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Valentyn Stetsyuk (Lviv, Ukraine)

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The Sauromatians


It has been known about Sauromatians since Herodotus' times, and from his description it seems that this was a single ethnic group, because he did not indicate that they included various tribes. Later Pliny noted that the Sauromatians are a Greek form of the name of the Sarmatians and did not write anything about their ethnic unity:


From this point (from the Danube mouth – V.S.) all the races in general are Scythian, though various sections have occupied the lands adjacent to the coast, in one place the Getae (called by the Romans Dacians), at another the Sarmatae (called by the Greeks Sauromatae), .. (PLINY, 1961, 80).


The idea of the identity of the names of the Sauromatians and Sarmatians survived to the present day, but if a distinction was made between these peoples, both of them were considered Iranian-speaking. After the data were obtained showing the predominance of the Bulgars among the Scythians, also the Iranian language of the Sauromatians was in doubt. In search of an answer to the question about their ethnicity, it was suggested that, like the Sarmatians, they were the ancestors of the modern Hungarians (STETSYUK VALENTYN, 2000: 32-35). During further study of this issue, it was becoming clear that the Sauromatians and Sarmatians are different categories.

The difference between the Sarmatians and Sauromatians was already seen by M.I. Rostovtsev who considered the Sauromatians and the Sarmatians absolutely different ethnoi and adduced weighty evidences to that, such as, signs of matriarchy at the Sauromatians; and complete absence of it at the Sarmatians (HARMATTA J. 1970, 9). In due time, Rostovtsev's conclusions were contested by other scholars with bringing evidences from ancient authors.

Considering the ethnicity of the Sauromatians and Sarmatians more deeply, we have in mind a well-known fact in the scientific community that the ancient historians did not care about the correct use of ethnic names or understand them in its very peculiar way:


The Huns were often called Scythians; contrariwise the Avars and Bulgars were Huns; Goths and after them even occasionally Slavs were called Getae; and the legendary Gog and Magog in the Bible could be found on the high medieval maps (POHL WALTER, 2002: 4).


Even the Russes, at the time of Prince Svyatoslav, were called Scythians, in particular, Leo the Deacon certainly did call them so (LEO the DEAKON, 1988). Consequently, one should be cautious about the evidence given by ancient historians when it comes to the identification of individual nations on the outskirts of the civilized world. In general, the prevailing view among scholars was that the Sauromatians during Herodotus’s time and the Sarmatians of later historians’ are of the same ethnic group; at least, that they were genetically related. The reasons for the alleged identity of the Sauromatians and of the Sarmatians are rather not by the same area of settlement and of similar nomadic walks of life peoples described by historians than their similar ethnonyms. Reliable interpretation of the names of people would clear ethnic identity, but the etymology of the given by the Greeks names Σαυρωμαται and Σαρμαται for these two peoples living at different times around the northern Black Sea region, is still dark. It also remains unclear whether the name "Sarmatians" is a simplification of the formerly used "Sauromatians" or the words have entirely different roots. Obviously, both words are complex and just the the second part of them – mat presents great difficulties for decoding. The variants of its Indo-Aryan origin are more often considered, for example:


We can assume complexity of the common in ethnonymy suffix complex -mata (Σαυρωμαται, Ευρομαται, Σαρμαται, Ιξομαται, Ιαξαμαται), consisting of the possessive suffix *-ma- and the indicator of collecting plurality *-ta (out of the suffix *-t- and the flexion *-a) (SHAPOSHNIKOV A.K. 2005, 34).


Contrariwise, the first partial word assumes the most different interpretation, especially as other similar ethnonyms exist: Savires (Suwares), Severianes (Sever'), Seberes, Serbians. One can add to them also words meaning "a neighbour, friend", originated from Gmc *gabūr "dweller", "host". (Rus siabior, Ukr siaber, Blr siabr and many other). The ethnonym can have Iranian or Turkic origin. Just the name Sauromatians could be explicated by Iranian words meaning "a rider" (Pers sävar, Kurd suwar, Shugn sawor etc). At this rate, the second partial word must mean "people", i. e., "people of riders" and such name for the people could be given by neighboring people who were themselves not riders. At least three words may be used from the Turkic languages to explain – 1. the word meaning "blow" (Tur sovurmak, Uzb sowormoq, Tat suyru, Chuv săvăr and other); 2. the word meaning "a marmot" (Chuv săvăr); 3. the word meaning "a croup of horse, hide of horse" (Kaz, Tat savyr, Karach saury etc). Scott Littleton and Linda Malcor interpret Σαυρωμαται as “Lizard People” according Gr σαυρωσ “a lizard” (LITTLETON C. SCOTT & MALCOR LINDA A., 1999: 13).

