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Valentyn Stetsyuk (Lviv, Ukraine)

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Ethnogenetic Processes in Crimea

The ethnogenic processes in Crimea were, probably, the most complex in all of East Europe. This has the cause in a special form of the peninsula as the territory is surrounded by the sea from all sides with a very narrow isthmus which is simultaneously both an entrance and an exit to the peninsula. Such form has made Crimea a trap for many ethnoi. Those who got here once, could not leave here anymore actually in case of invasion of hostile tribes which could move to Crimea through this sole overland way, closing it for runaway for the indigenous population. Therefore ethnogenic processes occurred here so complicated – on the one hand, some ethnic groups could continue the exist in the mountains, on the other hand, the processes of assimilation and mixing of the previous population with newcomers could have a place in the limited territory of the plain.

Although this was not always the case. During the last ice age, the maximum of which took place 20 thousand years ago, huge masses of water in a frozen state were concentrated in the glacier and the level of the world ocean was 130 meters lower than the modern one. The connection between the Black Sea and the world ocean was cut off and it turned into a lake. The picture of the area around him was presented as follows:

The northwestern coast of the freshwater Black Lake was located 150-200 km south of the city of Odesa. The Sea of Azov did not exist at all, and the Don River flowed along its future bottom, it flowed into the Black Lake south of the Kerch Peninsula. The plain between Crimea and the mouth of the modern Danube was a lowland cut by the valleys of the Danube, Dniester, and Dnieper. Almost 100 km south of modern Odesa, the Dniester flowed into the Dnieper, the mouth of which was located approximately at the latitude of Simferopol. Since the shelf along the western coast of the sea was also land, the Danube Delta was located 80 km east of the modern (ZALIZNIAK L.L. 2005: 3).

With this representation, the corresponding part of Eastern Europe looked like the map below, which also shows the monuments of some archaeological cultures and the possible directions of migration of their carriers.

Migrations of the protoneolithic and early neolithic population in the second half of the 7th – early 6th millennium BC, possibly partially stimulated by the early Atlantic transgression of the Black Sea..
The original map (ibid, 10. Fig. 4) is color-tinted by the author. The blue color indicates the water area of the Black Sea at the beginning of the Holocene, the light blue color indicates the land flooding.

The modern form of the Crimean peninsula was obtained after the transgression of the Black Sea, the causes of which may be different and at the same time there is no complete certainty about the time and its beginning and duration.

The inhabitants of the Black Sea area during the Ice Age were, obviously, some branch of the ancient Cro-Magnons, who left their traces in the early Mesolithic culture of Shpan-Koba, which is replaced by Murzak-Koba. The sights of the latter, of which there are about 20, are common in the mountainous part of the peninsula. According to radiocarbon analysis, they appear at the beginning of the 7th century BC. and develop until the end of the Mesolithic in direct contact with the carriers of the Kukrek culture, who moved here with the warming of the climate in the Atlantic period, but even before the beginning of the Black Sea transgression. The population of the Murzak-Koba culture took part in the formation of the Crimean Neolithic (ZALIZNIAK L.L. 1995, 3, 5-6).

Neolithization was obviously brought to the Crimea by the Ancient Turks, since they, having come from the Transcaucasus and spread throughout the Sea of Azov, could not have penetrated into the Crimea as well. Due to the isolation of the Crimea, a separate Turkic language should have formed here, about which one can say quite confidently that it disappeared without a trace. This language should have been very similar to Bulgar, but it was not it, otherwise, the Bulgar language would not have been so organically inscribed in the general scheme of kinship relations of the Turkic languages. From the miscegenation of the arrived Turks with the local population of the Mediterranean type, a new racial type was formed, which, obviously, was preserved in the Crimea during the time of Herodotus in the mountainous part of the Crimea and known to us under the name of the Taurians. The Taurians had their own fairly developed culture – they carved human sculptures, sometimes, indeed, of artistic quality, but their customs were savage:

Of these the Tauroi have the following customs – they sacrifice to the ‘Maiden’ both ship-wrecked persons and also those Hellenes whom they can capture by putting out to sea against them; and their manner of sacrifice is this – when they have made the first offering from the victim they strike his head with a club and some say that they push the body down from the top of the cliff (for it is upon a cliff that the temple is placed) and set the head up on the stake; but others, while agreeing as to the heads, say nevertheless that the body is not pushed down from the top of the cliff, but buried in the earth. This divinity to whom they sacrifice, the Tauroi themselves say is Iphigeneia the daughter of Agamemnon. Whatsoever enemies they have conquered they treat in this fashion – each man cuts off a head and bears it away to his house; then he impales on a long stake and sets it up above his house raised to a great height. Generally above the chimney; and they say that these are suspended above as guards to preserve the whole house. This people has its living by plunder and war (HERODOTUS, 1993: English quotations translated by G. C. Macaulay: IV, 103).

