Codex of Inscriptions Index
Codex - Issyk Inscription
Paleography of 8 Türkic Alphabets
S. Amanjolov Issyk Inscription
E. Alili Issyk Inscription
Inscriptions-Euro Asiatic- Achiktash
Codex of Inscriptions-Euro Asiatic - Don
Codex of Inscriptions-Euro Asiatic - Kuban
Codex of Inscriptions-Euro Asiatic - S. Enisei
Codex of Inscriptions-Euro Asiatic - Isfar
ISSYK COMMEMORATIVE INSCRIPTION
EASTERN EPIGRAPHY XXXI, Oriental Institute, Russian Academy Of Sciences, ISSN 0131-1344
©Z. Hasanov, 2015 ©Oriental Institute RAS, 2015
|Kyzlasov Alphabet Table||Amanjolov Alphabet Table||Amanjolov's Book Contents|
The oldest inscription in Türkic alphabet, the Issyk Inscription, written on a flat silver drinking cup, was found in 1970 in a royal tomb located within Balykchy (Issyk), a town in Kyrgyzstan near Lake Issyk, and was dated by 5th c. BC. In the tomb was a body of a man dressed from head to toe in magnificent attire, the clothes, jacket, pants, socks, and boots all had a total of 4,800 attached pieces of pure gold, greatest ever found in a tomb except Pharaoh Tutankhamen. The top of the cone-shaped crown covering ears and neck carried golden arrows emblem. A sword on the belt right side and a knife on the left were in sheaths. Beautiful relief ornaments of animal art decorated shields, belt and front of the hat. Radiocarbon tests determined the age of the finds as belonging to the fifth century BC. What was the world in the 5-th century BC? We have archeological discoveries, where dating is almost always somewhat speculative, and reconstructions of the ancient Greek maps, and the views of the Mesopotamian and Chinese records. From the Mesopotamian, Chinese, and Greek texts, from the archeological discoveries of the kurgans, from the written monuments, we get a glimpse of the nomadic nations of the Central Asia in the 5-th c. BC. The various interpretations of the graphics and contents of the inscription witness the paucity of the finds and the potential for the studies.
The difficulties in interpreting the same spelling are not staggering, all researchers working with texts not broken into words encounter them, and the task is complicated by the absence of vowels even if the modern language is known and a scribe is perfect, the bsncfvwls can be parsed quite differently, in addition to the “absence of vowels”. On another hand, with the today's capabilities, we can generate a list of possible options in seconds, given that we know most of the consonants, and have appropriate dictionaries and algorithms. This is, of course, applicable to any text with partially known phonetics, like the phonetized record of the Hunnic phrase  . And on another hand, if any examined inscription is parsed into words of few phonemes (up to 3-4), that word can be practically read in any language, because statistical probability of accidental match of short words in any language is better than 1. Without semantic restrains, any short words can be read in any language. With some linguistic ingenuity, a short phrase resembling some sense can be assembled of such words in any language. The series of readings of the Issyk Inscription provides a viable example of this statistical warping. We should welcome the fact that the discussion finally broke off from the closeted bounds to the public review on the Internet. A light of day is a best disinfectant from inspired misrepresentations.
And at last, the contents of the inscription finally fall within the known Türkic ethnological tradition of raising a leader to a throne, be he styled Shanyu or Khan or whatever: the chalice deposited with the Prince and its inscription appear to be the ceremonial cup he used to swear his oath of office during coronation, before being raised on a felt carpet and carried prescribed number of times around the Assembly of Representatives. The departed was given his chalice, along with all other travel necessities, for the arduous travel to the other world. In Scythia, such shallow goblets were clipped to the waist belt. They had ceremonial and utilitarian use. Few examples of such cups still sport a buckle. Old balbals in Eurasia (Scythian, and Kipchak grave stelas of 9th-13th cc. in Eastern Europe and Asia) depict a mortal toasting with a cup like the “talking” Issyk goblet. Similarly, some Etruscan and Roman goblets “talked” to the drinker with inscribed messages.
For a listing of other images, publications and attempts to read click here. Posting's notes and explanations, added to the original text and not noted specially, are shown in (blue italics) in parentheses and in blue boxes.
ISSYK COMMEMORATIVE INSCRIPTION
Scythian-Saka tribes left an important trace in Eurasian history of the first millennium BC. Very unfortunately, the nature of the language of these warlike peoples is known to us only through written records of their neighbors - the Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, and Romans. These messages generally cite the names of gods, ancestors, and kings of the Scythians-Sakas, and some words of their language with translations.
Starting from the end of the 19th century, the lack of written sources in the language of the Scythians and Sakas raised numerous disputes on the nature of their language. While the first researchers designate these people as Ural-Altaic, today most Iranists advocate an Iranian origin of the Scythian-Saka tribes. However, written sources provide no grounds for such conclusions. The History of Herodotus tells of seven different languages in Scythia.1 Herodotus does not tell what were the languages. The only exception is his message that a part of the Scythians spoke Hellenic language.2 Thus, treating Scythian-Saka tribes as a single ethnic group speaking a single language is a methodological error.
One of the few nomadic peoples of the ancient world about which written sources give enough information (to establish linguistic and cultural affiliation) is a tribe of the Royal Scythians. Herodotus paid his main attention to the description of their history, mythology, and rituals.