Having considered various possible variants of the origin of the name and taking into account the Bulgarian ethnicity of the Scythians, it remains to look for an explanation of the name in the Chuvash language, which is logical in principle. Good for naming people are Chuv. savăr and măti "child", which on the whole means "marmot children". This assumption is supported by the decoding of the name of the tribe of Alpidzuri as "children of giants" (see below).

A picture of ethnic composition of Scythia can got by the map of ancient place names interpreted by means of different languages, the alleged ancestors of which speakers could reside in Scythia and the surrounding area (see the map below). Especially important for us is the toponymy of Ossetic origin in order to refute the widespread opinion about the predominance of Iranian-speaking ancestors of Ossetians among the entire population of the Northern Pontic region. Accordingly, the Savromats are considered one of the Iranian tribes. The topic of Ossetic toponymy, which is very important for establishing truth, is examined in detail separately, but here we will focus on the main points. In general, the whole set of Ossetic place names reflects the paths of motion of the Ossetians from their ancestral home in the Sozh River basin (see the section Iranic Tribes in the Eastern Europe at the Bronze Age ) to the places of their present habitat in the Caucasus. Basic "milestones" are outlined by the following chain of names:


Shchygry, two village in Kaluga Region an two villages in Kursk and Oriol Region.

Ors, a river, lt of the Nugr' River, lt of the Oka River.

Oskol, a river, lt of the Siv. Donets River and two towns with similar names on it.

Khalan', a river, rt of the Oskol River and two villages with similar names on it – Os khalon "crow".

Kalitva, some villages and two rivers have this word in th names.

Tomarovka, a town in Belgorod Region of Russia.

Malakeyevo, a village in Veydelevo district of Belgorod Region, Russia .

Tsarivka, two villages in Luhans'k Region.

Atiukhta, a town in Oktiabrsk district of Rostov Region, Russia.

Bataysk, a town in the mouth of the Don River.

Azov, Sea of Azov and a town.

Тamarovskiy, a hamlet in Primorsk-Akhtarsk district in Krasnodar Region, Russia.

Gelendzhik, a health resort on the shore of Black Sea, Russia.

Sochi, , a health resort on the shore of Black Sea, Russia.

Arkhyz, a village in Zelenchuk district iv Karachayevo-Cherkessia, Russia.


A small part of Ossetic place names as if separated from the main strip here and goes along the Vorskla River to the Dnieper. They may be by a stretch Akhtyrka, Kotelva, Kobelaky, and Tsaruchanka. Here a few place names of Greek origin were noted: Abazivka, Kolomak, Manachynivka, Poltava, Stasy, Takhtaulove. The presence of Greeks in these areas is discussed in the section Ancient Greeks and Italics in Ukraine and Russia. Thus the Greeks and Ossetians came in close contact at some time, as evidenced by Greek-Ossetic lexical correspondences, which gave V.I. Abayev in Historical and Etymological Dictionary of the Ossetic Language. (ABAYEV V.I. 1958-1989).As an example, the following: Os. mylazon "dark" – Gr. μελασ "black", Os. mæsyg "fighting tower" – Gr. μόσ(σ)υν "wooden tower".

Obviously, the Ossetians lingered in these places for a long time and stayed here during Scythian time. East of their settlements, right next to the basin of Khoper and along the Medveditsa River, are the main bulk of Hungarian place names – the ancestral home of the Hungarians. Hence, a well-sighted chain stretches up to the Seversky Donets basin. According to Herodotus in these places lived the Savromats if he took take the lower reaches of the Don and the Seversky Donets River as Tanais. In the steppes of the Ukraine, there was no Ossetic name to be found. This suggests that the majority of the Ossetians (in the post-Scythian time) moved to the Northern Caucasus. But their traces in place names here are not seen except for a strip along the coast of the Azov and Black Seas. Obviously, the new migration waves pushed the Ossetians to the Caucasus Mountains. The names of their settlements and geographical objects have been replaced by newcomers bearing the latter’s own names.





Scythia at Herodotus' time

There are marked on the map place names of Bulgarish origin by red signs, by deep-red – Anglo-Saxon, by blue – Kurdish, by violet – Mordvinic, by green – Ossetic, by azure – Hungarian, by yellow – Greek. The red line marks the border of Scythia of Herodotus.
The yellow rhomb marks Bil'sk Hillfort which would be an ancient town of Gelonos.
The red rhomb – the hillfort at the village of Cotynies (Poland).
More toponymic research is discussed in the part "Prehistoric Place Names of the Central-Eastern Europe.".


