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Toponymic survey in Eurasia

Toponymic survey in Eurasia


It is difficult to overestimate the importance of place names for the restoration of historical events, not reflected in written sources or oral traditions. In this sense, toponymy is not only a linguistic, but also a historical science that helps to uncover the secrets of peoples living on some territory and their economic and cultural activities. Taking into account the great stability and survivability of geographical names, their careful study and linguistic analysis can provide us with particularly reliable information.


People and their languages can disappear from the face of the earth, but toponymic names as a kind of proper names, not otherwise designating anything other than the object behind which they are entrenched, are easily assimilated by other peoples and thus can persist for thousands of years. Common words of the language are often replaced by foreign borrowings, as a result of the actions of various associations, new words arise that supplant the old ones with time. Similar processes in the field of toponymic names are not observed (SEREBRENNIKOV B.A.1959: 37).


And an especially important aspect is that some toponymic researchers are unaware of:


It is known that when some people capture territories formerly inhabited by other nationalities, the names of the localities (toponyms) used by the original settlers are most often preserved by new settlers. A striking example of this throughout history is the fact that many of the place names in North America are of Indian origin, including the names of such large cities as Chicago and Ottawa, both of Algonquian origin (KOMRIE B. 2000: 5).


Throughout Europe there are thousands of names of villages, rivers, mountains that could not be explained by means of the language of the local populatiom. Not all of them originate from prehistoric times. In well-established migration routes, some of the place names can be dated by relatively recent historical time. Here and there you can meet names consonant with the words of a language which speakers nor their ancestors never dwelled in these places. Many place names present Proto-Indo-European substratum, which is absolutely impossible to identify without knowledge of what peoples inhabited Europe in prehistoric times, which languages or related to them are known to us. Numerous names in Central Europe left the Celts, who were the first of the Indo-Europeans inhabited this territory. However, a significant number of alleged Celtic place-names, despite the efforts of many researchers, have not received a reliable interpretation, as evidenced by the controversy and scientific debate for decades (cf. Mees B . 2001). In this paper the study of place names in the Central-Eastern and Northern Europe were carried only for verification of the data about the migration of carriers of the Corded Ware culture, which were the ancient Bulgars, and the Iranian people, which became known in history under the name Cimbri.

Individual etymology proposed in this section etymology of geographical names can be misleading. Some errors are eliminated over time but a number of them, hopefully minor, still remains. The aim of the study was not solid etymologization of place names in a certain area but searching for regularity in their arrangement, in particular, accumulation of place names decrypted by means of the same language. Decoding of isolated names out of found condensations is considered as a fact which requires confirmation by other data. If such evidences will not be found or will be found another, of more convincing etymology, these place names will be removed from consideration as not related to the subject of the study and its time frame .

To solve problems of ethnogenesis it is important to know the ancestral homeland of ethnoi and places of their more recent settlements, since the formation of language and culture of people is influenced by climatic conditions and other geographical factors that determine, among other things, also the language substrate and the contacts with neighboring ethnic groups, what played great role in the whole complex of ethnogenic processes at prehistoric time. For a long time with no other reliable data, scholars were hoping that language characteristic of place names on certain territories could give reason to consider these areas as the Urheimat of the speakers of this language. However, it is also important to know the chronological framework of the appearance of place names, but they themselves dont give the answers to this question does and therein the difficulty of its use lies. Numerous attempts to locate the Urheimat of various nations have failed because of their controversial nature and very often scholars can not convince the opponents of the fairness of their conclusions. The place name study (toponymy), really, couldnt have probative value and gradually doubts of its use in studies began to be expressed because " toponymic etymology is almost always conditional since it is unproved in the vast majority of cases" (MATVEYEV A.K.,1965)

In the case of the Slavs, even a paradoxical situation turned out, where, according to L. Nederle, "there is no area in Europe in general that could be considered a Slavic Urheimat, as there is no region where a geographical terminology would purely Slavic" (NIDERLE LUBOR., 1956: 34).