1 Herodotus. History. Transl. and notes. G.A. Stratanovsky. Leningrad,: Science, 1972. 4, 24.
In addition, he cites the names of their kings and gods, and some words of their language. As for the other tribes inhabiting the lands of the Scythians and Sakas, we have comparatively fewer information. So, the archaeological evidence with a sample of a Saka script is very important for the science on the language of those ancient peoples. During K.A. Akishev's excavations in Kazakhstan in 1969-1970 in a Saka royal burial kurgan Issyk was discovered an instance of their writing. Since then, a number of researchers have suggested translations of the text. A.S. Amanjolov,3 N.A. Rakhmonov,4 and others proposed a translation his translation of the text from the Türkic languages, and J. Harmatta suggested his translation from the Iranian languages.5 All these translations are very different from each other. In particular, disputed were the following issues:
1) where is to be the rectangular ideogram, left or right from the text (that is,
how to read the inscription, as was published by K.A. Akishev, or upside down);
None of the above questions reached a consensus among researchers. Besides, none of the proposed versions was to date accepted by the scientific community. Disagreements are driven by various reasons. In the case of the Iranian translation one of the reasons could be the arbitrary addition of phonemes. For example, while the Issyk inscription consists of 25 letters, J. Harmatta transcribed it in Roman alphabet with 67 letters. In other words, he arbitrarily added 42 new letters to the text of the inscription.
3 Amanjolov A. Runiform inscription from Saka burial near Alma-Ata // Bulletin of the
Academy of Sciences of the Kazakh SSR. 1971, 12 (320). P. 64-66 .; Amanjolov A. The genesis of
runes // Questions of linguistics. 1978, №2. S. 76-87.
In the case of the Türkic translations a reason could be a solely following the rules of the Orkhon-Enisei script and the medieval Türkic language, while the Issyk inscription is an instance of a language from much earlier period.
Taking that into account, it should be recognized that the problem of reading Issyk inscription continues to exist, and requires further research.
The Issyk inscription was written with letters very similar to the letters of the Orkhon-Enisei and Talas scripts. The text of the inscription contains 25 graphemes. In addition it has a rectangular ideogram and a mark separated from the text.
Position and direction of the Issyk inscription
A first question to be answered is how to read the text: as it was published by K.A. Akishev or turning it upside down. To answer this question, the structure of the inscription should be established.
The inscription consists of three parts:
We believe that the ideogram marks a beginning of the text. The meaning of the ideogram is related to some sacred phrase in the language of the Issyk prince.
The detached grapheme marks “the end of the inscription”. Our premise is based on I.L. Kyzlasov's research6 discussed below.
25 characters constitute the phonemic part.
Consequently, we conclude that the inscription should be read as it was published by Akishev. Reading inscription starting with the top line (customary in most writing systems of the world), the rectangular ideogram is located to the left of the text, and the detached mark falls into the right corner at the bottom. In this position of the inscription. the detached mark (indicating the end of the inscription) is at the bottom, exactly where any inscription usually ends. Such arrangement of the inscription is the most logical.
6 Kyzlasov I. The nature and significance of the runic inscription finds near Syrdarya // Proceedings of
Kazakhstan NAS. Series of social sciences and humanities. 2013, 3
(289). P. 173.
The second question is how to read the inscription - from right to left or left to right? The presence of rectangular ideogram at the beginning of the text (on the left) and a separate mark at the end of the text (on the right) attest that the inscription can be read only from left to right. In other words, the reading direction of the Issyk inscription differs from the predominant direction of the Orkhon-Enisei script. In the Orkhon-Enisei inscriptions are recognized as predominantly right to left, but very rarely inverse - from left to right7.
Phonetics of 25 letter graphemes
Thus, the position of the inscription and the writing direction have been established. Next is to establish the phonemics of the letters in the inscription. Table. I shows all letters of the inscription marked with corresponding numbers above each one. The suggested order of reading the letters is denoted by the numbers above the characters of the inscription. The following text denotes particular letters of the Issyk inscription with a sign No followed by the their order number in the inscription text (i.e. the third letter in the inscription is No3).
First of all, attention is drawn to the presence of five identical characters ― the graphemes No4, 7, 9, 22, 24, which I recon to be vowels. In Orkhon-Enisei script this letter denotes the letters e, i, ï.
The next grapheme which unequivocally indicates the vowel sound ― is the grapheme No18 and 21. It is identical to the Orkhon-Enisei letter a, ä.
Thus, we identified that seven graphemes unequivocally represent vowels.
Now turning to the identification of the remaining characters of text. First are identified the graphemes analogous with those of the Orkhon-Enisei texts.
7 Kormushin I. Language of Orkhon-Enisei inscriptions // E.R. Tenishev.
of the World: Türkic languages. Bishkek: “Kyrgyzstan”, 1997, P. 93.
No2, 15. - z.
Considering that the grapheme No2 depicts a consonant, No1 should sound like kü or kö. Thus, it becomes clear that the first syllable of the text is küz or köz.
