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Valentyn Stetsyuk (Lviv, Ukraine)

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Cimmerians


The sequel to Iranian Tribes in the East Europe during the Bronze Age


The Iranian identity of the Cimmerians is in no doubt. The historically attested names of the Cimmerian leaders are unambiguously considered Iranian, but they have no reliable interpretation. Meanwhile, the Kabardian language provides such an opportunity: teushcheben "crush" (Teushpa), lIygъe "courage, bravery" and dame "wing, wings" (Ligdamis). An authoritative expert on the history of Cimmerians, Askold Ivanchik, regards the Cimmerians as a mysterious people… as everything is not clear enough with it (IVANCHIK A.I. 2005). Obviously, the issue will become clear if a reason can be found for connecting the Cimmerians with any of the modern Iranian (or non-Iranian) peoples. Restoration of the migration pathways of the Iranians to modern habitats can offer solutions to this issue. Restoring the paths of the Iranian movement to modern habitats in comparison with the paths of the Cimmerians' campaigns will help to approach the answer to this question.

The reasons forcing the Iranians to leave their original habitats between the Dnieper and the Don may be different. Perhaps the transition of the Balts and the Anglo-Saxons to the left bank of the Dnieper set in motion the local Iranian population of the Zrubna culture. However, we can think about other reasons. Steppe areas could be abandoned due to climate change, which led to a decrease in the productive possibilities of the steppe. In any case, archaeological data indicate a temporary desolation of the Azov and Black Sea regions:


… in the 12th -10th BC comparing with the previous period the steppes between the Don and the Danube reveal a tenfold decrease in the number of settlements and burials. The same trend of decline in population is manifested in the Pontic steppe also in the subsequent Cimmerian era, which is confirmed by the absence of settlements and stationary burial grounds in this area (MAKHORTYKH S.V., 1997: 6-7).


Thus, the Iranian tribes moved in search of dwelling places with more favorable conditions. Evidenced fact is that their presence has been historically recorded in Central Asia at the end of the second millennium BC:


Iranian names appeared in the Assyrian written sources in the 11-10th cent. BC, and are associated with regions of Western Iran which were in the sphere of political activity of the Assyrian empire. What happened further east at this time – in the Central and Eastern Iran – is not reflected in these sources (ARTAMONOV M.I., 1974: 10).


Left: Historical regions in Central and Southwest Asia during the time of the Achaemenid (7th-4th century B.C.)


Shown on the map above are the historical areas to aid in our vision/restoration of the migratory routes that the Iranian tribes are most likely to have taken from Eastern Europe to Central Asia.

Two points of view exist about the Iran-Aryans incursions to the Near East – a) the way through Central Asia or b) the way through the Caucasus (PIANKOV I.V., 1979). At least the migration of Iran-Aryans in Asia Minor must have been going through the Caucasus (or even the Balkans), which is reflected in the Hittite sources (SOKOLOV S.N., 1979-2: 235). In North Ossetia, there are a number of toponyms containing the element of Gimara, which goes back to the ethnonym of the Cimmerians (TSAGAEVA A. Dz. 2010: 5). Obviously, the resettlement of Irano-Aryans went in several waves and paths, but the main path of movement of most of the Irano-Aryans lay along the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea and further along the Amu Darya and Syr-Darya River to the south and southeast, as described by E. Kuzmina (KUZ'MINA E.E., 1986: 203-204). The path through the Caucasus is the other option. Taking into consideration the location of the modern residency of Iranian peoples (EDELMAN D.I., 1968: the map 1) and their ancestral homes in Eastern Europe, one may suppose that the Sogdians (the forefathers of the modern Yagnobi) moved as the last in the chain of migrants around of the Caspian Sea because they have occupied extreme northern part of the modern residences of Irano-Aryans in Central Asia near to Afghans whom they adjoined on the ancestral home too. Their northern neighbors on the Urheimat, the Ossets populate the mountains of the Caucasus at present and, undoubtedly, never abandoned Eastern Europe.

