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Valentyn Stetsyuk (Lviv, Ukraine)

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About the Foundation of the City of Kyiv

Throughout Europe, there are a large number of names of settlements, rivers, mountains, and lakes, which cannot be explained by means of the languages of the local population and therefore can be recognized as "dark".

Among other things, an important conclusion of the study of prehistoric toponymy is that in Eastern Europe there are a lot of settlements that have existed not for hundreds, as is commonly believed, but for thousands of years, since pre-Scythian times. The basis for such a statement is the linking of clusters of toponyms of a certain linguistic affiliation with archaeological cultures, the age of which scientists have learned to determine quite accurately.

As for the language origin of place names, their explaining is supported not only by means of certain languages but often by their location in or near the ethno-generating areas. Celebrating anniversaries of cities since the time of mentioning them in annals, sometimes we reduce for centuries their actual age. The 1500th anniversary of Kyiv in 1982 was seen by some scientists skeptical as the unfounded increase of the age of our capital. But according to the age of the other settlements of Ukraine, the time of the foundation of Kyiv has to be to referred at least to the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. Considerations for this statement are as follows. In the Armenian chronicles of Zenob Glak from the 10th or 11th century contains the legend of the foundation of the city Quara, similar to a legend about the founding of Kyiv, known through the "Tale of Bygone Years". This fact discovered by N. Marr (MARR N.Ya. 1935: 44-66 a.o.) has great scientific interest. It turns out that the earliest mention of the founding of Kyiv is in Armenian sources. But why the Armenians had this legend and how they got it? After all, Armenia is located far from Ukraine and what interest of the Armenians to our history? Some historians answered the mysterious question as if this legend was brought to Armenia by the Slavic captives of the Arab commander Marwan after his victory over the Khazars in 737.

The explanation is doubtful, because Marwan, though carried 20 thousand families of prisoners, fought far away from Slavic settlements, and on the other hand, the legend itself could not interest the Armenian chronicler more than a large mass resettlement of foreigners who have brought this legend. He's nothing about this relocation does not mention it, and the very relocation was not in Armenia but in Kakheti from where these people fled but were killed on their way to escape. In addition, there are evidence and logical inferences in favor of that Zenobia Gluck, a Syrian by birth, lived in the 4th article, being the first abbot of the monastery of Surb Karapet, founded by Gregory the Illuminator, founder of the Armenian Apostolic Church. He wrote a history of the spread of Christianity in the Armenian province of Taron in Arabic, obviously because the Armenian alphabet yet had not been invented, which began to be used only in the 5th century. It follows that he really lived before that time, that is, long before Marwan, and wrote about the spread of Christianity in Armenia, in fresh footsteps, while in the 11th or1th century this work would have been much more difficult to do. Just it's hard to believe that the history of Christianity was written in Arabic after the dominant religion in the Near East became Islam. Obviously the assignment of Gluck's chronicles to the 10th or 11th century. was made only because there is a legend about the founding of Kyiv as if borrowed from Old Russian chronicles of those times.

So, nothing prevents us from seriously taking another guess. We know that the Fore-Armenian language as the basis of the Armenian ethnic group began forming in the area between the rivers Dnieper, Desna, and Sula in the third millennium BC. This is just the opposite of Kyiv, on the left bank of the Dnieper. Then the legend of the founding of the city of Quara could arise Armenians back in the old days. Transportation of the Dnieper, which was reluctantly mentioned in chronicles, but which could exist, allowed inhabitants of both banks to communicate with each other, so the ancient Armenians could know about the legend of their neighbors. This assumption is contradicted by noting in the Armenian chronicles that Quar city was built in the country Poluni, ie Slavic tribe Polans, but they settled near Kyiv considerably later when these places were inhabited by the ancestors of the Armenians.