Nevertheless, it is hoped that data of toponymy can be verified by the results obtained in other ways, but having a chronological anchor. The historical developed research methods do not provide in full such opportunity, but in the second half of the 20th century, the internal development trends of the social sciences have led to the widespread use of precise, mathematical methods. This also was contributed by the development of technology, which provided for the use of powerful tools for the mathematization of science electronic computers. Gradually, starting from the simplest processing of statistical data, special mathematical techniques have been worked out in various fields of social sciences, and systematic approach to the study of social, historical, linguistic processes even led to the development of the special sciences, synthesizing in traditional and new mathematical methods of research. An example of such a science can be mathematical linguistics, a very broad science that uses mathematical techniques of different plan. Actaul research is being realized by my own method named by me graphical-analytical. The method allows building a graphical model (schema) of relation of one language family languages based on lexical statistics. The obraited model is connected with a suitable place on the map where there are areas, formed by natural boundaries (rivers, mountain ranges, etc.), which restricted contacts between the populations of the whole territory and contributed to the formation of separate dialects in these areas on the basis of a common language. However, full confidence in the accuracy of the placement of schemes can not be. More evidences are need what can be provided by archeology, toponymy, linguistic substratum. If these facts do not contradict each other, then we can talk about the high reliability of results obtained while using the graph-analytical method, and archeology allows you to define the time frame of stay of different ethnic groups in certain areas.

Such comprehensive studies have allowed to accurately determine location of so called ethno-producing areas where several tens of primary ethnic groups were formed, most of which, under the influence of various natural and historical circumstances have evolved into the modern nation or in spite of these circumstances have kept their ethnic identity to this day. However, in most cases, the nations did not stay close to their ancestral homeland, and for various reasons, have migrated to their present location.

Ethnic identity of the peoples during the relocation was kept if it had place in droves with the preservation of family and tribal structure. Some families move by their own transport, together with their belongings, household appliances and livestock. This convoy, accompanied by armed guards, stretched for several kilometers and was unable to do great day's march. Talking about the Celts and Scythians in the chapter CAIUS MARIUS, Pluiarh pointed out that "they did not swarm out of their country all at once, or on a sudden, but advancing by force of arms, in the summer season, every year, in the course of time they crossed the whole continent". (PLUTARCH, 1987, 516). Obviously, also in summer stays of different lengths were made in convenient locations to explore the possibility of settlement. They were also used for livestock grazing, replenishment of food and water, repairing carts and so on. Very often a certain group of migrants remaned on these stations forever. These may be people who are fed up camp life, physically and mentally tired, sick, wounded, and relatives accompanied them.

Studies of toponymy have shown that in some cases, probably due to natural conditions, a chain of settlements appears on the migration routes, the names of which are mostly assimilated by newcomers and thus they are preserved to this day. This allows us to change the view of existing ideas about the determining factors for the emergence of permanent migration routes.

According to Radan Květ, the entire earth's crust can be dismembered into numerous fractures a geological phenomenon of fundamental importance. A dense network of faults determines the configuration of the hydrological network as the main characteristic of the prevailing landscape types on the planet. The hydrological network is associated with a network of prehistoric trails that arose along the streams in antiquity due to the fact that after settlement a person with his involuntary efforts laid footpaths most often on the terrace nearest to the water flow. Among other things, the trails served as a means of transmitting information between distant human groups:


In the history of mankind, the original network of trails became the first information network. It did not have the main purpose of trade and military relations: all sorts of technological experience, as, of course, cultural, led to the union of thoughts, ideas, philosophical and religious beliefs, just like artistic tastes. (KVĔT R., 1998, 43).


Radan Kvĕt did not deny the existence of other possibilities for moving through terrain in later times, for example, along the upper fluvial terrace. The prerequisites for the emergence of footpaths were, first of all, physicogeographical, but there were also socio-geographical aspects. These latter determined the paths of migration that were not connected to water flows, but, having arisen once, they continued to exist for many centuries and even millennia, improving as new technical capabilities developed. For example, along the modern Russian road M9, which runs from Moscow to the Baltic, there is a clear chain of Estonian place names, although the road goes over rough terrain without being tied to any water flow. The same can be said about the E30 road, which runs through the territory of Poland from Brest through Warsaw to Poznan, along which a chain of Anglo-Saxon place names stretch.


