The Outlines of Hungarian Prehistory
Denis Sinor (Journal of World History 4(3), 513-540)

At the end of the year 895 the Hungarians invaded the Carpathian basin, advanced approximately to the Danube and laid the foundations of a state which, up to the present day, holds under its sway the same territory. The aim of the present paper is to sum up what we know about Hungarian history previous to the Conquest. It is customary to call this period "Hungarian prehistory".

Hungarian historians are, and always have been, very conscious of the fact that the history of their people neither starts in 895, nor is the continuation of the history of those peoples who had earlier lived in the Danube valley. Hungarians, as a whole, have always considered themselves the descendants of the conquerors, and the Conquest is but an episode, admittedly a very important one, in the history of their nation.

For centuries great efforts were made by Hungarian historians to throw light upon this earliest period of their national history, and remarkable results have been achieved. The relevant Hungarian literature is both quantitatively and qualitatively most impressive and it is unfortunate that because of language difficulties it remains practically unknown outside Hungary [1]. Time and again attempts have been made to write on Hungarian prehistory without acquaintance with this literature; these attempts were, from the inception, doomed to failure. On the other hand it must be admitted that Hungarian research on the subject is somewhat stuffy, often enclosed by its own preoccupations and ignoring results obtained abroad. It also has a markedly scholastic tendency. As I think I am reasonably well informed of the different trends and achievements of Hungarian research on this particular subject, I will endeavour to give not only the outlines of Hungarian prehistory, but also an idea of the main trends of opinion to be discerned in the relevant Hungarian literature.

The study of Hungarian prehistory is involved because it calls for a skilful handling of evidence pertaining to various disciplines, such as history, linguistics, archaeology, ethnology. The purely historical approach is further hampered by the great variety of written sources, comprising works in Arabic, Persian, Greek, Latin, etc [2]. It is thus understandable that Hungarian prehistory lends itself to speculation and that it is sometimes hard to strike the balance between equally weak and often contradictory evidence.


When written sources are not available, or when their reports need supplementing, linguistics can shed light on problems otherwise inaccessible. The Hungarians who, in their present country, are surrounded by and intermingled with peoples speaking Indo-European (mostly Germanic or Slavonic) languages, have themselves a Finno-Ugrian tongue. Other Finno-Ugrians live in the north-eastern parts of Europe mainly in the central and northern provinces of European Russia and the northwestern parts of Siberia. It is thus reasonable to surmise that at some time the Hungarians inhabited the same regions and have reached Hungary at the term of a long migration. Although in the last half a century or so this basic theory of Hungarian prehistory has never been challenged, it came to be formulated only after protracted controversies. The difficulty came from the linguistic side. Hungarian has a great number of words which betray Turkish origin, and even the structures of Hungarian and Turkish show striking similarities. As Finno-Ugrian languages were, until the second half of the 19th century, but insufficiently known, Hungarian scholars in search of parenthood for their mother-tongue were naturally enough led to relate Hungarian to Turkish and, consequently, to consider the Hungarians as a Turkish people. The thesis of the Finno-Ugrian origin only gradually, and with considerable difficulties gained recognition. No serious linguist can doubt to-day that Hungarian is a Finno-Ugrian language, but uncertainty remains as to the amount, character, and origins of the Turkish elements of Hungarian.

Hungarian belongs to the eastern, Ugrian, group of Finno-Ugrian languages and its nearest relatives are Ostiak and Vogul, spoken today by a few thousand individuals in Western Siberia. Ostiaks and Voguls are called, collectively, the Ugrians of the Ob. The close relationship existing between their languages and Hungarian can only be explained on the historic level by admitting an equally close link between the peoples concerned.

Finno-Ugrian studies are still dominated by the obsolete and indefensible "Stammbaum-Theorie", which represents the relationship of languages in the form of a genealogical tree and therefore distinguishes, as it were, different generations sprung from the same ancestor. Corolaries from this theory are the hypotheses of a primitive people (Urvolk) supposed to be the ancestor, a primitive language (Ursprache), spoken by them and from which all the related languages derive, and an original home-land (Urheimat), in which they dwelt. The difficulty of believing in spontaneous ethnogenesis is overcome by the purely rhetorical device of making the reservation that Ursprache, Urvolk and Urheimat represent respectively the earliest stage of the language our knowledge embraces, the people who spoke it and the territory this people lived in, it being understood that yet earlier stages must have existed. But the point precisely is that we cannot reach this "Ur"-stage, it is entirely hypothetical; from the point of view of the historian it is an arbitrary halt of time and represents nothing but a comfortable and inaccurate simplification of a complex problem.

Even if we do not accept the theory of Ursprache and Urvolk it can be taken for certain, that if two languages are related to each other, the peoples who speak them must have had at some epoch close and prolonged contacts. Hungarians and the Ugrians of the Ob, now separated by thousands of miles, must, at some earlier stage, have either formed one people (as the Stammbaum-theory would presuppose) or had such prolonged contacts that their languages developed similarities. The same applies as far as the Ugrian peoples’ place in the greater Finno-Ugrian community is concerned. But there is no need to suppose, with the promoters of the Stammbaum-theory, that there are jumps in the chronological sequence of events, that the development of the Ugrian community began after its (entirely hypothetical) separation from the main body of Finno-Ugrians, which, in my view, cannot be imagined as compact and homogeneous.

The question arises : where did the contacts between Ugrians and Hungarians take place? For the adherents of the Stammbaum-theory this is the ultimate question to ask: for them a separate Hungarian body could have come into existence only after the separation from the Ugrians of the Ob. In my view, however, we are not entitled to postulate a separation between Ugrians and Finns; it is therefore possible that the Hungarians broke off from the Finno-Ugrian community at an epoch when the Ugrians of the Ob were still attached to it. If we succeed in locating the territory in which the Finno-Ugrians lived prior to the Hungarians’ detachment from them, we shall have found the earliest place of abode of this people. We shall then have to explain how, why and when the Hungarians set out on the migration which eventually was to take them to Hungary.

In order to locate the Finno-Ugrian Urheimat finno-ugrists made use of methods employed in the last century by indo-europeanists to situate the earliest dwelling-places of the Indo-European Urvolk. The branches of science to which they pinned their hope were Zoo- and Phytogeography, the sciences which deal with the geographical distribution of, respectively, animals and plants. The way in which the valuable data of these sciences is being applied to Finno-Ugrian prehistory is as simple as it is false. If the name of a given plant, say of the oak-tree, is the same in a number of Finno-Ugrian languages, the conclusion is drawn that the Finno-Ugrian Urvolk lived in a region where this tree grows. It will therefore suffice to circumscribe the area of diffusion of a certain number of plants and animals whose names are common to most Finno-Ugrian languages, draw the limits of these areas on a map, and that on which they all overlap will indicate the Urheimat of the Finno-Ugrians [3].

It is certain that important historical and ethnographical conclusions may be drawn from the vocabulary; but it is impossible to expect precise localizations by this method. Clearly if Finno-Ugrian languages have common words for some varieties of pine-trees and not for palm-trees, it can be supposed that the Finno-Ugrians were more at home in the forests of the Northern hemisphere than in Africa. But was this not a priori likely? And are all Indo-Europeans of African origin because they have a common word for baobab? It is no good saying that baobab is a word of civilisation of which we can easily trace the history. Our knowledge of the facts prevents us here from making a blunder; should we be more courageous with lesser knowledge? The reindeer may well have been known hundreds of miles outside its natural home — just as it is to-day — and his indigenous name may well have been adopted — just as it is the case to-day — by people living outside this area. The only result linguistic paleontology as applied to Finno-Ugrian studies can show is a negative one, namely that the study of Finno-Ugrian vocabulary does not permit us to surmise any great migration. It confirms what can also be gathered from historical sources, that the Finno-Ugrians have always remained in or about the region occupied by the bulk of their ancestors since the dawn of historical times: the central and north-eastern parts of European Russia, probably by the middle parts of the Volga and the lower parts of the rivers Kama and Oka.