Herodotus wrote about the Savromat language as a spoiled Scythian language. Since the overwhelming majority of Scythians were Bulgars, who settled at the same time on Left-Bank Ukraine, it was they who were to contact the Savromats. If we take Ossetians as Savromats, then the Ossetic language should have a sufficiently large resemblance to Chuvash. But the facts of such a similarity are so scanty that they do not give reason to talk about some kind of closeness of these languages. The existing Ossetic-Chuvash lexical correspondences can often be found in Hungarian:

Chuv. kavrăç "ash-tree" – Osset. kärz "ash-tree" – Hung. köris "ash-tree",

Chuv. takana "a trough" – Osset. tägända "a trough " – Hung. teknö "a trough",

Chuv. čăkăt "cheese" – Osset. cyxt "cheese " – Hung. sajt "cheese ", Chuv. valak "gutter, a trough", Osset. bäläg "a trough" – Hung. vályú "a manger, trough".

However, some separate Ossetic-Chuvash lexical correspondences are found, but they can date back to the times of the Khazar Kaganate, when the Ossetians and Bulgars could have contacts. They can be such:

Osset. ärğaj "salmon" – Chuv. ărkay "trout",

Osset. byräğ "nome-made beer" – Chuv. păraka "draf, mash".

The Ossetic language has clearly more connections with the Hungarian, what is obviously due to long-term neighborhood of the Ossetians and Hungarians who are called here Magyars. A few examples of lexical Ossetic-Hungarian correspondences were given by V. Abaєv in his etymological dictionary:

Osset. arg "price" – Hung. ár "price", alku "trade";

Osset. avg "glass" – Hung. üveg "glass";

Osset. ävzist "silver" – Hung. ezüst "silver";

Osset. bud "smell" – Hung. büz "stench";

Osset. käsag "a fish" – Hung. keszeg "a bream";

Osset. marg "poison" – Hung. mereg "poison"; Osset. nymät "felt" – Hung. nemez "felt";

Osset. qád "a tree" – Hung. gaz "a forest";

Osset. sak'adax "a sleeve of the river" – Hung. szakdék "a gorge";

Osset. säfyn "to clean" – Hung. seper "to sweep";

Osset. säv "wide" – Hung. sáv "a strip", etc .

Such pairs can be added too:

Osset. kar "age" – Hung. kor "age", Osset. cäf "a wound" – Hung. seb "a wound ",

Osset. cavd "impact" – Hung. sötni "to beat".

Toponymy did not evidence the prolonged stay of the bulk of the Ossetians on the banks of the Don River. This contradicts the accepted etymology of its name, supposedly derived from Os. don "water, river". However, it could be vice versa – the nominal Ossetic word was derived from a proper name Don. The word don meaning "water, river" is available only in Ossetian among all the modern Iranian languages, although a similar word dānu "a river" was also recorded in Avesta. Ossetian is very far from the Avesta language, there are Iranian languages ​​more similar to it. If we take the Avesta language as ancient Iranian, which is not entirely true, then we must assume that the original Iranian word in the meaning of "river" has disappeared from all Iranian except Ossetian. This already seems doubtful, nevertheless, it is concluded that during the time of Herodotus and later the Ossetians populated the Black Sea and Azov steppes for a long period and they gave the name to The Don. Let us consider this question in more detail.

The Iranian languages have another common word darja for calling rivers. This word derives out of I.-E. der- “to hurry, flow” (Av drāvaya-) therefore its antiquity is not in doubt. The Ossetic word don is connected with other the Indo-European root meaning in most cases not fluid water, but the melted fat (OGr δημωσ, Alb dhjamе, Kurd don}, moisture in general (Arm tamuk), drops of water (OInd dana, danu), and in German even clay (Ton). The prevalence of the word darja puts a question, why Iranians named the Don River just Don, not Darja and whether Os don is derived from the name of the Don, not vice versa? An output out of this difficult situation could be prompted by the etymology of this name by means of the Turkic languages.

The ancient name of the Don River (ταναισ), recorded by Herodotus and Strabo, is like Old Turkic *tanas “calmness, quiet” (Chuv tănăç “calmness, peace of mind”, Kaz tanyš, “calmness, peace of mind”, Tat. tyn "still" etc). The Don River has the usual epithet "still" which is among Russians till now and it is also called tān in some Turkic languages (RADLOFF W. 1905, v. 3: 1052). Therefore, the name "Don" as a calm river was given by Turks, who have long populated its shores, and the Iranians, only borrowed the name from them, though it began to be pronounced differently. Not Osset. don but Av. dānu- is more like Turkic words, so we can assume that the speakers of some Iranian language (the most similar to the language of the Avesta, which for a long time after the Turks settled bank of the Don River), generalized its proper name in the wide meaning "river". Also the Ossetians just learned that word in this later sense when they moved to its banks from the north.

