v.1 (04/2009) (first online as part of another article) > v.2 (12/2009) (major update, maps with the early distribution of Turkic tribes near the Altai published) > v.2 (11-12/2011) (major corrections to the text; maps, illustrations, references added) > v. 3.1 (02-03/2012) (rearranged and made into a separate article, geographical determinism considerations, detailed geolexical analysis added) > v. 4 (12/2012-1/2013, some textual and graphic additions, grammatical corrections, corrections to maps; the reconstructions of Turkic migrations significantly expanded)
As a result of the multilateral linguistic, geographical, historical analysis, the Urheimat area of Bulgaro-Turkic languages was tentatively positioned near the northern border of present-day Kazakhstan. A similar analysis of the early Turkic dialects resulted in positioning the Urheimat of Proto-Turkic Proper to the northwest of the Altai Mountains.
The present publication is part of the series of articles on the classification and origin of the Bulgaro-Turkic languages, which also include The Internal Classification and Migrations of Turkic Languages and The Lexicostatistics and Glottochronology of the Turkic Languages.
1.1 Remarks on geographical terminology
In the beginning, let us provide brief descriptions of a few geographical concepts that will help us to get familiarized with the Eurasian geography. Several terms had to be introduced in this article for the first time specifically for the discussion of early migrations in Siberia. English transcription remarks are based on Webster's New World Dictionary and /or the best approximation of the local pronunciation.
West Siberia (or Western Siberia) (usage: generally accepted) is a rather plane area situated between the Ural Mountains and the Yenisei River. The northern lowland part of West Siberia is known as the West Siberian Plane.
Altay-Sayan-Khangai Mountain System (usage: herein only) is a large mountain
system covering most territory of Mongolia, Tuva, Khakassia, Altai Republic and
the nearby areas. It includes Altai /al-TY/ proper, Mongolian Altai, Gobi Altai,
West Sayan /sah-YAHN/, East Sayan, Tannu-Ola, Khangai /hahn-GY/ as the most notable
subsystems. Schott (1847), the earliest researcher of the Altaic languages, used
the word "Altai" in the same meaning, to denote the conglomeration of
all the mountain ranges in the area.
Ob-Irtysh basin (usage: sometimes): the Irtysh /eer-TYSH/ and the
Ob /OHB, Russophone: AWB/ are the two main rivers in West Siberia that take
source in the the Altai mountains and flow in the northwestern direction towards
the Ural Mountains. They form a confluence in the middle of the West Siberian
Plane and then continue down to the Arctic Ocean as the single Ob river.
Chany /chah-NEH, chah-NEE/ (usage: generally accepted; herein may be used
in a wider context) is an endorheic basin, forming an interconnected system of
drying middle-sized saline lakes between the Irtysh and the Ob, which constituted
one single large lake during the recent historical past. Their shores were inhabited
by the Baraba Tatars from the 8th to 20th century, and the region immediately
to the south is known as the Baraba Steppe. Lake Chany is essentially a small
inland sea just like the Aral Sea or Lake Chad.
Yenisei-Angara-Baikal-Orkhon basin (usage: herein only) is a river system
that starts as the Greater and the Lesser Yenisei /YE-nee-SEY/ in
the Sayan Mountains as one main branch of this basin and the Orkhon /or-HAWN/
and the Selenga /SEH-lehn-GAH/ rivers in the Khangai Mountains in Mongolia
as the other branch. Then, the Selenga river enters Lake Baikal /by-KAHL/
and comes out as the Angara /AHN-gah-RAH/ which finally joins the Yenisei
downstream. That makes the water running through Lake Baikal non-stagnant and
Lena basin /LEE-na, Russophone: LEH-nah/ is the third of the great
Siberian river basins that takes source just miles away from Lake Baikal but is
not hydrologically connected to it. The etymology is known to be a broken mispronunciation
of ölöne (?) or similar. Curiously, Russian revolutionary Lenin
took his pseudonym from the Lena.
Altai Krai (Russian krai /kry/ "edge; region") is a formal region in Russia to the north of the Altai Mountains along the Upper Ob basin. It should not be confused with the Altai Republic which is situated within the area of the Altai Mountains. The Altay (Turkic) languages are no longer spoken in Altai Krai (except for the very few locations), but they can still be found in the Altai Republic.
The Great Lakes Depression (or Hollow) (usage: generally accepted) is a depression in western Mongolia, which comprises Lake Ubsu (Uvs-Nuur), Lake Kyrgyz (Khargyas-Nuur) and Lake "Black Water" (Khar-Us-Nuur), to name the largest ones. It is enclosed by a number of mountain ranges: the Mongolian Altai in the southwest, the Tannu-Ola Range in the north, and the Khangai Mountains in the west. It seems to be the bed of the Tertiary era inland sea, and is characterized by extremely low average January temperatures (-30 -35ºC).
The Tian Shan or Tien Shan /TYEHN SHAHN/(usage: generally accepted) is a rather long mountain system extending from the Pamirs in Central Asia to the Altai in Mongolia. Kyrgyzstan and the earliest Kazakh settlements were located in the Tian Shan. Etymology: lit. Chinese "sky mountain".
Dzungaria (usage: generally accepted) /zoon-GEH-ree-ah/ is a desert inland depression confined between the Tian Shan mountains, the Mongolian Altai (Range) and a few smaller mountain ranges, such as the Dzungarian Alatau and Tarbagatai.
The Turfan /tur-FAHN/ Depression (usage: generally accepted) is a small, deep hollow located between Dzungaria in the north and eastern Taklamakan in the south, though it is in fact connected to a system of lesser-known and nearby-located depressions (Tangchuang, Khami), which may also be sometimes referred to as the "Turfan (area)". This and the nearby western areas located along the Silk Road was the main place where Tocharian texts were found dating approximately to 600-900 CE, though no one can tell for sure how the Indo-European Tocharian languages apparently rather similar to Germanic even got in there.
The Taklamakan /tahk-LAH mah-KAHN/ Desert, or Kashgaria, or (frequently but incorrectly overextended as) Tarim /tah-REEM/ Basin (usage: generally accepted). This is a geographically similar, nearby located large depression historically known as Kashgaria, occupied by the Taklamakan Desert, with the Tarim basin itself mostly limited to the north of the Taklamakan. This depression is confined by the Tian Shan Mountains in the north and the Kunlun /koon-LOON/ Mountains and the Altyn Tag Mountains (Turkic "Golden mountains") in the south. Historically, the life in the Taklamakan Desert has been concentrated mostly along the Silk Road tracks that passed along the northern and southern mountain ranges, circumventing the central desert areas. Until the arrival of the Turks (rather firmly established after the 800's CE), the oases of Kashgaria were inhabited by the so-called Sakan languages of the Iranian family (usually considered as neither West nor East Iranian).
The Great Eurasian Barrier (usage: herein only) is a transcontinental array of mountain systems that divides Eurasia in the longitudinal direction from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. It includes at least such large mountain ranges as the Carpathians, the Caucasus, the Kopet-Dag, the Hindu-Kush, the Pamirs, the Tian Shan, the Altai, the Sayans, the Stanovoy Range, and Sikhote-Alin. It forms a natural barrier of mountains separating northern Eurasia from southern Eurasia and precluding any migrations in the latitudinal direction.
The Great Steppe (usage: sometimes in use, though not universally accepted) is a vast area in central Eurasia covered by forested steppe, grassland steppe, semi-deserts or deserts, which extends from the Black Sea all the way to the upper Ob, Altai Mountains and even Yenisei basins, but which does not include Dzungaria, the Mongolian Gobi and other steppe and desert regions located south of the Great Eurasian Barrier. On the other hand, it includes such notable regions as the Ishim /ee-SHEEM/ steppe [named after the Ishim river], the Baraba /bah-RAH-bah/ Steppe [apparently after the Baraba people] and the Kulunda /koo-LOON-dah or koo-loon-DAH/ Steppe [probably from eastern Turkic kulun-du "of kulans, or with plenty of kulans (onagers)"], all of them were historically inhabited by the early Turkic tribes. In the wider meaning the concept of the Great Steppe may also encompass such extreme semi-desert or desert regions as the Ustyurt /oos-TOORT/ Plateau, the Karakum /KA-ra-KOOM/ ("Black Sand") Desert (Turkmenistan), Betpak-Dala /bet-PAHK-dah-LAH/ (Kazakh "the limitless (wild) steppe") (Kazakhstan), even though these can hardly be viewed as typical steppeland and include sand or stone desert areas.
The Gobi Steppe (usage: herein only) /GOH-BEE/ should be viewed a large system of interconnected sand deserts, semi-deserts and steppeland located to the south of the Great Eurasian Barrier as opposed to the Great Steppe area that lies to the north. It includes (west to east) the Taklamakan Desert, the Beishang (Uplands), the Turfan area, Dzungaria, the Dzungarian Gobi, the Trans-Altaian Gobi, the Alashang Desert, Ordos, the rest of the Gobi Desert. The etymology of Gobi is just "desert" in most Mongolic languages, e.g. Khalkha gov'.
The Eurasian Steppe (usage: sometimes, though not universally accepted) is the Great Steppe plus the Gobi Steppe areas.
The Dzungarian Gate (usage: generally accepted) is a suitable passage from the Great Steppe into Dzungaria and China near Lake Alakol (from Turkic Ala-Kül "Lake Ala").
The Zaysan Passage (usage: herein only) is one of the few suitable and relatively wide passages in the Great Eurasian Barrier. It is located near Lake Zaysan /zy-SAHN/ and extends along the upper Irtysh /ir-TEESH/ and the Kara-Irtysh River. The passage connects the Great Steppe in the north with the Dzungarian Desert in the south, and is about 100 km (60 miles) across.
The previous dates for the period of Chuvash separation from the main stem in Dyachok's and Dybo's works were based on Starostin's non-logarithmic formulas and therefore are unlikely to be correct.
The new lexicostatistical and glottochronological study based on the semi-classical analysis with a local glottochronological calibration provides 900-1000 BC for the separation of the Bulgaric stem, including Chuvash, and about 400-250 BC for the separation of the three or four main branches of Turkic Proper: Southern, Altay-Sayan, and Great-Steppe. There are still some questions about the separation of Yakutic, though estimations of about 500-400 BC seem plausible.
Generally speaking, values between 1000 BC and 500 BC for Late Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic have been very persistent throughout all the linguistic and mathematical modifications with the introduction of changes and adjustments into the input data, calibration points, cognation errors, borrowings, etc and seem unlikely to change in the future studies, unless any novel or unexpected facts about the supposed glottochronological deviation of Chuvash are found.
Consequently, when referring to Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic, we should add about 700 to 1000 glottochronological years to that date to calculate the approximate period of time when Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic began to exist as a single linguistic unity. That makes 2000-1600 BC the likely period for the emergence of Early Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic.
The Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic Urheimat in alternative hypotheses
Most older theories do not differentiate clearly between Proto-Turkic Proper and Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic, just vaguely suggesting an approximate location of the Proto-Turkic unity near the Altai.
The Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary (1906), the most authoritative encyclopedia in Russia before and, for some time, even after the Russian Revolution, suggests that the hypothesis of location of the Turkic Urheimat in the Altai is probably among the oldest:
Another old classical hypothesis proposes the migration of Bulgaric tribes from some unidentified area in Mongolia or China. Apparently, it was based primarily on the proposal by Joseph de Guignes in Histoire generale des Huns, des Mongoles, des Turcs et des autres Tartares occidentaux (1756), who linked the Huns of the 4th century with the Xiongnu of the 1st century. This idea seems to be taken for granted in many Turkological sources, but there is in fact no scholarly consensus on the connection between the two, neither there seems to be much supporting linguistic, historical or other evidence. It has been noted, for instance, that the Huns practiced artificial cranial deformation, while there was no such practice among the Xiongnu [see Maenchen-Helfen, Otto, The Legend of the Origin of the Huns (1944-1945)]. Even if the Huns were indeed related to the Xiongnu, it does not necessarily follow that the Turkic people originate from Internal Mongolia or any nearby regions.
Among the recent notable attempts, we should mention a similar theory suggested by Normanskaya that places the Bulgaro-Turkic homeland into Ordos, which is a desert / steppe plain located south of the Great Bend of the Huang-He river and north of the Great Wall of China. The hypothesis was based entirely on the analysis of the flora vocabulary and was first expounded in detail in [Yu. V. Normanskaya, Rastitelnyy mir. Derevya i kustarniki. Geographicheskaya lokalizatsiya prarodiny tyurkov po dannym floristicheskoy leksiki (The plant world. Trees and shrubs. The geographical localization of the Turkic homland based on the floristic lexical data], originally published as an article within the [Sravnintelno-istoricheskaya grammatka tyurkskikh yazykov. Pratyurkskiy yazyk-osnova. Kartina mira pratyurkskogo etnosa po dannym yazyka. Moscow (2006)] and then republished online.
in order to demonstrate an Urheimat location using flora/fauna arguments alone,
it is necessary to show in an unambiguous and definitive manner the
existence of names for the most typical local species in the most diversified
language branches, which requires the usage of a consistently built classification.
Moreover, in many cases, the language tends to lose the original fauna-flora
concepts when moving out of the initial terrestrial ecozone. Not to mention
that normally, we have little paleobotany and paleozoology evidence to reconstruct
the ecozone 2-3000 years ago (and even if we do, linguists do not know much about
it). As a result, a reconstruction based entirely on the flora arguments
may become exceedingly difficult and unstable.
recent attempt at finding Bulgaro-Turkic homeland with some specific consideration
of Bulgaric was elaborated by Anna Dybo in [Lingvisticheskije kontakty rannikh
tyurkov. Leksicheskij fond. (Linguistic Contacts of the Early Turks: the Lexical
Fund), Moscow (2007)], who tried to demonstrate the existence of some sort
of linguistic exchange between Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic language and a number of Asian
languages, such as Old Chinese (12 loanwords from PBT, 11 to PBT), an undefined
East Iranian (8-9 from), Proto-Tocharian (4 from, 5 from, controversial), Proto-Samoyedic
(2 from, 15-21 to), Proto-Yeniseian (1 from, 8-9 to), Proto-Ugric (3 from, 6 to),
Tabgach (Mongolic) (4 to). Altogether, this evidently positions the contact area
somewhere near the Altai and Mongolia where such multiple and diverse contacts
would be possible. However, the evidence provided for Bulgaric contacts is still
quite indefinite: in many cases later borrowings are hard to delineate from the
supposed Nostratic archaisms and their temporal periodization is difficult to
pinpoint, therefore there is little direct confirmation for Bulgaric being located
near the Altai Mountains in the 1st millennium BCE. Though, there are still many
other interesting points in the book, so presently, we should leave its discussion
The Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic Urheimat based on the principle of maximum diversity
One of the most reasonable ways to calculate an Urheimat position involves a method, that we advise to be named, the Sapir-Vavilov principle of maximum diversification. It was suggested in historical linguistics by Sapir (1916) and then implemented in genetics by Nicolai Vavilov (1926) who employed it in tracing the origins of cultivated plants. The linguistic application was then brought back by Isidore Dyen (1965) in his research of the Austronesian languages.
Using the taxonomic analysis described in The Internal Classification and Migrations of Turkic Languages and the historical evidence known for the Bulgaric expansion, we can track down the approximate geometric focus of the maximum language diversity for the Bulgaro-Turkic languages, as exemplified by their most differentiated attested representatives:
(1a) Chuvash and Volga Bulgaria located near the affluence of the Volga and Kama Rivers;
(1b) Old Great Bulgaria and Khazars initially located along the lower VolgaDonCaucasus triangle; the Dunai Bulgars probably just split off from the same region;
(2a) the early Kimak confederation located near the upper Irtysh and the Great-Steppe Turkic languages in the Minusinsk Depression;
(2b) the Early Sakha (Kurykans) near Lake Baikal and the upper reaches of the Lena;
(2c) Orkhon Turkic in central Mongolia to the west of Ulan-Bator.
