Bridges, Languages and Cultures

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Kim H. Veltman

“Bridges, Languages and Cultures,” GENÇLİK VE KÜLTÜREL MİRASIMIZ, International Congress on Youth and Culture, Sansun, Turkey, 15-18 May, 2014, pp. 773-788, Ceylan Ofset , Samsun, 2014.


Physically, Turkey is a country with a bridge across the Bosporus with Europe on the West side and Asia on the East side. Metaphysically, Turkey is one of the keys to understanding connections between East and West. Already in the 2nd millennium B.C. there was a Tin Road linking Kültepe and the Indus Valley. By the 5th c. B.C., there was a royal road linking Susa in Elam (Iran) with Sardis (Turkey).

This paper explores how Turkey offers bridges to Europe, Asia and Eurasia in terms of religions, languages and city plans. It suggests that research into old Turkic traditions might hold a key to understanding common roots of Altaic and Indo-European languages. Turkey’s understanding of its roots would help Europe and the world to recognize their debt to Turkic traditions.


  1. Introduction

  2. Bridges to Europe

1.1. Celtic, Greek, Roman Influences

2.2. Christianity

3.3. Early European Languages

  1. Bridges to Asia

    1. Zoroastrianism

    2. City Plans

    3. Country Plans

  2. Bridges to Eurasia

    1. Tengrism

    2. Allah

    3. Ur Tamgas and Letters

    4. Chinese and Turkic Tribes and Tamgas

  3. Cradles of Civilization

  4. Conclusions

  1. Introduction

Physically, Turkey is a country with a bridge across the Bosporus with Europe on the West side and Asia on the East side. Accordingly, many Europeans tend to perceive Turkey as distant and on the other side of a divide. Metaphysically and historically, however, Turkey is one of the keys to understanding connections between East and West. Already in the 2nd millennium B.C. there was a Tin Road, later linked with the Silk Road, connecting Kültepe via Ashur with the Indus Valley.1 There was also an Assyrian Trade Road2 and the Ebla Caravan Trading.3 By the 5th c. B.C., there was a royal road linking Susa in Elam (Iran) with Sardis (Turkey).4

The location of this conference has a role in this bridging. In the latter half of the 2nd millennium B.C., Sansun was part of the Hittite Empire, which some link to the Pala5 people of India or to peoples from the Balkans.6 This central Northern part of Turkey was known as Paphlagonia. According to Wiki, it was a state from the 5th century to 183 B.C., but already in the 8th century B.C., Homer (Iliad, ii. 851-857) knew of it as: “one of the most ancient nations of Anatolia.”7 Subsequently, Paphlagonia was ruled by Lydian and Macedonian kings, was part of the Roman Empire and became a Venetian colony, serving as a key for trade routes to the East. One theory claims that Venetians (Veneti, Heneti, Eneti), who have links with the Trojans, have their roots in Paphlagonia.8 Detailed examination of such local connections would lead beyond the scope of this essay which seeks to outline areas for future research.

This paper explores bridges between Turkey, Europe, Asia and Eurasia. Section one provides a lightning view of the past 3,500 years of Turkish history to show how Turkey has a special relation to Christianity, the Holy Land and early European languages. Section two explores older roots linking Turkey with Asia in terms of Zoroastrianism and city architecture. Section three includes Turkic lands beyond Turkey proper to suggest that Turkic heritage in this larger sense affects the whole of Eurasia via Tengrism and may offer insights into the prehistory of Allah and early branching of Indo-European languages. Section four touches on cradles of civilization, leading to conclusions.

  1. Bridges to Europe

The history of Turkey is about much more than a country now defined by Asia Minor. It is inseparably linked with at least 6 great empires: Hittite, Achaemenid, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. Its boundaries change immensely. In 1450 B.C., the Hittites are in the Eastern half of what is now Turkey with connections to the Mitanni and the Egyptian Empire. By 1285 B.C. the Hittite Empire includes almost all of Asia Minor and much of present day Syria. By 600 B.C., Cappadocia had become part of the Median Empire. From 550 to 330 B.C. the Achaemenid Empire dominated the whole of present Turkey, the Holy Land and Egypt. The rise of Greek civilization and Greek empires epitomized by Alexander the Great brought new changes.

    1. Celtic, Greek, Roman Influences

Greek colonies spread around the coasts of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. By 300

B.C., eastern and southern Turkey were under Greek influence. By 277 B.C., an influx of Celtic settlers had come to Galatia in central Turkey. Meanwhile, the Roman Empire was rising. By 100 B.C., it extended into the western part of Asia Minor. Under Augustus (27 B.C. -14 A.D.), the first Roman Emperor, Rome expanded across Galicia and Cappadocia to include the whole of Turkey, the Holy Land and Egypt. By 117 A.D., when the Roman Empire arrived at its maximum reach, it included Armenia, Assyria, Mesopotamia, Judaea, and Arabica Petraea.