If we take into account Herodotus' note that the language of Savromats being an “impure” form of Scythian, it must be some Turkic. The Ossetic language, being Iranian, does not resemble the language of the Scythian Bulgars, and the Kurds, whose language is akin to the Ossetic, remained on the Right Bank of the Dnieper.Caucasian appearance of some Turkic peoples says that their ancestors were all the time in Europe. There are no places for their ettlements in Europe as just in the North Caucasus. It is quite possible that the Sauromatians were one of Turkic ethnic group. However, we should consider other options.

Now we know that the ancient Bulgars, Kurds, Boudins (Mordvins), Anglo-Saxons, Balts, Hungarians, the ancestors of the Ossetians, Cheremis, and one or two of other Finno-Ugric tribe had to live in the basin of the Dnieper and Don at the Scythian time. Jordan wrote the following about the tribes who inhabit a certain part of the East European Plain:


Soon Geberich, king of the Goths, departed from human affairs and Hermanaric, noblest of the Amali, succeeded to the throne. He subdued many warlike peoples of the north and made them obey his laws, and some of our ancestors have justly compared him to Alexander the Great. Among the tribes he conquered were the Golthescytha, Thiudos, Inaunxis, Vasinabroncas, Merens, Mordens, Imniscaris, Rogas, Tadzans, Athaul, Navego, Bubegenas and Coldas (JORDANES. THE ORIGIN AND DEEDS OF THE GOTHS, translated by Charles C. Mierow: 116).


Let's try to understand his testimony. Jordan’s translator and commentator pointed out that “Latin Jordan is incorrect and sometimes grammatically completely inconsistent” (JORDANES. 1960: 9). In this regard, it is assumed that the names of some tribes are distorted. This possibility was taken into account, but only in one case was taken the interpretation of the phrase Thiudos Inaunxis as Thiudos in Aunxis what was made by many aithors. The remaining names were deciphered in their original form, for what a wider number of languages was drawn in the hope of finding a different interpretation of controversial cases in languages that were usually left unattended in favor of Iranian ones. This refers primarily to the Turkic, Finno-Ugric, Germanic, Baltic, Slavic languages, as well as the languages of the peoples of the Caucasus.

Even before the analysis, one can note such matches: Merens – Finno-Ugric tribe Meria (Mari, called by us here Cheremis), Mordent – Mordvins. The name of Golthescytha is Germanic (for example Got gulđ "gold"), so it may be a "Golden Scythians" or "Royal Scythians". In the phrase Thiudos in Aunxis, the first word is obviously the Gothic plural of þiuda "people", in – preposition, and Aunxis – name of the area that may be of Baltic origin (Lith. auksas “gold”). This might have been the common name of the small tribes, but Jordan may have seemed its own one, and the secondary mention of gold should also be paid attention to. Vasinabroncas- the word looks Slavic (cf. Rus., Ukr. vasn' “strife, discord”, Cz., Slvk. vášeň “ardor, fervor”, Pol. bronić, Cz. brániti “to defend” etc). The Mari word imne "a horse" suits to decipher the names of Imniscaris and the combination sk was often transliterated the sound š in many languages having no such sound, especially in Latin as used by Jordan. In this case, the second part of the word could be Mari šar «hair», i.e., the name of the tribe was a «horse hair» though the motivation of the name is unclear. The name Tadzans can be decrypted using different languages, but no decoding looks convincing enough. Athaul – most likely some Turkic tribe (cf. Türk. at “name” ata “father”, Tat. atauly “nominal”, Karach. ullu ata “patriarch”). Navego – perhaps some tribe called by the Anglo-Saxons – OE. næfig "poor". The name of the Bubegenas people may also be of Anglo-Saxon origin – OE. "home", "building", beag "ring". With the help of the Hungarian language, the name of the Coldas tribe is well deciphered by Hung. koldus "beggar". Just Navego, the name of the Coldas cannot be a self-name, but reflects the prejudiced relations between different tribes. The name of the tribe of Rogas can be referred to an East Germanic tribe Rugii.

In addition to these, there were other tribes conquered the by Goths tribes in the Pontic coast. Jordan gave their names later in connection with the Hun invasion:


Like a whirlwind of nations they swept across the great swamp and at once fell upon the Alpidzuri, Alcildzuri, Itimari, Tuncarsi and Boisci, who bordered on that part of Scythia (JORDANES. THE ORIGIN AND DEEDS OF THE GOTHS, translated by Charles C. Mierow: XXIV, 123).