As a result, according to these estimations, the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic split must have occurred somewhere near the present-day border of Russia and northern Kazakhstan, as can be seen in the map below:
The Proto-Turkic Urheimat position based on the bipartite division Bulgaric vs. Turkic
This idea seems to be quite attractive and straightforward. Instead of dragging the homeland position all the way to Mongolia or China and confronting difficulties with the unreasonably long Proto-Bulgaric migration from the Gobi Steppe, as well as a harsher climate in Mongolia (see detailed discussion below), the present approach offers a simple and intuitively obvious way to explain the geographic origins of Bulgaric and Turkic peoples.
Note that the above-shown Urheimat area is confined by vast marshland to the north of the Irtysh and the arid desert steppes in the south, so it fits tightly into an area of relatively good climate and environmental conditions extending to the West Siberian marshland in the north, the Kazakh Uplands in the south, the Urals in the west, and the Irtysh river in the east.
note that from the historical perspective, both Bulgaric and Turkic groups developed
large geographic empires of comparable size during the 7-9th centuries CE, to
the extent that they resembled almost geographic mirror images of each other.
This observation seems to show that both groups possessed similar economy, technology,
man power and population stock, probably evolving demographically at approximately
the same rate. The latter conclusion about the demographic similarity is in contradiction
with the alternative Guignes-style hypothesis stating that the Bulgars initially
had been a small stray tribal confederation that split off from the major Turkic
mass somewhere in Mongolia and then deliberately traveled a long way towards Chuvashia.
Quite to the contrary, however, the comparable sizes of the occupied territories
may show that both groups must have moved to their respective destinations only
after their populations reached sufficiently high demographic and economic level,
in other words, that they must have been demographically comparable right from
The reason why the Bulgaric population inflow to the west soon subsided could reside in the greater cultural and technological strength of post-Roman European civilizations which could not be easily overcome, whereas, on the other hand, the Turkic settlement in the east was occurring in relatively isolated Siberian areas where they were finally able to produce multiple linguistic offspring.
Generally speaking, we should not forget that Bulgaric languages are only poorly attested and there may be historiographic errors associated with their spread. There may also be errors in determining the period and the separation area of Yakutic, and some inconsistencies in determining the early Oghuz distribution. Nevertheless, an attempt to conduct a more accurate analysis, introduce variations or check for allowable errors does not seem to affect the Urheimat position to any significant extent. For instance, even if we assume a tripartite initial partitioning of Bulgaro-Turkic: (1) Bulgaric; (2) Yakutic (3) everything-else, the Urheimat center only budges slightly to the east. Even the attempts to position the Kurykan and Yakutic tribes near Yakutsk (which may be erroneous at least because we have to consider for approximately synchronized positioning of all the intermediate Urheimats, considering that Proto-Sakha supposedly arrived in the area of Yakustk only by the 13th century), just displaces the supposed Bulgaro-Turkic homeland a little towards the upper Ob area, but not any further; and it still seems to be stuck near the northeastern border of Kazakhstan. Therefore, from the current perspective of the principle of maximum diversity, we may conclude that the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic Urheimat position in northern Kazakhstan is quite stable, whereas its position in Mongolia, Altai-Sayan, Tian-Shan, Anatolia or other distant areas seems to be rather unreasonable.
A more detailed version of geographic calculations: at first, the positions of CoG points for all the main subbranches were established, then they were connected by lines to establish the CoG points for the branches of higher hierarchy until the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic Urheimat area was found. The procedure requires the use of a consistently-built infernal classification. The longest yellow line is slightly curved along the curvature of the Earth.
According to the geographic estimations based on the principle of maximum diversity, the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic split must have occurred in northern Kazakhstan near the border with Russia.
2.3 The Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic Urheimat based on the geographic determinism
The population density and urbanization level in central Eurasia
It is logical to assume that the geographic and climatic conditions on Earth have not changed considerably for the past 3000 years, therefore we must infer that the areas suitable for living 3000 years ago would procreate the present-day population density and their energy consumption to a proportional amount. Consequently, by studying maps of population density and energy consumption we may easily predict which regions were favorable for living during the recent historical past and thus were likely to contribute to the crystallization, development and expansion of ancient civilizations.
NASA night lights image (2000's)
atlas dlya uchiteley sredney shkoly (The Highschool Teacher's Atlas of
Geography); Chief Editor: Kolosov, L.N., Moscow (1982) (slightly enhanced)
A brief look at the maps suggests that there is a stark population contrast between Dzungaria / Mongolia / Gobi and the border of Russia and northern Kazakhstan. The night light map clearly shows that most energy-consuming Mongolian population is concentrated near the Ulan-Bator area, whereas other areas seem to remain almost uninhabited. The second population map is not particularly accurate but it expresses the same idea. Quite to the contrary, the areas to the east of the Southern Ural from Yekatirenburg to Novosibirsk are densely populated, and they probably have been so for many centuries, even thousands of years (see archaeological notes below).
As an outcome of this discussion, we may define the concept of historically populated demographic regions (demoregions), which are the areas of high population density that have been demographically active for the past several thousand years, when climatic conditions were more or less the same as today. These are the main areas where people have normally lived. Large population densities can just hardly exist outside of them, because of the unsuitable, sometimes even hostile environment decreasing the fulfillment of basic needs and fundamental survivability. On the contrary, within these "demoregions" the history has always been marching onwards: civilizations formed and vanished, town and cities were built, political and economic processes were thriving for ages, ethnic groups may have emerged and expanded to other neighboring areas. Such well-known "demoregions" as China or India would be typical examples, since they seem to have been densely populated for thousands of years. Each region of this type tends to have its unique history and drama, some of them are in contact with each other, some are completely separated by natural barriers, but things rarely happen in any other areas, where we generally find nothing but deserts, dense forests, mosquito-infested wilderness, cold or arid areas, large water basins or other types of ecozones essentially unsuitable for human life.
map of highly populated areas with density more than 10 persons per 1 sq. km.
We come to the conclusion that normal human migrations result from a healthy population growth in geographic areas with favorable climate and other suitable environmental conditions. Ancient peoples that ended up in geographically unsuitable areas often had to spend all their time and effort struggling for basic survival sometimes unable to produce sufficient offspring or develop efficient technology, so they were often culturally or demographically overtaken by their neighbors living in a more appropriate geographic area; they could also be invaded by newcomers from these demoregions. The invasion of this type did not necessarily have to be military, quite on the contrary, in many cases it could be a rather peaceful expansion of homesteads or occupation of open pastures with slow cultural intrusion and multiple intermarriages, however, the outcome was still that the ethnic groups developing in unfavorable areas stood little chance against the groups with higher demographic and economic growth rates. Hence, we may conclude that only few geographic areas with satisfactory conditions can be regarded as potential areas of powerful ethnogenesis, and in many cases these must be the only areas where any kind of ethnic Urheimats were located in the past.
Notes on permafrost in Eurasia
The following discussion briefly addresses the geography of permafrost in Siberian Asia, which is an important factor in determining suitable demoregions.
In a nutshell, permafrost is a deep-going layer of frozen ground water that does not thaw in summer for prolonged periods of time, sometimes many thousands of years. This frozen layer is usually located at a certain depth below the surface. Plant growth and root proliferation can be supported only in that thawable upper soil level usually 0.5-4 meters deep. Even though growing some sort of crops is possible nearly anywhere in the world, permafrost areas may not allow extensive crop cultivation and hinder ground work beneath 1-2 m. Permafrost ecoregions are mostly covered by black spruce taiga that is adopted to the scarcity of soil water and prolonged winters.
The concept has been brought herein because permafrost areas can also be regarded as a sort of natural integral function of "cold accumulation" over time. Instead of studying all the details of average January and July temperatures that may vary from one season to another or one paleoclimatic period to another, a map of permafrost immediately provides you with an idea of what the average temperature levels currently are or what they may have been during the recent Holocene past. It is easy to realize that the map of permafrost is a good visual representation of areas where it may be just too cold to live, grow crops or raise stock.
Hydrogeology, Limnology of Lake Baikal, based on S.L. Smith, Geological Survey of Canada (2001)
Most trans-Eurasian migrations of the past 2-5 millennia (when postglacial temperatures finally stabilized) supposedly proceeded along the pathways that tried to avoid these areas. At least the migrants must have moved through them at a much slower pace and greater cost. In fact, most of the pink areas on the map above are still almost uninhabited. On the other hand, note that southeast Mongolia, most Kazakhstan and even much of the marshy, interfluvial area between the Ob and Irtysh rivers as well as the Minusinsk Depression generally enjoy normal climate. Quite to the contrary, northern Mongolia outside of the Gobi Desert is unexpectedly cold despite its southern location, which is apparently the consequence of its high elevation above the sea level. You can also note that the Zaysan Passage and Dzungaria located between the Mongolian Altai and the Tian Shan Mountains too should have relatively acceptable climate for living.
Laymen unfamiliar with the geography of Eurasia tend to misjudge the coolness of the Mongolian climate and overestimate the famous cold of Russia, yet, by taking a closer look at local conditions we may find a different environmental perspective. Despite the southern location of Mongolia, with its average January temperatures down to -15 to - 27ºC in Ulan Bator and from - 26ºC to 37ºC (!) in Ulan-Gom (Ulaangom) in the Great Lakes Depression, and the discontinuous (to permanent) permafrost covering most Mongolian territory (!) outside of the Gobi desert, Mongolia may be just way too cold. As a result, the area of the Great Lakes Depression seems to be excluded from thriving demoregions due to a type of climate typical only of Tibet or even North Siberian tundra. But even in Ulan-Bator the frost-free period extends on average only from mid-June to late August. Curiously, even reindeer are bred in northern Mongolia. The permafrost, cool short summers and winter blizzards must evidently inhibit tree growth and crop cultivation, which may be the reason why much of the Mongolian steppe is deprived of vegetation.
Reindeer in the Darkhat Depression, northern Mongolia
These considerations suggest that both the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic and Proto-Turkic homelands must be positioned outside of the permafrost areas, since any early migrant groups there would have encountered too many difficulties in demographic growth, and therefore could be overtaken by migrants that took a different more effective migration route. In certain areas of particularly severe climate, their survivability may even become questionable.
Analyzing the favourability of environmental conditions in central Eurasia, such as the permafrost distribution and the effective population density, we should conclude that most Mongolian territory, including the Sayan mountains in the north, was an unlikely area to sustain continuous growth and stable expansion of any large ethnic groups during the late Holocene. Moreover, we can easily exclude northern Tibet, most parts of Dzungaria and central Taklamakan for the similar reasons.
a result, so far we have three or four main population areas under consideration,
which seem to be much more ecologically and environmentally convenient as potential
(2) THE UPPER OB AREA: from the foothills near the northern part of the Altai Mountains in the Altai Krai region including the Aley, the Katun and the Biya Rivers (all of which are tributaries of the Ob) and continuing to the north along the Ob River, including its other tributaries in the Kulunda Steppe and parts of the present-day Novosibirsk, Tomsk and Kemerovo Oblasts, all the way to the Chulym River.
Note that the former two areas are part of the same Ob Drainage Basin;
(3) THE UPPER YENISEI AREA: extending from the northern part of the Kuznetsk Alatau (which is the drainage divide between the upper Ob and the upper Yenisei basin) to the south along the Yenisei River into the Minusinsk Depression (with present-day Khakassia situated on the left bank of the Yenisei), and possibly further upstream through the West Sayan into Tuva (or Tyva).
THE TIAN SHAN AREA in the southern part of Central Asia near the Northern
Tian Shan Mountains;
2.4 Beavers, birch-trees and millet: the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic Urheimat based on geolexical analysis
Collecting the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic geolexemes
The following approach has been conducted in the spirit of the Wörter-und-Sachen perspective. Many similar considerations have already been expounded in [The Comparative Grammar of the Turkic Languages [usually abbreviated as SIGTY]. The Proto-Turkic Language. Lexis (1997, 2002)] and [SIGTY. The Worldview of the Proto-Turkic Ethnic Group Based on the Linguistic Data (2006)]. The latter volume of this publication The Worldview... has been dedicated to the discussions of the Proto-Turkic worldview as reflected in the lexical vocabulary collected in the former volume Lexis. The discussion therein includes semantic and semiotic interpretations of the reconstructed lexemes describing typical natural phenomena, fauna/flora, cultural and technological traits as viewed by the ancient Turkic people. As the authors acknowledged, they are using an approach similar to that of Tamaz Gamkrelidze and Vyacheslav Ivanov, provided in detail in the Indo-European language and Indoeuropeans (1995), which in turn goes back to the Wörter-und-Sachen discussions of the 19th century.
The abundant lexical material in SIGTY, Lexis (1997, 2002) had in turn been collected from [Sevortyan, An Etymological Dictionary of the Turkic languages, Moscow (1974-2000's)], [Räsanen, Versuch eines etymologisches Wörterbuchs der Türksprachen, Helsinki (1969)] and other well-known Turkological sources.
Much of the research below was built on the lexical material gathered in the volume Lexis (1997, 2002) with some considerable independent corroborative work, such as partially verifying the SIGTY data through dictionary mining, examining the data for wider representation within the major Turkic branches (Southern, Great Steppe, Yakutic, Altay-Sayan), excluding loanwords, removing excerpts with dubious analysis by previous authors, etc. As a result, most evidence has been abbreviated and reanalyzed anew, particularly, emphasizing the lexical attestation in Chuvash and checking for the historical, geographical and geomigrational consistency.
Note: We propose herein that any lexical analysis of the Urheimat position or the connection between geographic environment and lexis henceforward be termed geolexical analysis.
Excluded or dubious PBT cognates
any potential Tatar (Kypchak) borrowings in Chuvash was particularly challenging
and important, since they could introduce significant mistakes into the final
analysis. The following possibly relevant words were all excluded as suspected
or evident loanwords to avoid any additional controversy:
Also, note that there seems to be a notable lack of coincidence in "bear" (Chuvash upa as opposed to *aDyG in most Turkic languages, though there is still Khakas aba).
Analyzing the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic geolexemes
Keeping in mind geolexical limitations of Chuvash
We should always keep in mind that the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic geolexical analysis is only as good as Chuvash allows. Geographical features that are not present in the landscape of Chuvashia impede the reconstruction of Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic characteristics that could have been long lost after the Bulgaric migration to the Middle Volga.
The Chuvashian scenery is typically formed by pine, spruce and deciduous forests, small rolling hills with birch-trees, old river ravines, steppes with patches of woodland, villages and cultivated fields which may distort the reconstruction towards a more temperate ecozone. In fact, the dense forests cover a significant territory of Chuvashia and may even have served as sort of an ethnic refugium during the Middle Ages helping the preservation of Chuvash. Winters, of course, are cold and snowy as in most eastern Eurasian territory, with the average January temperatures down to -10-15ºC.
The arid sand and mountain areas are extremely atypical for Chuvashia. However, some sandy shores, limestone mountains, precipices and cliffs can still be found along the Volga right bank, which suggests that a word for "sand" and "mountain" could still be reconstructable.
we will conduct the geolexical analysis of Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic inasmuch as it
is related to the Urheimat position, specifically addressing the discussion of
northern Kazakhstan / Russia bordering region versus Mongolia. In other words,
we will try to exclude any implausible areas and estimate whether the Urheimat
was either north or south of the Great Eurasian Barrier.
Wintertime lexemes in Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic
The existence of the wintertime lexemes suggests that the PBT homeland must have been located in a cold climate, hence the reconstructability of "winter", "snow", "ice", "cold", "freeze", "wind". Cold winters are typical in central Eurasia, except for southern Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, so this particular point is not very helpful, except that it excludes the southernmost regions. On the other hand, the reconstructability of words for deciduous woods and the steppe flora/fauna also suggest hot summers typical of the continental climate.
Sand and desert landscape features could not be reconstructed. The proto-form for "sand" *qum seems to exist only in PT, not PBT. The word for "feather grass (Stipa)" so typical of the Kazakh steppeland could not be matched with certainty. The word for "mugwort (Artemisia)" is reconstructable, however, it does not necessarily belong to the steppe ecozone. The word for "camel" is the only reconstructable lexeme directly related to desert climate, but it is possibly a Chuvash borrowing from Middle Kypchak. This single observation cannot, however, completely exclude the possibility of the PBT contact with the arid ecozone, taken that the retention of that vocabulary is just hardly possible in Chuvash. In any case, considering that the arid steppe, semi-desert, let alone the open sand desert, have unfavorable climatic conditions and create too much ecological stress for living, the present considerations tend to exclude any areas located to the south of the Southern Ural or Kokshetau Highlands as well as any lands all the way down to the Tian Shan.
