslama route to Belenjer so: “Then Maslama went further to the Bab-el-Abwab (Derbent) (having ruined the cities of Shirvan - L.G.) ... At that time in the city (Derbent) were a thousand warriors posted there there by Hakan. Maslama did not touch them, and went further to Guznain, which consists of two cities. There he did not find anybody, he went further and came to Belenjer, which also was empty” (at-Tabari. I, p. 82) (“Guznain” consisting of two cities indicates that Guznain is not a city, but a derogative designation for the tribes, a la “Tribal Land, Tribal Area”,like the modern Waziristan in Afganistan/Pakistan. The twin city is Semender/Targu. Maslama route was Shirvan-Khazar's Derbent - Semender/Targu - Belenjer). The story of al-Kufi on the location of Belenjer is slightly more detailed: “Then (ca 648) he (Salman - L.G.) moved to the city of Al-Bab (Derbent). At that time there stayed Hakan, the Khazar ruler, heading more than 300-thousand troops of infidels.

When Hakan heard about the arrival of Arabs to the city, he left from it .... Salman ibn Rabiah approached the city, and Muslim entered Al-Bab ... Salman stayed in city for three days. Then he left the city to pursue Hakan and his troops. He reached one of the Khazar cities, called Yargu (Bar'uza) (i.e. Targu/Semender)... and then headed on, intending to reach Balanjar, which also was one of the Khazar cities ...

And Salman ibn Rabiah approached in those parts to a dense forest on the banks of the fast river, where was a group of Khazars from among the Hakan soldiers” (al-Kufi, p. 10). And Ibn al-Athir, a third Arab writer who used at-Tabari data, describes in sequence the Jarrah's route from Derbent to Belenjer: “... he (Jarrah - L.G.) headed out and moved so fast, until he reached the city al-Bab al-abu aba (Derbent? The author does not comment), without meeting any Khazars. And he entered the city and sent out his mounted forces against the neighboring tribes to rob and attack... And set out against him (Jarrah - L.G.) Khazars, led by the son of their king, and running into the Muslims by the river Al-Ran, joined the battle ... The Muslims overpowered Khazars, put them to flight and chased them, killing and capturing prisoners... The Muslims captured everything they had with them, and then moved on, until stopped at the castle known as Husain, whose population surrendered according to aman. He then went to the city named Yargua (i.e. Targu/Semender) and besieged it for six days ... took their castle and expelled them from it. Then he moved to Balanjar, one of their (Khazar) famous “castles” and besieged it” (Ibn al-Athir, p. 24).

From the above three Arab writers only al-Kufi gives toponymic markers for Belenjer. From the description he provided it is clear that Belenjer was located north of Derbent, past a number of settlements after it, on the bank of a large river. About the river Balanjar also state other Arab authors, reporting //151// on the sacred for the Arabs grave of the Arabian commander who was killed in Balanjar (al-Belazuri, p. 14; al-Yakubi, p. 5; Ibn al-Faqih, pp. 13, 29). However, their accounts in comparison with that of al-Kufi already have a legendary character. Al-Baladhuri reports about a battlefield or gorge near Belenjer (al-Baladhuri, p. 14). According to Ibn al-Athir, in the vicinity had Belenjer was a forest from which the “Khazars” came out, apparently into an open field, where started the battle (Ibn al-Athir, p. 15). Only Ibn al-Athir names the distance between Belenjer and the Khazar capital city al-Baida (Itil), which was 200 farsahs (20 daily marches) (1150 km) (Ibn al-Athir, p. 14). For comparison, the distance from Sarir borders to the Itil on river Itil  ttook 12 daily marches (12/20 X 1150 ≈ 700 km) (Ibn-Ruste, p. 45).

The Arab geographers of the 9t-10th cc. reported on Belenjer only literary knowledge, listing it among the known Khazar cities (Ibn Khordadbeh, p. 109; al-Muqaddasi, p. 3; Ibn al-Faqih, p. 19). Such is also the information in the Persian Anonymous (Hadud, p. 32).

