You are on page 1of 27




(Mamlekhet ha-Kuzarim) One legend of the origin of the Turks relates how a boy is nurtured back to health by a she-wolf, who later becomes pregnant by him and gives birth in a cavern to ten boys who take the name Ashina and “in front of the gate to the camp the Turks placed a standard with a wolf’s head on it, so as to show that they had not forgotten their origins”. (Sinor, “Legendary Origin,” 224- 25, see also 233-35 and Golden, “Imperial,” 42-43)


The Gokturk rulers originated from the Ashina tribe, an Altaic people who lived in the northern corner of the area presently called Xinjiang. Under their leadership, the Gokturks rapidly expanded to rule huge territories in north-western China, North Asia and Eastern Europe (as far west as the Crimea).

"Of all the astonishing experiences of the widely dispersed Jewish people none was more extraordinary than that concerning the Khazars." (Nathan Ausubel in Pictorial History of the Jewish People,1953)"

The Khazars too claimed the status of a Chosen Race, who made their own Covenant with the Lord, even though they were not descended from Abraham's seed." (Koestler, The Thirteenth Tribe, p. 66). With the discovery of haplogroup Q among Ashkenazi Jews, DNA researchers may have found the Smoking gun” of Khazarian ancestry.


I agree that it is likely that the presence of haplogroup Q among Ashkenazic Jews could come from descent from the Khazars". (Kevin Brook, author of The Jews of Khazaria (Second Edition: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006) in open respond to D.Howard administrator of Ashkenazi-Q Yahoo group)

"The population geneticist Nathaniel Michael Pearson worked with the Human Genome Project a few years ago and helped to collect DNA samples from North Caucasians, Turks, Sino-Tibetans, and other groups. Pearson is of Ukrainian Jewish background and compared his paternal Y-chromosome sample to those of men from other groups.

His DNA matched with an Uzbekistani Uzbek, an Uzbekistani Tajik, and two men from New Delhi in northern India. Pearson believes that the Central Asian haplotype he has could be connected to the Khazar Turks. However, he told me that this haplotype "Appears at only a couple percent frequency in a large Ashkenazi sample (and strangely shows a slightly higher, but still very low, frequency among Moroccan Jews)".

In other words, this particular possibly-Khazar ancestral strain represents a minority rather than a majority of Eastern European Jews." (From (by Kevin A.Brook)

A study published in 2004 by Stephen L. Zegura states that "The mutational age of Q-P36*, the marker defining the entire Q lineage, is 17,700 ± 4,820 years BP", and that its original source is the region of the Altay Mountains near the borders of Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and China (Zegura 2004, pp. 164-175).

Haplogroup Q has been found in approximately 4% of Southern Altaians and 32% of Northern Altaians,16% of Tuvans, and 3% of Uyghurs, all of which are Turkic peoples inhabiting parts of Central Asia and southern Siberia. Haplogroup Q is found in approximately 3% of males in Tibet and Mongolia./ Q (Y-DNA/ Q1b (M378) found in 5% of Ashkenazi Jews Found at low frequency among samples of Hazara, Sindhis.

("Sengupta2006"-Sanghamitra Sengupta, Lev A. Zhivotovsky, Roy King, S.Q. Mehdi, Christopher A. Edmonds, Cheryl-Emiliane T. Chow, Alice A. Lin, Mitashree Mitra, Samir K. Sil, A. Ramesh, M.V. Usha Rani, Chitra M. Thakur, L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Partha P. Majumder, and Peter A. Underhill, "Polarity and Temporality of High-Resolution Y-Chromosome Distributions in India Identify Both Indigenous and Exogenous Expansions and Reveal Minor Genetic Influence of Central Asian Pastoralists,"The American Journal of Human Genetics'', Volume 78, Issue 2, 202-221, 1 February


There is a rough correlation between the Turkic-speaking peoples of Central Eurasia and Q. / Q (Y-DNA/ The Ashina Royal Dynasty (CLAN) also originated from the Altai Mountain region;" ...

Two stages can be isolated within the history of origin of the Old Turks reconstructed on the base of the Old Turkic ethnogenealogical legends. The first one is attributed to the time span lasted up to the middle of the 5 century when tribes of Gorny and Mongolian Altai merged in the tribal alliance headed by Nadulushud. By "common consent" he was called Turk ('strong', 'robust').

The second stage began in the middle of the 5. century when "500 FAMILIES" OF THE ASHINA CLAN headed by Asyanshud were moved by the Rurans from Gaochang to the southern part of the Altai. Here the migrants joined the ranks of the Turk tribal unit. Probably it was a peaceful migration of the Ashina clan being cognate in language (though L.N. Gumilev considered them to be Mongolian speaking) and similar in the type of economic activity (nomadic cattlebreading)to aborigines of the Altai. This is proved by the fact that the Ashina "500 families" also assumed the name of Turks." (S.P.Nesterov, The Old Turks in Central Asia and Southern Siberia) Khan (sometimes spelled as Xan, Han, Ke-Han, Turkic: Khan, Mongolian: Qaan) is an originally Central Asian title for a sovereign or military ruler, first used by medieval Altaic-speaking nomadic tribes living to the north of China. Originally just the title for a tribal leader in the Rouran confederation,it was subsequently adopted by the Gokturks before later Turkic peoples and the Mongols brought it to the rest of Asia.

It now has many equivalent meanings such as commander, leader, or ruler. (source; Wikipedia article about Khan title) Khagan or Great Khan (Old Turkic kaɣan ; Mongolian: хаган; Chinese: 可汗; pinyin:

kèhán; alternatively spelled Chagan, Khaghan, Kagan, Kağan, Qagan, Qaghan), is a title of imperial rank in the Turkic and Mongolian languages equal to the status of emperor and someone who rules a Khaganate (empire, greater than an ordinary Khanate, but often referred to as such in western languages). It may also be translated as Khan of Khans, equivalent to King of Kings.(source; Wikipedia article about Khagan title) Bey is a Turkish title for "Chieftain" traditionally applied to the leaders of small tribal groups.

In historical accounts, many Turkish, other Turkic and Persian leaders are titled Bey, Beg, Bek, Bay, Baig or Beigh. They are all the same word with the simple meaning of "Lord" The regions or provinces where Beys (The equivalent of Duke in Europe) ruled or which they administered were called Beylik, roughly meaning "emirate" or "principality" in the first case, "province" or "governorate" in the second (the equivalent of duchy in Europe).

Today, the word is used as a social title for men (like the English word "mister"). (source; Wikipedia article about BEG title) The R1a (R1a1) lineage is believed to have originated in the Eurasian Steppes north of the Black & Caspian Seas. This lineage is thought to descend from a population of the Kurgan culture, known for the domestication of the horse (circa 3000 B.C.E.). These people were also believed to be the first speakers of the Indo-European language group. This lineage is found in central & western Asia, India, and in Slavic populations of Europe.Haplogroup R1b is the most common haplogroup in European populations. It is believed to have expanded throughout Europe

as humans re-colonized after the last glacial maximum 10-12 thousand years ago. This lineage is also the haplogroup containing the Atlantic modal haplotype. Hypotetic origin of Ashina aristocracy; The origins of the Huns that swept through Europe during the 4th Century remain unclear.

However, mainstream historians consider them as a group of nomadic tribes from Central Asia probably ruled by "A Turkic-speaking aristocracy". /

/"Ashina-the Royal clan of the Blue Turks (and possibly earlier the Huns) and later of the




J. Finkelshteyn/ Ashina aristocracy origin from historical records; Between the

years 265 and 460 the Ashina had been part of various late Xiongnu confederations. About 460 they

were subjugated by the Rouran, who ousted them from Xinjiang into the Altay Mountains, where the Ashina gradually emerged as the leaders of the early Turkic confederation, known as the Gokturks.

By the 550s, Bumin Khan felt strong enough to throw off the yoke of the Rouran domination and established the Gokturks Empire, which flourished until the 630s and from 680s until 740s. The Orkhon Valley in Mongolia was the centre of the Ashina power.

On basis of Chinese records, we could tell that Ashina Turks were acting more as a noble or royal line which played the role of a political entity unifying various Turkic speaking tribes. ( The Ashina Royal Dynasty was also known as "Desert aristocracy" and it was ruling class of a number of central Asian empires, and eventually it became the ruling class (nobility) and khagans (emperors) of the Khazarian Khaganate in the early middle age (in year 656, after the collapse of the Gokturk Empire under pressure from the resurgent Uyghurs, branches of the Ashina clan moved westward to Europe, where they became the Kaghans of the Khazars/-after the collapse of the Gokturk empire, branches of the Ashina clan seized control of the Khazars and possibly other nomadic peoples).

KHAZARS, a national group of general Turkic type, independent and sovereign in Eastern Europe between the seventh and tenth centuries C.E. During part of this time the leading Khazars professed Judaism. The name is frequently pronounced with an a-vowel, as in the Greek Χάξαροι and Arabic Khazar (azar), but there are traces of a different pronunciation in Hebrew (Kuzari, pl. Kuzarim), Greek (Χότξιροι), and Chinese (Kʿo-sa). The name has been explained as having derived from Turkish qazmak ("to wander," "nomadize (?)"), or from quz ("side of mountain exposed to the north").