Some part of migrated Iranians remained in southern Kazakhstan in the foothills of the western Tien Shan among local Turkic population, as evidenced by the local place names: Madikent/Mankent, Orungent, Syutkent, Chimkent, having a partial word Ir. kent "town, village, space" (POPOVA V.N., 2000, 53). This word was accepted by Turks and was used for the names of settlements with Turkic components (for example, Tashkent out of taš "stone"). However, Shymkent settlement had to be founded by Iranians, likely by Sogdians (Yagn. čim "meadow, grass"). This interpretation is supported by the name of the Lugovoi village (Russian "on meadow"), also located in this area, evidently covered by thick grass at that time. There are also Iranian terms of orography of South Kazakhstan darbaza/darvaza "gate, entry, passage", dašt/dešt "steppe, plain, desert", zax/zexab "source, spring" (ibid).

The territory of modern residence of the Kurd, the other neighbors of the Sogdians on the ancestral home, gives the reason to suppose, that they have come to these places by some other way, then the first wave of Irano-Aryans, i.e., through the Caucasus or through the Balkans. If they moved around of the Caspian Sea, they should have left behind many other Iranian wandering groups – this seems improbable. We have already noted that the extension of the residence or the resettlement of ancient people went sequentially according to their mutual location on former habitats. According to B. Gornung, this important feature of migrated Indo-European tribes was noted already by Franz Specht (GORNUNG B.V. 1963, 53). As the forebears of the Kurd and the Sogdians had their areas being adjacent in adjacency on the ancestral home, therefore, at the movement in the same way, their new residences should not be so far one from another as we have this at present. The most plausible way of the resettlement of the ancestors of the Gilaki and the Talishi to the southwest coast of the Caspian Sea, where they have their residences at present, was the way through the Derbent pass. First, it is the shortest way. Second, the Talyshi residence is in the vicinity of the Gilaki’s habitat now and, what is very important, to the south of them, h.e. this is exactly the same location as on the Urheimat. The disposition of their habitats had to be other if they would move in some other way. But whatever the migration path of the ancestors of the Kurd, Talyshi, and Gilaki was taken to the Middle East we have reason to believe that until that time, they, as well as the ancestors of the Ossets, left their Urheimats under the pressure of the Balts and Anglo-Saxons. However, they still remained in Eastern Europe, when most deals of the Irano-Aryans migrated to Asia. The ancestors of the Baluchi and Mazandarani were among these Iranian tribes as their languages belong to the same north-western group of the Iranian languages as Kurdish, Talyshi, and Gilaki.


The beginning of the Iranian migration.

The names of the tribes having formed the first wave of the migration are marked by red color.


Thus, we can assume that the first wave of Iranian immigrants in Central Asia was formed by the ancestors of the modern Sarikolis, Pamir Iranians (Shugnans, Bartangs, Yazgulams, etc.), Persians, Afghans, and Sogdians (Yagnobi), i.e., the Iranian tribes that settled in the southern part of the common Iranian territory and in areas along the Dnieper. It is natural to assume that these habitats were once occupied by other Iranian tribes, who for some time remained in Europe and they should be connected with historical Cimmerians. The above-mentioned climate change, which led to a decrease in productivity of the steppe, can not lead to its complete abandonment. Another thing is that the newly arrived population to the steppe could not be numerous and to maintain its existence, except for economic activity, was to looting neighboring populations of the forest-steppe zone.


General picture of the Iranian migration in Minor and Central Asia


It is believed that the Cimmerians (Cimmerii) came to the Black Sea region from Central Asia, or more generally – "from the depths of Eurasia," but this view is vigorously contested, therefore, there is no point in stopping on this topic with the fact that the ancestral home of Iranians was in Europe and the Cimmerians would have no time to migrate to Central Asia, and then back again. At the historically time Cimmerians settled Azov and Black Sea steppes and left traces of their presence in the steppes of Ukraine and North Caucasus in archaeological sites which are united in the common Cimmerian culture. It is logical to assume that it should continue the tradition of the Zrubna culture, which we identified as an Iranian (STETSYUK VALENTYN., 1998: 82-83) and this tradition is seen by Ukrainian archaeologists in the funeral rite of the Cimmerians:


