Origin of Hungarians
The Sword of God
This short summary of Hungarian history (especially with regards to their origin and early record) departs from the officially held position generally taught in schools and found in Encyclopedias which continues to suggest that the Hungarian people belong to the Finno-Ugric branch of the planet’s family tree. However, if one looks a little deeper and examines the works of scholars specializing in this particular era in history, one finds a great deal of discrepancy and uncertainty. The prevailing hypothesis that the Hungarians are related to the Finno-Ugric people is based strictly upon linguistic similarities and is not supported by written chronicles or archaeological finds. Note the following quotations from two leading Hungarian scholars offering excellent examples of the shaky ground on which this science really stands:
the president (2003) of the
Hungarian Academy of Science, writes
in his book, A magyarok krónikája (Chronicle of the
Hungarians, Officia Nova 1996.): "Of the ancestors of Hungarians to 600
A. D., we can only speak in the realm of possibilities, based upon research in
language history, archaeology and geographical flora." Furthermore,
Dr. István Fodor, director of the Hungarian National Museum in the early 1990's, states in Verecke híres útján… (Through the pass of Verecke… /North-Eastern Carpathian Mountains./ Gondolat könyvkiadó, 1975): "The millennium of our early history following the year 500 B. C. at this point is almost completely a blank spot on the map of our early record. We have no written sources to rely upon, nor any archaeological findings that could be connected to ancient Hungarians without any doubt."
Exhibit 1: The official hypothetical (FELTÉTELEZETT) homeland of origin.
So, if scholars of the highest standing can only offer hypotheses (Exhibit 1) regarding the origin and early history of the Hungarians, wouldn't it be reasonable to investigate other possibilities? Interestingly enough, by using some of our very recent advances in the scientific and medical fields, we’ve stumbled upon a new tool; today we’re digging deeper into the human record and interpreting it through genetic research. Racially the Finno-Ugric language group is just about as diverse as humanly possible. The small tribes living east of the Ural Mountain are Mongoloids, the Finns are of Northern European stock, and the Hungarians are typical, Central-Europeans. Research in the 1940's indicated that among King Árpád's people (those that conquered the Carpathian Basin eleven hundred years ago in 895 A.D.) the Finno-Ugric stock totaled just 12.5%. This accounting for only a small percentage of the total population of the Carpathian Basin, other possibilities seemingly have more to offer regarding the origin of the Hungarians and their language. Let's investigate those, along with a short recap of the official version of events. Before we begin and as a reminder, Hungarians call themselves Magyar – a name which appears often in the text.
Let us start with the results of the latest genetic research. Between 1984 and 1989 the Hungarian and German Academies of Science jointly conducted a genetic research project that resulted in the following findings:
"We have evaluated the deletion of the so called inter-genetic 9-bp, of which the presence or absence is a determining factor in establishing racial relationships. The Asiatic origin of 9-bp is completely missing from the Hungarian population. We have found the Asiatic M haplo-group in the Finns, the Ezras and the Lapps, but we did not find it in a single Hungarian individual tested." (The three-page summary of this joint study appeared in the weekly publication Élet és Tudomány (Life and Science) as the article „Népességünk Genetikai Rokonsága” (“Genetic Relations of our Population”); written by Dr. Judit Béres, the leading Hungarian scientist in the group, it appeared in the September 21, 2001 issue.)
Thus, the latest scientific research refutes the claim that Hungarians are genetically related to the Finn-Ugric peoples. Logically, this fresh information should call for a new review and revision of where exactly the Hungarians originated from.
Exhibit 2: The Times Concise Atlas of World History. After the last Ice Age, the Carpathian Basin became an important center for dispersing people to Central-Europe.
Based on archaeological evidence, we can safely say that humans have inhabited the Carpathian Basin for the last several hundred thousand years. Traces and fragments of a human skull and footprints were found in 1963 at Vértesszőlős (Northwestern Hungary); radiocarbon dating suggested that this early man lived about 350 thousand years ago. Remains and tools of the ancient Neanderthals have been found in the Carpathian Basin, along with those of the Cro-Magnons (who, according to science, we modern humans are directly descended from). About 40,000 years ago, in North-Central Hungary, a culture evolved that excelled to the highest levels of its time; the people of this civilization are famous for their fine stone tools and arrowheads; true works of art - such fine tools have not been found anywhere else in the world dating from this period. In a nearby cave in Bükk Mountain, archaeologists have also found a three-holed whistle made of bone (Exhibit 3); incredibly, five notes can still be played on it. Although the Carpathian Basin was tundra during the last Ice Age, yet it was capable of supporting some inhabitants. It has been established that humans have inhabited caves throughout the Carpathian Basin for many thousands of years; artifacts of early man have been found near warm water springs dating back to the Ice Age.
