6. The Voice of the Revived to Live Inscriptions

As already noticed, the alphabet of these approximately thirty inscriptions from Murfatlar, comes from the east. Similar inscriptions were found in former Kubrat Bulgaria, in Caucasus and still further to the east - at the slopes of the mountains once known as Imeon (the today's Pamir and Hindu Kush).  But not only the characters come from the east. From there come also the words of these inscriptions - quite special words, completely incomprehensible to the modern Bulgarians and, frequently, of very old origin.

On a church wall, which miraculously survived the centuries, we found completely scattered the following short inscriptions: AN UAKH, JAFJA, NIEKHES... Although the words are in these inscriptions are deeply and clearly carved, their meaning was a mystery.

What does JAFJA or EFE(...) from the church wall mean? And why does one meet the special character JA in this word so frequently in Caucasus and in Southern Dagestan? Why does it appear so frequently on holy items or in early Christian texts?! All these questions can be answered without difficulties with the help of the eastern languages. In Persian and in Tadjik JAFJA (or EHJE) means Resurrection. A number of other eastern languages -  Kabardinian, Old Syrian and Armenian, have words such as UAFE, AFE, IUV meaning, among other things, HEAVEN, HOLINESS, WORSHIP, all words connected with the religion and the heaven. The Celts, among the oldest Christian peoples of Europe, called once the gospel AVAIL (literally: heavenly song). The Old Celtic word AVA meant HEAVEN, leading to the modern Celtic words AFA, AVAN (the large, the upper one, heavenly). The scattering of these religious terms over the whole world owns to the circumstance that they were born in the lap of the oldest human civilizations - the Elamic, Sumerian and Egyptian. In all these civilizations one meets words as "AAV", "APE", "OV", connected with the heaven, among other things. The unusual harmony of the terms for heaven in the old civilizations is a mystery, still to be solved. (A prototype of JAFJA appears in the Dravidian languages. In Tamil the world in heaven is called "AHAJA", the word being close to both Sumerian and Egyptian models as well as to our word JAFJA). But since in our case this very old word was found on a church wall, it most likely expresses not an old pagan term related to heaven, but one of the holiest Christian terms - the Resurrection.

This inscription was probably left by a cleric or a believer, who stayed in Murfatlar during the day of resurrection. That JAFJA meant resurrection is further supported by the following: in a longer inscription, likewise from Murfatlar, this word is accompanied by a special character that marks the most important Christian terms in the Proto-Bulgarian writings (the already mentioned "tilde").

The other words, mentioned above, are likewise interesting. NIEKHES at one of the walls, appears under various forms - NIKA, NEIAS, NEFES etc., among many eastern peoples. In Iranian languages this word has two fundamental meanings - PRAYER and BLESSING (see Supplement 3, inscription 2.6).

The Old Iranian term of NEV (good) is the basis for this word, in even ancient languages (for example in Parthian) it was pronounced as NEG. A multiplicity of words in the Iranian languages for holy terms and wishes for luck and success was derived from this root. A similar blessing was used in Bulgaria in the Middle ages (already extinct). The greeting NE BARE TE!, which is repeated several times in one old folk song, literally meant GOOD LUCK FOR YOU! GOOD SUCCESS!, from the Persian and Parthian BARE (success, destiny).

The inscription AN UAKH, carved in large legible letters have parallels in the writings of the east (see Supplement 3, inscription 2.1).

Apart from the numerous religious words from the languages of the East there is a number of Greek religious terms on the walls - for example the word ANGEL written with mixed Slavic and Proto-Bulgarian characters (see Supplement 3, inscription 2.5).

By another inscription nearby an unknown monk or believer appealed with a prayer to Jesus. The address EISHUSO, i.e. ISUSU (Jesus) is written in uppercase letters.

The special vocative form of the word for Jesus bears eastern features, since the ending O is a form of addressing somebody (in masculine gender) in Iranian and some Caucasian languages. Apparently, it was  written by a Proto-Bulgarian and not by a Slav, as that special addressing form is untypical for the Slavic languages.

Our home authors try time and again to suggest in a rather primitive way that the Bulgarians were never particularly religious and that they were a disbelieving and sceptical people in the years of the early Christianity. The inscriptions on the walls of Murfatlar have, it seems, intentionally survived for such a long time in order to disprove this myth. They all are witnesses of the inspired adoption of the Christianity among the Bulgarians, many of them have journeyed far away in order to find in the churches salvation for their souls and healing for their physical defects.

