|Kurbanov A. Hephthalites||
Ogur and Oguz
Turanian and Turkic alphabets
III. Inscriptions on vessels
III. Inscriptions on vessels
In addition to coins, minted in Turan from the beginning of the new era, various artistically made vessels of precious metals began to appear in the Volga and Ural regions. All this variety of coins and precious vessels testifies not only to the growth of the trade exchange between the Turan and the Volga and Ural regions, but also about some large movements of the population and the formation of new ethnic unions.
Also confirmed by the archeological research, such movements in the Volga and Ural regions were, it seems, connected with the formation of the Kushan state. Created by the Hunnish Kushan branch in the Bactria during a flourishing period (1-3-th cc. AD), this state included a significant part of the Turkestan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern India.
Probably, Turan did not completely enter into the domain of the Kushan empire, but the significant part of its territory was taken by Kushan, and a part of the population of Turkestan and East Turkestan, especially during disintegration of Kushan, had to move north to the Volga and Ural regions.
Just in the 4-5-th cc. AD there appear new cultures; Lomovatov in the region of Perm, extending by its roots to the Andronovo culture, Polomian, Azelian, Mazuninian, Bakhmutinian and Imenkov cultures. If earlier Turanians were collecting only a tribute of fur animals pelts, afterwards there appeared a strong union of Imenkovs, who brought with them a higher culture very different from that of the Kama region [Gening V.F., 1959, 208].
culture has an extensive territory: basin of the river White, Lower Kama region
and Middle Volga region. Some fairly large Imenkov settlements of 6-8-th cc.
AD, such as, for example, Scherbetsk on Volga, near Bulgar city, with a thick
cultural layer and bronze casting workshops, where the bronze ingots – the
first metal money of Eastern Europe were produced, remind real early feudal
cities. Investigating this culture V.F. Gening truly believed, that “Imenkov peoples, judging by the large number and the huge sizes of their
settlements, constituted a major mass of the population of the Volga
Bulgaria” [Gening V.F., 1959, 210].
On the subject of the origin of the Imenkov culture there are few points of view [Mukhamadiev A.G., 1990, 65]. V.F. Gening, who discovered and investigated this culture, believed that it has developed as a result of the influx of Türkic peoples from the east. However alongside with eastern there were western sources of this culture, more obviously notable after the formation of a strong western Hun Empire (3-5-th cc. AD), with Khazar and Bulgar peoples in its mixture.
Just the quantity of vessels reaching us from Volga and Ural regions is in tens of articles. In the scientific literature the Kama silver has received a name of Sasanian after the name of the dynasty ruling in Iran from 268 to 651 AD, even though the researchers noted long ago that the finds of Sasanian precious metal artifacts in Iran itself are quantitatively in single digits. The reliable cases of these finds do not exceed three articles [Orbeli I.A., Trever K.V., 1935, 11]. Based on Turanian inscriptions, on religious symbolic connected to the contents of inscriptions of some vessels, we suppose that the vessels found in the Volga and Ural regions should fairly be named as Turanian metals. Imported vessels of a Byzantian and Arabian origin belong to a later period and supplement the above named body of vessels.
The interest to various kinds of ancient things, especially of precious metals, grew in 17-th c., when all kurgans of somewhat significant sizes and even the ordinary burials were plundered by Kazaks, who, “gaining a hold of new territories”,organized bands of few hundred people for marauding excavations. The ancient precious metal vessels were usually melted down. From the 18-th c they began to be collected. Some of them went to the Kunstkamera of the Peter I.
The artistically made vessels of precious metals from Volga and Urals regions found
in the pre-soviet period were published in two summary illustrated works [Smirnov
Ya.I., 1909; Orbeli I.A., Trever K.V., 1935].
On the edges of some cups or vessels are fairly clearly engraved inscriptions in the Turanian letters. Ya.I. Smirnov in the introduction article about the mentioned inscriptions writes: “The inscriptions on the group of cups (42- 47, 286), terminating, apparently, with weight, can’t be read, based on the words of the academician K.G.Zaleman, as written, probably, on some unknown language”.He attributed them to late period of “Indo-Scythian kingdom” 3-7-th cc. AD, and also found analogies, to some images on cups, of deities on Indian coins of the Gupta dynasty Smirnov Ya.I., 1909, 6-7).
