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Valentyn Stetsyuk (Lviv, Ukraine)

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Ossetian Place Names


Only these two matches: the SozhRiver, the lt of the Dnieper Osset. soj fat, lard" and the Resta River, rt of the Pronia, rt of the Sozh Osset rast strait can be noted in the Urheimat of the Ossetians located in the basin of the Sozh. However both names can be descrypted by Old English. Ossetian were found in such quantities, what can increase the likelihood of their origin, in a band that stretches from the city of Bryansk to the city of Rostov and then along the coast of the Azov and Black Seas. There in in this zone a cluster of Ossetian toponyms in the Belgorod Region of Russia and in the neighboring regions of Ukraine and Russia. Obviously, Ossetians lingered in these places in the vicinity of settlements of Magyars for a long time. Presumably their stay here refers to the Scythian time. Obviously new migration waves forced Ossetians in the Caucasus Mountains, and their names of settlements and geographical objects have been replaced by newcomers with own ones. An example of a replacement can speak about this. Ossetian name Ulka in Ergeni hills that stretch approximately from the city of Volgograd to to the city of Elista. Migration path of the Ossetians to a certain extent reflects a band of names, which stretches from the mouth of the Don along the coast of the Azov and Black Seas. However, their transcript is probabilistic in the absence of reliable binding of names to the terrain. Only complicated name of the town of Gelendzhik, not having hitherto reliable etymology, can be more confident decrypted using the Ossetian language thanks to good sound corresponding to the Ossetian word. To a lesser extent this applies to the names of the town of Taman and Sochi, where we also have the sound correspondence, but it can be casual in mind the apparent simplicity of names. The list of Ossetian toponyms, which is constantly adjusted served below in alphabetical order.


Arkhyz, a river, lt of the Psysh, lt Of the Great Zelenchuk, lt of the Kuban River Os. ærkh "piece" "splinter", "sliver".

Atiukhta, a town in Oktiabrsk district of Rostov Region, Russia Os. atukhyn "to wind" atykht action on this verb.

Azov, Sea of Azov and a town Os. as "the size, number", "adult" (previously "big, large"). Obviously Ossetian word was borrowed from some Finno-Ugric languages where similar words (iso/izo/ots'/udts') have meaning either "large" or "small". The second part of the word transformed from *av/ov "water", presented in different forms in all Iranian languages. In the modern Ossetian it is contained in æfsurh euphemism for "water".

Bataysk, a town in the mouth of the Don River Os. bataiyn "to thaw, melt", "to be useful".

Betta, a hamlet as a part of the town of Gelendzhik in Krasnodar Country, Russia Os. bættæ "tied".

Gelendzhik, a health resort on the shore of Black Sea, Russia Os. kælængænæg "a sorcer, wizard".

Kalitva, some villages and two rivers have this word in th names the root of Os kælyn "to flow" is added by the attributive suffix -t and *af/ov "water". See Azov.

Kardonikskaya, a stanitsa (village inside a Cossack host) in Zelenchuk district of Karachay-Cherkessia Os. kærdo "rear-tree", nigæ "riverside covered with grass".

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

Kotelva, a town in Poltava Region Os. k'utu "barn", læuuyn "to stay, remain". In North Ossetia there are several names kæto that go back to the ancient Iranian appellative with the meaning "home, house". In Digor dialect preserved kæt "canopy" (TSAGAEVA A.Dz. 2010: 177).

Malakeyevo, a village in Veydelevo district of Belgorod Region, Russia Os. mælag "not living, daying out".

Mara, a river, rt of the Kuban' River . mæra "hollow".

Masychevo, a village in Voronezh Region, a hamlet in Belgorod Region, Russia Os. mæsyg "a fighting tower".

Ors, a river, lt of the Nugr' River, lt of the Oka River Os. urs "white".

Oskol, a river, lt of the Siv. Donets River and two towns with similar names on it Os. as "size, quantity" (obviously former "large"), kælyn "to flow". Cf. Vorskla.

Raskhovets, two villages in Kursk and Belgorod Regions of Russia Os. raskh'iuyn "to spring out, fly out".

Sentyanivka, a railway station on line Luhans'k- Lysychans'k Os. synt "raven", syntæ "net, snare".