Exhibit 3: Tools and a whistle made of bone - some forty thousand years ago.
After the warm-up began some 12,000 years ago, large numbers of people migrated from the south. It seems the original homeland of these early settlers was Anatolia, today's Turkey. Professor Grover S. Krantz, anthropologist at Washington State University, studied the history and origin of the various European languages and published his findings in the book, Geographical Development of European Languages (Peter Lang, 1988). Professor Krantz set up certain guidelines, which he used diligently in his analysis, applying them uniformly to all European languages. He structured and based these guidelines on human behaviors and life-sustaining requirements such as climate, the length of the growing season, and the quality of land for herding or agriculture, etc. Regarding the Hungarian language, he arrived at the following conclusion; on page 11 he writes:
"It is usually stated that the Uralic Magyars moved into Hungary from an eastern source in the 9th Century A.D. I find instead that all the other Uralic speakers expanded out of Hungary in the opposite direction, and at a much earlier date."
Furthermore, on page 72, we find the following observation:
"Given these objections the actual Uralic-speaking distributions would allow only one alternative explanation - that the family originated in Hungary and spread out in the opposite direction. This poses no serious problem if the time for this origin and dispersion is put at the earliest Neolithic. If this is true it means that Hungarian (Magyar) is actually the oldest in-place language in all of Europe."
Krantz believes that the ancient shepherds of the Great Hungarian Plains spoke the Proto-Hungarian tongue. Closer examination of this question suggests that the early settlers from the south, shepherds and farmers alike, spoke the very same language.
Exhibit 4: Geography of the area in question. In the center is the Carpathian Basin, surrounded by the Alps and the Carpathian Mountains.
To better understand the expansion, or at times perhaps the migration of the Neolithic people, one must take a closer look at the area in question. A warming trend set in about twelve thousand years ago, which brought an end to the last ice age. The Carpathian Basin was one of the most significant areas affected by the climatic change. The mountains surrounding the Great Plain have had a stabilizing affect on its climate. Besides the normal rainfall, the melting snow and ice from the mountains distributed by rivers and lakes provided plenty of moisture, which in turn created dense vegetation. The vegetation provided food for a large variety of animals, and the lakes and waterways were rich in all sorts of fish.
So, the Carpathian Basin became one of the most desirable places to live and capable to support a significantly larger number of people above the average. The early settlers came from the south, most likely from Asia-Minor, today’s Turkey. Once they crossed the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, they either went east or west on the shores of the Seas. The ones that went in the eastern direction came upon the River Danube. They could cross the river, or they followed the right bank of the Danube into the Carpathian Basin. The ones that crossed the Danube could continue their journey eastward between the Carpathians and the Black-Sea, or turn west and follow the left bank of the Danube. Indications are that many of them did just that, because large numbers of these early settlers ended up in Transylvania. Most of them probably crossed the Southern Carpathians by the River Olt.
By the time of the mid-Neolithic period, the Carpathian Basin was heavily populated. Therefore some of these settlers continued their journey along the banks of the Danube all the way to the River Rhine and populated basically all of Central-Europe. In view of all of these points, it is safe to say that the Carpathian Basin was one of the most, if not the most significant centers for population dispersion.
Exhibit 5: 1. Körös culture 2. Culture of Dunántúl 3. Culture of the Great-Plain
The Neolithic cultures had begun to evolve in Hungary approximately eight thousand years ago. About seven thousand five hundred years ago a distinct culture was flourishing in the lower region - between the river Danube and the river Tisza, the lower region east of the Tisza, and in Transylvania (belonging to Romania today). It is known as the Körös culture (Exhibit 5). People of this culture lived in small tent-like or vertical wall houses. In Transylvania, they even used stone to build houses with a fireplace at the center. Besides hunting and gathering, these people provided for themselves by practicing agriculture and by domesticating animals. The artifacts of this society show a close resemblance to that of the Mesopotamian culture. In 1963 at Alsótatárlaka (Transylvania) on the river Maros, three clay tablets (Exhibit 6) were found with pictographs on them. According to radiocarbon dating, these tablets are very nearly seven thousand (7,000) years old (although some archaeologists are still debating this date); yet, this finding may suggest that the cradle of writing may very well have been the Carpathian Basin, in view of the oldest Sumerian tablets being ‘only’ about 5,500 years old. With their pictographs evolving into an intricate cuneiform writing, it is an accepted fact that the Mesopotamian Sumerian culture is the oldest, most highly developed society known to us today. Could these tablets point to an advanced Carpathian Basin civilization that predates the Sumerian society?
