Russian version

Copyright © 1999 by Sergei V. Rjabchikov. All Rights Reserved.


by Sergei V. Rjabchikov

The pictures of a coin (a private collection) - sides A and B - of the ancient Russian town Tomi (then Tamatarha and Tmutarakan') are presented in figures 1 and 2.

Figure 1.
Figure 2.
The head of the Prince in a helmet is represented on Side A. I read the Russian text (it is severely damaged) performed by the Scythian/Slavonic cherty i rezy writing system as gorada To '... (Prince ?) of the town To(mi) ...'

The signs of a burning candle, of a dog with a bird head and one wing, and of a trident are depicted together on side B. The letters rv are inscribed below.

The first sign is in my opinion a symbol of the Russian pagan sun god Hors. It is no surprise, since the Indo-Iranian deities were worshipped in the Tmutarakan' area (Vernadsky 1948). Maybe this sign represents the Russian pagan sun god Dazh'bog/the Scythian sun god Targitaos or the Russian pagan supreme god Svarog/the Scythian supreme sun goddess Tabiti. A hint of the pagan sun god replaced by Christian God is mentioned in Slovo o Zakone i Blagodati by Metropolitan Ilarion (Saint Nikon) (Ilarion 1994: 65). I supposed earlier that he came to Kiev from Tmutarakan'.

Then the second sign can be deciphered. It compares with the Iranian mythological semi-dog-semi-bird Simurg associated with the Russian pagan god Simargl (Vernadsky 1948; Toporov 1995: 514). Interestingly, the name Shimardan of the ancient village on the Taman' Peninsula (Trubachev 1977: 24) is like the names Simurg/Simargl.

The third sign is a trident. I think it is the designation of the Indo-Iranian god Trita 'Third' known also as Triton in the Greek mythology (Toporov 1992a, 1992b, Taho-Godi 1992). According to the Iranian myths, the character Trita was thrown into the water by his two brothers (Toporov 1992b). Trita is the sea/chthonic deity, his brothers/enemies may be Hors and Simargl.

The word rv reads rav as sometimes the Old Russian texts written on the vessels from Tmutarakan' and Belaya Vezha (Sarkel) omit the vowels, in particular, the letters a (Rjabchikov 1998a, 1998b). One can offer the two interpretations of this name. First, it may be the name of the legendary Proto-Slavonic king Ravana. Second, it may be a version of the name of Russian Prince Bravlin (Bravlan).


Ilarion, 1994. Slovo o Zakone i Blagodati. Moscow: Stolitsa, Skriptory.

Rjabchikov, S.V., 1998a. Tainstvennaya Tmutarakan'. Krasnodar: Torgovo-promyshlennaya palata Krasnodarskogo kraya.

Rjabchikov, S.V., 1998b. Delovye zapisi drevnikh russov. Dusha moya, September 1998, Nr 18(35), p. 8.

Taho-Godi, A.A., 1992. Triton. In: S.A. Tokarev (ed.) Mify narodov mira. Vol. 2. Moscow: Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya, p. 526.

Toporov V.N., 1992a. Trita. In: S.A. Tokarev (ed.) Mify narodov mira. Vol. 2. Moscow: Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya, pp. 525-6.

Toporov V.N., 1992b. Trita, Frita. In: S.A. Tokarev (ed.) Mify narodov mira. Vol. 2. Moscow: Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya, pp. 526.

Toporov, V.N., 1995. Svyatost' i svyatye v russkoy dukhovnoy kul'ture. Moscow.

Trubachev, O.N., 1977. Lingvisticheskaya periferiya drevneyshego slavyanstva. Indoariytsy v Severnom Prichernomor'e. Voprosy yazykoznaniya, No 6: 13-31.

Vernadsky, G., 1948. Kievan Russia. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Copyright © 1999 by Sergei V. Rjabchikov. All Rights Reserved.

Published 4 December 1999.

Sergei V. Rjabchikov, Krasnodar, RUSSIA.

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