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Valentyn Stetsyuk (Lviv, Ukraine)

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Processes in the Crimea

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The ethnogenic processes in the Crimea were, probably, the most complex in all East Europe. This has the cause in an especial form of the peninsula as the territory surrounded by the sea from all sides with very narrow isthmus which is simultaneously both an entrance and an exit to the peninsula. Such form has made Crimea a trap for many ethnoi. Who got here once, could not leave from here any more actually in case of invasion of hostile tribes which could move to Crimea through this sole overland way, closing it for runaway for the indigenous population. Therefore ethnogenic processes occurred here so complicated – on the one hand, some ethnic groups could continue the existence in the mountains, on the other hand, the processes of assimilation and mixing of the previous population with newcomers could have place in the limited territory of the plain.

The first inhabitants of Crimea were obviously some ancient Cro-Magnon people and the first newcomers were Turks as they, having spread through the all the coast of the Sea of Azov, could penetrate also into the Crimea. Due the isolation if the Crimea some Turkic language had to be arisen here but it disappeared without a trace. This language had to be similar on Bulgarish but it was not that, otherwise Bulgarish would not be so integrally entered in the joint circuit of the family relations of the Turkic languages. The mixing of the arrived Turks with local Cro-Magnons resulted to the new racial type of the population of the Crimea which obviously was kept to Herodotus’ time and was named by him Tauroi. The Tauroi had the enough advanced culture they cut out human sculptures sometimes of really art quality but their customs were very savage:

Of these the Tauroi have the following customs – they sacrifice to the ‘Maiden’ both ship-wrecked persons and also those Hellenes whom they can capture by putting out to sea against them; and their manner of sacrifice is this – when they have made the first offering from the victim they strike his head with a club and some say that they push the body down from the top of the cliff (for it is upon a cliff that the temple is placed) and set the head up on the stake; but others, while agreeing as to the heads, say nevertheless that the body is not pushed down from the top of the cliff, but buried in the earth. This divinity to whom they sacrifice, the Tauroi themselves say is Iphigeneia the daughter of Agamemnon. Whatsoever enemies they have conquered they treat in this fashion – each man cuts off a head and bears it away to his house; then he impales on a long stake and sets it up above his house raised to a great height. Generally above the chimney; and they say that these are suspended above as guards to preserve the whole house. This people has its living by plunder and war (HERODOTUS, 1993: English quotations translated by G. C. Macaulay: IV, 103).

As V. Vozgrin specified, the majority of scientists consider Tauroi as natives of the Crimea of Indo-European origin (VOZGRIN V.E., 1992: 23). This conclusion is confirmed to be true by anthropometric data, but we know that the clean racial type of Indo-Europeans was never present in Eastern Europe. The people which scholars mind to be “the Indo-Europeans” were the Turks. As if to certificates Homer which ostensibly named the Tauroi by Listrigons, this is an unreliable source and the name gives nothing to us.

As the Cimmerians went on the right bank of the Dnepr, most likely, they came as well to the Crimea too. Probably they have superseded the Tauroi in the mountains, and that ancient dialect being formed on the territory of the Crimea has disappeared also with the disappearance of the Tauroi. Later Scythians-Bulgars have penetrated into the Crimea and remained there even during historical times. Vozgrin notes that the Early Iron Age begins in Crimea with the end of the 8th – 7th VII centuries BC., but the culture of this epoch is not uniform for the all peninsula and is shared on three parts – the Cimmerian, the Kizil-Coba and Tauric one . Thus the culture of Tauroi has genetic connection with culture indigenous inhabitants of the Crimea of the 2nd thousand AD , and the beginning of the Iron Age can be connected with the penetration of the Scythians to the peninsula from the right bank of the Dnepr. Thus, three archaeological cultures of Early Iron Age can be corresponded to three ethnic groups of Crimea – to the Scythians, the Cimmerians and to Tauroi of the mountain Crimea.

In the 3rd – 4th centuries BC under pressure of Sarmatians, the center of the Scythian state has moved to the Crimea, and it has existed up to III century when Goths came there. It is considered that Goths have begun the movement to the Ukraine from their second homeland in Scandinavia, whence they have moved in the mouth of the Vistula and further moved in the Crimea direction during some centuries. In V-VI centuries Goths have passed across whole Europe, but it is clear, that some deal of them has remained in the Crimea. Their traces could be found here still at the17 century. It is considered, that they were gradually dissolved among the Crimean Tatars, but due to natural features of the Crimea the Turkic population in the days of Gothic domination should be considerable on the peninsula, and the process of assimilation of Goths had to begin much before. The ethnogenic processes go very slowly. The example of Tauroi which, after Vozgrin’s assertion, were tatarized only in Early Middle Ages when they have accepted the Tatar language and Islam , can give us overview about the rate of these processes.

Considering such slow rates, one might to recognize, that the Turkic language dominated in the Crimea all time. It's quite another matter that its different dialects prevailed during diverse times. The to-day Crim-Tatarian language has two variants which genetically are drown to two different primary Turkic dialects. The dialects of North-Crimean Tatars were formed on the basis of the Kipchak (Kuman) language during rather near historical times. On the contrary, the southern dialects of the Crimean Tatars concern to the Seljuck group of the Turkic languages to which are belonging still Turkish and Azerbaijan too. As far as it is known, the significant immigration stream from Turkey to Crimea was had no place, on the contrary, there was some powerful return movement. Hence, existence South-Crimean dialects should have any other explanations, rather than Turkish influences. Whether speakers of these dialects are the remnants of ancient Scythians? The answer to this question can be received by comparison than with the modern Chuvash language.

A study of hundreds of primordial language forms of the Northern Black Sea by O.N. Trubachev and A.K. Shaposhnikov allowed these Russian scientists identify one of three Indo-Aryan areas which also covered the peninsula of Crimea (SHAPOSHNIKOV A.K. 2005: 32). Out of the studies follows that in some time in the Crimea had to be present ethnicity speaking by Sindo-Meotian dialekts wich are by these scholars with language materials of Indo-Dard-Kafir group of Indo-European languages. Thus, we can assume that some tribes of the Indo-Aryans, whose ancestral home was in the Upper Basin of the Dnieper, stayed in Eastern Europe permanently and settled on the wide space of the Northern Black Sea coast, and some of them came to the Crimea.

The considerable payment to the ethnogeny of the Crimean population has been added also by Greeks. The colonization by Greeks of the Crimea began almost simultaneously with arrival here Scythians and proceeded continuously almost till our times. At first the Greek settlements were limited mainly to coastal part of the peninsula as their penetration deep into the countries was complicated by the Crimean mounts, but gradually Greeks were spread in the internal Crimea. The different destiny waited the Greek settlements in the Crimea. The most ancient of them were Tatarized, and the latest newcomers have kept the Hellenian language. Thus studying of the language of Tatarized Greeks could throw light on a question on a language belonging of the Pre-Cipchak population of the Crimea.