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Preliminary communication

The Bulgars in Transoxiana: Some Inferences from Early Islamic Sources

Osman Karatay orcid id ; Ege University, İzmir, Turkey

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The question of the origins and Urheimat (original homeland) of the (proto-) Bulgars places challenges before scholars of Eurasian history as one of the most complex of issues. Studies in this area have remained in recession for a long time, and we need some new approaches. This essay includes such an original proposal. The word Bulgar occurs even today in Central Asia both as a geographical name, and as an ethnonym in Transoxiana in Medieval texts. These records have been largely ignored, with the pretext that they contain anachronism or complexities in geography. The Transoxiana Bulgars, who were likely of some significance in the first centuries of Islam in Central Asia, and who were clearly differentiated from the local Iranic peoples, but not classified among Turkic tribes due to their dialects, seem to have passed over in time to Common Turkic, in consequence of the rising Eastern Turkic population in the region. They eventually contributed to the present Uzbek ethnos. The harshest impact to their presence probably came from the Mongols. The Bulgars in Europe were descendants of those leaving their ancestral land in Transoxiana and coming to the Caucasus in the second century BC.


proto-Bulgars, Transoxiana, Samarkand, Alans, As, Sarmatian, the Caucasus, Turkic tribes, Islamic geography

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