The late Cimmerian culture developed in the tradition of the Zrubna culture… what can be traced in the funeral ceremony (Arkheologiya Ukrainskoy SSR., 1986: 23)


The appearance of the Cimmerians in Asia, according to cuneiform sources, related to the end of the 8th century BC, and the Scythians are known in Iran "not earlier than 670-680", which contradicts Herodotus' statement about persecuting the Cimmerians by the Scythians. Moreover, there are facts that speak about their joint raids on the Assyrian province. In general, the sources reported mainly about Cimmerians but the Scythians were mentioned for several years and then only in Iran (MEDVEDSKAYA I.N. 2000)

According to Assyrian sources, in the late 8th B.C., the king of Urartu Rus declared “I was defeated in battle by the army of the Gimirrai people which were attested by historians to be the Cimmerians (MASON RICHARD, Ed., 2004: 13-15). In 679/678 the Cimmerians were defeated by the Assyrians, their leader Teushpa was killed in that battle but nevertheless, later they attacked Phrygia, Lydia, and Cilicia, under the leadership of their new leader, Ligdamis:


… Akkadian sources allows us to establish that in 644 B.C., the Cimmerians’ most successful raid was on Lydia, in which King Gig was killed. Apparently, this raid affected not only Lydia, but also Ionia, and that is what Greek sources meant when they report the same raid by the Cimmerians. The same Akkadian sources describing the death of Ligdamis/Dugdamme dating it to 641 BC, i.e., three years later (IVANCHIK A.I. 2005: 123).


The issue of joining of the Cimmerians with the Thracians for the invasive campaigns to Asia Minor from the Balkans is controversial. Information about this campaign "from the Bosphorus to Ionia" was given by Strabo, but for some reason, he refers this event to the time of Homer or to a little earlier (STRABO. 1964: I, 1-10). Certain preconditions for the assumption about the possibility of a military alliance between the Thracians and the Cimmerians give unreliable evidence about the presence of the Cimmerians in Hungary, this was probably inspired by Strabo's dubious message: :


The presence In Hungary of some horse people, identified with the Cimmerians, is established on the basis of finds of bronze objects of harness and iron bridles, bronze boilers, weapons (swords and daggers). (SHUSHARIN V.P., 1971, 23).


The doubt about the Cimmerian affiliation of the finds is caused by the obvious penetration of Cimmerian products into the territory of Hungary by trade routes since the Thracian culture was still dominant here. In the best case we can assume a special Thracian-Cimmerian period from 750 to 550 years (Ibid, 24). In addition, the possibility of joint action by the Thracians and Cimmerians in Asia Minor is completely excluded after studying the Middle Eastern sources. A. Ivanchik found in them only information about the rivalry between the Thracians and the Cimmerians in the struggle for possession of Bithynia, which ended in the complete expulsion of the latter (IVANCHIK A.I. 2005, 131-132).

Nevertheless, it can be assumed that some of the Cimmerians still penetrated into Asia Minor through the Balkans. When searching for place-names of Iranian origin, it was found that their large cluster is located on Right-Bank Ukraine in Podolia and they are deciphered for the most part using the Kurdish language (see Iranic Place Names). Here the Kurds lived in close proximity to the Turkic tribe of ancient Bulgars (the ancestors of the modern Chuvash), as well as the Anglo-Saxons, whose ancestral home was defined in the area between the Pripyat, Teterev, and Sluch rivers


At left: Map of the Kurdish habitat in Podolia

Kurdish place names are indicated by dots in black, Bulgarish – in red, Anglo-Saxon – in purple. The movement of the Kurds is indicated by arrows. The map also shows the boundaries of the area of Anglo-Saxons through which the Kurds passed.


The proximity of the Kurds with the Bulgars is explained by the fact that moving to the west, a part of the Bulgars stayed in Western Ukraine(see the section Türks as Carriers of the Corded Ware Cultures). When considering this topic, it was found that in the Chuvash language there are quite a few words that can be found in the Iranian languages or even in several of them at once.