S.P.Tolstov, reviewing these inscriptions, noted, that “all characters on coins were represented on cups and only a few of characters on the later are absent from monetary legends” [Tolstov S.P., 1948, 193]. Though he closely investigated various images of the people, animals and plants engraved on vessels, he could not clearly read any separate word from the inscriptions.
Smirnov mentions in his work seven silver and gilt cups with inscriptions,
though actually there are more of them. One more find transferred to a museum
in 1951 is known, a silver dish with a fairly long Turanian inscription [Bader
O.N., Smirnov A.P., 1954, 15]. Probably, in the collections of museums of
Russia and other countries, to where they were removed from Volga and Ural
regions, there are much more of them. As show the contents of inscriptions,
they are mainly of the religious character. Therefore, many cups with
distinctive images of animals, plants etc., i.e. symbols connected to religious
beliefs, belong to the same circle of Turanian metal. The images of the people
on some cups, judging by the inscriptions, belong to the Turan or Hun rulers.
The images of wild and predatory animals, in a state of struggle between
themselves or in a majestic rest on the background of a sacred tree, water and
earth, on cups without inscriptions immediately ascend to Hunno-Türkic world of
believes. It should be noted that the fairly strong influence on the decoration
of vessels of the Turanian type, especially for early periods, was made by
Judging by the Hinduistic contents of the majority of the inscriptions on the vessels, the presence on some of them of four armed deity holding a scepter, a bat, a symbol of the Moon and Sun, all of which the Huns, including Turanians, worshipped, is not accidental. The Hinduism, it should be believed, especially in the period of Kushan dominance, penetrated fairly deeply into the beliefs and culture of the Turanians. It seems that the precious metal vessels with engraved images of Gods and the artwork of religious symbols were in great demand as special ritual objects.
The area of the distribution of the similar vessels is rather wide: from the Perm and Orenburg to the Nizhni Novgorod, where before the appearance of the latter was an ancient Bulgar settlement. But, mainly, they are found in the Kama region. For example, the richest places of finds are the vicinities of a Tatar village Bartym of the Perm area, located on the right bank of Bartym river. Probably, in the very name of the village were preserved remnants of ancient rituals. Per M.Kashgari, the scientist - philologist of 11-th c., the word bart in ancient Türkic (Oguz dialect) language meant 'vessel', 'vase'.
The ancient precious metal vessels sometimes come from the settlements or the burials. There are known cases of finding them near the settlements of Lomatov culture. Two rather late Arabian vessels were also found in a burial [Bader O.N., Smirnov A.P., 1954, 20]. Circumstances of the finds of vessels are frequently accidental. For example, in a 1925 peasant G. Davletshin from the village Bartym found a Byzantian dish during ploughing. In 1947, a tractor operator Kh. Kaprizov, an inhabitant of the same village, found a silver cup in the form of a boat. In 1949 on that field a foreman Kalliullin found a massive silver vase, and in 1950 a collective farmer Faizkhanov found a large silver cup; containing 264 silver coins. In a 1951 a schoolboy from Kopchikovsky school (the village Kopchik is located near Bartym) M.Salikhov found next to the village Bartym a silver gilt dish with figures of two lions and with a Turanian inscription.
Afterwards the researchers, questioning the local inhabitants, established places of all finds. However the dispersion of the places, and the trial digs and excavations have shown that under a ploughed layer of 25-30 cm lay continental clays, and there are no traces of a cultural layer [Bader O.N., Smirnov A.P., 1954, 7].
The presence on some vessels of Indian Gods, it seems, has pushed Stralenberg, a
Swedish officer captured at Poltava, to try to prove the existence in an
antiquity of a great trade road from India to Biarmia and then to the White
sea. The Perm collector V.F.Teploukhov stated the supposition that the ancient
inhabitants of northern regions used ancient silver in pagan sanctuaries, and
some ethnographers described cases, when in Ostyak sanctuaries were used metal
plates and coins of an European origin [Bader O.N., Smirnov
A.P., 1954, 21].
Ya.I. Smirnov in a brief introduction to the atlas of “Eastern Silver” I.A. Orbeli and K.V. Trever, and also O.N. Bader and A.P.Smirnov adhere to the same judgment. However the indicated facts and descriptions of ethnographers about the use of metal cups in pagan sanctuaries are late, secondary, and there is nothing to indicate that there was a direct tie with the ancient cult rituals. If such ties existed, we would know about such massive use for the cult purposes of Khazarian, Bulgarian or Kipchak Kaganate vessels and coins, i.e. cult subjects of intermediate periods, but these are not known.