Belenjer in the first third of the 8th c. was a capital of the “Balanjar Country”,which was located, as was shown above, in the foothills on the way. to the mountain passes. For example, at-Tabari points to the location of some political centers “beyond the Balanjar mountains” (at-Tabari. II, p. 79). According to sources, the city Belenjer was situated on the plain, on the left side of the great river of the same name (the 653 battle between //152// the Arabs and inhabitants of Balanjar happed “over the river,” i.e. on the opposite bank, covered with thick forest, in respect to the advance of the Arab army) (Same-type ambush staged the Bulgar army against Subedei Mongols 500 years later, in 1123 AD, wiping out the Subedei army).

B.N. Zakhoder believes that Balanjar was known to the Arab writers and geographers only for the time of Arab conquests in the Caucasus. After its capture in 722/723 and the subsequent transfer of the Khazar capital to the Itil river, information about it breaks off (Zakhoder B.N. 1962, p. 177). According to A.V. Gadlo, the inhabitants of the “Balanjar Country” after the defeat of their country by the Arabs moved away to the north of the Itil mouth (Gadlo A.V. 1979, p. 121).

Citation from Oleg Ivic, Vladimir Kluchnikov, Khazars Publisher Lomonosov, Moscow, 2013

About Balanjar's powerful fortifications, in particular the one of the towers, which caused bad trouble for the besiegers, wrote al-Tabari.177 He tells of two Arab campaigns against the Khazars' (i.e. Huns') capital in 650s - 700s. During one of them Muslims captured Balanjar, and then advanced another 400 km, reaching the city al-Beida in the Itil estuary (in that place probably was later built a new capital Itil of the Khazar Kaganate). The invaders did not hold on to these lands, and returned to Derbent (converting to Islam the residents of the conquered cities)178.

The second campaign was much less successful. The Balanjarians, with the aid of the Türks that came to their help, attacked the Arabs and killed 4,000 soldiers, including their leader Abd al-Rahman. Abd al-Rahman was particularly unlucky, because Khazars (i.e. Huns) preserved his body (probably embalmed) //66// and placed in a large jar, to secure victories in the coming war with its help. Thus, the Arab commander had to serve his enemies in a magical way in battles with his own people. He also had, at the request of his victors, bring rain or drought.179 However, the Khazars' (i.e. Huns') bet on Abd al-Rahman did not materialize. The authors of the present book do not known how after his killing went on with rain for the Khazars (i.e. Huns), but in regard to the victories over the Arabs, the wars were fought with varying success, and in 723 Balanjar was taken and plundered. Its defenders had been slaughtered, prisoners drowned, and each of the 30,000 enemy soldiers received a booty of 300 dinars180 (i.e. 720 g of gold).

Ibn al-Athir described in detail taking Balanjar. However, somehow he downplayed the role of the city's famous walls and towers, described by other authors, and did not report executions of prisoners. The historian writes about the Arab commander, the governor of Armenia called al-Jarrah: "Then he moved to Balanjar, one of their (Khazars) (i.e. Huns) famous “castles” and besieged it. The population of the “castle” gathered 300 wagons, tied them together and staged them around the “castle” to defend themselves and prevent Muslims from reaching the castle. These wagons were the strongest (obstacle) in the fight against the Muslim enemy. Realizing what harm these carts cause to the Muslim troops, he (al-Jarrah) summoned some soldiers numbering thirty. Vowing to die, they broke sheaths of their swords and as one man approached the wagons. The infidels also (earnestly) fought with them and shot many arrows that covered the sun, but those thirty (people) advanced till they reached the wagons. They grabbed some of them, cut the connecting ropes, and drew them, and they fell down and pulled the rest, as they were all tied up. After that all Khazars (i.e. Huns) came down to the Muslims and they fought severe fight so hard for all that the “hearts rose to throats”. Yet the Khazars (i.e. Huns) fled, and the Muslims //67// by force captured the castle and took... everything that was in it, so that each rider got three hundred dinars, and their number was over thirty thousand. And al-Jarrah took (in captivity) the children of the Balanjar's ruler and his family, and then sent for him, returned to him all his property, family, and the castle, and made him a spy for the Muslims, he informed them of everything that the infidels were doing”.181