Sochi, a health resort on the shore of Black Sea, Russia Os. sadzhy "of a deer" (sag "a deer").

Shchygry, two village in Kaluga Region an two villages in Kursk and Oriol Region Os. tsyrgh "to sharp", stsyrgh uyn "to become sharp".

amarovskiy, a hamlet in Primorsk-Akhtarsk district in Krasnodar Region, Russia Os. tomar "to rush".

Tomarovka, a town in Belgorod Region of Russia Os. tomar "to rush".

Tsarivka, two villages in Luhans'k Region Os. tsaryn "to reanimate, renew, hold up".

Tsarychanka, a village in Dnepropetrovsk Region Os. tsaryn "to live, dwell".

Tsaritsyn, the previos name of the city of Volgograd Os. tsaryn "to live, dwell".

Tsimlansk, a town in Rostov Region, Russia Os. tsym "cornel", lænk "valley, lowland".

Tsupivka, a village in Derhachiv district of Kharkiv Region Os. tsup "fringe, brush, cluster".

Ulka, a name of the mountain ridge Yergeni (Kalmykia) in "Big figure" (MAGIDOVICH I.P., MAGIDOVICH V.I. 1979: 210) Os. uælkhkokh "hilly".

Vorskla, a river, lt of the Dnieper River Os. urs "white", kælyn "to flow".

Zagedan, a town and a river, rt of the Bolshaya Laba River in Karachay-Cherkessia Os. dzag "full", don "water, river".



There are on the map the place names of Kurdish origin are marked by rosa signs. Dark red signs refer to Kurdish places having the partial word Maydan. Violet ones Afghan place names. Green Ossetic place names, brown others.

The common Iranian space is toned by yellow. the borders of the Ossetic Urheimat are marked by green, the Kurdish Urheimat is surrounded by red and the Afghag Urheimat is by violet.


Noteworthy is the accumulation of Ossetian place names in Karachay-Cherkessia (Arkhyz, Zagedan, Kardonikskaya, Mara). Obviously, the Ossetians stayed here for a long time on the way to modern places of settlement but were later driven out by the Karachays. This idea was first expressed by V.F. Miller at the end of the 19th century, having maded a linguistic analysis of such toponyms as Shak-dan, Shaukam, Mysty-kam, Juarfchik, Ors-fandag and others on the territory of Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachaevo-Cherkessia from Elbrus to the upper reaches of the Iraf River (TSAGAEVA A.Dz. 2010: 24).


In 1888, on the right bank of Bolshoy Zelenchuk River, a stone stele with an inscription by Greek letters was found 30 km from the village of Nizhniy Arkhyz (see the figure on the right). The decoding of the inscription was made by V.F. Miller using the Ossetian language. With small corrections, the reading is now accepted in science, and the dating of the stele is determined by 941 year (DHURTUBAYEV M. 2010: 198).

Miller believed that there was a Christian city in this area, from which the ruins of churches were preserved, and suggested that it was the center of the Alan diocese (metropolis), which is mentioned in Byzantine literature. However, not all agreed with the decoding of Miller, because he introduced eight additional letters into the text, which were absent on the stele and without which it can not be by means of the Ossetian language (Ibid).


At right: Drawing of the inscription of Zelenchuk stele in Dhurtubayev' book taken from V.A. Kuznetsov (Ibid: 199).


The inscription on the stele gave Abaev a reason to draw a conclusion about the existence of Ossetian writing in the Middle Ages, but other data confirming this conclusion has not yet been found. In addition, the inscription itself has different versions of reading, including using the Kabardian, Karachai-Balkarian, Vainakh and, possibly, other languages. Disputes about the language of the inscription continue to this day, but bearing in mind the Ossetian toponymy of Karachay-Cherkessia, the option of Ossetian inscription is preferable. The stele was not preserved, attempts to find it in 1946 and 1964 did not bring success (KAMBOLOV T.T. 2006: 166). Having no original, it is uselessly to talk about the accuracy of drawing text, and this complicates the further decoding of the inscription. It is strange that the Iranian scholars Miller, Abaev and others did not decode the name of Arkhyz.