Bartym finds show that the objects were found in different places, without dwellings or settlements.
Therefore, their appearance is connected to the nomadic activities. If it were different, there would be the clan settlements of forest peoples, instead of simple sanctuaries. A clan was small and included not more than 45-50 persons [Gening V.F., 1967, 37]. Therefore the artistic vessels of precious metals, obviously coming from the dinner tables of the rulers of the nomadic empires or world countries were objects hardly accessible for such clans.
In one tomb of Bartym burials was found a copper coin in good preservation, minted on behalf of king of Turan Sakassak, i.e. a coin identical by its alphabet with the inscriptions of cups from Bartym [Mukhamadiev A.G., 1990, 58].
The skillfully made symbols and inscriptions of
the religious character on cups
testify that they are made not for a sale to the wild peoples, but for
themselves, for complex cult rituals, for the population having a fairly high
culture and a developed written civilization.
The reading of the following inscriptions is of a preliminary character. The main difficulty of reading of the inscriptions consists of that the publishers do not always exactly copy the characters. Is necessary the visual familiarization with the inscriptions of cups, scattered in various collections. Therefore after a direct study of them some not so clearly readable letters, and possible also separate words, can be corrected. The next difficulty in the reading of inscriptions is that they, unlike coins, are unique, i.e. are the only artifacts, and the arrangement of the inscription depended on the literacy and skill of the engraver etching the inscription. Some inscriptions are made so gracefully and competently that it is possible to recreate the correct writing of separate letters, and other inscriptions remind a difficult puzzle.
Cup 43 (Numbering of the cups is per the above work of Ya.I. Smirnov). The inscriptions on several cups, as was noted, have a religious character. One of such cups, No 43, was purchased before 1875 at Nijny Novgorod fair. On the inside at the bottom of vessel is shown four-armed deity sitting on an animal, with a disk (sun) in the right and a lotus (half moon) the left hand, a bat (axe) in the lower right hand, and the lower left hand is empty. The deity has a crown with stepwise sides on the head, decorated on the forehead with a lunar sickle with three starlets. The similar crown on the coins is shown on Asukdjavar, the Turan ruler in the beginning of the 8-th c. However, the lunar sickle, the most important symbol, with three starlets on the forehead, was noted previously on the antique coins of Turan [Vainberg B.I. 1977, Table XVIII, B2].
At the bottom of this vessel, it seems, is shown Vishnu, one of the Hinduistic gods, an ancient solar deity. The local tribal deities gradually merged in the image of Vishnu. He is usually depicted as a young men with four hands, in which he holds a bowl, a disk, a bat and a lotus flower. On this cup the deity is represented with symbols of the moon and the sun, which, it seems, is explained that the Huns (Turanians) worshipped these celestial heavenly bodies.
of Vishnu, though fairly complex, but is cheerful and lively. Vishnu descended
to the earth a few times, to rescue the world or the faithful people. These earthen
transformations are called Avatars, which, essentially, are the objects of
reverence. First Avatar as a a fish, second - as a turtle, third - as boar,
fourth - as a lion man, fifth - as a dwarf, sixth - as a “Frame with an
axe” etc. [Bongard-Levin T.M., Ilyin G.F., 1969, 615].
The basis of the Vishnuism is the doctrine of a transformation of soul, or Sansara, which happens in accordance with the laws of Karma - retribution for bad or kind deeds. The cult rituals were made in special temples, at home altars or in sacred places.
Fig.8 Cup 43, Cup 42, Cup 45, Cup 47
Tracing of the inscription (Fig.8):
Körk meηizi turkur mu kim
That who creates (excites) transformation - sitting on knees let him listen to the religious doctrine (magic formula). Bow, discard grief and suffering, ask, truly rejoice, repeat without stop words of sacred sermon (magic spell).
The text of the inscription is a “live word”, connected, it seems, with
the Hunno-Türkic Buddhist sacred Bible Altun Yaruk (sutra “Gold Luster”).
One of such fairly late manuscripts of this book says: “... And then,
kneeling and prayerly joining hands, let him say this one thousand eight
times..., (and then), what the wishes he has, will be satisfied and
accomplished “[Radlov V.V., Malov S.E., 1913-1917].