But the Chuvash-Kurdish lexical parallels are the most numerous. Table 15 shows some of them sometimes with matches in other Iranian languages:


Table 15. Chuvash-Kurdish lexical parallels


Kurdish and other Iranian Chuvash
bet “a bustard” větel “woodkock”
kere “butter”, Gil kəre “butter” kěrě "fat"
kerdî “furrow” kěrche “wrinkled”
qarîk “a raven”, qarîtk “a partridge” karăk “a wood grouse”
qure “proud” küren “to be offended”
nar “fire”, Pers nar “fire” nar “blush”
pek “suitable” pek “like, similar”
sap “a ladle” sapa "basket"
saman “riches" semen “riches”
stûr “thick”, and other Ir. satur “strong”
soma “pupil of eye” săna “to observe”
sor “red”, Pers sorx “red” sără “paint”
sehre “sorcery, witchcraft” seхre "fear";
semer “darkness” sěm “darkness”
çal “a pit”, Pers čal “a pit” çăl “a well, source”
çîrt “pus” çěrt “to let rot”
çîban “a pimple” çăpan “a furuncle”
çêl “a cow” çile “udder”
tar “a pole” tar “a poplar”
taw “a downpour” tăvăl “a storm”
tobe “an oath” tupa “an oath”
toraq “cheese” turăx “fermented baked milk”
xumar “morose”, xumari “darkness” xămăr “brown”


When studying the Scythian problems, the Sarmatian onomasticon was used, based on Petrov’s data (PETROV V.P. 1968: 118-143) and in the process of this work, about four dozen names were found corresponding in varying degrees to words of the modern Kurdish language and more than twenty have correspondences only in Kurdish (Αβαβοσ , Αρδαρισκος , Αρδοναγαρος, Βαιορασπος , Βιστησ, Βουλαστησ, Διζαρον , Μαμμαροσ , Ολθακοσ, Σαυανων , Ροιμηταλκασ , Χοαροφαδιος, Χοδαινος, Χοφρασμοσ и др.). Together with toponymy, these data allowed us to make an assumption that some parts of the Scythian population spoke the dialect of the Proto-Kurdic language what was already noted in other works published earlier (STETSYUK V.M., 1999: 89-93; STETSYUK VALENTYN, 2000: 23-28).

The presence of the ancient Kurds on the Dnieper right bank immediately raises the question of how they got there. According to the general movement of the Iranian tribes from their initial settlements between the Dnieper and the Don eastward and southeastward, it can be assumed that the ancestors of the Kurds came to the Azov steppes, and from there crossed the Dnieper and later moved northwestward, displacing more ancient settlers – the Thracians to the south-west and the Bulgar to the west. The band of Kurdish settlements from the town of Gaysin and further along the Dniester River on the west may mark the path, but the presence of names of Kurdish origin in Chernihiv, Kyiv, and Zhytomyr Regions gives the warrant to consider an option when the ancestors of the Kurds from their Urheimat went – downstream of the river Desna to the Dnieper River, crossed it and moved westward. This migration could last a long time, and some of the inhabitants of new sites were retained, whilst others went away. They could keep the names of villages and rivers for a long time.

It was in those places along the middle reaches of the Dniester, where the accumulation of Kurdish toponyms is observed, twice, in 1878 and 1897, treasures of gold objects were found in the village of Mikhalkiv, Ternopil Region, on the right bank of the Nichlava River. Treasures are dated back to the 6th cent. BC, that is they are two centuries older than the finds from the famous Scythian barrows Kul Oba and Chertomlyk. The treasures with a total weight of more than seven kilograms include a diadem, a hryvnia, five bracelets, 12 brooches, seven badges, a pyramid pendant, four bowls and other items [PETROVS'KIY OLEKSANDR., 1993: 8]. M.I. Artamonov believed that there was a certain similarity between some items of the Mikhalkov treasure and the finds in the Vysoka Mohyla (High Grave mound) near the village of Balki within the Vasilkovsky district of the Zaporizhia Region and wrote:


This strengthens the relationship of so-called Cimmerian culture with the Carpatho-Danube Hallstatt and reinforces the hypothesis of the origin of this culture on the basis of forms widened in the northern Black Sea region not from the North Caucasus but from Central Europe, and North Caucasus itself was in the area of their existence (ARTAMONOV M.I., 1974: 37).


