Contents Scytho-Iranian hypothesis
Ogur and Oguz
Alans and Ases
L.Zgusta Zelenchuk Inscription
G.Dremin Scythian Lexicon
|Scythians, Balkars, and Ossetians|
Origin of the Türkic peoples
Cherkessk, PAO “Pul”, 1993, ISBN 5-7796-0006-6
Î ïðîèñõîæäåíèè òþðêñêèõ íàðîäîâ
After the fall of the Former USSR and the rise of the short-lived idea on sovereignty of the subjugated people, came an explosion of long-hidden publications that essentially protested fake histories instituted during the Soviet regime. One of the first books that challenged the enforced dogma was the offered work of Kazi Laipanov and Ismail Mussai Miziev, and it remains one of the much-cited works on the idiocy of the Scytho-Iranian hypothesis, in spite of the fact that has not been translated to English yet. By now (2012) the hypothesis shrunk from the “mainstream” status, which it mysteriously gained in the period 1950-1990s, to a defensive posture limited to fending off for an exclusively linguistic construction in conflict with every discipline on Earth that has an adjective “scientific” in front of it, including linguistics. Essentially, the polarization of the ideas fell from a coherent discussion to a dogmatic last stand vs. the flood of the evidence that can't be ignored any more. K. Laipanov and I. Miziev belongs to the number of those who first spoke out on the New Dress of the King: “The King is naked!”
Among the highlights of the following chapters of the book, are:
Posting's notes and explanations, added to the text of the authors and not noted specially, are shown in (blue italics) in parentheses and in blue boxes. Page numbers are indicated at the top of the page.
SCYTHIANS/SKOLOTS - TÜRKS
On solution of the “Scythian” problem, of the Scythian and their progeny ethnicity greatly depends
a solution for the ethnogenesis of the Türkic peoples, so below is
a closer look at the issue. The problem is reviewed with extensive material, as stipulated by the
prominent Caucasologist and Scythologist B. Piotrowsky.
He wrote: “A correct solution for the Scythian problem can be approached only by
examining the ancient society of the 7-6th centuries BC in the broad territory, including the
Caucasus and Middle Asia (Piotrowsky, 1949, p. 130).
It has long been scientifically established that the direct genetic successors of the Pit Grave Kurgan Culture were Timber Grave Kurgan Culture tribes, and from them descended the culture of the Scythian tribes (Grakov, 1977, p. 151-153). If archeology provides an opportunity to follow the evolution of the ancient nomadic culture across the 3rd-1st millenniums BC, likewise the same opportunity is afforded to trace the evolution of the Scythian culture and its continuation in the culture of the medieval nomads of the Eurasian steppes.
The analysis shows that the entire complex of medieval nomadic ethnic cultures in the
Eurasian steppes ascends to the culture of the Scythians. Accordingly, these nomads are direct
genetic successors of the ancient nomads' culture, the Pit Gravers. This is evidenced by:
On all these parallels we wrote in a number of previous works, the reader is referred to them, it is not necessary to repeat them all over. However, it is necessary to illuminate some aspects of the problem in light of the latest developments in the science, especially the most critical of them, the language of the Scythians.
Not a single Greek, Latin (Roman), Byzantine, Arab, or Persian author ever claimed that the
Scythians spoke Persian (Iranian) language, although many of these writers have stressed
the finest details of their everyday life, culture, beliefs, customs, and habits.
Especially important is the fact that Herodotus, whose information is routinely used by
the Scythologists, was a native of the Asia Minor city of Halicarnassus, in one of
the ancient Persian satrapies, he could not fail to distinguish the Persian (Iranian)
vernaculars from the others, especially since he visited Persia and not once met Iranians outside of Persia.
However, Herodotus never says anywhere that the language of the Scythians was Persian or Persian-like. He writes that the Scythians and Sauromates are related tribes, close in way of life and language, but cites very little information on their language, but even that limited information, as we shall see below, confirms the paradigm about the Türkic-linguality of the Scythians.
The news on the language of the Sarmatians and Alans is very poor. One of the most respected
writers of antiquity, Ammianus Marcellinus (4th c. BC) describes in detail life and
customs of the Alans, the heirs of the Scythians and Sarmatians, but also does
not provide information about their language (“The Sauromatae
speak the language of Scythia” [Herodotus 4.117]). The Antioch Greek Marcellinus knew not only Greek
and Roman languages, but also was familiar with the Persian language, because from 354 to 363
served in the Roman army and fought in the war with the Persians, he was living among them,
he also knew the Alan soldiers of the Roman foreign legions, he had traveled much, but
not once in his many books did he state about the similarity between the Persian (Iranian) and
languages. However, to attention jumps the following statement in his book 31 (XXXI) of
It is important to note here that if the Alans “in everything are like the Huns”, who were Türkic, in our view the compiler of the collection V.M Atalikov correctly comments on that similarity: “obviously, it should be understood that in the language too?” (Ancient sources, 1990, p. 242).
That the language of the Scythians could not be Iranian directly writes the author of the 3rd c. BC Justin (2.3-5). According to him, “The language of the Parthians is middle between the Scythian and Median languages, a mixture of both” (Latyshev, 1900, p. 39).