Nevertheless, we may conclude that the PBT population were familiar with the edge of steppeland, judging by the names for several small animals, such as "mouse", "badger", "beaver, "stoat", "fox", "snake" including "eagle (or other birds of prey)"; the latter can hunt small animals in the open; names of bushes, such as "(red)currant" and "juniper"; the word for "lark", which normally prefers open, dry areas. The juniper with its small needles that prevent evaporation is a typical inhabitant of steppe areas; so is the mugwort.
On the other hand, we can observe the total lack of names for large forest animals and large trees of the forest ecozone, such as "bear", "wolf", "elk", "deer", "pine", "spruce", etc. If such words existed, they must have been retained in Chuvash, since most of the flora and fauna of this type is supposed to historically exist in Chuvashia. It can be noted, however, that the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic word for "bear" may indeed have existed as *upa and the word for "elk" *pulan is doubtful, which leads to an assumption that even if these animals were known, they were not very typical and the correspondent lexemes must have finally disappeared in most language branches.
Therefore, we may conclude that the Proto-Bulgaro-Turks lived on the border area between patched deciduous woodland and open steppe with occasional marshland nearby. This habitat is very typical of the northern Kazakhstan, but is more rare in Mongolia.
[For instance, according to Messeschmidt (1721), the Baraba (Tatars) had to pay three red fox skins to the Russian Czar and another two to Taysha Khan of the Kalmyks (= apparently, to the Mongolic-speaking Dzungarians), which shows that foxes were relatively abundant in the Baraba Steppe but were a valuable trading item in Dzungaria, though this particular conclusion may be arguable. The Baraba Tatars are also said to have hunted stoats, bears, foxes, hares, elks, roe deer, both in winter and summer, using a variety of methods [D. A. Myagkov, Traditsionnoje khozyajstvo barabinskikh tatar vo vtoroj polovine XIX veka pervoj polovine XX (The traditional economy of the Baraba Tatars from the second half of the 19th to the 1st half of the 20th century), avtoreferat dissertatsiji (a thesis summary), Omsk (2009)], which confirms that this kind of prey was typical in the forest-steppe transition area.
the other hand, pine and spruce forests such as taiga near the Altai, Kuznetsk
Alatau, and the Sayans are very common in the Ob and especially in the
Yenisei demoregion, which should make one wonder why these trees are not reflected
in the reconstructed vocabulary if the PBT people were present there. These considerations
tends to exclude the Yenisei demoregion and make the Ob demoregion less likely
than the Tobol-Ishim-Irtysh area.
The deciduous woodland vocabulary
Despite being distanced from the dense taiga, the PBT population must have inhabited areas close to deciduous woodland, and must have had access to wood, logs and branches, otherwise it is hard to explain the reconstuctability of such proto-forms as "(standalone) tree", "birch", "aspen", "linden", "willow", "beaver", "raft", "sledge". That may exclude much of the Mongolian territory, taken that trees are scarce there, and patches of forest can only be found in the Altai-Sayan-Khangai Mountains. The areas of the Orkhon and Tuul, where the West Gökturk and Genghis capitals were located, have quite barren deforested landscape with rivers flowing almost in the middle of nothing.
Moreover, some of the deciduous trees, such as linden, require relatively warm climate, and seem to be rather unusual for easternmost areas of West Siberia. Even though some species of linden did adapt to the cold Siberian climate, so they cannot be completely excluded, the genus Tilia on the whole is apparently being atypical in the Yenisei basin.
A question that may arise from the discussion of woodland is that how such different ecozones as the deciduous woodland forest and the horse / steppe ecozone could even overlap. To explain this, one should keep in mind that the woods could indeed be purely riparian, that is, growing along a meandering river, such as the middle course of the Irtysh. One should also take into consideration the ability of horse-breeding nomads to travel for dozens, even a hundred of miles during just one seasonal cycle, so they may have led the cattle to some fresh meadows or grassy steppeland in spring or early summer and then move closer to the forested ecozone in autumn / winter for hunting, harvesting and winter camping. The woodland also helps to protect the dwelling from harsh winter winds. On seasonal migrations of Nogai tribes, see for instance [K probleme rekonstruktsii sistemy sezonnykh perekochovok...(On the problem of reconstructing the system of seasonal nomad migrations in the Volga-Ural basin in the 6th-1st century BCE), Myshkin, V.N. (2007)]. Similar migrations from the taiga in winter to the tundra in summer are known for the Nenets (Samoyedic), and probably for many other peoples.
The distribution of salt: they lived in an endorheic basin
The high stability of the word "salt" implies the location of the PBT habitat within or near an endorheic (=inland) basin, which did not have an outlet to the sea where the salt could be washed away. This excludes any northern, marshland areas of West Siberia, where any soluble salt is being carried away to the ocean, without being accumulated in inland depressions.
On the other hand, even using a large-scale map in Wikimedia, one can easily spot rather uniquely separated endorheic drainage basins in northern Kazakhstan. And indeed, small saline lakes are in fact very common in the Ishim, Baraba and Kulunda Steppe, often located in the vicinity of freshwater lakes and ponds.
should be noted, however, that the inland semidry saline basins are very typical
throughout the Central Eurasia, and consequently the salt can be found in all
the major depressions of Eurasian Steppe, including the easternmost areas, such
as Dzungaria, the Great Lakes Depression and the Mongolian Gobi. Additionally,
saline deposits and lakes can sporadically be found on the borders of the Ob and
Yenisei demoregions, though they are much less prevalent there. For example, Lake
Chany /chah-NUH, chah-NEE/ has originally been a very large saline lake within
an endorheic inland basin located between the basins of Irtysh and Ob. It has
been slowly shrinking for the last several hundred years due to evaporation. Essentially,
Lake Chany is a typical inland sea, similar to the Caspian or the Aral Sea or
Lake Chad in Africa, unlike Lake Baikal which is a typical lake indeed since it
has an inflow and outflow of the fresh water.
The Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic hydrological vocabulary: they seemed to live near lakes.
The PBT population must have lived in a hydronomy-rich environment, away from desert areas, otherwise it is difficult to explain the reconstuctability of such proto-forms as "fish", "beaver", "to flow", (possibly) "lake", "swamp / marshland", "willow", "wild goose" (a waterfowl), "crane" (a migratory bird stopping at lakes), "raft", as well as multiple names of plants, trees and cultivars which require sufficient watering. Additionally, note the word "fog", which is rendered as *tuman in nearly all the Turkic languages (except for têtre in Chuvash).
Note that Mongolia is characterized by the dry climate, with wild geese and cranes possibly being found only along the northern Mongolian border or in the Great Lakes Depression.
Judging by the several names for waterfowl, such as "wild goose" and the consistent retention of the word *köl, *qöl "lake" in all of the Turkic languages (though less certainly in Chuvash where there is some chance that it might be a Tatar borrowing) we may conclude that after or shortly before the separation of Proto-Turkic, the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic speakers inhabited a geographic area where lakes and ponds were abundant.
Curiously, rivers were rare and no specific word for them could to be reconstructed in PBT, apparently coinciding with just *suw "water".
Surprisingly, this type of landscape is extremely typical of northern Kazakhstan and Kurgan Oblast that demonstrate an absolutely enormous number of small post-glacial lakes and ponds stretching from the Southern Ural all the way to the Altai. This area is in fact the Land of Lakes. On the contrary, rivers are relatively scarce and some exist only as dry beds for most part of the year.
Fishery was practiced all year long by the Baraba Tatars, who utilized nets (made of nettle, flax and hemp threading) as well as dams (fences made of wood pikets) to block the waterflow in small rivers and streams. During the spawning period, the fish was also hunted with harpoons, and in wintertime with fishing lines [see D. A. Myagkov, Traditsionnoje khozyajstvo barabinskikh tatar vo vtoroj polovine XIX veka pervoj polovine XX (The traditional economy of the Baraba Tatars from the second half of the 19th to the 1st half of the 20th century), avtoreferat dissertatsiji (a thesis summary), Omsk (2009)]. The PBT word for "dam" (Proto-Turkic *beG, Chuvash pêve) is surprisingly reconstructable, whereas "net" (PT *aG, *aw) can only be reconstructed for Proto-Turkic (cf. Chuvash tetel). Moreover, the idea of dam building evidently has some connection with the presence of beavers and could probably be borrowed from their behavior.
On the other hand, the lakes in Mongolia are usually large, e.g. in the Great Lakes Depression, and generally speaking, much less common than in northern Kazakhstan, being found mostly in the mountains or poorly accessible areas.
The word *xântâr / *qunduz "beaver" is particularly interesting. Generally speaking, beavers can inhabit temperate riparian habitat in natural or self-made ponds with birch, willow, aspen and poplar growing on the banks, for the simple reason that they feed on these trees. The so-called oxbow lakes formed by a meandering course of a river flowing through a plain among a riparian forest on its banks are the typical places where beavers can be found. In the absence of existing ponds, beavers must build dams before making their lodges. Unsurprisingly, the lexemes "beaver", "lake", "birch", "aspen", "willow" and possibly "white poplar" (the latter was discarded due to a possibility of borrowing in Chuvash) should all go along together, and they do in this geolexical study confirming that beavers were indeed part of the PBT fauna.
[Additionally, note that the aspen (Populus tremula) and the common "white poplar" (Populus alba) are closely related plant species].
As a result, the Eurasian beaver is confined to the northern forested areas where these deciduous trees are abundant, and seems to be unknown in the Great Steppe and to the south of it. For instance, the imagery of beavers in the archaeological finds from the Kimak period (the Ust-Ishim culture, c. 8-10th centuries CE) [Troitskaya, Novikov (2004)] confirms that beavers were known in the Middle Irtysh with its riparian woods and ponds along the meandering river course.
Consequently, we can exclude any areas adjacent to the Tian-Shan Mountains, with their fast mountain rivers, arid climate, vast deserts and sand formations, where beavers are unknown.
As to Mongolia, the beaver seems to be "officially" found only in the basin of a small river named Urungu (Bulgan-Gol) on the border with China in the Mongolian Altai, which has its source in the close vicinity of the Kara-Irtysh source, which evidently explains how the beavers got there at all from the Irtysh basin.
However, in other respects, beavers seem to be unknown in Mongolia in the early 21th century, judging by the anecdotal fact that the local government attempted an artificial introduction of beavers in the Tuul river in 2010-12 and had to import them from European Russia for that purpose. That, however, cannot exclude the possibility of beavers existing somewhere in the northern areas along the Russian border in the historical past, for instance, along the upper Yenisei in the Darkhat Depression, or along the lower Selenga, having arrived there from the Yenisei or Lena basin. Nevertheless, the main problem is still that wide rivers are unsuitable for damn building, whereas small ones would tend to freeze to the bottom during the usual 30ºC cold in January (or even lower); on the other hand, fast mountain rivers common in the Mongolian Altai, the Sayans, the Khangai may impede the dam construction. Apparently, the extreme scarcity of Mongolian deciduous woods that beavers feed on, and pretty much barren, deforested, sometimes even Martian-looking landscape with smaller streams flowing through open semi-desert areas and commonly freezing to the bottom, makes most Mongolian territory an unlikely option, so generally speaking, Mongolian beavers, if any, must have been living there in extreme environment at the very edge of their natural habitat.
The beaver argument seems to be quite logically robust. It exhibits good reconstructability both in Turkic and Bulgaric with no evidence of borrowing. The regular phonologic changes in Chuvash suggest that the word is indeed original. On the other hand, unlike the habitat of the other reconstructed species, the beaver habitat is traceable to a relatively small area, which helps to pinpoint the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic Urheimat in the vicinity of the Tobol, Ishim, Irtysh and other tributaries of the Ob basin.
The Proto-Bulgaric crop cultivation vocabulary
The multiple PBT proto-forms for agricultural plants, such as "millet", "barley", "oat", "Spelt", "flax", "seed", "grain", "to sow" suggest, quite unexpectedly for horse-breeding nomads, that the Proto-Bulgaro-Turks may have practiced crops cultivation. However, the terms for tools and methods have not been reconstructed.
Radloff (1861) described the growing of barley on small patches of land near the yurts (which were left to stand for a long period in the Altai, where the landscape did not require or allow long or frequent nomadic migrations), although in their daily lives, the Altayans still mostly relied on dairy products, such as ayran, sour horse milk (chögan), cheese, butter, cream, quark, etc. The Kumandy people were mostly agriculturists that cultivated barley, rye, flax and hemp [idem]. According to Radloff, "the Kyrgyz people have used agriculture even more extensively than the Kazakhs [...] They sow wheat, barley and several kinds of millet. They use barley and a special kind of millet as horse food." [idem]
In 1889, Baraba Tatars were known to grow rye, wheat, barley (these three staple crops constituting about 80% of all the farming territory), millet, flax, hemp [Myagkov (2009)], though according to Myagkov, the growing of flax matched the territory of Mishar Tatar immigrants and may be connected with their presence. The Baraba Tatars did not grow any garden cultures, except potatoes, which was evidently the 18th century's innovation.
The acquaintance with crop cultivation before the contact with Russians is mentioned for the Chulym people (millet, barley) [Tomilov]. The agriculture among the Tuvans was rare, and the millet was the only cultivated crop [Radloff (1861)].
In Mongolia, the crops cultivation seems to be rare and often viewed as a disdainful practice; it mostly began to develop there only after WWII. The crops agriculture is probably limited to small areas; the official statistics lists less than 0.5-1 % of the country as arable. Despite the fact that crops (and even cherry-trees and watermelons) can be grown in the Minusinsk Valley, located to the north of Mongolia, and around Lake Baikal, the cold, mountainous areas of northern Mongolia with the rocky permafrost soil are obviously unsuitable for crops, whereas dry, arid areas adjacent to the Gobi are only barely suitable. Quite to the contrary, the crops cultivation is widespread to the north of the Kazakhstan border, as you can see on the maps below.
Moreover, the possible reconstructability of the word for "flax" raises doubts concerning its availability in Mongolia, since this plant requires temperate climate, soft nitrogenous soils and good watering. On the other side, flax is sporadically grown near the Southern Urals, the Ishim steppe, and especially along the Ob.
The Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic horse vocabulary: was horse riding developed by Proto-Bulgaro-Turks?
The horse breeding must have long become a widely-accepted practice in West Siberia even before the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic era. It was probably based on the natural ability of Siberian (Bashkir, Kyrgyz, Kalmyk, Mongolian) horses to withstand harsh winters in the steppeland by digging grass from under the snow, a practice attested as early as Frier Iohn de Plano Carpini [see The long and wonderful voyage of Frier Iohn de Plano Carpini, (1245-46)], who was advised in the Kievan Rus to use special horses when traveling to Mongolia.
Consequently, the early Turkic, Mongolic and other Asian nomads did not have to keep the cattle and horses in stables (which often was their own house) for 6 or 8 long winter months or prepare large amount of forage as in European areas. All they had to do was let the horses into the open snow-covered steppe and let them look for grass in the snow, and then let the cattle and sheep follow.
Moreover, the horse breeding must have become even more important after the mass introduction of equestrianism. It is difficult to establish when the earliest instances of equestrianism were attested unsaddled riding had probably existed for centuries prior to the earliest attestation however the earliest horse harness in West Siberia seems to come from the early Iron Age c. 8th-7th BCE, whereas the PBT glottochronolgical dates of "saddle" and "stirrups" point at least towards 1300-1000 BCE or earlier.