The latter etymology would account for the o/u-vowel in some forms of the name, for which no satisfactory explanation has been given.

Khazars (Chazars; Hazars). Turkish or Finnish tribe which settled in the lower Volga region.From the 8th to the 10th centuries the Khazar state extended westward as far as Kiev.In the 8th century a Judaizing movement manifested itself among the the people their king, Bulan, and thousands of nobles converted to Judaism.The central theme of Judah ha-Levi's Kuzari is the legendary disputation which resulted in this conversion. Chasdai ibn Shaprut believed that the Khazars were one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel; according to tradition, he entered into correspondence with their

king, Joseph, in the 10th century” (The Blackwell Dictionary of Judaica, p.290; c1992, Blackwell

Publishers: Oxford, England).

"Although basically Turkic, the Khazar state bore little resemblance to the other Turkic empires of

central Eurasia. It was headed by a secluded supreme ruler of semireligious character called a

khaganwho wielded little real powerand by tribal chieftains, EACH KNOWN AS A

BEG."(Encyclopedia Britannica)

According to The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia the ruling class of the Khazarian Empire -


from ancient "Turkish" Tengrism converted to Judaism in the 8th century.

While the kingdom and ruling class were officially Jewish, the Khazars did not adopt forced

conversion. "The Khazars originated from the distant East, from the border areas of China. In the

seventh century, they were swept by the Great Migrations to the mouth of the River Volga and the

shores of the Caspian Sea. Here the Khazars conquered Onogur and Bulgar-Turkic tribes who spoke

another Turkic dialect. In the seventh and eighth centuries, this new empire halted Arab

expansionism, established contact with Byzantium, and became a decisive force between the

Caspian Sea and the River Don up to the middle of the tenth century.

Land cultivation, animal husbandry and handicrafts flourished in the empire. Merchants traded not

only with Byzantium, but also with the Arab-Persian world and the distant East. The kagans did not

prohibit the activities of Christian and Moslem missionaries. Both religions maintained places or

worship and schools on Khazar land. Out of political considerations, however, the kagans and their

retinues embraced a third great monotheist religion, Judaism. This was to avoid pressure on them

from the Byzantine Empire and the various Arab emirates. The peoples of the Khazar Khanate had

a more advanced way of life than those of the Central Asian Turkic tribes, whose chief occupation

was nomadic animal husbandry.

The level of its agriculture and handicrafts industry matched contemporary European standards. In

terms of commercial development it even exceeded them. However, the empire was a loosely

organized entity, with the fluctuating numbers of subjugated peoples rather than fixed boundaries

determining its size.

The Magyar tribal alliance constituted one such subjugated people."György Balázs, The Magyars.

Budapest: Corvina, 1989 According to the scholar Robert M. Seltzer, “The Judaism of the Khazars

has been much discussed but the historical evidence is very limited. Only the ruling class of the

Khazars became Jews ” ...

Raphael Patai states: “For more than two centuries Judaism was the religion of the ruling class while

other religions, notably Islam, but also Christianity, were extensively practiced among the people.”

Abba Eban has written:


rulers of the Khazars apparently converted to Judaism at the end of

the eighth century, although the majority of the population appears to have remained either Christian

or Moslem.”

"In 1016 the descendants of the Jewish royal family fled to their coreligionists in Spain. Many of the

Jewish Khazars, however, continued to live in the Crimea


the majority of the early Khazar

proselytes were scattered over the neighboring countries, introducing Jewish ideals among their

Christian neighbors



Jacob S. Raisin, in Gentile Reactions to Jewish Ideals (New York, NY:

Philosophical Library, 1953), page 691.

Stephen Lowe stated;"It appears from contemporary accounts, particularly from Arab sources, that

the conversion to Judaism was largely confined to the ruling class the Khaqan and his immediate

côterie. They showed a level of religious toleration unusual in a mediaeval society – there seems to

have been no effort at forcible conversion. The Khazar population included many Christians, Muslims,

and pagans in their ranks, and the major cities contained churches and mosques."

"In this city (Khazaran-Itil) are Muslims, Christians, Jews and pagans. The Jews are the king, his

attendants and the Khazars of his kind. (footnote: 'i.e., presumably THE RULING TRIBE of ‘White


(Koestler, pp. 15,60) "According to Ibn Fadlan, Ibn Dastah, and others, ONLY THE KING AND THE

GRANDEES WERE FOLLOWERS OF JUDAISM. The rest of the Khazars were Christians,

Mohammedans, and heathens; and THE JEWS WERE IN A GREAT MINORITY." (Jewish

Encyclopedia) "The conversion of the LEADING KHAZARS to Judaism perhaps took place toward

740 C.E." (Jewish Encyclopedia)

"The most striking characteristic of the Khazars was the apparent adoption of Judaism BY THE


The circumstances of the conversion remain obscure, the depth of their adoption of Judaism difficult

to assess; but the fact itself is undisputed and UNPARALLELED in central EURASIAN HISTORY. A

few scholars have even asserted that the Judaized Khazars were the remote ancestors of many

eastern European and Russian Jews. Whatever the case may be, religious tolerance was practiced

in the Khazar empire, and paganism continued to flourish among the population." (Encyclopedia

Britannica) "In the town (Atil, the capital of Khazaria) are people of the Muslims, more than 10,000,

it is said.

They have about





a Jew ...The

Khazars’ smallest group is the





"Their supreme ruler is a Jew


rest of them have a religion like the religion of the Turks." (Dunlop,

The History Of The Khazars, quoting Arab sources)

"Most Khazars practiced shamanist-Täri religion. In the late eighth to early ninth century (but perhaps

as late as 861), THE KHAZAR RULING ELITE CONVERTED TO JUDAISM. While many questions

remain concerning this conversion and its pervasiveness, it is clear that by accepting Judaism, the

ruling class made Khazaria a religious neutral zone for its warring Christian and Islamic neighbors.

Religious tolerance and Khazaria's international commercial interests brought Christians, Muslims,

Jews, pagans, and others to trade and live within the kaghanate."(Russian History Encyclopedia)

"Vasilyev said the limited number of Jewish religious artifacts such as mezuzahs and Stars of David

found at other Khazar sites PROVE THAT ORDINARY KHAZARS preferred traditional beliefs such

as Tengrism, or newly introduced religions including Islam.

Yevgeny Satanovsky, director of the Middle Eastern Institute in Moscow, said he thinks the KHAZAR

ELITE CHOSE JUDAISM out of political expediency: to remain independent of neighboring Muslim

and Christian states. "They embraced Judaism because they wanted to remain neutral, like

Switzerland these days," he said."

(Associated Press) Tests of Y-DNA of Ashkenazi Jews in significant part or completely confirmed

above stated facts. Presence of haplogroup R (R1a, R1a1 etc.) in the Ashkenazi genetic pool

(presented in 12% or more) is seen (in largest portion), by some researchers, as supporting evidence

of possible conversion of part of general population of Khazaria, as well as pre-Jewish priesthood

(Qam's)/as described in several reports/, or due to the great number of Levits among them as well

as DNA imprint of the Khazar royalty.

The other religions were not only tolerated, but were an integral part of the Khazar structure. Thus,

the court of Itil (the capital) had seven judges. Two judged the Jews (ruling according to Jewish law),

two judged the Christians (ruling according to Christian law), two judged the Mulims (according to

the Koran), and one judge judged those who had retained the Turkic Shamanistic religion (according

to their law). Khazaria as a nation, collapsed first in 11th and finally in the 13th century, and it is

considered that only a minor part of Ashkenazi Jewish population originate from it.

DNA studies of Ashkenazi Jews confirmed this consideration (up to some 17-30% /R1a, R1a1, R1b,

G,Q etc



in total of Ashkenazi Jewish population originate from Khazarian Empire).

Up to some 5% percent of Ashkenazi Jews have a very narrow and unique genetic trail which is

placed in haplogroup Q (Q1b), which means that , following genetic/time calculations, a common

male ancestor lived aprox. 1000 years ago. Significant numbers of them have oral traditions to be

Levites. "Talmudic sources may possibly be interpreted to support the notion of differences in the

social, religious, and legal barriers that relate to the assumption of Cohen and Levite status.

These include descriptions of the possible assumption of Levite status other than through patrilineal

descent, in a Talmudic passage describing a debate regarding the potential assignment of Levite

status to a man (and his descendants) whose father was a non-Jew and whose mother was the

daughter of a Levite. Such differences could have provided the backdrop for the sanctioned

acceptance of Levite status other than through patrilineal descent."

(Multiple Origins of Ashkenazi Levites: Y Chromosome Evidence for Both Near Eastern and

European Ancestries- Doron M. Behar, Mark G. Thomas, Karl Skorecki,1 Michael F. Hammer,

Ekaterina Bulygina, Dror Rosengarten, Abigail L. Jones, Karen Held, Vivian Moses, David Goldstein,

Neil Bradman, and Michael E. Weale Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine and Research Institute,

Technion and Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, Israel; The Centre for Genetic Anthropology and The

Centre for Population Genetics and Human Health, Department of Biology, University College

London, London; and Division of Biotechnology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ)

Therefore, this project is also the Ashkenazi Levite project, as well. Accounts of the Gokturk and

Khazar khaganates suggest that the Ashina clan was accorded SACRED, perhaps QUASI-DIVINE

STATUS in the shamanic religion practiced by the steppe nomads of the first millennium CE /The

pagan Turks believed that their Ashina Qaghans ruled by virtue of heavenly mandated charisma

(QUT). Since their blood could not be shed, dethroned Qaghans were strangled with a silk cord. The

investiture ceremonies of the Ashina Turks and Khazar Qaghans included ritual near-strangulation.


collective sovereignty over their realms resulting in frequent succession struggles/.

