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The Pannonian Avars (; also known as the Obri in chronicles of Rus, the Abaroi or Varchonitai
at the
Encyclopedia of Ukraine The ''Encyclopedia of Ukraine'' ( uk, Енциклопедія українознавства, translit=Entsyklopediia ukrainoznavstva) is a fundamental work of Ukrainian Studies created under the auspices of the Shevchenko Scientific Society ...

Encyclopedia of Ukraine
el, Βαρχονίτες, Varchonítes, or Pseudo-Avars in
Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It surviv ...

Byzantine
sources, the Apar, otk, 𐰯𐰺, to the
Göktürks The Göktürks, Celestial Turks or Blue Turks ( otk, 𐱅𐰇𐰼𐰰:𐰉𐰆𐰑𐰣, Türük Bodun; zh, 突厥 ''Tūjué''; Wade-Giles: ''T'u-chüeh'') were a nomadic confederation of Turkic peoples in medieval Inner Asia. The Göktürks, un ...
) were an alliance of several groups of
Eurasian nomads The Eurasian nomads were a large group of nomad A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation who regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, ...
of various origins.: "... the Avars certainly contained peoples belonging to several different ethnolinguistic groups, so that attempts to identify them with one or another specific eastern people are misguided.": "The Juan-Juan state was undoubtedly multi-ethnic, but there is no definite evidence as to their language... Some scholars link the Central Asian Juan-Juan with the Avars who came to Europe in the mid-sixth century. According to widespread but unproven and probably unjustified opinion, the Avars spoke a language of the Mongolic group." They are probably best known for their invasions and destruction in the
Avar–Byzantine wars The Avar–Byzantine wars were a series of conflicts between the Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during La ...
from 568 to 626. The name Pannonian Avars (after the area in which they eventually settled) is used to distinguish them from the
Avars Avar(s) or AVAR may refer to: Peoples and states * Avars (Caucasus), a modern Northeast Caucasian-speaking people in the North Caucasus, Dagestan, Russia **Avar language, the modern Northeast Caucasian language spoken by the Avars of the North Ca ...
of the
Caucasus The Caucasus (), or Caucasia (), is a region spanning Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the of Eurasia, it shares the contin ...
, a separate people with whom the Pannonian Avars might or might not have had links. They established the Avar Khaganate, which spanned the
Pannonian Basin alt=The Roman empire in red with a land in darker red; water is in pale blue, and non-Roman land in grey, The highlighted borders of the province of Pannonia within the Roman Empire The Pannonian Basin, or Carpathian Basin, is a large basin s ...

Pannonian Basin
and considerable areas of
Central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions and generalised locations * Central Africa, a region in the centre of Africa ...

Central
and
Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because the term has a wide range of , geographical, ethnic, cultural, and connotations. , located in Eastern Europe, is both the ...

Eastern Europe
from the late 6th to the early 9th century.Walter Pohl, ''Die Awaren: ein Steppenvolk im Mitteleuropa, 567–822 n. Chr'', C.H.Beck (2002), , p. 26-29. Although the name ''Avar'' first appeared in the mid-5th century, the Pannonian Avars entered the historical scene in the mid-6th century, on the
Pontic–Caspian steppe The Pontic–Caspian steppe, formed by the Caspian steppe and the Pontic steppe, is the steppe File:Steppe of western Kazakhstan in the early spring.jpg, Steppe in Kazakhstan In physical geography, a steppe () is an ecoregion cha ...
as a people who wished to escape the rule of the
Göktürks The Göktürks, Celestial Turks or Blue Turks ( otk, 𐱅𐰇𐰼𐰰:𐰉𐰆𐰑𐰣, Türük Bodun; zh, 突厥 ''Tūjué''; Wade-Giles: ''T'u-chüeh'') were a nomadic confederation of Turkic peoples in medieval Inner Asia. The Göktürks, un ...
.


Origins


Avars and pseudo-Avars

The earliest clear reference to the Avar ethnonym comes from
Priscus the Rhetor
Priscus the Rhetor
(died after 472 AD). Priscus recounts that, c. 463, the Šaragurs,
Onogurs The Onoğurs or Oğurs (Ὀνόγουροι, Οὔρωγοι, Οὔγωροι; Onογurs, Ογurs; "ten tribes", "tribes"), were Turkic Turkic may refer to: * anything related to the country of Turkey * Turkic languages, a language family of at lea ...
and Ogurs were attacked by the
Sabirs 300px, Near East in 500 AD, showing the Sabirs and neighboring peoples. The Sabirs (Savirs, Suars, Sawar, Sawirk among others; el, Σάβιροι) were nomadic people A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a com ...
, who had been attacked by the Avars. In turn, the Avars had been driven off by people fleeing "man-eating
griffin The griffin, griffon, or gryphon (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into ...

griffin
s" coming from "the ocean" (''Priscus Fr 40''). Whilst Priscus' accounts provide some information about the ethno-political situation in the
Don Don, don or DON and variants may refer to: Places *Don, BeninDon is a town in Benin, Africa. It has a population of 696,969. Nearest large airports are Cadjehoun Airport, Cotonou Cadjehoun in Cotonou and Lomé-Tokoin Airport, Lomé-Tokoin in Lom ...
-
Kuban Kuban (Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), ...

Kuban
-
Volga The Volga (; russian: Во́лга, a=Ru-Волга.ogg, p=ˈvoɫɡə) is the longest river in Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rat ...

Volga
region after the demise of the
Huns The Huns were a nomadic people A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation which regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, pastoral ...

Huns
, no unequivocal conclusions can be reached. Denis Sinor has argued that whoever the "Avars" referred to by Priscus were, they differed from the Avars who appear a century later, during the time of
Justinian Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus; grc-gre, Ἰουστινιανός ; 48214 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor from 527 to 565. His reign is marked by the ambitious but only pa ...