Radloff described his personal impression of the Altay Turks' horse riding in the following way (1861) [Aus Sibirien. Lose Blätter aus meinem Tagebuche (From Siberia: Torn pages from my diaries), Wilhelm Radloff, Leipzig, 1893]:
These and other similar observations may help to date the emergence of horse riding to the Bronze Age (that is, before 1000 BCE):
If this is correct, one may assume that the horse riding could have been brought to Europe by Proto-Bulgars via a relay of several intermediaries. To confirm the existence of the Bronze Age horse riding, we should ask experimental archaeologists about the possibility of making horse harness with the Bronze Age technology without iron and the practical usability of this product.
Another interesting possibility suggested herein is that the first domestic animal used for riding was not the horse but the ox. According to Radloff (1861), the oxen were widely used for riding by the western Tuvans.
It can also be noted that the reindeer are routinely used for riding, for instance by the Evenk, so the horse and the ox are not unique in this respect.
In any case, horse riding with saddle and stirrup must have soon displaced chariots as an older, more expensive and less efficient type of weaponry and means of transportation.
Even though some horses are able to survive as far east as Yakutia and the Kamchatka Peninsula, the high development of the horse-based technology usually implies the steppeland and grassland ecozone, which tend to exclude easternmost, more forested areas, such as the Yenisei demoregion.
The Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic metal working vocabulary
The Proto-Bulgaro-Turks must have been familiar with bronze technology, which was superseded by iron at the Proto-Turkic stage [see below]. As Radloff noted [idem, 1861], metal working in the Altai was done by the professional blacksmiths, highly valued men, who were able to do such complicated tasks as easily welding two pieces of needle together or even (in rare cases of a particularly talented craftsman) making a whole shotgun barrel, all of this in the primitive working conditions of a yurt.
However, the original bronze tools are usually not present in woodland or marshland areas located far away from the mountains. The multiple reconstructed proto-forms for metals and tools, such as "gold", "silver", "copper", "iron", "blackcoal", "sword", "ax" imply the proximity to mountain areas where various ores and mineral strikes can be found. The very good retention of the word for "stone", which is typical of rocky wastelands near mountains, the possible (albeit unstable) reconstructability of the word for "mountain", and the reconstructability of the "bird of prey", which normally prefer rocky elevated terrain, too, point in the direction of an area situated near the highlands. That seems to position the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic Urheimat closer either to the South Urals, or Kazakh Uplands, or Altai, or Mongolian Altai, at a certain distance from the open semi-desert steppe. The Kokshetau and Kazakh Uplands seem to be particularly interesting in this respect, considering the large area they occupy, and the absence of truly high mountains that are supposed to have a different, stronger representation in the geolexical and geomigrational analysis.
speaking, the Kazakh Uplands is a mountainous Paleozoic foundation worn
down into an undulating plain and low hills covered with patches of pine forests
with important mineral deposits at many sites. The climate there is dry and continental.
The river network is therefore scant, with many streams flowing only in spring.
Saline Lake Tengiz (in the Sary-Arka "Yellow Range" Park, a world
heritage site) and other lakes serve as important stopover points for migrating
birds, including pink flamingos [see Encyclopædia Britannica].
A note on the retention of the verb "to write"
One may wonder how it can be possible that the word "to write" (cf. Chuvash s'ïr and Proto-Turkic *jaz), could have existed in the Bronze Age. Did the Proto-Bulgaro-Turks develop a writing system as early as Phoenicians? A possible answer is that this word, which is usually compared with the Mongolic *zhiru- "to draw" and Tungusic *niru "to draw, to write" [see Sevortyan's Dictionary], could originally refer to drawing lines, such as lines on a clay pot. Another explanation, however, can be found in the Turkic tamgas. As Radloff explains [idem], the custom of cattle branding was found among the rich Altayans who, unlike the poor, could no longer just remember the number of their cattle. Indeed, there is some phonologic similarity between Chuvash s'ïr and Proto-Turkic *jaz "to write" and Chuvash s'un and Proto-Turkic *jan "to burn". This conclusion may imply that the Orkhon-Yenisei writing system may, at least to some extent, have had origin in Proto-Turkic tamgas.
Examples of the Altay cattle brands [from Radloff (1893)]
During the historical period, the tamgas were used at least by the Baraba Tatars, Nogays, Kazakh and many other Turkic peoples.
Therefore, there is no contradiction with the early dating of Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic, so the retention of this lexeme can be easily explained.
The geolexical analysis of the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic lexemes leads to the reconstruction of a water-rich ecozone with deciduous woods and particularly beavers, located in the temperate climate near grassland away from arid steppeland and sand deserts.
This seems to exclude any areas around the Aral Sea and the lower part of the Turan Depression, most parts of southern Kazakhstan, and most arid areas located to the south of the Eurasian Barrier, such as Dzungaria, the Taklamakan Desert (West China), the Dzungarian Gobi, the Gobi Desert (Inner Mongolia, China), the Great Lakes Depression (West Mongolia), the Alashan Desert (China), the Ordos Desert (China), etc.
The reconstructability of the beaver ecozone seems to exclude mountain areas along the northern Tian-Shan.
Most of the Mongolian territory may be excluded with some 80% probability based on its cold, dry environment with deforested steppeland and mountainous areas, which contradicts the requirement for multiple species of deciduous trees; beavers; ponds and rivers that should not freeze to the bottom in wintertime. Moreover, unlike the Ural Mountains, northern Kazakhstan and the Irtysh basin, all of which have high outputs of wheat, millet, barley, oats, southern Mongolia is only barely suitable for crop cultivation.
The Ob and Yenisei demoregions cannot be completely excluded as they share environment comparable with the Tobol-Ishim-Irtysh demoregion. Nevertheless, the Yenisei demoregion can be regarded as a much less likely candidate based on the relative scarcity of salt deposits, and the prevalence of taiga forests and the taiga fauna, which is hardly reflected in the reconstructed vocabulary above. This means that the Proto-Bulgaro-Turks might have been unfamiliar with dense woodland, or at least such environment was rather uncommon.
The reconstructed description of the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic environment
As an additional result of the geolexical analysis above, we can make the following conclusions concerning the ethnological description of the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic people:
They lived on the border of the deciduous woodland and open steppe that included some bushland of juniper, mugwort and various flower plants; not too far from the highlands with mineral deposits, though not necessarily in the direct vicinity of the highlands. Stone wastelands could be typical in the area.
The winters must have been snowy, severe and windy, but the summers were relatively hot as well, as characteristic of the continental climate.
Various deciduous trees with soft wood abounded, such as willow, aspen, linden, though the birch-tree was among the most notable ones.
The PBT environment was mostly inhabited with relatively small steppeland or grassland fauna such as mice, snakes, stoats, badgers, foxes; sparrows, larks. Birds of prey were common near the highlands, so the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic people were probably familiar with falconry. In the riparian woods near lakes, beavers were the usual inhabitants.
Rivers and streams were usually rather small or intermittent, whereas lakes and ponds were much more common (especially after the eastern migration of Proto-Turkic); some of them could be saline.
They must have practiced fishing by using nets and sometimes probably building dams.
The lakes were frequently visited by cranes and wild geese. It is logical to assume that the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic people hunted beavers, stoats, and foxes for fur to make winter clothing, which is confirmed, for instance, by the Baraba Tatars' similar hunting activities.
Marshland regions were situated somewhere nearby. On the contrary, sand dunes were probably atypical, and the dense taiga forest was most likely unknown, either. Generally speaking, beavers and birch-trees must have been among the most distinguished features of the local environment.
The Proto-Bulgaro-Turks bred cattle, horses, and probably goats, though there is no direct geolexical evidence for sheep. Cf. the domesticated animals ratio for the Baraba Tatars from 1889: horses: 40% , cattle: 30%, sheep: 30%, [see Myagkov (2009)]. The Proto-Bulgaro-Turks probably used horse-drawn sledges in winter; and apparently were well-familiar with horse riding, saddle and stirrup making, probably availing themselves to cowboy-style nomadism in summer, but living in houses during the wintertime, either keeping the animals in stalls (as the Baraba Tatars do) or letting them out in the open to let them dig the grass from under the snow (as the Kazakhs do). They fed on a variety of diary products, such as sour cream and quark. They practiced crop cultivation, including barley, Spelt, millet, oats, and possibly flax (necessary in fabric making).
They used copper metallurgy (evidently, bronze) and were probably familiar with iron, as well as with silver and gold jewelry.
2.5 Conclusions about the position of the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic Urheimat
By exclusion, we must conclude that the area consistent with the principle of the maximum diversity, the demographic analysis and the geolexical analysis may have been situated somewhere within the following three closely interconnected geographic areas, largely coinciding with the Tobol-Ishim-Irtysh or Ob or Yenisei demoregions.
The Tobol-Ishim-Irtysh demoregion, which forms a sort of a fertile crescent, seems to meet nearly all the criteria stipulated by the reconstructed geographical lexemes. The location of the PBT Urheimat along the middle course of the Irtysh seems to be particularly likely.
The Yenisei demoregion is much less likely due to the possible partial exclusion of certain reconstructed lexemes and much too eastern location, which is in contradiction with the principle of maximum diversity. However, the Ob demoregion could not be entirely dismissed at the present stage and should be kept in mind for additional consideration.
The map above depicts the intersection of the four areas: (1) the center-of-gravity region of the maximum language diversity; (2) the area of the beaver-type ecozone; (3) the areas of high-density population of today; and (4) (see below) the areas of the northern finds in the Andronovo archaeological horizon. It also takes into consideration the presence of the early Ugric and Samoyedic settlers near the Ural mountains, which evidently may displace the Urheimat area towards Lake Channy and the Ob basin.
Altogether, all of these areas seem to intersect in northern Kazakhstan (mostly north of the Kokshetau Highlands as well as probably some parts of Kurgan and Omsk Oblast in Russia), a region known as the Ishim Steppe, which is the most likely area for the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic Urheimat.
The imagery of the Tobol-Ishim-Irtysh area
following images are provided as visual evidence to corroborate the possibility
of the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic Urheimat being located near the Southern Ural, Ishim
Steppe, or Middle Irtysh area. The imagery helps to identify the territory under
consideration as inhabitable land suitable for semi-nomadic lifestyle of early
horse and cattle breeders. The pictures include some of the physical and biological
items reconstructed by the geolexical analysis.
imagery of the western Altai, Upper Ob and Yenisei areas
Similarly, here are some typical images of the Ob and Yenisei demoregions. This imagery may also represent the Urheimat of Proto-Turkic (Proper) and the areas of the early Turkic dialects (see discussion below).
2.6 Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic from the archaeological perspective
The association with the Andronovo horizon and adjacent cultures
As explained above, the present theory predicts that Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic (PBT) was a language of cattle and horse-breeding, metalworking, crop cultivating semi-nomadic population which had inhabited the Tobol-Ishim-Irtysh demoregion approximately between 1800 and 1000 BC, and which later split up into the two main branches, one of which the Bulgaric branch proceeded westward beyond the Southern Ural Mountains and reached the Yaik, the Volga, and the Pontic steppes, whereas the other one the Turkic branch traveled eastwards along the Irtysh, settled near the Altai and Sayan Mountains, and then moved further into Dzungaria, Mongolian Altai, Gobi, and Tarim oases.
But the next question should be: what can archaeology say about any of this?
From the archaeological perspective, the Ural-Tobol-Ishim-Irtysh-Altai area between 2200 and 900 BC are the typical boundaries for the classical Andronovo /ahn-DRAW-neh-voh/archaeological horizon.
to several encyclopedias and almost as predicted above for the Bulgaro-Turkic
tribes, the Andronovians belonged to the Bronze Age pastoralists that mined mineral
deposits, such as copper and tin ore, and made a variety of bronze-cast tools,
including knives and axes, as well as the gold and copper jewelry. They bred cattle
and horses for milk, and some sheep for wool clothing. They used horses for food
and transportation with some signs of horse-riding emerging by the end of the
Andronovian period. They engaged in fishing, hunted geese, cranes, foxes, beavers,
hares, wild pigs, etc. They practiced crop cultivation along rivers with some
irrigated fields and manual hoeing. They sometimes lived in dugout shelters (which
could be quite large), though some of their dwellings (especially in the east
during the second half of the Andronovian period) are said to be never found,
whereas some later dwelling were light and round in shape, thus implying possible
nomadism. They practiced inhumations in burial mounds surrounded by stone fencing.
The Bactrian camels were used in central Kazakhstan and afterwards (definitely,
during the period of the Sargat culture in 700-400 BC) along the Tobol River.
Typical tools from the Andronovo culture [The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1969-78)]
A word of warning should be given against the indiscriminate usage of the term Andronovo culture. Presently, after the intricate analysis performed between the 1950's and 1990's by many archaeologists, particularly Salnikov (1967), Zdanovich, Matveyev, Kuzmina (1977), Potemkina (1985), etc, "Andronovo" cannot be regarded as a single unity, but rather as a conglomeration of several West Siberian cultures of the 2nd millennium BCE with quite indefinite temporal and geographical limits. In some cases, "Andronovo" was even be used as nothing but a generic nickname for the Bronze Age archaeology of West Siberia and adjacent areas of northeastern Kazakhstan. Therefore, the term Andronovo archaeological horizon would be more appropriate.
approximate distribution of Bronze and some Iron Age cultures in southwestern
In its most essential part, the Andronovo horizon consists of the two main archaeological cultures:
(1) the Alakul /ah-lah-KOOL/ culture (extending from the Southern Ural to the Ishim and Irtysh basins, 1700-1200 BCE); (2) the Fedorovo /FEH-deh-reh-voh/ culture (extending from the Tobol River to the Irtysh and the upper Ob basin, 1200-1100 BCE).
[Note that Alakul has nothing to do with the name of Lake Alakol near the Tian Shan, it is named after a small lake in Kurgan Oblast, Russia; there are actually many toponyms with similar names].
Additionally, several temporally and geographically adjacent archaeological complexes are often regarded as part of Andronovo these are the so-called "Andronovoid cultures". They were also usually named after local villages. These include the following, to name the most significant ones:
(1) (Arkaim)-Sintashta /ar-kah-EEM sin-TUSH-tah/: southwest of the Southern Ural, 2100-1900 BCE, famous for the earliest discovery of the spoked-wheel chariot (though, actually, just wheel imprints) and the multiple round fortress settlements
(2) Petrovka /pet-ROV-kah/: from the Southern Ural to the Ishim and Irtysh basins in northern Kazakhstan, 1650-1550 BCE, sometimes confused with Arkaim-Sintashta
(3) Pakhomovo /pah-HAW-meh-voh/: northernmost forested steppes in the Tobol-Irtysh basin, 1200-1000 BCE
(4) Suzgun /sooz-GOON/: in the same area, the forested steppes in the Tobol-Irtysh basin, 1000-800 BCE)
(5) Barkhatovo /bar-HAH-teh-voh/: east of the Southern Ural, 1000-800 BCE
(6) Begazy-Dandybai /beh-gah-ZEE dahn-dee-BY/: the area around Lake Tengiz in Central Kazakhstan, 1000-700 BCE; it is famous for mausoleums in the Kazakh Uplands
A note on the Wiki article: As of 2008-2012, the articles in en.wikipedia.org essentially seemed to identify Andronovo with all the territory of Kazakhstan. It should be noted, however, that the central to southern areas of Kazakhstan have been poorly populated for millennia due to an arid climate and the evident scarcity of water (particularly, the Ustyurt Plateau, the Aral Karakum and Moyenkum Desert, the Betpak-Dala (lit. Kazakh "endless desert steppe"), the southern part of the Kazakh Highlands, etc.), so the amount of human settlements there should not be exaggerated. On the other hand, even though certain cultures similar to Andronovo may have existed even as far away as the Tian-Shan Mountains or the Volga, they can hardly be seen as an intrinsic and typical part of Andronovo. Therefore, in practice, the Andronovo horizon is mostly confined to the border of Russia and northeastern Kazakhstan, being located along the curved stretch between the Ural and Altai Mountains.
