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


by Sergei V. Rjabchikov

The name of the town of Tmutarakan' is known as Tamatarha in the book "De Administrando Imperio" by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus (1989: 175). I think that the latter place name can be split into Tama Tarha. The first term, tama, is the Proto-Slavonic *tema 'darkness'. But what does the term Tarha mean? I think that this word is the name of the fairytale old man Tarh Tarhovich. According to a Russian fairy tale (Rybakov 1987: 77), this blind character associated with the Scythian sun god Targitaos lived at the high Siyanskaya mountain (cf. Russian siyat' 'to shine') in the south of the Russia, and he waged war with the fairytale old woman Baba-Yaga. On these grounds I conclude that the place name Tama Tarha signifies either 'The Darkness of (the god) Tarh' or '(The transformation from) the Darkness to the Shine (Tarh)'. In this case Russian tarashchit (glaza)' 'to goggle' is connected with this term, tarha.

Let us examine the text of the end of the 8th c. A.D. - the beginning of the 9th c. A.D. inscribed on an Oriental coin (Dobrovolsky, Dubov and Kuzmenko 1981: 58, table IV) from a treasure at the site Bol'shoe Timerevo near the town Yaroslavl (see figure 1):

Figure 1.
It reads h-l-d where both letters h and l are the Greek and Cyrillic letters. The term Hel (the letters h-l) 'the world of the dead' is the feature of the Scandinavian mythology. On the other hand, this text contains the Scandinavian rune d (Dagaz 'day') which symbolizes the beginning of a new day, it means 'awakening' and 'revival' as well (Kaya 1998: 376; 162). So the idea 'darkness/day' is encoded in this record. I believe that this text is a Scandinavian trace in the Tmutarakan' history.

The Petershof treasure of the end of the 8th c. A.D. - the beginning of the 9th c. A.D. contains several Oriental coins with graffiti. First, it is the Greek inscription Zaharias (proper name), second, some signs are Turkic runes, otherwise the Khazar records (Dubov 1990: 112). Let us examine the inscription on a coin (Melnikova, Nikitin and Fomin 1984: 42, figure 2a) from the same treasure (see figure 2):

Figure 2.
Using the readings of the ancient Slavonic letters (famous cherty i rezy, otherwise the pre-Cyrillic alphabet) (Rjabchikov 1998a: 5-6; 1998b: 23), this text reads Up(a)n, cf. Greek Ypanis 'the river Kuban'. I think that this treasure was hidden by a merchant from the town of Tamatarha (Tmutarakan').

A coin housing in the Hermitage contains the following text (Dobrovolsky, Dubov and Kuzmenko 1981: 55, table I), see figure 3:

Figure 3.
I read this text k-n-a-z, i.e. knyaz' 'Prince'. Maybe this coin was a payment or a tribute for a Prince. Some coins from the Hermitage contain only one letter (see Dubov 1990: 167, figure 39). I think that such letters are the numerals: the letter ch is 90, the letter n is 50, the letter u is 400 on the base of the reconstruction of the system of the Old Russian numerals (Simonov 1977 :32). They denote certain monetary sums or quantities of things.

The text (Dobrovolsky, Dubov and Kuzmenko 1981: 55, table I) on a coin from the Hermitage is as follows (see figure 4):

Figure 4.
It reads k is, the letter a of both cherty i rezy and Cyrillic writings are inscribed below. Here these letters means 'one'. The record k is signifies 'to Jes(us)'. I think that this coin was a church donation.

Now one can read the record of the 9th - 10th c. A.D. taken down on both sides of an artifact from the site Gorodishche near the town Novgorod (Kaya 1998: 400, figure 119), see figure 5:

Figure 5.
h-r-i-s zh-i-z-n v-z-m-i

o-t t-o-s-k-i b(e)-e-s t-i t-u-zh-i-sh

'O (Jesus) Chris(t), defend (lit. 'take') (my) life from the melancholy. O demon, you grieve'.

The letter z includes two "crosses". It can be compared with the Etruscan letter z consisting of two "crosses". The letter (syllable) b(e) corresponds to the sign of the Linear A (B) 75 ve as well as of a sign of the Saca inscription.