In 285 A.D., the emperor Diocletian partitioned Rome into western and eastern halves. By 330 A.D., Emperor Constantine moved the main capital from Rome to Byzantium (Constantinople, Istanbul).9 In 395, partition of the empire into a Pars occidentalis and Pars orientis was formalized. By 500, the Eastern Roman Empire remained intact while much of the Western part was in the hands of “barbarians.” When Justinian gained accession in 527, the Byzantine Empire flourished. By the end of his reign, Italy, which had become the Kingdom of the Ostrogoths, had become formally added to Byzantium’s territories.

Through the Muslim Conquests of 635-640, the Holy Land, traditionally under Byzantium, now came under Arabic control. The next centuries saw a gradual diminution of Byzantine realms. Notwithstanding four crusades from 1096 to 1204, Arabic influence in the Holy Land remained important and it was not until the flourishing of the Ottoman Empire in 1520 that the Holy Land came fully under Turkish influence once more and remained so until 1917. Stated dramatically the Holy Land was formally linked with Rome and/or Constantinople from 6 B.C.- 634 A.D., partially linked until 1519 and again fully linked from 1520-1917.

Figure 1. Wiki map of History of Turkey.10

    1. Christianity

A Wiki map showing the history of Turkey is more significant for the mind-set it implies, than the accuracy that it conveys. One could easily be forgiven for an impression that Christianity arrived mainly with the Byzantine Empire in the latter 400s. Our mini chronology points to a very different picture, beginning with one of the 12 apostles: Saint Paul.

      1. Letters of Saint Paul

Paul of Tarsus was the author of many letters addressed to various groups of first-century Christians. They comprise most of the New Testament, and as such are very influential in modern Christianity.

Paul, also known as "Saul," was a first-century Pharisee Jew who was fiercely opposed to the new sect of Judaism founded by Jesus Christ called the "Way" until his conversion following a vision on the road to Damascus, Syria. Paul modified the Way by stripping it of most of its original Jewish character, including temple worship and observance of Mosaic law, e.g., the prohibition against consuming pork. He took a major role in spreading this sect's theology throughout the northeastern Mediterranean world from Antioch (where it was first called Christianity) through Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy.

According to Wiki, “Paul could be considered the founder of Christianity.”11 Since Saint Paul was originally a citizen of Tarsus from Turkey, one could claim that a Turkish person played a key role in the founding of Christianity. In any case, Saint Paul’s written contributions include a series of Epistles (Letters) to the Cappadocians, Corinthians, Colossians, Ephesians, Galacians, and Thessalonians, reflecting major cities and places connected with his churches in Turkey.12

      1. Seven Churches of the East

His missionary journeys spread the word of Christianity throughout Turkey.13 In the western part of Turkey, Asia (Minor), which had been annexed to the Roman Empire c. 100 B.C., he built Seven Churches of Asia (also called Seven Churches of Revelation and Seven Churches of the Apocalypse), namely: Ephesus, Smyrna (Izmir), Pergamon, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea.14 Saint John the Evangelist, author of the New Testament Book of Revelation, included messages for each of the seven churches.15 Thus Turkey became the first country where the new form of Christianity for Gentiles became established. In the fourth century, the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity began not in Rome but in Byzantium with Constantine. Turkey made Christianity a world religion. At the time of the Muslim Conquests, the Christian churches of Cappadoccia continued to keep alive the flame of Christian faith.

1.2.3. Seven Ecumenical Councils

These early connections through Saint Paul in the first half of the first century establish a profound link between Turkey, the New Testament and early Christianity. They were, however, only the beginning of a long series of interconnections. As the (Western Orthodox) Catholic Church became established in Rome, the Eastern Orthodox Church became rooted in Byzantium and later Constantinople. The Eastern Church was much more than a branch which gradually became the head office. For instance, the Roman Church had a chronology linked with creation in 4,004 B.C. The Byzantine Church had its own chronology linked with 5,009 B.C. earlier than both the Catholic and the Jewish calendars. The roots of this

Council Year

  1. 1st Council of Nicea 325 A.D.

  2. 1st Council of Constantinople 381

  3. Council of Ephesus 431

Second Council of Ephesus 449

  1. Council of Chalcedon 451

  2. 2nd Council of Constantinople 553

  3. 3rd Council of Constantinople 680-681

Quinsext Council in Trullo (Constantinople) 692

  1. 2nd Council of Nicea 787

Figure 2. Ecumenical Councils.16

alternative chronology and different versions of creation stories is one area that deserves further research.

In the first millennium of Christianity, there were seven councils recognized as ecumenical by the Catholic Church (figure 2). All of them occurred in four cities: Nicea, Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon, all of them in Western Turkey. These councils served further to define the beliefs and sacraments of Christianity. They also explored relations between western, eastern and Oriental Christianity, declaring as heretical some views of Manichaeism, the Monophysites (Jacobites) and Dyophysites (Nestorians). Hence, if Turkey was the place where Gentile Christianity began, it was also the country in which the main outlines of the new faith were established, beginning with fundamentals such as the Nicean Creed.