We have mentioned earlier, that the closest relatives of the Hungarians, the Ugrians of the Ob, live, as already their name indicates, east of the Ural. We know however that they are relatively newcomers to this area, and that important groups of Ugrians lived up to the 18th century west of the Ural, in the neighbourhood of the rivers Kama and Belaja.

In view of what has been said it may be assumed that in the earliest period of their history the ancestors of the Hungarians — I would feel reluctant to call this people Hungarians at this stage — lived among the ancestors of the other Finno-Ugrians, though presumably in closer contact with those peoples whose descendants are known as the Voguls and the Ostiaks.

Whether at some stage of their earlier history the ancestors of the Hungarians had a non-Finno-Ugrian language, is from our point of view irrelevant. When Hungarian history, or rather prehistory, begins, i.e. when a tribe that was to become the Hungarians sets off on a migration, this tribe must have been Finno-Ugrian-speaking, for it would scarcely have adopted the idiom of the other Finno-Ugrians after the severing of its connection with them.

It is perhaps at this juncture that mention should be made of a hypothesis put forward by Count István Zichy [4] who thought that the Hungarians were originally Turkish-speaking, and acquired only later their present Finno-Ugrian language. If this theory be warranted — and I do not think that it is — it still does not weaken our main assertion, namely that they were, or became, Finno-Ugrians before their departure  from the Kama-region.

The questions now arise as to how Hungarian came to incorporate in its vocabulary a great number of Turkish words, and why the general comportment of the Hungarians seems to resemble more closely that of Turkish than of Finno-Ugrian tribes. In search for an answer we shall have to submit to detailed scrutiny the Turkish components of Hungarian prehistory.

Particular attention should be paid to the Turkish loanwords of Hungarian [5]. As we have already mentioned, such importance used to be attached to their presence that on their account scholars were ready to consider Hungarian as a Turkish language. In fact carefully compiled linguistic statistics have shown that only about 9 % of the word-roots are of Turkish origin, a rather small figure when we consider that Latin words amount to 8 % of the Hungarian vocabulary [6]. In a most remarkable study — a real gem of Turcology — the Hungarian scholar Gombocz [7] has shown that the phonetic structure of some of these loanwords presents phonetic features peculiar to the Chuvash language. Chuvash, an extraordinary Turkish dialect is nowadays spoken in the Middle-Volga region and it is thought to be the continuation of the language of the Volga-Bulgars [8]. Gombocz proposed well over two hundred etymologies, most of them reliable, but he made one mistake which proved to be of consequence to Hungarian prehistory. Having discovered that some loan-words show Chuvash-type characteristics, Gombocz hastily concluded that all the other Turkish loan-words were also of Bulgarturkish origin. In fact only a small number of these loanwords can with certainty be ascribed to this particular dialect: the rest could come from any other Turkish idiom. Therefore, whilst there can be no doubt that we must postulate some Volga-Bulgar influence on the Hungarians, it would mean going beyond the available evidence to attach to these few words an importance they do not possess and assume a considerable well-nigh decisive Bulgarturkish influence on Hungarian history.

Endeavours have been made to locate both in time and in space the influence exerted upon Hungarian by Turkish. Here again the impossible application of linguistic paleontology wrought havoc. On the strength of a handful of animal and plant-names of Turkish origin (e.g. sturgeon, badger, apple, pear, grape, etc.) it has been argued that, as the area of distribution of these animals or plants does not include the Kama-region, the Hungarians who took them over from Turkish must have lived (!) under a more temperate climate, presumably just north of the Caucasus [9]. With such reasoning we could soon reach the conclusion that the English lived formerly in northern France (champagne), in Spain (malaga) or even in Russia (vodka); these theories, so widely accepted among students of Hungarian prehistory, verge on the burlesque. In the second half of the first millennium Southern Russia was teeming with Turkish tribes; their presence is ample explanation of the existence in Hungarian of Turkish loanwords. To try to locate with greater accuracy by means of linguistic data the territory where these Hungarian-Turkish contacts took place is to go beyond what the facts can show.

If the study of the Turkish loanwords cannot help us to locate with greater precision the probable place of Hungarian-Turkish contacts, it can shed valuable light on the cultural influence exerted by the Turks on the Hungarians. Under this aspect the study of the vocabulary is most revealing, for it shows that the majority of the Hungarian words concerning agriculture and animal-breeding are of Turkish origin: wheat, barley, hops, hemp, fruit, apple, pear, nut, pea, plough, scythe, bull, ox, calf, ram, heifer, wether, pig, hen, cheese, wool, etc. have Hungarian names of Turkish origin. Practically the whole agricultural terminology of Hungarian is either Turkish or Slavonic in its origin. Among the names of domestic animals there is one conspicuous absentee: the name of the horse is of Finno-Ugrian origin.

Further Turkish influence can be detected in Hungarian proper names. It is somewhat difficult to have a clear picture of the construction of the Hungarian tribal confederation, but it seems to have comprised 8 tribes (the traditional "7" is a simplification) out of which at least 6 have names of Turkish origin. The examination of the extant personal names of the epoch of the Conquest yields similar results [10]. It is also most rewarding to study the different names under which the Hungarians were known by other peoples.

Before embarking on this subject a word should be said about the name magyar by which the Hungarians call themselves. For a very long period it was accepted that this name is a compound made out of the indigenous denomination of the Voguls and Ostiaks and a Turkish word meaning "man" [11]. This etymology is phonetically unimpeachable and on historical grounds likely; it is however always very difficult to prove conclusively such explanations. In recent years attempts have been made to put forward for magyar purely Finno-Ugrian etymologies [12]. This is not the place to enter into their detailed examination.

In western languages the Magyars go by names such as Hungarians, Hongrois, Ungar, etc. which all go back to a Latin plural Ungri first attested in 862, and a Greek Ungroi in use in Byzance from the 10th century onwards [13]. It is generally thought that all these forms derive from the name of a Turkish tribe, the Onogur, known since the middle of the Vth century. The name passed through Slavonic intermediary into the various European languages and the phonetical evolution can be explained satisfactorily. There is however a problem connected with the transmission of the name, a problem which, so far as I know, has not received attention. How is it that the Slavonic form of the name of a Turkish people — obviously unknown in Europe — came to be adopted by Europe as the name of the Hungarians? This is all the more surprising as the only civilised people, the Byzantines, who at this epoch had contacts with the Hungarians did not, at that time, use this name to designate the Hungarians. It must also be remembered that the Byzantine historians distinguish between Onogurs ('Onogouroi) and Hungarians (Ouggroi).

The problem is further complicated by the fact that the same name is also applied by the Russians to other Finno-Ugrian peoples. From the 11th century onwards a name Ugria (and variants) occurs in Russian sources, and although its application varies slightly, it is applied to the whole or to some parts of the Ugrian peoples. The linguistic technical term "Ugrian" has been adopted from this Russian denomination. We are therefore faced with the puzzle that the name of a Turkish tribe is applied by Western sources to the Hungarians at the same time as it is used by Russian sources as the name of the nearest relatives of the Hungarians. This happens at a time when, according to current theory, contacts between Hungarians and Ugrians had been severed for centuries, and also centuries before comparative linguistic can demonstrate any interrelatedness of the two groups.

Byzantine sources contain but little information about the Onogurs [13a]. Nevertheless a few basic facts can be taken for granted: 1) From the second half of the 5th century their dwellings were mostly, if not always, north of the Black Sea, presumably between the rivers Don and Kuban. 2) They are definitely connected with the Bulgars — the sources even speak of Onogur-Bulgars. 3) Previous to their settlement north of the Black Sea, they inhabited the regions which from then onwards were to be occupied by the Sabirs. As we shall see presently this was the Middle-Volga region [14].

