WHO ARE ALANS?
Mirfatykh Z. ZAKIEV
An article from his articles collection book
TATARS: PROBLEMS of the HISTORY and LANGUAGE
Collection of articles on problems of lingohistory; revival and development of the Tatar nation. Kazan, 1995. Pp.38-57.
§ 1. General information. As is known from multiple sources, in the expansive region of Eurasia, namely in the Eastern Europe, Caucasus, in Near East, Middle East, Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Southern and Western Siberia lived differently speaking people, called until the 9–8 cc. BC by the Greek, and then by the Roman historians, by a common name Cimmerians, in the 9–3 cc. BC by Scythians (in Russian: Skif, in Western European: Scyth), at the same time they also called them Sauromats, in the 3 cc. BC – 4 cc. AD they also called them Sarmatians. Then into general use came an ethnonim Alan.
In the Indo-European and official Soviet Russian historical sciences all of them are recognized as Iranian speaking, in particular, as the ancestors of Ossetians, not on the basis of a comprehensive study of the linguistic, mythological, ethnological, archeological and historical data, but coming only from isolated linguistic deductions. This implies that the ancestors of Ossetians lived in the expansive region of Eurasia under the general names of Scythians, Sarmatians, and Alans (Asses) during one thousand years BC and a thousand years AD, but in the beginning of the second millennium AD they extraordinarily quickly diminished (or adopted Türkic language) and remained in small numbers only in the Caucasus. Such presentation of the historical process in Eurasia does not bear criticism even based on the following general considerations. The historical process of the development or assimilation of peoples does not support the opinion about Iranian linguality of the Scythians, Sarmatians, and Alans. If in such extensive region of Eurasia, as the Iranists assume, lived Iranian speaking Ossetians during a period of not less than two thousand years, then, on one hand, at the ‘arrival’ of Huns they would not have suddenly disappeared without a trace, and would not immediately turned into Türks, and on another hand the Türks, if they did not live earlier in these regions, could not have created instantaneously in the 6 cc. the Great Türkic Kaganate on the most expansive territory from the coast of Pacific Ocean to the Adriatic sea.
We should also keep in mind that the depiction of that ancient population as Iranian speaking contradicts the information of the ancient historians about multilingualism of Scythians and Sarmatians, and is not supported by the toponymical data of the above named extensive region.
Besides, if Scythians and Sarmatians were Iranian speaking, the ancient Assirian, Greek, Roman, Chinese historians could not fail to notice it, they knew well both Iranians – Persians, and the Scythians – Sarmatians, i.e. describing these peoples they would have surely noted somehow the similarity or affinity of the Persian and ‘Scythian’ languages. But we do not find even a hint of this from the ancient writers. At the same time there are many cases of identification of Scythians, Sarmatians, and Alans with various Türkic speaking peoples.
Lastly, if in the extensive territories of Eurasia under a common name Scythians and Sarmatians lived only Iranian speaking peoples, from where would then suddenly appear Slavic, Türkic, and Finno-Ugrian peoples. Only an ironical question is left to be asked: maybe they ‘fell from sky’?!
Thus, even the general review of the results of the Scythian and Sarmatian studies of Iranists shows that in tendentiousness they crossed the limits of unrealistic, unprovable fantasy and concoction.
On the other hand, even before, and after the emergence of the Scytho-Iranian concept, many scientists were proving and confirming the Türkic-speaking of Scythians, Sarmatians and Alans, recognizing the presence among them of Slavic, and Finno-Ugrian, and Mongolian, and also, in the smallest degree, of the Iranian peoples. In the opinion of this group of scientists, even long before AD on the extensive territories of Eurasia, under the general names of Scythians, Sarmatians, and Alans (Asses), lived the ancestors of Türkic peoples. They continued and continue to live now in the same regions, under various ethnonims, since the middle of the 1st - beginning of the 2nd millennium AD. In fact, starting in the 11 c., from the beginning of the Crusader campaigns, the settlement areas of the Türks gradually narrowed.
But, despite of the presence of the two different prevailing points of view, the (Russian - Translator’s note.) official historical science by all possible and impossible rationales tries to prove the truthfulness of the Scythian- Sarmatian-Alanian-Ossetian theory. Here is what V.A. Kuznetsov writes in BSE (Big Soviet Encyclopedia): ‘Alans (Lat. Alan), self-name - Irons, in the Byzantian sources - Alans, in Georgian - Osses, in Russian - Yasses, numerous Iranian speaking tribes, separated in the last century BC from the semi-nomadic Sarmatian population of Nothern Caspian, Don and Pre-Caucasus area, and settled in the I c. AD (per writings of Roman and Byzantian authors) in Meotia and N.Caucasus, from where they were making devastating incursions into Crimea, Meotia and N.Caucasus, Asia Minor, Midia. The basis of the Alan economy of that time was cattle breeding...’
Further, the author describes that in the Central N.Caucasus they formed an association, which was referred to as Alania. In the 8-9 cc. it was included in the Khazar Khaganate. On the turn of 9-10 cc. Alans form an early feudal state. In the 10 c. Alans play a significant role in Khazaria’s external connections with Byzantium, whence Christianity infiltrate to Alania.
Here V.A. Kuznetsov’s information about Alans is stated basically adequately, except that the first part of the first sentence does not correspond to reality at all: it is clear that Alans (Asses) never called themselves Irons, Irons is a self-name of Ossetians only. Hence, V.A. Kuznetsov begins the statement with a falsification, with a priory identification of Alans as Ossetians.
§ 2. On what basis was originally built the opinion about Ossetian speaking of Alans (Asses)? Here we meet with a few ‘incontestable’ facts ‘proving’ the Ossetian linguality of Alans.
It is known that the ancient historians repeatedly noted a complete similarity in language and dress of Alans and Scythians. Besides, per ancients’ message, Alans are one of Sarmatian peoples. As Iranists classify the Scythians and Sarmatians as Ossetian speaking, so, in their opinion, the Alans should certainly be recognized as Ossetian speaking.