Justinian
(who reigned from 527 to 565). The next author to discuss the Avars,
Menander ProtectorMenander Protector (Menander the Guardsman, Menander the Byzantian; el, Μένανδρος Προτήκτωρ or Προτέκτωρ), Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continua ...
, appeared during the 6th century, and wrote of Göktürk embassies to
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (), Tsargrad (), Qustantiniya (), Basileuousa ("Queen of Cities"), Megalopolis ("the Great City"), Πό ...

Constantinople
in 565 and 568 AD. The Turks appeared angry at the Byzantines for having made an alliance with the Avars, whom the Turks saw as their subjects and slaves. Turxanthos, a Turk prince, calls the Avars "Varchonites" and "escaped slaves of the Turks", who numbered "about 20 thousand" (''Menander Fr 43''). Many more, but somewhat confusing, details come from
Theophylact Simocatta Theophylact Simocatta ( Byzantine Greek: Θεοφύλακτος Σιμοκάτ(τ)ης ''Theophylaktos Simokat(t)es''; la, Theophylactus Simocattus) was an early seventh-century Byzantine historiographer, arguably ranking as the last historian of ...
, who wrote c. 629, describing the final two decades of the 6th century. In particular, he claims to quote a triumph letter from the Turk lord
TamganTumgan (also known as Turkshad, Turxanthos or Turksanf) was a shad The Alosinae, or the shads,
: According to the interpretation of Dobrovits and Nechaeva, the Turks insisted that the Avars were only "pseudo-Avars", so as to boast that they were the only formidable power in the Eurasian steppe. The
Göktürks The Göktürks, Celestial Turks or Blue Turks ( otk, 𐱅𐰇𐰼𐰰:𐰉𐰆𐰑𐰣, Türük Bodun; zh, 突厥 ''Tūjué''; Wade-Giles: ''T'u-chüeh'') were a nomadic confederation of Turkic peoples in medieval Inner Asia. The Göktürks, un ...
claimed that the "real Avars" remained loyal subjects of the Turks, farther east. Furthermore, Dobrovits has questioned the authenticity of Theophylact's account. As such, he has argued that Theophylact borrowed information from Menander's accounts of Byzantine–Turk negotiations to meet political needs of his time – i.e. to castigate and deride the Avars during a time of strained political relations between the Byzantines and Avars (coinciding with Emperor Maurice's northern Balkan campaigns).


Uar, Rouran and other Central Asian peoples

According to some scholars the Pannonian Avars originated from a confederation formed in the
Aral Sea The Aral Sea (Aral ; kk, Aral teńizi, Арал теңізі, uz, Orol dengizi, Орол денгизи, kaa, Aral ten'izi, Арал теңизи, russian: Аральское море) was an endorheic lake lying between Kazakhstan Kaza ...

Aral Sea
region, by the
Uar The Hephthalites ( xbc, ηβοδαλο, translit= Ebodalo), sometimes called the White Huns (also known as the White Hunas, in Iranian languages, Iranian as the ''Spet Xyon'' and in Sanskrit as the ''Sveta-huna''), were a people who lived in Cent ...
(also known as the ''Ouar'', ''Warr'' or ''Var'') and the Xūn (Xionites) (also known as the ''Chionitae'', ''Chunni'', ''Hunni'', ''Yun'' and similar names). The Uar were probably speakers of a
Uralic language The Uralic languages (; sometimes called Uralian languages ) form a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writin ...
previously, while the Xionites had likely been speakers of
Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ایران ), is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia ...
and/or
Turkic Turkic may refer to: * anything related to the country of Turkey * Turkic languages, a language family of at least thirty-five documented languages ** Turkic alphabets (disambiguation) ** Turkish language, the most widely spoken Turkic language * T ...

Turkic
languages. A third tribe affiliated previously to the Uar and Xionites, the
Hephthalites The Hephthalites ( xbc, ηβοδαλο, translit= Ebodalo), sometimes called the White Huns (also known as the White Hunas, in as the ''Spet Xyon'' and in as the ''Sveta-huna''), were a people who lived in during the 5th to 8th centuries CE. ...

Hephthalites
, had remained in
Central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions and generalised locations * Central Africa, a region in the centre of Africa ...

Central
and northern
South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The region consists of the countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri La ...

South Asia
. In some transliterations, the term ''Var'' is rendered ''Hua'', which is an alternate Chinese term for the Hephthalites. (While one of the cities most significant to the Hephthalites was Walwalij or ''Varvaliz'', this may also be an
Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ایران ), is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia ...
term for "upper fortress".) The Pannonian Avars were also known by names including ''Uarkhon'' or ''Varchonites'' – which may have been
portmanteau word A portmanteau (, ) or portmanteau word (from "portmanteau (luggage)") is a Blend word, blend of words
s combining ''Var'' and ''Chunni''. The 18th-century historian
Joseph de Guignes __NOTOC__ Joseph de Guignes (19 October 1721 – 19 March 1800) was a French orientalist, sinologist Sinology or Chinese studies, is an academic discipline that focuses on the study of China China, officially the People's Republic of China ...
postulated a link between the Avars of European history with the
Rouran Khaganate The Rouran Khaganate, also Juan-Juan Khaganate (), was a tribal confederation and later state founded by a people of Proto-Mongolic Proto-Mongolic is the hypothetical ancestor language of the modern Mongolic languages. It is very close to the M ...
of
Inner Asia Inner Asia refers to landlocked regions within East Asia and North Asia that are part of today's Western China, Mongolia Mongolia (, Mongolian language, Mongolian: , Mongolian script, Traditional Mongolian: ') is a landlocked country in ...
based on a coincidence between Tardan Khan's letter to Constantinople and events recorded in
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...