Cup 42. The next vessel was found in the village Kovin of the Perm district in 1846. At the bottom of vessel on the inside is engraved the same four-armed deity. In one upper hand the deity holds sun, and in other half moon. Different from the image on the previous vessel, the sun is in the right hand, and half moon is in the left hand of the deity.
A magnificent inscription is located around the rim on the outside of the vessel and, it looks, it is engraved by the same instrument, which was used by the master crafter to decorate the vessel with tongue-like ornamental stripes.
Transcription of the inscription (Fig.8):
Oνqï im νrxan
Notify (literally: read) a blessedness symbol of Buddha! Rules of transformation, sangivars *, install yourself. Task of each: is to praise Chakryvarns**, recast creature, make sacrificial anointment, and say words of religious teaching and canonical ordinance.
* Sangivars - sangastavira - higher performer of rituals in Buddhist community.
Cup 45. At the bottom of the cup is a standing deity with a goat head, with fluttering striped ribbons flying from the back of the head, as symbols of the imperial dignity.
A similar, standing deity with a goat head and striped ribbons, but without an inscription, is on a piala-type silver cup in the Perm regional museum.
Outside of the cup 45 around the rim is an inscription.
Transcription of the inscription (Fig.8):
meηizi neηsiz mu kimmu
Transformation. Whether deprived, or other, bow low, rely on contemplation, think up a prophecy, without stop repeat the spell.
Cup 47. The vessel was bought in 1875 in the Verkhne-Berezovsk place in the Perm district. The external surface of a cup is covered with decoration reminding a curtain with band ties. There are no drawings or images. Around exterior rim runs the inscription.
Transcription of the inscription (Fig.8):
Sequence in forming transformation (reincarnation? orig.:
ïåðåâîïëîùåíèÿ): zealously bow, trust ye for a God’s
omen, repeat the words of the sacred teaching without stop.
Cup 286. At the bottom of the cup exterior is shown a king sitting on a carpet and leaning with left elbow on a cushion. In the right hand he holds a three-point scepter. On the king's head is a crown with fluttering striped ribbons.
On the exterior rim of the vessel is an inscription. The Turanian character of the inscription does leave place for a doubt. However, for more or less satisfactory reading a visual familiarization with the inscription is necessary. The beginning and the end of the inscription are clearly read: “transformation... Incessantly say words of a spell “.
Cup from Bartym. The find came to the museum in 1951. The edge of the silver vessel is bent into a roll. The bottom on inside the vessel is decorated with composition of a pair of lions oriented in the opposing directions, in the center part above them is located a case (burial urn?), terminated at the top by a half moon with a disk (sun) inside. The vessel is hammered and chiseled. Diameter is 12,5 cm. On the external edge of the vessel is a Turanian inscription. There is also a small inscription on the pallet. However, the inscriptions, copied by the publishers, do not allow a satisfactory reading. Only separate words are discernable, such as: “Transformation”,“say words” etc. [Bader O.N., Smirnov A.P., 1954, fig. 9, 10].
* * *
The following group of inscriptions is not connected with rituals or religious beliefs of the producers of the vessels, and has an informative character. The similar inscriptions usually include the names of the kings and accompany their images on the face of vessels.
Cup 58. Silver gilding cup with a diameter of 23 cm was found in 1886 in the village. Tuben Shakhar in Krasnoufimsk district of the Perm province. On the face of a cup a king with a stretched bow hunts boars. The king is in a hunting dress and has a headdress with fluttering ribbons.
Fig. 9. Cup 58 with inscription “King Zakassak”
At the exterior base is located a Sogdian inscription. There with precise Turanian letters are inscribed two words.
Transcription of the inscription (Fig.9):
The first two letters of the title are written with a beautiful italic
type. The remaining letters of the title and the name differ from the similar
inscriptions of the Zakassak coins by more precise intelligible artwork. To
tell more conclusively about the synchronicity of the manufacturing of the
vessel and the writing of the inscription, a visual familiarization is necessary.
Cup 46. At the bottom of the cup is a rider turned to the right with a whip in a dropped right hand, and with a quiver on the right hip. The horse under the rider moves solemnly, with a raised left leg.