It is known that the theory about Iranian (or Ossetian) speaking of Scythians, Sarmatians, and Alans was not developed in objective research, and was created purposefully by tendentious etymologization of Scythian and Sarmatian words, through application of exclusively Indo-Iranian languages. Iranists tenaciously did not admit any other languages to the etymology of these words, not Türkic, or Slavic, or Finno-Ugrian, or Mongolian, whose carriers did not ‘fall from the sky’, but lived in these territories for centuries.
We and many other scientists more than once have shown that Scytho-Sarmatian key words are better etymologized with the help of Turkic languages. The existing etymologies of these words on the basis of the Iranian languages are not convincing, do not have an elementary system, and certainly Scytho-Sarmatian words do not have any Iranian etymology. We list below some key Scythian- Sarmatian words for illustration.
It is known that the name Scythians for the first time shows up in the Assirian documents of the middle of the 7 c. BC. The country of Scythians is called Ishkuza, Scythian kings were Ishpakai and Partatua [Pogrebova M.N., 1981, 44-48].
The word Ishkuza on the Iranian basis has not been explained, but in Türkic it has possible etymologies:
1) Ishke~Echke ‘internal’; Uz - Türkic ethnonim of Oguz part of Türks (oguz~ok-uz ‘white, noble Uzes’);
2) Ishke~Eske, the first part from a word Scyth~ Scyth ~ ~Eske-de; the word Eske in the pure state, i.e. without an affix, is a Türkic ethnonim. The word Scyth (Eske-le) means ‘the people mixed with the people ‘Eske’. The word Eshkuza~ Eske-Uz is used as Uz, i.e. related to the people ‘Eske’; it is the name of the people and of the country;
3) Ishkuza consists of parts Ish-Oguz, where Ish is a variation of a word As, the ancient name of the Türks, Oguz consists of words ak and uz, and means ‘white, noble Uzes’, in turn, Uz also ascends to ethnonim As; Oguz is an ethnonim of a part of the Türks.
Abaev and Fasmer explained Ishpakai as Iranian word aspa ‘Horse’. Suggesting that the name of the Scythian prince is taken from the name of his people, in words Ishkuza and Ishpakai the initial Ish is a part of the same word. Then it is possible to suggest that in a word Ishpakai~ Ishbaga the part ish is ‘equal, friend’ + baga ‘brings up (baga has also the meanings 'he/she watches, looks, takes care of smb. – Edit.)’; ish baga ‘ finds himself equal, friends’.
Partatua has no Iranian etymology, in Türkic partatua~bardy-tua~bar-ly-tua is ‘born for creation of property, wealth’.
The key words, saved in the Greek sources, are first of all the names of Scythians’ ancestors: Targitai, Lipoksai, Arpoksai, Kolaksai; Scythian ethnonims: Sak, Scyth, Agathir (Agafirs), Gelon, Scolot, Sarmat; Scythian words that were etymologized by Herodotus himself: eorpata, enareis, arimasps; And also the names of Scythian gods: Tabiti, Papai, Ani etc. All these words are etymologized on the basis of Türkic language [see Ethnic Roots Of The Tatar People § 3].
By their ethnological features the Scythians and Sarmatians, certainly, are ancient Türkic people. Specifically, it is the ethnological affinity of Scythians and Türks that deters the advocates of the Scythian-Ossetian theory from research of Scythian ethnological problems. As to the Scytho-Turkic ethnological parallels, they were already noted by the first, and then by the subsequent Scythologists, who came to a conclusion that ‘the vestiges of Scythian culture were perpetuated and persistently preserved in the culture of Türkic-Mongolian (and in an a smaller measure in Slavic and Finno-Ugrian) peoples’ [Elnitskiy L.A., 1977, 243]. P.I.Karalkin also came to a conclusion that imperial Scythians were ancestors of the Türkic speaking peoples [Karalkin P.I., 1978, 39-40].
Ethnological features of Scythians and Sarmatians are studied in detail in the book of I.M.Miziev ‘History beside’. It lists 15 Scythian-Türkic (in a wider sense – Altaic) ethological parallels, and concludes that ‘all noted characteristics of the Scythian-Altai parallels find the nearest analogies, nearly without exception, in the culture and life of the many medieval pastoralists of the Eurasian steppes: Huns, Kipchaks etc., and almost completely continue in the traditional culture of the Türkic -Mongolian peoples of Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Volga basin, Caucasus and Altai’ [Miziev I.M., 1990,].
Thus, the message of the ancients about the similarity of the languages of Scythians, Sarmatians and Alans is not a basis at all for identification of Alans as Iranian speaking. The results of the research of many scientists show that Alans, as well as their ancestors, Sarmatians and Scythians, were mainly Türkic speaking, i.e. ancestors of the Türks.
§ 3. What are the other reasons to recognize Alans (Asses) as Türkic speaking? A 1949 issue of V.I.Abaev monograph ‘Ossetian Language And Folklore’ confirms the hypothesis about Iranian speaking of Alans, in addition to the Scytho-Ossetian etymology, by: 1) text of a Zelenchuk epitaph, carved in the 11 c., and 2) phrases in Alanian language given by the Byzantian writer Ioan Tsets (1110 - 1180).
Zelenchuk epigraphic, written in Greek letters, for the first time was deciphered by Vs.F.Miller in the end of the 19 c., on the basis of Ossetian language. His translation reads: ‘Jesus Christ Saint (?) Nikolai Sakhira son Kh...r son Bakatar Bakatai son Anban Anbalan son of adolescent monument (?) (Adolescent Ira) (?)’. This translation by Vs.F.Miller is considered quite satisfactory, he makes only one slightly critical note: ‘ Though name Anbalan we cannot find at Ossetians, it sounds quite Ossetian ‘ [Miller Vs.F., 1893, 115]. V.I.Abaev makes an insignificant change in the text of translation ’Jesus Christ Saint (?) Nikolai Sakhira son Kh...r son Bakatar, Bakatar son Anbalan, Anbalan son Lag – their monument ‘ [Abaev V.I., 1949, 262].