Constantine Porphyrogenitus informs us that the Hungarians whom he calls Turks, had the name Sabartoi asphaloi [15]. The most likely explanation of the second element is, that it is a nominative plural of the adjective asjaloV, "firm, reliable". As for the first term, it is generally considered as the name of the people Sabir~Savir. It must however be remembered that this people is ordinarily called Sabiroi in Greek sources [16]. Our knowledge of the history of the Sabirs is extremely scanty, and the little our sources teach us has been put to use in a most unsatisfactory manner. Some years ago I tried to straighten out the matter and I think I have shown convincingly one point which is, for our present purpose, of great importance: that the Sabirs lived up to the middle of the Vth century in Central Russia in the neighbourhood of the Ugrians [17].

Hungarian—Sabir contacts left their traces in later Hungarian chronicles. Although their precise interpretation is extremely difficult, the relevant passages confirm, by their very existence, Constantine's report [18].

In Islamic and Latin sources the Hungarians are also mentioned under the name of Bashkir. Nowadays the Bashkirs live in the Middle-Volga region; their relation with the Hungarians is one of the main problems of Hungarian prehistory, and we shall have to discuss it in great detail. In the present enumeration of the various names borne by the Hungarians, this simple mention may suffice.

In some Byzantine sources, such as Constantine Porphyrogenitus, the Hungarians are called Turks. The first appearance of the name türk dates from the middle of the 6th century when the Turk Empire was founded in Mongolia. This is not only the first instance of a people being called Turk but also the first case where we can safely affirm that we are in presence of a Turkish-speaking people. Soon after their establishment, the Türks made contact with Byzance and their name and country became familiar to Byzantine historians [19]. The Türk Empire disintegrated towards the middle of the 8th century, whereas the name türk came to be applied to Hungarians about a century later when it could not have had any political significance. It is unnecessary to try to establish political connections between Hungarians and Türks and it can be safely assumed that, in conformity with usual Byzantine practice, the name of one important Barbarian people was being applied to another. Byzantine historiography is teeming with such examples and the Hungarians themselves are often called Scythes, Sauromates, Getes, or Huns.

As we have seen the Hungarians appear in contemporary sources under a great variety of names, but are not, as a rule, called by the name they use themselves: Magyar. I think this allows a provisional conclusion to be drawn. The political importance of the Magyar tribe must have been relatively small and it was therefore successively incorporated into various coalitions. So far as we can see the peoples with whom the Hungarians have demonstrably entered coalition were all Turkish and this fact answers the second question set at the beginning of this paragraph [20]: how is it that the way of life of the Finno-Ugrian Hungarians recalls that of Turkish peoples.

What has been said at the end of the preceding paragraph implies that there is some difference between the general comportment of Finno-Ugrian and Turkish peoples.

Finno-Ugrians, so far as our evidence goes, are basically forest-dwellers. Some of them, such as the Ugrians of the Ob, live in the Tundra-region, but this is, as we have already said, almost certainly a later development. We have no evidence that at any period of their history Finno-Ugrians were basically horse-breeding, nomadic steppe-dwellers. Now, the Hungarians appear on the threshold of written history as precisely such a tribe, a nation of mounted warriors. This way of life was, by contemporaries and by some modern scholars, rightly or wrongly considered as typically Turkish. It cannot be denied that the general behaviour of the Hungarians follows the same pattern as that of the Huns, Pechenegs, Comans and other tribes supposedly or really Turkish.

It has been argued with great emphasis that the difference between the Finno-Ugrian and the Turkish ways of living is so profound as to be unbridgeable, and that it is hardly imaginable that Finno-Ugrians should, in the ordinary course of events, become a "Turkish-type" people. Although in recent years this theory seems to have lost some ground [22], it dominated research in Hungarian prehistory for so long that it may not be superfluous to show all its absurdity.

The whole argument is based on fallacy for it takes for granted, without attempting to prove it, that there is a "Turkish way of living". The equation: horse-breeding nomadic warriors = Turks or Mongols,— is simply false. There can be no doubt that some of the greatest nomadic empires were built up by Turks and Mongols, but these states represent the highest stage in the development of peoples of Central Eurasia, a stage which comparatively few of them have ever reached. A large proportion of Turks and Mongols were forest-dwellers just as the Finno-Ugrians, and only some of them developed the way of living that became associated with their names. We have historical records to show that the Turks themselves were originally a non-equestrian people and as far as the Mongols are concerned the duality between forest- and steppe-dwellers goes all through their history. We have — it must be said — no historical records of any other Finno-Ugrian people than the Hungarians taking to steppe-life. But if we consider the poverty of our information concerning the languages of the many nomad peoples who successively populated the steppe-belt of South Russia we can hardly attach any importance to this lack of any other example. If the Hungarians had disappeared as did the many other peoples who in the first millennium populated the steppes north of the Black Sea, they would certainly be considered today as Turks.

It will be remembered that the Hungarian word for "horse" and a certain number of technical terms connected with horse-breeding are of Finno-Ugrian origin. There is no reason to suppose — as it has been in some quarters — that the cleavage between Finno-Ugrians and Turks was that between primitive hunters or even food-gatherers and horse-breeding nomads. There is no need to postulate a break — possibly due to outside influence such as a conquest by another people — in the cultural evolution of the Hungarians, and it would be even more rash to want to ascribe any such break to Turkish influence. The study of Hungarian vocabulary has revealed an important Turkish influence in the domain of agriculture and stock-breeding (with the exception of the horse), that is to say that this influence has exerted itself precisely in the least warlike activities. It is almost as if Hungarians would have become a sedentary people under Turkish influence. This obstacle has usually been got round by ascribing this influence to the supposedly more peaceful Bulgar-Turks. There are both theoretical and factual errors in this reasoning. Theoretically, if we admit the existence of non-nomadic Turks we weaken the — in my view untenable — hypothesis that Turks must be identified with horse-breeding nomads. Moreover we would still have to look for the people under whose influence the Hungarians made what is thought to be the great jump in their cultural evolution. On the factual side there is the weakness that this influence cannot be limited to Bulgar-Turks. If the Hungarian word for e.g. "the ox" has undoubtedly been borrowed from Bulgar-Turkish, we cannot make the same claim on behalf of the majority of other terms connected with agriculture or stock-breeding. They could have come into Hungarian from any other Turkish dialect. In any case it is impossible to have it both ways: the Turkish influence exerted itself on the Hungarians either by bringing them to a sedentary way of living, or by transforming them into nomadic, mounted warriors. I do not see any obstacle in admitting a two-fold influence, but with the ethnological premisses usually accepted in Hungarian prehistory this is not possible. These premisses however, as I have shown earlier, are wrong.


We have so far endeavoured to assemble such linguistic and ethnological facts that are likely to shed some light on the earliest history of the Hungarians. Although some of these facts — such as the different names under which the Hungarians were known — are enshrined in written sources, they do not constitute direct historical evidence. We shall now examine the historical material contained in contemporary written sources.

The most important single source on Hungarian prehistory is the "De Administrando Imperio" of the Byzantine emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus. The work, which makes free and critical use of earlier sources and of information provided by Hungarians, has been achieved around the middle of the 10th century. The gist of what Constantine says on Hungarian history is this [23]: In former times the Hungarians — then called Sabartoi asphaloi — used to live in the neighbourhood of the Khazars in a region called Levedia after the name of the principal of their chiefs. They were closely allied to the Khazars with whom they lived together for three years [23a] and whose king gave his daughter to the Hungarian chief Lebedias. In a war waged against the Pechenegs the Hungarians were defeated and divided into two parts, neither of which remained in its previous dwellings: one part migrated towards Persia, the other towards the west to a place called Etelköz [24]. Here, on Khazar advice, they decided to elect a ruler. For this dignity they chose Arpad who thus became the first ruler of the Hungarians. Some years later the Pechenegs led another attack against the Hungarians who took flight and settled in Hungary.

Constantine gives us further important details concerning the organization of the Hungarians, the attack of the Pechenegs on the Hungarian dwellings of Etelköz, etc. For our present purpose the chief problem is the location of the two successive Magyar countries: Levedia and Etelköz. According to Constantine, Levedia is adjacent to the land of the Khazars and has a river called Khidmas or Khingilous. Etelköz has five rivers: Baroukh, Koubou, Troullos, Broutos and Seretos.