Recognizing conclusions of some authors about the Türkic-linguality of
not only the Scythians, but also the Medians as being correct
(Geibullaev, 1991, ch. 3, § 1), and following the logic, Justin pointed out that the
Scythians and Medians spoke different dialects of the same Ancient Türkic language.
Besides mentioning common features of the Türkic culture (for example: horse flesh eaters, kumiss drinkers, etc.), Herodotus writes about the presence among the Scythians of the Mongoloid tribes. Thus, in the 23rd verse of the book 4 of his “History” he says, “above Yirks (Iyrcae, Iyrks) live other Scythians”, and then explains that these “people are said to be all bald from birth, men and females alike, they are snub-nosed and with big chins” (Herodotus 4.23, 1972, p. 192-193). From these words is clear that Herodotus describes Mongolian traits that characterized some of the Scythian tribes.
According to S.Ya. Lurie, the “bald men” are Argippeis, the predecessors of the modern Bashkirs (Ancient sources, 1990, p. 519).
According to many scientists (E. Eichwald, Z.I. Yampolsky, and others), the Scythian tribes mentioned by Herodotus, the Iyrks (Iyrcae) and Turragets (Thyssagetae, Tyritae?) are a distorted name “Turks”, and they, like other Scythian tribes also, were Türkic-lingual (Yampolsky, 1966, p. 63, 1970, p. 10-11). Strabo, Pomponius Mela, Pliny (1st c. BC) also wrote about the Türks, Turragets (Thyssagetae, Tyritae?), Turks living in the same places as was mentioned by Herodotus (Ancient sources, 1990, p. 100, 108). In 5th. AD the Byzantine historian Zosimus wrote about the Huns: “Some call this people Unns, others say that they should be called Royal Scythians, or the nation which Herodotus described as living “with flattened noses” by the Istr” (quoted from Hahn, 1884, p. 199).
In connection with these reports of the ancient authors very high importance attains
the described by Ptolemy burial in the 1st c. AD at the Southern Buh of a Sarmatian
horse-flesh eater. In the burial was found a
statuette (a handle of a mirror) deposting “an Oriental-type male figure sitting cross-legged...
where under sagittiform eyebrows are narrow-slit eyes with relief pupils. The straight
nose with broad wings is slightly
flattened” (Kovpanenko, 1986, p. 67-71).
To the said, we add another argument. We refer to the fact that P. Mela, Pliny, Dionysius, Periegetus, Claudius Claudian, Theophylact Simokatta, Zosimus, Prisk Pannnonian and other ancient authors call the “Scythians” not any other tribe, but namely the Huns. Prisk Pannnonian, a connoisseur of the nomadic world, reports that the Hun king Rua sent to Rome his ambassador called Asli (Wise in Türkic - Auth.), and in response the Romans sent to the Huns Plint, “who was originally Scythian”. One can hardly believe that the Roman diplomacy did not know who to send to whom, and the Roman court did not know whom Hesiod, Homer, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Strabo, Hippocrates, Ptolemy, and other Greek and Roman authors called “milkers of mares” and “horse eaters”.
The testimonies of the ancient authors are also corroborated by the latest scientific studies. The first Russian translator of the Herodotus Andrew Lyzlov freely navigated the European historiography of the 15th-16th centuries, he was well familiar with the works of ancient authors, in particular Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Justin, Curcius, Rufus, and Diodorus of Sicily, still in the 17th century he came to a conviction that the Tartars and Turks ascend in their culture to the ancient Scythian nomads. The A. Lyzov's view at various times was supported and developed by such prominent scholars as V.N.Tatischev, N.M Karamzin, E.I. Eichwald, A.S. Lappo-Danilevsky, A.N. Aristov, V.V. Latyshev, and F.G. Mishchenko. Above, we quoted a number of authors on this subject, in particular A.N. Aristov (1896, p. 400), E.I. Eichwald (1838, p. 56-60), and others.
The presence of the Türkic tribes among Scythians also recognized the official organ of the
Russian Academy of Sciences. One of the volumes of its “Scientific Notes” on Scythians and Sarmatians stated: “On the Scythians and Sarmatians
was written a lot, but very little with a critical tact and with extensive knowledge of the sources and latest works...
If the Greeks and Romans in the extant writings used the two names not exclusively in
the folkish sense, it then only it stands to reason that the numerous people may have been of different
origin and language... Were already between them, the Northern Pontic Scythians, the people of
the Türkic origin? Most likely, they already were at the time of Herodotus” (Scientific Notes, 1855, p. 114-115).
Many eastern authors, who were well familiar with the history and life of the Turko-Mongol tribes,
called the Scythians “Turks”, and called the Scythia a “land of the Turks” (Karaulov, SMOMPK,
no. 38 [SMOMPK; Tiflis, 1893, Issue 17 Part. 3, Issue XIII
Thus, in the 19th and early 20th centuries. even the official (Russian) historiography recognized a part of the Scythian tribes as Türkic tribes. From the 1930s, the concept of the Soviet historiography has changed dramatically in that matter, as described above. Now has come the opportune time for the objective study of all scientific problems.