No3, 12, 23. These three characters are related to each other. No23 in Orkhon-Enisei monuments represents a letter ç. C.E. Malov reads No3 as ç on the Achiktash wooden stick with runes.8 No12 repeats the other two characters, but has two strokes at the bottom. A.S. Amanjolov accepts all these three characters as ç .9 Preliminary, all three characters can be accepted as ç. Later, the phonemics of these graphemes will be addressed to clarify each of them individually.
No5 ― A very similar grapheme, but with one stroke, indicates ŋ in the Orkhon-Enisei monuments (see below Table. IV).
8 Malov S.E. Monuments of Ancient Türkic writing of Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan. Moscow-Leningrad:
USSR Academy of Sciences, 1959. pp 63-68
No10, 25. A mirror shape of these characters represents r in the majority of the Orkhon-Enisei monuments. In the Talas and Enisei monuments written left to right this grapheme is depicted identically with the Issyk inscription.10 A.S. Amanjolov notes that the mirror (inverted) images of the characters in the Orkhon-Enisei monuments are encountered in cases where the text is written left to right.11 In general, it should be noted that in the texts of the Orkhon-Enisei inscriptions are written mirror image of the characters, for example of the letters a, ü. In addition, are encountered upside down images of the characters, for example, ç.12
No17 - The Orkhon-Enisei monuments depict phoneme ğ with a very similar symbol.
No19 - In the Orkhon-Enisei monuments this is n.
So, based on the Orkhon-Enisei script are established phonemic analogies for 18 characters of the total 25 ― No1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 (see Table II).
No11. Having identified these graphemes in their places shows that the grapheme No11 is between two consonants. That is, it can mean only a vowel.
10 Amanjolov A.S. The genesis of Türkic runes... Pp. 76-87, Table. 2b.
Of all the vowels of the Orkhon-Enisei alphabet, a closest to this character is a letter u, the only difference is that it is turned 90 degrees (see. Table. IV). In Orkhon-Enisei alphabet there are similar cases. For example, the letter z is the variation angle of 45 degrees. Letter m recorded in the same grapheme as its sister the letter b, but rotated 90°.13
No 20. The Orkhon-Enisei alphabet does not have an exact analogy of this grapheme. Its closest graphemes are q, t. It is not possible to determine solely from the Orkhon-Enisei alphabet which of those two characters is shown here. A similar grapheme is present in the Achiktash script, and in the inscription on a rock in the Tozbulak ravine.14 However, that inscription has not been read yet. A mirror form of the Issyk grapheme, but without a stroke on the right, is in the Talas script. It designates a letter t (see Table IV). Admittedly, the Issyk grapheme can also depict the letter t. Further on this view is supported by historical and archaeological sources.
No 6. The Orkhon-Enisei alphabet does not have such a grapheme. The closest to it letters in a shape of a vertical line with a bend are l, p. In the Orkhon-Enisei alphabet the phoneme l is depicted very similar to the Phoenician and Aramaic l. The letter No6 of the Issyk inscription in its graphics also repeats the form of the letter lamed (l) (see Table IV). This comparison allows to conclude that No6 depicts the letter l.
No14 graphically repeats the letter number No11, but with a stroke (prime) on the top right. This stroke conveys some additional phonemic load. A most reasonable view seems to be that the stroke denotes a soft (rounded) vowel (incə sait). That is, the grapheme No11 denotes a hard (back) vowel (qalın sait) u of the Türkic languages, and the grapheme No14 with a stroke denotes a soft (rounded) vowel ü. Notably, most of the Orkhon-Enisei monuments depict letter ü with identical grapheme, the only difference is that the stroke is marked vertically on the left.
13 OTD. P. XV; Kormushin I. Language of Orkhon-Enisei inscriptions... P. 92.
Some Enisei monuments, written from left to right, have the grapheme complemented with a stroke added vertically to the right, that is the same as in the Issyk inscription.15
Thus, No14 denotes ü.
No8, 13, 16 ― have no direct analogies in the Orkhon-Enisei script. All three characters look similar, the difference is that the No8 and 16 have an acute angle at the top, and No13 has a roundly curved tip. Ignoring all five strokes of the No13 and leaving only its curved portion with a straight line, this grapheme is similar to the Orkhon-Enisei consonant (semi-consonant) y. Since ü follows immediately after the grapheme No13, it is used only with the soft (rounded) vowels (incə sait). The graphemes No8 and 16 thus should also indicate the consonant y, but since ğ follows immediately after the grapheme No16, the No16 could be used only with hard (back) vowels (qalın sait) - a, o, u, ï. Notably, the Orkhon-Enisei alphabet also has two versions of depicting y. This variance is predicated by the vowel harmony in Türkic languages.16 Comparison of the No8 and 16 demonstrated that they duplicate the letter yodh (y) of the Phoenician alphabet and yudh (y) of the Early Aramaic alphabet (see Table IV).
Our results demonstrate that the Issyk inscription can be deciphered with the help of the Orkhon-Enisei and Talas alphabets. The peculiarity of the Issyk inscription's graphemes is that the letters are systemically modified with strokes to form new Issyk letters. Like, for example, the graphemes No11 and 14 demonstrate that addition of a stroke to the grapheme u turns it into ü. The depictions of the phoneme y also have extra strokes added (i.e. yg vs yğ, a quasi-syllabic specificity).