S.P.Tolstov considered deserving a special attention the similarity of arms and clothing of the rider on a cup 46 and the rider on Khoresmian coins [Tolstov S.P., 1938, 192].
Fig. 10. Cup 46 with an inscription “Shad of Huns Khan Asuk”
On the exterior rim goes a carefully engraved inscription. Clearly seen on the reproduction, the cup has the following inscription (Fig.10):
hunoq sadiqui asük xum
Shad (Prince) of Huns Khan Asuk.
On the cup the image of a rider is distinguished by the simplicity of clothing without
special indications of an imperial virtue, unlike on the images of the other
vessels of the similar kind. On the cup, it seems, is really the Shad (Prince) of the
Huns Asuk, who afterwards become (in the beginning of the 8-th c.) the king of
Turan, and minted his coins under the name of a Asukdjavar.
Dish 53. It was found in the 1893 in the village Kerchev of the Cherdyn district in the Perm province. Gilded silver, diameter 28 cm.
On inside of the dish is a classical image of a king on a horse, axing with a straight sword an attacking boar. On the head of the king is a crown in a form of the horns of a ram. Above the horns is a disk (sun). The face of the king is bearded, the moustache is twisted upward, and on the right visible ear is an earring.
On the reverse of the dish is a tamga reminiscent of the Khoresmian, but distinguished from it in details. Then the Turanian inscription is engraved with a magnificent handwriting and competency.
Fig. 11. Dish 53 with the name of Diggizikh
Transcription of the inscription (Fig. 11):
Be fearful of blow by the king Dikkiz the Wise! Retreat to the God beyond the world!
though the inscription is engraved with an excellent handwriting, it turned out
to be the most difficult for the reproduction and translation. The reason is
that, generally, the inscriptions of the above vessels are of the religious
character identical to some degree, and the inscription of the vessel 53
sharply differs in its contents from them, and in this sense is completely
Secondly, judging by distinct graphics and rendering of the words, let alone the presence in the inscription of the name of King Dikkiz, the son of Attila, the ruler of the “Scythia and Germany” state, the inscription belongs to the language of the western Huns.
The first word, the title “king”, unlike the legends of the Turanian coins engraved in the form kitu, in the cup inscription is engraved as kink - with the letter k in the end, and the whole word ends with an indicator of the accusative inflection consonant g, i.e. the word is translated akin 'to the king'.
The first letter of the second word, the name Dikkiz, is distinctive. It is an interdental ð, resembling the pronunciation of d, and of the letter s of the Turanian alphabet. Priskus Pontian, the Byzantian who himself saw Attila and his sons, in his travel notes gives the name of the second son of Attila as Diggizikh.
The third word, ükü, in the ancient Türkic language uga, means 'wise', therefore in this case this word is a title. The name of Attila’s son given by Priscus in the form Diggizikh, it seems, included the title.
The fourth word kiser - 'will split with a blow' - has in the end a diminutive – differential particle kiya which gives this word a meaning 'special' or 'favorite' blow of sword.
the M.Kashgari’s dictionary sak sak
(in the cup’s inscription sax sax) is
translated as 'be vigilant! ', 'be careful!'. Some dampening of the consonants
is explained as specific to the Hunnish language.
The following sixth word of the inscription skhnyl can be read as sakhynyl and as sykhynyl (sokhynyl), but depending on the position of the vowels a or y (o) the meaning of the this word is changing. Judging by the contents, the second version reflects more the meaning of the inscription. In the ancient Türkic language syk or sok ment 'to push’ (in a fight) or 'insert' somewhere. The word sykhynyl with the ending of the passive voice can be translated: 'be displaced' or 'be inserted'. The last word grouping gur tengrigä means 'to the God of the world beyond the grave'.
The inscription on the cup 53 in its contents somewhat reminds the speech of Attila made in the June of the 451 before the Catalan battle. Inspiring the Huns and the subsidiary Goth warriors to fight with the Roman legionnaires, he finished his speech by the words, that he will first strike himself the enemy, and that, if at his blow someone still was remaining peacefully (does not attack), consider that he is already buried (in the world beyond the grave) [Jordanes, 1960, 238].