OF THE SCYTHIANS' LIFE AND CUSTOMS
A.P. Smirnov was noting that “the typical Scythian objects in their original features are connected Asia”. N.L. Chlenov wrote: “The Tatar culture, ubiquitous in the southern part of the Krasnoyarsk Territory (Minusinsk Basin) in the 7th-3rd centuries BC, is one of the cultures of the Scythian circle”, with its typical weapons of daggers, akinakes, and arrowheads, horse harness and animal style (art). They are very similar to the same categories in the Scythian culture of the Northern Pontic, Itil/Volga and Urals, for the Saksof the Middle Asia and Kazakhstan (Chlenov, 1981, p. 80, 84). “Continuity of many features of the ancient culture of Turks from the Scythian-Siberian cultures”, noted A. Gogolev, who believes that the traditional culture of Yakuts (Sakha) has the Scythian-Siberian origin (Gogolev, 1987, p. 143).
The latest facts on the culture and language of the Scythians and people close to them
cites G.A. Geibullaev. He reports a not uninteresting fact: in the territory of the Iranian Azerbaijan in
the village Ziviye was found a treasure of 9th-7th cc. BC with “Scythian style” objects (Geibullaev, 1991,
p. 291). A detailed study of the objects hopefully
will help to resolve some aspects of the “Scythian problem”
The entire complex of the ethnographic culture and life of the Scythians strikingly matches the culture and lifestyle of the Türkic peoples.
1. Scythians lived in felt tents (yurts), they widely used felt products in their
they ate horse meat, drank sour milk (airan) and kumiss, they made cheese, etc.
6. Herodotus wrote that if Scythian nomads do not have handy a cauldron boiler or wood, they cook meat in a very peculiar way: the meat is thoroughly cleaned of bones, put in a stomach, and cooked over a fire of bones (and of course of wood). Herodotus wrote “So the bull cooks himself” (Herodotus, 1972, p. 202). A.P. Smirnov wrote that this method of cooking meat by was any not registered by any researcher. However, such practice was very widespread among many Türkic peoples, especially among the pastoral Altaians, Balkars, Karachaies, and Kazakhs. And this is how it was done among them: in the ground was dug a shallow hole, and in it was set up a fire of cleaned from the meat bones and wood. When the earth warmed up, in the hole was laid stomach stuffed with meat, it was covered with hot ashes, and they continued to heat it with wood and bones. Thus, the animal “was cooking itself”.
Many more facts could be cited from the life and customs of the Scythians, but the cited above facts seems to give sufficient reasons to see in the modern Türks the heirs of the Scythians.
RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND MYTHOLOGY OF THE SCYTHIANS
The etiology of the Scythians, mainly expressed in their religious beliefs and myths, was very stable and long-lasting, and should help to find the essence of the studied problem.
To prove the Iranian-linguality of the Scythians, Iranists specifically rely on that aspect of the problem. D.S. Raewsky (1977) and A.M Khazanov (1975) devoted to the problem special monographs. The same question was partially explored in the book “Scythia and the Caucasus” (Kyiv, 1980), in the works of several scientists, G. Dumezil, V.I. Abaev V.P. Okladnikov, L.R. Kyzlasov, and others.
Academic Okladnikov studied etiology of the ancient people, including the Scythians. Together with E.A. Okladnikov he thoroughly studied the Gorny
Altai ancient rock pictures, and in particular the drawings of the Elangash valley, and
produced important scientific conclusions in the book “The Ancient Drawings of Kyzyl-Kel” (1985).
The authors write that the pictographs on the Elangash rocks were created over long time, from the 3rd millennium BC to the Scythian period (3rd c. AD). They point out: “To the Bronze Age belong the images of chariots, bulls, yaks; to the Scythian time belong the images of miniature deer, symbolic figures of the archers. The epigraphic drawings (petroglyphs in the technique of graffiti and of chipping) mainly depost images of Altaians in national costumes” (p. 8). According to researchers, the rock art was associated with the cult of rocks and mountains, and the “cult of mountains formed by ancient understanding of the high mountain tops as places of accumulation of water necessary for cattle ranchers and farmers, of abode of deities, and the view of the mountains as places closest to the heaven.” And “As for the cult of rocks, it is associated with the ideas of the ancient people about durability of stones, with the dreams of people about longevity of the human life. Until now, The legends of the Altai Türks about connection of the rock art with the cult of the mountains and rocks” (p. 8-9) (The work apparently conflates the prehistoric animalistic beliefs of the Greek and Roman religions, Zeus/Olymp and the like, with the Türkic abstract notion of the Haven as Almighty, and mountains as altars closest and streaming to Haven).
The spots on the rock carvings symbolize sun and stars, and have astral significance (p. 4).
The ancient masters highlighted the images of goats, deer, bulls, yaks, and horses. The adoration of the wild goat ascends to the Stone Age (probably, the same may be said of the stone as material, its utility gained recognition that the modern minds fantasize to be connected with abstract notions of longevity and the such). A stone with an image of goat the Altaians call “Teke tash” (in Türkic “Goat Stone” - Auth.). The large round patches or small dots drawn next to the heads of the goats can symbolize (or depost) the sun (p. 5).