Constantine's data are of little use for the location of Levedia. The two river names are hapax legomena, we do not know to which river they refer, and the indication that Levedia is adjacent to the Khazar country is too vague to be useful. There is a theory that, as the Hungarians were moving from east to west, the western border of Levedia is the eastern border of Etelköz. This however is not necessarily so, for nothing proves that the two lands were in fact contiguous. Numerous attempts have been made to complement from Arabic and Persian sources the insufficient information found in Byzantine works [25]. In my opinion none of these attempts was successful, and I do not propose to make yet another. The relevant geographical indications are in Muslim sources so vague that they cannot contribute to the elucidation of the problem. Only the Persian Gardizi gives some absolute, and non-comparative, indication of the whereabouts of the Hungarians. According to him their country adjoins the Rum Sea (the Black Sea) and is situated between two rivers called respectively Duba and Atil [26]. The identification of these two river-names is the major difficulty. Duba could easily be corrected into Duna (the Danube), but ought it to be [27]? The word Atil (and its variants) means simply "river" and the name is applied sometimes to the Don, at others to the Volga, or almost any other river. Minorsky was well aware of these difficulties and so were most of the scholars dealing with this arduous problem. Where they usually go wrong is, in my view, in trying to solve the problem with the help of historical hypotheses based on very slight evidence and wanting confirmation by exact geographical data. They could only be justified if precisely these geographical problems were to find a solution. Clearly this is begging the question and I find it preferable to confess ignorance. It is fortunate that Byzantine and Muslim sources at least do not contradict each other and allow us to establish with reasonable certitude the main lines of the Hungarian migration.

The situation of Etelköz is clearly indicated by Constantine who, as we have seen, gives the names of the five rivers that watered it. Three of these can be identified with certainty : Dniester, Prut and Seret [28]. The name Etelkz itself can be explained as — in fact in the Hungarian form here used it simply means — "the tract between the river(s)" and is similar in construction and meaning to the name "Mesopotamia" [29]. The question is now whether Muslim sources confirm the information given by Constantine. The answer to this question will be similar to the one given concerning Levedia. There is nothing in Muslim sources to invalidate or to contradict Constantine's description, but the name Etelköz is not found in them and they do not situate with precision the Hungarians' dwelling-places after the first Pecheneg attack. I am inclined therefore to accept Czegledy's opinion [30] that Muslim sources describe neither Levedia nor Etelköz, but the whole territory lying between the Don and the lower Danube. Their information concerning this epoch of Hungarian prehistory is less precise than Constantine's. In view of the acute Byzantine interest in the movements of the Hungarians, this should not surprise us.

A very acceptable theory has been put forward by Németh [31]. It can be summed up as follows: According to Constantine, the only author who mentions by name Levedia, the Hungarians were chased therefrom by the Pechenegs who then occupied the land. Therefore it can be said that Levedia is the country inhabited by the Pechenegs after 889. According to Constantine, four of the Pecheneg tribes lived cast of the Dnieper and four west of it, so that it may be assumed that the former Hungarian country lay in the same region. Németh argues quite rightly that the territory described by Constantine includes both Levedia and Etelköz which, at that time, was under Pecheneg rule [32]. One must suppose, therefore, that Levedia lay east of the Dnieper, and as, according to Constantine, the Pecheneg country reached as far east as Sarkel, we are justified in situating Levedia between the Don and the Dnieper. I think that, among the numerous theories put forward by various scholars, Németh's is the most convincing, although it may seem rather unlikely that the Hungarians could have held under their sway the whole of this territory. If more precise situation is at present impossible, we can at least be fairly certain that Levedia lay within the limits given by Németh.

The question now arises, from where did the Hungarians migrate to Levedia? The answer given to this question is practically unanimous: the Hungarians migrated to Levedia from a country centred around the river Kuban, and bordered by the Caucasus, the Azov and Black seas and the Don. This territory is usually called the "Caucasian country" of the Hungarians. It is my contention that its existence is anything but proven [33].

The arguments advanced in favour of this theory are few and not convincing. Much ado is made about the indication found in Byzantine sources that the Huns living near the Cimmerian Bosphorus had a king called Gordas who was killed by his brother, Muageris. The first of these names is identified with the folk-name Ogur, the second with the name of the Magyars [34]. As the Magyar name does not appear elsewhere until three centuries later, there is nothing to warrant this assumption based on a vague resemblance of names.

Linguistic paleontology provides another, hardly more forceful argument for the Caucasian country. I have pointed out earlier the, in my view, insuperable shortcomings of this kind of argumentation. Technical terms of viticulture and some fruit names (apple, pear) are among the chief arguments evoked for the existence of the Caucasian country.

According to Hungarian tradition, the mythical ancestors of the Huns and the Hungarians, Hunor and Magyar, raped the daughters of the Alan prince Dula and the daughters-in-law of an otherwise undetermined Belar. I fail to see how this tradition can be construed as a proof that the Hungarians lived in the neighbourhood of the Caucasus. The only tenuous link between this tradition and the Caucasus-region is the mention of the Alans who, in fact, lived there. Even if the chronicler's account could be taken literally, and most definitely it cannot, this interpretation would be mistaken. It is expressly stated in the text that Hunor and Magyar attacked the daughters-in-law of Belar and that the daughters of the king of the Alans were there as guests at a feast. Now, it is generally admitted that the name Belar of the Hungarian chronicle is a distorted echo of the name Bulgar. If therefore we were to attribute any localizing value to this story we should have to set it in the region of Bulgar and not near the Caucasus. Proofs would then still be wanting that the Hungarians not only raided this region but also lived there, and that the account is not a tale but history. That the Hungarians stayed in South Russia is beyond doubt. To construe a Caucasian home-land on the strength of evidence similar to the legendary tradition that the mythological ancestors of the Hungarians raped the daughters of a prince living near the Caucasus — is inadmissible. History is abandoned for fiction.

Those who favour the theory of the Caucasian country no doubt consider the above-mentioned evidence as secondary, advanced in support of a main line of argument which may be set out as follows: As most of the peoples whose names have been borne by the Hungarians lived, at some stage of their history, in the Kuban-region, we are entitled to suppose that the Hungarians themselves lived in the same territory. This is sound reasoning provided that there is adequate proof that the peoples in question can be located with certitude in the same region, and also provided that there is no other region to which the same facts can equally well apply.

The names in question are, as we have seen, Ungroi, Sabartoi and Turkoi. Evidence is available that each of these three peoples occupied the Kuban-region. In the case of none of them it is necessary to suppose that contact with Hungarians took place in the Caucasian country.

The Onogurs appear on the northern shores of the Black Sea from the end of the Vth century onwards; it is not possible to delineate with precision their actual dwellings. The main link between the Onogurs and Hungarians is the etymology of this latter name. But as we have seen the Ugra-type names also derive from Onogur. This transfer of names could only have taken place in the Middle-Volga-region, and it would be a very strange coincidence if the Onogurs had just given their name to the Hungarians in the Caucasus-region, then migrated northwards — a migration of which our sources offer no documentation — and there imparted their name again, this time to the nearest relative of the Hungarians, the Ugrians. It is easier to postulate, and in fact I think that there is no other possible explanation, that the Onogur name was adopted, both by Hungarians and Ugrians, in the Kama-region. We shall come back later to this most important question, at this juncture it should suffice to draw the conclusion of what has been said, namely that in order to explain the name Ungroi, there is no need to presuppose a Caucasian country. One other fact could be mentioned in this connection. The name ogur contained in onogur — which according to Németh's likely explanation means "the ten Ogurs" — is, according to the same scholar, a "rhotacized" form of the common-Turkish name oguz. This would indicate that the language of the Onogurs was of the Bulgar-Turkish type.

In view of the presence in Hungarian of Chuvash-type Turkish loan-words, the Chuvash character of the Onogur name is a further proof of the influence the Bulgar-Turks have exerted on early Hungarian history. At the same time, as the Chuvash-type Turkish language is, and as far as can be ascertained was always spoken in the Middle-Volga region, the Onogur name would favour a similar location of the people.