The reason for the 3 additional strokes at the grapheme No14 can only be explained with a supposition that the Issyk alphabet had several phonetic forms of the consonant y. Each vowel of the alphabet used a separate version of the consonant y, denoted by additional marks to the base form. The Türkic languages have eight possible variations - ya, yï, yo, yu, ye, yi, yö, yü.
15 Amanjolov A.S. The genesis of Türkic runes..., Table. 2b
A similar alphabetic system is observed in the Russian language, which has separate graphemes for я, е, ё, ю (ya, ye, yo, yu). These single-grapheme vowels of the Russian language in the Türkic languages (as shown above) are compiled by a combination of consonant y + corresponding vowel (these Russian graphemes, except for e, are also a combination of a base form + extra strokes).
Thus, No8, 16 depict a y + hard (back) vowel (qalın sait). No16 (y) is immediately followed by a consonant (ğ). This indicates that No16 also contains also a vowel, that is it is a combination of two letters ― y + hard (back) vowel.
No13 is followed by a soft (rounded) vowel ü. This means that No13 was used to depict a solitary letter y, which was used in front of the soft (rounded) vowels (incə sait).
As stated above, in the opinion of A.S. Amanjolov the graphemes No3, 12, 23 denote the letter ç.17 However, the depiction of these characters vary. While the No23 is the basic shape, the No3 has one extra stroke, and the No12 has two additional strokes. The Orkhon-Enisei alphabet has three characters similar to the No3, 12, 23. These are the letters ç, s, ş. The Orkhon-Enisei letter ç is absolutely identical with the No3. Thus, No 12 and 23 should be designations for the letters s, ş. Because the spelling of No11, 12, 13, 14, 15 quite clearly sounds like a phrase uş yüz - ‘three hundred’, the No12 should consequently be read as ş. Respectively, the remaining No3 should be read as s.
Is there any corroborating evidence for the assertion that No3 and 12 should read s/ş? Yes, there is. The Phoenician, Aramaic and Hebrew (Hibri) letter shin (s, ş) is very similar to the No3, 12, 23 of the Issyk inscription (see Table. IV).
Therefore, No3 should read s, No12 ― ş and No23 ― ç.
Thus, the phonemic values of all 25 graphemes have been determined. Remaining are the freestanding grapheme and the ideogram at the beginning of the inscription.
17 Amanjolov A.S. History and theory... Pp. 223-230.
The Issyk inscription starts with the ideogram shaped as a rectangle with a lattice (mesh) ornament inside.
A. Golan studied the origins of this ornament from Paleolithic and Neolithic period and ending with Chinese characters. He also notes that a lattice-pattern ornament is found among the ancient petroglyphs in Siberia.18 The Golan's study concludes that a “sign of lattice is a symbol of the earth (land).” He further adds that “according to ancient notions, the earthly world consists of four areas”.19 M. Koenig found that a lattice pattern on the Paleolithic drawings denotes the image of the world with four sides, in other words of the four directions of the world.20
In his work Herodotus describes Scythia as a rectangular.21 In the Orkhon-Enisei inscriptions is frequently encountered a phrase tört bulung. The Kul-Tegin monument (large inscription) begins its text with this phrase. Immediately after a brief synopsis on the creation of the world and the Türkic people follows the phrase drien tört bulung meaning “four corners”. S.E. Malov explains the phrase “four corners” in the text: “Surrounding people living in all four corners of the world”.22
Thus we conclude that the lattice rectangle in the Issyk inscription “says” “four corners”. How that phrase could sound in the language of the middle of the 1st millennium BC remains unknown. To elucidate this question help results of the researchers' reconstruction of the proto-Türkic language. In accordance with S. Starostin, A. Dybo and O.A. Mudrak, the number 4 in the proto was *dȫrt. The ancient Türkic bulung they reconstructed in the form *bul ― ‘angle, direction, direction of world’.23
18 Golan A. Myth and Symbol. Moscow: Ruslit, 1993. P. 88, Fig. 165, 1-3.
Consequently, the ideogram in the form of a rectangle with a lattice ornament represents phrase *dört *bul ― ‘four corners’ or ‘four directions’.
The last grapheme
The last, isolated sign in the text of the inscription allows to connect Issyk inscription with a group of Eurasian runiform scripts of the steppe zone. The texts of that group has not yet been deciphered, mainly because of their brevity. An exception is the text of the “Achiktash sticks with runes”, translated by G.N. Orkun, S.E. Malov and others.24
As noted I.L. Kyzlasov, a particular feature of that group of texts is a “common orthographic principles, extraneous to the Asian runic monuments of Orkhon-Enisei group” ― particularly, a lack of word-separating markings and a presence of the sign marking “the absolute end of the inscription”.25 The Issyk inscription follows the same principle ― no word-separating markings and the presence of the sign marking the end of the inscription. That leads to a conclusion that the last, detached sign of the Issyk inscription marks the end of the inscription.
24 Orkun H. Eski Türk yazıtlari. C-III, Istanbul, 1940. P. 209-214; Malov S. Monuments of
ancient Türkic writing of Mongolia and Kirghizia... P. 63-68.
It should be specially emphasized that the Issyk inscription and the Achiktash script are related only in the common orthographic principles. Most of the signs of these two scripts do not repeat each other.