As a result Constantinople became much more than a head office within the Catholic Church. It served to mediate among different orthodoxies in Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Georgia, Armenia, Mesopotamia, even Ethiopia, and India. Notwithstanding some attempts at comparative religion, the history of religion has been largely in terms of histories of individual religions. The histories of Western, Eastern and Oriental Christian traditions have largely been studied in isolation. Needed is more comparative research that helps us to understand differences in branches of Christianity.

1.2.4. Holy Land

As noted above, one of the unexpected dimensions of Turkey is that it was linked with and controlled the Holy Land for well over a millennium in the past 3,000 years through the empires with which it was connected (Achaemenid, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman). By contrast, Israel, which claims historical right over the area, had a Kingdom of Israel as a combined monarchy for 89 years (1,020 B.C. - 931 B.C.). Prior to this they point to a period of the 12 tribes (1200 B.C. - 1050 B.C.).17 That Egypt controlled this same land for the four centuries from 1600 B.C. - 1200 B.C. is seldom mentioned.18

Today we hear constantly of the 12 Tribes of Israel: 10 linked with the Northern Tribe of Israel and 2 linked with the Southern Tribe of Judah.19 After the dispersal of the kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C., there is talk of their dispersal and the so-called 10 Lost Tribes. In the West, there is less discussion of the 12 tribes of Ishmael and even less of the 12 Tribes of Canaan, which included the Hittites and Palestinians.

In the Christian tradition, the 12 tribes of Israel in the Old Testament are obviously studied seriously. At the same time, this account replaced the earlier 12 tribes of Canaan. Needed are comparative studies that help us to understand how the Old Testament was once a new version of a much older tradition. Comparative studies with the 12 tribes of Ishmael could make contributions to understanding of Judaism, and Christianity as well as Islam.

1.2.5. Early European Languages

There are great debates about the classification of Turkic languages among the language families. One group classes Anatolian languages as one of ten major branches of Indo-European languages.20 Another favours their inclusion among Altaic languages.21 Yet a third has classed them among the Tatar class of languages.22 In the 72 Sacred Alphabets of the Virga Aurea (Rome, 1617), Turcicum is one of four languages using Arabic script along with Aphricanum, Arabicum and Persicum. In this alignment, Turkic (Turcicum) is linked with both the Afro-Asiatic Languages and Indo-European languages.

Given the extraordinary history of Turkey, which links directly with the Persian (Achaemenid) Empire and indirectly with Arabic and African empires, deeper research into the exact chronology of these major languages is needed. For instance, is it possible that Turcicum acquired its letters via the Persians in the period 550 -330 B.C.? In which case, this form of Turkic would have come from the Aryan Indo-European tradition and might have served as a bridge to Aphricanum and Arabicum. Possible older connections will be explored in § 3.3. below.

Turkey may well be the key to understanding other dimensions of early European alphabets. The textbook version we learned at school was that the Phoenicians invented the alphabet which was then copied by the Aramaeans, the Hebrews, and the Greeks. Older sources show that the first Phoenician alphabet had 25 letters, while the second Phoenician alphabet was 24 letters. This first Phoenician alphabet (also called Phenician 1) is identical with Assyrium in the 72 sacred alphabets. Hence, it was imported from Assyria and not invented along the shores of the Mediterranean.23

The second Phoenician alphabet, or Ionic, corresponds to Saracenum (cf. Saracen 1) in the 72 sacred alphabets. The Saracens formed the equites (heavy cavalry) from Phoenicia and Thamud. Originally they were a people who came from “desert areas in and near the Roman province of Arabia, and who were specifically distinguished from Arabs.” 24 This second Phoenician alphabet was also called the Ionian Alphabet. This is the more significant because it was from Miletus in Turkey that a 22 letter, Greek Ionic ABC version of the alphabet was first imported to Athens Greece in 403 B.C.25 Hence, a Saracen alphabet from Arabia went to Phoenicia and Turkey, was modified, and became an ABC version of the Greek alphabet.

The textbook version of the origins of Latin is that it came from the Etruscans. Some claim it derived from a version of Greek. Even a cursory comparison between ancient Phrygian and ancient Latin shows that a number of the letters are nearly identical. Italy was certainly aware of Phrygia. For instance, the museum of Brescello still has Phrygian artefacts. Precisely how these alphabets interacted is another area for research.

  1. Bridges to Asia

Turkey’s bridges to the west were complemented by bridges to the East. Sardis (Sart), the location of one of the 7 Christian Churches of Saint Paul, was also the westernmost post of the Royal Road that led via Ashur to Susa in Elam, the winter capital of the Achaemenid Empire. Later this same city was part of the Silk Roads that led to Persia, India and China. Tin and caravan roads were mentioned earlier. The importance of these roads for trade is well known. Here, our interest is in their importance in spreading architectural features, religion and ideas.

    1. City Plans

Ebla, now in Syria, was once part of Hittite Empire. The city was built on a limestone outcrop, which has been used to explain its name (Ebla, meaning White Rock).26 Its acropolis has the form of a raised, fortified city. It is surrounded by a circular wall. A very similar pattern is found in Erk Kala in Turkmenistan. Indeed it is an example of a type of city-plan found at Kültepe and Gaziantep in Turkey, at Erbil (Arbila) in Iraq, Nisa in Iran, Mehrgarh and Kot Diji in Pakistan. A simple, pragmatic explanation would state that elevated hills are useful for defence and that the idea was copied throughout Asia and the Near East. To understand why there is probably more to the story, requires a brief detour via Zoroastrianism.

