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Phrygian

Proto-Bulgarians and Armenians

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Disclaimer: For a long time various scholars and historians erroniously considered the Bulgars that migrated from the East, settled in the Balkans and assimilated with Slavic invaders from the North to be of turkic origin. Recent research suggests that Bulgars were of Iranic stock, speaking an Indo-European tongue from Pamir, who through the course of their long trek to the West, as a direct result of barbarian attacks merely picked up some turkic elements.

Old Armenian sources confirm this.

http://tangra.bitex.com/eng/kalendar/2001/5.htm

The first information about the Bulgarian presence in these lands was given by Mar Abas Katina. It is in the composition of Moses Horen “A History of Armenia” (book II, 6, 9). In the days of the Armenian king Arshak, the time between the reign of Artaksi II Arshak (33-20 BC) and Arshak (35-41 AD), troubles were breeding in the gorges of the great mountain of Caucasus, in the “Country of the Bulgarians”. Many of them separated and settled in the foothills of Koh (Kol), in the fertile lands of Upper (No Trees) Basian. The colonists were of the people Vlndur Bulgar Vund.

The region began to be called after their leader Vanand and the settlements were named after his brothers and successors, Bulhar, Doks, Toh (Tuh), Altsek. This Bulgarian toponymy can be found in the compositions of the later Armenian historians, A. Kretatsi, J. Drashanakertatsi, M. Kalankatuatsi. At the beginning of the 4th century Vanand’s descendants fell within the evangelisation reach of the young Armenian Church. Tsar Tiran (338-350) ordered a royal suite to accompany the candidate for Catholicos, Iusik, to his accession in Cesaria. Orot, the prince of Vanand, was in the suite. When the sons of Catholicos Iusik turned unworthy of receiving the pastor’s sceptre from his own hand, the tsar sent four princes to invite the pupil of Gregory Educator, Bishop Danail. Artavan, the prince of Vanand was among them.

Favstos Buzand wrote as a witness that in the process of the division of Armenia in zones of influence between Rome and Persia (387), people of “the clan of the Vanands” did not join any of the sides but retreated in the mountainous forests of Taik. Those brave people, who were ready to defend their freedom risking their life, knew only one way of communicating with other tribes and peoples – peaceful settlement and equal coexistence. At that time, the bishop of Vanand was Zorguaz who lived and served as an exemplary Christian pastor. At the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 5th century, some of the Bulgarians from Armenia migrated back to North Caucasus. The rest of the Vanand people stayed and shared the dramatic history of the Armenians. After the decree of the Persian Tsar Jezdigert II (449) to abolish Christian faith in the country, the bishops of Armenia, Georgia and Albania refused to obey. Gad, the bishop of Vanand, was one of the participants in the meeting who made that decision. Egishe, a participant in the decisive Battle of Avarai (26 May 451), tells that one of the three Christian armies was led by the Bulgarian Tatul of Vanand. The Armenian Church notifies that 1036 Christian warriors entered their names in the “book of life” on that same day. In the vacuum of power after the death of Jezdigert II (457), N. Chichraketsi united the greater part of the Armenian people and chased away the Persian troops from the country. M. Horenski notes the Bulgarian participation, “Here all people of Vanand distinguished themselves with their courage” (book III, 56).