Thus, the strip of Kurdish settlements along the Dniester may indicate the advance of the Kurds not from the steppes, but in the steppes of the right-bank Ukraine, from where they, as Cimmerians, could make trips to Asia Minor together with the Thracians. However, toponymy gives reason to talk about the path of the Kurds to the Balkans through the territory of Hungary:


Csengele, a village in Csongrád county – Kurd. cengel "forest".

Dévaványa, a town Békés county – Kurd. dêw "daeva, evil spirit", wanî "similar".

Felgyö, a village in Csongrád county – Kurd. felg "curl".

Gelej, a village in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county – Kurd. gelî "ravine".


Right: Kurdish toponymy in Hungary and the Balkans.


Heves, a small city in eastern Hungary – Kurd hevs "fear", hevşî "sheep house".

Ibrány, a town in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county – Kurd. îbram "request".

Kecel, a town in Bács-Kiskun county – Kurd. keçel "bald".

Miskolc, a city in northeastern Hungary – Kurd miş "abundant, plentiful", qulç "corner".

Szelevény, a village in Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok county, – Kurd. selef "spring, wellhead".

Some interpretations are convincing enough, so the search for Kurdish toponymy in neighboring countries was carried out. They were found in Ukraine, Serbia, and Bulgaria and generally formed a chain leading from Western Ukraine through the Balkans in the direction of the Bosphorus. Such an arrangement may mark the path of the Kurds to Asia Minor.

A search for lexical correspondences between the Hungarian and Kurdish languages was also conducted. They were found in small numbers, so some of them may be casual

Hung. háború – Kurd. herb "war";

Hung. vendég – Kurd. xwendi "guest";

Hung. kör – Kurd. ger "ring";

Hung. hús – Kurd. goşt "flesh";

Hung. ered – Kurd. sereta "start";

Hung. alacsony – Kurd. alçax "low";

Hung. mező - Kurd. mezr "field";

Hung. folyó – Kurd. felat "river".

Some of the Hungarian words cited here could have been borrowed by the Magyars from other Iranian languages even in their ancestral homeland between the Khoper and Medveditsa rivers. If borrowing took place on the territory of modern Hungary, then it should be assumed that a part of the Kurds remained there until the arrival of the Hungarians. One way or another, there is reason to argue that some of the Cimmerians moved from Hungary to the Balkans, but did not stay there for a long time, because there are no noticeable Cimmerian tracks on the territory of Bulgaria (MELUKOVA A.I., 1979: 6).

Both historical data and the results of our research give reason to believe that the Cimmerians moved to Western Asia mainly through the Derbent Pass and the Belorechensky Pass (see map below). The path through the Derbent passage could be used by the ancestors of modern Talysh and Gilyans, as well as the ancestors of the closely related Baluchis and Mazenderans. Balochis now live in Pakistan, but it is known that they came here from the southern coast of the Caspian Sea (FROLOVA V.A. 1960: 68, ORANSKIY I.M. 1979, 89), that is, earlier (in the 5-6th centuries AD), their settlements were not far from the settlements of the Gilyans and Talysh (Mazenderans still live in these places). The migration route of the Baluchis from north to south is marked by a chain of enclaves of the Baloch language (see Map of the distribution of modern Iranian languages)


Left: North Pontic region and Southwest Asia in the era of the Cimmerian and Scythian migrations (VII-VI cen. BC) (The map from MASON RICHARD, 2004, 27).


The second flow of Cimmerians to Asia Minor went through the Belorechensky Pass and further along the Black Sea in the region of the settlement of Adyghe tribes, so we can assume that this was the second ethnic group of the Cimmerians. The decrypted names of Teushpa and Ligdamisa confirm this assumption.

In addition, an impressive number of names clearly deciphered by using the Kabardian language (Αβροαγος , Αργουαναγος , Γαγγαιος , Ιαζαδαγος, Ιναρμαζος, Καφαναγος, Κουκοδων, Ναυαγοσ, Ουαμψαλαγοσ, Οχωζιακοσ, Ρηχουναγοσ, Χοζανια) was found in the representative sample of Sarmatian onomasticon. The names of some tribes of the Northern Black Sea region (Zacatae, Ζuardani) also may have Adyghe origin.