Vs.F.Miller added 8 additional letters to the text in the very beginning of the reading of the Zelenchuk inscription, without which he would not find any Ossetian words whatsoever [Kafoev A.J., 1963, 13]. Following him, all supporters of the Alanian-Ossetian theory, reading the Zelenchuk inscription, always resorted to various manipulations with the letters and words of the inscription [Miziev I.M., 1986, 111-116]. It should be noted that even after the deliberate modifications, the text of the Zelenchuk inscription in Ossetian language remains only a senseless set of personal names and nothing more, but in Karachaevo-Balkarian language it is read precisely and clearly. The words there, certainly, are Türkic. For example, yurt is ‘native land’, Yabgu ‘governor’, yiyip ‘gathered’, ti ‘speak’, zyl ‘year ‘, itiner ‘aspire’, bülünep – ‘separated’, etc. [Laipanov K.T., Miziev I.M., 1993].
In 1990 F.Sh.Fattakhov, having made a critical analysis of the available interpretations of Zelenchuk epitaph, came to a conclusion that the inscription is freely read on the basis of Türkic language. The translation from Türkic language says: ‘Jesus Christ. Name Nicola. If had grown, would not be better to patronize leading yurt. From yurt of Tarbakatai-Alan the child should be made a possessing Khan. Year of Horse’ [Fattakhov F.Sh., 1990, 43-55]. Thus, Alanian epigraphic, found in the land of Karachais and written in the 11 c., is more accurately deciphered through the language of the Karachais ancestors. Hence, Zelenchuk epigraphic cannot serve as a proof of the Iranian speaking of Alans. As to the Alanian phrase of the Byzantian writer Ioan Tsets (1110-1180), kept in the Vatican library in Rome, its deciphering was attempted with the help of the Ossetian language, with various manipulations of the text: ‘corrected’, and rearranged, and even added letters. In the translation of V.I.Abaev the record of Ioan Tsets sounds thus: ‘Good day, my Master, Queen, where from came you? Aren’t you ashamed, my Lady?’ [Abaev V.I., 1949, 245]. A question rises immediately, is such reference to a Lady, a Queen, possible? Apparently, not. The Tsets phrase has such common Türkic words as khos~khosh ‘good, bye’, khotn ‘madam’, kordin ‘saw’, kaitarif ‘returned ‘, oüngnge - the idiom meaning in Balkarian ‘how could it be?’ [Laipanov K.T., Miziev I.M., 1993, 102-103].
The Alanian phrase of Ioan Tsets was also deciphered by F.Sh.Fattakhov, it was shown that it is a Türkic text: ‘Tabagach – mes ele kany kerdets [...] yurnetsen kinya~e mes ele. Kaiter ony [- -] eige’ or ‘Pot hook - copper handle where did you see (?) [...] Should send a smaller (a small) handle. Bring it [- -] home’. [Fattakhov F., 1992].
Thus, Alanian phrase of Ioan Tsets unequivocally speaks about Türkic linguality of Alans.
In the opinion of supporters of the Alanian-Ossetian theory, there is another incontestable proof of the Ossetian speaking of Alans-Asses, it is the book of the Hungarian scientist Y.Nemeth ‘List of words in language of Yasses, Hungarian Alans’, published in German in Berlin in 1959, translated to Russian by V.I.Abaev and published as a separate book in 1960 in Ordjonikidze.
The entire logic of this book is built on unconditional a priory recognition of the Ossetian speaking of Asses-Alans. Because the author Y.Nemeth presents Asses-Alans as obligatorily Ossetian speaking, he attributes the list of words with Ossetian lexical units, found accidentally in 1957 in the State Archive, to the Hungarian Asses (Yasses). All the dictionary transcription work and etymologization of its words is done with a passionate aspiration to certainly find in the list Ossetian words, to attribute them to Asses (Yasses), and forcibly prove them Ossetian speaking. Therefore the dictionary awaits impartial researchers. This is a task of the future, but here it is not our concern. The question is: whether it is possible to recognize Hungarian Yasses as Ossetian speaking even with this book of Y.Nemeth, and from this whether Y.Nemeth acted correctly in attributing the list of words with expected Ossetian lexical units to the Hungarian Yasses?
Let’s listen to the author. He writes: “1. Until the 19 c. Yasses in Hungary form one administrative unit with Cumans (Cumans, Russ. Polovets); both peoples usually carry a common name Yazs-Kunok, i.e. ‘Yasses-Cumans’. Explanation for this is possible only as a result of old close links between two peoples” [Nemeth Y., 1960, 4]. This message of the author leads to a thought that Yasses and Cumans among Hungarians make basically a monolingual community, because they settled together, on the same territory, and carry a common ethnonim Yasses-Cumans. Let’s imagine, if Cumans and Yasses spoke unlike languages, if they came to Hungary at different times, would they settled together and would they carry a common ethnonim? Probably, not.
Further, Y.Nemeth continues: ‘Cumans came to Hungary in 1239, escaping from the invasion of the Mongols. It is therefore possible to think that Alans appeared in Hungary mainly in conjunction with the Cuman union. In its favor also speaks the coexistence of Cumans and Alans in the North Pontic, in the Caucasus and in Moldova’ [Ibis, 4]. We already know that in these regions Alans were Türkic speaking and consequently lived together with Cumans; moreover, Balkars and Karachais still call themselves Alans, and Ossetians call Balkars Assiyas. We know well that Volga Bulgars in another way are called Yasses. The Hungarian scientist Erney informs that after a victory of Svyatoslav over Bulgars in 969 the Muslims resettled from Bulgar to Hungary, and they were called Yasses [Shpilevsky S.M., 1877, 105].
Let’s continue the message of Y.Nemeth. ‘There are seven districts in Hungary with a name Eszlar, Oszlar (from Aslar - ‘Asses’). It is believed that in these names is hidden the name Yasses: As is the Türkic name of Alans, and -lar is Türkic plural suffix; it follows that Cumans called Yasses Aslar. However it should be noticed that in comitate Somogy (south of lake Platten) the name Eszlar is witnessed in the 1229, i.e. before the coming of Cumans, and, in addition, it was in the form Azalar’ [Nemeth Y., 1960, 4]. Nothing is left to assumption here, it is clear that the discourse is about Asses, that they call themselves Aslar in Türkic. Hence, they surely spoke Türkic, instead of Ossetian. Y.Nemeth himself writes that the plural affix -lar is not the result of the Türkic-Cuman language influence. We do not know cases when any people apply their own ethnonim with plural affix from another language.