Peter B. Golden states; "The ruling house and core tribes of the Khazar empire did not share the

same tribal or, in many instances, ethnic origins as those of the Qaganate’s diverse subject


The Khazar rulers were heirs of the Turk qaganal charisma. Although aspects of sacral rule and dual

kingship can be seen in the Turk and other Inner Asian nomad-based empires, it was only in Khazaria

that the Qagan became a sacralised, tabuised figure. This transformation occurred in the 9th century

and may reflect the influence of the Ors, the Khwârazmian-Iranian guard of the Qagan and the chief

minister drawn from their ranks".

Haplogroup Q is one of the basic haplogroups of the Mongolic race, and it is almost absent from

European population, where is represented mainly in Jewish community/and communities with

Jewish and Viking ancestry (please check;







In circumstances when we still don't have any old DNA samples /and that cannot be expected in

foreseeable future/, unique historical event of the Khazarian (Turko-Mongolic Ashina) royalty and

nobility /and priesthood/ conversion to Judaism (this event was not recorded and not known in any

other nation including any of 25 or more vassal nations or tribes of Khazars) give us opportunity to

scientifically track down and uncover most possible descendants of this particular branch of the


Extract from "THE NOMADS OF THE STEPPE" (; The

KHAZARS The Khazars were a Turkic-speaking nation of semi-nomadic steppe dwellers living to the

northwest of the Caspian Sea, near the portage between the Volga and Don Rivers. Proselytized by

both Christian and Muslim missionaries, they took the remarkable step of converting to Judaism as

a way of side-stepping potential domination by either the Byzantine Empire or the Caliphate.

Thereafter, they contained Muslim expansion beyond the Caucasus for several hundred years. Their

Kingdom disintegrated in the 10th century, and they were dispersed as a people after the 13th.


I have information on both the Khagans and also the military commanders, the Beks, and so include

both. *

Early Khazar rulers ...*

Khozarig (Eponymous folk-ancestor) *




450's *

Khazar Khagans (Ashina dynasty) The Khagans were the supreme chiefs of the people, holding a

position of much influence and spiritual authority, but not much actual day-to-day command.*

Ziebel (Same as Tun Yabgu Khan in Sogdiana) 618-630* .......




Irbis ? ..........................................


650 *

In this period of time (650's-680's), one will sometimes see references to a Khalga, fl. mid 660's, and

a Kaban, fl. late 660's. Researchers should be aware that these names are derived from a single

document, the Djagfar tarikhy, and that this document has been severely attacked by a great many

scholars as being a mixture of factual data and outright fabrications.

The Djagfar Tarikhy purports to be a compiliation of early Bulgar historical information, assembled

(or at least written in it's present form) in the late 17th century. It has been used by Volgan Tatars to

provide documentation for extending their antecedents in their region back in time by many centuries.

It's critics claim it to be a forgery created by or at the behest of the Soviet Secret Police (Then the

NKVD) in the 1930's, for the purpose of creating divisiveness and factionalism within the ethnic

Tatars of that era. It is known that the Soviet government did create spurious historical documents

on several occasions. The historicity of people that it refers to is questionable therefore, so until such

time as there may come to light additional documentation, Khalga and Kaban should be regarded

warily at best. * Busir (Ibuzir Glavan)


c.690-715 *

Busir Glavan took in the exiled Byzantine Emperor Justinian II and gave him his own sister (baptismal

name Theodora). He later tried to kill Justinian to placate Tiberius III (to be fair, attempting to kill

Justinian II was a fairly common passtime of the period), causing Justinian's flight to Bulgaria and

his ultimate restoration to the throne. *




late 720's-731 *

Barjik is famous for having annihilated an Arab army outside Ardebil (NW Iran) in 730, taking

thousands of prisoners and plundering the region until his defeat and death at Mosul a year later.

The victory at Ardebil was such a blow to the Arab psyche that for years it was referred to as "the

Ardebil catastrophe." *




c. 732 *

Bihar is the name given in some sources to the Khazar Khagan whose daughter Tzitzak married the

future Byzantine Emperor Constantine V. Their son was Leo IV, called "Leo The Khazar". * Prisbit

(fem.)(Regent ?)


late 730's *


To the Caliphate


740 *



c. 760 *


Xan-Tuvan Dyggvi


825-830 d. ? *




Arab sources speak of "Tarkhan, King of the Khazars" during this period. Tarkhan can be both a

proper name and a military rank, and it is unclear whether the sources refer to a Khagan named

Tarkhan or are merely a confused reference to a general. *




860's * ?? *

Khazar Beks The Beks were warlords, military commanders who exercised considerable day-to-

day authority, and were sometimes regarded by outsiders as the supreme lords of the Khazar

Nation. It is not entirely clear that the individuals listed before 737 were or were not Bulanids, or

were Beks - they may have been simply warlords. Nevertheless, their activity parallels that of later

Beks, and so they are included. * Yazir Bulash *

Chorpan Tarkhan


600's *

Alp Tarkhan


700's *



c. 730 *

Hazer Tarkhan


? -737 *

To the Caliphate


740 *

Hazer's army was annihilated at Itil in 737: The Caliphate imposed Islam upon the Khazars.

Nevertheless, the Caliphs could not adequately garrison Khazaria, and within a few years the

Khazars were once again independent. The famous conversion to Judaism seems to have occured

about this time. The date of the actual conversion to Judaism is a matter of some controversy.

Traditionally it occurred around 740, though some Arab sources point to a date closer to the end of

the 700s/early 800's and more recent scholars postulated that 861, the date of St. Cyril's visit to

Khazaria, was the year of the conversion to Judaism.

The 2002 discovery of a coin hoard in Sweden further complicates the issue, as some of the coins

bear dates from the early 800's and the legends "Ard al-Khazar" (Land of the Khazars) and "Moses

is the Prophet of God". Bulan Sabriel was the Khazar ruler at the time of the conversion, but all the

dates up to Aaron I are based on a 740 conversion date. *

Bulanid dynasty *

Bulan Sabriel


c. 740 *



786-809 *

Hezekiah * Manasseh I * Chanukkah * Isaac * Zebulun * Manasseh II * Nisi *




c. 900 *

Menahem * Benjamin


fl. c. 920 *

Aaron II


late 920's -940 *



940-965 *

Joseph corresponded with Hisdai ibn Shaprut, a Jewish vizier to Abd al-Rahman III, Caliph of

Cordova. It is from this letter that the preceding list is taken. It is not 100% clear that the Bulanids

were in fact not Khagans, though their power certainly appears to be that of the Beks. Moreover, it

is possible that the positions merged in the 900's, as Joseph makes no reference to a colleague,

instead referring to himself as "King of the Khazars." *

In 969 Sviatoslav of Kiev sacked Itil, the capital of the Khazar Khaganate. Khazar successor states

appear to have survived in the Caucasus and around the Black Sea.

We know of two later Khazar rulers: *

David (in Taman)



986-988 *

Georgius Tzul (In Kerch)


? -1016 *

Georgius Tzul was captured by a joint Rus-Byzantine expedition and his state was destroyed. Shortly

thereafter the Kipchaks became masters of the Pontic steppe (see Cumans). However, there

continue to be tantalizing references in Muslim sources of battles against "Khazars" in the Caucasus

well into the late 1000's- whether Khazar states continued to survive or their name was used

generically to describe Caucasian highlanders is unclear. The fate of the Jewish Khazars is unclear.

Jewish travellers of the 1100s continue to refer to them in passing. Khazar Jews are known to have

lived in Kiev and even to have emigrated to Spain, Egypt, and Iraq. The majority may have gone to

Hungary, Poland and the Crimea, mingling with Jews in those areas and with later waves of Jewish

immigrants from the west. Genetic testing has disproven that Ashkenazi Jews are primarily

descended from the Khazars, but some admixture is highly probable. Note also, the name "Khazaria"

survived, at least for a time, as the general label for the region of Crimea and the lands beside the

Sea of Azov utilized by Genoese merchant-colonizers in the area.


KHAZAR DATELINE /PARTIAL: West Turkic Kaganate ceased to exist forever. 656 Campain of Chinese Empire Tan

West Turkic Kaganate ceased to exist forever.

656 Campain of Chinese Empire Tan against

West Turkic Khaganate.

(657-700) Sogdiana (Chinese "Kang-chu")

occupied by Chinese Resistance of Baiyrku,

Sige, Bugu and Tonra tribes against Chinese


657 657-659 Demise of West Turkic Kaganate.

659 W Turkic Kagan Yshbara Khan died.

  • 659 Unnamed members of West Turkic Kaganate royal Ashina clan move to western ulus E of Itil.

  • 660 Pletneva: 660 (provisional date) Migration of Khan Asparuh horde to Danube ?

  • 682 Mission of Albania bishop Israil to Hunno-Savirs.