The rocks show bulls pulling carts, and yaks laden with luggage. The burial carts discovered during excavations
of the Pit Grave-Afanasiev culture along
the Dnieper had harnessed bulls (p. 5-6).
At the Scythian time appeared petroglyphs deposting deer, a totem animal of the Scythians. Have survived images of deer with antlers with solar spires (deposting circles with spikes). The authors note: “The roots of the concept of a cosmogonic image of the stag” - the sun, is known to ascend to the tribal culture of the Siberian taiga of the Bronze and Early Iron Age... The Altai drawings have preserved two major Scythian story subjects: deer with tree-like antlers and a man with deer antlers raised above his head. Both of these stories can be compared with the image of the World Tree in the way it preserved in the myths of the Scythians, as a support foir the sky and the sun, with the path for the supernatural linkage of three worlds: the lower (underground) world, middle (Earth) world, and the upper (Heavenly) world” (p.7). D.S. Raewsky also sees this concept approximately in the same key (1977, p. 46).
As for the ideological basis of the rock art in the Eastern Altai, in the opinion of the authors, “it reflected life experience and rich spiritual world of the ancient man. Among the Elengash petroglyphs can be discerned pictures with the subject created by the notions of the rising and dying beast, of the abundance and fertility, by the myths about great ancestors. In other words, it reflected forms of people's thinking in the Bronze and Early Iron Age” (Okladnikov, Okladnikov, 1985, p. 8).
In the chapter “Outlook and worldview of the Tazminians” of the book “Ancient Khakassia” (pp. 188-241) L.R. Kyzlasov in detail and justifiably scientifically writes about semantics of the Tazmin sculptures and inscriptions, about the ancient people's vision of the Universe and Divinities, about life and death, about the sun, celestial Gods and Spirits.
According to him, in the base of the religious vision of the remote ancestors of
the Türkic Khakases (Khakases is one of the modern
appellation for the decedents of the Enisei Kirgizes, while Kirgizes of
Kirgizstan are decedents of the migrant Enisei Kirgizes) laid a
hunting worldview (images of mooses, mountain sheep, argali sheep (arkhars), and predators, which
was modified by an ideology of the alien herdsmen
(Timber Grave Kurgan Culture pastoralists), who brought along a culture of
people associated with producing economy (depostion of the Mother-Cow, images of
bulls, etc.) (p. 239). As a result, “from a synthesis of different perceptions
of the world from different sources, formed and flourished phenomenon unexpected
for the Siberia and Central Asia, the religion marked by monumental and most ancient in the Eurasian steppes
steles and menhirs” (p. 239). The author believes that all that happened in the
Neolithic Era (Neolithic for the Enisei Kirgizes?) and “Siberian shamanism retained a significant
volume of many realities from the religious practices of the South Siberian tribes ascending to the deep antiquity,
to the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC” (p. 240).
The researcher points out that “Already in ancient times the South Siberia was a large and important cultural center, the center of Neolithic tribes activity, who in turn distributed the advanced for their time ideological and cultural impulses into the depth of the inaccessible Siberian taiga, to the inhabitants of the harsh expanses of tundra, up to the shores of the Arctic Ocean” (p. 241).
Significant contribution to the study of the prehistoric people's ideology, reflected in the art of the Siberia ancient population, especially of the Altai population, provides the History, Philology, and Philosophy Institute of the Siberian Branch of the Academy of Sciences, in particular, its staff A.P. Okladnikov, E.A. Okladnikov V.D. Kubarev, Z.A. Abramov, Yu.S. Khudyakov and others.
The collection of articles “Anthropomorphic images” published by the Institute in 1987 covered almost all regions of Siberia and Urals. It also contains articles by N.L. Chlenova “North Caucasian deer stones and New Mordva steles”, and by L.M. Mosolov “Most ancient anthropomorphic images of Kyrgyzstan”.
The book as a whole deals with the images starting from the Paleolithic period and particularly of the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. All these images bear semantic meaning and express understanding of the world by the prehistoric people. “The distinctive perception of the world by the nomadic tribes and tribal organizations of the Eurasian steppes, characterized by patriarchal religion of the gods and heroes, is reflected in the numerous monuments of the Great Steppe. These are rock pictures, and anthropomorphic stone statues, and steles” (Anthropomorphic images, 1987, p. 6).
According to E.A. Okladnikov, the “rock pictures, where significant place occupy anthropomorphic images, are historical sources that allow to reconstruct the world of the past wih a large level of confidence” (Anthropomorphic images, 1987, p. 180).
A renowned archaeologist and ethnographer V.D. Kubarev has studied a large number of rock art images in the Altai, and wrote some interesting books on the subject. He directly states that the creators of this art were the ancestors of the modern Türkic peoples that lived in the vast expanses of the Eurasian steppes from the W.Baikal to the Central Europe. That is said by the very title of one of his books, the “Ancient statues of Altai” (1984).