177 Artamonov 2002, p. 196.
178 Artamonov 2002, p. 195-198.
179 Artamonov 2002, p. 196.
180 Novosel 1990, p. 124-125.
181 Ibn al-Athir 1940, p. 24-25

Almost no author reporting on the Huns and Khazars cities has direct evidence of their fortifications, inner structure, etc. Only Persian Anonymous, naming a number of the Khazar cities including Belenjer, indicates that all of them are “rich with strong walls” (Hudud. p. 32). From the messages of the Byzantine and Arab authors can be extracted only indirect evidence about fortifications of the cities. Agathias, a contemporary of the events, reported about ability of the Savir soldiers to solidly fortify even a temporary military camp (Agathias, pp. 90, 117). The Arab authors is call “castles” several cities of Khazaria, without going into detail describing the merits of their fortifications (al-Kufi, p. 19, Ibn al-Athir. pp. 24-25) (The Russian colonial administration specifically instructed relocated Russian settlers to dismantle ancient cities, buildings, and fortresses for construction materials, a common practice in recently seized territories, leaving little for the modern archeologists).

Ibn al-Athir, describing the Arab siege of the Khazar city Balanjar in the 721/722, talks once about a “Balanjar tower”,then of the wagons //153// used to defend the city: “The population of the castle gathered 300 wagons, tied them together, and placed around their “castle” in order to defend with them and to prevent Muslims from reaching the castle. These wagons were the strongest obstacle in the Muslims' fight with the enemy. They (Arabs) have grabbed some of them (wagons), cut the tie rope, and pulled them, and they fell down and drew the rest of them, as they were all tied to each other. After that all Khazars descended to the Muslims, and a strong battle ensued between them...” (Ibn al-Athir. pp. 21, 24). From this passage it is clear that Balanjar in the early 8th c. was not a fortified city, so that its defenders had to use an old and well tried. nomadic method of circular defense with the use of  the wagons. Apparently, the city was situated on an elevated place (Ibn al-Athir writes that the wagons “fell down” Khazars “down”,Khazars descended to the Arab army), but not on a steep river bank or a mountain slope (wagons placed around the castle), and probably occupied one of the dominant natural hills in the terrain.

The authors of the 10th c. concur that Semender is a rich, populous city with bazaars, mosques, and vineyards, but none of them even mention the Semender fortifications (al-Balkhi, p. 62; al-Istahri, p. 47; Ibn Hawqal, p. 114, al-Muqaddasi, p. 5; Hudud, p. 32).

Thus, based on the written sources, can //154// be concluded that the population of the Caspian littoral Dagestan up to the middle of the 8th c. for better protection of the cities used the natural terrain - hills, valleys, steep river banks, etc. A military camp was surrounded with a wooden palisade.

The cities of the European Huns also were non-walled, Prisk Pannonian noted that in the capital of the Hun king Attila a wooden fence surrounded the royal court and houses of his cortiers (Prisk Pannonian, pp. 685, 686, 693) And notably, Prisk Pannonian stressed that wooden walls surrounded structures “not for security, but for beauty” (Prisk Pannonian, pp. 685). The fence of the royal court  was decorated with towers and skillfully executed.

Were the cities in the Caspian littoral “Land of Huns” designed with any particular layout in the placing of dwellings, or it was chaotic is hard to tell. Movses Kalankatuatsi, describing theHun Grand Prince Alp Ilitver carnage over the opponents of the Christianization of the Huns, reports that “he had ordered some of them be burnt at the stake on the roads or at the street entrances and exits” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 205). What the author understands under the word streets? Perhaps he is referring to the central and reserve city gates used not only by the Varachan residents, but also by the people from other towns and villages of the “Country of Huns”.Further on Movses Kalankatuatsi reported that the trial over conjurers was held at a gathering of residents in the town square (Movses.Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 131).

The Persian Anonymous reported that in Semender were bazaars (Hudud, p. 32).



