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II. PROTO-BULGARIAN RUNIC INSCRIPTIONS

10. The Proto-Bulgarian Inscriptions from Pliska

A multiplicity of runic signs was discovered on stone plates in Pliska, but for a long time they remained undeciphered (see L Doncheva-Petkova. Symbols on archaeological monuments of the VII-X cc., Sofia, 1980). It is interesting to try to read these inscriptions with the help of the alphabet of Murfatlar.

1. We begin with two quite short inscriptions, first of them - carved on a roof tile, and second - on a clay brick:

In another place the word IK appears again, this time - written with Greek letters on a building block (see L Doncheva -Petkova, Op. cit., table XXII, Fig. 50).

For a number of eastern peoples (for example, for the Talysh, who once inhabited the river valley of Bulgar-chaj in Caucasus) the term IK means "down, from below". Also in Georgian IK means "here, not far from" and AKE - "there above" (compare to the expression A KI from our first inscription).

It is possible that the words IK and KI in the Proto-Bulgarian inscriptions meant "above" and "under". They appear on building blocks because they directed the builders where a certain item had to be attached. The word A (in the expressions A KI and A IK) in some Caucasus languages means "these" and, therefore, A IK can be translated as THIS - HERE, DOWN, and A KI - as THIS - ABOVE. Similar terms are observed in a number of Pamirian and Dardic languages.

As in many other cases, these Proto-Bulgarian inscriptions are related to two language groups - to the eastern Iranian (with Talysh among them) and to the Caucasus languages.

Important for the final deciphering of these inscriptions are also the Celtic languages, in which the word IK means "something that is put below" (see Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic language, Glasgow, 1982, p. 211), and the expression A KI means "above on the house, on the roof " (see English Cornish Dictionary, Maracion, 1977, p. 207, 221).

2. The following inscriptions from Pliska and neighbouring settlements are not less interesting. On a stone block of a former building appears:

What did these words mean suggest again the Celtic languages. In this language group one still meets the expression HI INNES - THESE - TO THE FRONT. Therefore, this inscription was instructing the builders on which side of the fortress wall to immure this large stone block (see English Cornish Dictionary, p. 309).

3. On another stone block we find the following characters:


 
This inscription is peculiar in that, first, only the first section of it had been carved, and later - the second section. With the help of the Celtic languages the first part  can be translated as: TO JOV - GREETINGS, i.e. to Jupiter - greetings. In Celtic the name of the Jupiter sounds as JOU, and JUS is an acclamation, a call to the Gods. The word IIS, which was added lateral, corresponds to the Celtic JES: I swear!

This inscription is very characteristic. It shows that the Proto-Bulgarian language was close both to the Pamirian and to the Celtic. It should not be to a surprise, since it is known that some of the ancestors of the Celtic peoples - for example the Cimmerians, lived close to Persia in the old times.

4. On a pottery fragment, a part of a roof tile, is the short word  KUISI, which in Celtic means a "form, model". In the Cimmerian language the word sounds exactly the same as in our inscription. We do not know why this word was written on the roof tile, but it can be assumed that it served as a model for the production of roof tiles.

5. A stone block from Pliska has the following characters:

= KUTH (rear, hidden) - Celtic

This block was designated for the inner part of a wall, and this fact is confirmed by the inscription.

6. At the entrance of a cave in Kraguevo there are three characters:

The first character is a ligature of the letters H and A. The second one is a version of the letter O, known from other Proto-Bulgarian inscriptions. The third character is the well known AN, found both in Murfatlar and in Kubrat Bulgaria. The special position of AN shows the text is of two words - HAO AN.

In Celtic HA means WITH, so HAO AN could be WITH GOD FORWARD, as a similar Bulgarian expression. So it is possible HAO AN at the cave entry to represent a type of oath. But the fact that the first word is HAO permits another interpretation - among the Iranian peoples there is a greeting such as HAI and HAO, as wish for well-being, luck. Then HAO AN could also mean "I welcome you".

Another interesting detail, maybe hidden intentionally in the inscription: if the two words are read together, the result HAOAN resembles the Celtic word HAUN (entrance to a cave).

7. Another inscription -,  is carved on a stone block in Pliska (see L Doncheva Petkova, Op. cit., table XX). It is an Iranian greeting in Proto-Bulgarian environment. It is still kept in this original form - HO, by the Pamir peoples. The beginning character is to be found very frequently as an independent symbol on Proto-Bulgarian sacred items - a series of them is found on a rock in Madara:

It also appears on numerous vessels in Madara (see L Doncheva-Petkova, Op.cit., table XX). These characters point to the spiritual life of the Proto-Bulgarians, to eastern words and special greetings and oaths used by them

8. Still unexplored are also other Proto-Bulgarian inscriptions:

One meets the word AM and various forms of IO and OJI. All these inscriptions were written on roof tiles from Pliska and Madara.