As far as the Sabirs are concerned, although in the 6th century they made several incursions into the Caucasus area, the bulk of the people lived further north, perhaps on both sides of the Ural mountains but certainly to the west of it, in the Middle-Volga region. It is therefore safe to assume that they had contacts with the Ugrians. If the identification of the town-name Suvar with the name of the Sabirs holds good, as I think it does, then the Sabirs must also be connected with the Bulgar-Turks. According to Muslim sources, Suvar and Bulgar were the two principal towns of the Volga-Bulgars.

As already hinted, I do not think that any historical or geographical significance should be attached to the use of the name Turk in connection with the Hungarians. It is true that, with the exception of the Hungarians, the name is always applied in Byzantine sources to Turkish-speaking peoples. It is however likely that the name was used somewhat indiscriminately as a general appellation of Barbarians of South-Russia and not as a term implying political or indeed linguistic community between the peoples concerned and the Turks of the Turk , Empire. In order to explain the use of this name there is no need to place the Hungarians in the Kuban-region, the less so as this area was never an integral part of the Turk Empire.

In summing up what can be learned from the names Ungroi, Sabartoi and Turkoi concerning the hypothetical Caucasian country, we can lay, that for various reasons expounded above, no geographical significance can be attached to the use of the last of these names. As for the first two, contacts between the Onogurs and Sabirs on one side and the Hungarians on the other, may have taken place in the Caucasus region, but it is more likely, and in the light of other evidence it becomes imperative to assume, that these contacts took place in the Middle-Volga region where we can locate, without distortion of the facts, all the peoples concerned.

None of the facts adduced to sustain the hypothesis of the Caucasian country has, on its own, sufficient value; the theory will stand or fall according to the degree of likelihood that the itinerary of the Hungarian migration passed through the region. If it cannot be shown that the Hungarians must have passed through the Kuban-region on their way to Levedia, the hypothesis of the Caucasian country will have to be discarded. We shall have to locate, as the next step, the country whence the Hungarians migrated either to the Caucasian country or to Levedia.

It is generally thought that the Hungarians migrated to the Caucasian country from Western Siberia, more precisely from the Irtish-region. In my view this theory is not borne out by the facts [35].

The line of argumentation in favour of the Siberian dwelling-places has its starting point in the work of Priskos who describes a migration which took place between 461-465 [36]. At this time, so his information goes, the Avars ousted the Sabirs from their former dwellings, and they in turn, pushed the Saragurs, Ogurs and Onogurs towards the south. The relevant passage gives no indication of the location of the peoples involved, and it is this absence of positive data that threw wide open the door to speculation. Through taking for established Chinese evidence what in fact was only the personal opinion of the great 18th century scholar Deguignes, it was assumed that the Sabirs had come from Chinese Turkestan and this error led to the placing of the Onogurs in Western Siberia. As the Onogurs for ethnonimic reasons must be connected with the Hungarians, these were also placed in the same region. But as I have shown with detailed and technical argumentation, which it would be superfluous to take up here again, there is no reason to place the Onogurs in the Irtish-region and, consequently, we have no ground either to locate the Hungarians in the same area.

Incidentally the theory of Western Siberian dwellings obliges its promoters to suppose yet another Onogur migration. The name of the Ugrians postulates Onogur presence in the Middle-Volga region ; Priskos’ text indicates clearly a migration with a southward trend and there are, as we have seen, some data mentioning Onogurs in the Black Sea area. If we locate the Onogurs in Siberia we must attribute to them, without the slightest historical evidence, a circular migration, taking them from the Kama-region to Western Siberia, from there to the Kuban-country, and back again to the Kama-region.

The theory that the Hungarians ever lived in the Irtish-region is totally unwarranted and is due to the misinterpretation of the "Vlker-wanderung" described by Priskos. All the scholarly ingenuity exercised in its elaboration was from the first misapplied, based as it was on, according to the text of Deguignes, the authority a Chinese text would have commanded — on belief, without verification, that the moon is made of green cheese.

We have dismissed the theory that the Hungarians went to the Kuban-region from Western Siberia, but we have as yet put forward no alternative solution of our problem. Now it will be remembered that upon the nature of this solution depends the acceptability of the attribution to the Hungarians of a Caucasian home-country.

Let us admit, for the time being and as a working hypothesis, that the Hungarians did stay in Western Siberia. Even if this were so, we would still have to enquire after their previous home. The obvious answer, which in fact has invariably been given to this question, would be that the Hungarians wandered to Western Siberia from the Kama-region. We have seen earlier that, at some time of their history, in fact the earliest we can trace, the Hungarians lived there amidst other Finno-Ugrian peoples. Two points need clarification: 1) Can it be proved that the Hungarian migration had its starting point in the Kama-region? 2) If so, where did they go from there?

Personally I have no doubt that the first of these questions can be answered affirmatively.

To begin with, and for the sake of clarity, let us recapitulate the various reasons which allow us to take the Kama-region as the starting point of the Hungarian migration. For the strictly prehistoric period we must take the available linguistic evidence. The appurtenance of Hungarian to the Finno-Ugrian languages makes certain the cohabitation over a prolonged period of the peoples concerned. If we accept the classical — and mistaken — conception, we must even reckon with one "Urvolk". As all evidence tends to show, the Finno-Ugrian community always lived, and probably was formed where its bulk lives to-day, in European Russia, with the Middle-Volga region as centre of gravity. We have also seen that, excepting the Trks, all those peoples whose names the Hungarians successively bore, namely Onogurs, Sabirs and Bashkirs, can be traced in the same region. Contacts with the former two could also have occurred elsewhere than in the Middle-Volga region, but the transfer to the Hungarians of the Bashkir name cannot have taken place in any other region.

The Bashkir-Hungarian relations deserve careful scrutiny and relatively rich material can be found in written sources [37].

I should like to draw attention to a fact that hitherto seems to have been overlooked, at all events I do not remember ever having seen it clearly stated. This is the absence in Byzantine sources, so far as I know, of any reference to the Bashkirs. For imperious political reasons Byzance was usually well acquainted with the various Barbarian tribes living inside or in the proximity of its extended frontiers, and some of this knowledge filtered through into the written sources. Although one is necessarily reluctant to attach decisive importance to what is, after all, an argumentum ex silentio, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Bashkir-Byzantine contacts must have been virtually nil. Clearly the Bashkirs were outside the Byzantine orbit, and it is there that their contacts with the Hungarians must have taken place. This rules out the Caucasus, Azov Sea and Black Sea areas, very well known by Byzantine writers.

Our knowledge of the Bashkirs comes from Muslim and 13th century Latin sources.

To quote Minorsky [38]: “The clearest and simplest presentation of the case in Muslim sources is found in (the Arabic writer) Istakhri who says ‘there are two classes of Bashkirs. The one is found at the further end of the Ghuzz behind the Bulgar and they are said to be about 2000 men and to be protected by impassable thickets; they obey the Bulghar. The other class of them borders the Pechenegs; both they and the Pechenegs are Turks and they border on Rm’”. There is no doubt that by Bashkirs in this context we should understand Hungarians. In fact a very similar passage taken from the Persian historian Gardizi speaks of two lands of the Magyars, one of them near the Bulgars, the other adjoining the Rm Sea. A comprehensive study of all the available evidence makes it perfectly clear that according to Muslim writers the Bashkirs — as they call the Hungarians — were divided into two groups, one of which lived in the Middle-Volga region "behind the Bulgars" and the other further south between two rivers flowing into the Black Sea. The evidence is not clear as to whether these two branches were connected with each other. It is also certain that in the usage of Muslim geographers the names Bashkir and Magyar were interchangeable; the name Bashkir is even used for the Hungarians living in Hungary. For instance the Persian historian Juwayni, in describing the Mongol campaign against Hungary, calls the Hungarians Bashkirs.