Reports of ancient authors related to the 6 th c. have very ittle information on the nomadic tribes dwellings of the period in the Caspian littoral steppes. According to Pseudo-Zacharias,they were “tents” (Pseudo-Zacharius, p. 165). Describing a Savir military camp, Agathias noted that their houses were built of “stakes and hides” (Agathias, p. 89). Judging from the descriptions, the authors describe housing of wattle construction. It can't be excluded that Agathias gave a description of a portable dwelling used in military campaigns and coaching migrations (Nechayeva, L.G. 1975. pp. 16-17).

What were the urban and settlement houses in the “Country of Huns?” The Semender houses are sufficiently known. The Arab geographers of the 10th c. are unanimous in their descriptions of the Semender homes. The shape of the Semender homes resembled yurts, because their roofs were pointed, convex (al-Balkhi, p. 62; al-Istahri, p. 47; Ibn Hawqal, p. 114; al-Muqaddasi, p. 5). Housing was of wooden structures, wattled with reeds (al-Istahri, p. 47; Ibn Hawqal, p. 114; al-Muqaddasi, p. 5.). Only al-Balkhi indicates that the Semender buildings were of wooden boards (al-Balkhi, p. 62).

Judging from the written sources, the Huns' dwelling in Dagestan were of wattle construction, the dwelling frame was of wooden stakes, with one end in the floor around the perimeter of the house, the upper ends of the stakes were fastened over the center of the house. If the dwelling was temporary, its frame was covered with animal hides (or common for the yurts felt), and at the Dagestanian houses the frame of stakes was braided with reeds, and probably daubed with clay. This type of dwellings the sources called a tent, a round top, or Turkic home, so described the houses in Olubandar (Ulug Bender - Vabandar) the Arab historian of the 13th c. Ibn al-Athir (Ibn al-Athir, p.25).

It is interesting to note that the building design with wattle conical roof have survived to the ethnographic reality among some Dagestani peoples, although they are used for storing hay (Gadjiyeva C. Sh.1960. pp. 56, 1961. pp. 204-205). However, C. Sh. Gadjiyeva provides conclusive evidence about the past dwelling use of this type buildings (Gadjiyeva C. Sh.1960. pp. 56, 1961, p. 205).

How the nobility homes looked like in the “Country of Huns” cities is unknown. Movses Kalankatuatsi mentions a “royal palace” in Varachan (Movses Kalankatuatsi, II, p. 130), but does not describe it. For example, the palace of Attila was built of wood, but differed in height from other buildings, and was sitting on higher ground (Prisk Pannonian, p. 685). Prisk Pannonian notes that no one was allowed to have a dwelling higher than the palace of the Hun king, even //157// a temporary balagan (the shed, not the chaos in the bazaar) of the Byzantine emperor's envoys. The author notes among the Royal Court buildings “spacious banquet halls and very nicely arranged porticos” (Prisk Pannonian, p. 693). Some buildings were decorated with carvings (Prisk Pannonian, p. 687).

The Arab geographer al-Istahri (Previously this Jewish merchant was described as Persian) describing residential buildings of the Khazar capital Itil noted that felt tents serve in the city as dwellings, and saman (adobe) houses are exceptions (al-Istahri, p. 41). As a the special building in the city, al-Istahri points to the Khazar King palace, built of fired brick, while noting that the king “does not allow anyone to build of brick” (al-Istahri. p. 41).

As can be seen, the houses in the cities of the Caspian littoral Dagestan differed from the analogous buildings of the European Huns and residents of the Khazar capital.

In light of multi-ethic population of the Itil, the historical descriptions of the buildings do not match that of the population. First, the active trade required caravanserais to accommodate traders, animals, and guards, and a sturdy perimeter wall. Secondly, the three judicial courts for three confessions required their own structures for proceedings, documentation, and recordkeeping. Thirdly, the same is applicable to the mosques, synagogues, and churches. The Jewish and Christian confessions also needed structures for funeral rites. Fourthly, the stationary trading class needed stationary bazaars with stationary stalls, stationary storage, stationary taxation stalls and offices, and stationary housing. Fifthly, each ethnic population had its own housing traditions, and they were as diverse as was the population. The pastoral Türkic families lived in their traditional yurts, noted by the writers, the stationary Türkic families lived in non-mobile housing, and the other ethnic groups were sedentary and needed stationary housing. Finally, the palace complex needed various buildings for all its residents, armory, treasury, storage, kitchen, different forms for harem residency, ambassadorial residencies, guard residencies, and all palace employee residencies. Each of the wives, as opposing the concubines, traditionally had her own estate, that included all services appropriate for the autonomous royal household. These details escaped the historical records, and so far eluded archeologists, or vice-versa.