  • 684 Invasion of Khazars to S.Caucasia.

  • 695 Dethronement of Justinian II Cut-nose (685-695 d. 711) and his refuge in Kherson

  • 705 Byzantian emperor Justinian II Cut-nose (705-711 restored)

  • 711 Execution of Justinian II Cut-nose, Khazars attack of S.Caucasia.

  • 713 Capture of Derbent by Arab commander Maslama and intrusion of his armies into depth of


  • 717 Byzantian emperor Leo III from Isaurian mountains (717-741) with strong Turkic domestic and

foreign orientation.

  • 721 Arab commander Jerrah campaign to Khazaria, capture of Belendjer.

  • 723 723-724 Arab commander Jerrah campaigns against Alans.

  • 730 Acceptance of Judaism by Khazarian Kagan Bulan of Ashina dynasty

  • 730 730-731 Khazarian campaigns against Albania, capture of its capital Ardebil, defeat of Jerrah

Arab army.

  • 732 Leo III Isaur's son prince Constantin Copronim's (Constantine V, 741-775) dynastic marriage to

sister of Khazarian Kagan Chichak (Empress Irina) from Ashina clan.

  • 732 Arab commander Mervan campaign to Derbent and Belendjer ("Muddy Campaign")

  • 735 Arab commander Mervan campaign to Khazaria, catastrophic defeat of Khazarian army

  • 737 Acceptance by Khazarian Kagan Bardjil of Islam as a condition of staying in power.

  • 740 Byzantian emperor Constantine V (741-775), half Khazar and partially Turk on father's side

786 Baghdad Caliph Harun-ar-Rashid (786-809)

  • 787 787-791 John the Goth revolt in Byzantian Crimea supported by Khazars.

  • 799 799-809 Reforms of Khazarian Kagan Obadia, official acceptance of Judaism as a state religion

with continued policy of religious tolerance.

  • 810 810-820 Revolt of Tengrian Kabars in Khazarian Kaganate. Kabar clans eventually migrate to

Pannonia, join Hungarians, and assimilate.

  • 822 822-836 Intrusion of Hungarians into Black Sea Coast where? against whom?

  • 829 Byzantian emperor Theophilus (829-842)

  • 834 Byzantian mission to Khazaria purportedly for construction of fortress in Sarkel, but not doing it

  • 860 860-862 Kushtan (Constantine)-Baksan (baptized Cyril on his deathbed), brother of Bandja

(baptized Methodius), travel to Khazaria.

  • 883 883-885 Conquest of Acathyrs (Slav. Drevlyan, i.e Foresters), and switch of some Seber clans

(Slav. Severyan) and Radimiches to Salahbi Yolyg (yolyg means "divinator, prophet") (Slav. Oleg,

aka Veschiy Oleg, i.e Oleg the Seer, 882-916) of incipient Kyiv Rus.

  • 889 Intrusion of Badjanks (Besenyos), displaced by Oguses from Yaik steppes, into N.Pontic steppes

  • 890 Arbat (Arpad) Madjar of Dulo clan (ca 895-907), senior son of Bulgarian Kaan Almysh (895-925,

baptized Djafar in 922) displaced chieftain Kurszán of Magyars (Madjars) as Prince of Magyars,

future Hungarians, and established Arpad dynasty. Kurszán is moved to sacral figurehead position

of the horde's tribal confederation. Hungarians escape Khazarian domination after 3-years stay in

Lebedia in Khazarian territory, and moving to Atelkuzy (future Bessarabia). Arbat (Arpad) Madjar

must have been Bulgarian governor of N.Pontic ulus where Magyars led by chieftain Lebed stayed

for 3-years.

  • 894 Hungarian campaign to Danube 895 Defeat of Hungarians by Badjanks (Besenyos), retreat of

Hungarians to Atelkuzu (future Bessarabia)

  • 909 Capture by Ruses of Abesgun island in Caspian Sea

  • 912 Reign of Ummayad Caliph Abdarrahman III (912-961)

  • 913 Joined attack of Badjanks (Besenyos), Oguzes and Ases (Alans ) on Khazars

  • 913 Raid of Rus state pirates on Caspian Sea coastal population headed by Salahbi Yolyg (Slav.

Oleg, aka Veschiy Oleg, i.e Oleg the Seer, 882-916)

  • 915 First encounter of Badjanks (Besenyos) with Rus and their peace with prince Ugyr Lachini (916-

945, Slav. Igor the Old, son of Lachyn Dulo, aka Rürik, 855-882) 922 Travel of Ibn-Fadlan to Itil


  • 932 Khazar-Alan war ends with victory of Khazars. Alans remain in Khazarian sphere as autonomous

state and multiple Alanian colonies along Don-Severskiy Donets area

  • 943 943-944 Raid of Rus state pirates on Caspian Sea coastal population including a winter in

captured city Berda

  • 954 954-961 Correspondence of Hasdai Ibn-Shafrut with Khazarian Kagan Joseph

  • 965 Campaign of Kyiv Prince Barys (945-972, Slav. Svyatoslav I, son of Ugyr-Igor) on Khazars,

capture of Itil and Sarkel. In Russian historiography this event is termed a dissolution of Khazar

Kaganate and disappearance of its peoples

  • 966 Switch of Nukrat (Slav. Vyatka, from Bulgarian Batysh = western, i.e Western Kipchaks)

province's Khazarian tribute obligations from Khazaria to Kyiv Rus scored by Kyiv Prince Barys (945-

972, Slav. Svyatoslav I)

  • 977 977-985 Khazars turn to Horesm for help, Horesm help comes conditioned by conversion of

Khazars to Islam and with occupation of Khazaria's Itil and some other cities by Horesmians

  • 981 981-982 Conquest campaign of prince Kyiv Prince Vladimir son of Barys (Svyatoslavich) against

western (Slav. Vyatka, from Turk. Batysh = western) Kipchak tribe

  • 985 Kyiv Prince Vladimir's raid against Itil Bulgaria and Khazaria

  • 986 Khazars present Judaism to Knyaz Vladimir of Kiev, Itil Bolgars present Islam. 1000 Khazars in

Kievan Rus are Slavicized and adopt East Slavic language(1000-1300).

  • 1016 Last Khazar Khagan Georgius Tzul is cuptured by combined army of Byzantine Basil II and

Sfengus, brother of Kiev's Grand Prince Vladimir. Khazaria loses last independence and territories

of Crimea and Taman.

  • 1035 Established fort Khazar (Voronej) 1050 Before 800, Alans or Asses lived, together with

Besenyos, around lower reaches of the Amu-darya (Uzboy) flowing into Caspian Sea, and later, after

river changed its course, they migrated to coast of Sea of the Khazars

  • 1079 Khazars take prisoner Rus prince Oleg (Slav. Oleg Svyatoslavich) who was prince of captured

city Tamiyatarkhan (Slav. Tmutarakan) ship him to Byzantium

  • 1083 Rus prince Oleg returned to city Tamiyatarkhan (Slav. Tmutarakan) and retaliated to Khazars

  • 1096 Per Rabbi Nissim, seventeen Khazarian communities join nomads (Kengeres, Bolgars, Oguses)

  • 1206 Khazar Jews are reported to use a form of Cyrillic script.

  • 1222 Kotyan Khan's Cumans, Bulgars, Khazars and Alans in first fight with Mongol-Tatars, accept

promise not to harm them as speakers of the same Kipchak dialect to withdraw, but are attacked and

defeated. Capital of Alania Magas (Meget) is seized

  • 1242 End of Daghestani Khazar Kingdom.

  • 1300 Descendants of Jewish Khazars in Eastern Europe adopt Yiddish language (1300-1500).

  • 1309 Hungarian Christian clergy edicts that Catholics cannot marry "Khazars".

  • 1349 Hungarian Jews, partly of Khazar origin, resettle in Poland and Austria.




About 960


  • I wish to inform you that your beautifully phrased letter was given us by Isaac, son of

Eliezer, a Jew of the land of Germany [Isaac carried it through Germany, Hungary, and Russia to

Khazaria.] You made us happy and we are delighted with your understanding and wisdom



therefore, renew the diplomatic relations that once obtained between our fathers, and let us transmit

this heritage to our children. [Joseph believed the Khazars had once had diplomatic relations with

the Spanish Arabs.]

You ask us also in your epistle: "Of what people, of what family, and of what tribe are you?" Know

that we are descended from Japhet, through his son Togarmah. [In Jewish literature Togarmah is

the father of all the Turks.]

  • I have found in the genealogical books of my ancestors that Togarmah had ten sons. These are their

names: the eldest was Ujur, the second Tauris, the third Avar, the fourth Uauz, the fifth Bizal, the

sixth Tarna, the seventh Khazar, the eighth Janur, the ninth Bulgar, the tenth Sawir. [These are the

mythical founders of tribes that once lived in the neighborhood of the Black and Caspian Seas.]

  • I am a descendant of Khazar, the seventh son. I have a record that although our fathers were few in

number, the Holy One blessed be He, gave them strength, power, and might so that they were able

to carry on war after war with many nations who were more powerful and numerous than they.

By the help of God they drove them out and took possession of their country. Upon some of them

they have imposed forced labor even to this very day. The land [along the Volga] in which I now live

was formerly occupied by the Bulgarians.