In one of his recent works, the “Ancient placers of Karakol” (1988), the scientist reconstructs ideological understanding of the Eneolithic population in the Altai and adjacent regions of the Central Asia, which belonged to the ancient Pit Grave Afanasiev culture. The Karakol stones (slabs from graves, steles, etc.) most frequently depost “sun-headed”, “bull-headed”, and “bird-headed” creatures that have their parallel in Khakassia, Kazakhstan, Tuva, and Mongolia. After the sun, a significant place in the animal pantheon of the ancient people occupied a mighty bull. The images of the solar deity and the moon god merge together in the image of a bull. The steles have indentations that deposted celestial luminaries and stars (p. 106-107).
The main characters on the steles confirms supposition about developed reverence of the sun, bull, and predatory birds. Pictures on one of the grave stones depost a struggle of red “spirits” with black “demons”, “symbolizing conflict between good and evil, a struggle between light and darkness, the eternal struggle of life and death. The prehistoric people believed that a man leaving the world of the living and departing to the world of the dead, needed help against the dangers threatening him in the other world” (Ancient placers of Karakol, p. 118).
The art of the ancient inhabitants of the Urals, Itil/Volga, Caucasus, and Northern Pontic is analogous with he art of the ancient inhabitants of Siberia. For example, in the Karachai and Balkaria were found rock carvings, rock paintings, steles, menhirs, and so on, they were studied by S.Ya. Baichorov (1987, p. 5-26, 1988, p. 96-141), and U.Yu. Elkanov described a solar stone circle in the former capital city of Alanya, the Lower Arkhyz fortress (Elkanov, 1988, p. 142-150).
On a rock in the Sutul gully in the headwaters of the Urup river S.Ya. Baichorov found 75 petroglyphs. They deposted riding and walking people, birds, wild animals, a deer, a dog, a wolf, fat-tailed sheep, a lamb, a bear, a moose, a wooden plow, plows, a bow and arrow, a spear, an arkan (lasso), a sword, shields, geometric shapes with different numbers of dots (spots) inside, ten-spoke and 4-spoke circles, and ancient Türkic runiform inscriptions. Interestingly, one of the drawings shows a well-built man, catching a beast with an arkan (lasso), some men have broad hats on the head, some men wear battle armor. These figures parallel the Siberian anthropomorphic images, where people in hats depost mythical animals (Baichorov, 1987, p. 17-18).
Similar images are found in the Hasaut (Khasaut) gorge (near Kislovodsk), and in the Mountain Dagestan (note the unavoidable tautology “Mountain mountain country” produced with untranslated toponym). Images of geometric figures with dots (spots) inside, like in Siberia, are found in the graves or near them, and have a ritual significance. Among them are images similar to the Scythian and Alan wheels-amulets. S.Ya. Baichorov attributes all petroglyphs to the Bulgars (p. 21), but the figures he published are more like the Scythian and Alan depostions.
The petroglyphs found in the Bichesyn area (at the foot of the Mount Elbrus) also resemble Scythian petroglyphs, but S.Ya. Baichorov attributes their origgin to the Maikop Culture (Baichorov S.Ya., 1988, Petroglyphs of Biychesyn / / Problems of the North Caucasus medieval archeology. Proceedings of KCHNII IFE. Cherkessk, p. 117).
The explorer's description of the menhirs in Bichesyn coincides with the description of the ancient Siberian and Scythian menhirs. As is known, they had a religious ritual purpose, like the stones (numbering 23) with cupule indentations, and solar circles with rosettes inside (Baichorov S.Ya., 1988, Petroglyphs of Biychesyn, p. 104-105).
It is highly significant that inside a medieval Karachai above the grave structure - Kamgut-Keshene (in the Baksan Gorge near the town Tyrnyauz) is still preserved an image of a deer, a totem animal of the Scythians (Baichorov S.Ya., 1988, Petroglyphs of Biychesyn, 113).
Above, we have emphasized that South Siberia, with the surrounding areas, was one of the many regions where the Turkic ethnic groups formed. Among them were the Scythian tribes, some of whose ancestors have lived for centuries in the Itil-Urals and adjacent regions, and another part of that region of Siberia came to the North Caucasus and the Northern Pontic region in the 7th c. BC., and perhaps even earlier. (A.I. Jessen/Iessen, 1953, p. 109; Pogrebova, Raewsky, 1992, p. 35-37).
There is no doubt that both the Asian and European Scythians were two branches of once single ethnic group. Therefore, their material and spiritual culture, and also ideological beliefs, especially religious views, are very similar (Gryaznov, 1980, p. 58-60 Terenojkin, 1976, p. 211).
In the book “Pre-Christian religion of the Alans” V.I. Abaev is talking about religion of the Scythians, but he did not find among them even traces of the religious rituals intrinsic to the Iranian peoples. As is known, in the remote past Iranian tribes practiced Zoroastrism. In antiquity and early Middle Ages that religion was spread in southern Middle Asia, among the ancestors of the Tajiks, and among the Iranian-lingual tribes of Afghanistan, Iran, Azerbaijan, North-West India, and a number of other countries in the Neaar and Middle East. A sacred canon of Zoroastrism is the Avesta (as the Bible for the Christians and Koran for theMuslims), but the Scythians, Sakas, Massagets (Masguts), Sarmatians, and Alans to the end remained alien to the Zoroastrism. V.I. Abaev rightly notes: “The surviving information about religion of the Scythians, Massagetae (Masguts), and Alans does not contain even a hint at anything Zoroastrian (Abaev, 1960, p. 3). But because religious beliefs of the Scythians, Sarmatians, and Alans contradict the theory of their Iranian origin, the author immediately comes up with an excuse: “The historical information on the Alan religion is very scarce. And we intend to rely not on the historical information, but on the language, mythology, and religious beliefs of the modern Ossetians”(Abaev, 1960).
