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II. PROTO-BULGARIAN RUNIC INSCRIPTIONS

7. The Long Inscriptions from the Churches of Murfatlar
 
From a linguistic point of view, the long inscriptions of Murfatlar are most interesting, since they contain something, which science was missing up to now - comprehensive texts in Proto-Bulgarian. So far the linguistics had at its disposal isolated words, whose meaning was inferred from Greek inscriptions and Slavic handwritings. Alternative and contradicting to one another hypotheses about the origin of the Proto-Bulgarians were advanced in the last two hundred years since the formulation of this question - the Proto-Bulgarians were proclaimed to be Turco-Tatars  (the end of the XVIII century), Finns, or for a mixture of Finns, Turcs and Slavs (the theory of Acad. Frenn). Later they were regarded as Slavs, then as Huns and even later - as Samoeds, until at the end of the nineteenth century they were said to be Chuvash . None of them looked plausible enough in order to outweigh the others.

Now for first time the science has on its disposal texts more comprehensive than the longest text in Proto-Bulgarian in Greek letters - the inscription of Nagy Saint Miklos (consisting of 9 words). Compared to the other long text in Greek letters - the inscription of Preslav, they have the advantage of presenting the real language and not just an enumeration of military articles. The longest inscription from Murfatlar consists of 35 characters comprising 11 words, the second longest one has 29 characters (10 words) (see Supplement 3, inscriptions 14, 13). The individual words of the first inscription are clearly distinguished one from another by separators typical for runic writings - colons and points.

In the second inscription, (particularly in its first section) there is a set of words marked with "tilde" which enables the distinguishing of the individual words. Another group of relatively long inscriptions there are no separators but the words are arranged in separate lines, as it is observed in the inscriptions in Proto-Bulgarian with Greek letters (see Supplement 3, inscription 20).

These features as well as a number of other details facilitate the decoding of the long inscriptions. The second longest inscription contains two quite special characters resembling those, discovered in the eastern part of the mountains Imeon and in the former Kubrat Bulgaria. Besides in Murfatlar, the first character is found in a number of holy items from other places - on a stone lion discovered in a former camp near Omurtag. It was a special Proto-Bulgarians symbol with roots in the ancient writings of Western Asia - for example in Aramaic, where it had the same appearance and phonetic value. Another character (KH) also originates from that area. It appears in the same form in inscriptions from the Imeon mountains while it was somewhat rounded in Kubrat Bulgaria. These characters clear up the still existing doubts about the Proto-Bulgarian origin of the inscriptions of Murfatlar. They are also not new to the Bulgarian Palaeographics since they, together with three other characters from Murfatlar, were discovered on a bronze rosette in Pliska (see Supplement 3, 21).

Two more characters from an inscription from Bjala (near Varna) likewise their have parallels from the Imeon mountains.

The problem with the characters was treated more extensively now, since approximately twenty years ago the Romanian researchers attempted to attribute the inscriptions of Murfatlar to the Goths. They argued that this type of inscriptions was characteristic for Murfatlar alone and differed from that in Bulgaria. As we see now, however, exactly the same writing was also used in Pliska and also in other smaller early-Bulgarian finds. The attempts to represent these inscriptions as a purely local feature of Murfatlar are completely untenable. The Gothic hypothesis is a somewhat irresponsible scientific fiction (see the well-known Gothic runic alphabet in Supplement 7).

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