2.1.1. Zoroastrianism

Today Turkey is most commonly associated with Islam and with Christianity, as noted above. In an earlier period, Eastern Turkey was also associated with Zoroastrianism. Indeed, Ranghaya/Rangha situated at the Upper Tigris River was the 16th Vendidad Nation.27 As a result, Turkey was linked with one of the oldest world religions linked with a sacred text. This brought it in contact with a wide range of cultural centres in Middle Asia including Azerbaijan, Iran, Uzbekhistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Vendidad Nation 15. Hapta Hindu (Sapta Sindu) in the Upper Indus Valley.

Zoroastrianism was much more than a belief system. It had advanced cosmology, astronomy, and astrology. It also introduced new architectural forms such as fire temples (fire houses), typically called 4 doors (čahārqāpū) or 4 arches (Chatar Taq, Čahārṭāq , Chahar-Taqi). The Chahar Taqi at Ani in Turkey is an excellent example. These fire temples are of interest in their own right because they introduce grid patterns to architecture, variations on a Greek cross pattern and are related to diaphragm arches and ribbed vaults.28

More importantly, the fourth Vendidad Nation, Bakhdhi (Bactria) was a centre of Zoroastrianism with its capital in Balkh. Founded in the 4th millennium B.C., Balkh was called the Mother of all Cities and Shamis en Balkh, 'Sams-i-Bala‘ (cf. Shambala). It was a

Depe Turkmenistan

Höyük Turkey

Tall Iraq

Tel Israel

Tell Israel

Tapa Afghanistan, India

Tappa Iran

Tappeh Iran

Tepe Turkey, Turkmenistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekhistan

Terp Netherlands

Teppe Iran

Figure 3. Some terms for (man-made) hills and mounds and related countries.

city in a special form of a circle: both Old Balkh and New Balkh. In Zoroastrianism, the circle was a symbol of the world of matter.29

Arkaim in Russia, also built in the 4th millennium B.C., has the same basic form as do Mari (Iraq) built a millennium later (c. 2,900 B.C.); Kültepe in the 3rd millennium B.C. and Zincirli Höyük in the 2nd millennium B.C. This circular shape was repeated more accurately in Gur (8th c. B.C.), said to be the first geometrically circular city in Iran. Alexander the Great destroyed it in the 4th c. B.C. Ardashir rebuilt it in the 3rd c. A.D. adding a fire temple at the centre. Meanwhile, Ecbatana (715 B.C.) was built as a perfect six spoke wheel. It also had seven circles corresponding to 7 levels of status with the king living in the centre.30 Each of circles had coloured walls aligned with the 7 planets. This circular city form was also used by Darius at Darabgerd and later became the model of the Muslim city of Babylon. Hence, what began as circular cities with cosmological associations, become circular cities which are models of the cosmos.

This lightning tour of Middle Asian architecture makes it clear that we cannot understand major Turkish sites such as Kültepe and Gaziantep in isolation. Needed is international, comparative research that studies how these models evolved and shared their principles. Initially, we suggest that this might proceed along at least three lines. One would be geological, archaeological and architectural comparing the physical nature of the mounds, and techniques used.

A second line would be philological and linguistic with attention to toponymy. Early sites are sometimes on high places (e.g. acroprolis). Often they are on man-made hills or mounds. Their names vary considerably.Sometimes they are called Kaya and Kaya (rock). In Turkey, they are typically called Höyük or Tepe. Elsewhere they are called Depe, Tall, Tel, Tell, Tapa, Tappa, Tappeh, Tepe, Teppe. In some cases these variants are simply alternative forms of spelling. In other cases, a particular variant is linked with a country, region (figure 3) and occasionally seem to be linked with a specific chronological timeframe. We need a compendium of these sites, which can be searched chronologically as well as geographically.

Connected with this is a third line which would be more in terms of cultural history. It would reach back into pre-history and link circular models of the cosmos with circular cities and structures. Starting points would be Mount Meru (India), Atlantis (Greece) and Belovodje (Russia). Part of this story lies in understanding how mythological forms become intertwined with utopian, idealised versions and then become historical sites such as Hamedan (Ecbatana) and Firuzabad.

Another part of the story lies in tracing how metaphysical concepts become physical and then return to depicted mental realms. For instance, the rebuilt city of Gur (Iran) contained a fire temple at its centre. In Iraq, a similar structure becomes the Malwiya Minaret, Abu Duluf Mosque, Samarra. In Iraq also, ziggurats were erected, “as an imitation or artificial reproduction of the mythical mountain of the assembly of the stars' (Ararat and Eden).”31 Accordingly, the seven floors of the ziggurat in Babylon were aligned with 7 colours and 7 planets, thus providing a 3-D cosmological version which Ecbatana had evoked though its circular city walls: a city as cosmos was now replaced by a building as cosmos.