How the dwellings looked like inside was not addressed. For example, the floor in the house where lived one of the Attila's wives was covered with felt carpets, there was a soft couch (Prisk Pannonian, p. 687). And this is how Priscus Pannonian describes the inner view of the room, where Attila was receiving guests: “In the middle on the couch sat Attila, and behind it stood another couch, behind it were few steps leading to his bed, covered with canvases and colorful curtains for decoration...”.(Prisk Pannonian. pp. 689-690).

The Hun cities of the Caspian littoral also had temples. So, Movses Kalankatuatsi noted that the cross for the prayer service in Varachan was //158// installed east of the Alp Ilitver palace (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 130), the Grand Prince of the Huns was erecting churches, but where they were located the author does not state (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 128).

The Semender of the 10th c. had several mosques (al-Balkhi, p. 62; al-Istahri, p. 47 ibn Hawqal, p. 114,. al-Muqaddasi, p. 5). Ibn Hawqal states that in Semender aside from the mosques also were Christian churches and synagogues (Ibn. Hawqal, p. 114).

Where were located the cities of  the “Country of Huns”? The localization of the “Hun” and “Khazar” cities in the historical literature already abode under discussion for over a century, remaining problematic to this day. Despite the variety of interpretations, the disputes basically boil down to one topic: were in the North-East Caucasia a number of “Hun” and “Khazar” cities, or the nams of one or two real cities the sources convey in different ways?

Most of the modern scholars consider mentioned in the sources cities to be a historical reality, the Semender, Belenjer, Varachan, Chungars, Targu, Olugbender (M.I. Artamonov, B.A. Rybakov, S.A. Pletneva, A.V. Gadlo, V.G. Kotovich, M.G. Magomedov, L.N..Gumilev, Ya.A. Fedorov, G.S. Fedorov). However, in respect to the specific localization for each city they did not come to a consensus.

Varachan, according to M.I. Artamonov, was situated near the modern city Buinaksk (Artamonov, MI, 1962, p. 186) (modern Shura, Russian Buinaksk, aka Temir-Khan Shura, 42.8°N 47.1°E, 125 km N. of Derbent ), //159// most researchers identify it with the fortress Urtseki, located north-west of the modern village Izberbash (42.6°N 47.9°E, 65 km N. of Derbent) (Kotovich V.G. 1974a. pp. 182-196; Fedorov, Ya.A. Fedorov, G.S. 1978, p. 191; Magomedov, M.G. 1983, p. 57). A.P. Novoseltsev equates the names of the two cities - Varachan and Belenjer, locating the latter at the “lower course of the river Ulluchai (42.3°N 47.5°E), (70 km) north of Derbent (42.1°N. 48.3°E) (Novoseltsev, A.P. 1990. pp. 123-124). Gadjiyev M. S. believes that the capital of the “Country of the Huns” was on the spot of the fortress Shahsenger settlement, east of a Bashlykent (42.2°N 47.8° E, 43 km N. of Derbent) (Gadjiyev M. S. 1990, p. 78) (Both fortresses are located within 20km area, i.e. practically location is determined +/- 20 km. It is notable that in a relatively small area lay the ruins of three fortresses of the same period, indicating that the life was more vivid than the alien literary sources reported).

As can be seen, the written sources about Varachan allow modern scholars to interpret them in various ways, and locate the capital of the “Country of Huns” in the whole Caspian: Dagestan. It is generally understandable, since the sources do not convey specific information about location of the city. The direction of the “Armenian geography” of the Varachan location - west of Derbent, by the Caucasus mountains can be interpreted quite broadly.