All the names of the tribes listed here are decrypted only with the help of Turkic languages. Alpidzuri – Chuv ulăp "a giant", jura, çура "a child" that is "children of giants"; Alcildzuri – Chuv alčăr "squint" that is "squint children" that could have affected people of Mongoloid appearance (cf. the name of the Sarmatians); Itimari – Chuv All the names of the tribes listed here are decrypted only with the help of Turkic languages. Alpidzuri – Chuv ulăp "a giant", jura, çура "a child" that is "children of giants"; Alcildzuri – Chuv alčăr "squint" that is "squint children" that could have affected people of Mongoloid appearance (cf. the name of the Sarmatians); Itimari Chuv yită "a dog" (other Turkic it), ămăr "chest of an animal". The name of Tunkars belong the group of ethnonyms and anthroponyms containing a component with the meaning "goose" (for example, Khazars – "people-geese" from Türk. qaz „goose”, er „man”; Kazakhs – "white geese" from the Türk. qaz and aq „white” etc). Obviously, this is not an accident, because, for example, in Celtic mythology the goose is a symbol of warriorism and often accompanies the god of war (BOTHEROYD SYLVIA and PAUL F. 1999). In this case Turk. *qař (qarz) "a goose" (now qaz) suits to Turkic tun/tyn "quiet, calm". The existence in the ancient languages of the fricative trill was already considered our work more than once. The name of Boisci, maybe, has the Old Turkic boj (Turkish boy) "tribe, clan". In this case, the name of the tribe must sound like boy-iski, where the second part of the Turkic word is good eski/iski "old", i.e. "the old, the original race"

We found that in the Scythian times the ancestors of the Kurds were present on the right bank of the Dnieper. Until we saw no their distinct traces amond the names of the tribes of the Northern Black Sea Coast. However Jordanes mentions in his work the "perfidious" tribe of the Rosomoni. Just they could be the ancestors of the Kurds that have fallen out of our sight. With certain difficulties, the name of the tribe can be deciphered with the help of the Kurdish language, but it could not necessarily be their self-name. The Rosomoni could obtained the name from neighbors, in particular from the Anglo-Saxons, because it can be deciphered as a "people of horsemen" with OE hros/hors "horse" and mann "man". A small phonetic discrepancy can be explained by the fact that the name came to Jordanes already in a distorted form. However the name of the insidious Rosomonian women Sunilda sounds completely Germanic, and similar names of Germanic women are known, despite the fact that OE. hild, OIcl. hild-r "war, fight" seems not suitable for a woman's name. At the same time, the names of her brothers Sarus and Ammius did not receive a convincing explain. All this allows us to speak only about the presence of the Anglo-Saxons in the Northern Black Sea region, no more.

Referring to the decoding of the names of the tribes mentioned by Jordanes, the southern part of the East European Plain could be inhabited by ancient Bulgars (the ancestors of modern Chuvashes), several other Turkic tribes, ancient Mordvins, Anglo-Saxons, Balts, Adyge, Slavs, Ossetians, Magyars, Cheremis. Previously, we concluded that the Bulgars were the Scythians, the Kurds were the Alazonians, the Anglo-Saxons were the Neuroi and Melanchlainoi, Mordvins were Budinoi (see. Scythia: The Interpretation of the Data of Ancient Historians. As you can see, the same tribes are present, but their names were changed.

A large group of Germanic loanwords in the Ossetic language stem not from contact with the Goths in the steppes of the Black Sea, but many of them were borrowed in former times, when the ancestors of the Ossetians populated the basin of the river Sozh next to the Germanic territory. Under the pressure of the Balts, ancestors of the Ossetians left their Urheimat and moved to the southeast after the Iranian tribes of Talishi, Gilaki, Baluchis, and Mazandarani, which we call by the common name of Cimmerians. They stopped at the border of the forest-steppe in the headwaters of the Seversky Donets and the Don. Here they had to coexist with Mordvins, and this neighborhood was reflected in the Ossetic language (for example, Osset limän «a friend» corresponds to the Mord loman’ «a man»). Obviously, the Proto-Ossetians have been cut off from the bulk of the Iranians by Magyars. The Magyars, expanding their habitat, could massively shift to the right bank of the Don to the Seversky Donets, displacing the Cimmerians in the Azov and the Kuban steppes.