And, as shown above, there is reason to say that the third stream of the Cimmerians existed, which was formed by the Kurds, who went through Asia Minor from the west. Presumably, they could participate in a wide variety of wars, including in alliance with those Cimmerians who passed through the Caucasus or even with the Scythians.

Scythians invade Asia Minor 50-60 years after the appearance of the Cimmerians here. Passing through Derbent, they settled in Azerbaijan and founded their kingdom here between the Kura and Araks rivers, that is, somewhere near Lake Sevan. And only then they first encountered the Cimmerians, and the Cimmerians lost to the Scythians. There is evidence that the Scythians even reached Iran. Near-Asian sources recall the Scythian kingdom in the late 90s of the 6th cent. BC, after which there is no data on it in history.



Northern Black Sea Region and Asia Minor in the VII-VI cen BC (The map from MASON RICHARD, 2004, 21).


It is believed that after the defeat of Lydia in the war with Media and Novo-Babylonia, the Cimmerians and Scythians who supported Lydia, under the terms of a peace agreement, “should have gone where they came from, i.e. to the Northern Black Sea Region” (ARTAMONOV M.I. 1974: 34). The following fate of the Cimmerians was defined by M.I. Artamonov, based on the archeology of the Kuban mounds of Scythian time, so:


Settling in Maeotian country, the Cimmerians due to their higher culture and the organization took a leading position in the Kuban region, but remaining in the minority, they were unable to preserve their ethnic identity and eventually merged with the native population. It is possible that the direct descendants of the Cimmerians were the Cindies represented the most progressive part of the population of the Lower Kuban – the Taman Peninsula and the adjacent part of the Black Sea coast (ARTAMONOV M.I., 1974: 62).


The fact that the Cimmerians could really populate the Kuban area, says the fixed ethnonym Δανδαριοι (the name of a people at Low Kuban and the Maeotia). As the lower part of the Kuban region lies between the Azov and Black Seas, Kurd. derya/darya "sea" and dan "inside", i.e., "surrounded by the sea" suits perfect for explaining the name of this people. This assumption is supported by the accumulation of place names on the Taman Peninsula, which can be decrypted using the Kurdish language:

Dzhemete, a town in the Anapsky district of the Krasnodar Kray – Kurd. jêmêtin "suck out".

Dzhiginka, a village in the municipality of Anapa, Krasnodar Krai – Kurd. cihê "separate", hinek "a little, few".

Gostagayevskaya, a stanitsa (village) in the municipality of Anapa, Krasnodar Krai – Kurd. hosta "nap, slumber", hay "knowledge".

Taman', a rural locality (a stanitsa) in Temryuksky District of Krasnodar Krai, – Kurd. tam "house", anî "face, front".

In ancient times, the Greek city of Hermonassa was located on the Taman Peninsula, but a people Zikhi prevailed among the local population (Kurd. zîx "bold", kind", strong"). The Principality of Tmutarakan' existed here later. The name of the principality is also deciphered using the Kurdish language: Kurd. tarî "dark" (corresponds to the meaning of the first part of the name in Slavic), kanî "source, spring." The Tmutarakan' prince Mstislav Vladimirovich in 1024 became the prince of Chernigov and resettled many families of the steppe peoples to the Seversky land, among whom were Kurds. Their presence in those places is confirmed by place names. On the left bank of the Dnieper above Kiev stood the chronicle city of Tmutarakan', and the names of many settlements of Left-Bank Ukraine are deciphered using the Kurdish language too.