The archaeological evidence seems to support the idea that the Andronovians spread from the Urals towards the Altai Mountains, at least judging by the fact that the Fedorovo culture is younger and scattered over a larger territory than the earlier Alakul. The same idea is also reflected, for instance, in the Andronovo-type ornamentation of pottery typical of the Irmen culture. Generally, it wasn't until the beginning of the 1st millennium BCE that the Andronovo descendants (such as the Fedorovo people) reached the Kulunda Steppe and the Upper Irtysh area. See also [Arkheologiya Zapadno-Sibirskoy ravniny (The Archaeology of the West Siberian Plane), Troitskaya, T.N., Novikov, A.V., Novosibirsk (2004)] which says,
Studying an alternative possibility of a more eastern location of the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic Urheimat outside of the typical Andronovo horizon, we come across the Krotovo, the Samus, the Irmen and the Karasuk cultures.
The Krotovo /KRAW-teh-voh/ archaeological culture (discovered and identified in the 1950's) was located in the Baraba and Kulunda Steppe between the Ob and Irtysh circa 1800 to 1300 BCE. It was characterized by dugout flat-roof dwellings supported by central columns; cattle and sheep; milk-based diet; fishing; bronze smelting, bronze knives; sacrifices of bears and some signs of a bear cult (typical of Samoyedic, Evenk and other taiga-located cultures); the usage of red ochre dyeing in burials (typical of older Neolithic or taiga-located cultures); figurines of raven, snakes, horse, ram and bears in art; in anthropology, the intermixed Mongoloid-Europeoid features; occasional burials of the owner with the dog, etc. [Arkheologiya Zapadno-Sibirskoy ravniny (The Archaeology of the West Siberian Plane), Troitskaya, T.N., Novikov, A.V., Novosibirsk (2004)]. The Krotovo culture is basically similar to the core features of Andronovo with some differences characteristic of a more forested ecozone and fewer technological innovations.
The Samus /sah-MOOS/ culture, located in the taiga-forested regions of the Baraba Steppe along the Upper Ob (near present-day Tomsk and Novosibirsk) c. 1700-1200 BCE, was adjacent to Krotovo. It included net fishing, hunting, with the relatively poorly developed animal husbandry and no or just few signs of crop cultivation; it was characterized by bronze smelting, but including some stone tool technology; dugout dwellings; signs of a bear cult; European anthropological features in imagery. The identification of Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic with the Samus culture is much less likely due to its location in the southern taiga ecozone. Moreover, the Middle and the Upper Ob is typically identifiable with Southern Samoyedic, and is located too far to the northeast. It also seems to lack some of the essential features found by the geolexical analysis, such as crop cultivation.
The common view in the archaeology of West Siberia is that Krotovo-Samus were not connected with Andronovo. We may suppose that they were Samoyedic, which may be better substantiated in the case of Samus.
The Irmen /eer-MEN/ culture of the Upper Ob is dated to 1000-750 BCE. It is characterized by cattle and horse breeding, dugout dwelling supported by posts (where cattle could stay along with humans in the wintertime), crop cultivation, low mound burials, some late Bronze Age technology, ash dumps, Europeoid anthropological features in skulls, etc. However, this culture is dated too late for Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic, and by the time of its existence, PBT is supposed to have already split up. On the other hand, it would be much more tempting to associate it with the eastern movement of the early Turkic Proper tribes migrating towards the Altai Mountains and Yenisei.
Finally, another archaeological culture that should be mentioned is Karasuk /kah-rah-SOOK/ (Khakas for "black water", a river name?) dated to 1200-700 BC. It was typical of the Upper Yenisei basin and Minusinsk Depression and was characterized by bronze smelting, dugout log houses, horse, cattle, sheep breeding, and deer hunting.
The reconstructed Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic environment seems to be well within the limits set by the archaeological reconstruction of Andronovo.
The main core of Andronovo corresponds to the Alakul culture in northern Kazakhstan, situated (1) on the Turgay Plateau (lit. Chuvash and Turkic "skylark") and the Turgay Valley area including the upper reaches of the Tobol known as the Ubagan River; (2) southwestern areas of the Ishim steppe near the upper course of the Ishim; (3) the area around Lake Tengiz and the Kazakh Uplands. The location of the Alakul culture overlaps the calculated Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic area situated in the Tobol-Ishim-Irtysh demoregion by more than a half. The period of the Alakul culture (c. 1700-1200 BCE) matches the prediction for Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic Urheimat circa 1800-1000 BCE.
There also seems to be rather clear archaeological evidence of an eastern movement connected with the spread of the Fedorovo culture after about 1200-1100 BCE, directed towards Altai Krai and even further towards the Yenisei. This movement apparently coincides with the supposed migration of Proto-Turkic Proper after 1100-900 BCE.
In other words, the spatial and temporal location of the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic (PBT) area matches the Alakul and, to some extent, the Fedorovo cultures within the Andronovo archaeological horizon.
On the other hand, certain other Bronze Age cultures adjacent to Andronovo, particularly Krotovo in the Baraba-Kulunda Steppe and the Upper Ob basin, cannot be completely excluded as potential archaeological representations of the PBT area.
But were they not Indo-Iranians?
It has, of course, become commonplace in modern Russia's historiography to associate Andronovians with some sort of "Aryans", usually meaning an extinct branch of Indo-Iranians, see for instance [Otkuda prishli indoarii? Materialnaja kultura andronovskoj obschnosti i proiskhozhdenije indoirantsev.(Where do Indo-Aryans come from? The material culture of the Andronovo horizon and the origins of the Indo-Iranians.), Kuzmina, E.E.; Moscow (1994)], [Yuznyje sosedi finno-ugrov: irantsy ili ischeznuvshaya vetv' arijev ("arii-andronovtsy") (Who were the southern neighbors of Finno-Ugrians: Iranians or an extinct branch or Aryans ("Aryan Andronovians")?), Helimskiy, E.A. // Polytropon, Moscow (1998)].
The word "Aryan" is full of romantic mysticism and helps to attract tourists to Arkaim, the now-famous archaeological site in the Uralian steppe, turned into an open-air historical park. But is this opinion well-grounded?
En.wikipedia.org provides a few objections:
Below we will try to analyze where the idea of the identification of Andronovo with Indo-Iranians comes from. The theory was in fact expounded in much detail by Kuzmina in 1994 and in some of her later works.
Essentially, the Andronovo-Aryan hypothesis has been based on the following arguments.
The Arkaim-Sintashta culture used horses and spoked-wheel chariots, typically
identified with the late Indo-Europeans in general (even though they could easily
be a cultural borrowing). On the other hand, the wheel carts seem to be poorly
attested in Alakul and Fedorovo [Kuzmina (1994) and probably earlier authors].
It should be noted that some examples cited by Kuzmina for the supposed Andronovo culture in fact correspond to the areas located far away from the typical Alakul-Fedorovo region, which is under consideration herein, such as some areas in Europe or the Tian Shan mountains.
In other words, the following logically incorrect overstatement was made in several studies including Kuzmina's work: that the whole Andronovo horizon is reducible to Arkaim-Sintashta, and that therefore all of the Andronovo cultures were probably Indo-Iranian, possibly including even some distant archaeological cultures as far as Tuva. We should remind herein that Arkaim-Sintashta and Andronovo may possibly be viewed as different ethnological and archaeological entities.
Actually, exposing the falsehood of this overstatement is currently sufficient: even though the Arkaim-Sintashta or some other western or southwestern cultures could (based on some generally unknown and poorly understood arguments) be Indo-Iranian, it does not necessarily follow that Alakul and Fedorovo cultures must be Indo-Iranian just as well.
Another counter-argument could be as follows: if the Andronovians were part of the Iranian culture that practiced progressive forms of agriculture and husbandry, used bronze weapons, and then developed into several technologically and demographically strong cultures, such as Sarmatians or Siberian Scythians that supposedly occupied the whole West Siberia, why did they suddenly become completely extinct? What happened to them? Why don't we find absolutely no linguistic traces of these cultures at the present time (except, of course, for the purported borrowings into Finno-Ugric)? Where are those Siberian Scythians gone? Why couldn't they be preserved, say, in small refugium areas until the historical period when their language could be attested directly? Apparently, there are no easy answers to these questions.
The theory of Indo-Iranian origins of Andronovians is poorly founded, and the arguments provided for it raise too many doubts. However, it may still hold a couple of appealing points, with some uncertainty still remaining.
In any case, there is no reason to believe the Indo-Iranian hypothesis is in any way more appealing than the current proposal of the Bulgaro-Turkic identification.
We should also acknowledge that Helimsky's suggestion to associate Andronovo with a third, previously unknown branch of Indo-Iranian (with all the possible stress here on the unknown) is far better than associating it with the pure Proto-Indo-Iranian or Proto-Iranian, which had been rather popular before his publication (1998) and which basically doesn't hold water. However, a hypothesis suggesting borrowings from an unattested source may too be subjected to Occam's razor. Apparently, it takes another detailed study to find out which of these borrowings are in fact Nostratic archaisms and which may be not.
Without getting further entangled in the complexities of the Indo-Iranian theory, we could propose a reconciling view where the most western and most ancient parts of the early Andronovo, such as Sintashta-Petrovka, could still belong to the Indo-European stock, whereas the more eastern areas, such as Alakul, Fedorovo and possibly other settlements near the Irtysh could most likely be Bulgaro-Turkic in origin.
The Proto-Turkic Urheimat
Dating Proto-Turkic (Proper)
The above-mentioned The Lexicostatistics and Glottochronology of the Turkic Languages based on the semi-classical analysis with the local glottochronological calibration provides 400-250 BCE for the initial separation of the four main branches of Turkic Proper: Yakutic, Altay-Sayan, Great-Steppe, and Southern.
Placing Proto-Turkic (Proper)
The Proto-Turkic (Proper) Urheimat based on the principle of maximum diversity
We know full well from historical records that the Turkic Proper languages with the maximum language diversity were originally distributed around the Altai-Sayan-Khangai Mountain system, particularly near the Altai Mountains. This conclusion has long been popular in Turkology, and is essentially based on the following considerations:
(1) the position of the Gökturk Empire, which was spreading westward from Mongolia during the 6th century AD;
(2) the position of the Yenisei Kyrgyz Kaganate along the upper Yenisei River in the 3rd-9th centuries;
(3) the position of the Kimak Kaganate along the Irtysh River during the 8th-11th centuries;
(4) the position of Proto-Sakha presumably originally located along the upper Lena near Lake Baikal.
These positions are explicitly marked on the map in the chapter dedicated to the discussion of the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic (PBT) Urheimat, with the center-of-gravity point of the Proto-Turkic (PT) Urheimat pinpointing the area of the Great Lakes Depression, which is a shallow endorheic basin area within the western part of the Altai-Sayan system, surrounded by mountain ranges at all sides.
The Proto-Turkic (Proper) Urheimat based on the analysis of local geography
Even though the direct analysis of the maximum diversification among the Turkic languages outside Bulgaric suggests that the Great Lakes Depression in the middle of the Altai-Sayan Mountain system coincided with the center-of-gravity point for Proto-Turkic Proper, the poor accessibility and the severe climate of that region raises questions about its demographic development in the past.
The region is almost entirely surrounded by mountains and is only accessible through several meandering valleys.
This pristine and sparsely-populated area includes the protected natural reserves, such as Lake Uvs-Nuur (Ubsunur) Basin, whose nature is characterized by a sharp ecozone contrast between the mountain taiga and the lowland desert. The region has very cold, severe winters with the average January temperature as low as t -32º-35ºC in Ulaangom, and the recorded maximum of -55ºC [en.wikipedia.org], leading to the formation of permafrost and imposing considerable limits on the survivability of plant and animal life including the subsistence and existence of early nomads.
During the 17th-20th centuries, the Great Lakes Depression has been sparsely occupied by the Mongolic-speaking Oirat (Oyrat) tribes, which exhibit a great degree of tribal diversification (Durbet, Bayat, Zakhchin, Olyot, Torgut, etc.). The Oirats have apparently been present in that area at least since the 13th century, which may raise questions concerning the earliest and original inhabitants of the area: Proto-Mongols or Gökturks?
Even though the presence of the Görkturk population in the 8th-9th century is well known from a number of Old Turkic inscriptions found in the area, the climatic and geographic factors indicate that any kind of fast population growth in the Great Lakes Depression associated with a fast demographic spread would be rather unlikely. Consequently, the Proto-Turkic Urheimat seems to be pushed away from the Great Lakes Depression, rather being placed on the other side of the mountain wall, at the northern foothills of the Altai Mountains.
The Altai Mountains (proper) are a strategic geographic location with a rather unique breakage in the Central Asian mountain ranges (known herein as the Great Eurasian Barrier) near Lake Zaysan. This system only allows for a few passageways to Mongolia and West China, such as the "Zaysan Passage" and the Dzungarian Gate, which can lead to a typical northwest-to-southeast split of any ethnic groups originally migrating in the longitudinal direction (west-to-east). The geographic complexity of the Altai-Sayan-Khangai mountain system would block direct migration and promote the linguistic partition and further diversification of Turkic subgroups by physically dividing them at least into two migration stream as they traveled at the foothills of the Altai ranges. In other words, the Altai-Sayan Mountains may represent a natural cusp physical obstacle that would cause the splitting and dispersal of any linguistic groups coming into contact with it.
Moreover, the considerations of the population density suggest that both the Ob and Yenisei demoregions (see the similar considerations for Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic above) are much more convenient for sustaining large population masses required for rapid expansion of the early Turkic tribes. The Upper Ob area conveniently located to the the north of the Altai Mountains in Altai Krai seems to be particularly suitable.
come to the conclusion that in the case of Proto-Turkic Proper the principle of
maximum diversity is in contradiction with the principle of geographic viability,
therefore the Proto-Turkic CoG point cannot be located right in the middle of
the Altai-Sayan-Khangai mountain system with its unsuitable environment and rather
pristine and poorly accessible areas, almost entirely enclosed by ranges and sparsely
populated by Mongolic-speaking tribes.
This Altai-Sayan-Khangai region can be studied in more detail using the following topographic map below.
3.2 Proto-Turkic from the archaeological perspective
The association of Proto-Turkic Proper expansion with the introduction of iron
The Bronze Age in West Siberia, which includes the Tobol-Irtysh, Ob and Yenisei demoregions, has a long historical tradition extending approximately from 3000 BC to the beginning of the common era. All the Bronze Age cultures of Siberia seem to be archaeologically uniform, exposing similar technological and economic traits and agricultural practices.
The introduction of iron in West Siberia, especially the frequent use of iron knives and daggers, occurred somewhere between the 6th and 3rd centuries BCE and must have had profound cultural and demographic impact on the region. It is quite evident that cultures that first acquired iron weapons, had an important technological and military advantage over their neighbors. We may assume that the Proto-Turkic people started to use the iron metallurgy earlier than the Yeniseian and Samoyedic tribes and other nearby residents and therefore had better chances for demographic and geographic growth.
This hypothesis seems to be supported by the evidence from the Bolshaya-Rechka (or Bolsherechinskaya) archaeological culture, located along the Ob (from the confluence of the Biya and Katun to the Tom River) and dated between 500-0 BCE. The Bolshaya-Rechka culture actively used knives and swords made of low quality iron by about 300-150 BC. However, there was no sinchroneous use of iron in the neighboring Kulay culture, possibly of Samoyedic stock [Arkheologija Zapadno-Sibirskoj ravniny (The Archaeology of the West Siberian Plane), Troitskaja, T.N., Novikov, A.V., Novosibirsk (2004)].
the other hand,
the connection between the Turkic spread and the introduction of iron should not
be exaggerated, given that the exact beginning of the Ion Age in a particular
area is difficult to establish archaeologically. In archaeological cultures, the
iron may seem to appear almost simultaneously in different regions or being separated
by just one-or-two-hundred-year interval.
The association of Proto-Turkic Proper expansion with the emergence of early Silk Road trade
The usage of camels, and the jewelry trade, attested in the Sargat culture (700 BCE- 300 CE) in the Tobol-Ishim-Irtysh region [Troitskaya, Novikov (2004)] is indicative of the existing long-distance Eurasian trade routes with multiple branches leading to different parts of West Siberia. The famous Silk Road is particularly notable in this respect. This is how technological and cultural innovations (glass, bronze mirrors, silk, carpets, horse riding harness, etc) first began to spread from east to west and vice versa. Peoples that inhabited areas closely adjacent to the Silk Road, including the late Proto-Turks, inevitably acquired technological advantage over the more distantly located ethnic groups, such as Yeniseian and Samoyedic, which would unavoidably start losing ground in the cultural and military competition. That inequality must have resulted in southern Turkic groups flourishing, expanding and acquiring new territories, while more distantly located ethnicities being slowly transformed into cultural and demographic outcasts.