Our ancestors, the Khazars, came and fought with them, and, although these Bulgarians were as

numerous as the sand on the shores of the sea, they could not withstand the Khazars. So they left

their country and fled while the Khazars pursued them as far as the Danube River. Up to this very

day the Bulgars camp along the Danube and are close to Constantinople. The Khazars have

occupied their land up till now. [The Khazars, known since the second century, dominated southern

Russia during the early Middle Ages.]

After this, several generations passed until a certain King arose whose name was Bulan. He was a

wise and God-fearing man, trusting in his Creator with all his heart. He expelled the wizards and

idolaters from the land and took refuge in the shadow of his wings


this his fame was spread

broadcast. [Bulan probably ruled about 740.

He was the first Jewish Khazar ruler.] The king of the Byzantines and the Arabs who had heard of

him sent their envoys and ambassadors with great riches and many great presents to the King as

well as some of their wise men with the object of converting him to their own religion. [The Byzantines

and Arabs hoped to stop the raids of the Khazars by converting them.]

But the King-may his soul be bound up in the bundle of life With the Lord his God-being wise, sent

for a learned Israelite. The King searched, inquired, and investigated carefully and brought the sages

together that they might argue about their respective religions. Each of them refuted, however, the

arguments of his opponent so that they could not agree. When the King saw this he said to them:

"Go home, but return to me on the third day…"

On the third day he called all the sages together and said to them. "Speak and argue with one another

and make clear to me which is the best religion." They began to dispute with one another without

arriving at any results until the King said to the Christian priest "What do you think? Of the religion of

the Jews and the Muslims, which is to be preferred?" The priest answered: "The religion of the

Israelites is better than that of the Muslims."

The King then asked the kadi [a Muslim judge and scholar]: "What do you say? Is the religion of the

Israelites, or that of the Christians preferable?" The kadi answered: "The religion of the Israelites is

preferable." Upon this the King said: "If this is so, you both have admitted with your own mouths that

the religion of the Israelites is better Wherefore, trusting in the mercies of God and the power of the

Almighty, I choose the religion of Israel, that is, the religion of Abraham. If that God in whom I trust,

and in the shadow of whose wings I find refuge, will aid me, He can give me without labor the money,

the gold, and the silver which you have promised me. As for you all, go now in peace to your land."

[This account of Bulan's conversion is apparently legendary. Another Hebrew source tells us that

Judaism was adopted by the Khazars when a Jewish general was made king. Jewish fugitives from

Constantinople also made many converts in Khazaria.]

From that time on the Almighty helped Bulan, fortified him, and strengthened him. He circumcised

himself, his servants, attendants, and ail his people. [Arabic sources say the royal family and nobility

became Jews, but only a part of the people.] Then Bulan sent for and brought from all places wise

men of Israel who interpreted the Torah for him and arranged the precepts in order, and up to this

very day we have been subject to this religion.

May God's name be blessed and may His remembrance be exalted for ever! Since that day [about

740], when my fathers entered into this religion, the God of Israel has humbled all of their enemies,

subjecting every folk and tongue round about them, whether Christian, Muslim, or pagan. No one

has been able to stand before them to this day [about 960]. All of them are tributary. [But only about

ten years later Joseph was defeated by the Russians, 969.] After the days of Bulan there arose one

of his descendants, a king Obodiah by name, who reorganized the kingdom and established the

Jewish religion properly and correctly. He built synagogues and schools, brought in Jewish scholars,

and rewarded them with gold and silver.

[:The Jewish scholars could have come from Bagdad and Constantinople.] They explained to him

the Bible, Mishnah, Talmud and the order of divine services. The King was a man who revered and

loved the Torah. He was one of the true servants of God.

May the Divine Spirit give him rest! He was succeeded by Hezekiah, his son; next to him was

Manasseh, his son; next to him was Hanukkah, the brother of Obadiah; next Isaac, his son;

afterwards, his son Zebulun; then his son Moses; then his son Nissi; then his son Aaron; then his

son Menahem; then his son Benjamin; then his son Aaron II; and I, Joseph, the son of Aaron the

King, am King, the son of a King, and the descendant of kings. [These kings probably had Turkish

names besides their Hebrew ones.]

No stranger can occupy the throne of my ancestors: the son succeeds the father. This has been our

custom and the custom of our forefathers since they have come into existence. May it be the gracious

will of Him who appoints all kings that the throne of my kingdom shall endure to all eternity.

You have also asked me about the affairs of my country and the extent of my empire. I wish to inform

you that I dwell by the banks of the river known as the Itil [Volga]. At the mouth of the river lies the

Caspian Sea. The headwaters of the river turn eastward, a journey of four months distance.

Alongside the river dwell many tribes in cities and towns, in open as well as fortified places ...

Bear in mind that I dwell at the delta of the Itil and, by God's help, I guard the mouth of the river and

do not permit the Russians who come in ships to enter into the Caspian so as to get at the Muslims.

Nor do I allow any of their [the Muslims'] enemies who come by land to penetrate as far as Derbend

[Derbend, an Arab city, was the gate through which the nomads in Russia hoped to rush through and

raid the rich towns of Asia Minor.] I have to wage war with them, for if I would give them any chance

at all they would lay waste the whole land of the Muslims as far as Baghdad ...

You have also asked me about the place where I live. I wish to inform you that, by the grace of God,

I dwell alongside this river On which there are situated three capital cities.

The queen dwells in one of them; it is my birthplace. It is quite large, built round like a Circle, the

diameter of which is fifty parasangs. [The King lived in an island in the Volga; there were also towns

on both banks. ] Jews, Christians, and Moslems live in the second city. Besides these there are many

slaves of all nations in it. It is of medium size, eight square parasangs in length and breadth. In the

third I reside with my princes, officers, servants, cupbearers and those who are close to me. It is

round in shape and its diameter is three parasangs.

The river flows within its walls. This is my residence during the winter. From the month of Nisan

[March-April] on we leave the city and each one goes forth to his vineyards, fields and to his work ....

You mention in your letter that you yearn to see my face. I also would very much like to see your

pleasant countenance and the rare beauty of your wisdom and greatness. Would that it were

according to your word. If it were granted me to be associated with you and to behold your honored,

charming, and pleasant countenance then you would be my father and I your son. According to your

command would all my people be ruled, and according to your ord and discreet counsel would I

conduct all my affairs. Farewell.

Encyclopedia Britannica;

KHAZARS, a national group of general Turkic type, independent and sovereign in Eastern Europe

between the seventh and tenth centuries C.E. During part of this time the leading Khazars professed

Judaism. The name is frequently pronounced with an a-vowel, as in the Greek Χάξαροι and Arabic

Khazar (azar), but there are traces of a different pronunciation in Hebrew (Kuzari, pl. Kuzarim),

Greek (Χότξιροι), and Chinese (Kʿo-sa). The name has been explained as having derived from

Turkish qazmak ("To wander," "nomadize (?)"), or from quz ("side of mountain exposed to the north").

The latter etymology would account for the o/u-vowel in some forms of the name, for which no

satisfactory explanation has been given.

The Origin of the Khazars The Khazars, of Turkic stock, originally nomadic, reached the Volga-

Caucasus region from farther east at some time not easily determinable. They may have belonged

to the empire of the Huns (fifth century C.E.) as the Akatzirs, mentioned by Priscus. This name is

said to be equivalent to Aq-Khazar, i.e., White Khazars, as opposed to the Qara-Khazar or Black

Khazars mentioned by al-Iṣṭakhrī (see below).

The Khazars probably belonged to the West Turkish Empire (from 552 C.E.), and they may have

marched with Sinjibū (Istämi), the first khāqān of the West Turks, against the Sassanid (Persian)

fortress of ul or Darband. In the time of Procopius (sixth century) the region immediately north of

the Caucasus was held by the Sabirs, who are referred to by Jordanes as one of the two great

branches of the Huns (Getica, ed. Mommsen, 63). Masʿūdī (tenth century C.E.) says that the Khazars

are called in Turkish, Sabīr (Tanbīh, ed. Cairo, 1938, 72). In 627 (Theophanes, Chronographia, ed.

De Boor, 1 (1883), 315) "The Turks from the East whom they call Khazars" under their chief, Ziebel,

passed the Caspian Gates (Darband) and joined Heraclius at the siege of Tiflis. In view of what is

known of a dual kingship among the Khazars (see below), it would be natural to assume that Ziebel,

described by Theophanes as "Second in rank to the Khāqān" was the subordinate Khazar king or

beg. However, there are grounds for thinking that Ziebel stands for yabgu, a Turkish title in the

parallel Armenian account (Moses of Kalankatuk, trans. Dowsett, 87) he is called Jebu Khāqān –

and that he is T'ung-ye-hu, Ye-hu Khagan of the Chinese sources, i.e., T'ung Yabgu, Yabgu Khāqān,

the paramount ruler of the West Turks, who is represented as second in rank to "the King of the

North, the lord of the whole world," i.e., the supreme khāqān of the Turks.

In the narratives of Theophanes and Moses of Kalankatuk respectively, the Khazars are also called

Turks and Huns. From 681 C.E., we hear much in the latter author of the Huns of Varachʿan

(Warathān), north of Darband, who evidently formed part of a Khazar confederation or empire. Their

prince Alp Ilutver was often in attendance on the Khazar khāqān and was converted to Christianity

by an Albanian bishop. It will be seen that the question of the precise racial affinities of the Khazars

is not readily solved (see also below).