In India, there had also been a concept of 7 Jain hells. In Sumeria, these became 7 gates of the underworld (Kur). In the Koran, these seven floors became 7 earths of the underworld, balanced by 7 heavens above. Meanwhile, in Armenia, the 7 physical floors of ziggurats became 7 metaphysical layers of a mythical central mountain reminiscent of Mount Meru. In the Christian tradition, Dante produced an amalgam of these traditions. The 7 hells of the East, became the 7 upper hells of a more complex structure with 9 hells. The ziggurat and mythical mountain became a 7 corniced moral mountain culminating in a terrestrial paradise, while the 7 heavens were now re-linked with planets without the ziggurat imagery. Such a cultural history of metaphysical and physical cosmological models would help to reveal the interconnectedness of early cultures qua their theories and their structures.

The above sketch suggesting a mini-history that begins in Balkh in the 4th millennium B.C. and spreads to Kültepe by the 3rd millennium B.C. is fully plausible but it can hardly be the full story. For instance, the Turkish site of Göbeckli Tepe is also based on a circular city model. While its scale is much smaller than Balkh, it predates Balkh by 6 millennia, going back to the 10th millennium B.C. In popular articles, Göbeckli has been described as the world’s oldest temple32 and the beginning of civilization. This is very unlikely. The Zharkutanskie runes from Sungir near Orel in Russia go back to 68,000 B.C.33 Wiki claims that Arbila goes back to the 5th millennium B.C. But new archaeological studies date the origins of Arbil back to 148,000 B.C.34 Such examples confirm the need for long term research in the area currently considered as pre-history, an area in which Turkey can play an important role.

    1. Country Plans

A fourth line of research would extend the study of circular models to include China and specifically their alignment of peoples and colours with the cardinal directions. As in the city of Ecbatana (Hamedan), China had a system of aligning concentric circles with different groups of people, except that they applied the concept to the whole country.35 The central circle was for the Emperor. The subsequent circles were for inner subjects, outer subjects, and tributary states. Beyond these were Northern, Eastern, Southern and Western Barbarians. Beyond China this mental ordering was applied to colours and the Huns: Black Huns in the

West South North

Mongolian ak hara kara
Turkic ak kizil hara
ak al kara
Turkish: ak kırmızı siyah
Kyrgz: ak qyzyl qara
Croatian bijela crvena crna
Russian Bela Cherven Chorna
Belo Krasno Cherno
белый красный черный
Figure 4. White, red, black directions and colours.
North, Celestial (Blue) Huns in the East, Red Huns in the South, and White Huns in the West. The cardinal directions were now colour coded as black, blue, red and white, Turkish kara, gök, kizil (cf. kirmizi, hara, al), ak.

In Balkh (Belh, now Afghanistan), the birthplace of the Turkish mystic Rumi, this colour coding of directions was applied to city gates (doors), quarters and peoples: i.e. North, South, West, East became Black Door, Red Door, White Door, Blue Door (Kara Kapi, Kizil Kapi, Ak Kapi, Gok Kapi) linked with Turkish, Indian, Jewish and Chinese peoples in the respective quarters of the city.36 This principle was used in other Turkish cities. It also applies

to four major Eurasian seas: Black Sea, Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Aral Sea.37
In cosmic contexts, the four directions were often reduced to three, namely West, South, North, which were variously aligned with creation, preservation, destruction; sky, atmosphere, earth; sky, space, earth and solid, liquid, vaporous. They were also linked with three colours, white, red, black; acquired metaphysical and physical associations in a number of cultures and were applied to a range of topics including candles, cities, countries, gods,38 hills, mosques, mountains, peoples, sands, tantras, threads, and waters. In the Hittite Zodiac, a white horse, red horse and black horse became the three world horses associated with Scorpio.39
Here, a main concern is to point to a future research theme. Even a quick glance at colour terms in a few Asian countries (figure 4) reveals that there are parallels between Turkish terms, Turkic terms, those in Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia. A new kind of international research would need to co-ordinate such comparative study.