After this analysis, we consider the question who else other than the Turks, may be associated with Sauromatians? The available data give reason to suppose that Sauromatians could be Magyars. I must say that Herodotus’ statement about the similarity of the Scythian and Sauromatian language cannot be understood on the basis of our current conception of the present Hungarian and Chuvash languages. At that time the relative number of common words in these languages were much greater than now, so the ancestors of the Chuvash and Hungarians could understand each other without difficulty (FEIST SIGMUND, 1924: 11). Hence informants of the Greek historian coild have an illusion of similarity of the Sauromatian and Scythian languages. It is also possible to heed the opinion of the Khazars, which considered being themselves related primarily to Ugric people (ARTAMONOV M.I., 1962: 114). The Urheimat of the Hungarians was on the left bank of the Don, that is on the Sauromatian territory or in proximity to it. The Turkic element in the Hungarian language is so strong that the scientists of the 19th century continued with persistence to debate for the membership of the Hungarian language to the Finno-Ugric or Turkic languages. Despite the efforts of János Sajnovics and Sámuel Gyarmathi, Hungarians would have a better relationship with the Turks than with Voguls and Ostyaks (JOKI AULIS, 1973: 28). Only until recently, supporters of Finno-Ugric origin of the Hungarian language got the upper hand. The matter was complicated by the fact that the Turkic loanwords in the Hungarian language were divided into several layers, and the words of the ancient layers were sound reminiscent of the Mongolic language. For example, Hung. ökör "a bull" is more like Mong üker than the common Turk öküz "a bull". Only much later it was found that the ancient Turkic loans in the Hungarian language have the Chuvash character. The conclusion of experts can be expressed by the words of Zoltán Gombocs:


Ancient loanwords in the Hungarian language have such specific, inherent only for them sound form which force to consider their Chuvash source of borrowing, more precisely that formerly separated branch from the Turkic family, which successor is the current Chuvash language, and which can be called Old Chuvash (GOMBOCZ ZOLTÁN, 1985-1: 26).


Even the fact that in some cases matches to Hungarian words can be found only in the Mongolian language, does not really matter, because the vocabulary of the Old Turkic language remains insufficiently known (Ibid: 29). Zoltán Gombocs wrote the following about the scale of Turkic stock in Hungarian:


Of 225 undoubted loanwords or allowable comparisons, 90 words of the Hungarian language have Chuvash matches (Ibid: 40).


From the time of this writing (the thirtieths of 20th century), the presented above numbers were significantly increased by the efforts of researchers, but it is still believed that Turkisms in the Hungarian language should be separated due to borrowings from Proto-Turkic and Turkic-Bulgar elements (LIGETI LAJOS. 1985: 113-114). N. Yegorov believes that there can be found hundreds of Turkic elements with hard Bulgar-Chuvash features in the Hungarian language (YEGOROV N.I., 1987: 24). His opinion can be confirmed also by the studies of G. Kornilov who found the Chuvash matches for more than two hundred Hungarian words only with the initial a, b, and c (KORNILOV G.E., 1973) and A. Rona-Tas who compiled a list of 450 Old Turkic loan-words in Hungarian (RONA-TAS ANDRAS. 2005: 114). However, we must bear in mind not only the general correspondence of Hungarian and Chuvash words, but also their external and internal similarities:


The relevant words to Hungarian words borz, cötkény, gyom, irö, kecske, kucsiny, szücs exist in other Turkic languages but the corresponding Hungarian derivate forms and undertones of meaning can only be detected in the Chuvash language (GOMBOCZ ZOLTÁN, 1985-1: 40).


Turkologists know that on the site of Old Turkic -k, -g, we have the Old Chuvash spirant γ which falls out in loanwords from Turkic to the Hungarian language: bor ← *borsuγ, kút ← *kutuγ. However it is unclear why the final -k remains the in other Turkic loanwords: árok, hurok, köldök (PALLO MARGIT K., 1985: 80). This fact can be explained in such way that the last loanwords had been borrowed at the time when the all Turks were yet in Eastern Europe and the Magyars were their neighbors, while the examples of falling/dropping out of the final -k come from contacts with the Bulgars at the time of the Khazar Kaganate.

Considering the facts of language matches of the Hungarian and Chuvash languages, we can conclude that there is hardly another pair of languages from different language families in the world that would be so much like one another as these two languages. This similarity may indicate that the speakers of the Hungarian and Chuvash languages were in very close contact with each other for a long period, at least not one or two centuries. Scientists have long been looking for a time and place of such contacts, and it is believed that they would have to occur in the South Eastern Europe:

Geobotanical data, the importance of which first drew the attention by István Zicsi, also force us to look for a place for this Bulgar-Hungarian relations not in the Middle Volga but more south. In this regard, the crucial role is played by the terms of viticulture bor «wine», szöllö «grapes», szürni «to percolate», seprö «sediment (in wine)”. Specific phonetic form of the last three words, which is characteristic only for the Chuvash language, makes undoubted fact that the Hungarians met the vine/grape/wine process owing to the Bulgars. But the northern border of the grape culture passes through the Mogilev on the Dniester – Ekatironoslav on the Dnieper – Serepta on the Volga River that is south of 49 degrees north latitude (GOMBOC ZOLTÁN. 1985-2: 46-47).