Chinese
sources, notably the ''
Wei Shu The ''Book of Wei'', also known by its Chinese language, Chinese name as the ''Wei Shu'', is a classic Chinese historical text compiled by Wei Shou from 551 to 554, and is an important text describing the history of the Northern Wei and Eastern W ...
'' and '' Bei Shi''. Chinese sources state that
Bumin Qaghan Bumin Qaghan ( otk, 𐰉𐰆𐰢𐰣:𐰴𐰍𐰣, Bumïn qaγan, also known as Illig Qaghan ( Chinese: 伊利可汗, Pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standa ...
, founder of the
First Turkic Khaganate The First Turkic Khaganate (also referred to as the First Turkic Empire, the Turkic Khaganate or the Göktürk Khaganate) was a khaganate A khaganate or khanate was a political entity ruled by a Khan (title), khan, khagan, khatun, or khanum. Th ...
, defeated the Rouran, some of whom fled and joined the
Western Wei The Western Wei (;"Wei"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''. ) was a Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty of China ...
. Later, Bumin's successor
Muqan Qaghan Muqan Qaghan (Old Turkic Old Turkic (also East Old Turkic, Orkhon Turkic, Old Uyghur) is the earliest attested form of Turkic, found in Göktürk and Uyghur inscriptions dating from about the 7th century AD to the 13th century. It is the ol ...
defeated the
Hephthalites The Hephthalites ( xbc, ηβοδαλο, translit= Ebodalo), sometimes called the White Huns (also known as the White Hunas, in as the ''Spet Xyon'' and in as the ''Sveta-huna''), were a people who lived in during the 5th to 8th centuries CE. ...

Hephthalites
as well as the Turkic
Tiele Tiele may refer to: *Tiele people The Tiele (, Turkic ''*Tegreg'' " eople of theCarts"), also transliterated as Dili (), Chile (), Zhile (), Tele (), also named Gaoche or Gaoju (, "High Carts"), were a tribal confederation of Turkic ethnic orig ...
. Superficially these victories over the Tiele, Rouran and Hephthalites echo a narrative in the ''Theophylact'', boasting of Tardan's victories over the Hephthalites, Avars and Oghurs. However, the two series of events are not synonymous: the events of the latter took place during Tardan's rule, c. 580–599, whilst Chinese sources referring to the Turk defeat of the Rouran and other Central Asian peoples occurred 50 years earlier, at the founding of the First Turkic Khaganate. It is for this reason that the linguist rejects the identification of the Avars with the Rouran. According to
Edwin G. Pulleyblank Edwin George "Ted" Pulleyblank (August 7, 1922 – April 13, 2013) was a Canadian sinologist Sinology or Chinese studies, is an academic discipline that focuses on the study of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC ...
, the name Avar is the same as the prestigious name
Wuhuan The Wuhuan (, <
Eastern Han Chinese Eastern Han Chinese or Later Han Chinese is the sta ...
in the Chinese sources. Several historians, including Peter Benjamin Golden, suggest that the Avars are of Turkic origin, likely from the Oghur branch. Another theory suggests that some of the Avars were of Tungusic origin.Helimski, E (2004). "Die Sprache(n) der Awaren: Die mandschu-tungusische Alternative". Proceedings of the First International Conference on Manchu-Tungus Studies, Vol. II: 59–72. A study by Emil Heršak and Ana Silić suggests that the Avars were of heterogeneous origin, including mostly Turkic (Oghuric) and Mongolic groups. Later in Europe some Germanic and Slavic groups were assimilated into the Avars. They concluded that their exact origin is unknown but state that it is likely that the Avars were originally mainly composed of Turkic (Oghuric) tribes.


Steppe empire dynamics and ethnogenesis

In 2003,
Walter Pohl Walter Pohl (born 27 December 1953, in Vienna) is an Austrian historian who is Professor of Auxiliary Sciences of History and Medieval History at the University of Vienna. He is a leading member of the Vienna School of History Biography Walter Po ...
summarized the formation of
nomadic empire Nomadic empires, sometimes also called steppe empires, Central or Inner Asian empires, were the empires erected by the bow and arrow, bow-wielding, horse-riding, Eurasian nomads, nomadic people in the Eurasian Steppe, from classical antiquity (Scyth ...
s: Such views are mirrored by . "The
ethnogenesis Ethnogenesis (from Greek Language, Greek ''ethnos'' , "group of people, nation" and ''genesis'' , "beginning, coming into being"; plural ethnogeneses) is "the formation and development of an ethnic group". This can originate through a process of ...
of early medieval peoples of steppe origin cannot be conceived in a ''single linear'' fashion due to their great and constant mobility", with no ethnogenetic "point zero", theoretical "proto-people" or proto-language. Moreover, Avar identity was strongly linked to Avar political institutions. Groups who rebelled or fled from the Avar realm could never be called "Avars", but were rather termed "
Bulgars The Bulgars (also Bulghars, Bulgari, Bolgars, Bolghars, Bolgari, Proto-Bulgarians) were Turkic semi-nomadic warrior tribes that flourished in the Pontic–Caspian steppe and the Volga region during the 7th century. They became known as nomadi ...

Bulgars
". Similarly, with the final demise of Avar power in the early 9th century, Avar identity disappeared almost instantaneously.