However, the name of the country Poluni has no Slavic origin meaning "field" (Pol, Ukr pole), it can only be slavicized because "fields" near Kyiv were absent at this time. Chronicler gave to wrote that there was a "great pine forest". On the other hand, the ethnicons Polans and Poles unquestionably have the same origin, but the location of the ancestral home of the Poles in the swampy area north of Upper Pripyat gives no reason for naming their inhabitants as field-dweller. Self-nomination of the inhabitants of Polans could be a word like the Greek φυλον "a clan, tribe" because examples of self-names like "people", "tribe" are present a lot in ethnology. Eventually, the original name of the country Poluni has been rethought by Slavs as a "field area", and its inhabitants were called Polans. But why the Greek word is taken into account? Because the ancestral home of the Ukrainians was in the same area as the Greeks. Hence at the end of the III mill. BC the last began their long migrations, which lasted several centuries.

Migration ways of Greeks were fixed by their settlements, which original names have survived till now and can be decrypted with the help of the Greek language. According to them, first, the Greeks crossed to the left bank of the Dnieper and reached the Desna River. This is evidenced by the names, at least, of the two settlements in Chernihiv Region: the village of Stas in Chernihiv district (from στάσις "stand, site") and the village of Olbyn in Kozelets district of Chernihiv Region (from Ger. ὄλβος "happiness, prosperity"). Hence they, using the summer waterway, moved down the Desna River and further along the Dnieper, stopping for the winter in convenient places, and finding suitable conditions, stayed there for a long time. So settlements were established on the banks of the Dnieper, some of which have preserved original Greek names till now. One of these settlements was Kyiv, which name can be decoded using Gr. κίω "to set in moving". If the original name of the city was Kuara, as stated in the Armenian chronicle, the second part of the name can be Gr. ῥοή "stream" from ῥέω "to flow".

Over time, some of the Greeks, obviously larger, left place and then embarks on a journey that eventually led them to the Peloponnese. The remaining people, too, did not sit on the ground and with a growing population occupied a large space on the banks of the Sula, Psel, and Vorskla Rivers onto the headwaters of the Seversky Donets River. Evidence of the presence of the Greeks in these places is a decipherment of the local place names such as:

Abazivka, a village of Zachepylivka district of Kharkiv Region – Gr. ἄππας "priest". There is the village of Abazsvka in the Poltava Region, but its name supposedly comes from the surname Abaza.

Khalepie, a village in Obukhiv district of Kyiv Region – гр. χαλεπός "heavy, hard, dangerous".

Kovray, a village in Zolotonosha district of Cherkasy Region – Gr. κουρά "cutting hair, wool, branches".

Olbyn, a village in Kozelets district of Chernihiv Region – Gr. ὄλβος "prosperity, happiness", ὄλβιος "blessed, happy".

Poltava, a city and villages in Kharkiv, Lugansk, and Rostov Regions – the name can have a different interpretation by means of Greek but the best Gr πόλις "a fortress, city" and ταΰς "great".

Saguny, a towt in Podgorevsk district of Voronezh Region, the village of Sahunivka in Cherkasy Region – Gr. σαγήνη "great fish net".

Stasy, a village in Dykanka district of Poltava Region and the village of Stasy in Chernihiv district – Gr. στάσις "a site".

Tarandyntsi, a village in Lubny district of Poltava Region – Gr. τάρανδος "elk, deer".

Takhtaulove, a village in Poltava district – Gr. ταχύς "swift, rapid, prompt", Θαύλιος – epithet of Zeus.

Trakhtemyriv, a village in Kaniv district of Cherkasy Region – Gr. τραχύς, "raw, rocky, rough", θέμερος "solid, sturdy, hard".

Ancient Greek place names in Ukraine.

Reliability of the decryption of names is confirmed by their good phonetic correspondence to Greek words, as well as by their concentration in a relatively small space. Additionally, the probability is increased by the location of the Greek settlements in the form of a chain along the Dnieper and Desna, indicating the path of movement of migrants (more about this in the article "Ancient Greeks and Italics in Ukraine and Russia".)

However, it should be noted that here we are talking only about the existence of place names, but if they were just villages or towns, is difficult to say, because you first need to define what is a town at all. Archaeologists have also argued that settlements of people existed for a long in place of Kyiv, but the question, as they were called, and whether there was a historical continuity between them and Kyiv, archaeologists can not answer. Such an answer can give us an interdisciplinary science, which we conventionally named alternative linguistics.