Exhibit 6: The clay tablets of Alsótatárlaka
Early scholars in the middle of the nineteenth century, while deciphering the Sumerian writings, recognized that the Sumerians spoke an agglutinative language similar to Hungarian; hundreds of Sumerian words still exist in the Hungarian language today. The French scholar, Francois Lenormant, spent some time in Hungary in order to achieve a better understanding of the Hungarian language. Some believe the English scholar, A. H. Sayce, did the same; the fact is, Hungarian proved to be a useful tool in deciphering the ancient Sumerian language. When deciphering the Sumerian cuneiforms, each of the two pioneers (in the mid 19th century) Englishman Henry C. Rawlinson and Frenchman Jules Oppert, had Hungarian co-workers: Jácint Rónay and Flórián Mátyás respectively. No wonder that, presently as in the past, some believe that the Hungarian and the Sumerian languages are closely related. Others, nevertheless, continue to debate the matter.
The Körös culture was followed by the Culture of the Great-Plain (Alföldi vonaldíszes edények műveltsége) about a thousand years later. Artifacts of this culture also closely resemble the Sumerian artifacts. Appearing on many sacred artifacts, especially on the little idols (Exhibit 7) representing the goddess of fertility, one of the most widely known symbols from this period is the triangle . The triangle is used to "write" or to represent the woman in pictographs. Also found in the Culture of the Great Plain another striking symbol that resembles the capital M in the Latin alphabet. This symbol first appeared about 5,500 years ago in the Carpathian Basin, disappearing around three hundred years later. At about the same time, it appeared in the Mesopotamian Uruk culture, suggesting that there may have been some contact between the people of these two regions. What is interesting about this mark is that no one knows the meaning of it; it remains a riddle. What follows is an exploration of what this symbol may actually mean and represent.
Exhibit 8: The neck of the large clay jar with triangle and capital M symbol
The Neolithic collection of the Damjanich János Museum of Szolnok in Hungary includes an exhibit containing the neck of a large clay jar (Exhibit 8) that had been used to store grain some 5,500 years ago. On this piece of pottery, the capital M symbol is engraved in such a way that it is also a part of the triangle. The V angle of the M forms the bottom lines of the triangle; enclosed by the decorative top line above it are two engraved, triangle-shaped eyes, a horizontal mouth and a nose shaped out of clay. Now, if the two symbols represent the same thing, why did they use them in combination? Is it possible that there is another logical explanation to this question? What could be the significance behind the meaning of the capital M symbol? It is a fact that this ancient symbol resembles not only the capital M of the Latin alphabet, but also looks very much like the letter M = in Hungarian runic writing. If you recall, Hungarians call themselves Magyar - a word also starting with the m sound. Could it be possible that behind this ancient symbol M, we should look for the word Magyar? In this case, if we use the meaning Magyar (Hungarian) for the capital M, and the meaning Istennő or Nagyasszony (goddess) for the triangle, the combined reading would be Magyarok Istennője or Magyarok Nagyasszonya (Goddess of the Hungarians). It is interesting to note that those dot-like engravings falling out of the triangle are like seeds falling out of the hand of a farmer while sowing his fields. It can be stated with near certainty that the owner of the clay jar was asking for the blessing of the goddess for a good harvest.