Anthropology

In contemporary art, Avars were sometimes depicted as mounted archers, riding backwards on their horses. According to mid-20th Century
physical anthropologists Biological anthropology, also known as physical anthropology, is a scientific discipline concerned with the biological and behavioral aspects of human beings, their extinct Hominini, hominin ancestors, and related non-human primates, particularly ...
such as Pál Lipták, human remains from the early Avar (7th century) period had mostly "
Europoid The Caucasian race (also Caucasoid or Europid) is a grouping of human beings within the outdated concept of race classifications. The ''Caucasian race'' was historically regarded as a biological taxon In biology Biology is the natura ...
" features, while
grave goods The gilded throne of Pharaoh Tutankhamun">Pharaoh.html" ;"title="throne of Pharaoh">throne of Pharaoh Tutankhamun is but one of the treasures found within his tomb. Grave goods, in archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of hum ...
indicated cultural links to the
Eurasian steppe The Eurasian Steppe, also simply called the Great Steppe or the steppes, is the vast steppe File:Steppe of western Kazakhstan in the early spring.jpg, Steppe in Kazakhstan In physical geography, a steppe () is an ecoregion characteri ...
. Cemeteries dated to the late Avar period (8th century) included many human remains with physical features typical of
East Asian people East Asian people (East Asians) are the people from East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia incl ...
or Eurasians (i.e., people with both East Asian and European ancestry). Remains with East Asian or Eurasian features were found in about one third of the Avar graves from the 8th Century. According to Lipták, 79% of the population of the Danube-Tisza region during the Avar period showed Europoid characteristics.Erzsébet Fóthi, Anthropological conclusions of the study of Roman and Migration periods
Acta Biologica Szegediensis
Volume 44(1–4):87–94, 2000.
However, Lipták used racial terms later deprecated or regarded as obsolete, such as "
Mongoloid Mongoloid () is an Historical race concepts, obsolete racial grouping of various people indigenous to large parts of Asia, the Americas, and some regions in Oceania. The term is derived from a now-disproven theory of biological race. In the past, ...
" for North East Asian and " Turanid" for individuals of mixed ancestry.) Several theories suggest that the ruling class of the Avars were of Tungusic East Asian origin or of partially Tungusic origin.


Genetics

A genetic study published in ''
Scientific Reports ''Scientific Reports'' is an online peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of ...
'' in September 2016 examined the
mtDNA Illustration of the location of mitochondrial DNA in human cells Electron microscopy reveals mitochondrial DNA in discrete foci. Bars: 200 nm. (A) Cytoplasmic section after immunogold labelling with anti-DNA; gold particles marking mtDNA are ...

mtDNA
of 31 people buried in the Carpathian Basin during the Avar period between the 7th and 9th centuries AD. They were found to be mostly carrying European haplogroups such as H, K, T and U, while ca. 15% carried Asian haplogroups such as C, M6, D41c and F1a. Their mtDNA were found to be primarily characteristic of Eastern and Southern Europe. A genetic study published in the ''
American Journal of Physical Anthropology The ''American Journal of Physical Anthropology'' is a peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qua ...
'' in 2018 examined 62 individuals buried in the 8th and 9th centuries AD at an Avar-Slavic burial in Cífer‐Pác,
Slovakia Slovakia (; sk, Slovensko ), officially the Slovak Republic ( sk, Slovenská republika, links=no ), is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south, Austria to th ...

Slovakia
. Of the 46 samples of mtDNA extracted, 93.48% belonged to west Eurasian lineages, while 6.52% belonged to east Eurasian lineages. The amount of east Eurasian lineages was higher than among modern European populations, but lower than what has been found in other genetic studies on the Avars. The mtDNA of the examined individuals was found to be quite similar to medieval and modern
Slavs Slavs are an ethno-linguistic group of people who speak the various Slavic languages of the larger Balto-Slavic language, Balto-Slavic linguistic group of the Indo-European languages. They are native to Eurasia, stretching from Central Europe, ...

Slavs
, and it was suggested that the mixed population examined had emerged through intermarriage between Avar males and Slavic females. A genetic study published in ''Scientific Reports'' in November 2019 examined the remains of fourteen Avar males. Eleven of them were dated to the early Avar period, and three were dated to the middle and late Avar period. The eleven early Avar males were found to be carrying the paternal haplogroups N1a1a1a1a3 (four samples), N1a1a (two samples), R1a1a1b2a (two samples), C2 G2a, and I1. The three males dated to the middle and late Avar period carried the paternal haplogroups C2, N1a1a1a1a3 and E1b1b1a1b1a. The Avars studied were all determined to have had s and dark hair, and the majority of them were found to be primarily of
East Asian East Asia is the eastern region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and ...
origin. A genetic study published in ''Scientific Reports'' in January 2020 examined the remains of twenty-six individuals buried at various elite Avar cemeteries in the Pannonian Basin dated to the 7th century AD. The
mtDNA Illustration of the location of mitochondrial DNA in human cells Electron microscopy reveals mitochondrial DNA in discrete foci. Bars: 200 nm. (A) Cytoplasmic section after immunogold labelling with anti-DNA; gold particles marking mtDNA are ...

mtDNA
of these Avars belonged mostly to
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
n haplogroups, while the
Y-DNA The Y chromosome is one of two sex chromosome A chromosome is a long DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid (; DNA) is a molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist ...
was exclusively of East Asian origin and "strikingly homogenous", belonging to haplogroups N-M231 and Q-M242. The evidence suggested that the Avar elite were largely
patrilineal Patrilineality, also known as the male line, the spear side or agnatic kinship, is a common kinship In , kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact ...
and
endogamous Endogamy is the practice of marrying within a specific social group, caste Caste is a form of social stratification characterized by endogamy, hereditary transmission of a style of life which often includes an occupation, ritual status in ...
for a period of around one century, and entered the Pannonian Basin through migrations from East Asia involving both men and women.


History


Arrival in Europe

In 557, the Avars sent an embassy to
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (), Tsargrad (), Qustantiniya (), Basileuousa ("Queen of Cities"), Megalopolis ("the Great City"), Πό ...

Constantinople
presumably from the northern
Caucasus The Caucasus (), or Caucasia (), is a region spanning Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the of Eurasia, it shares the contin ...
. This marked their first contact with the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
. In exchange for gold, they agreed to subjugate the "unruly ''gentes''" on behalf of the Byzantines: subsequently they conquered and incorporated various nomadic tribes
Kutrigurs Kutrigurs were Turkic people, Turkic Eurasian nomads, nomadic equestrians who flourished on the Pontic–Caspian steppe in the 6th century AD. To their east were the similar Utigurs. They warred with the Byzantine Empire and the Utigurs. Towards the ...
and
Sabirs 300px, Near East in 500 AD, showing the Sabirs and neighboring peoples. The Sabirs (Savirs, Suars, Sawar, Sawirk among others; el, Σάβιροι) were nomadic people A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a com ...
and defeated the Antes. By 562 the Avars controlled the lower Danube basin and the steppes north of the Black Sea. By the time they arrived in the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rathe ...