The copy of the Throne Certificate (Gahnamak) of the middle of the 5th century, which has been preserved, is a testimonial of the unification of the Bulgarians in the Armenian society. In it, among the 70 clans, the clan of the Vanands occupies the 14th place. It should be noted that 10 of the clans were considered senior and had “attributed” posts and unchangeable functions in the social and political life of Armenia. One Armenian Catholicos even has the preface “Altsek” in his name – Komitas I Altseki (651-628).

~~~

The Ancient Bulgarians from Imeon and their Neighbours 03.2001

Senior Research Associate Dr. Peter Dobrev, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

Near Mount Imeon (present day Pamyr and Hindukush), the most ancient Bulgarian land, one of the earliest agricultural civilisations of the East developed 4000-5000 years ago. It is evident from the preserved sources that the Bulgarians and their neighbouring peoples were related to this civilisation. Historical science did not possess any concrete facts about that for a long time. A valuable hand-written copy of the ancient Armenian geography “Ashharatsuits” has been found recently. In it, the Bulgarians are mentioned among the 15 old trade and craftsmanship peoples, which inhabited the area between Persia and Turkestan in the foothills of Mount Imeon. In the text, the name of the Bulgarians is mentioned second among the peoples listed which means that they were among the most outstanding and respected ethnic groups in the region. Besides them, some of the ancient Huns, whom the Armenian historians describe as a backward, undeveloped tribe, lived near Mount Imeon.

That is why it is not correct to equate the Huns and the Bulgarians, as the proponents of the Huno-Bulgarian theory do. The Armenians did not possess the notion of Huno-Bulgarians. The same is true about the ancient Indian historians who describe the Bulgarians as a developed and proud people and the Huns as one of the most backward nomadic tribes.

During the ages before Christ, close neighbours of the Bulgarians were the Massagets, an ancient and very powerful people which was famous for the fact that its queen Tomiris defeated the Persian king Kir. The fact that one of the most erudite Byzantine historians, Prokopius Kesar, uses the name “Massagets” as a synonym of the Kutrigurs, one of the well-known Bulgarian tribes, is indicative of the close relationship between the Bulgarians and the Massagets.

Other authors like Amian Martselin consider the Massagets to be the forefathers of the Alans who were then the closest allies of the Bulgarians in Asia. It shows that the union between the Bulgarians and the Alans started as early as the time when the ancient Bulgarians lived near Mount Imeon and continued on the territory of Europe.

During the ages before Christ, close neighbours of the Bulgarians were the Massagets, an ancient and very powerful people which was famous for the fact that its queen Tomiris defeated the Persian king Kir. The fact that one of the most erudite Byzantine historians, Prokopius Kesar, uses the name “Massagets” as a synonym of the Kutrigurs, one of the well-known Bulgarian tribes, is indicative of the close relationship between the Bulgarians and the Massagets.

Other authors like Amian Martselin consider the Massagets to be the forefathers of the Alans who were then the closest allies of the Bulgarians in Asia. It shows that the union between the Bulgarians and the Alans started as early as the time when the ancient Bulgarians lived near Mount Imeon and continued on the territory of Europe.

The Saks, who were called Shaka, were another neighbouring people of the Bulgarians of the earliest period. This great and mighty tribe once lived to the east and north of Imeon. According to the legends, Budha, also known as Shakyamuni, sprang. Little is known of the relations between the Bulgarians and the Saks. It is known though that the Saks spoke a language of the Eastern-Iranian type, which was close to the Sogdian language. They resembled the ancient Bulgarians in their outer appearance; there is information about that in the Indian sources. In the Arabic chronicles, the Bulgarians were called by two parallel names, Bulgarians and Sakalibs. When their king sent a letter to the Arab khalif, Al-Moktadir, he called himself King of the Sakalibs in order, perhaps, to highlight his connection to the famous ancient Saks. It is also known that a characteristic feature of the clothing of the Saks and the Volga Bulgarians was the tall pointed fur cap. That is shown in the Persian images and the picture of Volga Bulgaria where the tall pointed cap is called “kalansuva va al-Bulgaria” (Bulgarian cap) by the Arab writer.

The Saks, who were called Shaka, were another neighbouring people of the Bulgarians of the earliest period. This great and mighty tribe once lived to the east and north of Imeon. According to the legends, Budha, also known as Shakyamuni, sprang. Little is known of the relations between the Bulgarians and the Saks. It is known though that the Saks spoke a language of the Eastern-Iranian type, which was close to the Sogdian language. They resembled the ancient Bulgarians in their outer appearance; there is information about that in the Indian sources. In the Arabic chronicles, the Bulgarians were called by two parallel names, Bulgarians and Sakalibs. When their king sent a letter to the Arab khalif, Al-Moktadir, he called himself King of the Sakalibs in order, perhaps, to highlight his connection to the famous ancient Saks. It is also known that a characteristic feature of the clothing of the Saks and the Volga Bulgarians was the tall pointed fur cap. That is shown in the Persian images and the picture of Volga Bulgaria where the tall pointed cap is called “kalansuva va al-Bulgaria” (Bulgarian cap) by the Arab writer.