* * *
The earliest vessels with the Turanian inscriptions occur in the 4-6-th cc. AD, i.e. they are mainly related to the Hunnish period and are connected to the penetration of the early Türks in the Volga and Ural region. The carriers of this written civilization were, it seems, the Imenkov people, which have brought, judging by the archeological data, to the Volga and Ural region a distinctive and higher level culture. The large Imenkov settlements of 5-7-th cc. AD, as was noted, with a strong cultural layer and with bronze casting foundries, where ingots were produced, the earliest Eastern European metal money, really resemble the early feudal cities [Mukhamadiev A.G., 1990, 64].
the Imenkovian’s believes, it seems, Buddhism and Hinduism took a large place
before their later confluence, mixed with the paganism of the early Türks. Judging
by the inscriptions of the vessels, a large value was given not to the
teachings of Buddha, but to the rituals of the cult ceremonies. It is visible from the
fact, that none of the cup inscriptions have a citation from the Buddhist teachings,
and there is only “a live word”, which makes sense only during a
dialogue with Tengri, i.e. with the God.
One of the Buddhists of the early period wrote, that “... Our teaching about the law, darma, in its basis has a concentration and wisdom... The pupils of this idea should not say that the originally existing concentration became a wisdom, or that concentration and wisdom differ from one another” [Andrushkevitch O.V., 1990, 75].
The modern researcher of Buddhism L.Abegg characterizes it thus: “we either
feel, or philosophize, or prey, while in the East Asia the person does it
simultaneously” [Andrushkevitch O.V., 1990, 77].
The similar religious rituals were conducted, it seems, at the sacred fire, with religious phrases or incantations repeated uncountable times. In the household were also used various symbols, specifically, the sign of the swastika, the symbol of the sun and life. Such a sign is found on the bottoms of Hunnish ceramics of the antique times, and on the Turanian coins. In one medieval Uigur religious composition is said: suvastic akat ot teg, i.e. 'swastika (denotes) a sacred light' [DTC, 1969, 31]. It should be added, that in the one of the Imenkov burials an archeologist E.P.Kazakov found a bronze talisman-swastika of approximately 5õ5 cm in size.*
The time of the penetration of the artistically made vessels to the Volga and Ural region is also established by numismatic data. The early coins accompanying the vessels correlate, basically, to the 5 - 6-th cc. AD, and the appearance of both coins and vessels, undoubtedly, is connected to the formation of a strong Imenkov union. For example, extremely rare are the coins of the 3-4-th cc. AD. [Mukhamadiev A.G., 1990, 34].
The Khoresmian coins of the 1-2-nd cc. AD were minted primarily of copper, and consequently they seldom fell outside the limits of those cities where they were minted. Nevertheless, they are fairly frequently met in the Volga and Ural region.
widespread were here the 1-2-nd cc. AD Sasanid coins. In the catalogue of
A.K.Markov, for example, the earliest of such coins correlate to the minting of
Varakhran V (420 - 438 AD.). Discovered in the last years, during the archeological
excavations, the Sasanid coins also fit in this chronological range, i.e. correlate to
the 5-6-th cc. AD. There (i.e., in the Itil/Volga and Ural
region), the Sasanid coins of 7-th c. AD are rare.
The new finds allow to narrow down the timing of the importation of the Sasanid coins becaming more intensive, and from it produce conclusions about the timing of the contacts of the Imenkov people with Iran, which started during the reign of the Varakhran V, became more intensive. For example, in the Bolshevisimsk burial of the Chernomoz region in the Perm province, among the 17 Sasanid drachms found in the burial, the earliest 5 coins are of Peroz (457, 459-484 AD). The following 10 coins belong to the 6-th c. AD, and are minted on the behalf of five rulers, and only 2 drachmas belong to the 7-th c. AD.
In the Nevolinsk burial of the Kungur region of the Perm province, of the 14 found coins one drachma belongs to the Peroz mint, 6 drachmas belong to the Khosrov I (531-579 AD) mint, and 5 drachmas belong to the Khosrov II (591-628 AD) mint. One coin of Khoresmian minting belongs to the 6-th c., and one is indefinable.
The coins from the Bartym burial of the Berezovsk region of the Perm province show the same chronological picture. Two of the 8 coins belong to the minting of Peroz, and 4 drachmas belong to the minting of Kavadu (488-531 AD). One Byzantian coin belongs to the minting of Justin II (565-578 AD), and one Khoresmian coin of Sakassak, was minted not later than the 6-th c. AD (Mukhamadiev A.G., 1990, 35].