Further, what says the following message of Y.Nemeth: ‘Anywhere, where there are Cuman populations, we meet Yass settlements’ . If Cumans and Yasses were speaking unlike languages, would they settle adjacently everywhere?
Surprisingly, after these assertions, which should tip Y.Nemeth to the opinion of the ethnical and linguistical similarity or affinity of Cumans and Yasses, the author comes to a conclusion that ‘Cumans and Yasses are of different origin. Cumans are a large Türkic people... and Yasses are people of Iranian origin, branch of Alans, related to Ossetians’ .
The list came to storage from the archive of Batiani family. ‘Date of January 12, 1422. Contents: judicial case of the widow of George Batiani against Ioan and Stephan Safar from Chev’ . Except for a notation that settlement Chev is located in the vicinity of Yass settlement, there is no basis for the assumption that this list of words belongs to Yasses, short of a deep belief by Y.Nemeth himself that list of supposedly Iranian with Ossetian tilt words should be attributed to Alan-Yass language. The surname Batiani says that he, apparently, was of Caucasus-Ossetian origin, therefore the list of words has many Ossetian words. At the same time the list has a lot of Türkic words. I.M.Miziev analyzed the list, found in Hungary, from that point of view [Miziev I.M., 1986, 117-118].
Thus, the postulation of Y.Nemeth that the list, containing Ossetian words, belongs to Yasses -Alans is more than disputable. Even more, the list of words should now be impartially deciphered anew, instead of a prejudiced aspiration to find Ossetian words there.
§ 4. With what peoples their contemporaries identified Alans? It is a very important question. One thing is the opinion of the historians contemporary with Alans, and absolutely different are the attempts of modern scientists to explain history in a certain way according to their agenda.
Reviewing the so-called Scytho-Sarmatian extensive territory, we see that the preceding peoples are frequently identified with the subsequent peoples. Thus, in Assirian sources of 7 c. BC the Cimmerians are identified with Scythians, but the modern historians interpret it as if the ancient historians confused them by mistake. For example, M.N.Pogrebova, speaking about it, writes: ‘It is possible, Assyrians also confused them.’ [Pogrebova M.N., 1981, 48]. Further, in later sources the Scythians are identified with Sarmatians; Sarmatians - with Alans; Scythians, Sarmatians, Alans - with Huns; Alans, Huns - with Türks (i.e. with Avars, Khazars, Bulgars, Pechenegs, Kipchaks, Oguzes) etc.
Let’s present some testimonials about Alans. Roman historian of the 4 c. Ammianus Marcellinus, who was well acquainted with Alans, and who left the most complete description of them, wrote, that Alans ‘in everything are similar to Huns, but are a little bit softer in customs and way of life’ [Ammianus Marcellinus, 1908, Issue 3, 242]. The translator of the ‘History of Judean war by Josephus Flavius’ (written in 70 AD) to Old Russian language the ethnonim Alans translates by a word Yass and, without a shadow of doubt, asserts that the ‘language of Yasses is known as born from the Pecheneg kin’ [Meschersky N.A., 1958, 454]. Vs. Miller also gives this citation, where Alans-Yasses are identified with Pechenegs-Türks, and he points out that the interpreter has replaced Scythians with Pechenegs, and Alans with Yasses [Miller Vs., 1887, 40]. It is clear that this remark does not help Vs. Miller at all to identify Alans with Ossetians, on the contrary, it says that in the 11 c. the interpreter realized very well that Pechenegs are descendents of Scythians, and that Alans are Yasses.
Besides; it is necessary to remember that the ancient historians always described Alans next to Aorses (i.e. Avars), Huns, Khazars, Sabirs, Bulgars, i.e. with Türkic speaking peoples.
Alans left a notable trace in the Middle Volga basin; here again they were identified with Türks, in particular, with Khazars. Thus, existing toponyms in this region ascend to ethnonim Alan. Udmurts have legends about ancient populations. They call a mythological hero Alan-Gasar (Alan-Khazar) and everything that was attributed to him was related to the Nugai people, i.e. Tatars, who in another way were called also Kuruk (Ku-iirk, where, ku ‘white-faced’, iirk - a synonym of the ethnonim Biger ‘the owner, rich’ – M.Z.) [Potanin G.N., 1884, 192]. Here is obvious identification of Alans with Nugais-Tatars.
In the (Russian - Translator’s note.) official historical science the cases of identification of Scythians-Alans-Huns-Khazars-Türks are usually explained by the fact that ancient historians, apparently, frequently confused these peoples. Actually, they could not be confused; for they talked of events they witnessed themselves. They did not have political directives to confuse consciously. In our deep belief, ancients mixed up nothing, but the modern historians, acting from their biases or political directives, want to interpret the ancient sources in their own way and they start ‘correcting’ them. Examining the messages of the ancients carefully and impartially, it becomes incontestably clear that in the so-called Scythian-Sarmatian regions, both in antiquity, and in the Middle Ages, lived basically the same peoples. Essentially the same peoples occupy these territories now.
It is impossible not to notice that the supporters of Alano-Ossetian theory recognize as correct only that part of the statements of the ancients, which recorded the linkage of Scythians-Sarmatians-Alans, but to the other part of the message, about the linkage of Scythians-Sarmatians-Alans-Huns-Türks-Khazars-Bulgars etc. they thoroughly ignore. Hence, they approach the study of ancient sources tendentiously and nonsystematically. That is first. Secondly, as we saw above, their identification of Scythians-Sarmatians-Alans is not the proof of the Ossetian-speaking of Alans, for Scythians and Sarmatians were not Ossetian-speaking.