Balkans
, the Avars formed a heterogeneous group of about 20,000 horsemen. After the Byzantine Emperor
Justinian I Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus; grc-gre, Ἰουστινιανός ; 48214 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation o ...
(reigned 527–565) bought them off, they pushed northwestwards into
Germania Germania ( , ), also called Magna Germania (English: ''Great Germania''), Germania Libera (English: ''Free Germania'') or Germanic Barbaricum Barbaricum (from the gr, Βαρβαρικόν, "foreign", "barbarian") is a geographical name used by ...

Germania
. However,
Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by Graeco-Roman author ...

Frankish
opposition halted the Avars' expansion in that direction. Seeking rich pastoral lands, the Avars initially demanded land south of the
Danube River The Danube ( ; ) is the second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga The Volga (; russian: Во́лга, a=Ru-Волга.ogg, p=ˈvoɫɡə) is the longest river in Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of se ...

Danube River
in present-day
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Република България, links=no, Republika Bǎlgariya, ), is a country in Southeast Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia ...

Bulgaria
, but the Byzantines refused, using their contacts with the
Göktürks The Göktürks, Celestial Turks or Blue Turks ( otk, 𐱅𐰇𐰼𐰰:𐰉𐰆𐰑𐰣, Türük Bodun; zh, 突厥 ''Tūjué''; Wade-Giles: ''T'u-chüeh'') were a nomadic confederation of Turkic peoples in medieval Inner Asia. The Göktürks, un ...
as a threat against Avar aggression. The Avars turned their attention to the Carpathian Plain and to the natural defenses it afforded. However, the Carpathian basin was then occupied by the
Gepids The Gepids ( la, Gepidae, Gipedae, grc, Γήπαιδες) were an East Germanic tribe who lived in the area of modern Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern ...
. In 567 the Avars formed an alliance with the
Lombards The Lombards () or Langobards ( la, Langobardi) were a Germanic people The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on ...
enemies of the Gepidsand together they destroyed much of the Gepid Kingdom. The Avars then persuaded the Lombards to move into
northern Italy Northern Italy ( it, Italia settentrionale, it, Nord Italia, label=none, it, Alta Italia, label=none or just it, Nord, label=none) is a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical cha ...
, an invasion that marked the last Germanic mass-movement in the
Migration Period The Migration Period, also known as the Barbarian Invasions (from the Roman and Greek perspective), is a term sometimes used for the period in the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the ...
. Continuing their successful policy of turning the various barbarians against each other, the Byzantines persuaded the Avars to attack the Sclavenes in
Scythia Minor Scythia Minor or Lesser Scythia (: , ) was in ancient times the region surrounded by the at the north and west and the at the east, roughly corresponding to today's , with in , and in . By the 7th century BC, several Greek colonies were bui ...
(modern
Dobruja Dobruja or Dobrudja (, ; bg, Добруджа, Dobrudzha or ''Dobrudža''; ro, Dobrogea, or ; tr, Dobruca) is a historical region in the Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeast ...

Dobruja
), a land rich with goods. After devastating much of the Sclavenes' land, the Avars returned to Pannonia after many of the Khagan's subjects deserted to the Byzantine Emperor.


Early Avar Period (580–670)

By about 580, the Avar Khagan
Bayan I Bayan I reigned as the first khagan of the Avar Khaganate between 562 and 602. As the Göktürk Empire expanded westwards on the Eurasian Steppe during the 6th century, peoples such as the Pannonian Avars, Avars (also known as the ''Pseudo-Avars' ...
had established supremacy over most of the Slavic, and
Germanic tribes This list of ancient Germanic people The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common History, historical, Socie ...
living in Pannonia and the Carpathian Basin. When the Byzantine Empire was unable to pay subsidies or hire Avar mercenaries, the Avars raided their
Balkan The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe with various definitions and meanings, including geopolitical and historical. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch t ...

Balkan
territories. According to
Menander Menander (; grc-gre, Μένανδρος ''Menandros''; c. 342/41 – c. 290 BC) was a Greek dramatist A playwright or dramatist is a person who writes play (theatre), plays. Etymology The word "play" is from Middle English pleye, from Old ...
, Bayan commanded an army of 10,000 Kutrigur Bulgars and sacked
Dalmatia Dalmatia (; hr, Dalmacija ; it, Dalmazia; see #Name, names in other languages) is a region on the east shore of the Adriatic Sea, a narrow belt stretching from the island of Rab in the north to the Bay of Kotor in the south. The Dalmatian Hin ...
in 568, effectively cutting the Byzantine terrestrial link with North Italy and Western Europe. By 582, the Avars had captured Sirmium, an important fort in Pannonia. When the Byzantines refused to increase the stipend amount as requested by Bayan's son and successor
Bayan II Bayan II was an Avars (Carpathians), Avar khagan between 602 and 617. 617 deaths 7th-century monarchs in Europe Pannonian Avars Year of birth unknown {{East-Slavic-hist-stub ...
(from 584), the Avars proceeded to capture
Singidunum Singidunum ( sr, Сингидунум/''Singidunum'') was an ancient city which later evolved into modern Belgrade Belgrade ( ; sr-cyr, Београд, Beograd, lit='White City', ; names in other languages) is the capital Capital most c ...
and
Viminacium Viminacium (VIMINACIUM) or ''Viminatium'' was a major city (provincial capital) and military camp of the Roman Empire, Roman province of Moesia (today's Serbia), and the capital of ''Moesia Superior'' (hence once Metropolitan archbishopric, now a ...
. They suffered setbacks, however, during
Maurice's Balkan campaigns Maurice's Balkan campaigns were a series of military expeditions conducted by Byzantine emperor, Roman Emperor Maurice (emperor), Maurice (reigned 582–602) in an attempt to defend the Balkans, Balkan provinces of the Roman Empire from the Pannoni ...
in the 590s. By 600 the Avars had established a nomadic empire ruling over a multitude of peoples and stretching from modern Austria in the west to the
Pontic–Caspian steppe The Pontic–Caspian steppe, formed by the Caspian steppe and the Pontic steppe, is the steppe File:Steppe of western Kazakhstan in the early spring.jpg, Steppe in Kazakhstan In physical geography, a steppe () is an ecoregion cha ...
in the east. After being defeated at the
Battles of Viminacium The Battles of Viminacium were a series of three battles fought against the Avars by the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire. They were decisive Roman successes, which were followed by an invasion of Pannonia Pannonia (, ) was a province of the Ro ...
in their homeland, some Avars defected to the Byzantines in 602 but
Emperor Maurice Maurice ( la, Flavius Mauricius Tiberius; ; 539 – 27 November 602) was Byzantine emperor from 582 to 602. A prominent general, Maurice fought with success against the Sasanian Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially know ...