There are in the Ukraine thousands of names of villages, rivers, mountains, which can not be decoded by means of Ukrainian. A fairly large portion of them, especially in the steppe, have Turkic origin. These place names should be considered as of relatively late time, permanent population does not remain for a long time here due to periodic invasions of nomads from the east. However, it is significant that there are in the forest-steppe zone, in the Polesie, and in the Carpathians, where the population for many centuries remained fairly stable, a lot of obviously non-Ukrainian, even non-Slavic place names. Based on the results of research according to ethnicity of the residents separate areas, an attempt was made to decode the "dark" place-names by means of the German, Iranian, Turkic and Finno-Ugric languages. Initially, nearly 1,100 place names in the forest-steppe Ukraine were analyzed using the 1:200,000 scale topographic maps and , when it was found that three-quarters of them could be fairly reliable decoding, the place names in Central Russia, the southern Belarus, south-western Poland, and north-eastern Hungary was studied too.

Place names cannot be not always connected directly with other data, and then the question of staying of an ethnic group on a certain territory is solved by comparison with reliable data on neighboring territories. For example, the Baltic place names in the basin of the of Pripiat, Desna and Seym clearly indicates that some time this territory was inhabited by the Balts. V Toporov and the O. Trubachiov consider such names of the Vessia, Kovna, Luniya, Mazha, Morozha, Mytvitsa, Narovla, Nacha, Nertka, Osvitsa, Tremlia, Tsna, Shacha Rivers and many others as Baltic ones. Perhaps some of these names have Slavic origin, but in the mass, these names do not look Slavic. Other data about the presence of the Balts on these places are absent, but we know that the Urheimat of the Baltic was in another place and took a much smaller area. On the other hand, there are linguistic data about the contact of the Baltic with the Thracians, the place and the time of their settlements are known to us. Thus, we can confidently say about the migration of the Balts to the basin of the Pripiat and its chronological framework. The boundary of the Baltic and Finno-Ugric place names quite clearly delineates the boundaries of settlements of the Finno-Ugric peoples in the west of their territory before the Slavic expansion:


As a whole, the northern and eastern boundaries of the Baltic tribes of early Iron Age in the main coincide with the boundary separating the Baltic and Finno-Ugric toponymies and hydronymies. This boundary ran from the Gulf of Riga to the upper reaches of the Western Dvina and the Volga Rivers. Turning further to the south, it is cut off Riverlands of the Moscow River from the basin the Volga River and the upper reaches of the Oka River, then along the watershed of the Oka and the upper reaches of the Don came to the steppe (TRET'YAKOV P.N., 1982: 54-55)


Many information can be given by the study of Thracian or Illyrian gydronimy that is concentrated in certain small regions. To the contrary, the analysis of the Turkic place names can give only scanty material to draw conclusions. The Turkic languages are quite conservative, so in the first place, it is difficult to make the stratigraphy of the Turkic place names, knowing that Turks inhabited some area as in ancient and in quite recent times. Secondly, the Turkic place names are spread very large area, so it is difficult to localize the primary places of Turkic settlements. Thirdly, the number Turkic people are numerous, so sometimes it is difficult to bind a certain Turkic name to a specific ethnic group. Approximately the same, but to a lesser extent, can be said about the Iranian place names. The analysis of the Slavic place names generally wound up scientists to a standstill, as evidenced by the above words L. Niderle. However, we can get a lot information by comparative analysis of place names of modern Slavic territories and their Urheimat. Though such comparisons are not always possible or very difficult. For example, the comparison of the place names of present-day Poland and the former Polish Urheimat has no sense, since the Polish influences reached far into the territory of Belarus still in fairly recent times. The same applies to the Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian place names. The results may give a comparative study of place names of the Slavic peoples, ancestral home of which lie far from their present-day territories. This applies to the Czech and Slovak place names and place names of the South Slavs.