As V. Vozgrin specified, the majority of scientists consider Tauroi as natives of the Crimea of Indo-European origin (VOZGRIN V.E., 1992: 23). This conclusion is confirmed to be true by anthropometric data, but we know that the clean racial type of Indo-Europeans was never present in Eastern Europe. The people who scholars mind to be “the Indo-Europeans” were the Turks. As if to certificate Homer which ostensibly named the Tauroi by Listrigons, this is an unreliable source and the name gives nothing to us.

Apparently, it was they who forced the Taurians into the mountains, and with the disappearance of the Taurians, the ancient dialect that had formed on the territory of the Crimea also disappeared. Later, the Scythians-Bulgars penetrated Crimea and remained there even in historical times. Vozgrin points out that the Early Iron Age begins in Crimea at the end of the 8th-7th centuries. BC, but the culture of this era is not the same for the entire peninsula but is divided into three parts – Cimmerian, Kizil-Koba, and Taurus (Ibid, 20). At the same time, the culture of the Taurians has a genetic connection with the culture of the autochthonous inhabitants of Crimea in the 2nd millennium BC. (Ibid, 22), and the beginning of the Iron Age can be associated with the penetration of the Scythians into the peninsula from the right bank of the Dnieper. Thus, the three archaeological cultures of the Early Iron Age can correspond to the three ethnic groups of the Crimea – the Scythians, Cimmerians, and Taurians of the Crimean Mountains.

Since the Cimmerians, whom we associate with the Kurds, crossed to the left bank of the Dnieper, it is most likely that they were also in Crimea. At least, toponymy testifies to their presence in the nearest Black Sea region. The most convincing evidence is the name of the city of Genichesk on the shore of the Sivash, which is also called the Rotten Sea because of the unpleasant smell of water. It is this peculiarity that is reflected in the name of the city – Kurd. genî "stinky", "rotten" and çês ("taste") in the stem of the verb çêştin "to taste". It is possible that the name Sivash is also of Kurdish origin by the name of various salts concentrated in its water – Kurd sîwax "lime", "white". Other Kurdish toponyms are as follows:

Oleshki, a town in Kherson Region – Kurd. ol “religion”, eşk “look, image”.

Tilihul (Tiligul) Estuary – Kurd. tilî “finger”, gol “lake”. The last word is borrowed from the Bulgar language (Chuv. külĕ “lake”). The motivation for the name is explained by the shape of the estuary, stretched out like a finger.

Khorly, a village in Skadovsk district of Kherson Region – Kurd xor “sun”, ol “religion”, maybe, xorly is the Kurdish ezafe.

It is possible that the name of the Greek colony of Olbia also has a Kurdish origin because gr. ὄλβιος "happy", from which it supposedly comes, has no etymology. The Alazon-Kurds could be present among the inhabitants of Olbia, as well as Adygs, as is evidenced by the epigraphy. The Greeks could call the entire non-Greek population not only near Olbia but also the entire Northern Black Sea region by one name. And that name was Cimmerians. A similar name for the Cimbri had that part of the Kurds that went to the west (see the section Cimbri). The ethnonym Cimmerians (Gr. Κιμμέριοι, Akkad. gimirrai) could come from Kurd. gimîn, gimi-gim „thunder" and mêr „man". The name Cimbri is derived from it.

In the 3rd – 4th centuries BC under the pressure of the Sarmatians, the center of the Scythian state moved to the Crimea, and it has existed up to III century when Goths came there. It is considered that the Goths have begun the move to Ukraine from their second homeland in Scandinavia, whence they have moved in the mouth of the Vistula and further moved in the Crimea direction for some centuries. In V-VI centuries Goths have passed across the whole Europe, but it is clear, that some deal of them has remained in the Crimea. Their traces could be found here still in the 17th century. It is considered, that they were gradually dissolved among the Crimean Tatars, but due to natural features of the Crimea the Turkic population in the days of Gothic domination should be considerable on the peninsula, and the process of assimilation of Goths had to begin much before. The ethnogenic processes go very slowly. The example of Tauroi which, after Vozgrin’s assertion, were tatarized only in the Early Middle Ages when they accepted the Tatar language and Islam, can give us an overview of the rate of these processes.

Considering such slow rates, one might recognize, that the Turkic language dominated Crimea all time. It's quite another matter that its different dialects prevailed during diverse times. Today Crim-Tatarian language has two variants that genetically are drowned to two different primary Turkic dialects. The dialects of North-Crimean Tatars were formed on the basis of the Kipchak (Kuman) language during rather near historical times. On the contrary, the southern dialects of the Crimean Tatars concern the Seljuck group of the Turkic languages which are belonging still Turkish and Azerbaijan too. As far as it is known, the significant immigration stream from Turkey to Crimea had no place, on the contrary, there was some powerful return movement. Hence, the existence South-Crimean dialects should have no other explanations, rather than Turkish influences. Whether speakers of these dialects are the remnants of ancient Scythians? The answer to this question can be received by comparison with the modern Chuvash language.