Emperor Maurice
decided not to return home as was customary. He maintained his army camp beyond the Danube throughout the winter but the hardship caused the army to revolt, giving the Avars a desperately needed respite and they attempted an invasion of northern Italy in 610. The Byzantine civil war prompted a Persian invasion in the
Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628 The Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628 was the final and most devastating of the Byzantine–Sasanian wars, series of wars fought between the Byzantine Empire and the Sasanian Empire of Iran. The Byzantine–Sasanian War of 572–591, previo ...
and after 615, the Avars enjoyed a free hand in the undefended Balkans. While negotiating with Emperor
Heraclius Heraclius ( el, Ἡράκλειος, ''Hērakleios''; c. 575 – 11 February 641), sometimes called Heraclius I, was the Byzantine emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation of Constantinople la, Constantinop ...
beneath the walls of Constantinople in 617, the Avars launched a surprise attack. While they were unable to capture the city centre they pillaged the suburbs of the city and took 270,000 captives. Payments in gold and goods to the Avars reached the record sum of 200,000 ''
solidi The solidus (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it ...
'' shortly before 626. In 626, the Avars cooperated with the
Sassanid The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, '), and also called the Neo-Persian Empire by historians, was the last before the in the mid-7th century AD. Named after the , it endured for over four centuri ...
force in the failed siege of 626. Following this defeat, the political and military power of the Avars declined. Byzantine and Frankish sources documented a war between the Avars and their western Slav clients, the
Wends 230px, ''Germaniae veteris typus'' (Old Germany). Aestui, Venedi, Goths, Gythones and Ingaevones are visible on the right upper corner of the map. Edited by Willem and Joan Blaeu, 1645. Wends ( ang, Winedas; Old Norse: ''Vindr''; german: Wenden ...
. In the 630s,
Samo Samo founded the first recorded political union of Slavs, Slavic tribes, known as Samo's Empire (''realm'', ''kingdom'', or ''tribal union''), stretching from Silesia to present-day Slovenia, ruling from 623 until his death in 658. According to ...

Samo
, the ruler of the first historically known Slavic polity known as Samo's Tribal Union or Samo's realm, increased his authority over lands to the north and west of the Khaganate at the expense of the Avars, ruling until his death in 658. The ''
Chronicle of Fredegar The ''Chronicle of Fredegar'' is the conventional title used for a 7th-century Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) ...
'' recorded that during Samo's rebellion in 631AD, 9,000 Bulgars led by Alciocus left Pannonia to modern-day
Bavaria Bavaria (; German language, German and Bavarian language, Bavarian: ''Bayern'' ), officially the Free State of Bavaria (German and Bavarian: ''Freistaat Bayern''; ), is a Landlocked country, landlocked Federated state, state (''States of Germany ...

Bavaria
where
Dagobert I Dagobert I ( la, Dagobertus; 603 – 19 January 639 AD) was the king of Austrasia Austrasia was a territory which formed the northeastern section of the Merovingian Kingdom of the Franks during the 6th to 8th centuries. It was centred on the ...
massacred most of them. The remaining 700 joined the Wends. At about the time of Samo's realm, Bulgar leader
Kubrat Kubrat ( el, Κοβρᾶτος, Kούβρατος; bg, Кубрат ) was the ruler of the Onogur–Bulgars The Bulgars (also Bulghars, Bulgari, Bolgars, Bolghars, Bolgari, Proto-Bulgarians) were Turkic semi-nomadic warrior tribes that flouri ...

Kubrat
of the
Dulo clan The Dulo clan was a ruling dynasty of the Bulgars. The origins of the Bulgars and Dulo clan are not known precisely, and there are many theories about their origin. It is generally considered that they - or at least the elite caste - were intimate ...
led a successful uprising to end Avar authority over the
Pannonian Plain alt=The Roman empire in red with a land in darker red; water is in pale blue, and non-Roman land in grey, The highlighted borders of the province of Pannonia within the Roman Empire The Pannonian Basin, or Carpathian Basin, is a large basin s ...
, establishing
Old Great Bulgaria Old Great Bulgaria or Great Bulgaria (Medieval Greek: Παλαιά Μεγάλη Βουλγαρία, ''Palaiá Megálē Voulgaría''), also often known by the Latin names ''Magna Bulgaria'' and ''Patria Onoguria'' ("Onoğurs, Onogur land"), wa ...