The association of Proto-Turkic Proper expansion with widespread equestrianism
We may also assume that the horse riding, presumably developed at the Proto-Bulgaro-Turkic stage, was probably becoming widespread during the early Iron Age, possibly due to some technical innovations in harnessing [though this point is inconclusive]. A horse-mounted warrior with an iron sword or a bow represented a new type of threat in battle and allowed much faster transportation over a longer distance, which might have been the key factor leading to the vast Turkic dispersal after the 5th century BCE.
With the onset of the Iron Age, the nomadic changes in West Siberia were reflected in archaeological finds. For instance, the Sargat culture (c. 700 BCE -300 CE) in the Tobol-Ishim-Irtysh region may be characterized by the mixed horse-cattle husbandry with seasonal migrations (as well as the early use of camels), which seems to reflect nomadism.
a new type of artistic fashion begins to appear among many Eurasian peoples during
this period, known as the Scythian-Siberian
style (Russian skifo-sibirskiy stil). [See
for instance Skifo-Sibirskij zverinyj stil v iskusstve narodov Evrazii (The
Sythian-Siberain animal style in the art of Eurasian peoples), a collection
of articles, editors-in-chief: Melyukova, A.I., Moshkova, M.G.; Moscow (1976)].
For the explanation of the word "Scythian" in this context also see
Altai Mountains near the Katun River, Piket Mount (c. 7th century BCE)
The new style was characterized by brisk, accelerated, menacing bronze and gold imagery of panthers, tigers, dragons with tense muscles symbolizing strength and aggression; eagles and other birds of prey representing velocity and precision; running deer and other fast-moving animal images associated with a rapid, active way of life. The style expressed motion, vigor and vivacity apparently, apparently showing the dynamism of nomadic living. From this time on, the Proto-Turkic and Proto-Sarmatian tribes began to shape into what we know them to be from historical records: horse-breeding yurt dwellers, far-reaching swift riders, fast-moving horse-mounted warriors.
The historiographic legend of Siberian Scythians
The history of the Iron and Bronze Age ethnic groups that lived in the Eurasian Steppe from 1000 BC to 1000 AD, including the famous "Scythians", "Sa(u)rmatians", "Sakas", "Huns", etc., is full of historiographic legends hardly grounded in any factual historical, ethnographic, geographical, archaeological, genetic or other evidence. These legends have been frequently popularized by various history authors and journalists through many centuries, starting probably from Herodotus himself. Passages on these ethnic groups in popular writing tend to cite widespread opinions usually taken as "generally accepted" or accompanied by such remarks as "researches believe", "no doubt", "scholars say", etc. Sometimes such publications attempt to cite some ethnonymic reconstructions from Iranian, Turkic and particularly Middle Chinese, the latter becoming particularly notorious in their ambiguity, which is also the reason why any Middle Chinese ethnonymic etymologies were almost completely excluded from the present series of articles.
However, a careful research often reveals that, in many cases, it is not possible to trace any solid evidence for the attribution of specific material to any these Scythian or Saurmatian groups.
In archaeology of West Siberia, the identification of archaeological material as "Scythian" is usually based upon the so-called "Scythian triad" (Russian skifskaya triada): (1) the presence of certain types of weaponry as well as burials in kurgans (typical of Indo-Europeans); (2) the horse riding harness (typical of Indo-Europeans); (3) a particular animal style in art with dynamic animal imagery and figurines, known as the "Siberian Scythian" style, because it was originally attested among supposed Scythian burials in Ukraine. Consequently, all the regional archaeological cultures that exhibit similar traits are often unquestionably attributed to the Iranian stock without much further analysis, which is evidently logically invalid at least because of the lack of direct correlation between the language and the archaeological culture.
A typical description of the Scythian-Siberian style can be found in many formal archaeological articles, e.g. here (in Russian) [Martynov, A.A., Arkheologija. Skifo-Sibirskij mir (Archaeology (Handbook). The Scythian-Siberian world), Moscow (2000)] or here [Kantorovich, A.R., Arkheologija. Rannij Zheleznyj vek. (Archaeology (Handbook). The Early Iron Age.), Chief Editor: Yanin, V.L., Moscow (2006)]. These handbook chapters describe all the cultures of the Iron Age from the Black Sea all the way to Ordos in China as belonging to one single cultural unity or one major archaeological horizon, based solely on the "Scythian triad". The handbook authors admit, however, that the actual ethnonyms of the makers of the Pazyryk, Uyuk and Tagar and other local "Scythian" cultures are in fact unknown.
Moreover, note that what in some cases has been displayed and represented as "Scythian" may in fact be unidentified artifacts from various 18th century's collections, such as the famous collection donated to Peter the Great and composed of miscellaneous artifacts from robbed burial mounds of unknown locations, given that digging for treasure in buial mounds was a widespread practice at the time.
Another example could be seen in this popular article Scythian Gold From Siberia Said to Predate the Greeks (2002), where the author first cites this historiographic legend but then begins to doubt it.
Indeed, there seems to be no solid reasons to believe that "Siberian Scythians" of the Altai Mountains and Tuva were in any way ethnically similar or equivalent to the Black Sea Scythians of Herodotus. And of course, the superficial archaeological similarity is hardly sufficient to proclaim ethnic identity.
Obviously, whenever the archaeologists speak of the "Siberian Scythians" or the "Scythian Siberian" style, they merely use a figure of speech with an original meaning pertaining to a group of specific archaeological traits, but without any direct reference to the Scythians of Herodotus, let alone any Iranian or Indo-Iranian languages in general. Otherwise, such inflated statements should be thought of as purely journalistic and introducing excessive laxness into the originally strict historical and linguistic terminology.
The association of Proto-Turkic with the Pazyryk, Tagar, and Uyuk cultures
The spatial and temporal position of the late Proto-Turkic Proper in the Upper Ob and northern Altai area between the 6th and the 2nd century BCE seems to match a number of typical "Scythian Siberian" cultures of the Iron Age. The most typical examples include:
The Pazyryk archaeological culture /pah-zeh-RIK/ located in the Altai Mountains between the 6th and 3rd centuries BCE with many strikingly unique artifacts of excellent preservation retained in the permafrost, such as wheeled carts, horse burials, tattooed mummies, gold objects, and the oldest woollen knotted-pile carpet in the world, the oldest embroidered Chinese silk, pieces of woven Persian fabric, saddlecloths and cushions covered with strikingly elaborate designs, etc. No permanent dwellings were found, implying possible nomadism.
Typical artifacts from the Pazyryk and Mayemir cultures including the reconstructions of mummies from permafrost [Arkheologija (The Archaeology Handbook), Chief Editor: Yanina (2006)]
The Bolshaya Rechka /bol-SHAH-ya RECH-ka/ (or Bolsherechenskaya) culture (the name of the upper Ob's tributary, literally Russian for "Big River") dated to about 500-0 BCE and situated along the upper Ob from the confluence of the Biya and Katun rivers to the Tom. It is said to include the Kamenskaya (sub)culture in the north, and the Staryj Alej (or Staroalejskaja) and Kizhir (or Kizhirskaja) (sub)cultures in the south [see Arkheologija Zapadno-Sibirskoj ravniny (The Archaeology of the West Siberian Plane), Troitskaja, T.N., Novikov, A.V., Novosibirsk (2004)]. Altogether, the people of Bolshaya-Rechka were characterized by bronze smelting technology; bronze and gold jewelry; bronze mirrors; burial mounds (kurgans); the lack or scarcity of any town fortifications; pit settlements without any town walls; horse and cattle husbandry with seasonal activities; horse riding; burials with horse heads on poles (implying the horse cult); crop cultivation; some fishing; decorations in the Scythian Siberian style; knives, chekans (a kind of battle axes similar to the ice pick) and some swords made of low quality iron (which became widespread only by 300-0 BCE). The men burials of Bolshaya-Rechka could be roughly subdivided into three social layers: relatively rich horsemen warriors, a kind of priests connected with a religious cult, and the common relatively poor men usually not involved in military or religious activities. [Of course, the early social stratification, the division into the rich and the poor is also well-known from the Turkic ethnography and geolexical analysis.] In other words, the location of the Bolshaya-Rechka culture near the initial area of the Proto-Turkic dispersal and the presence of many typical Proto-Turkic traits in it marks this culture as possibly belonging to the Proto-Turkic or the early Turkic dialect speakers.
Typical artifacts from the Bolshaya Rechka culture [Arkheologiya Zapadno-Sibirskoy ravniny (The Archaeology of the West Siberian Plane), Troitskaya, T.N., Novikov, A.V., Novosibirsk (2004)]
The Tagar /teh-GAR/ culture (900-200 BCE) in the Minusinsk Depression and to the north of it, along the Yenisei basin, was characterized by burials in kurgans with stoneslab fencing; Europeoid anthropological features in skulls; mostly the R1a haplotype in the genetic makeup; the horses, cattle and sheep-and-goat husbandry; log houses and yurts; the millet and barley cultivation with some irrigation; the bronze smelting with few iron tools; the frequent use of chekans.
The Uyuk /oo-YOOK/ culture in Tuva along the upper Yenisei basin (as well as some archaeological finds in the Uvs Depression in Mongolia) are famous for the luxurious burials in Arzhan-1 (c. 800-750 BCE) and, especially, Arzhan-2 (650 BCE) kurgans discovered in Tuva in 2000-02. They included gold and silver objects, the one-of-a-kind gold bead clothing, iron knives, chekans, 160 horse burials, the horse harness with some gold decorations, coins, fabrics, carpets, sable furs, bronze mirrors, etc.
Typical artifacts and reconstructions from the Uyuk culture (The Arzhan-1 Kurgan) in Tuva [see Arkheologija (The Archaeology Handbook), Chief Editor: Yanina (2006)]
Note that 800-650 BCE suggested for Uyuk may be too early for the Iron Age in such an isolated mountain area, which raises questions about the validity of these archaeological dates.
It has also been noted by several archaeologists that the round shape of the Arzhan burials is similar in design to the well-known round fortifications of Arkaim-Sintashta (the Southern Ural, 2100-1700 BCE), but the exact interpretation of this observation is still unclear.
A note on the burials with the horse:
In the archaeology of West Siberia, the burials with the horse are generally thought to be a typical feature of the Turkic tribes. These burials are said to appear first in the Altai Mountains during the early Iron Age and then spread in many directions, particularly along the Irtysh River (that is, probably along with the Kimak migration during the 8th-9th centuries). The existence of the burials with the horse rather clearly implies that the early Turks had a special religious horse cult.
Nevertheless, the significance of the horse burial custom in the identification of Turkic Proper should not be exaggerated for the following reasons. The Yenisei Kyrgyz tibes used incinerations thus destroying any buried material artifacts, which is also corroborated by the reports from the Tang Chinese Chronicles (Tang Shu Hezhao) saying that the Kyrgyz tribes burned up their dead and then reburied them under kurgans [Grach, A.D. (1980) (in Russian)].
Moreover, in some cases only stuffed dummies of horse were buried.
On the other hand, the Khanty (Ugric) tribes were known to buy horses unavailable in their area and then sacrifice and bury them in the grave as late as the 19th-20th centuries [Troitskaya, Novikov (2004)].
Therefore, despite their importance, the burials with the horse may only identify a limited segment of Turkic tribes, but not necessarily all of them.
Some of the most notable archaeological cultures of Altai Krai, the upper Ob and the upper Yenisei basins, particularly the Pazyryk culture (in the Altai Mountains, 500-200 BCE) and the Bolshaya Rechka culture (along the Upper Ob, 500-0 BCE), may reasonably belong to late Proto-Turkic (Proper) or the early Turkic dialects which formed during the period of the Proto-Turkic dispersal in the 5th-2nd centuries BCE.
considerations make us wonder about any reasons for attributing these cultures
to the so-called Siberian Scythians, apparently based on purely superficial similarity
of certain archaeological artifacts.
The Primary Stage of Turkic Proper Expansion (900-0 BCE)
A detailed geomigrational analysis suggests that the Proto-Turkic tribes must have split up near the Altai-Sayan mountain system following the local terrain features and the distribution of local ethnic adstrata. The primary stage of the expansion was mostly connected with the occupation of the areas situated at the foothills of the Altai and West Sayan Mountains.
A map of the early distribution of Turkic, Samoyedic and Yeniseian ethnicities
On the map above, the Proto-Turkic Proper area is depicted as matching the deforested region of the Kulunda and Baraba steppe, which are suitable for livestock breeding and horse-mounted nomadism. This region mostly extends along the rivers and lakes within the Ob-Irtysh drainage basin.
The Yeniseian and South Samoyedic habitat is shown approximately, with some allowable errors and interpolations considering that some of these ethnicities were mentioned only in the documents from the 18th century; for details see for instance articles by Helimskiy and Kyunapp in [Jazyki mira: Uralskije jazyki (The Languages of the World: The Uralic Languages); editorial board: V. Yartseva, Yu. Yelisejev et al; The Russian Academy of Sciences (1993)].
Moreover, we suppose herein based on the early attestation and distribution of Samoyedic near the West Sayan Mountains that the entire area of the Minusinsk Depression had originally been inhabited by Samoyedic peoples that were slowly displaced by the arriving Proto-Turkic tribes between the 9th and the 2nd centuries BC. This early Turkic movement seems to be reflected in the attested Samoyedic and Yeniseian geographic distribution with small population pockets surviving only in certain refugium areas but largely overridden by Turkic settlements in other areas.
Generally speaking, the Samoyedic arrival in the Sayan Mountains must have occurred by moving along the Ob river basin, given the well-known Samoyedic connection with the Finno-Ugric languages in the Urals and the fact that some of the Selkup ethnic groups were still residing along the middle Ob in the 20th century (particularly, along such rivers as the Tym, Ket, Chaya, Chulym, etc).
The linguistic exchange between Samoyedic and Turkic is also evident from a few Samoyedic borrowings into the Altai-Sayan Turkic languages [see Anna Dybo, Lingvisticheskije kontakty rannikh tyurkov. Leksicheskij fond. (Linguistic Contacts of the Early Turks. Vocabulary.), Moscow (2007)].
Additionally, certain military interaction between the late Proto-Turkic and South Samoyedic tribes may be observable from archaeological evidence. To the north of the Bolshaya-Rechka culture (500 BCE-0) situated within the area marked as "Central Proto-Turkic dialect" on the map above, there existed a neighboring Kulay culture along the Middle Ob near the Vasyugan /vah-soo-GAHN/ Marshland. It is normally attributed to the Samoyedic settlers.
Initially, the Kulay culture had been based entirely on the bronze smelting technology and the extensive usage of fortifications, such as moats and town walls, with multiple weaponry finds in graves. It looks like the people of the Kulay culture had defending against unknown intruders or making forays into their territory. However, by 200-0 BCE, they began to use iron weapons and apparently borrowed some agricultural traits on their southern fringes from the Bolshaya-Rechka people. On the other hand, their potential enemies from Bolshaya-Rechka seemed to enjoy relatively peaceful life with a good percentage of male burials lacking any weapons at all. See [Arkheologija Zapadno-Sibirskoj ravniny (The Archaeology of the West Siberian Plane), Troitskaja, T.N., Novikov, A.V., Novosibirsk (2004)].
The possible explanation provided herein is that the Bolshaya-Rechka culture belonged to the speakers of a Turkic dialect who benefited from the early use of iron technology in warfare, as well as the extensive use of agriculture and nomadic husbandry that could have led to a military and demographic supremacy. They felt defended from any potential attackers by their superior iron weaponry and numerical advantage, and thus had no need to build complex fortifications, availing themselves to the semi-nomadic lifestyle that allowed stable nutrition, which ultimately resulted in a faster population growth and outward expansion. On the other hand, their South Samoyedic neighbors from Kulay had to defend themselves against their intrusion by building fortifications.