Thus, the beginning of the penetration to the Volga and Ural region of the Sasanid
drachmas pertain to the 20-ieths of the 5-th c. AD, and the more abundant
influx pertains to the 6-th c. AD, and is concluded in the 7-th c. The
Byzantian, Arabian coins and vessels from Volga and the Urals region belong to
the fairly late times and are connected to other historical and political
events happening in this region.
The desire to explain the importation of precious metals to the Volga and Ural region by the Sogdian traders, found in the historical literature, is not based on the facts and does not withstand an elementary criticism.
Firstly, as it was noted, many vessels obviously came from the tables of the crowned persons of the Turan or Iran, i.e. they are the luxury objects, accessible to few Sogdian traders.
Secondly, it should not be forgotten that in the early Middle Ages such distant trade operations were simply impossible for the individual traders, because of the absence of the roads and the regular settlements required for the replenishment of the provisions. Even later, in the 10-th c., per Marvazi, for example, only the road from the Khorezm to the land of the Bulgars took three months. It was also known to Ibn-Fadlan, who notes, that they “collected bread, millet, dried meat for three months” [Zakhoder B.N., 1967, II, 36].
It is thought that such concepts are born from an underestimation of the role of
the state formations in the Volga and Ural region. This region, rich in natural
resources, was a powerful economic center not only of the Kazan Khanate or the
Bulgar state, but also of such world states of the early and late Middle Ages
as the Khazar Kaganate or the Kipchak Khanate.
The intensive ancient trade relations arose not only because there was an important product for export or trade, but also because of the arrival of the more developed trader peoples, or the creation by them of strong confederations or states. The Volga and Ural region, in fact, had a product of a great demand, the furs. In the Moderate Climate Strip from the Baltic to the Pacific Ocean fur animals were everywhere, but, however, the evidence of the heavy trade, the coins and the metallic ingots of the early Middle Ages, are found only in the Volga and Ural region. Judging by the numerous archeological data, such trading people were the Imenkovs. The weight of the “prime of valuables”, the early metal money of the Imenkovs (the bronze ingots) was connected to the drachma. The ingots were cast by the weight of 25 drachmas. They also spread to the more northern regions and, curiously, continued to be there in circulation later, even in Khazarî-Bulgarian period [Mukhamadiev A.G., 1990, 71].
Judging by the inscriptions on the cups, they were not only trading people, but also the people with a higher written civilization connected to the Turan. It is likely that not only the early, but also the consequent history of the Imenkovs was tightly linked to the history of the Central Asia.
What was the self-name of these peoples? It should be thought that the self-title of these
well-known and strong peoples could not disappear without leaving a trace from
the pages of the written sources. The Bulgars arrived in the Volga area somewhere in the
beginning of the 8-th c. AD. They were ruling or “royal” peoples, to whom submitted many other
Türkic populations. In the Scythian period the “royal” people were, per Herodotus, Scoloti (
4.6 - Translator's Note), in the Sarmatian period, the Sarmats, and later, according to the Byzantian
sources, the “royal Scyths” were the Huns. Therefore, among the peoples who were a subject to the
Bulgars, should be those peoples who were the aboriginal or more ancient
inhabitants of Volga and Ural region.
The Arabian authors mention people of Barsil and Askel, subordinated to Bulgars [ Zakhoder B.N., 1967, 102]. The Barsils fail for the role of Imenkovs, because their history is tightly connected to the history of the Khazars in the Northern Caucasus. The Barsils and Khazars are also mentioned in the Türkic monument of 8-th c. in Mongolia [ Klyashtorny S.G., 1990, 91], but, it seems, they have not left any special trace in the Middle Volga region.
Barsils and Askels were related peoples. To the attention comes the occurrence in
the names of both peoples of the ancient Türkic word al - 'union', although it is used differently. The Arabian authors frequently transmit the title of the first people as Bersula, i.e., it seems, Bersale
- 'union of Barses', and the second one, one of the early Arabian authors Ibn-Ruste, gives in two ways: Asgel or Askel (Khvolson D.A., 1869, 95]
The Strongest Tribe - Ezgil). Therefore,
in the second case the word al is incorporated into the name of the people by an obsolete, more ancient Hunnish way of a inflection: asyg al, i.e. 'Union of Ases '. The Ases or Azes are known from the more ancient sources. The double spelling can be explained by a special pronunciation of the letter s in the language of Ases. The
expression “Steppe Azes” is in the
Tonyukuk monument of the beginning of 8-th c. [
Malov S.E., 1951, 23rd line]. V.V. Bartold considered it possible
to equate Azes with Azians – the generation of Türgeshes of the 8-th c. [
Bartold V.V., 1943, 21]. It is also necessary to say that in the title Türgesh, transmitted in the Türkic texts as trgs
and trgis, it is possible to see the 'Ases of the state' or ‘having the state Ases’, as oppose to, say, 'Steppe
Azes’ By the way, the combination of the words 'Steppe Azes’, analogous to trgis, in the Türkic text is conveyed as chulgiz [Malov S.E., 1951, 23].