  1. Bridges to Eurasia

A third kind of bridge entails links with the whole of Eurasia. Here the focus is on Turkic languages rather than Turkey as a country per se. The fundamental work of Amanjolov40 has revealed that this tradition is also connected with the history of runes. Turkic languages span “a vast area from Southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean to Siberia and Western China.41 A basic map illustrates 25 Turkic languages ranging from Karaim in the West to Yakut in the East.42 Wiki lists 35 Turkic languages with five main divisions: Northwestern Common Turkic (Kipchak); Northeastern Common Turkic (Siberian), Southwestern Common Turkic (Oghuz), Southeastern Common Turkic (Karluk) and Oghur.43
Oghur is further subdivided into: Chuvash, Khazar, Turkic Avar, Bulgar, Hunnic. Some aspects of this tree are fairly clear. The Bulgarians claim that Balkh (Afghanistan), discussed earlier, is their original homeland. There are 132 Scytho-Sarmatian runes.44 Of these, the first 75 are accompanied by letter terms. The final 57 (i.e. 75 reversed) are runes without accompanying letter terms. The 132 Scytho-Sarmatian runes are copied almost perfectly as 132 Old Bulgarian Runes. The old Chuvash Alphabet in turn copies the first 75 runes changes the letter terms to a Latin script and drops the final 57 runes. A further subset with some reshuffling leads towards the Early Cyrillic alphabet. So the same, Balkh linked with the home of Zoroastrianism, circular city planning and hometown of Rumi, is a key to understanding one of the five branches of Turkic languages as well as Cyrillic languages.
If the Oghur branch links with proto-Slavic languages, the Oghuz and Kipchak branches link to various Caspian languages which, according to Indian sources go back millions of years. No analysis of these is possible within the limits of this paper. Instead, four almost anecdotal cases will point to dimensions of this vast field: Tengrism, Ur Tamgas, Allah as well as tribes and tamgas. Rather than providing conclusive answers, these examples are intended to raise questions and point to further study.

    1. Tengrism

On the Wiki map of Turkish History (figure 1), there is no sign of Tengrism in the B.C. period. This is almost certainly an omission. In the Slavic Zharkutanskie runes (68,000 B.C.), rune 10 is a Mara rune. The form of the Mara rune and the rune connected with the god Tengri are almost identical. The same basic shape serves as a matrix for aligning (and generating?) the 24 futhark runes. The Tengri rune recurs throughout Turkic and other languages. It is tamga 28 in the Abkhaz tamgas. One of its four axes in isolation produces the Orkhon letter “ič, či.” In Europe, this is the Algiz rune. A slight variant produces the Turkish letter š, which is also the Yuan and Yen symbol. Rotating the Tengri rune as a whole by 45 degrees, provides the cross-diagonal axes found on the Latvian wheel of the year.

Early Turkic letters are linked with body movements as in the runic tradition. They are also linked with tribes and tamgas and reflect principles that have been traced back to China. Indeed, some have claimed that this tradition provided a model for 22 letter alphabets used in most early European languages.

The individual letters of the word Tengri derive from body movements (mudras). For instance, the letter r in Tengri is based on a Y like stance. Such stances, called Tamganin, underly all the old Turkic letters. These are part of a long tradition. For instance, they relate to Runic Yoga. In Scandinavia, there is a corresponding tradition of Stav, where individual body positions combined with staves define 18 basic runes as well as positions in the martial arts. It is claimed that such martial arts body stances were originally also a source for the 28 letters of Arabic, and that this tradition (tantuinine) was exported to China to become the Shaolin martial arts.

The old Turkic runes/letters were linked with body stances. Were they also linked with yogic stances and martial arts as elsewhere in the Arabic world? Zoroastrianism and Sufism both linked letters with creation and the dance of life. Were there once whirling stances long before the dances of the whirling dervishes? Turkey which was linked with Achaemenid and later with the Ottoman Empire is perfectly positioned to explore such questions. An unlikely combination of history of alphabets, religions and martial arts is needed.

33,000 -24,000 B.C. Proto-Indo-European

7,000 B.C.       Slavic Mother Language

6,500 B.C.       Armenian

4,500 B.C. Chechen

2,000 B.C.       Udi Language (Caucasian Albanian);Germanic Languages; Indo-Aryan-Indo-Iranian  

2,000 - 1,400 B.C. Balto-Slavic Languages

1,500 B.C.      Vedic (Old Indic, Sanskrit)

Figure 5. Some dates connected with Indo-European Languages and split into individual subgroups.

    1. Ur Tamgas and Letters

Turkey could also be a key to gaining a better understanding of the roots of Indo-European languages. Wiki offers one summary of standard views. It lists 10 subgroups of which Anatolian is the oldest (1,650 B.C.),45 Indo-Iranian (1,400 B.C.) is third and Armenian is seventh (5th c. A.D.). Another chart links the roots with 3,500 B.C.46 Proponents of Proto-Indio-European associate the roots with Gravettian Culture47 and dates from 33,000 – 24,000 B.C.48 Some speak of a Slavic Mother tongue going back to 7,000 B.C.49 In this model, Armenian was the first branch to split off c. 6,500 B.C.50 (cf. figure 5).
Debates about precise dates or possible names (e.g. Primordial Alphabet, Ur Language, Slavic Mother Language, or Proto-Indo European) do not affect the underlying claims. There was originally a single language in Eurasia, which at some point between the 10th and 1st millennium B.C. split into a series of subgroups. In the case of old Armenian (c.6,500 B.C.), the principles that inspired the letters are fairly obvious. The imagery is solar. As in the case of the Tengri symbol, fourfold symbols aligned along the four cardinal axes were a starting point. One of these axes was then separated to form individual letters. In the case of Chechen, the moon was a source, and various segments were arranged axially. In this case, the symbols at the each of the extremities of the four axes, if combined, would produce a Mara/Tengri symbol. When the complete set is realigned with letters it results in Old Chechen.