In Latin sources of the 13th century the Bashkir-Hungarian identity is taken for granted. Piano Carpini in describing the Mongol campaign in Russia writes: "Inde procedentes (the Mongols) ad aquilonem contra Baschart (var. Biscart, Bascart, etc.), id est Hungarian, magnam" [39], and in another passage he mentions: "Bascartos id est Magnam Hungariam" [40]. His companion, Benedict of Poland, mentions "Bascardos qui sunt antiqui Ungari" [41]. The other great Franciscan traveller, Rubruck, speaks of "Pascatur qui est maior Hungaria" [42], that "Ideoma Pascatur et Ungarorum idem est", and also makes the following most interesting remark: "De illa regione Pascatur exierunt Huni qui postea Hungari, unde est ipsa maior Hungaria" [43]. Both Piano Carpini and Rubruck are reliable informants, but it must be emphasized that neither Piano Carpini nor Rubruck had first-hand acquaintance with the Bashkirs. Rubruck states expressly: "Hoc quod dixi de terra Pascatur scio per fratres Predicatores qui iverunt illuc ante adventum Tartarorum" [44]. We are in the fortunate situation of knowing the sources referred to by Rubruck.

We know of at least two Dominican expeditions to these regions [45]. The second of them, undertaken in 1236-37 by the Hungarian Friar Julian, is well known through two descriptions, each of them preserved in several manuscripts [46]. One of these accounts was written by Julian himself, the other by a certain Richard who I suspect was an official in the court of the Emperor Frederick II. His report, entitled De facto Ungarie magne, contains most important facts concerning Julian's journey. According to Richard “It was set forth in the Gest of the Christian Hungarians that there was another greater Hungary, from which seven chieftains had emigrated with their peoples... and they, passing through many realms and destroying them, at length reached the land now called Hungary”. The Friars having found out about the existence of these Hungarians took compassion of them, their pagan brethren from whom they knew they were descended, because they still remained pagans, and sent out Friars to find and to convert them. Julian — and this is the most important information from our point of view, "discovered them (the Hungarians) beside the great river Ethyl; and when they saw him and understood that he was a Christian Hungarian, they were not a little rejoiced at his arrival, and led him round through the houses and homesteads, faithfully inquiring about the king and the realm of their Christian Hungarian brethren, and they listened most carefully to anything he wished to expound to them, either about the faith or about other things; for they had the Hungarian language entirely and understood him as he did them... And they knew from the accounts of the ancient writers that these other Hungarians are descended from themselves, but they did not know where they were".

There is no mention in Richard's account of the Bashkirs, but it is clear from the context that the country of Magna Hungaria lay near the Volga (called here Ethyl), in the area in which we have to place the Bashkirs. If we give full credence to Richard's account then we must admit that in the 13th century Hungarians were still to be found in the region which must be considered as the earliest known dwellings of this people. The importance of this discovery for Hungarian prehistory can hardly be overemphasized. For this very reason it calls for most careful examination.

It has been argued in some quarters that Julian's journey belongs to fiction rather than to reality. We have no grounds for taking such view. There are however some facts that cast doubt on the veracity of Richard's account of the journey. I think that in another place I succeeded in showing that Julian made only one and not, as it was generally thought, two trips. For this reason, and also for some others, Julian's letter to Richard's account can only relate the same voyage and if that is so, in case of contradiction between the two sources our preference must go to the former. No mention is made in Julian's report of his having been in Magna Hungaria. The relevant passages run as follows:

"While I remained the second time at the Roman Curia, four of my brethren preceded me to Greater Hungary, who... met... certain pagan Hungarians fleeing before the Tartars". In speaking of the Mongol campaign in Russia, Julian informs us that "Turning thence to Greater Hungary, where our Hungarians originated, he (the Mongol chief) waged war against them for fourteen years and conquered them in the fifteenth just as the pagan Hungarians themselves have told us by word of mouth". — "So I and my companions, seeing the land overrun by the Tartars, and perceiving no consequence in sowing the seed in fortified districts, we returned to Hungary".

A comparison between the passages quoted respectively from Richard and Julian allow a few conclusions to be drawn. It is perfectly cleat that Julian himself did not reach Magna Hungaria. Not only does he say so as far as the trip he is describing is concerned, but the context makes it clear that he had never been there. But if this is so, then Richard's testimony does not hold good or, at least, the accidents described therein are partly invented. It seems to me that Richard's account is a scholarly piece of work, not without literary pretentions, and that he embellished considerably the certainly more sober account of the Dominican travellers. We should not take too literally what he has to say on the Hungarians of Magna Hungaria and particularly on Julian's romanced encounter with the pagan Hungarians. The statement "they had the Hungarian language entirely and understood him as he did them" cannot be taken at its face-value.

This statement of Richard led in the past to considerable speculation. If, as it is generally thought, the Hungarians migrated from the Kama-region first to Western Siberia, then to the Caucasus-region, Levedia, Etelköz and finally to Hungary, their separation from the other Ugrians must date so far back, that it is difficult to see how Julian and the pagan Hungarians could have understood each other. Gombocz [47] also drew attention to another difficulty, viz. the presence in Hungarian of the Turkish loan-words. According to him, these are so numerous that their absence from the pagan Hungarians' language would have made communication between them and Julian impossible.

There is also another difficulty. Both Richard and Julian locate Magna Hungaria in the Middle-Volga region, that is, according to Rubruck, Piano Carpini and also the Muslim sources, in the Bashkir country. Now, the Bashkirs are Turks and we have data to show that they were already Turkish-speaking in the 11th century [48]. To overcome this difficulty we can either completely disregard Richard's statement on the language of the pagan Hungarians, or we can suppose a bilingual community incorporating Turkish-Bashkirs and Finno-Ugrian Hungarians.

Despite the relatively small value I am prepared to attach to Richard's account, the existence in some form of a Magna Hungaria cannot be denied. In any case it is obvious that Julian himself took its existence for granted. The pagan Hungarians are, from his point of view, so real, that whenever he speaks of Hungary, he always calls its inhabitants "Christian Hungarians", so as to avoid any possible confusion with the "pagan Hungarians" of Magna Hungaria. Julian also mentions Hungarians fleeing from the Mongols and states that he has spoken with them. Although we can be certain that he himself had not been in Magna Hungaria, he was obviously well informed on it.

It is important to note that Hungarians in the 13th century were aware of the existence of an other Hungarian community. The contacts between the two branches however had been broken for some time, because the Dominicans had no clear idea where to search for the pagan Hungarians. Constantine, writing on the Hungarians of the epoch when they were called Sabirs, speaks of a fraction that emigrated towards Persia and with which the Hungarians already installed in their new country maintained contacts. Moór's suggestion [49] that Constantine meant in fact the Hungarians of the Volga-region, cannot be proved. There is more reason to believe with Györffy [50], that up to the 11th century Hungarians had preserved well the tradition of other Hungarians living in "Persia". The Gesta Hungarorum of Simon Kezai [51] states it clearly and specifies that the languages of the two sorts of Hungarians differ but little.

Up to the end of the 13th century there were two traditions concerning the oldest dwelling-places of the Hungarians [52].

The first tradition locates them near the Maeotidian marshes. The case is clearly stated by the non-Hungarian Godfrey of Viterbo: "Ungarorum regna duo esse legimus, unum antiquum aput Meotidas paludes in finibus Asie et Europe, et alterum quasi novum a primo regno in Pannonia derivatur, quam Pannoniam nonnulli novam Ungariam vacant" [53] ... — Some of the Hungarian legends make the Hungarians come from the Maeotis region or even further from Persia. According to Kezai, Hunor and Magyar, sons of the king of Persia (!) and eponymous ancestors of the Huns and Hungarians, in the course of a hunting-party followed a doe which led them amidst the marshes of the Maeotis. The two princes, finding the place convenient for cattle-breeding, decided to leave their father and set up home in the marshes. The fact that the motive of the fleeing doe is well-known from other legends and that even the Maeotidian marshes occur in similar contexts (e.g. Jordanes, Getica) is, from our present point of view, irrelevant. Our sole concern at present is to ascertain what the Hungarian tradition, independently of its origin, was.