Most of the Kurdish place names fall on the territory of the Chernigov Principality in the same places where there are toponyms of Chechen origin. According to the annals, the Cumans “often ruled” in the Principality and also participated in the campaigns of local princes to Smolensk and Kiev (ISTORIA SSSR. 1966, 593). In fact, they were not the Cumans, but residents of the steppes of different ethnicities, whom the Polovtsy forced out to the north, and the name Cumans should be considered the generalized name for all the "pagans". It was these aliens who created a protective line against the Cumans in the form of the fortifications of the Saltovo-Mayatsk culture that existed in the VIII-X centuries. Obviously, over time, non-Slavic population of the land was assimilated by the Ukrainians, but their original names have remained among Ukrainians so far:

Sereda, 15037 carriers throughout Ukraine, most of all in Kyiv (806), Kharkiv (864), Zaporizhia (319), Dnipro (318), Sumy (266), Donetsk (247), Cherhihiv (215), Lviv (205), Kryvyi Rih (200) – Kurd. serede "older". A small number of surnames come from Ukr. sereda "Wednesday" (of all surnames by weekday most of all surname carriers Monday – 275) .

Gura, 4522 carriers, most of all in Kyiv (293), Kharkiv (243), Dnipro (137), Kryvyi Rih (93), Horlovka (87), Donetsk (84) – Kurd. gur 1."wolf", 2. "strong, fast".

Lewandowskiy, Lewandowskaya, Lewandiwskiy, 2184 carriers, most of all in Kyiv (173) – Kurd. lewand "beautiful, handsome".

Gunchenko, 1044 carriers, most of all in the city of Kamenske, Dnipropetrovsk Region (69), Dnipro (68), Kharkiv (58), Gunchak, 801 carriers, most of all in Chernivtsi (66), Gunchyk, 151 carriers, most of all in the city of Kamin'-Kashirsky Volyn Region (51) – Kurd. gunc "pot".

Chechel', 1730 carriers, most of all in Kyiv (117), Zaporizhia (102), Dnipro (96) – Kurd. çê “good, best", çêlî "kin, offspring".

Murga, 1658 carriers, most of all in Kyiv (196), in the city of Malin in Zhytomyr Region – Kurd. murǧ “bird".

Chepel', 1604 carriers, most of all in Kharkiv (110), Zaporizhia (63) – курд. çepel “dirty" or çepilî "left-handed".

Fisun, 1365 carriers, most of all in Zaporizhia (135), Kharkiv (109), Dnipro (83) – Kurd. fisûn "magic, witchcraft".

Mihal, 602 carriers, most of all in Kharkiv (39), Khmelnytskyi (39), Kyiv (33), Makiivka (19), Kryvyi Rih (15) – Kurd. mihal "vain, empty", mihel "place, locality".

In addition to these surnames in Ukraine, there are many others phonetically similar to Kurdish words, which could be suitable for a person’s name, but their number does not allow us to speak with confidence about their old age. In the cases when they are common in settlements of the alleged Kurdish origin or in which other Kurdish surnames are present, they can be taken into account. On the whole, the data of onomastics indicate that the Kurdish population in Ukraine was much larger in its western part than in the eastern one. At the same time, other Kurdish surnames prevail in Western Ukraine:

Henyk, 903 carriers, most of all in Lviv (69), Dobromyl' (46) and Novoyavorivs'k (37) of Lviv Region – Kurd. hênik "cold, fresh".

Gera, 733 carriers, most of all in Kosovo district of Ivano-Frankivsk Region (389) – Kurd. gera "roe deer".

Maykut, 342 carriers, most of all in Lviv (36) – Kurd. meykut "big wooden hammer".

Fendyk, 244 carriers, most of all in Dolyna district of Ivano-Frankivsk Region (70), Fendak, 98 carriers, most of all in Drohobych district of Lviv Region (45) – Kurd. fend "cunning, crafty".

Germak, 312 carriers, most of all in Lviv (28) – Kurd. germ "cold, fresh".

The listed surnames are practically not found in the eastern part of Ukraine, while the surnames Lewandovsky, Chechel, Chepel, Mihal are quite common in Western Ukraine as well. The distribution of the names of the alleged Kurdish origin is presented on the map below.