The text on both side of a bone (Bychkov 1998: 95) discovered in Byelorussia is as follows (see figure 6):

Figure 6.
The upper text inscribed after the drawing of a warrior reads k-n-s-i, i.e. knyzya '(a warrior) of the Prince'. The lower text contains the two vertical lines and the word n-a-i-m-i. This report means 'engage two (warriors)!'

The text on a bone (Bychkov 1998: 95) discovered in Byelorussia is as follows (see figure 7):

Figure 7.
It reads p-i-sh-u e t-e v(e)-e-ch-i ya-ve-s 'I am writing (a letter) to you: attend a public meeting!' Here the syllable ve is presented, too. Besides, the letter ya resembles the Cyrillic letter ya known as yus maly.

The inscription (Bychkov 1998: 96) found on a rock of the Carpathian Mountains contains in particular the following fragment (see figure 8):

Figure 8.
It reads k-n-i-z a-n-t e i-a-k g-r-u-s BS (1) e B-u-a-s ... 'The Prince of Antae that are equal to Garus (the Russians/Scythians) (by the name) Bus (2) ...'

The ancient Lithuanian flag (Narbutt 1835) looks like it represents here (see figure 9):

Figure 9.
The text on the left reads b-e-r-e-g r-e-d-a-n. The first word is Slavonic bereg 'bank; the end of a land; guard'. The word redan is comparable with Latin Redones 'the name of a tribe lived in Gallia'. Interestingly, this term compares with Russian Radonezh 'the name of the ancient Russian town', Greek Ouardanes 'a branch of the river Kuban' (3), Russian radost' 'gladness', Latin ratio 'to shine', German Rat 'counsel', south Russian rada 'counsel'. The three letters written down at the top of the flag read rmi, otherwise r(o)mi 'Romans', cf. Latin Roma 'Rome'. I suppose that this flag is a copy of the flag of the ancient Slavs, which as the other barbarians could serve in the Roman army. The three characters are in my opinion the Slavonic pagan gods Stribog, Rarog Ani (Svarog) and Dazh'bog.


1. This letters, BS, are included in the sign which corresponds to a cartouche (symbol where pharaoh's name is written) in ancient Egyptian.

2. See (Shklyarevsky 1998: 67).

3. The river's name may be interpreted as U Ardanes '(The river) near (the Proto-Slavonic tribe) Ardan(es)'. Cf. also Jordan, the name of the main river of Palestine.


Bychkov, A., 1998. Vendskie runy. In: A. Platonov (ed.) Mify i magiya indoevropeytsev. Vol. 7. Moscow: Manager, pp. 90-6.

Constantine Porphyrogenitus [Konstantin Bagryanorodny], 1989. Ob upravlenii imperiey. Moscow: Nauka.

Dobrovolsky, I.G., I.V. Dubov and Y.K. Kuzmenko, 1981. Klassifikatsiya i interpretatsiya graffiti na vostochnykh monetakh (kollektsiya Ermitazha). In: V.M. Potin (ed.) Trudy gosudarstvennogo Ermitazha. Vol. 21. Leningrad: Iskusstvo, pp. 53-77.

Dubov, I.V., 1990. Novye istochniki po istorii Drevney Rusi. Leningrad: Izdatel'stvo Leningradskogo universiteta.

Kaya, A., 1998. Runy. Moscow: Lokid.

Melnikova, E.A., A.B. Nikitin and A.V. Fomin, 1984. Graffiti na kuficheskikh monetakh petergofskogo klada nachala IX v.. In: V.T. Pashuto (ed.) Drevneyshie gosudarstva na territorii SSSR. Materialy i issledovaniya: 1982 god. Moscow: Nauka, pp. 26-47.

Narbutt, T., 1835. Dzieje Starozytne narodu litewskiego. Wilno.

Rjabchikov, S.V., 1998a. Drevnie texty slavyan i adygov. Krasnodar: Torgovo-promyshlennaya palata Krasnodarskogo kraya.

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

Rybakov, B.A., 1987. Yazychestvo Drevney Rusi. Moscow: Nauka.

Shklyarevsky, I., 1998. Zagadki i tayny "Slova o Polku Igoreve". Moscow: Evraziya+.

Simonov, R.A., 1977. Matematicheskaya mysl' Drevney Rusi. Moscow: Nauka.

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

Published 1 November 1999; revised 4 November 1999.

Sergei V. Rjabchikov, Krasnodar, RUSSIA.

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