READING OF ISSYK INSCRIPTION
Ideogram is reconstructed as *dört *bul ― ‘four corners’ (‘four directions’.
No1, 2 reads Küz. This word is identical to the ethnic designation of the Scythians in ancient sources. In the Middle East written sources, Scythians are called Ash-guz-a(i), As-guz-a(i) (Assyrian), Ishkuza(i) (Babylonian), and *Ashguz (Hebrew).26 History of Herodotus calls Scythians with a designation Σκυθης — S-kuth-es (sing.) and Σκυθαι — S-kuth-ai (pl.). The root of the word in these names is Kuth.27 The root aş, iş at the beginning of the Middle Eastern version of the Scythian ethnonym is a geographical designation. The epos Dede Korkut the Oguzes are divided into inner ― İç Oğuz and outer ― Taş Oğuz,28 from the words iç ‘inside’ (inner) and taş ‘outside, outer side’.29 Along with the word taş, should be also recalled the word aş meaning ‘to cross, to traverse, to overcome, to pass over [mountain]’.30 Both words have a common origin. Accordingly, Taş Oğuz may also have a form Aş Oğuz.31
L. Ligeti, J. Nemeth, O.Pritsak, A.N. Kononov et al. believe that in the ethnonym oğuz the -uz is a plural marker.32 A.N. Kononov cites the following etymology of the ethnonym Oguz ― oğ (ok) ‘clan’, ‘tribe, -(u)s ― plural ending . As a result he comes to the etymology of ‘tribes’, ‘tribal association’.
26 Diakonov I. History of Media, from ancient times to the end of the IVth c. BC. Moscow-Leningrad: USSR Academy of Sciences, 1956 /
According to Kononov, later this name turned into collective ethnic name. As evidence, he cites ethnonyms tokuz oğuz ‘nine tribes’, üç oğuz ‘three tribes’.33
Along with the ending -z, the Türkic languages also have a plural ending -t, which ascends to the plural ending *-t + vowel in the languages of the Altaic family.34 Modern Türkic languages use the ending -lar/-tar. The plural ending -z, -t ascends to the proto-Türkic period.
The difference between the endings -t and -z in the Altaic linguistic family can be explained by the grammar of the Mongolian language. As noted G.I. Ramstedt, while in Mongolian the nouns ending in consonants had the plural ending -d (-t), the nouns ending in vowels had a plural ending -s.35 On that specifics of the Mongolian language also writes B.Ya Vladimirtsov, adding that there are exceptions to the rule, and sometimes words ending in vowels may also end with the suffix -d (-t).36 Based on these observations, we conclude that the ending -z in the Scythian ethnonyms was used for the words ending (sing.) with a vowel, and the suffix -t was used for the words ending (sing.) with a consonant. A consequence of that is that in the Issyk inscription the singular word küz was ending with a vowel, that is it was vocalized as kü.
33 Kononov A. Ancestry of Turkmens. Composition of Abul Gazi Khan of Khiva. Moscow-Leningrad: USSR
Academy of Sciences, 1958. Pp. 83-84.
The ending under consideration is present in such Scythian-Saka-Sarmatian ethnonyms as Skuth, Ishkuz, Ashguz, Avhat, Paralat, Skolot, Massaget, Sarmat, and others. Vs. Miller opposed the Iranian origin of the plural ending -t. Miller notes that the Ossetian suffix -tä is not typical of the Indo-European proto-Iranian languages since in the ancient Iranian languages the plural ending is formed by agglutinating various case endings to the base word. In contrast, the Ossetian language agglutinates to the stem of the word, which coincides with the singular of the nominative case, first the plural suffix, and then agglutinates the case ending. Miller notes that that grammatical structure is typical of the Finno-Ugric and Altaic languages and is quite atypical of ancient Iranian languages. According to Miller, the same principle of suffixation appears in the New Persian and Kurdish languages. In his view, these Iranian languages clearly borrowed this style of suffixation. He further notes that they apparely have borrowed it from the neighboring Türkic peoples.37 S.P. Tokhtasiev agrees with the conclusions of Vs. Miller and notes that “Miller absolutely correctly understood the reasons for emergence of the Ossetian ending -ti and its late agglutinative character.”38
1) the tribes of the Issyk inscription called themselves Küz, that is the by same word as the Scythians in the Middle Eastern (guz, kuz) and Greek (kuth) written sources. The Russian word Skif is a distorted form of the Greek spelling s-kuth;
2) the word Küz means ‘clans’, ‘tribes’, ‘clans/tribal confederation’;
3) in the Issyk inscription the word Küz (Türkic Oguz ‘tribes’) is written without the initial vowel.
No2-8 read Sïnglï-yï.
37 Miller Vs. Epigraphic traces of Iranhood in the south of Russia // Magazine of the
Ministry of Education, 1886. Pp. 283
This is the name of the buried prince. His name was Sïnglï. Suffix -yï in Türkic languages represents an accusative declension of a noun.
The word Syngly is identical with the word Ching-Lu in the Chinese sources of the Han Dynasty period.
The Chinese dynastic history Han Shu, and comments to it, inform that the Huns worshiped a sword and a golden warrior.