The Imenkov culture covers the extensive territory between the rivers White, Kama and Volga. Unfortunately, the names of the fairly large Imenkov settlements of the early Middle Ages did not reach us. It is only possible to suggest that the word Siberia, ascending to the name of the city Isker, has preserved the remote echo of times. As the names of the cities Bulgar, Bilyar or Suvar, connected with the names of the peoples, Isker also could mean ' city of Ases '. On the map of brothers Pitsigani of 1367, the city “Sibir” is located as a small fortress on the left bank of Kama above the cities of Bulgar and Sakatin (Jukotin), i.e. in the main Imenkov territory.
Probably, the advance of the peoples with the Turanian written culture to the north begun in the 4-th c. and was connected with the disintegration of the Kushan state and the increase in the influence of Iran. Iran chopped from the Kushan kingdom a significant part its territory: Sakastan, Turestan, etc. It seems that the main reason of resettlement were the religious prosecution from the Persians fire worshippers after their capture of the Turanian territory.
nomadic Kidarites, and the inhabitants of the north White Huns – Ephtalites, began
the struggle for liberation against the Sasanid Iran. The Ephtalites professed
Buddhism adopted from the Kushans. By the way, the Kushu people themselves were
also a part of the group of Türgesh peoples [Klyashtorny
S.G., 1964, 162].
The boundaries of the Iran in the first half of the 5-th c. run in the north of
Turkestan. Further in the north was located the territory of Ephtalites. Per
Menandr, the Ephtalites lived in cities, and Prokopiy Caesarean wrote: “Though Ephtalites are of Hun’s people, they are not mixed and do not
communicate with known to us Huns, for they do not have a common border, nor
live near them: but they are neighbors with Persians from the north, where a
city called Gorgo (Urgench – A.M.), is at the very Persian edge; here between
them and Persians are frequent frontier wars, for they are not nomads and like
other Hunnish peoples, but from the beginning occupied the fertile country,
that’s why they never attacked Roman lands other than together with the Midian
army. Of all Huns they alone have white bodies... “[Prokopiy
The Ephtalites in this period were the “royal”,i.e. the ruling peoples, to
whom were subjected many other peoples. The Byzantian authors, speaking about the
White Huns, name them Ephtalites, though in the Hun language there is
absolutely no letter f. Therefore, it
should be thought, that in the Hunnish language the word Ephtalite was pronounced completely differently,
with interdental s. Judging by the inscriptions on the coins,
for example, of Athrikh, the interdental Turanian s in his name (Athrix) was transmitted
via f as Afrig by the
differently lingual authors. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that the
Ephtalites of the early Byzantian authors (variations Naftal, Eftal, Eptal, Abdel)
are the same Askels who remained in the Volga and Ural region and preserved
their name. The letter t, at the end of the word Ephtalite, is a plural
suffix in the ancient Türkic language, i.e. the word can be translated as
‘Askels’. The similar use of people’s name in plural was also characteristic
for other peoples. For example, Th. Simokatta, a Byzantian author of the 7-th c.,
names the tribe Barsil in the form Barselt [Theophilact
Simokatta, 1957, 160].
Thus, the Ephtalites of the Iranian and Byzantian authors quite could be the
very same Askels, who had a rich written civilization and have left a higher
archeological culture in Volga and Ural region, later dissolving among the
related Bulgarian peoples.
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I. Inscriptions on antique coins
II. Inscriptions on vessels
III. Inscriptions on vessels (Khan Diggiz Dish)
Turanian and Turkic alphabets
Ogur and Oguz
Turanian Writing (Khan Diggiz Dish)
Türkic Latin Alphabets