Furthermore, there existed a third ethnic component in the region, which was formed by the hunter/gathering Yeniseian tribes, who seem to have inhabited river banks in the taiga forest. Originally, they must have lived throughout the region, but the culture of hunters/gatherers apparently could not withstand the advancing Samoyedic and Turkic tribes; consequently their historically attested distribution has become finally confined to the middle course of the Yenisei.
Thus, apparently the delicate strategic balance of the Bronze Age, that had lasted in West Siberia for one or two thousand years, was upset in the beginning of the Iron Age, when the early Turkic tribes occupied the Yenisei basin ebbing away at the local Samoyedic and Yeniseian settlements. The final stages of this process are shown in the map of the ethnic distribution in Altai Krai.
As a result of the Turkic expansion, a few centuries before the beginning of the common era, the early Proto-Turkic language must have split up into three major subtaxa (or dialectal areas) that presently demonstrate maximum grammatical, phonological, and lexicostatistical differentiation within Turkic Proper:
Proto-Yakutic (incl. Proto-Sakha)
Proto-Yakutic presumably moved along the upper reaches of Yenisei
There are many doubts and reservations concerning the period and place of the earliest separation of Proto-Yakutic from the main stem. Nevertheless, both direct glottochronological measurements and the latest attestation of the Fedorovo and the earliest attestation of the Tagar culture along the upper Yenisei suggest 900 BCE as a quite plausible date, which makes Sakha almost as old and differentiated as Chuvash.
In any case, a possible mismatch in glottochronology would probably be within the allowable deviation, considering the glottochronological results for Sakha lack sufficient precision due to the absence of sibling branches in Yakutic that could provide statistical averaging to increase the outcome robustness.
Therefore, we may assume that presumably somewhere circa 900-500 BCE, the easternmost branch of the original Proto-Turkic population spread into the steppe regions of the Yenisei basin, thus forming the early Proto-Yakutic dialect.
Proto-Yakutic must have become what it is as soon as it crossed into Tuva and especially northern Mongolia with its continuous permafrost and the reindeer breeding economy (still known in the area). This migration seems to have been accomplished by the middle of the 1st millennium BCE.
It is not really clear whether Proto-Yakutic bears any relation to the Uyuk culture in Tuva, though the horse burials in Uyuk, its similarity to the cultures of the Andronovo horizon, and of course its unique enclosed position within a mountain system suggests that Uyuk was either Proto-Yakutic, or, less likely, distantly related to Proto-Mongolic, or belonging to an unknown branch of Altaic languages.
In Mongolia, Proto-Yakutic must have further moved along the upper reaches of the Yenisei towards the source of the Lesser Yenisei located to the west of Lake Khövsgöl in the Darkhat Depression. Even though there are certain doubts about this migration hypothesis poorly corroborated by specific evidence, the Mongolian track still seems to be the most geographically and linguistically plausible route providing a clear explanation how Proto-Yakutic finally managed to reach Lake Baikal and the upper Lena situated a thousand miles to the east.
An alternative possible route would be the one following the Yenisei downstream until its confluence with the Angara, and then going upstream along the Angara, which would land Proto-Yakutic in the exact same area near the present-day Irkutsk City and Lake Baikal, where they would be if they took the former route. This second route is to some extent corroborated by a slightly higher lexical percentage between Sakha/ Khakas (61%, Swadesh-215) and Sakha / Kimak (60.5%) as opposed to an average of 56% for Sakha / any-other. This may suggest that the earliest Proto-Yakutic was originally concentrated in the Baraba Steppe, areas to the north of Kuznetsk Alatau Range (which divides the Ob and Yenisei basins) and the north of the present-day Khakassia. Nevertheless, this result does not contradict the former route: in both cases this must be the territory where the earliest separation must have occurred; neither this small percentage difference is sufficient to make any statistically robust conclusions.
Also see some further analysis in the The Internal Classification and Migrations of Turkic Languages.
Proto-Central formed spouts of Proto-Altay-Sayan and Proto-Great-Steppe
must have stayed somewhere near the original Proto-Turkic Proper habitat in
the Kulunda Steppe (present-day Altai Krai) to the north of the Altai Mountains,
forming the basis of the Bolshaya-Rechka culture (500-0 BCE).
Circa 300-200 BCE, the other branch of the Proto-Central demographic pool must have move to the Yenisei basin, basically repeating the migratory tracks of Proto-Yakutic, and thus forming Proto-Altay-Sayan (Proto-Khakas-Tuvan).
At a later stage, it moved into the Minusinsk Depression (Valley) which is known for warm and hot summers and suitable agricultural conditions and apparently formed the basis for the local Tashtyk /tash-TIK/ culture (0-300 CE) famous for its stunning series of face masks cast from the dead.
By 250 CE AD, this Proto-Altay-Sayan branch would penetrate from the Minusinsk Valley into the West Sayan Mountains and Tuva by moving along the upper Yenisei and replacing any older Proto-Yakutic settlements there, thus forming Proto-Tuvan.
As a result, the Proto-Altay-Sayan dialect finally led to the formation of modern Khakas and Tuvan, being a sort of secondary migration wave that superseded any hypothetical Proto-Yakutic settlements along the upper Yenisei in present-day Khakassia and Tuva, thus acquiring certain grammatical and a few lexical features which are presently shared by Sakha and the Altay-Sayan languages.
In other words, the interaction between Proto-Altay-Sayan and Proto-Yakutic may have resulted in the formation of a partial linguistic loop, perhaps a common phenomenon in the differentiation of closely-related languages. The two ethnic groups, that initially became separated and acquired independent changes, became united again at a later stage resulting in the formation of the three independent branches, including the two original ones (e. g. Proto-Central and Proto-Yakutic) and the third hybrid one (Proto-Altay-Sayan). The few shared linguistic features among Sakha, Tuvan and Khakas at the present time constitute the main corroboration for this hypothesis.
Proto-Great-Steppe continued to occupy the Kulunda Steppe for a long time and would finally develop into Proto-Kyrgyz-Kazakh-Chagatai in the Tian Shan and Proto-Kimak nomads along the Irtysh, and Proto-Baraba near Lake Chany.
It is not really clear when exactly the arrival of Proto-Kyrgyz-Kazakh-Chagatai in the Tian Shan Mountains first occurred the scanty historical records and considerations by different authors differ significantly on that date. On the other hand, the principle of omnidirectional migration and the archaicness of the modern Kyrgyz language suggest that the earliest Proto-Kyrgyz settlement along the Jeti-Su (Zheti-Su) (the "Seven Waters" area between Lake Balkhash and the Tian Shan) must have been a quite early event, presumably even consistent with the separation of Proto-Central into between Proto-Altay-Sayan and Proto-Great-Steppe circa 200 BCE. This is supported by the fact that Kyrgyz and Altay Turkic presently retain many Proto-Turkic and Proto-Central archaisms and for this reason [as well as because of the secondary migrations during the Dzungarian invasion of the 17th century] were even viewed as related in other classifications. However, from the current perspective, both Kyrgyz and Altay Turkic rather seem to be a sort of refugium areas of an ancient Proto-Central continuum superseded by other tribes in other regions, and their purported relatedness mostly reflects archaic retentions
The position of Proto-Baraba is basically unclear. It has been noted by many researchers that Baraba bears many similarities to Kimak-Kypchak-Tatar, Kyrgyz-Kazakh and even Khakas-Altay. The most likely hypothesis would therefore be that Baraba is a remnant of the early Proto-Central or Proto-Great-Steppe continuum in the interfluvial area between the Ob and Irtysh basins, that was later intermingled with Proto-Kimak-Kypchak-Tatar that moved along the Irtysh after 700 CE.
Proto-Oghuz-Orkhon must have moved into Dzungaria
During the 3rd century BCE, the southern branch of Proto-Turkic spread in the southeastern direction through the Zaysan Passage around Lake Zaysan into Dzungaria following the upper reaches of the Irtysh river (the so-called Kara-Irtysh), thus forming an early Oghuz-Orkhon-Karakhanid dialect in Dzungaria.
Soon after that, this proto-dialect must have diversified into several branches.
One of these branches must have moved to the east further along the Mongolian Altai, finally reaching the Great Lakes Depression and the Orkhon River, that flows near the Khangai Mountains, approximately within a 200 mile span from Ulan Bator. Being protected by several mountain ranges with higher January temperatures and less permafrost, this area of the Orkhon river seems to be more suitable for living.
The other branch of Proto-Orkhon-Oghuz-Karakhanid must have turned to the west in the direction of the Turfan and Tarim oases, which would later lead to the formation of Old Uyghur and Karakhanid.
The part that stayed in Dzungaria near the Mongolian Altai must have finally resulted in the development of the early Oghuz tribes.
The primary stage of the Turkic expansion
But how do we know that Proto-Orkhon-Oghuz-Karakhanid reached Mongolia traveling all the way around the Mongolian Altai?
We can be fairly certain of this route via the Zaysan Passage to Dzungaria, that is, around Lake Zaysan and then following the Kara-Irtysh (the continuation of the upper Irtysh to the southeast of Lake Zaysan) and then along the Mongolian Altai because this is, essentially, one of the very few suitable passages [see orange dotted lines on the map] from the Kazakhstan steppe into present-day China and Mongolia, whereas the rest of the virtual pathways are mostly blocked by an interconnected system of mountain ranges of the Great Eurasian Barrier.
As to other passages, such as the so-called Dzungarian Gate, which is a valley at the southern end of Lake Alakol, and another passage to the west of the Tarbagatai Range (without a name), and probably a couple of others historically viable passages through the Great Eurasian Barrier, these are more distantly located and lead directly to the Dzungarian desert or around it, resulting in a greater digression, so they are less suitable to follow when traveling towards Mongolia. In theory, they could be used to get into the Tarim basin, but we must also take into the consideration the presence of other ethnic groups in the region, such as (1) Proto-Khotanese-Tumshuqese in western Taklamakan (usually known as Proto-Sakan, a subgrouping of Iranian languages) and (2) Proto-Tocharian near Turfan, all of which could have impeded an early spread through these passages.
third possible interpretation would be that Proto-Oghuz-Orkhon arrived in
Mongolia from the Yenisei basin via the Tannu-Ola mountain range across the
Great Lakes Depression and then followed the intricate network of North Mongolian
rivers. In that case, the Proto-Oghuz-Orkhon speakers must have passed near
Lake Uvs(-Nuur) (where some archaeological artifacts were
indeed found), and moved through the mountains along the Tes River to the Selenga
basin to ultimately reach its confluence with the Orkhon river, and then travel
a winding course for hundreds of miles to the upper reaches of the Orkhon.
It is not that this Great Lakes Depression route via a pass in the Tannu-Ola is entirely impossible, it is just that it seems to be much less probable. Nevertheless, it can be left for consideration in other cases for different types of migrations, for instance, the ones that occurred during the early warfare between the Gökturks and the Yenisei Kyrgyz. One of the Old Turkic inscriptions indeed describes the invasion of Kyrgyz by the Gökturks after much traveling in the snowy mountains with many difficulties. Curiously, one of the lakes in the Depression is named Lake Kyrgyz (Hargas-Nuur or Khirgis-Nur) implying that it was once inhabited by the arrivals from Tuva and Khakassia, usually known as Kyrgyz after about 500 CE.
A fourth, and an even less likely option would be that Proto-Oghuz-Orkhon arrived in the Orkhon Valley traveling up the Selenga river that flows into Lake Baikal. If this were true, we would probably find much more linguistic and ethnographic similarities between Proto-Yakutic and Proto-Orkhon, which seem to be almost absent (just 53.5% again in Swadesh-215). It should be noted, however, that Shirokobokova [Shirokobokova, N.N., Otnoshenije jakutskogo jazyka k tyurkskim jazykam Juznoj Sibiri (The relatedness of the Yakut language to the Turkic languages of South Siberia), Novosibirsk (2005)] dedicated a few pages to mention certain grammatical features that may directly relate Proto-Sakha to Proto-Orkhon, but these may just as well be archaisms left over from the Proto-Turkic period; in any case, the author did not show them to be specific shared innovations. Again, in this case more Turkic languages would be distributed in the Transbaikal region, which is in fact historically inhabited by Mongols and Buryats.
all boils down to the conclusion that the complex mountain system of northern
Mongolia precluded any direct migration from the Irtysh, Ob and Yenisei Rivers
to the Orkhon River or vice versa, therefore a long digressive migration around
the Mongolian Altai presently seems more likely, even though some direct movements
via Tuva and the Great Lakes Depression cannot be entirely excluded.
4.2. The Second Stage of Turkic Expansion (200-800 CE)
about 300 CE, that is 700 glottochronological years after the dialectal split,
the initial differentiation process must have been finished resulting in the emergence
of the earliest Turkic languages. However, the Turkic migrations continued, and
new Turkic subtaxa and languages began to form. This second stage resulted in
the rise of the powerful Görkturk-Uyghur Empire that had a profound
impact on the life in Mongolia and Central Asia with many historical implications
reaching as far as Byzantine and Eastern Europe.
The secondary stage of the Turkic expansion
Proto-Sakha reached Lake Baikal
Somewhere about 400 CE, Proto-Sakha must have arrived in the vicinity of Lake Baikal following the Irkut River. The Irkut river basically connects the Darkhat Depression and Lake Khövsgöl with Lake Baikal (albeit just migrationally but not hydrologically) it only takes less than a 150-200-mile ride down the Irkut to reach Baikal.
When Proto-Sakha arrived in the area near southern Baikal, they appeared for the first time in history under the name of Kurykan [koo-ree-KAHN] (6th-8th century CE). But the northwards migration following the course of the upper Lena towards present-day Yakutia must have begun only many centuries afterwards, presumably only after the Mongol invasion and a possible genocidal policy in the 13th century.
The Sakha people used the Yakut horse that is able to withstand temperatures from up to 30ºC in summer down to 40ºC in winter by digging grass from beneath the snow, and the Yakut cow with a similar resistence to frost. They also bred reindeer and used the Yakut laika (a dog breed similar to Siberian Husky), though it is not clear whether they were originally Yakut or borrowed from the Evenk population.
Proto-Altay-Sayan split into Proto-Tuvan, Proto-Khakas, and Proto-Altay
By about 200-300 CE, the Proto-Altay-Sayan tribes must have occupied the agriculturally suitable Minusinsk Depression and the upper reaches of the Yenisei River by intermixing with the presumable Proto-Yakutic settlers.
At this stage, they finally split into Proto-Khakas-Altay north of the West Sayan mountains and Proto-Tuvan situated in the environmentally convenient Tuva Depression south of the West Sayan. This splitting occurred when the early Proto-Tuvan tribes began moving further and deeper into the Western Sayan mountains circa 250 CE, following the upper reaches of the Yenisei river in a natural migration and displacing any possible Samoyedic, Proto-Yakutic or Altaic substratum related to the Uyuk culture that existed in Tuva prior to their arrival. Generally speaking, there exist the Greater and the Lesser upper Yenisei in the Sayans, and both of these Yenisei sources must have finally been occupied by Proto-Tuvan settlers.
The Proto-Altay-(Turkic) subgroup presently distributed along the rivers of the upper Ob basin in the Altai Mountains has less obvious origins. Its formation is most likely connected with a back-migration from Khakassia along the Abakan river after 600 CE across a mountain saddle in the Kuznetsk Alatau, which is the main drainage divide between the upper Ob and the Yenisei. This area must be easily penetrable, since it was passed for instance by Radloff, the famous German explorer of Turkic languages, during his horseback expedition of the 1860's; it is also situated in the vicinity of the Shor people related to Khakas. These back-migrations resulted in Proto-Altay settlements along the mountain rivers of the Ob basin in the Altai Mountains. Protected by these mountains, Proto-Altay remained largely unaffected by the Gökturks or any other external influence, retaining many archaic characteristics and similarities shared with the Khakas subgroup.