The 68th chapter of the Han Shu reported that in the summer (121 BC), the Chinese commander Ho Tsyuybin attacked the lands west of China and defeated the Western Huns, capturing the Golden Heavenly Warrior worshipped by the Huns' king Xü Tu (Xü Chu) (Mandarin/Pinyin articulation Sü Chu or Shü Chu). His son Mi-ti was enslaved. The Chinese called Mi-tu Jin Mi-tu, because his father, the king Xü Tu, made the golden warrior statue (Zheng Jin), where Jin means ‘gold’.39 B. Watson translates the word Jin in the Han Shu chapter 68 as golden, and the phrase as ‘golden warrior of the king Xü Tu’.40 Gao Chu-Sun interprets the phrase Xu Zhen Jin as ‘metal warrior of the king Xü Tu’.41 From that we conclude that the metal of the warrior statue made by the king of the Huns was gold.
Gao Chu-Sun gathered all reports about the gold warrior and his sword in an article specifically on the study of this issue. We recite them below.
The Treatise on Geography in the Han Shu tells: “In Yang Yun are metal [golden] soldiers of the king [the Huns] Xü Tu for worshipping the heavens, and three copies of the divinity Ching Lu Shen.”
Wang Ching Hsien of the Chien dynasty in an appendix to the records in the Treatise on geography in the Han Shu wrote: “On the metal [gold] warriors of the king Xü Tu for worshipping the heavens, and the sword Ching Lu, see the message on the Xun-nu [Huns]”.42 The statement on the Xun-nu (Hsiung-nu) states the following: “Han Chang and Chang Meng [Chinese ambassadors] with the Shan-yu [Hunnic Emperor Lao Shang] and his great generals climbed the mountain east of the river Ho.”
39 Courtier and Commoner in Ancient China. Selections from the History of the Former Han by Pan Ku /
Transl. Burton Watson. New York & London: Columbia University Press, 1974. P. 152-157.
“There they slaughtered a white horse. Shan-Yu took the sword Ching Lu and a metal spoon and [mixed horse blood with] wine. Then, using as dish the skull of Yuezhi king defeated by the Shan-yu Lao Shang, they drank together for a blood oath.”43
According to Gao Chu-Sun, these quotes from the Chinese sources tell that the word Ching Lu is a Chinese phonetic equivalent of the Hunnic word meaning ‘sword’ or ‘dagger’.
Thus, it becomes clear that:
1) the Huns worshiped a golden warrior statue;
2) Ching Lu is a Hunnic iconograph;
3) there are several Ching Lu iconographs;
4) Ching Lu is a sword or dagger.
Herodotus relays the same information. He reports that the Scythians in the districts of each Scythian province erected Ares (god of war) iconographs in a form of an ancient iron sword? mounted on rectangular platform at the top of a kurgan. Yearly, sacrifices of horses and cattle are presented to the sword icon, and even consecrated more than to the other gods.44 This is the only Herodotus' message on the Scythian deity.
According to Gao Chu-Sun, Sima Qian stated that the ancient Huns worshiped nine levels of the heaven. But of the nine gods (or levels?), Huns erected altars only to a single god, the Ching Lu, i.e. the divine sword.45 The Scythians also erected altars only to the Sword God ― Ares.46 The sword Ching Lu the Huns, like the Scythians, identified with the image of an anthropomorphic warrior-god.
Gao Chu-Sun, relying on the Han Shu (history of the Han Dynasty), on the comments on the Han Shu compiled by later Chinese historians, and on modern works on the divine sword, equates the Huns' and Scythians' divine sword.
43 Ibid. P. 223.
From our point of view, the word Syngly in the Issyk inscription is identical with the word Ching Lu of the Chinese sources of the Han Dynasty period.
Results of an linguistic analysis may confirms this.
Türkic languages have a group of words united by the semantics of weaponry with the root süng:
süngü ― ‘lance, spear’ in ancient sources.47 Later
it is ‘bayonet, spear’: sönge Kaz.; süngü Kumyk.; süngği Nogay.; süngü
G. Clauson believes that the word süngüş is derived from the Türkic proto-stem *süng ‘battle’.50 Starostin, Dybo, and Mudrak reconstruct the word in proto-form *süngü-l ― ‘battle’, in Proto-Altaic *siúnge ― ‘fight, wrestling’. At the end they add that this word is “an element of common Altaic hunting or warrior terminology”.51
This line-up also contains the Türkic words:
singir ― ‘bow string’ (actually, sinew)52;
The above examples lead to a conclusion that the words with stems *süng, *süngü-l ascend to the proto-Türkic “military terminology”. Consequently, the name (or rather, the title) of the prince of the Issyk inscription ― Syngly, and the name of the Hunnic divine sword Ching-lu and their golden warrior, also ascend back to the same proto-Türkic stem *süng, *süngü-l and also are semantically connected with military terms.
47 Kaşğari M. Divanü Lüğat-it-Türk (Türk dilləri Sözlüyü). IV cild. Tərc. Əskər, R. Bakı: Ozan.
2006. R. 357-2; OTD. P. 517.
In ancient Türkic sources ïr is ‘song’. It has an allophonic form yïr. G. Clauson suggested that a primary form is ïr, and the yïr is a later form after addition of prosthetic consonant y.54 In the Mahmud Kashgari dictionary the word yïr is in the form of both a noun and a verb in the sentence ― ol yïr yïrladï ― ‘he sang the song’.55 Thus ïr ‘song’, ‘sing’. It should be noted that in the Issyk inscription the verb ïr is given without intransitive, transitive verbal suffix -la-, and without the suffix -yïr ― participle of absolute present tense.56. That is, instead of ïrla- or ïr-la-yïr is written just ïr.