There appears to be insufficient evidence to warrant the conclusion of K. Czeglédy that the Khazars

were of Sabīr origin and distinct from the Caucasian Huns and West Turks ("Bemerkungen zur

Geschichte der Chazaren," Acta Orientalia…Hungariae, 13 (1961), 245), since it is not known how

far these ethnic names mean the same thing.

Consolidation of the Khazar State According to Theophanes (ibid., 358), the ruler of the Bulgars in

the region of the Kuban River (West Caucasus) died c. 650 C.E., leaving five sons of whom only the

eldest remained in his inheritance, while the others moved further west, as far as the Danube. On

this, the Khazars, described as a "Great nation…From the interior of Berzilia in the First Sarmatia,"

emerged and took possession of the territory as far as the Black Sea.

The change of position was completed by 679, when one of the brothers crossed the Danube and

conquered present-day Bulgaria. Earlier than this, in 576 C.E., a West Turkish force had been

present at the siege of Bosporus (Kerch) in the Crimea (Menander Protector, ed. Bonn, 404), but

hitherto there is no mention of the Khazars as such so far to the west. The advance of the Khazars

to the Black Sea and Crimea area appears to be mentioned also in the Reply of Joseph (see below,

Khazar Correspondence), where a great Khazar victory over the W-n-nt-r is referred to. A people

north of the Khazars called W-n-nd-r is mentioned in the Ḥudūd al-ʿĀlam (Regions of the World, trans.

by V. Minorsky (1937), 162). Both names are best explained as corresponding to Onogundur, an old

name in Greek sources for the Bulgars.

The advent of the Khazars on the Black Sea was clearly of great consequence for the future, for they

now came within the sphere of Greek political and cultural influence. By 700 C.E. or earlier there

were Khazar officials in Bosporus and Phanagoria. Henceforth the Crimea, as well as the Volga and

the Caucasus, came to be specially associated with the Khazars, and a further way westward was

opened for them toward both Kiev and the Slav lands via the Dnieper (see below). Arabs and Khazars

had already been in conflict on the line of the Caucasus (first Arab-Khazar war, 64252 C.E.).

*Bāb al-Abwāb at the eastern end of the range was occupied by the Arabs in 22 A.H. (643). In the

same year the caliph Omar sent instructions to advance northward. Though the Arabs attacked

*Balanjar repeatedly, they were unable to take it. The defeat and death of the Arab general at

Balanjar in 32 A.H. (653) practically marks the end of the war and the close of the first phase of Arab-

Khazar relations. According to Musʿūdī, the Khazar capital was at this time moved from* Samandar

to *Atil, but he says elsewhere that Balanjar was the former capital. Further Relations with Byzantium

and the Arabs After the exile of Justinian II to the Crimea in 695, the Khazars on several occasions

played an important, even determining, part in Byzantine politics.

Toward 704 the khāqān helped the emperor at a crucial moment and gave him his sister Theodora

in marriage. Justinian returned to Constantinople to reign a second time. His successor Bardanes

(711–13) was likewise indebted to the khāqān. In 732 the emperor Leo the Isaurian married his son,

the future Constantine V, to a Khazar princess called in the sources Irene. The child of this marriage

was Leo IV, the Khazar (77580). It is to be understood that Irene and Theodora above are baptismal,

i.e., not Khazar, names. The second Arab-Khazar war began in 722 or earlier, and ended in 737 with

the defeat of the Khazars by Marwān b. Muhammad (later Marwān II).

The Khazar khāqān is said at this time to have professed Islam. If so, we hear no more about it. Later

the khāqān was a Jew, as we know from the Arabic geographers Ibn Rustah (c. 290/903), Iṣṭakhrī

(c. 320/932), Ibn auqal (367/977), etc., and it is implied in the Reply of Joseph that the beginnings

of Khazar Judaism dated as far back as 112/730, when the Khazars defeated the Arabs south of the

Caucasus, and from the spoils consecrated a tabernacle on the Mosaic model. The conversion of

the leading Khazars to Judaism perhaps took place toward 740 C.E. (see below).

It seems at all events certain that the Khazars successfully resisted the Arabs for several decades,

and that they were reduced only with difficulty and at a time when the internal situation of the caliphate

prevented the Arabs from exploiting their victory: Marwān was called away to become the

last*Umayyad Caliph (744) and to struggle against ever-growing opposition, until The Khazar

kingdom, c. seventhtenth century. From D.M. Dunlop, History of the Jewish Khazars, New York, 1967.

The Khazar kingdom, c. seventhtenth century. From D.M. Dunlop, History of the Jewish Khazars,

New York, 1967. his death in 750 at the hands of *Abbasid soldiers in Egypt. The dynastic crisis

probably saved Khazaria. At the same time the situation had wider implications, for if Marwān had

been able to hold the Khazar territory permanently, the history of Eastern Europe might have been

very different.

The Khazar Double Kingship This was a phenomenon found among other Turkic peoples, e.g., the

Qara-Khanids, and not unknown elsewhere; compare the double kingship at Sparta in antiquity, and

the shogun and mikado of medieval Japan. How far back the institution goes among the Khazars

cannot be exactly determined.

Yaʿqūbī (ninth century) speaks of the Khazar khāqān and his representative (khalīfa) apparently in

the sixth century (Historiae, ed. by M.T. Houtsma, 1 (1883), 203; cf. above for Ziebel Jebu Khāqān

in 627). Arab accounts, in Ṭabarī, Ibn al-Athīr, etc., of the Arab-Khazar wars (see above) afford no

precise evidence of the dual kingship, yet the Arab geographers regularly mention it. The account of

al-Iṣṭakhrī, written c. 320/932, is as follows (Viae regnorum, ed. by M.J. De Goeje (1927), 223ff.): "As

to their politics and system of government, their chief is called khāqān of the Khazars. He is greater

than the king of the Khazars [elsewhere called by al-Iṣṭakhrī the bak or bāk, i.e., beg], except that

the king of the Khazars appoints him. When they wish to appoint this khāqān, they bring him and

throttle him with a piece of silk, till, when his breath is nearly cut off, they say to him, 'How long do

you wish to reign?' and he says, 'So and-so many years.' If he dies short of them, well and good. If

not, he is killed when he reaches that year. The khaqanate is valid among them only in a house of

notables. He possesses no right of command nor of veto but he is honored, and people prostrate

themselves when they enter his presence


khaqanate is in a group of notables who possess

neither sovereignty nor riches. When the chief place comes to one of them, they appoint him, and do

not consider his condition. I have been informed by a reliable person that he had seen a young man

selling bread in one of the sūqs. People said that when their khāqān died, there was none more

deserving of the khaqanate than he, except that he was a Muslim, and the khaqanate is not conferred

on any but a Jew."

A remarkable parallel to the inauguration ceremony described by Iṣṭakhrī is found in a Chinese

source on the Turks in the sixth century C.E., the Chou Shu (trans. by Liu Mau-Tsai, Die chinesischen

Nachrichten zur Geschichte der Ost-Tuerken, 1 (1958), 8). Recently the theory of A. Alföldi that the

double kingship among nomadic peoples corresponds to leadership of the two wings of the horde

("Turklerde Çift Krallik," Ikinci Turk Tarih Kongresi, Istanbul, 1943, 50719) has won wide acceptance,

but does not apply particularly well to the Khazars.

Masʿūdī had already suspected that the Khazar khāqān represented a dynasty which had been

superseded (Murūj al-Dhahab, ed. by B. de Maynard and P. de Courteille, 2 (1878), 13). K. Czeglédy

(op. cit.) has suggested that the khāqān was the representative at the Khazar capital, Atil, of the

West Turks, whom he thinks of as in control of Khazaria. This is not likely to have been the situation

except for a very short time, since the Khazar capital was not transferred to Atil before the time of

the first Arab-Khazar war (64252) and the destruction of the West Turkish power took place in 652

57. Yet the Khazar khāqān may in fact have represented the West Turk ruling dynasty.

This seems to be the view of the tenth-century Persian work, Ḥudūd al-ʿĀlam (trans. Minor-sky, 162),

according to which the khāqān of the Khazars was "Of the descendants of Ansā" apparently

corresponding to Asnā, or Achena, well-known as the ruling family among the Turks. Ko-sa (different

from Kʿo-sa above), the name in Chinese of a subtribe of the Uigurs, is often taken as the equivalent

of Khazars. We know that the destruction of the West Turks was brought about by a coalition of which

the Uigurs formed part. It may therefore be that the convulsions which attended the breakup of the

West Turkish Empire brought forward this section of the Uigurs, so that, while the khāqān

represented the old ruling family, the Khazar beg, i.e., the effective king, was their representative.

Date of the Khazar Conversion to Judaism This has already been referred to above (see *Būlān and

below Khazar Correspondence).