Gökturks migrated along the Silk Road into Central Asia and even further
As to the Southern branch, we know well from historical records, that after circa 500 CE, during the famous Migration Period that followed the collapse of the Roman Empire in Europe, the early Orkhon Old Turkic or Gökturkic began expanding westwards from Mongolia and Dzungaria, probably trying to seize control over the Silk Road and find new suitable pasture areas in southern Kazakhstan situated to the north of the Great Eurasian Barrier. This period became known in history as the formation of the Western and Eastern Gökturk Kaganates.
It is rather understood that the power of this empire was mostly built on the significance of the Silk Road that it tried to control.
Note that it has been conjectured that the European Migration Period could initially have been caused by the extreme weather events in 535-536, therefore the start of the Gökturk migrations can possibly be explained by climatic events alone, though this is still controversial.
By 576 AD, Gökturks are reported to have traveled as far as the Crimean Peninsula and the Black Sea. In 582, the Gökturk Kaganate is said to have split up into an Eastern part in Mongolia and Western along the Tian Shan and Central Asia.
The Oghuz clan as a separate entity is first mentioned in 605 CE.
Reportedly, by 627, Tung Yabgu, assisted by the Khazars and Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, launched a massive invasion of Transcaucasia which culminated in the taking of Derbent (a key city on the Caspian Sea) and Tbilisi (Georgia).
The appearance of Orkhon Turkic inscriptions in Eastern Europe must be connected with the Gökturkic arrival. But the most famous Orkhon Turkic inscriptions dedicated to Kül-Tegin and Bilge Kagan are found in Mongolia and are dated to 732 and 732 CE.
The earliest unequivocal mention of the word Turk or perhaps Türüq may also be attributed to this period, and it seems that the word was initially associated with the ruling clan in the Gökturk Kaganate, but was later accepted by the Oghuz tribes as well because of its positive connotations, even though the original inscriptions tell about a war between the Turks and the Oghuz.
It should be noted however that the Orkhon inscriptions include many obscure parts that may have various phonological or geographical interpretations, so one should keep in mind that many of the traditional facts mentioned in literature for the Gökturk-Uyghur Empire may come from generally unknown original sources and may still require additional historical analysis and verification.
Soon after 745, the power in the Gökturk Kaganate was seized by the Uyghurs [at the time, it was presumably just a Gökturkic-speaking clan near Dzungaria, though there are few specific confirmations]. The Uyghurs converted to Manichaeism and ruled from a large city Ordu-Baliq in Mongolia (Genghiz Khan would establish his capital Karakorum in the same area in 1220). However, the Uyghur rule over the Eastern part of the Görkturk Kaganate seems to be just a nominal change in the ruling dynasty rather than a major cultural or linguistic event. In 840 CE, Ordu-Balik was destroyed by the "Yenisei Kyrgyz" (presumably the early Tuvan speakers that infiltrated into the Great Lakes Depression from Tuva?).
Sometime after this period, the spread of the dialects of the Proto-Uyghur-Karakhanid branch towards the oases of the Turfan Depression and the Taklamakan Desert from Dzungaria began to displace any Tocharian (by c. 800 CE) or Iranian (by c. 900 CE) languages located there, and led to the formation of Kara-Khoja (or Old Uyghur) dialect in the Tarim Basin and then the early Karakhanid dialect in the Tian Shan Mountains (920-950 CE).
Proto-Kimak was formed as a superposition of Proto-Great-Steppe and Gökturkic or Proto-Oghuz
It is very likely that the 6th-8th century's Gökturkic movement through the Zaysan Passage resulted in overlapping with some of the Proto-Great-Steppe tribes living between the Altai Mountains and the Tarbagatai Range, which led to the formation of Proto-Kimak tribes. These tribes basically represented a secondary linguistic seam between the Gökturk and a local Great-Steppe dialect.
Glottochronologically, the separation of Proto-Kimak from the Great-Steppe stem seems to have occurred c. 600-700 CE, which is in accordance with the period of the late Gökturkic migrations to the west, and the earliest mention of the Oghuz tribes near Dzungaria c. 600 CE.
As a result, the present-day Kimak languages clearly share many features with Oghuz-Seljuk languages, which sometimes make modern Kazan Tatar and Turkmen / Azeri / Turkish seem more similar to each other than they actually are. Take for instance the widespread usage of the *tügel innovation (used as negation after nouns and adjectives) that is present both in the Kimak languages of the Golden Horde and the Oghuz-Seljuk languages instead of the more generally accepted and archaic *e(r)mes in other Turkic. Evidently, this is a borrowing into Proto-Kimak from a Southern source closely related to Proto-Oghuz. Presently, there is hardly any such thing as *i-mez in Oghuz-Seljuk languages, since this word must have been displaced by *tügel > *degil at an early period of time, even though other instances of the same paradigm, such as i-se "if this is so; whereas" or i-di "was" may still exist in Oghuz-Seljuk.
On the other hand, the Great Steppe languages or dialects that had no direct contact with Gökturkic or Oghuz dialects, such as Proto-Kyrgyz-Kazakh-Chagatai retained the more archaic *emes, and this is the reason why we still have the variants of *emes in the modern Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Uzbek and Uyghur languages.
4.3 The Third Stage of Turkic Expansion (800-1400 CE)
The final stage of the Turkic expansion began after the dissipation of the Görkturk-Uyghur Empire in 840 CE and is rather well-attested in historical records. It resulted in the emergence of the many Turkic subgroups scattered all over the central part of the Eurasian continent. Much of the perturbations of this period were connected with the Mongol invasion that began after 1205-1210.
The third stage of the Turkic expansion
The Kimaks spread towards the Great Steppe and the Black Sea
Apparently, living off the Road Silk trade, the original Kimak tribes stayed along the Irtysh near Lake Zaysan and formed their own Kimak Confederacy or Kaganate c. 740 CE. The Kimak Confederacy originally made of seven clans is well-attested in Arabic sources evidently based on the reports of Arab and Chinese Silk Road merchants. The Kimak settlements during this period included a number of towns near Lake Zaysan, such as Imakiya [apparently just an Arabic misspelling of the adjective Kimak (city)].
After the dissipation of the powerful Gökturk-Uyghur Kaganate in 840 CE, the Kimaks began to expand northwestwards along the Irtysh into the vast sea of the Great Steppe, towards the Ural mountains and ultimately, the Black Sea. They were clearly attested as the "al-Bashkird" caravan robbers near the Urals and the confluence of the Volga and Kama by Ibn-Fadlan in 921 AD.
By c. 1050 they finally reached the Kievan Rus, creating various Kimak-Kypchak-Tatar ethnic groups on their way, including the languages formed after the disintegration of the Golden Horde in the 15th century.
The Tatars and the Kypchaks had been the two of the seven original clans of the Kimak Confederacy. They seem to have become the ruling and the most important clans in the course of the 10th-11th centuries, and apparently this is the reason why we often know and remember most Kimak ethnic groups as either "Tatars" or "Kipchaks", even though these clan names are heavily overused and have frequently been applied to peoples of unrelated origin since the 13th century.
Chagatai, as well the early Uzbek and Uyghur dialects, were formed
In 955 the Karakhanid dynasty was established in Kashgar, one the main trade outposts of the Tarim basin. However, the convoluted and heterogeneous migrations that followed the Mongolian invasion in 1211-1212 resulted in the significant replacement of the Karakhanid substratum in the Tian Shan mountains and Tarim basin by a certain Great-Steppe language, spoken by the tribes living to the north of the Tian Shan, and apparently closely related to the present-day Kyrgyz and Kazakh. The language that emerged as a result of the interaction between this unknown tribal language and the local Karakhanid substratum became known as the early spoken Chagatai (which should not be conflated with the written Chagatai and its Türki variants used as lingua franca at a later stage); the spoken Chagatai finally led to the rise of the modern Uzbek and Uyghur languages and their dialects.
Oghuz tribes migrated from Dzungaria towards the Aral Sea
As it was attested in the Arabic sources, somewhere by about 780 CE, the Oghuz tribes moved from Lake Zaysan towards the Syr-Darya (Yaxartes) and the area of the Aral Sea. The tribes that did not migrate too far from that region formed the basis of Proto-Turkmen which is presently represented by several major Turkmen dialect-languages with notable differentiation.
Circa 980 CE a part of the Oghuz tribes led by a chief named Seljuk invaded Persia. Sometime after 1050 CE, the complex (and rather poorly attested?) interaction with the local Persian and probably Karakhanid substratum or adstratum in northern Iran resulted in the emergence of the medieval Proto-Seljuk dialect, which, after the battle of Manzikert in 1071, led to the formation of the early Ottoman Turkish language in Anatolia, as well as Azerbaijani, Qashqai, and Khorasani in Persia.
3. References and sources
mira: Tyurkskije jazyki (The Languages of the World: The Turkic Languages);
editorial board: E. Tenishev, E. Potselujevskij, I. Kormushin, A.
Kibrik, et al, consists of articles by specific authors; The Russian Academy
of Sciences (1996) [a detailed, authoritative edition with a brief phonological
and grammatical description of each language; consists of articles by
2. Sravnitelno-istoricheskaja grammatika tyurkskikh jazykov. Leksika.
(The Comparative Historical Grammar of the Turkic Languages. Lexis.);
editorial board: E. Tenishev et al; Moscow (2002) [Many lexical examples
and supposed proto-forms concerning the life of Proto-Turks.]
2. Sravnitelno-istoricheskaja grammatika tyurkskikh jazykov. Leksika. (The Comparative Historical Grammar of the Turkic Languages. Lexis.); editorial board: E. Tenishev et al; Moscow (2002) [Many lexical examples and supposed proto-forms concerning the life of Proto-Turks.]
3. Sravnintelno-istoricheskaja grammatka tyurkskikh jazykov. Pratyurkskij jazyk-osnova. Kartina mira pratyurkskogo etnosa po dannym jazyka. (The Comparative Grammar of the Turkic Languages. The Proto-Turkic Language. The Worldview of the Proto-Turkic Ethnic Group Based on the Linguistic Data.), editorial board: E. Tenishev et al., Moscow (2006) [Attempts at the mythological and semiotic analysis of the Turkic lexis from the previous volume.]
4. Etimologicheskij slovar tyurkskikh jazykov (The etymological Dictionary of the Turkic Languages), E. V. Sevortyan, Vol. 1-7, Moscow (1974-2003) [Mostly known and named herein as Sevortyan's Dictionary, though he died in 1978. Pronounced /seh-vor-TAHN/ as an Armenian-Azerbaijani surname. It is in fact a multivolume publication prepared by a group of authors, with the earliest volume still photocopied from a typewriter, apparently due to difficulties in reprinting diacritics; the last volumes are still being prepared for publication; despite some convoluted passages and even some discrepencies with modern dictionaries, perhaps still the most comprehensive work on the Turkic lexicon]
5. Atlas narodov mira (The Atlas of the Peoples of the World), Moscow (1964) [old but good, taken that ethnographic maps generally get better with the time because of the language loss]
7. Anna Dybo, Khronologija tyurkskikh jazykov i lingvisticheskije kontakty rannikh tyurkov (The Chronology of the Turkic Languages and the Linguistic Contacts of the Early Turks) (2006?) (includes lexicostatistical data)
8. Anna Dybo,
Lingvisticheskije kontakty rannikh tyurkov. Leksicheskij fond. (Linguistic
Contacts of the Early Turks: the Lexical Fund), Moscow (2007)
9. 200-word Swadesh lists for Turkic languages [in fact, it is now superceded by the version published in this work, see a doc-file in The Lexicostatistics and Glottochronology of the Turkic languages
10. Yu. V. Normanskaja, Rastitelnyj mir. Derevja i kustarniki. Geograficheskaja lokalizatsija prarodiny tyurkov po dannym floristicheskoj leksiki (The plant world. Trees and shrubs. The geographical localization of the Turkic homland based on the floristic lexis data.) // Sravnintelno-istoricheskaja grammatika tyurkskikh jazykov. Pratyurkskij jazyk-osnova. Kartina mira pratyurkskogo etnosa po dannym jazyka. Moscow (2006)
11. Stepnyje imperii drevnej Evrazii (The Steppe Empires of Old Eurasia), S. G. Klyashtornyj, D.G. Savinov, Saint-Petersburgh (2005)
12. K probleme rekonstruktsii sistemy sezonnykh perekochovok kochevnikov Volga-Uralskogo mezhdurech'ja v VI-I vv. do n. e. (On the problem of reconstructing the system of seasonal migrations of nomads in the Volga-Ural basin in the 6th-1st century BCE), Myshkin, V.N., (2007?)
13. Arkheologija Zapadno-Sibirskoj ravniny (The Archaeology of the West Siberian Plane), Troitskaja, T.N., Novikov, A.V., Novosibirsk (2004)
14. Uralskaja istoricheskaja entsiklopedija (The Historical Encyclopedia of the Urals), Chief Editor: Alekejev, V.V., Yekaterinburg (2000)
15. Yuzhnyje sosedi finno-ugrov: irantsy ili ischeznuvshaja vetv' arijev ("arii-andronovtsy") (Who were the southern neighbours of Finno-Ugric people: Iranians or an extinct branch or Aryans ("Aryan Andronovians")?), Helimskij, E.A. // Polytropon, Moscow (1998)
16. Otkuda prishli indoarii? Materialnaja kultura andronovskoj obschnosti i proiskhozhdenije indoirantsev.(Where do the Indo-Aryans come from? The material culture of the Andronovo horizon and the origins of the Indo-Iranians.), Kuzmina, E.E.; Moscow (1994)
17. Skifo-Sibirskij zverinyj stil v iskusstve narodov Evrazii (The Scythian Siberian animal style in the art of Eurasian peoples), a collection of articles, Editors-in-Chief: Melyukova, A.I., Moshkova, M.G.; Moscow (1976)
18. Shirokobokova, N.N. Otnoshenije jakutskogo jazyka k tyurkskim jazykam Yuznoj Sibiri (The relatedness of the Yakut language to the Turkic languages of South Siberia), Novosibirsk (2005) (essentially, a small monograph on the linguistic origins of Sakha)
19. D. A. Myagkov, Traditsionnoje khozyajstvo barabinskikh tatar vo vtoroj polovine XIX veka pervoj polovine XX (The traditional economy of the Baraba Tatars from the second half of the 19th to the 1st half of the 20th century), avtoreferat dissertatsiji (a thesis summary), Omsk (2009)
20. Sevda Sulejmanova, Istorija tyurkskikh narodov (The history of the Turkic peoples), Baku (2009)
21. Aus Sibirien. Lose Blätter aus meinem Tagebuche (From Siberia: Torn pages from my diary), Wilhelm Radloff, Leipzig, 1893 [A wonderful ethnographic description of Altay, Khakas, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uyghur and Uzbek people, early archaeological evidence, etc. An absolutely awesome book first hand. There exists an abbreviated Russian translation from as late as 1989.]
22. Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary, Saint Petersburg (1906)
23. Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language. Second College Edition, Editor-in-Chief: David Guralnik, Prentice Hall Press (1986)
24. Russko-chuvashskij slovar (Russian-Chuvash Dictionary), by M. Skvortsov, A. Skvortsova, Cheboksary (2002) (doc)
25. Etimologicheskij slovar chuvashskego jazyka (The etymological Dictionary of Chuvash), by M. Fedotov; volume 1-2, Cheboksary (1996) [quite helpful and enlightening]
26.Chuvashskij jazyk i jego otnoshenije k mongolskomu i tyurkskim jazykam (Chuvash and its relatedness to Mongolian and the Turkic languages), Nicholas Poppe (1924) (downloadable)
27. A Russian-Yakut, Yakut-Russian online dictionary (22.000, 35.000 words), www.sakhatyla.ru
28. Russko-bashkirskij slovar, composed by Z.G. Uraksin, Ufa (2005)
29. Russko-uzbekskij slovar, Editor-in-Chief M. Ch. Koshchanov; Vol 1-2, Tashkent (1983)
30. Kratkij russko-turkmenskij slovar, Editors-in-Chief: M. Khazmayev, S. Altajev, Ashgabad (1968)
31. Drevnetyurkskij slovar (The Old Turkic dictionary), editors: V.M Nadelyajev, D. M. Nasilov, et al., Leningrad (1969)
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