Uş, üş ― the number ‘three’. The form may also be üç, ïş etc.
Yüz means ‘one hundred’, ‘hundred’.
Old Türkic yïğï “weeping” (ïğla:-/yïğla:- “to mourn”, ïğla:çï/yïğla:çï “mourner”), yoğ - “funeral rite”, yoğçï - “participant in funeral rite”, “mourner”.57 G. Clauson notes that the word yoğçï is formed by adding the suffix -çï (nomen agentis/instrumental) to the root yoğ.58
In our view, this word in the Issyk inscription should be read as yïğ, i.e. with yï, because in the first line of the inscription the identical grapheme (No8) reads as yï.
It is important to note that the word is not yïğ Türkic suffix figure -çï, which is described in the word Clauson yoğ-çï. That is, instead yïğ-çï (yoğçï) written just yïğ.
54 Ibid. - P. 192.
No 18-21 read anta. In old Türkic sources it is spelled in the form and/ant ‘oath’.59 In Türkic languages, the word always ends with consonant and/ant. The form in the Issyk inscription (ending with vowel) reflex more the Mongolian and Tungus-Manchurian form anda.
Starostin, Dybo, and Mudrak reconstruct this word in Proto-Altaic languages in the form *anta ‘oath’; ‘comrade’.60
No 22-25 read ïçïr. The root of the word is the verb ïç (iç) ‘drink’. Suffix -ïr forms a participle of absolute present time.61
Ïç-ïr is ‘(he) is drinking, (they) are drinking’.
No18-25 read anta ïçïr ― ‘drink an oath’.
G. Clauson cites a Türkic phrase and iç. He translates it as follows: “lit. to drink an oath”.62
Herodotus tells about Scythian oath ritual: “All treaties of friendship, sanctified by an oath, the Scythians perform thus. Wine mixed with blood of the treaty participants is poured into a large earthenware bowl (for that the skin is pricked with an awl or lightly incised with a knife). Then a sword, arrows, an ax, and a spear are dipped into the bowl . After this ceremony are recited long spells, and then the parties to the treaty and most respected guests drink from the cup”.63
A very similar ritual of oath-giving is described in the Chinese sources of the Han Dynasty period (see above, in the passage on the Ching Lu sword).64
As can be seen from the two messages, the Scythians and Huns had identical oath ritual.
59 Ibid. - P. 176.
Another indication that the Saka-Scythians and Hun had an identical ritual of the blood oath is attested by the silver spoon found in the Issyk kurgan next to the silver cup with runic inscription.65 That leads to a suggestion that the Issyk tribes, like the Huns in the above quotation, during the oath ritual stirred blood with wine with a spoon.
The Scythian oath ritual described by Herodotus reached us in a golden image of the 4th c. BC found during excavations of a Scythian burial kurgan Kul Oba in the Crimea. There, two Scythians drink the oath of blood simultaneously from the same vessel, touching cheek to cheek and nose to nose.66 The texts of the Huns, we can trace The same drinking custom is expressed in the phrase ‘they drank together the blood oath’.
The phrase anta ïçïr ‘drink an oath’ means ‘to swear’.
The trailing grapheme
The trailing grapheme, drawn separately from the text, marks the end of the inscription.67
READING AND TRANSLATION OF THE ISSYK INSCRIPTION
This study leads to the following reading and translation of the Issyk inscription. The phrase *dört *bul is marked by asterisks because it is based on the reconstruction of the ideogram.
The first sentence (conditionally Line 1). Ideogram + No1-10.
*Dört *bul Küz Sïnglïyï ïr.
(Of the) Four Corners (cardinal directions) (the) tribes Syngly sing (acclaim).
The second sentence (conditionally Line 2). No11-25.
Uş yüz yïğ anta ïçïr.
Three hundred mourners oath drink (give an oath).
The last trailing grapheme marks the end of the inscription.
65 Akishev K. Kurgan Issyk Art of the Kazakhstan Sakas. Moscow: Art, 1978. Fig. 53.
Differences between the Issyk inscription and Orkhon-Enisei script
Differences between the studied inscription and the Orkhon-Enisei texts.
1) Issyk inscription reads from left to right.
2) At the beginning of the inscription is used an ideogram that in the Orkhon-Enisei texts is written with eight letters.
3) All vowels in the text are written (by the author of the inscription). That is. the Issyk inscription is a vocalic script, while the Orkhon-Enisei script is consonant-vocalic.
4) Words are not separated by word-separation markers.
5) The end of the inscription is marked by an end grapheme (at a short distance from the text).
Grammatical distinctions of the Issyk inscription
1) The word Küz meaning “tribes” (sing. kü) is written without the initial vowel, i.e. is identical with the form of the ethnic name of the nomadic tribes of Eurasia of the I millennium BC recorded in Assyrian-Babylonian and Greek sources ― Ash-guz, Ish-kuz, S-kuth.
2) Plural suffix -z in the word Küz corresponds to the proto-Türkic plural suffix -z/-t.