A study of hundreds of primordial language forms of the Northern Black Sea by O.N. Trubachev and A.K. Shaposhnikov allowed these Russian scientists to identify one of three Indo-Aryan areas which also covered the peninsula of Crimea (SHAPOSHNIKOV A.K. 2005: 32). Out of the studies follows that in some time in the Crimea had to be present ethnicity speaking by Sindo-Meotian dialects wich are by these scholars with language materials of Indo-Dard-Kafir group of Indo-European languages. Thus, we can assume that some tribes of the Indo-Aryans, whose ancestral home was in the Upper Basin of the Dnieper, stayed in Eastern Europe permanently and settled on the wide space of the Northern Black Sea coast, and some of them came to the Crimea.

The toponymy of the Crimea once again gives us clear evidence of the ethnic composition of the Crimea. The result of the history of the Pechenegs (see Pechenegs and Magyars) was their settlement of the Crimea, where they were forced out of the steppes by the Cumans, starting from the middle of the 11th century. Traces of their stay there are preserved in the local place names:

Alupka (Алупка), a resort city in Crimea – Chech. ālu "flame, coals", pkhьa "settlement".

Alushta (Алушта), a city on the southern coast of Crimea – Chech. ālush is the genitive case of the word ālu "flame, coals", taIa "snuggle".

Artek (Артек), a tract on the banks of the river of the same name – Chech. aьrta "blunt", ekъa "stone plate".

Dzhankoy (Джанкой), a town in the north of Crimea – Chech. zhen is the genitive case of the word zha "flock", koy – plural of the word ka "ram".

Ishun' (Ишунь), a village in Crimea – Chech. yishin is the genitive case of the word yisha "sister".

Kacha (Кача), a river and an urban-type settlement in Crimea – Chech. kkhāchа “food”.

Kerch (Керч), a city on the Kerch Peninsula in the east of the Crimea – Chech. kkxerch “furnace”.

Koreiz (Кореїз), an urban-type settlement on the southern coast of Crimea – Chech. kkhorē is the locative case of kkhor "pear", yiz "pestle, beater".

Massandra (Массандра), an urban-type settlement in the Yalta Municipality in Crimea – Chech. massō “all”, andō “firmness”, -ra is the postposition “out”.

Hurzuf (Гурзуф), a resort town in Yalta Municipality – Chech. uьrsō is the ergative case of urs "knife".

Saky (Саки), a town, the center of the district in Crimea – Chech. sakkh "observant".

Simeiz (Сімeїз), an urban-type settlement on the southern coast of Crimea – Chech. sema "axis", yiz "pestle, beater".

Yalta, a resort and port city on the southern coast of Crimea – Chech. yalta "standing corn".

After the settlement of the Crimea by the Cumans, the Pechenegs were assimilated by them, retaining their traces in the anthropological features of the Crimean population. However, Chechens could have been present on the Kerch Peninsula since the time of the Bosporan kingdom. In 1896, in Etilgen, on the territory of present-day Kerch, a limestone stele was found with three names of relatives carved on it, which are well deciphered using the Chechen language:

Δοριζου (doridzou), Dorizo, the father of Mokkopori (see Μοκκαπορι) and Areskusa (see Αρεσκουσα) – Chech. dōr ”breaking”, iyza "to pull".

Μοκκαπορι (mokkapori) – Chech. mokhk ”earth”, phar "master".

Αρεσκουσα (areskousa) – Chech. ārē "place, spacer", -s – ergative ending, kuysa "bare, devegetated, treeless".

Two more forms of the name Mackaporia are found in the Bosporan inscriptions, and Latyshev considered this name to be Thracian. He attributed the inscription to Roman times (STRUVE V.V. 1965: 520).

The considerable payment to the ethnogeny of the Crimean population has been added also by the Greeks. The colonization by Greeks of the Crimea began almost simultaneously with the arrival here Scythians and proceeded continuously almost till our times. At first, the Greek settlements were limited mainly to the coastal part of the peninsula as their penetration deep into the countries was complicated by the Crimean mounts, but gradually Greeks were spread into the internal Crimea. A different destiny waited for the Greek settlements in the Crimea. The most ancient of them were Tatarized, and the latest newcomers have kept the Hellenian language. Thus studying the language of Tatarized Greeks could throw light on a question about a language belonging to the Pre-Cuman population of Crimea.

When the empire of Chengis Khan expanded its borders to Eastern Europe, a new wave of Turkic-speaking newcomers flooded Crimea. Since then, the entire Turkic-speaking population of Crimea has been united by the common name of the Crimean Tatars. They founded their own state here, the Crimean Khanate, which was conquered by Russia in 1783. Since then, the first Russian settlers appeared in Crimea, and by the beginning of World War II, Russians had become the predominant population of the peninsula. At the end of the war, all Tatars, in accordance with the national doctrine of Stalin, were forcibly resettled in Central Asia. After several years in exile, part of the Tatars began to return to their homeland, but the formation and development of the Tatar society in Crimea was interrupted by the second invasion of Russia in 2014. The subsequent history of Crimea must be determined in accordance with the norms of international law.