In M.G. Magomedov's (1975: 275) opinion, the Verkhnechiryurskoe settlement (Republic of Dagestan, Russia) corresponds to the ancient town Belenjer, an initial capital of the Khazaria. Several interesting artifacts were discovered in the burial ground No 17 of this settlement. We should focus our attention on the representation on a bone plate of a saddle (Magomedov 1975: 278-9, figures 2, 3 ). Here a warrior riding a horse is shown. The horseman's head is decorated with seven plaits. An important feature of this plot is a symbol depicted on a flank of the horse, see figure 1.
Preparatory to reading this record, let us examine some conclusions about the burial and the specimen. M.G. Magomedov (1975: 281) believes that the artifacts are dated to 7th - 8th century A.D. He took, as the starting point, the History of the Caucasian Albanians by Movses Kagankatvatsi. M.G. Magomedov thinks that the Avars could be among Khazarian tribes which were decorated with plaits. He mentions the name of Jebgu-kagan (1), a deputy of the king of the North. The plaits-bearers and clean-shaven persons were submitted to this king. I suppose that the king was the ruler of the Khazaria. Two ethnic components of this kingdom were Avars and Slavs respectively. We know some data about the interaction of the Avars and Slavs in 6th century A.D. (Danilevsky 1999: 33).
I read the brief inscription presented in figure 1 as two Slavonic letters, zh and b. One can suggest that the word zhb is the name Zhebu (Jebu-hakan/kagan). I believe that the Avars used the Slavonic ancient alphabet, so-called cherty i rezy 'lines and cuts', based on the Greek alphabet together with some specific additional letters.
1. Known also as Jebu-hakan in other transcription (Novoseltsev 1990).
Danilevsky, I.N., 1999. Drevnyaya Rus' glazami sovremennikov i potomkov (IX - XII vv.): Kurs lektsiy. Moscow.
Magomedov, M.G., 1975. Kostyanye nakladki sedla iz Verkhnechiryurskogo mogil'nika. Sovetskaya arkheologiya, 1: 275-81.
Novoseltsev, A.P., 1990. Khazarskoe gosudarstvo i ego rol' v istorii Vostochnoy Evropy i Kavkaza. Moscow.
Copyright © 2005 by Sergei V. Rjabchikov. All Rights Reserved.
Published 1 August 2005.
Sergei V. Rjabchikov, Krasnodar, RUSSIA.
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