Often, people have moved to new lands give the same name for geographical object, which to they are accustomed to the old places. This is manifested particularly clearly in the comparison of modern Czech and Slovak names of settlements with place names of the Urheimat of the Czechs and Slovaks. Much less this phenomenon refers to the names of the rivers. However, despite best efforts, convincing parallels between Slavic Balkan place names and place names of the South Slavic Urheimat.

Of all the results of these studies, localization of the Turkic Urheimat in Eastern Europe excites special aversion and, in particular, the stay of the Proto-Bulgars in the Western Ukraine, and their correlation with the Scythians. But, as it was already shown, a lot of the place names of the Ukraine can be etymologized by means of the Chuvash language, though the vast majority of them does not contain any links with the natural and geographical features, which could be reflected in the proposed appellatives. In such circumstances, when random phonetic coincidence in the whole set of the alleged Scythian place names cannot be eliminated, statistics helps substantively. The concentration of etymologized names by means of Chuvash on particular area helps to determine as a primary settlement area of the ancient Scythians and ways to the later migration. Herewith, place-names located in isolation, may be regarded as a coincidence. Already while the first attemt whole about 330 place names were etymologized by means of the Chuvash language. Then they were divided into regions and it was found that most portion of them are located in the Lviv Region, that is 60. This is more than half of all place names of Lviv region taken for analysis, despite the fact that more than a quarter of them are not etimologized at all. Next come Cherkassy Region- 38, Vinnytsia 32, Khmelnytsky 32, Ternopil 24, Poltava 24, Zhytomyr 17, Ivano-Frankivsk -15. Thus, the assumption about the location of the primary habitat of the ancient Scythians to the south of Volhynia was confirmed by statistical data. In the course of further work, additional toponyms of Bulgarish origin were repeatedly accidentally discovered but mostly in the same areas and the above number do not correspond to reality, although in general reflect the relative distribution of place names.




There are on the map rhombic signs mark place names of Bulgarish origin. Violet signs reffer to time of CWC created by the Bulgars. The sites of CWC are shown by blue asterisks. Green asterisks mark sites of Fatyanovo culture. Rosa signs refer to Scythian time. Azure circles mark Bulgarish names of rivers and lakes. Yellow space Trypillian culture. Its most western sites are marked by orange asterisks. Brown space the territory of the Indo-Eyropeans. Green space Fatyanovo and Balanovo culture.

The place names of Bulgarish origin outside of mentioned above regions are less numerous, therefore random coincidences are possibile and their number can not testify about the mass Bulgarish population there. Thus, the assumption on the location of the primary Scythian area to the south of the Volyn is confirmed by statistical data of place names. It is characteristic that names of Bulgarish origin in the Ternopil Region are less than in neighboring Lviv and Khmelnitsky Regions. This is due to the migration of Kurds which penetrated the whole Bulgarish territory of later.

The real surprise was the presence of a sufficiently large number of names of Bulgarian origin in Germany, the Baltic States and southern Scandinavia in the territory of the spread of the Corded Ware culture, which creators were the ancient Turks. I had not intent to make such searches as CWC existed four thousand years ago, and it was difficult to assume that the names of settlements could remain so long while numerous changing population of different languages. However, random findings prompted to focused search and it have given a wealth of material.

Despite the fact that the distribution of names by administrative units gives us some idea of their concentration, presence in the same region of names of different origins sometimes in approximately equal proportions, has misleading, as the speakers of two or three different languages lived here simultaneously mixed among themselves. In fact it is not. If we apply to a map, for example, the place names of the Bulgarian, Kurdish, Teutonic and Old English origin and do not take into account isolated among other origin of place names, the boundaries between clusters of names are pretty clear and, of course, they are not the same as regional boundaries.



Anglo-Saxon Place names in Google Map


Iranian Place Names in Google Map
Bulgarish Place Names in Google Map



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