Exhibit 9: The Egyptian goddess
The Egyptian idol (Exhibit 9) also symbolizes the goddess of fertility. It is about 5,500 years old and is made from the mud of the river Nile. This statue, shaped like a seed, shows a figure raising its arms with closed fingers suggesting that this goddess is saying something. There must be a message behind that striking position of the arms. Commonly recognized today by hieroglyphics experts, the Egyptians used animals, human body parts, and tools - and so on - as symbols to relay messages. When examining our Egyptian idol further, we begin to notice that the head of this statue is an eagle head. The eagle represents the letter A. In Reading Egyptian Art, by Richard H. Wilkinson, we find that the meaning of the arm is ka, i.e. kar, or plural karok (arms) in Hungarian. A hand with closed fingers could have several meanings: khefa which means grasp or amem meaning seize. In the Hungarian language, however, grasp = markol. If the Egyptologists were to use Hungarian (as some Sumerologists did in the 19th century), would the language help in deciphering the Egyptian hieroglyphs more accurately? Perhaps they then might read the symbol in question as marok or makol instead of khefa. This may seem farfetched. Nonetheless, let’s continue this unraveling of riddles using the Hungarian language as our codebook, so to speak.
Exhibit 10: Fragmentary Bull Palette: grasp = markol
If we take a closer look at the Fragmentary Bull Palette (Exhibit 10) from the Predynastic Period of Egypt, one can see that the five hands are "grasping" a rope (Wilkinson’s explanation) - remember, this = markol in Hungarian. After analyzing the clues and uncovering the meanings behind the identifiable symbols found on the idol, a possible reading could be attempted. However, keep in mind that in interpreting the ancient pictographs and symbols, occasionally only part of the word (a syllable) should be used for proper reading. The eagle head is A=the, the hand with closed fingers is ma-rkol=grasp, the raised arms are karok and the statue itself is the goddess, in Hungarian Istennő or Nagyasszony. If you put it all together, it now reads: A makarok (Magyarok) Istennője, or A Magyarok Nagyasszonya, i.e., The Goddess of the Hungarians. This is exactly the same reading as on the Szolnok clay pottery discussed earlier; both artifacts being 5,500 years old seem to validate the reading. Some scholars believe that the people who established the Egyptian culture came from a river called Netra. It is possible that some small creek or spring exists by this name (one not listed); however, the only river listed in the World Atlas similar to this name is Nyitra in the Carpathian Basin. Could it be - if the readings of these two artifacts are correct, which is by no means certain -, that the people of the Carpathian Basin already called themselves Magyar 5,500 years ago and spoke an early form of the Hungarian tongue? One thing that can be stated for certain is this: if we combine the meanings of the signs and symbols, we find perfect Hungarian sentences.
In addition to the previously discussed hypothesis, there is yet a third idol from Anatolia (modern day Turkey), which is equally striking and relevant to our discussion here. Many numbers of these mother goddesses (Exhibit 11) have been found at the Çatal Hüyük archaeological site. Archaeologist James Mellaart interprets the figurine as "woman giving birth". In Hungarian: szülő asszony. Surely, enough of a child's head is seen between the legs of the woman to give this reading validation. Mellaart failed, though, to note the arches on the knees and on the belly of the woman. The meaning of the triple mountain-like symbol in pictographic writing is 'field' or 'land'; in Hungarian: föld. Therefore, if the two words szülő and föld are combined, it results in the following reading: szülőföld - the precise Hungarian expression for motherland. In addition, on the viewable side of the idol, photographed from an angle, the capital M-like symbol can also be seen. Perhaps because the leopard's sagging belly and front and rear legs create the M-like shape, the character is somehow unintentional. However, because the three arches were engraved intentionally, and while the leopard's belly is not a perfect reverse arch, the break or angle in it can only be intentional also. The symbol found again is that of the capital M. Thus, the reading Magyarok szülőföldje (Motherland of Hungarians) cannot be ruled out as an interpretation of the message she is trying to convey to us today, so many years after her initial creation.
Exhibit 11: Goddess from Çatal Hüyük. Note the arches found on the knees and on the belly
In 1928 The Danube in Prehistory, British archaeologist Gordon Childe explained that in the great triangle (Mesopotamia, the island of Crete, and the Carpathian Basin) ‘similar cultures’ existed in the Neolithic period. A similar culture does not necessarily mean that these people spoke the same tongue; still, based on what the previously deciphered artifacts suggest, it cannot be ruled out entirely from the realm of possibilities.