These and other facts give grounds to assume that the place of the Hungarian-Bulgar contact was the North Caucasus. Based on the fact that the ancient Turks in Eastern Europe were the Bulgars of the Khazar Khanate times, it is concluded that these contacts occurred around the 7-8th centuries A.D. However, the study of language processes of those times causes us to doubt the adequacy of this restricted period to have extremely deep Chuvash-Bulgar effects on the Hungarian language. Knowing that the Turks were present in Eastern Europe since the time of splitting the Proto-Turkic language, we can not discard the possibility of moving the time of these influences to an earlier and longer period.

Herodotus wrote that the Sauromatians inhabited the land beyond the Tanais. If he considered the Tanais as the lower Don and the Seversky Donets Rivers, it can be assumed that the Magyars (alleged Sauromatians) crossed the Don and for some time populated the area between the Don and the Seversky Donets. Thus they had the contact simultaneous with the Scythians, Bulgars and the ancestors of the Ossetians for a longer period – can explain separate lexical matches of the Hungarian language with Chuvash and Ossetic.

In general, these considerations are not contradicted by the discovery of archaeological sites of ancient Magyars in the Lower Prikamye and the Bashkir Urals, since they appeared there no earlier than the turn of the 6th-7th centuries (KHALIKOV A.Kh., 1985: 28). It can be assumed that some part of the Magyars could cross the Volga and settle in the Kama basin, but most of them should have remained near their ancestral home. Let us dwell on this issue in more detail.

After the defeat of the combined Russian-Cumanian troops with Mongols on the Kalka River in 1223, a new political situation arose in Eastern Europe. Western Cumanian tribes begin moving to the borders of Hungary. The eldest son of King András II Bela supported missionary activity of Dominican friars among the advancing Cumans. Their activity has been successful, and Bela knowing stories that the ancestral home of the Hungarians was somewhere in the east, decided to organize searching for it by monk forces. Expeditions to the east were a few, the most successful was held in 1235. The monk Julian, who took part in it, left a detailed written report about the search. According the report Julian found people who understood the Hungarian language in the basin of one of the tributaries of the middle Volga. They held a reminiscence that some of ther tribesmen moved away to the west.

In 1237, Julian, already as an ambassador was sent to the tribesmen for the second time. However, by the time the Tatar-Mongols have already started their invasion, and he did not get to the Magyars, and learned of their fate from the stories he had heard in the town of Suzdal in Northeren Russia. The second report of the monk was containing many contradictions and inaccuracies, so its identity is called into question, but the very existence of «Great Hungary» is not disputed. (ZIMONYIJ ISTVÁN 2012: 43-50).Apparently, Julian visited the area in the basin of the Sura and Sviyaga Rivers, right tributary of the Volga, others in the description of travel would be indication that the «Great Hungary» was «beyond the Volga». Detailing description of Julian’s journey on the left bank of the great river would be of much relevance. On the other hand, Julian mentions about the city of Bundaz, which some researchers have linked to the city of Penza, is located at the Sura River.

Confirmation of the movement of the Magyars from the banks of the Don to the Urals region can be an interesting fact, which was pointed out by the Turkish scientist Osman Karatay. He drew attention to the similarity in the names of the Bashkir tribe Yurmaty and Hungarian word gyarmat "colony, colonial territory". Hungarian gy often corresponds to the sound j in most the Turkic languages, ç in chuvash and s in Yakut does. Assuming that the sounds ç и s are more ancient than j, he concluded that the initial form for the Bashkir and Hungarian words is *sarmat. It follows that the Sarmatians, and that the same, the Saurmatians, were a Turkic tribe (KARATAY OSMAN, 2003-2: 12-13). The argument is controversial, but not about the Sarmatian ethnicity in this case. Important is the Bashkir-Hungarian correspondence itself, which directly points to the secondary character of the Magyar habitat in the Urals. The Magyar close ties with Bashkirs is described by Istvan Simon in the above mentioned work. In the Southern Urals, in the basins of the Belaya, Kama, Ik rivers in the VI-VIII cent. there were two kindred cultures – Kushnarenkovo and Karayakupovo ones. However, some Russian scientists, believing that the Magyars were their creators, see the deep sources of these cultures in the cultures of the forest-steppe Irtysh basin and Southern Trans-Urals from the early Iron Age (KHALIKOVA E.A, KHALIKOV A.Kh. 2018: 74). In this work as an evidence, the authors submit the final research materials of the Bolshe-Tigan burial ground, which the scientific editors of the publication summarized as follows:


It (burial ground – V.S.) is a kind of connecting link between the sites of the Kushnarenkovo (or Kushnarenkovo-Karayakupovo) type and the burial grounds of the steppe and forest-steppe belt of the steppes of the Northern Pontic area (for example, the burial ground near the village of Manvelovka and others), and also located much west of the Early Hungarian sites of the Danube-Carpathian basin of the era of "finding a homeland" of IX-X centuries. Bright features of the funeral and memorial rituals and a specific clothing complex gave rise to the first researchers of this monument – E.A. Halikova and A.Kh. Halikov – consider it belonging to ancient Magyar culture. Based on the study of a significant part of the burial ground, they believed that there was every reason to consider it a burial monument left by the population, which somewhat later began to move west to their new homeland (Ibid: 4).


The movement of Magyars from east to west is indisputable, but the origins of the Kushnarenkovo and Karayakupovo cultures in the Trans-Urals do not fit into the prehistory of the Magyars. The second conclusion of professional archaeologists about the creators of these cultures is confirmed by toponymy. The Magyars left traces of their presence in the area of their distribution in place names, which are deciphered using the Hungarian language:

Almash, a rural locality (a village) in Sharansky district, Bashkortostan, – Hung. almás "apple" (adjective).

Almetyevsk , a city in the Republic of Tatarstan – Hung. alma "apple" étel "food, dish".

Blagovar, a rural locality (a selo) and the administrative center in Republic of Bashkortostan – Hung. bolgár vár "Bulgarish fortress".

Buzdyak, a rural locality and the administrative center of Buzdyaksky District in Bashkortostan – hung. buzdít "to approve".

Dombrovka, a rural locality in Blagovarsky district, Bashkortostan – Hung. dombra "on the hill".

Zay, a river, the left tributary of the Kama River and a village on it – Hung. zaj "noisy".

Kandry, a rural locality in Tuymazinsky district, Bashkortostan – Hubg. kandúr "a cat".

Sagadat, the abolished village of the Sarajevo village council of the Alsheevsky district of Bashkortostan, now a natural boundary – Hung. szag "smell", adat "data".

Sharan, a village, the administrative center of Sharansky District and the Sharan River, Bashkortostan – Hung. sáran "dirty".

The interpretation of the words Sarmatian Onomasticon showed that only no more than two percent of the entire list can be of Hungarian origin. The most likely may be: may be:

Αβνωζοσ (abno:zos), Olvia, according M. Vasmer (ASAYEV V.I. 1979: 284)– good fit Hung. ab „a dog” and nyuz “to rip off, flay” (together there may be a “flayer”).

Βορυσ (borus), an inscription on vases according M.Vasmer (Ibid: 284) – absurd inscription for a vase “brown, red” (Os. bora „brown, red”). pefectly fit Hung. boros „wine”.

Dule (Gen. Dulae, Alanian Prince at the Hungarian Chronicle Simon Keszai (ALEMANY AGUSTI. 2000: 4.43) – Hung. gyula (pronounced dyula) – the title of the second most important leader of the Hungarian tribal union, a later name.

Μανδασοσ (mandasos), had the son Gilgos (Γιλγοσ), an inscription in Tanais (JUSTI FERDINAND. 1895: 115) – both names are of Hungarian origin – Hung. mond "to speak", mondas "dictum, aphorism”, gyilkos "a murderer".

A few more words can also have both Hungarian and other origin. One might think that, if the Sauromatians were the ancestors of the Hungarians, then there were very few of them among the Sarmatians. Obviously, the Magyars in their ancestral homeland remained a little after some of them migrated to the Kama region. Hungarian place names that stretch along the Volga to the mouth of the Kama River, testify to the path of this migration:

Karnovar, a village in Neverkinsky district of penza Region – Hung. káron vár "ruined fortress".

Kanasayevo, avillage in Nikolayevsky district of Ulyanovsk Region – Hung. kanász "swineherd".

Ulyanovsk (the primordial name Sinbirsk) – Hung. szín "coloured", pír "blush, flush".

Undory, a village of Ulyanovski district and Ulyanovsk Region – Hung. undor "disgust".

Syukeyevo, a rural locality in Kamsko-Ustyinsky District of the Republic of Tatarstan, – Hung. sük "narrow".

Apastovo, a town, the administrative center of Apastovsky district of Tatarstan – Hung. apaszt "to decrease, reduce".


Thus, the routes of migration and habitats of the Magyars are determined, but the ethnicity of the Sauromatians is still in question. In the light of the available data, it should be agreed that there are two answers to this question – either the Sauromatians were the ancestors of the modern Hungarians, or they disappeared from the face of the earth and we learn nothing else about them.