The date c. 740 C.E. is suggested by converging considerations, namely, the circumstances of the

reported conversion to Islam in 737 and the dating given by* Judah Halevi in the Kūzari (Cosri). The

absence of distinct references to the Judaism of the Khazars in the biographies of St. Abo of Tiflis,

who was in Khazaria c. 780 C.E. and of Constantine (Cyril), who was there c. 860, should not be

pressed as proof that the conversion to Judaism took place only later (cf. also M.I. Artamonov,

Istoriya Khazar, 332–3). Mas ʿ ūdī states positively that the king of the Khazars became a Jew in the

caliphate of Hārūn al-Rashīd (786–809 C.E.).

This may well refer to the reformation c. 800 under *Obadiah of which the Reply of Joseph speaks.

S.P. Tolstov has sought to explain the Khazar conversion to Judaism as a result of the conquest of

Khwārizm (*Khorezm) by the Arab general Muslim ibn Qutayba in 712.

The Khazar Empire The extent of the territory ruled by the Khazars has been variously estimated.

Thus B.A. Ribakov ("K voprosu o roli khazarskogo kaganata v istorii Rusi," Sovetskaya Arkheologiya,

18 (1953), 12850) makes Khazaria a small territory on the lower courses of the Volga and Don, to

include Sarkil (see below) and the Khazar capital (assigning separate localities to Atil, Khamlīj, and

al-Bayḍā', usually taken to be the same place).

This is based principally on the data in the world map of Idrīsī, which offers a somewhat misleading

picture of Khazaria (see K. Miller, Mappae Arabicae, 1(1926), Heft 2). On the other hand, S.P. Tolstov

envisages a Khazaria united with Khwārizm under one ruler to form a single state, a view for which

the evidence is slight. It must be allowed, however, that at one time Khazar rule extended westward

a long way beyond the Crimea-Caucasus-Volga region which for the Greek and Arabic sources is


The Russian Primary Chronicle ((1953), 5859; Chronicle of Nestor, Povest vremennykh let) reports

that at an unspecified date the Polians south of the Middle Dnieper paid tribute to the Khazars of a

sword per hearth, and that in 859 C.E. the Polians, Severians, and Viatichians paid them a white

squirrel skin per hearth (trans. Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, 58, 59).

Later these payments in kind ceased to be made, being evidently replaced by money payments; e.g.,

the Radimichians paid the Khazars a shilling or dirham apiece until 885 C.E., according to the

Chronicle (61), and the Viatichians until 964, the same per plowshare (ibid., 84). All these peoples

were exposed to attack by any strong forces coming up the valleys of the Don and Donets from the

Khazar territory. Kiev itself was occupied by the Khazars for some period before 862, but presumably

was not built by or for them (ibid., 60, cf. 54), unlike Sarkel or *Sarkil on the Don, which on the

application of the khāqān and beg to Emperor Theophilus was constructed by Byzantine workmen in

833 C.E.

All of these territories were to be taken from the Khazars, some already in the ninth century, by the

advancing Russians. East of the Volga, in the direction of Khwārizm, the situation is obscure. Al-

Iṣṭakhrī tells of caravans passing between Khwārizm and Khazaria, mentioning specifically Slav,

Khazar, and Turkish slaves and all kinds of furs among the principal merchandise of Khwārizm.

On the other hand, he says that Khwārizm has the nomad Turks (Ghuzz) on its northern and western

frontier, not the Khazars. According to Tolstov, a "Royal road" led from Khorezm to the Volga, traces

of which may be seen from the air, and he finds in it an indication of the emergence of a great

Khorezmian-Khazar state in the tenth and beginning of the 11th century (cf. above). The Extent of

Khazar Judaism While the Khazars were generally known to their neighbors as Jews (cf. notably the

narrative of Ibn Faḍlān), they seem to have had little or no contact with the central Jewish

organization in Iraq, and they tend to be mentioned less by Rabbanite than by Karaite authors. This

is not to say that the Khazars were Karaites, a view which has not lacked defenders, at least since

the time of A. *Firkovich .

Yet such contemporary or nearly contemporary documents as we possess offer no evidence of the

Karaism of the Khazars. On the other hand, it would seem that the lack of interest in the Khazars on

the part of the Jewish authorities, as reflected in the literary works at our disposal, was due at least

partly to their imperfect adherence to Judaism.

This is illustrated notably in their retention of a number of pagan (shamanist) customs, dating back

to their Turkic past, which are duly noted by the Arab geographers. We may here consider the

position of H. Baratz that in the oldest Russian writings of a legal character there are Hebrew, mostly

biblical-talmudic, elements, and that these go back to Khazar times. Thus the fact that early Russian

codes, including the Zakon sudni liudem ("Law for the Judging of the People"), contain traces of

Mosaic and talmudic legislation, is due not to contact with the Catholic West, as has also been

maintained, but to the influence of the Jewish Khazars.

This view has been characterized by a Russian academician (I.V. Yagich) as "a scarlet thread for

everyone to walk by." Yet the chance of Khazar influence on Russian codes, in the form of the

introduction of Mosaic and talmudic elements, clearly becomes less if it is demonstrable, as seems

to be the case, that Khazar Judaism was never very strong. (For Baratz's view see his Collection of

Works on the Question of Hebrew Elements in Ancient Russian Literature in Russian Vol. I, Paris,

1926–27, Vol. II, Berlin, 1924; also Léon Baratz, Sur les origines étrangères de la plupart des lois

civiles russes, Publications de l'Institut de Droit Comparé de l'Université de Paris (lère Série), 52,

Appendice.) The Downfall of Khazaria The Reply of Joseph mentions that the Khazars guarded the

mouth of the Volga before 961 C.E. and prevented the Russians from reaching the Caspian. On

several occasions, notably c. 913 and again in 943, the Russians made raids down the Volga,

passing through Atil.

Later, apparently in 965, Khazaria was the object of a great Russian attack, which was aimed at the

Khazar capital and reached as far as Samandar, as we know from Ibn awqal. From this disaster

the Khazars appear to have recovered only partially. Again at this time (cf. above) we hear of a

Khazar khāqān adopting Islam. His motive is said to have been to secure the help of the people of

Khwārizm (Miskawayh, ed. Amedroz, II, 209; Ibn al-Athīr, VIII, 196). After 965 the Khazars are still

mentioned occasionally, but scarcely for long as an independent people. We cannot use the Cairo

Genizah document published by J. Mann, concerning a messianic movement supposedly in Khazaria

in the time of al-Afal, the great Fatimid vizier who ruled 10941121 (REJ, 71 (1920), 8993; 89

(1930), 2578), as proof of continued Khazar existence until this time, since it has been shown that

the movement in question took place in Kurdistan (seeS.D. Goitein, "Obadyah, a Norman Proselyte,"

in JJS, 4 (1953), 74ff.).

Furthermore, Oleg, the same who, according to the Russian Chronicle, established himself in

Tmutorokan in 1083, is called in a seal of the 11th–12th century "archon of all Khazaria" (N. Bǎnescu

in Bulletin of the Romanian Academy, Hist. Sect. 22 (1941), cited by A.V. Soloviev, For Roman

Jakobson (1956), 478). Whatever is precisely indicated here by "Khazaria" e.g., the Khazar country

in the Crimea such a claim could not have been made prior to 965. We must therefore see the

Khazar state as having subsisted until the second half of the tenth century, or the 11th century at the

latest. By the 12th century the Qipchaqs or Cumans (identified also with the Polovtsi) appeared in

the steppes once ruled by the Khazars.

At the time of the Mongol invasions in the 13th century, it was they, not the Khazars, who were in

possession. The Khazar Correspondence This name is usually given to what appears as an

interchange of letters in Hebrew between *isdai ibn Shaprut, a well-known personality of Muslim

Spain in the tenth century, and *Joseph, king of the Khazars. M.I. Artamonov (Istoriya Khazar, 12)

includes the Cambridge Document as well as the Letter of isdai and the Reply of Joseph in the

Khazar Correspondence, but this would seem to be contrary to general usage. The Reply is available

in a Long Version and a Short Version (LV and SV). The Correspondence involves serious critical

difficulties, and its authenticity has been much debated. The Letter of isdai begins with a piyyut

containing an acrostic which gives his own name and that of Menaem b. Saruq, the latter

presumably acting as isdai's secretary and being the author of the piyyut.

The prose part, after compliments, refers to the geographical situation of al-Andalus and Khazaria

and describes the natural wealth of al-Andalus and isdai's own position there. It seems that his

interest has been aroused by his having heard repeatedly that the Khazars are Jews. The Letter

mentions attempts made by isdai to get in touch with the Khazar king. He was finally successful

through the instrumentality of two Jews, Mar Saul and Mar Joseph, who accompanied an embassy

which arrived at Cordoba from the "king of the G-b-līm, who are the Ṣaqlab" (see below).

The Letter of isdai was conveyed to the East by their means, i.e., overland, and eventually was put

into the hands of the Khazar king, according to the Reply, by a certain Jacob or (LV) Isaac b. Eliezer,

a Central European Jew. The tone of the Letter of isdai is mostly one of enquiry, and it invites an

answer to questions which range over a variety of topics: Is there a Jewish kingdom anywhere on

earth? How did the Jews come to Khazaria? In what way did the conversion of the Khazars take

place? Where does the king live? To what tribe does he belong? What is his method of procession

to his place of worship? Does war abrogate the Sabbath? Has the Khazar king any information about

the possible end of the world? Ḥisdai mentions that ʿ Abd al-Raḥmān III al-Nāṣir is the reigning king

of al-Andalus. This gives 961 as the terminus ad quem for the Letter, with 95355 as a possible

terminus a quo, for in those years Cordoba was visited by John of Gorz, as envoy of the German

emperor Otto I, who may be the "king of the G-b-līm, who are the Ṣaqlab" already referred to.

