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Valentyn Stetsyuk (Lviv, Ukraine)

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About the Foundation of the City of Kiev

Among other important result of the study prehistoric place names is that Europe there are in Eastern Europe many towns and villages existing not hundreds, as it is commonly believed, but thousands of years, since Fore-Scythian times. The grounds for such a statement are given by the connection of clusters of names belonging to specific language with the archaeological cultures which age can be defined by scientists quite precisely.

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 Kiev in 1982 was seen by some scientists skeptical as unfounded increase of the age of our capital. But according age of the other settlements of Ukraine, the time of foundation of Kiev 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 legend about the founding of Kiev, 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 about the founding of Kiev is in the Armenian sources. But why the Armenians had this legend and how they got it? After all, Armenia is located far from the Ukraine and what interest of the Armenians to our history? Some historians answered the mysterious question as if this legend was brought in 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, and the very relocation was not in Armenia but in Kakheti where from these people fled but were killed on their way to escape. In addition, there are evidences 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 of Taron in Arabic, obviously because of Armenian alphabet yet had not been invented, which began to be used only in the 5th century. From it follows that he really lived before that time, that is, long before Marwan, and wrote about the spread of Christianity in Armenia, on the frish traces, 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 st. was made only because there is a legend about the founding of Kiev, as if borrowed from Old Russian chronicles of those times.

So, nothing prevents us seriously to take another guess. We know that 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 Kiev, on the left bank of the Dnieper. Then the legend of the founding of the city Quara could arise at 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 of the Armenian chronicles that Quar city was built in the country Poluni, ie Slavic tribe Polans, but they settled near Kiev 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 Kiev were absent at this time. Chronicler gave to wrote that there was a "great pine forest". On the other hand 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 the 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 "field area", and its inhabitants were called Polans. But why the Greek word is taken into account? Because that the ancestral home of the Ukrainians was in the same area as the Greek was. 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 name 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 distrikt of Chernihiv Region (from Ger. ὄλβος "happiness, prosperity").Hence they, using in 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 Kiev, which name can be decoded with 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. Remaining people, too, did not sit on the ground and with growing population have occupied a large space on the banks of the Sula, Psel, and Vorskla Rivers on to the headwaters of the Seversky Donets River. Evidence of the presence of the Greeks in these places is a transcript of the local place names such as Poltava, Khorol, Takhtaulove, Kolomak et al. With the help of the Greek language (see more about this in the section "Ancient Greeks in Ukraine".)

Ancient Greek place names in Ukraine.

Reliability of 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.

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 since long in place of Kiev, but the question, as they were called, and whether there was a historical continuity between them and Kiev, archaeologists can not answer. Such answer can give us an interdisciplinary science, which we conventionally named the alternative linguistics.