The second tradition situates the original dwellings in the Middle-Volga region. This theory, which after Julian's journey became dominant, is well attested for earlier periods. In particular it governs the description Anonymus' Chronicle gives of the Hungarian migration. It seems fairly certain that Anonymus was notary to Bela III of Hungary (1172-1196) and that he wrote his work before the information brought back by Julian became available [55]. The term Magna Hungaria is unknown to Anonymus. He calls the original home of the Hungarians Dentumoger. He also applies the same name to the Hungarians themselves : "Gens Hungarorum... de gente Scithica, que per idioma suum proprium Dentumoger dicitur duxit originem". Anonymus describes the route that lead from Dentumoger to Hungary as follows : the Volga, Susdal, Kiev, Vladimir, Galizia. There is no question here of any migration towards the Kuban-region, or the Black Sea ; quite plainly Anonymus makes the Hungarians come direct from the territory which later authors call Magna Hungaria or Bascardia. The name Dentumoger has kindled the imagination of many scholars, but none of the explanations offered can withstand objective criticism. Although an acceptable explanation would probably help to clarify some details, it would add but little to what we know on the location of Dentumoger.

It is difficult to trace Anonymus’ sources. He evidently had a good knowledge of the situation of Bulgar, and of the Russian principalities. Györffy thinks [58] that the news of Hungarians living in the Middle-Volga region reached Anonymus through the channel of Volga-Bulgar merchants. This guess is as good as any other; in any case the existence of these Hungarians could not have been widely known in Hungary. About forty years later, to the Dominicans setting out to search for the pagan Hungarians this information was obviously unknown. Richard's formal statement, "They knew through the ancient writings that they were in the East but they knew no more of their whereabouts", is corroborated by Julian's chosen itinerary. He first went to Constantinople, then by boat to Matrica and to Alania, — definitely not the road anybody acquainted with the location of Magna Hungaria would take. In fact, on his return journey and, according to Richard, on the advice of the pagan Hungarians, Julian followed the route indicated by Anonymus as the one taken by the Hungarians in their migration towards Hungary. Györffy's assumption [59] that Anonymus, when he became aware of the existence of the Hungarians in the Middle-Volga region, corrected the tradition on the Hungarians living near the Maeotis, is quite acceptable.

To sum up, it can be said that, at least in the 13th century, the Hungarians had two distinct traditions concerning their earliest dwellings, one locating it in the Middle-Volga-region, the other in the Maeotidian marshes. Both fit in well in the picture we shall ultimately draw of Hungarian prehistory.

We have dwelt at some length on the closely related questions of Bashkir-Hungarian relations and of Magna Hungaria. The first of these has not yet been clarified and probably never will be. Whatever the exact nature of these relations, the fact is that the two peoples are closely connected and this connection could have originated only in the Middle-Volga region [60].

The presence of Hungarians in the Kama-region, inferred from linguistic evidence, is attested, beyond reasonable doubt, by written sources. As there is no trace of any evidence to the contrary, we must consider the Hungarians as indigenous to the Kama-region, which we must take as the starting point of their migration. This is the answer to the first question raised earlier in the present article [61].

We must turn our attention to the second question, which in fact will turn out to be the focal point of our investigation. What was the road taken by the Hungarians on their leaving the Kama-region? The solution of this all-important problem follows from what had been said on the different stages of Hungarian migration. We have seen that there is no independent evidence to warrant the supposition of a Caucasian and Western-Siberian country of the Hungarians. If this is so, we have no other alternative but to suggest that on leaving the Kama-region, the Hungarians migrated directly to Levedia.

Here are then the rough outlines of the picture that can be drawn of Hungarian prehistory.

It has its starting-point in the Kama-region where, encompassed by other Finno-Ugrian languages, Hungarian developed into an independent language. Moving slightly southward — unless we suppose that the original dwelling-places were wide enough to include it — to the Middle-Volga region, the Hungarians came under a strong Turkish influence. Here, in the immediate proximity of the Volga-Bulgars, they had ample opportunities to borrow Chuvash-type loanwords. It was here also that, under Turkish influence, they became more closely acquainted with methods of agriculture and stock-breeding. It must be assumed that at this epoch the Hungarians did not form a fully-fledged political community. To the surrounding peoples they, and their next-of-kin the Ugrians, were known under the name of the Onogurs who lived in the same region. This name then spread, through Slavonic mediation, to Europe. Other groups of the Hungarians — or, perhaps, at another epoch the whole people — were also known by the name of the Sabirs who also lived in the same region.

Certainly, one part of the Hungarians never left this region. The supposition that they left it and returned to the place after a sort of circular tour — seems to me nonsensical. The evidence of the Muslim writers on the two sorts of Bashkirs (= Hungarians) clearly shows that they were known to reside simultaneously in the Middle-Volga region and the Black Sea area.

The history of this second group is fairly well known. They were, for a few years, auxiliaries of the Khazars and at their instigation they at least decided to organize themselves in a tribal confederation and to elect a chief. Constantine explicitly states that earlier they had no chief. Chased away by the Pechenegs they fled first to Etelköz, whence, a new Pecheneg onslaught forced them to migrate to Hungary.

All this seems to me as clear as can be expected in view of the comparatively poor evidence at our disposal. There is one point at which I should like to advance a hypothesis. I would be inclined to give credit to Anonymus' description of the Hungarian migration. The Conquest was obviously a well organized military campaign and it was always recognized, on the strength of Anonymus' evidence, that the Hungarians entered Hungary simultaneously through the south-eastern and north-eastern mountain-passes of the Carpathians. I see no reason to discount the possibility, that the Hungarians entering Hungary from the north did in fact come on the route indicated by Anonymus, i.e. directly from the Middle-Volga region. This becomes more likely if we admit, as I do, that the separation of the "two sorts" of Hungarians was, at the end of the 9th century, a fairly recent event.

This takes us to the so far carefully avoided question of chronology. For want of precise data we shall not have to dwell upon it at length. We have two dates that can be considered as established: under Pecheneg pressure the Hungarians evacuated Levedia in 889 and Etelköz in 895. The date of their moving to Levedia cannot be ascertained but I would be prepared to give full credence to Constantine when he says that the closer Khazar-Hungarian alliance lasted but three years. I definitely think that the Hungarians' stay in Levedia was comparatively short. As we have seen, only here, and under Khazar's influence, did they elect a chief, and there is nothing to suggest that they stayed here for a long period. All this is however aleatory, and even more so are guesses as to any earlier dates.

Generations of scholars have worked on the picture of Hungarian prehistory. The value of their work is great, but the strokes of their brushes overcharged the canvas. The smallest empty space has been filled in until what should be a prehistoric rock-painting has developed into a rich Baroque picture. I have tried in the present paper to trace under this rich ornamentation the simple outlines of the sketchy original. I am not altogether happy at having produced a mainly negative work.


1. Even a selective bibliography would be too long to be appended to the present paper. Moreover it would prove of little use to the reader who has no access to Hungarian libraries. I should like to cite here however, two major works embracing the whole of Hungarian prehistory: Gy. Németh, A honfoglaló magyarság kialakulása (Budapest, 1930, 350 pp.) and a collective work edited by L. Ligeti, A magyarság strténete (Budapest 1943, 289 pp.). I reviewed this latter volume in Journal asiatique, 1951, pp. 214-215.

2. A great number of these sources have been assembled in the somewhat outdated work of Gy. Pauler—S. Szilágyi, A magyar honfoglalás kútfi (Budapest, 1900, 877 pp.).

3. The main contributions to the problem are those of Y. H. Toivonen, "Zur Frage der finnisch-ugrischen Urheimat", Journal de la Société finno-ougrienne, LVI, 1952, 1, 41 pp., and Irene N. Sebestyén, "Zur Frage des alten Wohngebietes der uralischen Völker", Acta Linguistica Ac. Sc. Hung., I, 1951-52, pp. 273-346. Both works are excellent and most instructive for Finno-Ugrian linguistics. My objections are solely to the methods of what is called linguistic paleontology.