In another place is seen a cross with the following agitating inscription: "OF ELTO, THE HOMELESS ONE, IS THIS GRAVE". It obviously refers to a vagrant who had come to the church for a pray or for a healing of his pains and who was suddenly overtaken by the death).

The first line can be also translated as "the free Elto" as far as in Talysh, which bears great similarities to Proto-Bulgarian, "O" means free. The remaining words have likewise their counterparts in Talysh, including the end word "E". The style of this inscription reminds of those found in Silistra, translated by me in an earlier book. Almost all inscriptions begin with a personal name and end with the word "E" - a style, characteristic to the Iranian languages, particularly to a number of eastern Iranian peoples Therefore, the Elto from our inscription was very probable a Proto-Bulgarian. And he had come from far away, otherwise he would not have been buried in the church.

Among the inscriptions of this type there are two, consisting of a mixture of Slavic and Proto-Bulgarian:




(see also Supplement 2).

At first everything appears to be Slavic in this text - the letters as well as the ordering of the words. On the other hand it could not be translated up to now - besides the title ZHUPAN and the name GEORGE. Despite certain similarities, the language of these inscriptions differs much from the Slavic languages. Nobody ventured so far to assume that in a state, inhabited by both Slavs and Proto-Bulgarians, some learned Proto-Bulgarian could have used Slavic in order to write down a Proto-Bulgarian phrase. There is a large number of words of eastern and above all of Pamirian origin: IMAET (GUARDIAN, GUARANTEE), ONC (one, who promises something), ESTJAK (eighty), KRAIN (gold pieces), REZHET (it is to be, it may be!). Or, reading the whole phrase:


The second inscription can be likewise translated with the help of the eastern Iranian languages:


Both inscriptions refer to gifts, once presented by rich Bulgarians to the church centre of Murfatlar. The language of these inscriptions is of the same type as that of the Proto-Bulgarian runic inscriptions. In the same time it is identical to the language of the Proto-Bulgarian inscriptions of Silistra - a Pamirian language.

Therefore there exist three types of inscriptions in Proto-Bulgarian - the first ones are the inscriptions in Greek, they are relatively thoroughly studied, the second type are the inscriptions in Proto-Bulgarian runic characters, and the third, the most poorly studied and even remained unnoticed up to now, type was written in Slavic letters. The language in all these inscriptions, notwithstanding the different characters used, is one and the same.

Let us continue with the review of Murfatlar's texts.

Monks or believers, who carved the inscriptions into the walls, wanted to preserve things, held important by them. And one of the things, the educated humans were always occupied with was the observation of the celestial bodies. There are three inscriptions in Murfatlar dealing with this subjects, they all written with Proto-Bulgarian characters. In two of them appears separated the letter SH, which also denoted the number 7. The first inscription is relatively short, it contains the message: THE MOVING STARS ARE SEVEN. Below it is the word DI, which in Celtic and in some Iranian languages means EXACTLY.


All words in the inscription are eastern Iranian: OUOV is translated as a moving star (compare it with the Pamirian OUTOB - sun, and the Talysh OV - moon), IU means "are", and the definite article "E" in the beginning of the inscription.

From a modern point of view the message of the inscription is not quite precise, but once it was thought there were exactly seven moving stars: the Sun, the Moon and the five known planets - Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn. The idea of the seven heavenly bodies developed into the conception of today's week, in which the days of the week are named after the Sun, Moon, ... - Sunday, Monday, etc.

A large part of the remaining texts has a religious content. For example:




The latter inscription is from the eastern altar of one of the four churches.



The words are eastern, above all Iranian: HUDO (God), used up to now in Pamir, ZHJANE (release, salvation), etc. The name of Christ proves the Christian character of the inscriptions.

Three inscriptions, however, attract particular interest, since they somewhat differ from the common Christian texts. Two of them are very similar and will be analysed together:

In both appears the religious word "UM", which meant "faith" in the eastern Iranian languages. In the first case it is connected with the the zoroastrian word JASD, and in the second - with "HUCA" (GOD), a word of Iranian origin. These inscriptions contain reminiscences of the old heathen religion of the Proto-Bulgarians. They were probably connected with the drawing of the zoroastrian temple, mentioned earlier. Very strange is also the following inscription, consisting of two sections:

The interpretation is very difficult because some characters appear above the line but the text begins with an Iranian type word OBJAZHJEK (hanged), the next word is ORD (heathen, criminal). That suggests the inscription refers to an execution of a criminal or a heathen.

The following short inscription is also connected with the old heathen religion:

ZHIZH or ZIZH. With such a word  the Iranian and some Caucasian peoples denote holy items and amulets, and this is probably meaning of this inscription (see Supplement 3, inscription 4).

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