But between the beliefs of the Scythians and the Turkic peoples can be drawn certain parallels. A Turkologist M.A. Habichev states: “The exact match between the Scythian and Karachai-Balkar names for the deities testifies that the Scythian mythology was inherited by the ancestors of the Karachais and Balkars, as an intermediate phenomenon many inherent features were preserved in the folk memory to this day” (Habichev , 1987, p. 37-38).
Although not completely, the names of the Scythian and Karachai-Balkar pagan (i.e. not acknowledged as your god) gods and their functions are basically the same. That is evident from the table below.
To date, the Karachai-Balkar women swear by the name of the hearth goddess Tabiti “Tobady!”, and the men swear by the name of the supreme god, “Teiri!” In daily speech now both theonyms mean “swear”, “swearby god” (OTD , pp. 1-2, 203, 259, 298, 527, and others; Habichev, 1987, pp. 22-23, 1982, p. 13-15; Borgoyakov, 1975, pp. 110, 120; Laipanov, 1992, p. 131; Miziev, 1986, pp. 45-46).
The famous Danish Turkologist M. Thomsen, who deciphered the ancient Turkic Orkhon- Enisei runic inscriptions, and encountered there the Tengri religion, and also academician W.W. Radloff, and some others Türkologists asserted that the word Tengri, which means “god” and “Heaven”, was common among the Turkic and Mongol tribes. They was held Tengri a supreme deity (Radlov, 1905, Volume 3, Part 1, pp. 832, 1043-1044).
Archaeologist E.P. Alekseev, long interested in the ethnogenesis of Karachais and Balkars, believes that the religion of Tengri/Teiri was brought to the North Caucasus by the Bulgars (Alexeev, 1971, p. 169). The ethnographer I.M. Shamanov and folklorist M.Ch. Djurtubaev were arguing that the Teiri roots should be sought among the Scythians. Teiri, being a supreme god and the god of Heavens, at the same time is a source and giver of goodness and joy, is a ruler of human fates (Shamanov, 1982, p. 155-167, Djurtubaev, 1991, pp. 162-176).
Notably, of the number of present and past Türkic peoples in the Caucasus (Azeris, Meskhetian Türks, Karachais, Balkars, Kumyks, Nogais, Truhmens (Turkmens) the religion of Tegri/Teiri was common only among the Karachais and Balkars (Chursin, 1926, p. 73 ).
Bulgarian scientists have noted that after the adoption of Christianity, ancient Turkic Bulgars supreme god Tengri (in the form of Tangri) continued to prevail among Bulgarians several centuries (Beshevliev, 1939, p. 34).
According to F.A. Urusbiev, the Karachai-Balkar Teiri “did not get a zoomorphic or anthropomorphic image, and is endued with universal cosmic functions” (Urusbiev, 1979, p. 10). Today, the worship of Teiri is replaced with the worship of Allah, but as late as in the beginning of the 19th century Karachai-Balkars revered the supreme god Teiri. H.J. Klaproth, who in 1807-1808 journeyd to the Caucasus, wrote about Karachais: “They worship God, called not Allah, but Tegri, which is a creator of the goodness” (Klaproth, 1974, p. 245).
The theonym “Teiri” and the religion of Teiri the Karachai-Balkarians have been inherited, not borrowed, and the roots of Teiri (the Scythian “Targitai”) and other Karachai-Balkarian pagan (i.e. not acknowledged as your god) gods need to be sought in the pantheon of ancient pra-Türkic gods of the people of the Pit Grave-Timber Grave Scythian Cultures . Apparently, Teiri originally was revered as a hero, and over time (with the beginning of decomposition of the primitive-collective society) gradually evolved into a powerful supreme god of the ancient pra-Türkic people (Djurtubaev, 1991, p. 164, 172).
The above comparative table of the Scythian and Karachai-Balkar gods clearly shows that the Scythians are one of the ancestors of the Karachai-Balkars. Comparison of the Scythian religious beliefs with the Ossetian brought nothing similar to the scientists. Therefore for the Iranists it is hardly appropriate to assert a “direct inheritance” of the Ossetian spiritual culture from the Scythians. But such attempts are still made today.
The prominent French Indo-Europeist scientist Georges Dumezil, who wrote several books on the Ossetian folklore, in his last book “The Scythians and ther Narts” (Moscow, 1990) is trying, and obviously failing, to draw parallels between the Scythian gods and the Ossetian Narts. In particular, he totally unreasonably finds an analogy between the Scythian god Ares and the Nart heroes Batraz and Tyhost. The scientist asserts that the Ossetian “Tyh is an indigenous local spirit, and he is definitely a direct slowed down heir of the Scythian Ares, because of his responsibility as a master of thunderstorm (here he equates with St. Elias) and as the protector of the village” (p. 13).