4. In his little book Magyar störténet (Budapest, 1939, 78 pp.) in Journal asiatique, 1940-41, pp.149-153.

5. A good general picture can be found on pp. 37-53, of G. Bárczi, A magyar szókincs eredete (Budapest, 1951).

6. See M. Zsirai, Finnugor rokonságunk (Budapest, 1937, p. 48).

7. Die bulgarisch-türkischen Lehnwörter in der Ungarischen Sprache, (Mémoires de la Société finno-ougrienne, XXX, Helsinki, 1912, 251 pp.).

8. The state of the Bulgars of the Volga-region, prosperous already in the 10th century, was destroyed by the Mongols, although the capital Bulgar played an important role in the state of the Golden Horde. Their language is usually called Bulgarturkish to avoid confusion with Bulgarian which belongs to the Slavonic languages. It is not certain whether the Volga-Bulgars were the only people to speak a Bulgarturkish dialect; probably the Onogur language belonged to the same group.

9. The theory has been set forth in Z. Gombocz, Életfldrajz és a magyar shaza (reprinted : Z. Gombocz, Összegyüjtött müvei, I, Budapest, 1938, pp. 84-90) and Count István Zichy, A magyarság störténete és mveltsége a honfoglalásig (Budapest, 1923).

10. Cf. Németh, op. cit., pp. 221-298.

11. Cf. e.g. Németh, op. cit., pp. 247-249.

12. E.g. E. Moór, "A magyar népnév eredetének kérdéséhez", Nyelvtudományi Közlemenyék, LIV, 1953, pp. 75-95 ; M. Zsirai, "A magyar népnév eredete", Nyelvtudományi Közlemenyék, LIII, 1952, pp. 64-74.

13. On the intricate questions connected with the names of the type "Hungarian", "Ugrian" etc., one must rely on the rich documentation collected by M. Zsirai, "Finnugor népnevek. I. Jugria", Nyelvtudományi Közlemenyék, XLVII, 1928-30, pp. 252, 399-452 ; XLVIII, 1931-34, pp. 31-53. For all the foreign names recorded in Byzantine sources the splendid work of Gy. Moravcsik, Byzantinoturcica, I-II (Budapest, 1942-43, 378, 326 pp.) is our main source.

13a. A good exposé: Moravcsik, "Zur Geschichte der Onoguren", Ungarische Jahrbücher, X, 1930, pp. 53-90.

14. I am reluctant to give a closer definition of the different "regions" mentioned in the present paper. I imagine the Middle-Volga-region centred on the great bend of the Volga, including probably the river system Kama-Belaja and stretching southward to include what the Russians call the Privolzhskaja vozvyshennost!

15. De Administrando Imperio, edit. Gy. Moravzsik—R. J. H. Jenkins (Budapest, 1949), p. 171. — All further references to this work are made according to this edition.

16. Cf. Byzantinoturcica, II, p. 224.

17. Denis Sinor, «Autour d’une migration de peuples au Ve siècle", Journal asiatique, 1946-47 (pp. 1-77), pp. 20-24. A similar opinion has been voiced by Elemér Moór, A magyar störténet fproblémái (Szeged, 1943), p. 29.

18. Cf. Gy. Györfry, Krónikáink és a magyar störténet (Budapest, 1948), pp. 31-34.

19. A general picture of Byzantine-Turk relations is given by D. Sinor, "The Historical Role of the Türk Empire", Cahiers d'histoire mondiale, I, 2, 1953, pp. 427-434

20. Cf. supra, p. 517-518.

21. I should like here to remind the reader that the languages of the Huns or Avars remain unknown.

22. E.g. Ligeti, op. cit., pp. 60-62.

23. Chapter 38.

23a. Great efforts have been made to amend this figure. Németh proposed "300", Moravcsik "200", etc. — The original figure is thought inacceptable because it does not tally with the preconceived idea that the Hungarians spent a long time in South Russia. As we shall see, there is no need to correct Constantine.

24. For the sake of simplicity the proper names are given in their conventional Hungarian forms.

25. The best effort is C. A. Macartney, The Magyars in the Ninth Century (Cambridge, 1930, 241 pp.).

26. See V. Minorsky, Hudd al-'Alam, "The Regions of the World" (London, 1937), p. 320, where much relevant and valuable material can be found.

27. Macartney, op. cit., p. 43, suggests for instance an amendation into Kuba (= ? Kuban).

28. Macartney, op. cit., p. 94, makes also the following identifications : Koubou = Bug, Baroukh = Dnieper.

29. Other explanations have been put forward. Macartney (op. cit., p. 96) for instance interprets Etelköz as "the Don district".

30. In A magyar störténete, p. 114.

31. Op. cit., p. 152.

32. Macartney’s opinion (op. cit., p. 96) that Etelköz and Levedia are one and the same country, is not far from Németh's view. Macartney however, locates Levedia-Etelköz on a much too narrow space, on the right bank of the Don, near its mouth.

33. So far as I can see only Moór, A magyarstörténetfproblémái, pp. 38-45, rejects, with arguments to which I cannot always subscribe, the theory of the Caucasian country.

34. The idea has been put forward by Gy. Moravcsik, "Muagerisz király", Magyar Nyelv, XXIII, 1927, pp. 258-271.

35. This is also Moór’s opinion (op. cit., pp. 32-38). I cannot share most of the views which lead him to this conclusion.

36. The bulk of my above-quoted article Autour d'une migration... deals with this migration.

37. K. Czeglédy, "Magna Hungaria", Századok, LXXV, 1943, pp. 277-306, is the best summary of the question. In what follows I rely greatly on this excellent article.

38. Op. cit., p. 319.

39. A. Van den Wyngaert, Sinica Franciscana, I (Firenze, 1929, pp. 72-73).

40. Ibid., p. 111.

41. Ibid., p. 138.

42. Ibid., p. 181.

43. Ibid., pp. 218-219.

44. Ibid., p. 220.

45. For further details see Denis Sinor, "Un voyageur du treizième siècle: le Dominicain Julien de Hongrie", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. XIV, 1952, pp. 589-602.

46. The best edition of the texts is by S. A. ANNINSKIJ, "Izvestija Vengerskikh missionerov XIII-XIV vv. o Tatarakh i Vostochnoj Evrope", Istoricheskij Arkhiv, III, 1940, pp. 71-112. The following extracts are taken from my own translation which I hope to publish with full commentary.

47. "A magyar shaza és a nemzeti hagyomány", II, Nyelvtudományi Közlemenyék, I- XLVI, 1923, pp. 1-33.

48. C. Brockelmann, "Mahmud al-Kaghar über die Sprachen und die Stämme der Türken im 11. Jahrh.", Körösi Csoma Archivum, I. 1921, (pp. 26-40), p. 38.

49. Op. cit., p. 57.

50. Op. cit., p. 56.

51. Scriptores Rerum Hungaricarum, I (Budapest, 1937), p. 144.

52. They are well presented by Györffy, op. cit., p. 48 ff.

53. Monumenta Germaniae historica, Scriptores, XXII, p. 102.

54. Scriptores Rerum Hungaricarum, I, p. 144.

55. See e.g. C. A. Macartney, Studies on the Early Hungarian Historical Sources (Budapest, 1940), p. 147.

56. Scriptores Rerum Hungaricarum, I, p. 39.

57. An amusing enumeration of these attempts can be found in Györffy, op. cit., p. 62.

58. Op. cit., p. 60.

59. Op. cit., p. 67.

60. Whether the assonance, considerable in Arabic and Persian sources, between the names Bashkir and Magyar simply contributed to a confusion of the two peoples or whether it may be taken as a trace of their former identity — cannot be decided. Cf. Paul Pelliot, Notes sur l'histoire de la Horde d'Or (Paris, 1950, p. 138). — Marquart's view (Osteuropäische und Ostasiatische Streifzüge, Leipzig, 1903, p. 515) that Magna Hungaria is an invention inspired by the similarity of the names, is scarcely tenable in face of Julian's evidence.

61. Cf. supra, p. 515.