3) Suffix -yï in the proper name Sïnglïyï marks an accusative case declination of the proper name that concurs with the grammar of the Türkic languages.
4) The verb ïçïr “drinking” with suffix -ïr forms participle of absolute present time that concurs with the grammar of the Türkic languages.
5) The word yïğ(çï) “mourner” omitted the Türkic instrumental suffix -çï.
6) The verb ïr(la)(yïr) “sing, acclaim” omitted both the Türkic intransitive, transitive verbal suffix -la-, and the suffix -yïr forming participle of absolute present tense.
Thus, we observe a partial underdevelopment of the system of suffixation.
7) The word anta “oath” differs from the Türkic word ant. It corresponds Proto-Altaic anta with a vowel at the end of the word.
All words of the Issyk inscription are Türkic, but the grammar of the inscription text allows to attribute it not
to the Türkic but to the proto-Türkic period.
Literary distinctions of the Issyk inscription
Line 1: *Dört *bul Küz Sïng-lï-yï ïr.
Line 2: Uş yüz yïğ an-ta ïç-ïr.
1) In the Issyk inscription, the phrase ‘tribes of the four corners’, like in the large inscription in the Kul-Tegin monument, stands at the beginning of the text.
2) The above two lines start with the number (4 and 3). This detail is reminiscent of the alliteration and assonance of the Old Türkic literature, but with a difference: under alliteration and assonance the lines must start with the same letter, but here both lines start with the number.
3) Both lines end with ïr ― clear manner of rhyming.
4) Both lines of the Issyk inscription number 5 words.
5) Both lines of the inscription number 7 syllables. Seven- or octosyllabic verse is typical of the Türkic literature. The syllabic rhyme is a must. That is, if the first line numbers 7 syllables, all trailing lines should also have seven syllables. In the Kazakh folk poetry, including the epic poetry, this form of poetry called jyr (Jyr is Oguric allophone of ir “poem, poetry”, with a prosthetic consonant or semi-consonant as an initial). The initial j- is a late Kipchak addition (rather, it is a relict of the Hunnic times, preserved in the Saka-Usun/Uysyn lands). In the Old Türkic the word ïr was also used with the modern meaning as the term for poetry. This meaning of ïr/yïr is still preserved at Karakalpaks, Kyrgyzes, Nogais, Karachais, Balkars, Bashkirs, Tatars and other Türkic peoples.68 Above was noted that G. Clauson believes that the primary form of the word is ïr, and yïr with the added prosthetic consonant y is a later form.69
Thus, the septisyllabic verse of the Issyk inscription is called ïr in the Türkic poetry, that is with the same word that , which “sang” (ïr) the hero Syngly of the Issyk inscription.
68 Kazakh literature. Encyclopedic Reference. Almaty: “Aruna Ltd”, 2005. P. 238.
Historical parallels of the Issyk inscription
1) Issyk inscription depicted the tribes surrounding the king by the number 4 (‘tribes of the four corners’). The Royal Scythians' myth on the “origin from Targytai” tells about Pra-Scythian tribal alliance of 4 tribes.70
2) Issyk inscription depicted the Syngly country as the four corners. In his work Herodotus describes Scythia as a quadrilateral. The burial pit of the Scythian king also was a quadrangle.71
3) Issyk inscription depicted the members of the tribal union as “three hundred”. The Herodotus' myths on the “origin from Targytai” and “from Hercules” presents Pra-Scythians as three brothers.72
4) Issyk inscription used the word Küz as a collective designation for all tribes. This word is identical to the ethnic name of the Scythians in the Assyrian-Babylonian and ancient Greek written sources ― -guz-, -kuz-, -kuth-.
5) In the inscription, three hundred mourn Syngly. Herodotus describes in detail the mourning by all tribes of the Scythia of the Scythian king.73
6) In the Issyk burial kurgan along with the silver cup was found a silver spoon. During the oath ceremony, Huns used a spoon to mix the horse blood with wine.
7) The name (title) of the Issyk kurgan prince, with his donned a golden suit, is Syngly. The meaning of this name in the Türkic languages ascends to the semantics of weaponry. Chinese sources tell of the golden warrior, the God of the Huns, and his sword Ching Lu.
8) Issyk inscription tells that those mourning Syngly ‘drink oath’. Scythians are drinking oath having dipped first in the bowl a sword, arrows, an ax, and a spear. In the Chinese sources the Hun ‘drink oath’ having dipped first into the bowl the sword Ching Lu of the golden heavenly warrior.
In conclusion, note that the analyzed text is a dedicatory inscription for the Issyk prince named in the inscription.
70 Herodotus, 4, 6.
Syngly. The written sources indicate that the word Syngly in the text of the inscription is not a proper name but rather a title.
Codex of Inscriptions Index
Codex - Issyk Inscription
Paleography of 8 Türkic Alphabets
S. Amanjolov Issyk Inscription
E. Alili Issyk Inscription
Inscriptions-Euro Asiatic- Achiktash
Codex of Inscriptions-Euro Asiatic - Don
Codex of Inscriptions-Euro Asiatic - Kuban
Codex of Inscriptions-Euro Asiatic - S. Enisei
Codex of Inscriptions-Euro Asiatic - Isfar