The Reply of Joseph begins by referring to the principal contents of the Letter and recapitulates a

number of its questions. It then relates the early history of the Khazars, and proceeds to deal at

length with the conversion to Judaism under Būlān. The conversion is initiated by a dream of Būlān,

which he communicates to a certain general among them (LV), apparently the beg. From the spoils

of a Khazar attack on Ardabil, south of the Caucasus, for which we have the synchronism 730 in the

Arabic sources, a tabernacle on the biblical model is set up.

A religious debate between representatives of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is held, after which

Būlān and the principal Khazars accept the religion of Israel. Under a later king, Obadiah, there was

a reform of religion. Synagogues and schools were built, and the Khazars became familiar with Torah,

Mishnah, Talmud, and the liturgy, i.e., rabbinic Judaism was introduced.

Joseph then traces his descent from Obadiah and gives a description of his country and capital. He

refers to isdai's question concerning the end of the age in a somewhat noncommittal fashion, and

finally expresses his desire that isdai may come to Khazaria, which, if a notice in a map of Ibn

awqal can be trusted, he actually did. The correspondence has been available since the

appearance of the work Kol Mevasser of Isaac Akrish in or after 1577, and more generally since the

two letters were published by the younger *Buxtorf in his edition of the book Cosri (Kūzārī) of Judah

Halevi in 1660. It is not known what manuscript source was used by Isaac Akrish; Buxtorf depended

on Kol Mevasser.

The only known manuscript of the Correspondence as a whole, containing the Letter of isdai and

the Reply of Joseph (SV), is in the library of Christ Church, Oxford. This manuscript is very similar to

the printed text, which, it has been suggested, is a transcript. There appear to be no special grounds

for this opinion, though the manuscript, which is undated, has no claims to great antiquity. Nothing

is sure about its provenance, but it is thought to have belonged originally to the celebrated Dr. Fell

(16251686). A longer version of the Reply of Joseph was published by A. *Harkavy in 1874, from a

manuscript of the Second Firkovich Collection in the Leningrad Public Library.

The Long Version bears no indication of any alterations or additions, and is supposed to date from

the 13th century. Harkavy, in spite of his very critical attitude to Firkovich, regarded it as the

undoubted original of the Short Version. It appears impossible to suppose that the Khazar

Correspondence is a fabrication of the 16th century in view of a reference to it, with the citation of

part of the Reply of Joseph, agreeing in general with the Long Version, in the Sefer ha-Ittim of Judah

b. Barzillai al-Bargeloni, dated between 1090 and 1105, and a similar reference in the Sefer ha-

Kabbalah of Abraham *Ibn Daud in the 12th century.

It cannot be admitted that these works were interpolated in the 16th century or later, to support the

authenticity. Nor does it appear at all plausible that the letters forming the Khazar Correspondence

were forgeries of the tenth century, composed with a view to informing the Jews about the Khazars.

It is demonstrable that the literary style of the Letter of isdai differs from that of the Reply of Joseph

in a marked manner.

The classical Hebrew construction of vav conversive with the imperfect to express the past tense is

freely used in the Letter of isdai, actually 48 times as against 14 times when the past tense is

rendered by simple vav with the perfect. In the Reply (LV), on the other hand, vav conversive with

the imperfect occurs not more than once or twice, while the past is expressed by the perfect and

simple vav nearly 100 times.

Further, in the Short Version of the Reply the vav conversive with the imperfect to express the past,

instead of simple vav with the perfect, occurs in a number of passages where the wording is different

from the Long Version. There is a new proportion of vav conversive with the imperfect to simple vav

with the perfect: 37 to 50. It may therefore be affirmed that there is a separate authorship for the

Letter and the Reply, and assumed that the Long Version of the Reply, or something very like it, has

been worked over by a third hand to produce the Short Version.

There are grounds for thinking that the Reply originally was written in a non-Arabic-speaking

environment. Most people would agree with Kokovtsov's cautious statement that as basis for both

versions there is the same original text, in general better preserved in the Long Version. B.A. Ribakov

supposed that an authentic letter of King Joseph was worked over in Tmutorokan toward the end of

the 11th century ("about 1083"), which resulted in the Long Version, and that some time afterward

the text of the Long Version was modified by Jews of Barcelona to produce the Short Version of the

Reply. [Douglas Morton Dunlop] Khazar Jews After the Fall of the Kingdom The artifacts of the

Khazars appear to be scant.

A number of sites have been excavated, and though details of the archaeological activity in Russia

are difficult to obtain (the Russians hold a monopoly on digs in ancient Khazaria), it appears that

there have not been any sensational discoveries to date. No royal burial sites have been unearthed

hardly surprising since, according to Ibn Faḍlān, the khāqāns were buried under a stream and

no inscriptions, public or private. Prior to 1914 archaeological excavations were conducted in

successive years, especially at Verkhniĭ Saltov on the Donets. Since then, scholars have been

divided on whether or not Saltov is a Khazar site. Additional work has been done at Bulghār and at

the neighboring town of Suwār, which was mentioned in al-Iṣṭakhrī.

A tenth-century two-storied palace, in which many coins were found, was discovered at the latter site,

but this, the only building of a public character which has come to light, might possibly be Bulgar

rather than Khazar. Belaya (Bela) Vezha, the ancient Sarkil, near the village of Tsimlyanskaya on

the left bank of the lower Don, has been the site which has attracted the most interest in recent years.

Though not the Khazar capital, as had been erroneously attested, it was an important settlement.

Nothing specifically Jewish has been found there. Nevertheless, discoveries analogous to the culture

of Saltov and Mayatskoe Gorodishche, both at least presumed Khazar sites, were unearthed, as well

as ceramics engraved with markings of the type found in the Don inscriptions. No traces of the

fortress constructed by the Greeks for the Khazars have been found. In spite of the negligible

information of an archaeological nature, the presence of Jewish groups and the impact of Jewish

ideas in Eastern Europe are considerable during the Middle Ages.

Groups have been mentioned as migrating to Central Europe from the East or have been referred to

as Khazars, thus making it impossible to overlook the possibility that they originated from within the

former Khazar Empire. Even though the 12th-century traveler Benjamin of Tudela did not mention

Khazaria as such he did refer to Khazars in Constantinople and Alexandria. Aside from the Kabars

(Khazars) who migrated earlier to Hungary, the Hungarian duke Taksony (tenth century) is said to

have invited the Khazars to settle in his lands.

In about 1117 Khazars appear to have come to Vladimir Monomakh, Prince of Kiev, after fleeing

from the Cumans, building a town they named Bela Vezha (near Chernigov). If this assumption is

correct, these Khazars previously lived in Bela Vezha (Sarkil) and then settled near Chernigov. Prior

to this time Jews who were possibly Khazars were introduced by Svyatopolk into Kiev. The Khalisioi

in the 12th century, who were mentioned as fighting against Manuel I Comnenus, retained, according

to John Cinnamus, "the Mosaic laws but not in their pure form" (see bibl.).

As late as 1309 a council of the Hungarian clergy (at Pressburg) forbade Catholics to marry those

people who were at that time described as Khazars; papal confirmation of this decision was given in

1346. Both the Mountain Jews and the Karachais seem to be connected with the Khazars of the

Caucasus region. It is also possible that there were Khazar Jews in the Crimea, which was known to

the Italians in the late Middle Ages and perhaps still later as Gazaria.

The Turkish-speaking Karaites of the Crimea, Poland, and elsewhere have affirmed a connection

with the Khazars, which is perhaps confirmed by evidence from folklore and anthropology as well as

language. There seems to be a considerable amount of evidence attesting to the continued presence

in Europe of descendants of the Khazars. The story of the conversion of the Khazar king to Judaism

formed the basis for Judah Halevi's famous philosophical dialogue, Kūzārī.

(see *Judah Halevi). BIBLIOGRAPHY: D.M. Dunlop, History of the Jewish Khazars (1954, p. b. 1967), includes extensive bibliography; idem, in: Roth, Dark Ages, ch. 8, and index; M.I. Artamonov, Istoriya Khazar (1962), especially valuable for the archaeology; V. Minorsky, in: Oriens, 11 (1958), 122–45 (review of Dunlop's History…); G. Moravcsik, Byzantinoturcica, 2 (1958), 334–6 (refers to Greek sources); A. Zajączkowski, in: Acta Orientalia Hungaricae, 12 (1961), 299–307 (regards the Karaites as successors of the Khazars); Szyszman, in: Revue de l'Histoire des Religions, 152 (1957), 174221 (an original short treatment from the Karaite standpoint); A.N. Poliak, Kazariyyah (Heb., 19513); A. Yarmolinsky, in: Bulletin of the New York Public Library, 42 (1938), 695710; 63 (1959), 23741 (bibliographies); B.D. Weinryb, in: Studies in Bibliography and Booklore, 6 (1963), 11129 (updates Yarmolinsky's bibliographies); B.A. Ribakov, in: Sovetskaya Arkheologiya, 18 (1953), 12850.