One more fact deserves attention. How some modern historians visualize ethnic processes in Eastern Europe?
They believe that several waves of new peoples continuously came from Asia to Eastern Europe: some of them in due course were dissolved in Europe, where the conditions of life were better. And in Asia, where the conditions of life were worse than in Europe, the new peoples quickly multiplied while closely observing the Europe: as soon as some ethnicities began to disappear there, they appeared to rush to Europe. Periodically this process was repeated. Thus, unveiled by the supporters of the official historical sciences, Cimmerians have disappeared – and appeared Scythians or, the opposite, appeared from Asia Scythians - disappeared Cimmerians; appeared Sarmatians, disappeared Scythians; among Sarmatians procreated Alans, then appeared Huns (would be first Türks), gradually disappeared Alans; appeared Avars (Aores -Aorses), disappeared Huns; appeared Türks, disappeared Avars; appeared Bolgars, disappeared Khazars; then gradually from Asia to Europe came Pechenegs, Kipchaks, Tataro-Mongols, after which the arrival of Türks from Asia to Europe stopped. For a rationally thinking scientist, such process of constant re-supply of the population of Europe due to the arrival of ‘nomads’ from Asia can not seem plausibly reflect the reality.
Why the ancient historians frequently identified (not confused!) the previous with the subsequent? The answer is clear: in such extensive territories the people basically did not change, changed only the ethnonim. The name of the group that occupied a ruling position became a common ethnonim of the whole people or even of the whole large territory subordinated to that group. And in various periods of history various groups were ruling. Therefore the same people with the flow of time had changing ethnonims. Thus, in the extensive territories of Scythians and Sarmatians in antiquity lived the ancestors of those peoples that basically occupy these territories today. From this point of view, in Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians and Alans we first of all should search for Türks, Slavs and Finno-Ugrians, instead of Iranian lingual Ossetians, who left intermittent traces only in the Caucasian region. The cases of identification of Scythians-Sarmatians-Alans with Türkic people reach up to the present. For example, as in antiquity, so also now the Türkic ‘Balkars and Karachais call themselves by an ethnonim Alans, as, for example, Adygeys... call themselves Adyga, the Georgians - Sakartvelo, Ossetians - Iron, Yakuts - Sakha etc. Mengrels call Karachais Alans; Ossetians call Balkars Asses’ [Khabichev M.A., 1977, 75]. It is a fact, impossible to hide from. But one of the founders of the Sarmato-Scytho-Ossetian theory Vs. Miller falsifies it as follows. Assuming that Balkars and Karachais should certainly be immigrants, and the Ossetians are locals, he writes: ‘Balkars (an immigrant tribe), purged Ossetians from these places, they (i.e. Ossetians) call them Asses (Asiag is Balkarian, Asi is the country they occupied), the ancient name is preserved in the annals in a form Yasses. However, there is no doubt, that not Balkars, who came to the present place rather late, but Ossetians were Yasses of our annals; but the name was attached to the district and has remained, despite of the change in the population. Chechen is called in Ossetian Ttsetsenag, Ingush – Mäkäl, Nogai - Nogayag’ [Miller Vs., 1886, 7]. There is a question, why Ossetians name correctly both Chechens, and Ingushes, and Nogais, making a mistake only in relation to Balkars? Deciphering the mysterious tangle of Vs. Miller, it turns out that Ossetians at first called themselves and their territories Asiag, then, when the Ossetians snoozed, came Balkars and transferred sleeping Ossetians to another territory, taking their former land. The next day the Ossetians woke up and, using the name of the territory, began using their own ethnonim Yasses for Balkars, instead of themselves, as before, and also began to call themselves Ironians, for they did not recall how they were called earlier. It would be clear to every child that in real life this does not happen and cannot happen. This ‘fairy tale’ was necessary for Vs. Miller to prove by any means the equivalency of the historical Asses and Ossetians.
Further, Vs. Miller gives examples from the Caucasus toponymy reminding Ossetian words. Nobody would doubt that among Caucasian toponyms are Ossetian’s, for they lived there, but at the same time there is a lot of Türkic names, experts estimate there are many more of the last. From several toponymic facts and from the fact that instead of themselves Ossetians call Balkars (by ‘mistake’) Asses, which works against the author, Vs. Miller resolves: ‘There is a reason to think that the ancestors of Ossetians were included in the composition of the Caucasian Alans ‘ [Ibis, 15]. Thus, he kept silent the fact that Balkars and Karachais call themselves by ethnonim Alans, and they are called Alans by Mengrels.
Thus, Alans, in the firm opinion of their contemporaries, were Türkic speaking. If they were Ossetian or Iranian speaking, the numerous historians would have mentioned it somewhere.
§ 5. Ethnolinguistical nature of Asses -Alans by other data. The name Alans is mentioned for the first time in the sources in the 1c. BC, but the variants of the name As are found much earlier. For example, in the Assirian and other ancient Eastern sources ‘the name Uds is traced from a deep antiquity, namely from the 3 millennium BC, which can be connected with Caspian Uds’ [Elnitskiy L.A., 1977, 4]. Based on the usual interchange of sounds d-z in Türkic languages it is possible to conclude, that the name Ud is a variant of an ethnonim Uz, which, certainly, meant Türks (compare ashina~asina ‘mother of As’) and means a part of the Türks, i.e. Oguzes (ak~uz ‘white, noble Uzes ‘). The phonetic variants of the ethnonim Uz are well known: Ud, Us, Os, Yos, Yass, Ash, Ish etc.
It remains a puzzle why Asses became referred to as Alans, why the sources known to us identify Asses and Alans. About the etymology of the word Alan there are various points of view, but none of them tries to deduce it from the word Alban. Meanwhile, such attempt could be very fruitful, for Alans lived in Caucasian Albania and it is not known until now, who were these Albans. From the 1 c. BC to 8 c. AD this people is frequently mentioned in many sources, its main population lived in Caucasian Albania, with the territory by the Caspian sea, north of the river Kura. Albania approximately corresponds to Shirvan.