Map ca. 1900, red dots show tentative locations of Varachan
It is obvious that the name Kayakent is a form of Kayikent (42.38°N 47.9°E, 45 km north of Derbent) , which not only reflects the original Kayi owners of the city, but still is populated by the Türkic “Kumyks”,at least some fraction of whom can draw their descent from the original founders of the city, the Kayi Huns, and the site should be a first contender for the location of the Kayi city Varachan

M. Magomedov believes in the Caspian Dagestan Khazars had four metropolitan cities: Belenjer, Semender-I, Semender-II, and Varachan, with the Varachan, in his opinion, being a summer residence of the Khazar kings (Magomedov, M.G. 1983. pp. 50-59). Above we argued that Varachan was a capital of the “Country of Huns” until its ruin by the Arabs (in 739/40 Marwan's raid). The King Joseph  information about the so-called summer residence //160// of the Khazar kings belong to the second half of the 10th c., when Varachan did not exist for more than 200 years.

M.S. Gadjiyev expressed a new viewpoint connecting Varachan with the fortress Shahsenger (Ruins of Early Medieval city, 3 km west of the village Friendship in Kaiakent district, area 12 hectares, with a citadel 30 by 40 m,. 42.25°N 48°E, 30 km N. of Derbent Ðóèíû ðàííåñðåäíåâåêîâîãî ãîðîäà â 3 êì ê çàïàäó îò äåðåâíè Äðóæáà Kàÿêåíòñêîgo ðàéîía, ïëîùàäü 12 ãà, ñ öèòàäåëüþ 30 õ 40 ì,. 42,25° ñ.ø. 48° â.ä., 30 êì ê ñåâåðó îò Äåðáåíòà). Premise in the reasoning of the researcher is that according to written sources Varachan is the court of the Grand Prince of the Huns, where was located the “royal camp or court”.Therefore, the city architecture must bear traditions of the nomadic royal court, a fortress like a Scythian fortress described by ancient authors. But the population of the Caspian “Country of Huns” at the end of the 7th c. are not the Huns at the beginning of the Great Migration. The socio-economic development of the South-Eastern European peoples, including nomads, went on in the early Middle Ages at a rapid pace. Is known a report of Ammianus Marcellinus from the beginning of the Hun movement (370 AD), that the Huns' houses are their wagons, that they generally are fearful to be within the buildings. And by the middle of the 5th c., about 80 years later, the Huns already had cities in Europe, and the court of the Hun king Attila was an unfortified settlements with wooden houses (Prisk Pannonian). In our eyes, M.S. Gadjiyev in his arguments does not account for at least two factors, progress in economic development of the “Country of Huns” and the extent of the influence of the local sedentary agricultural traditions upon the culture of the nomadic newcomers. By the way, the wooden architecture //162// of the Attila court can be explained by the fact that its location lacked stone, and even for the construction of baths it had to be imported from Pannonia, and likewise the wood too (Prisk Pannonian, p. 685).

There may be other arguments against M.S. Gadjiyev suggestion, but not the myopic and prejudiced objections offered above. It would be naive to suggest that the multitude of the multi-ethnic rancheros would abandon their herds and settle down within the city blocks to become socio-economically developed paupers engaged in labor-intensive city professions with no perspectives for wellbeing, or  socio-economically developed subsistent tillers doomed for life of hard labor. The Russian scientific thought is not alone in this amentia, it has a long prior history of sedentary prejudiced historiography. The Hunnic circle tribes carried their mobile and prosperous lifestyle down to the Modern Age, and all the political gains of the weakly sedentary states were made using nomadic armies down to the conquest of Siberia (by Cossacks) and the defeat of Napoleon (by Bashkirs). Only disastrous pauperization could bring the nomads to the cities, attach them to a tiny plot of land, and reduce them from free to subservient. To any sane rancher “the extent of the influence of the local sedentary agricultural traditions upon the culture of the nomadic newcomers” would have exactly the opposite effect, rancheros would either scream and run away, like they did with Chinese, or they would subjugate the tillers as they did with Chinese, Indians, Persians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Illyrians, Slavs, etc. The bottom line is: fortress Shahsenger - Varachan equation can be resolved by the kurgan mounds in the vicinity, by the archeological artifacts, by biological analysis, by instrumented dating, but not by biased dogmatism a la S. Yatsenko “Iranian tamga” verbiage.