Old Great Bulgaria
, or Patria Onoguria, "the homeland of Onogurs". The civil war, possibly a succession struggle in Onoguria between the joint Kutrigur and
Utigur Utigurs were nomadic equestrians who flourished in the Pontic–Caspian steppe '' Tulipa suaveolens'', one of the most typical spring flowers of the Pontic-Caspian steppe The Pontic–Caspian steppe, formed by the Caspian steppe and the Ponti ...
forces, raged from 631 to 632. The power of the Avars' Kutrigur forces was shattered and the Avars came under the control of Great Bulgaria. At the same time, according to
Constantine VII Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus Traditionally, born in the purple (sometimes "born to the purple") was a category of members of royal family, royal families born during the reign of their parent. This notion was later loosely expanded to include ...
's work ''
De Administrando Imperio ''De Administrando Imperio'' ("On the Governance of the Empire") is the Latin title of a Greek-language work written by the 10th-century Eastern Roman Emperor Constantine VII. The Greek title of the work is ("To own son Romanos"). It is a dom ...
'' (10th century), a group of
Croats Croats (; hr, Hrvati ), also known as Croatians, are a nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target. ...

Croats
separated from the
White Croats White Croats ( hr, Bijeli Hrvati; pl, Biali Chorwaci; cz, Bílí Chorvati; uk, Білі хорвати, Bili khorvaty), or simply known as Croats, were a group of Early Slavic tribes who lived among other West 250px, A compass rose with west ...
who lived in
White Croatia White Croatia (also Great Croatia or Chrobatia; hr, Bijela Hrvatska, also ) is the region from which part of the White Croats supposedly emigrated to the Balkans#Western Balkans, Western Balkans. Some historians believe that, after the migration of ...
and arrived by their own will, or were called by the Byzantine Emperor
Heraclius Heraclius ( el, Ἡράκλειος, ''Hērakleios''; c. 575 – 11 February 641), sometimes called Heraclius I, was the Byzantine emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation of Constantinople la, Constantinop ...
(610-641), to fight and defeat the Avars after which they eventually organized their own
principality A principality (or sometimes princedom) can either be a monarchical A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The legitimacy (political)#monarchy, political le ...

principality
in
Dalmatia Dalmatia (; hr, Dalmacija ; it, Dalmazia; see #Name, names in other languages) is a region on the east shore of the Adriatic Sea, a narrow belt stretching from the island of Rab in the north to the Bay of Kotor in the south. The Dalmatian Hin ...
.


Middle (670–720) and Late (720–804) Avar periods

With the death of
Samo Samo founded the first recorded political union of Slavs, Slavic tribes, known as Samo's Empire (''realm'', ''kingdom'', or ''tribal union''), stretching from Silesia to present-day Slovenia, ruling from 623 until his death in 658. According to ...

Samo
, some Slavic tribes again came under Avar rule. The Khan
Kubrat Kubrat ( el, Κοβρᾶτος, Kούβρατος; bg, Кубрат ) was the ruler of the Onogur–Bulgars The Bulgars (also Bulghars, Bulgari, Bolgars, Bolghars, Bolgari, Proto-Bulgarians) were Turkic semi-nomadic warrior tribes that flouri ...

Kubrat
died in 665 and was succeeded by Khan
Batbayan Batbayan ( bg, Батбаян) ruled the Khazarian Bulgars mentioned by Theophanes and Nicephorus after the Khazars The Khazars (, ; he, כוזרים, ''Kuzarim''; tr, Hazarlar; az, Xəzərlər; ba, Хазарҙар; tt, Хәзәр ...
of
Old Great Bulgaria Old Great Bulgaria or Great Bulgaria (Medieval Greek: Παλαιά Μεγάλη Βουλγαρία, ''Palaiá Megálē Voulgaría''), also often known by the Latin names ''Magna Bulgaria'' and ''Patria Onoguria'' ("Onoğurs, Onogur land"), wa ...

Old Great Bulgaria
. By 670, the '' Viennese chronicle'' records that in 677, the "Ungri" (Onogur Bulgar) ethnicon was established decisively in Pannonia. Following Khan Kubrat's death or a few years later in the time of Bezmer, the empire was dissolved into 5 branches. Two of them (led by Batbayan and Kotrag) were subdued by the emerging Khazar Empire, while the third one led by Asparukh established the Danube Bulgar Empire and stabilized it by the victory at the
battle of Ongal The Battle of Ongal took place in the summer of 680 in the Ongal area, an unspecified location in and around the Danube delta near the Peuce Island, present-day Tulcea County, Romania. It was fought between the Bulgars, who had recently invaded th ...
. The fourth folk moved to Ravenna while the fifth one, led by Kuber moved into the Avar Khaganate. According to the '' Miracles of Saint Demetrius'' the Avar-Slavic alliance from northern Carpathia forced the Bulgars south out of western Onoguria (Sirmium) at about the same time that the Battle of Ongal took place south of the eastern Carpathians. The new ethnic element marked by hair clips for pigtails; curved, single-edged sabres; broad, symmetrical bows marks the middle Avar-Bulgar period (670–720). The Onogur Bulgars under a
Kuber Kuber (also Kouber or Kuver) was a Bulgar leader who according to the '' Miracles of Saint Demetrius'' liberated a mixed Bulgar and Byzantine Christian population in the 670s, whose ancestors had been transferred from the Eastern Roman Empire to th ...

Kuber
leader expelled from western Onoguria (
Sirmium Sirmium was a city in the Roman province of Pannonia, located on the Sava river, on the site of modern Sremska Mitrovica in northern Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, Србија, Srbija, ),, * cs, Srbsko, * ro, Serbia * rue, Сербия *germa ...

Sirmium
) moved south, settling in the present-day region of
Macedonia Macedonia most commonly refers to: * North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia until February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe. It gained independence in ...
. The Onogur-Bulgars, led by Khan
Asparukh Asparuh (also ''Ispor''; bg, Аспарух, Asparuh or (rarely) bg, Исперих, Isperih) was а ruler of Bulgars in the second half of the 7th century and is credited with the establishment of the First Bulgarian Empire in 681. Early life ...

Asparukh
—the father of Khan
Tervel Khan Tervel ( bg, Тервел) also called ''Tarvel'', or ''Terval'', or ''Terbelis'' in some Byzantine sources, was the khan of Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Репу ...