Common motifs can be found in the folklore of nearly all nations. In Karachai-Balkar folklore, as stated above, there is something to compare with the Scythians, but the comparisons are specific, up to the same or similar names and functions of the gods at both peoples.
In the cited above book by M.Ch. Djurtubaev are cited numerous similarities between the heroes of the Scythian and Karachai-Balkar legends and stories. For us, of particular importance is the following scientific discovery of the author.
As is known, Herodotus (Book 4.5) recites the Scythian legend how to the land of the Scythians fell from the sky a golden plow, a yoke, a battle-axe, and a drinking-cup (Herodotus, 1978, p. 188). Many Indo-Europeists scientists tried to interpret the legend, among them also was G. Dumezil, but still in the astronymy of the Indo-European peoples nobody has discovered these objects, because before they fell from the sky, there had to be the prototypes of golden objects in the legend. M.Ch. Djurtubaev disclosed the astrological nature of the Scythian legend.
The Karachai-Balkars call the Ursa Minor constellation Myryt djulduzla or Myrytla. In the Karachai-Balkar language Myryt is a plowshare, coulter.
The Karachai-Balkars call the Orion constellation Gida djulduzla or Gidala. In the Karachai-Balkar language Gida is a double-edged ax, poleaxe, a battle weapon of the Scythians and 'Karachai-Balkarians (Many of these axes were found in the Scythians' archaeological sites).
A group of seven stars in the Crater constellation resembles a drinking cup. The Karachai-Balkars call the Crater constellation Chemuch djulduzla or Chemuchle. In the Karachai-Balkar language Chemuch is a chalice, goblet.
The Karachai-Balkars call the Libra constellation Boyunskha yunsa djulduzla or Boyunskhala. In the Karachai-Balkar language Boyunskha is a yoke
Thus, in the Karachai-Balkar astronyms Djurtubaev first discovered the only prototypes of the Scythian legendary sacral objects. He writes: “We believe these four constellations for the Scythians symbolized predictions, and it was believed that a person who fell asleep guarding gold objects would not live another year, he would “fall asleep”. The circling a parcel of land mounted on a horse was apparently a symbol of the movement of the Sun, its annual cycle, and the guard symbolized Kolaksai, whose image was preserved in the veneration of the sun god Gollu...
We have already cited, and will be adding further evidence that under the image of Narts in the Karachai-Balkar epos figure the Scythians. Therefore it is asserted that in the Scythian mythology these objects were thrown down to earth specifically by a smith Debet”(Djurtubaev, 1991, p. 137).
To fully clarify the meaning of the cited quotation, a few words about the Debet are in order. In the chapter “Debet and Kainar” of the book, M. Ch Djurtubaev writes that a patron of smithery Debet the Golden Face - (in Türkic) Altynbet Debet - was created by Teiri from a piece of his (Teiri) heart. Apparently, that means the Sun. The Gods of earth and fire give him understanding of the language of the stone and fire, and Debet recognizes immediately what is contained in this or that piece of stone, in the earth, in the mountain, etc. He is credited with the invention of the anvil, tongs, hammer (before that, he was forging iron witth his fist). Debet (Dauet) was the first on the Earth to shoe a horse, he also teaches smithery to the people. When he began forging weapons, drops of the hot metal, flying out from under his heavy hammer, were sticking to the heaven, becoming stars. Then the darkness has dispersed, the nights became lighter, and the Narts, having taken possession of the weapons forged by the miraculous smith, began winning over the monsters and wild animals. After Debet has produced enough weaponry, he fashioned a winged chariot and flew into the sky, where he continues to forge iron for the celestial inhabitants, and the shooting stars are the fragments of the hot metal flying out from under his hammer.
The Karachai-Balkar's Nart saga about Debet tells that the main name of Teiri - the Sun was “Kainar-Teiri” (“Boiling Teiri”) (the Scythian god
Kainar Teiri created the Earth, mountains, water, and stars. When he
created the Earth, she was trembling and shaking, and the seas were raging, so
for seven years the people were paying knee bows to Kainar-Thur, crying and
The name of the Nart smith Debet consists of the words dyp/typ (fire, fiery) + bet (face), hence the word dypbet means “fiery-faced”, i.e. the Sun. Perhaps at some time the word “Debet” (“Dypbet”) was an epithet to the name of the solar deity, and then it became a name of the Nart smith. As to the name “Kainar”, it remained the name of the Sun God. A whole chain can be traced: Kainar - Dypbet Kainar (Fiery-Faced Kainar) - Debet (Fiery-Faced) - Altynbet Debet (Golden-Faced Debet) - Kainar-Teiri (Solar God) (Djurtubaev, 1991, p. 155, 157).
M.Ch. Djurtubaev, M.A. Habichev, and some other scientists believe that the Nart epos of a number of the North Caucasus and Abkhaz peoples originated from the Türkic Scythians. This hypothesis is supported by numerous facts, especially the fact that most of the names of the Nart heroes are etymologized from the Turkic languages, particularly from the Karachai-Balkar language: Debet = Fiery-Faced, Batraz = bogatyr (hero) As, Alaugan = Al + oglan = first-born son (from its Türkic connections, English also has a cognate of Alaugan, the word clan < oglan = son/sons), etc.