In Scythian and Sarmatian time in this region could have lived one of the ancestors of modern Azerbaijanis, called Aluan (Aluank). As notes F.Mamedova, the Albanian self-consciousness of the inhabitants of these places is reflected in their self-name aluank from the 1 c. BC to 8 c. AD, within the limits of all of the Albania, and after the ‘fall of the Albanian Kingdom, as a fragmental phenomenon, both the ethnonim, and the Albanian self-consciousness is traceable in the 9-19 cc. in one part of the country - in Artsakh ‘ [Mamedova Farida, 1989, 109].
By the phonetic laws of the Türkic language the word aluank could have variants Alan, Alban, Alvan. The sound k, apparently, is a part of an affix of belonging -nyky (Aluannyky - ‘the people belonging to Aluan’). Strongly reduced y is almost not heard, therefore it dropped out very quickly, double nn in due course gives one n, thus comes a word aluank , where the sound k is further reduced. As to the sound u, it sounds as w, and w usually sounds as a zero sound, or b, or v. So, from Aluau~Alyuan were formed Alan, Alban, and Alvan. All of them were actively used. Variation Alban in Yakut means ‘resourceful, good looking, beautiful’. If this meaning was used in the word Alan, it proves the message of Ammianus Marcellinus that ‘almost all Alans are tall and have fair hair, beautiful face, eyesight is if not furious, still is fearsome’ [Ammianus Marcellinus, 1908, 241].
Thus, Alans in Caucasus, possibly, were originally known under ethnonim Aluan, which then has received the forms Alan, Alban, and Alvan.
Let’s address another ethnonim of Alans, ethnonim As with its numerous phonetic variations. In the ancient Türkic inscription monuments of the 8 c. Asses are listed as Türkic tribes. They are mentioned multiple times next to the Türks, Kirghiz, and are presented as a branch of Türks-Turgeshes [Bartold V.V., 1968, 204], and Kirghizes in the valley of the river Chu [Bartold V.V., 1963, 492]. The Eastern historians of the 10-11 cc., including M.Kashgari, write about the tribe ‘az keshe ‘people Az’ which, alongside with Alans and Kasa (Kasogs), undoubtedly, wereTürkic tribes [Bartold V.V., 1973, 109]. Al Biruni as a scientist declares that the language of Asses and Alans reminds the languages of Khoresmians and Pechenegs [Klyashtornyi S.G.,1964, 174-175]. Here it should be noted that Khoresmian is presumed as an Iranian language solely on the basis of few words preserved in the Arabian sources, just as Iranists have imposed this language on Tokhars and Sogdians, and other historical peoples. Actually, Khorezmians were basically Türkic speaking, and were included in the Massagetan confederation union, which the ancients identified with Huns. And as stated by Al Biruni, the Khoresmian language was close to Pechenegian, which, in turn, as acknowledged by the interpreter of Joseph Flavius, resembled Alanian-Yass language.
Let’s turn to the Russian annals, which say that in 965 AD Svyatoslav attacked Kozars (Khazars - M.Z.) and defeated both Yasses, and Kosogs. Here is an implication, identifying Khazars with Yasses. Besides, the Orientalists, identifying this statement with that of the Eastern historian Ibn Khaukal, assert that it tells about the Svyatoslav Volga campaign against Khazars, Bulgars, and Burtases [Shpilevsky S.M., 1887, 103]. If that is so, it means that Bulgars and Burtases of Volga were called Yasses. As writes S.M.Shpilevsky, the Russian prince Andrey Bogolubsky, living in the 12 c., had Bulgarian wife [Shpilevsky S.M., 1877, 115]. And historian V.N.Tatischev calls ‘Yassian Princess’ the wife of the Prince, and asserts that the brother of the ‘Yassian Princess’ (brother - in - law of the Prince) Küchük killed Prince A. Bogolubsky in 1175 [Tatischev V.N., 1962, 375]. Küchük is obviously a Türkic name. The presence of this word in many Türkic ethnonims also says that ethnonim As designated Türkic tribes. So, V.Romadin, who prepared the works of V.V.Bartold for publishing, based on the fact that in the composition of the 7 c. ‘Badaiat-tavarikh’ the Kirghizes are called Asses, the ethnonim Kirghiz, which consist of two words kyryk and As (‘forty Asses’), connect it to the ethnic or geographical term Az, As or Us [Bartold V.V., 1963, 485]. The basis as (yas, az, us, uz), apparently, is present in the ethnonims Burtas, (burta-As) - ‘forest Asses’ or ‘Asses, engaged in honey’, Yazgyr (Oguz tribes in M.Kashgari), Yasyr – Türkmenian tribes [Kononov A.N., 1958, 92], Yazygs is a Sarmatian tribe, Oguzes ‘white, noble Uses’, Taulas (tauly Asses), i.e. ‘ mountain Asses’, Suas ‘water Asses’. Maris, in their ancient tradition, called Kazan Tatars Suases, and a part of them does it now. Ethnonim Suas was a self-name of Tatars [Chernyshev E.I., 1963, 135; Zakiev M.Z., 1986, 50-54].
Let’s pay a special attention to last two ethnonims: Taulas and Suas. As in a word Taulas (Tulas), which is the name of one of the mountain areas of Khazaria [Bartold V.V., 1973, 541, 544], and also, apparently, of its population, so in the word Suas the root As is applied together with Türkic determining words, which once again proves the Türkic speaking of Asses.
The Perm Tatars, whose ancestors were directly connected with Biar (Bilyar) and Bulgars, before acceptance of the ethnonim Tatars, which at that time was a status rank, called themselves Ostyak, which means ‘Ossian (Yassian) people’, for Ostyak comes from a word Ostyk~Oslyk. Ostyaks also took part in the formation of Bashkirs, therefore Perm and Western Siberian Tatars, and a part of Bashkirs, who were their Eastern neighbors, are called now Ostyak~Ishtyak~Ushtyak. The Tatar historian of the end of the 18-beginning of 19 cc. Yalchigul considered himself to be Bolgarlyk Ishtyak. Even in the 18 c. the Perm Tatars, in their appeals, stated that their ancestors were called Ostyaks [Ramazanova D.B., 1983, 145]. Also interesting is the fact that the ancient settlement centers of Perm Tatars, later becoming district centers, were called Os and Kungur, these names coincide with ethnonim As and Kungur (i.e. Kangyr – Pechenegs).