The information of the ancient calendar of the Sacs, which was brought to India and kept many centuries, shows that it was similar to the ancient Bulgarian calendar. In it, every year had a special name, “sal bagai”, which means commander of the year in the language of the Saks. The specific word “bagai” (commander) almost entirely matches the word “bagain” which was a war title of the ancient Bulgarians.

The famous peoples of Utis, Paktis and Sogdians were also neighbours of the Bulgarians in the region of Mount Imeon. It is known that they lived there as early as 7th-6th century BC. The name Utis is mentioned by the Greek historian Herodotus among the peoples that lived the eastern most parts of the Persian Empire at the foothills of Mount Imeon. A thousand years later, the Byzantine historian Agatius Mirinei indicates another people at the same place naming it Utigurs, one of the well-known Bulgarian tribes. According to Agatius, the Utigurs, Kutrigurs and Vurugunds (probably Unogundurs) inhabited the lands on this side of Mount Imeon in Asia. Probably, this information is not misleading because even today a large tribe called Uts lives in the valleys of Hindukush in Afghanistan. The same name, Uts, is borne today by one of the tribes of the Kurds and by a small Caucasus people in Dagestan (called Uts in Caucassus and Udins in Russian).

The Paktis, neighbours of the ancient Utis and Utigurs, inhabit the northern slopes of Mount Imeon today. They are called Pakto or Pashto (this is the name that the present-day Afghans call themselves). Other neighbours of the ancient Bulgarians are also known. They were the Sogdis, a large and powerful people with its own kingdom and script that inhabited the eastern parts of Mount Imeon. Their trade colonies reached as far as China. The Byzantine Emperor, Ustinian I, learned the secret of breeding the silkworm from the Sogdians. A distant descendant of this great people is the small Pamyr tribe, Jagnobs, which still lives in the valley of the river Jagnob-Darja.

The Horesmians, another great people mentioned in the ancient Armenian chronicles as a neighbour of the Bulgarians, lived to the north of the Sogdians. They were tradesmen famous for their script and high culture. Their wealth was related to the fact that through the lands the route of the trade in gems and precious stones, which were extracted in Mount Imeon and transported north, passed.

In ancient times, the Bulgarians were also in close contact with the Indians who lived to the south of the Old Bulgarian fatherland. According to the “Machabharate”, the ancient Indian epic, the Bulgarians participated in the great Indian war as allies of the Indian royal clan, the Kauravs, and famed themselves as brave warriors on horseback.

What are the common features, peculiarities and achievements of the large peoples that were neighbours of the ancient Bulgarians? Firstly, they all spoke languages, which belonged to the East-Iranian (Indoeuropean) type. This is true about the Masagets, the Alans who sprang from them and whose descendants were the Osetins in Caucasus, the Saks, Sogdis, Utis, Paktis and Horemsians. Their written monuments are the object of a special branch of Iranian Studies – Middle-Iranian Linguistics. Another general feature of all neighbours of the ancient Bulgarians is the fact that most of them had strong states and were occupied with trade.

The Armenian geography “Ashharatsuits” says the following: “In Skitia [Central Asia] there are five countries, of which the Sogdiana and Sakastan are known. These two regions are inhabited by up to 15 peoples which are rich craftsmanship and trade peoples living in the space between Turkestan and Iran in the foothills of Mount Imai (Imeon), amongst whom there exist 43 nomadic tribes. Of the 15 peoples, one is called Massagets, after it comes the the Bulh people [bulgarians], and after it to the north-west come the Horesmians where in the Tur region the Horesmian Stone is extracted as well as the best Serdolik. Of the 43 tribes, one is called Heptal [the Huns-Eftalits], another is Alhon, the third is Valhon, and the rest of them bear such barbaric names that it is not worth mentioning them”.

From this source, it is evident that the ancient Bulgarians were positioned near Mount Imeon in a varied and complex surrounding of peoples. The fact that they used to live in that particular region of the world is obvious even from their name. The Pamyr word “bulhor” means Bulgarian, a citizen of Bulgaria, in all the languages of the region. The use of the Pamyr form of the name of the Bulgarians in the “Ashharatsuits” shows that the Armenian writers got their information from a reliable and authentic source. That is why the picture presented by them is a valuable asset for throwing some light on the ancient history of the Bulgarians.

As is seen from the Armenian chronicles, the Bulgarians played a remarkable role among the peoples near the Pamyr and Hindukush and participated actively in the creation of the ancient Pamyr ciilisation.

bv21.jpg

In brief : The first contacts between the Bulgarian and the Armenian peoples had been made in those distant times that make difficult to distinguish between legends and reality. However, reliable sources present grounds to affirm that they date back not later II c. AD and their territory of contacts had been not only the land of historical Armenia and Bulgaria, but also the steppes of Northern Caucasus and Volga region, Asia Minor and the Balkan peninsula.

Edited by Phrygian

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