At the time of the culture of the Great Plain, a separate society flourished west of the river Danube: the Culture of Dunántúl (Dunántúli vonaldíszes edények műveltsége). Artifacts from this culture have been found in Central Europe as far west as the River Rhine. Although on the surface these artifacts do not bear a striking resemblance to those of Mesopotamia (like the ones from east of the Danube River), nevertheless, they unmistakably bear similar signs and meanings found in the fertility culture. This society built huge houses out of timber, cultivated land, and domesticated animals. Later on, as time passed, the original three cultures in the Carpathian Basin became more colorful and distinct as borne out by the localized characteristics increasingly appearing in its pieces of art and craft. Around four thousand (4,000) years ago, large numbers of immigrants arrived from the south; these were the people of the Pécel culture. Their massive numbers seemingly were the final and determining factor in establishing the Hungarian tongue in the Carpathian Basin. The population of the Carpathian Basin became dense enough with these arrivals that future conquerors and immigrants, though perhaps leaving their mark on the already dominant language in some, could not completely change it. It is reasonable to conclude that this language was Hungarian or, shall we say, a prototype of it. Ancient geographic and place names also found throughout the Carpathian Basin seem to support this theory.
From the plain of the east (Ukraine), around 900 B.C., the Cimmerians invaded the Carpathian Basin. The Scythians followed them in 500 B.C. Although the Scythians dominated the Carpathian Basin for over 500 years, their settlers heavily populated only Transylvania and the area surrounding Mount Mátra. Some Hungarians believe that they are of Scythian origin and this obviously has some merit; five hundred years could not have passed without some mingling with the indigenous population. One example to show this relationship is the traditional headdress of the maidens living around Mount Mátra - it is very similar in style to that of the Scythian Queen (Exhibit 12). The Celts, the Sarmatians, and then the Huns followed the Scythians. Although some Hungarians trace their ancestry back to these great conquerors (to the people of King Attila), this ancestry is true in part only - the early settlers are also part of the equation. The Carpathian Basin was under the control of the Huns for about eighty years, but only the last thirty or so saw Attila (433-453 A.D.) setting up his headquarters on the Great Hungarian Plain. After the demise of the Hun Empire, some of the Huns returned to their previous homeland north of the Black Sea. It is possible that they are the ancestors of Árpád's people; of course, they thought of themselves as the descendants of the Huns, and rightly so.
The Huns were followed by the "early" Avars in 568 A.D. under the leadership of Kagán Baján; they established an empire from the Western Alps, the River Elb to the Caspian Sea. These early Avars were heterogeneous in their ethnic composition. Some of them were the descendants of the Jouan Jouan from the Xinjiang province of today's northwest China (based on Chinese chronicles, the Jouna Jounas spoke the Turkish and Mongolian languages). Others belonged to a Northern Iranian stock of people and may have been the descendants of the Parthians, mixed together further with a small number of Huns. The second wave of Avars appeared around 670 A.D. Some believe, because of their great numbers, that they were the first large body of people in the Carpathian Basin to speak the Hungarian language; however, the ethnic makeup of these peoples is just as diverse as the first wave of the Avars. Based on archaeological findings, some may have come from the area of present day Iran, others from the region of the River Volga, while their leadership was of Hun origin from north of the Caucasian Mountains. In 1963, an archaeologist found a needle case of sheep bone with runic inscriptions on it from the late Avar period. Many people deciphered it, but with widely different results. Hungarian interpretations varied with one another while others thought that it was written in Turkish. For this reason, it is very unlikely that the establishment of the Hungarian language in the Carpathian Basin could be contributed to the second wave of Avars.
Many scholars have noted the uniqueness of the Hungarian language. It may take a while yet to unravel some of the mysteries that surround it, so in the meantime we would like to offer you the following: The English philologist, Sir John Bowring (1792-1872), spoke many languages - Hungarian being one of them. He translated many Hungarian poems into English and in 1830 he published a literary chrestomathy. In its Foreword he wrote:
"The Magyar language stands afar off and alone. The study of other tongues will be found of exceedingly little use toward its right understanding. It is molded in a form essentially its own, and its construction and composition may be safely referred to an epoch when most of the living tongues of Europe either had no existence, or no influence on the Hungarian region."
Like Bowring, Cardinal Giuseppe Mezzofanti of Italy, the director of the Library of the Vatican, spoke many languages - among them Hungarian. In 1836 he stated the following to the Czech poet, Augustine Frankl: "The Hungarians do not even know what cultural treasure their language possesses." The good Cardinal made this statement following an encounter with some Hungarian noblemen on their visit to Rome; as he looked up and began to address them in the Hungarian tongue, Mezzofanti quickly discovered that these gentlemen spoke perfect Latin, but very little Hungarian.