Thus, the word As with all its phonetical variations in the designation of the Türkic-speaking peoples was applied very widely, and in parallel with a word er (ir-ar). Apparently, in antiquity the Western peoples also quite actively used the ethnonim As as the name of Eastern peoples. So, in the Scandinavian mythology Asses was the name for the main group of gods, and at the same time it was stated that Asses came from Asia, hinting of the identity of the words Asses and Asia [Myths of the peoples of the world, 1980, 120].
There is one curious stroke in the Iranists’ description of the Alanian history. After deportation of Karachais and Balkars from Caucasus, the basically Türkic Nartovian epos that become common for them during the long centuries of Karachais-Balkars coexistence with Ossetians, was declared to be solely Ossetian, and on this ground the Ossetians were identified with Alans. Actually, here again the door opens very simply: Balkars and Karachais call themselves Alans from the most ancient times until present, and this epos first of all tells about Alans-Türks (i.e. Karachais-Balkars), and in the long years of joint life the Ossetians acquired the Nartovian epos.
§ 6. Close interaction of Alans with Huns, Khazars and Kipchaks. Tracing the Alanian history, it is not difficult to notice that they cooperated most closely with Türks, at first with Sarmatians and Sarmatian people, Roxolans (in Türkish - Uraksy Alans, ‘Alans-farmers’), Siraks (i.e. Sary-ak people ‘white-yellow’, ancestors of Cumans), Aorses (Aor-Awar-Avars, -os is a Greek ending), Yazygs (Türks - Uzes). All historians admit the close link of Alans with these people, only in the definition of ethnolinguistic classification of these peoples do the opinions differ. Iranists classify them as Iranian speaking, Türkologists – as Türkic speaking, as supported by numerous historical facts.
Prior to sorting out the Alanian-Hunnish links, one should visualize Huns. The official historical science postulates that Huns, first mentioned in the Chinese sources, sometime in the II c. migrated from Central Asia to Urals, and from there in 70ties of the 4 c. poured into the Eastern Europe, thus initiating, supposably, the so-called The Great Migration of Peoples; allegedly Huns were the first Türks appearing in Europe; on the way to Europe they would have subdued Alans in the Northern Caucasus, and, led by the leader Balamber, crossed river Don, defeated Goths, Ostgoths, and Vestgoths, who infiltrated the Northern Pontic, and expelled Vestgoths to Thracia; supposedly crossing through Caucasus, they devastated Syria and Cappadocia, settled in Pannonia, and kept attacking the Eastern Roman empire. In 451 under Attila they invaded Gaul, but on Katalun fields Romans, Vestgoths, and Franks defeated them. After the death of Attila (453.) there were conflicts among Huns, and the German tribes devastated them in Pannonia. The Hunnish union broke up, and they left to Northern Pontic. Gradually, Huns disappeared as people, though their name still lingered for a long time as a common name for Northern Pontic nomadic pastoralists [Gumilev L.N. Huns]
Such an unreal explanation of the history by L.N.Gumilev raises questions: whether could nomads, having forded Volga, defeat strong Alans, Goths, Syrians, Anatolians (in Cappadocia), population of Pannonia, Gaul, Northern Italy? Certainly, this is unreal. How could L.N.Gumilev determine that Huns disappeared, while their ethnonim continued to last as a common name of the Pontic nomads? How he could know that ethnonim Huns for long time designated not Huns, but others? Whom? Why the advancing Romans, and together with them other peoples (more correctly, armies and colonists), did not constitute the Great Migration of Peoples, while creating a huge Roman empire, but the movement from the periphery to the central regions of the Roman empire of other peoples (liberation army, avenging colonists) is called a Great Migration of Peoples? Why Türks, at first as Huns, and then under the names of Avars, Türks, Khazars, Cumans, and Kipchaks constantly migrated from Asia to Europe? Where would they disappear there? How did they procreate so quickly in Asia? Etc. Trying to answer these questions makes it clear that the traditional presentation of Türks’ history is fashioned tendentiously, irrespectively of the real historical conditions.
Summarizing impartially all historical data based on real historical grounds, it is not difficult to suggest that Huns (Sen or Hen) at first were an undistinguished Türkic people among Türkic Scythians and Sarmatians. They started making themselves known in the 1 c. AD. The Greek historians, marking their presence in Europe, did not say a word about their arrival from Asia.
Thus, Dionysus (the end of the 1st - beginning of the 2nd c.) notes that on the Northwestern side of the Caspian sea live Scythians, Uns, Caspians, Albanians, and Kaduses... [Latyshev V.V., 1893, 186]. As we were proving more than once, Scythians were basically Türkic speaking (see ETHNIC ROOTS OF THE TATAR PEOPLE, § 3), Uns are Huns, with sound h dropped, Caspians also are Türkic ‘people of rocks’ (kas ‘rock’, pi~bi~bai ‘rich owner’), Albanians are Alans, Kaduses are Türkic Uzes~Uses among kad ‘rocks’.
Ptolemy (2 c. AD; B.3 Ch.5 – Translator’s note) writes that in European Sarmatia ‘below Agathyrsi (i.e. Akatsirs~agach ers ‘forest people’– M.Z.) live Savari (Türkic Suvars - M.Z.), between Basternae and Rhoxolani (Uraksy Alans, i.e. ‘Alans-farmers’ - M.Z.) live Huns [Latyshev V.V., 1883, 231-232].
Philostorgy, living in the end of the 4 c. (i.e., when, in the opinion of certain scientists, Huns moved to Eastern Europe), describing Huns, does not say a single word of their arrival from Asia, and writes: ‘These Uns are probably the people which ancients named Nevrs; they lived at Ripean mountains (Don Ridge S. of Donets river, Mid-Europian Uplands N. of it - Translator’s note), from which come the waters of Tanaid’ [Latyshev V.V., 1893, 741].