The original identity of Kainar and Debet is evinced by the presence of the first theonym Kainar in the Nart epos of the Abkhazians, the smith Ainar. There Ainar is not a God-smith, but a simple smith craftsman. A God of smithery at the Abkhazians was Schashpa, whom the Abkhazians do not identify with Ainar. This testifies that Ainar was a borrowing from the ancestors of Karachai-Balkars, and that is corroborated by the studies of Sh. Kh. Salakai (1966, p. 57, 72).
The identity of the Kainar and Debet is also eloquently evinced by another fact. While the Abkhazians have borrowed from the Karachai and Balkar ancestors the first name of the solar deity Kainar, the Adygs have adopted the second name Debet, in the form of Dabech. Neither the first, nor the second name of the Karachai and Balkar deity is not etymologized with Abkhaz and Adyg languages. In an Adyg legend an old smith Dabech is a true Adyg deity of smithery Tlepsha (Narts, 1974, p. 308).
The God-smith Debet is also duplicated in the Ossetian mythology and epos. According to V.I. Abaev, in some rites and legends the god of the hearth and above the stove chain assumes the role of the god-smith, replacing Kurdalagon. The name of that deity is Safa (Abaev, 1982, p. 9).
The Ossetian folklorist G. Shanaev writes that Kurdalagon was a second heavenly smith after Safa (Monuments of folk art of the Ossetians, 1925, issue 1, p. 62). And Safa, as asserts V.I. Abayev, is a Christian St. Sava that was included in the pagan (i.e. not acknowledged as belonging to your religion) pantheon of the Ossetians (Abayev, 1979, p. 9). In his opinion, the word Kurdalagon consists of Kurd (smith) + ala (Alanian) uarh - old Ossetian term for the wolf, the new term is birag (from the Turkic beru), and a suffix on denoting a belonging to some clan (Abayev, 1949, p. 592, 594).
M.Ch. Djurtubaev rightly holds such etymology to be false and unconvincing. The clue to the name Kurd + Alagon lays on the surface and can be easily explained. It is the name of the Debet's eldest son Alaugan. The Nart epos tells that Debet had 19 sons, the most mighty of them was his eldest son. The reason for the Karachai-Balkarian Kainar, Debet, and Alaugan double Shashpy, Tlepsha, and Safa, probably lays in the fact that the most advanced Iron Age culture in the territory of the Soviet Union formed in the 7th c. BC and reached its peak in the 5th-4th cc. BC, it belonged to the Scythian tribes of the Northern Pontic area (Pershits, Mongait, Alekseev, 1982, p. 169).
The Nart epos, as has been scientifically proved, formed in the Northern Pontic and the Caucasus, where went on prolonged contact between the ancestors of the Karachai-Balkars, Abkhazes, Adygs, Ossetians, Ingushes, and Kumyks (Funny, the Nakhs are omitted, but their Ingushe subgroup is listed). Were the Scythians the Iranian-speaking ancestors of the Ossetians, as is promulgated now, the names of the gods of smithy among the Abkhazians and Adygs (and Ossetians too) would have been Iranian, and not Türkic (Djurtubaev, 1991, p. 160).
The name of the main heroine of the Nart epos Satanai (Satanei), held to be a mother of the Narts, is easily etymologized with the Karachai-Balkar language: Sat (saint) + anai (mother) (OTD, p. 43), or Satan (beautiful) + Ai (moon) (OTD, pp. 24-25) (Apparently, sat = saint and satan = beautiful are taken from Karachai-Balkar lexicon).
The legend says that Satanai-Biyche was a daughter of the Moon and Sun (Djurtubaev, 1991, p. 160-161, Karachai-Malkar Nart tauruhla (Karachai-Balkar Nart legend), 1966, p. 28).
Many Nart legends say that Narts are sons of the Sun (Debet) and Moon (Satanai). That explains why Debet had 19 sons. The subject is the so-called Metonic Cycle, known to many peoples of antiquity, when people were trying to reconcile the number of days in the lunar month and the number of days in the solar year. The solution was found: it turned out that 19 solar years are equal to 235 lunar months. “So, independently of whether the ancestors of the Balkars and Karachais discovered this cycle or borrowed it from other people, 19 years of the lunar solar cycle have been embodied in the image of 19 sons of the Sun (Debet) and the Moon (Satanai). When the reason for the embodiment has been forgotten, it seemed natural that the first in beauty and wisdom woman should be a wife of Eruzmek, not of a peaceful plier Debet that lives aloof and does not participate in the daily life of his children, who in turn refer to him only in most difficult situations. But, of course, the change occurred gradually, slowly, and not by a particular storyteller ... The images of Debet and Satanai are a connecting link between the Karachai-Balkar mythology and their epos, not a sole link, of course, but a very important link that vividly confirms the continuity of their traditional spiritual culture from the ancient times to the present day” (Djurtubaev, p. 162).
Contents Scytho-Iranian hypothesis
Ogur and Oguz
Alans and Ases
L.Zgusta Zelenchuk Inscription
G.Dremin Scythian Lexicon