Armenia also has a series of signs known as the Generative Force which, it is claimed, generate all the letters of their alphabet. It begins right and left pointing swastikas. In an ancient Slavic alphabet these are letters called Swastika and Posolon respectively. Several of these shapes recur in Abkhaz tamgas, Glagolitic, Armenian, Chechen, Tifinagh. A series of 144 Bukovi shows the swastika as a matrix for generating forms as in Armenia. Such examples suggest that basic 4 axis symbols such as Tengri and the swastika were probably part of an original primordial alphabet. We have ISO codes for the modern alphabets. This needs to extended to letters of ancient alphabets, runes, kuni, and tamga in order to trace routes of transmission and influences. Turkic languages, linked with Caucasian languages around the Caspian Sea, which Indian sources cite as the oldest source of languages, could have a particular role to play in this story.

    1. Allah

The name Allah is now associated mainly with Islam, although it is used by other religions such as Christian Arabs, Mizrahi Jews, and Sikhs. It was used by pagans in Mecca prior to the Prophet Mohammed. It was used by the Nabaraeans as early as the 5th century B.C. Indeed “The name Allah or Alla was found in the Epic of Atrahasis engraved on several tablets dating back to around 1700 BC in Babylon.”51 Thus far, the official story reflected in Wiki.

The symbol may be much older. In the Slavic tradition there was an Allah Swastika (СВАСТИКА АЛЛАХА). There was also an ancient Slavic alphabet called the VseYaSvetnaya Charter (Грамота ВсеЯсветная). There are claims that it was originally a three dimensional alphabet with 1,234 letters, with roots going back to c. 11,000 B.C.; that it was then simplified around 5,500 B.C. into a two-dimensional subset of 147 letters. A version of this alphabet52 is still in use by a small group of old believers (Ingleists). This alphabet is of interest here because it contains another letter aligned along four axes called АЛЛАХ (Allah). This letter is close to the shape of the Sign system of paradise squared53 and recalls the basic form of Tengri. It recurs in various versions. In one case, it is part of a series of which depicts the letters Ya, YaYa, Al, La, Alo, Ale and Alla. Here, Ya is more than a letter. It is also the symbol for Slovo, the word for letter, word, speech. In other contexts, ya has an upward and a downward form: upward as great breath, the runes Ар and Othala; downward as essence, the runes Орея and Erda.

In the Pliske runes associated with Tengrism, the downward form is Sarakt (Holy Heritage, the State Itself). To the left is a symbol IYI. In proto-Bulgarian it is JuJi linked with the names of God.54 This downward form recurs as letter 63, IO, of the Bulgarian Runes; as a framework for a scheme of the three worlds (Yav, Prav and Nav) and as a matrix for the whole of the Ukrainian and Cyrillic alphabets. So the pre-Islamic form of Allah is etymologically connected with the term for word, which recurs as letter 63 of Old Bulgarian and the final letter of modern Cyrillic. The pre-Mohammadan Allah is connected with primal forces of creation. It is a pre-history that deserves separate study.

    1. Chinese and Turkic Tribes and Tamgas

In the Turkish tradition, the IYI symbol has other connotations. It occurs as a tamga associated with the Kayi tribe. Amongst the Oguz, it is the beginning of a classification into 2 Branches, 6 Clans (each linked with a particular kind of hawk), 24 Tribes. The fascinating work of Oimoçu and Bitikçi (2010)55 has suggested that the Chinese tradition of trigrams and hexagrams provides a model for understanding Kyrgz and Turkic cosmology. Indeed, they claim that the principles of Turkic letters also have their origins in the hexagrams of Chinese cosmology: that the 8 trigrams underly the shapes of 8 basic Turkic letters. In some schemes the 24 clans became 22 clans. Hence, China, which introduced an ordering of a country and society in terms of circular symbolism, may also have provided a framework for organizing clans/tribes and 22 letter alphabets. The Turkic languages, spanning the whole of Eurasia were a natural context for dissemination of such macro-concepts.
4. Cradles of Civilization

A standard Western view still claims that the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia was the cradle of civilization: i.e. Sumer, Akkad, Assyria and later Babylon.56 Geographically it is a story of the South.57 The story of Turkey outlined in this paper is one that happened North of the official story. It dovetails with Armenian stories linked with Urartu and Mount Ararat. The Turkic story is further East58 and dovetails with claims of a Central Asian ethnogenesis. We need to respect both histories and understand how they are related.

5. Conclusions

In terms of size, Turkey is number 37. In terms of population, it is number 18. In terms of world history its direct connection with 6 major empires (Hittite, Greek, Achaemenid, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman) makes it one of the most important cultural traditions of the world. This paper has offered examples of how it has created bridges with Europe, Asia and Eurasia. Some of these connections have been forgotten, many have never been studied properly. New research is needed to put Turkey’s places on the maps of old into the mental maps of today’s youth and tomorrow’s leaders.


A.S.Amanjolov, History of Ancient Türkic Script, Almaty, "Mektep", 2003, ISBN 9965-16-204-2.

Kim H. Veltman, Alphabets of Life, Smolensk: Twinscorp, 2014.