The ancestors of the Huns knew to erect beautiful fortified cities still in the 2nd - 1st cc. BC (Ivolgin fortress), and the capital of the late Scythians in the Crimea, the Scythian Naples, for example, was protected by thick stone walls and towers (Vysotsky, T.N. 1979. pp. 36-55).

Unfortunately, the state of written sources and level of archaeological investigation of the of Caspian littoral settlements do not allow yet to state more or less precise location of Varachan.

Semender is localized in in the site of Tarki (42.95°N 47.5°E) near Makhachkala (M.I. Artamonov, 1936, p. 96; Kotovich V.G. 1974b. pp. 237-255; Gadlo A.V. 1979, p. 152, M. Magomedov M.G. 1983. pp. 54-56), on the ancient shore of the Caspian Sea, not far from Makhachkala (Rybakov, B.A. 1952, p. 85); it is identified with Shchelkovo fortress on the river. Terek (Gumilev L.N. 1966, p. 169); it is placed in the valley of the rivers Aktant and Terek (Fedorov Ya.A., Fedorov G.S. 1978. pp. 124, 160-161). M.G. Magomedov locates it at the Shchelkovo fortress Semender-II (second in time capital of the Khazars, Magomedov, M.G. 1983, p. 59). Novoseltsev A.P. equates Semender and al-Baida, supposing their location on the Caspian Sea coast in the Lower Terek area - the modern Makhachkala or to the north of it - in the basin of Aktash or Terek (Novoseltsev, A.P. 1990, pp. 128).

We agree with localization of Semender at the site of the village Tarki (42.95°N 47.5°E).

Belenjer is associated with Upper Chir Yurt fortress on the river Sulak (43.13°N 46.15°) (Magomedov, M.G. 1983, p. 50; Fedorov Ya.A., Fedorov G.S. 1978. pp. 123-124; Pletneva S.A. 1986, p. 25); it is localized in the valley of Terek (Rybakov B.A. 1952, p. 85). V.G. Kotovich places Belenjer south of Derbent (Belidjin fortress Thorpakh Kala) (Kotovich V.G. 1974a. pp. 210-213).

City Targu V.G. Kotovich places at the site of the fortress Targu in the valley of the river Gamri-ozen (42.4°N 48°E) (Kotovich V.G. 1974a. pp. 220-228). Several researchers identify this city with the village Tarki (42.95°N 47.5°E) (Eremian S.T. 1939, p. 145; Lavrov L.I. 1958. pp. 13-15; Novoseltsev A.P. 1990 S. 133).

City Chungars S.T. Yeremyan linked with Andreyaul fortress (43.2°N 46.65°E) (Eremian S.T. 1939. pp. 220-228), with the same monument M.G. Magomedov associates the city Olubender (Ulug Bender) (Atayev D.M., Magomedov, M.G. 1974, p. 138).

Book Contents Chapters 1-2 Chapters 3-5 Chapters 6-8 Chapters 9-11
In Russian
Huns - Contents
Ogur and Oguz
Western Huns 4th-10th cc.
Western Huns Income In Gold
Eastern Hun Anabasis
Stearns P.N. Zhou Synopsis
E. de la Vaissiere Eastern Huns
Bagley R. Hun archeology in China
Faux D. Kurgan Culture in Scandinavia
Dybo A. Pra-Altaian World
Alan Dateline
Avar Dateline
Besenyo Dateline
Bulgar Dateline
Huns Dateline
Karluk Dateline
Khazar Dateline
Kimak Dateline
Kipchak Dateline
Kyrgyz Dateline
Sabir Dateline
Seyanto Dateline
7/23/2006; 11/2/2011
Ðåéòèíã@Mail.ru “” ~ –&ndash;