AM is an eastern word for CROSS, the symbol of the cross. The Talysh word AM, which likewise means cross, is similar to the old-Egyptian word for cross ANGH, denoted by a symbol of a cross. It is worth mentioning that a similar symbol of a cross was the ideogram of the term for heaven in all cuneiform scripts (Sumerian, Accadian), although the word for "heaven" was quite different, (see G. Angelova, Morphological and syntactic structures, S., 1984, p. 2).

The Proto-Bulgarian word AM starts with a character resembling a cross. It is because in one of the versions of the Proto-Bulgarian alphabet the letter A resembled cross.

For some peoples of the east the word ANGCH meant not only a cross but also a "character, symbol" and from this came out the term ANT - "OATH". For this reason it can assumed that the expression JOAM meant "holy symbol of JO " (i.e. of Jupiter) and it was carved as a protection on the roof tile.

In those times these oaths were frequently accompanied by a ritual kissing of holy symbols. In the Celtic languages the word AM means a "kiss". It suggests that the expression JOAM referred to an old ritual expression. We meet here both the Celtic word JO (Jupiter) and the Celtic word for kiss. JO AM might mean THE OATH BEFORE JO, THE KISS OF JO or A HOLY SYMBOL OF JO.

It was one of the most difficult and most interesting Proto-Bulgarian inscriptions to translate. The form of the Proto-Bulgarian letter A coincides with the form of the Egyptian cross, but also with the fact that in the Proto-Bulgarian language the holiest ritual - the oath kiss, was called AM. Interesting is also the history of the special form of A as a cross - it was kept in Bulgaria for a very long time, perhaps because of its similarity with the glagolic A. Not long ago a ring with the inscription '+ssenov's ring' (i.e. Assenov's ring) was discovered in the church of the Assen's dynasty "Holy forty martyrs" in Veliko Turnovo. The letter A of this inscription is of exactly the same form as that in the Pliska inscription (see M. Shopova "Car's grave, discovered in Turnovo ", "24 hours", 21.07.1992.). To whom of the Assens the ring belonged still remains to be clarified, it was found in the same gallery where was the grave and the ring of Assen's I brother Kalojan. The ring belonged neither to Assen II nor to another young man of his family but most likely to Ivan Assen I. He choose the old letter for his initial probably because of its resemblance with the Christian cross.

The reference to the Proto-Bulgarian alphabet shows that he did not descend from the Cumans, as by many historians assume, but he was a Bulgarian, a quite learned Bulgarian for his time. The name Assen itself originates from the area the Proto-Bulgarians came from. One meets it in Elam under the form ASSEEN, and in Persia and Parphia - as Ahsen. Assen is not derivative of the Cuman personal name Hassan. In Elamic it meant a 'noble, dignitary', while Hassan is the Arabian form. The Assens had a high opinion of their name and attached it as a symbol of their self-confidence to their personal names: Ivan-Assen, Kalojan-Assen, Mikhail-Assen, Konstantin-Assen.

9. There are more inscriptions of oaths on the rocks around Madara. In the central sanctuary of Madara one finds for example the following short inscription:


 
The characters pertain to the version of the Proto-Bulgarian writing, common for the areas of Provadija and Targovishte. The word ANN is however well known. It resembles the symbol AN, mentioned already, and it can be connected both to the deity and to the old-Egyptian term ANKH.

The following inscription was carved on rock in Kalugerica:  = HOS. The interpretation is possible from both Iranian and Celtic. In Celtic - from the word HJUS (sacred, magic), and from Iranian - words as HUDO (God) and HASHI (sun).

Another inscription of an oath comes from Madara. The letter L in it is shown in the same way as in Ravna and Krepcha and the deciphering is relatively straightforward:


The first word 'E' means in Iranian and also in Celtic "the", and the second one 'LI' - an "oath" in Celtic. 'E LI' can be translated as "this is an oath".

A rock above Preslav has the following inscription: , denoting probably Jupiter - JOV or JOU. Likewise the word TIH above the entry of a cave in Madara, means in Celtic a "cloister, a place of solitude":

= tigh (Celtic)
 
As we see, there are very many and different in content Proto-Bulgarian inscriptions from the area around the old capital. Contrary to Murfatlar, where almost all inscriptions were religious in content, the writings in this area were used for a number of quite prosaic purposes as well - for marking stone blocks used in fortress walls, or models for the production of roof tiles and clay bricks. The Proto-Bulgarians not only had its own writing, but it was also quite common for the population of the central areas of the country. The use of two versions of the alphabet is a further proof that they had deep roots in everyday's life.

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