 Tin Road:

2 Assyrian Trade Road:

3 Ebla Caravan Trading:

4 Royal Road:

5 Pala from India: :

The Indo-European migrations, which took place over a vast territory extending from Western Europe to India, brought some peoples over the Caucasus into Anatolia. The Nesi people settled in Central Anatolia, the Pala in Paphlygonia, and the Luwians in Southern Anatolia.

6 Hittites from Balkans:

7 Homer (Iliad, ii. 851—857) re: Paphlagonia:

8 Venice:; Venetian DNA Investigation: Cf. Miozzi, Eugenio. Venezia nei Secoli-La Città.  Casa Editrice. Venezia. 1957. Page 31.

9 Byzantium:

10 History of Turkey:

11 Paul of Tarsus:

12 Saint Paul, Letters:

13 Missionary Journeys:

14 Seven Churches:

15 Book of Revelation:

16 Ecumenical Councils:

17 12 Tribes:

18 Egyptian Empire:

19 Tribes:

Salomon, becomes the king of the 12 tribes. After his death, the Kingdom of Israel splits into two; the 10 northern tribes constituting Israel, and the 2 southern tribes, Judea. However, these accounts appear to be, at best, historical fabrications written up retroactively, since no evidence of such kingdoms exist (Yigael Shiloh [Hebrew University]). Even during the so-called King Solomon's time, the region later called Galilee and Samaria separates the two supposed kingdoms.

Other versions link 3 Southern Tribes with 9 Northern Tribes:

20 Indo-European Languages:

21 Altaic Languages:

22 Tatar Languages:,-Huns232.jpg

23 These connections are discussed in detail in the author’s Alphabets of Life which will soon be available at

24 Saracens:

25 403 B.C.:

26 Ebla:

27 Vendidad Nations:

28 Diaphragm Arches:

29 Circle:'u'llah's%20Ancestor.pdf


This symbol indicates that our spirit is immortal, having neither a beginning, nor an end.

In Zoroastrianism there is also the ring symbol:

Some interpreters consider that as the ring of covenant, representing loyalty and faithfulness which is the basis of Zarathustra’s philosophy.

30 Ecbatana:

It is alleged that he surrounded his palace in Ecbatana with seven concentric walls of different colours. In the 5th century BC, Herodotus wrote of Ecbatana:

"The Medes built the city now called Ecbatana, the walls of which are of great size and strength, rising in circles one within the other. The plan of the place is, that each of the walls should out-top the one beyond it by the battlements. The nature of the ground, which is a gentle hill, favors this arrangements in some degree but it is mainly effected by art. The number of the circles is seven, the royal palace and the treasuries standing within the last. The circuit of the outer wall is very nearly the same with that of Athens. On this wall the battlements are white, of the next black, of the third scarlet, of the fourth blue, the fifth orange; all these colors with paint. The last two have their battlements coated respectively with silver and gold. All these fortifications Deioces had caused to be raised for himself and his own palace."

31 Ziggurats:

32 Göbeckli:

33 Sungir:

34 Arbil:

35 China map:

36 Belh (Balkh)

In Turkish cities some quarters are denoted with color as in Belh: Kara Door (Northern quarter) is Turkish, Red Door (Kizil Kapi) is Indian, Ak Kapi or White Door is Jewish and Blue Door or Gok Kapi in the east is the Chinese quarter.

37 Karadeniz, Kizildeniz, Akdeniz, and Gökdeniz. In Turkey, Blue Sea is associated with the Aral Sea. Cf. below. I am grateful to Doc.Dr. Fahri Sahal for confirming this point. In old Russian texts, the Blue sea is associated with the Caspian Sea:

38 e.g. Manannan, Danu, Dagda among the Celts.

39 3 World Horses:

40 Amanjolov:

41 Turkic Languages:

42 Turkic Languages Map:

43 Turkic Languages:

44 A more detailed discussion is again found in the author’s Alphabets of Life.

45 Anatolian:

Isolated terms in Luwian/Hittite mentioned in Semitic Old Assyrian texts from the 20th and 19th centuries BC, Hittite texts from about 1650 BC

46 3,500 B.C.:

47 Gravettian:

48 Gravettian:

49 Indo-Aryan:

"Indo-Germanic" is a neologism which should be abandoned. Since Indo-Aryans branched off from the "Slavic Mother Tongue" (and "Slavic Mitochondrial and Y chromosome genes") some 9,000 years ago [8], and since Germanic Languages branched off from the "Balto-Slavic" source only perhaps 4,000 years ago.

50 Armenian:

Quentin Atkinson and Russell Gray have proved that Armenian language already split from the Mother Tongue in the Indo-European Homeland in Armenian Highland some 8,500 years ago.

51 Allah:

52 VseYaSvetnaya Charter:

53 Kuken Sign system of paradise squared (Знаковая Система Рая в квадрате):

54 JuJi:

55 Oimoçu and Eleri Bitikçi, The Origin of Türkic Script, 2010:

56 Fertile Crescent:;

57 Seen from a viewpoint of the Northern Hemisphere.

58 Turkish Migrations:

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