Zosim (2nd half of the 5c.) suggests that Huns are Royal Scythians [Ibis, 800]. The impartial analysis of the ethnographic data provides a basis to state that Royal Scythians were ancestors of Türkic peoples [Karalkin P.I., 1978, 39-40].
Thus, among peoples named Scythians and Sarmatians, at the beginning of our era, the Huns make themselves known; in the Assirian and other Eastern sources they were mentioned among the people living in the 3rd millennium BC. In the 4 c. in a fight for a domination in Northern Caucasus they defeated the Alanian power, and together with them revolted against colonial policy of the Roman empire, at first in Cappadocia, then in the western part of the empire, where have appeared new Gothic colonizers. Naturally, neither Huns, nor Alans, did not move to the West as a people, as it is imagined by the supporters of the ‘Great Migration Of Peoples’, it was the Hunnish-Alanian army that penetrated deep into the West. The main body of the Hunnish and Alanian peoples remained in the same places of habitation.
In the end of the 4 c. Huns, together with Alans, fell on Goths, who wanted to colonize the Northern Pontic. The main historian of Huns and Alans of this period, Ammianus Marcellinus, frequently equated them, for they were ethnically very close. ‘Ammianus Marcellinus not only emphasized that precisely the assistance of Alans helped Huns, but also quite often called attackers Alans’ [Vinogradov V.B., 1974, 113].
After the death of Attila (453) the Hunnish union gradually disintegrated, and Huns as a ruling power do not appear any more, they fused with Türkic Alans and Khazars, while keeping their ethnonim Hun (Sen).
In the Gaul the Alans entered into a close contact with Vandals (Eastern Germans), together they devastated Gaul, and in the 409 resettled in Spain, where Alans received the middle part of Lusitania (later - Portugal) and Cartagena. However, in the 416 Vestgoths entered Spain and defeated Alans. In May of the 429 the Vandal King Geizerix together with subordinated Alans went to Africa, and, defeating the Roman armies, created a new Vandal and Alan state. As the result the Alanian troops dissolved among Vandals and local population. But in the Northern Pontic and in the Caucasus the Huns and Alans continued to cooperate closely.
Following disintegration of the Hunnish empire, in the decentralized period, various tribes and peoples tried to become the ruling group, therefore in the Byzantian sources frequently appear ethnonims: Akatsirs, Barsils, Saragurs, Savirs, Avars, Utigurs, Kutigurs, Bolgars, Khazars. All these ethnonims belong to Türkic populations. Barsils are the inhabitants of Berselia (Berzilia), which in many sources is considered as the country of Alans. Here is an obvious identification of Alans with Barsils~Bersuls, considered related to Khazars [Chichurov I.S., 1980, 117]. More than that, from Berzilia also came the Khazars. So, Theophan in 679-680 writes: ‘From the depths of Berzilia, the first Sarmatia, came the great people Khazars and began to dominate all land on that side down to the Pontic Sea’ [Chichurov I.S., 1980, 61].
From the 5 c. among Caucasian Alans, i.e. numerous Türkic peoples, other tribes also began to make themselves known: Khazars, Bulgars, Kipchaks etc. After the brilliant performance of the Türkic peoples, led by the Huns, against the colonial policy of Goths and Romans, the Huns ceased to be ruling, their place took Alans and Khazars, who competed on the political arena up to the 10 c. ‘From the 5 c. the push of Khazar Khaganate grows, establishing control over Alans ‘ [Vinogradov V.B., 1974, 118]. In the 8 c., at the time of the Alanian expansion, the Alans once again proved that they supported Khazars. ‘The 10 c. marks a turn. Now the Khazars had to recognize their former vassals with the following words: ‘Alanian Kingdom is stronger and tougher than all other peoples around us’ [Vinogradov V.B., 1974, 118-119].
In the 11 c. in the Northern Caucasus others nations begin to raise – Kipchaks (Russ. Polovets), who at once joined with Alans, and established peaceful and loving relations [Djanashvili M., 1897, 36]. In this area Alans, together with Kipchaks, adopted Christianity.
In the 1222 Alans and Kipchaks come out together against Mongolo-Tatars. Seeing that they together represent an undefeatable force, Mongolo-Tatars used a trick. ‘Seeing danger, the leader of Chengizkanids (Subetai - Translator’s note)... sent gifts to Kipchaks and ordered to tell them, that they, being the same kin as the Mongols, should not rise against the brothers and be friends with Alans, who are entirely of another lineage’ [Karamzin N.M., 1988, 142]. Here Mongolo-Tatars figured, apparently, that their army at this time consisted primarily of the Kipchak Türks of the Central Asia, therefore they addressed Kipchaks as kins, and Alans of Caucasus were partially Kipchaks (ancestors of Karachai-Balkars), and partially Oguzes (ancestors of Azerbaidjans - inhabitants of Caucasian Albania - Alania).
It is known that soon all Kipchak steppes passed into the hands of Mongolo-Tatars. The Volga Bulgaria, the main component of whose population was referred to as Yasses, subordinated to Mongolo-Tatars in 1236, and Alans - Yasses of Northern Caucasus - in 1238.
Thus, Alans made their celebrated military and political route hand-to-hand with their Türkic kins: Huns, Khazars and Kipchaks. From the 13 c. Alans-Yasses cease to be ruling among the other Türkic people. But it does not mean at all that they physically disappeared, they lived among others Türkic people and gradually entered into their ethnicity, accepting their ethnonim. Such a strong, scattered along all Eurasia people as Alans-Yasses, cannot be equated to Iranian speaking Ossetians by a single trait, and could not be suddenly reduced ‘by a miracle’ to the strictures of the Caucasus Ossetians.
If the Scythians, Sarmatians and Alans were Ossetian speaking, all Eurasia should have Ossetian toponyms. They do not exist, unless artificially (quasi-scientifically) produced. Thus, in all their attributes the Alans were Türkic, and took part in the formation of many Türkic peoples.
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Translated by Norm KISAMOV.