The presence of the Kurds of Eastern Europe in the mirror of onomastics

On the map, black dots indicate the settlements of the alleged Kurdish origin.
Red dots mark settlements where surnames of Kurdish origin are recorded

The concentration of place names on the map shows that the Kurdish settlements were located in Podolia, from where they moved west. At one time, the Polish professor Tadeusz Joseph Sulimirski identified the Western Podilsky local group among sites of the Early Scythian time. Its specific features are as follows:


… the use of stone with the tree in the construction of the burial chambers; the complete absence of horses in the graves of graves accompanying the dead; gray-clay circular ceramics, which existed only in this area of the Scythian forest-steppe; the use of certain types of jewelry, unknown or little known in other regions … (SMIRNOVA GALINA IVANOVNA, 2004: 419)



Sites of Western Podolian Group of Early Scythian Time

The map is composed on the data of Galina I. Smirnova (SMIRNOVA GALINA IVANOVNA, 2004: 411, Fig.1)
The red line drows around the aglomeration of place names os Kurdish origin in Podolia.
These sites are marked by numbers: 1. Bratyshiv. 2. Beremiany. 3. Horodnytsia. 4. Lysychnyky. 5. Rakiv Kut. 6. Novisilka of Hrymayliv. 7. Sukhostav. 8. Myshkivtsi. 9. Nyvra. 10. Shydlivtsi. 11. Zalissia. 12. Ladychyn. 13. Bilche Zolote. 14. Sapohiv. 15. Ivane Puste. 16. Zozulyntsi. 17. Perebykivtsi. 18. Vikno. 19. Novosilka (near Chernivtsi). 20. Ivakhnivtsi. 21. Zavadyntsi. 22. Servatyntsi. 23. Skipche. 24. Shutkivtsi. 25. Tarasivka. 26. Verkhni Panivtsi. 27. Vrublevtsi. 28. Verkhniy Olchedaiv. 29. Loyivtsi. 30. Dolyniany (kurgans). 31. Dolyniany (settlement). 32. Kruhlyk. 33. Oselivka. 34. Lenkavtsi. 35. Ivanivtsi. 36. Selyshche. 37. Neporotiv. 38. Bilousivka.


Partial congruence of spread areas of sites of the Western Podolia group and Kurdish place-names suggests that these sites were left by Kurds, that is some part of the population of the area stayed a certain time on the previous settlements. Later this part of Kurds moved to Central Europe (see section Cimbri).


Long presence of Cimmerian Kurds on Ukraine is confirmed by Slavic-Iranian Language Connections. Words of Kurdish origin in the Ukrainian language, which have no correspondence in the other Slavic languages, evidence that some part of the Kurds remained on Ukrainian territory until Slavs arrived here. The Northern Black Sea epigraphy say the same – so the Kurd can be related to some of the nations mentioned by ancient historians, including Herodotus. Apparently, such people could be Alazonians which Herodotus placed somewhere south from the Scythians tilling the ground, in the locality where the Tyras (Dnister) and the Hypanis (Southern Bug) approach one another in their windings. There is just in this place the greatest concentration of Kurdish place names, see map above, where the two rivers highlighted in blue.

An analysis of the names of the Sarmatian onomasticon indicates that among the inhabitants of Olbia there were Circassians, i.e. they were to dwell in close proximity to the Alazonians-Kurds. The Greeks could use the same name to name the entire non-Greek population near Olbia, and this name was Cimmerians. A similar name Cimbri was that part of the Kurds who went westward. Both ethnonyms could originate from Kurd kimber "belt, sash" apparently both are former self-names of the Kurds. This is evidenced by the name of the city of Kimry in the Tver region, to which the Cimmerians-Kurds reached during their campaigns with the Chernihiv princes. True, in the Etymological Dictionary of Iranian Languages, for incomprehensible reasons, the Kurdish word is considered to be a borrowing of the Persian kamar (EDELMAN D.I. 2011: 191). Such a statement may be true for other variants of Kurdish words in this sense, but for the fixed form kimber it looks dubious.

If we admit that among the Cimmerian detachments inundating Front Asia there were the Adyghes, then it cannot be ruled out that other peoples of the North Caucasus also raided. This assumption is confirmed by the active participation of Chechens in the historical events of Eastern Europe in the 1st mill. AD. (see the section Pechenegs and Hungarians). Summing up, it can be argued that, when deciding on the ethnicity of the Cimmerians, special attention should be paid to the data of onomastics.