Tervel
—settled permanently along the Danube (c. 679–681), expanding the
First Bulgarian Empire The First Bulgarian Empire ( cu, блъгарьско цѣсарьствиѥ, blagarysko tsesarystviye) was a medieval Bulgar- Slavic and later Bulgarian Bulgarian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Bulgaria * Bulg ...

First Bulgarian Empire
from Onogur, Bulgaria. Although the Avar empire had diminished to half its original size, the new Avar-Slav alliance consolidated their rule west from the central parts of the mid-Danubian basin and extended their sphere of influence west to the Viennese Basin. New regional centers, such as those near
Ozora Ozora is a village in Tolna, Hungary, Tolna, Hungary. It has been notable since the Middle Ages, when Pipo of Ozora built a castle at this site by permission of Sigismund of Hungary in 1416. Artúr Görgei won an important victory in this area at ...
and Igarcounty Fehér in Hungary—appeared. This strengthened the Avars' power base, although most of the Balkans now lay in the hands of
Slavic tribes This is a list of Slavic peoples Slavs are an ethno-linguistic group of people who speak the various Slavic languages of the larger Balto-Slavic language, Balto-Slavic linguistic group of the Indo-European languages. They are native to Euras ...

Slavic tribes
since neither the Avars nor Byzantines were able to reassert control. A new type of ceramics—the so-called "Devínska Nová Ves" pottery—emerged at the end of the 7th century in the region between the Middle Danube and the Carpathians. These vessels were similar to the hand-made pottery of the previous period, but wheel-made items were also found in
Devínska Nová Ves Devínska Nová Ves ( hu, Dévényújfalu, hr, Devinsko Novo Selo, german: Theben-Neudorf) is a borough of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Its western borders are formed by the Morava (river), Morava River, which also forms the national borde ...
sites. Large inhumation cemeteries found at Holiare,
Nové Zámky Nové Zámky (; Hungarian language, Hungarian:'' Érsekújvár,'' german: link=no, Neuhäus , la, Novum Castrum, tr, Uyvar) is a town in Nové Zámky District in the Nitra Region of southwestern Slovakia. Geography The town is located on t ...
and other places in Slovakia, Hungary and Serbia from the period beginning around 690 show that the settlement network of the Carpathian Basin became more stable in the Late Avar period. The most popular Late Avar motifs—
griffin The griffin, griffon, or gryphon (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into ...

griffin
s and
tendril upA curling tendril In botany, a tendril is a specialized Plant stem, stem, leaf or Petiole (botany), petiole with a threadlike shape used by climbing plants for support and attachment, as well as cellular invasion by parasitic plants such as '' ...

tendril
s decorating belts, mounts and a number of other artifacts connected to warriors—may either represent nostalgia for the lost nomadic past or evidence a new wave of nomads arriving from the Pontic steppes at the end of the 7th century. According to historians who accept the latter theory, the immigrants may have been either
Onogurs The Onoğurs or Oğurs (Ὀνόγουροι, Οὔρωγοι, Οὔγωροι; Onογurs, Ογurs; "ten tribes", "tribes"), were Turkic Turkic may refer to: * anything related to the country of Turkey * Turkic languages, a language family of at lea ...
or
Alans The Alans or Alāns (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...

Alans
.
Anthropological Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, l ...
studies of the skeletons point at the presence of a population with
mongoloid Mongoloid () is an Historical race concepts, obsolete racial grouping of various people indigenous to large parts of Asia, the Americas, and some regions in Oceania. The term is derived from a now-disproven theory of biological race. In the past, ...
features. The Khaganate in the Middle and Late periods was a product of cultural symbiosis between Slavic and original Avar elements with a Slavic language as a
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'disco ...
or the most common language. In the 7th century, the Avar Khaganate opened a door for Slavic demographic and linguistic expansion to Adriatic and Aegean regions. In the early 8th century, a new
archaeological culture An archaeological culture is a recurring Assemblage (archaeology), assemblage of types of Artifact (archaeology), artifacts, buildings and monuments from a specific period and region that may constitute the material culture remains of a particular p ...
—the so-called "griffin and tendril" culture—appeared in the Carpathian basin. Some theories, including the "double conquest" theory of archaeologist
Gyula László Gyula László (Kőhalom, 14 March 1910 – Oradea, 17 July 1998) was a Hungarian people, Hungarian historian, archaeologist and artist. His main work is the novel theory of "double conquest" of the Carpathian Basin by Hungarians in 5th and 9th c ...
, attribute it to the arrival of new settlers, such as early
Magyars Hungarians, also known as Magyars ( ; hu, magyarok ), are a nation and ethnic group native to Hungary (Hungarian: Magyarország) and Kingdom of Hungary, historical Hungarian lands who share a common Hungarian culture, culture, Hungarian histor ...

Magyars
, but this is still under debate. Hungarian archaeologists Laszló Makkai and András Mócsy attribute this culture to an internal evolution of Avars resulting from the integration of the Bulgar émigrés from the previous generation of the 670s. According to Makkai and Mócsy, "the material culture—art, clothing, equipment, weapons—of the late Avar/Bulgar period evolved autonomously from these new foundations". Many regions that had once been important centers of the Avar empire had lost their significance while new ones arose. Although Avaric
material culture Material culture is the aspect of social reality Social reality is distinct from biological reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent within a system, as opposed to that which is only Object of the mind, imaginar ...

material culture
found over much of the northern Balkans may indicate an existing Avar presence, it probably represents the presence of independent Slavs who had adopted Avaric customs.


Collapse

The gradual decline of Avar power accelerated to a rapid fall. A series of
Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by Graeco-Roman author ...

Frankish
campaigns, beginning from 788, ended with the conquest of the Avar realm within a decade. Initial conflict between Avars and Franks occurred soon after the Frankish deposition of Bavarian duke
Tassilo III Tassilo III ( 741 – c. 796) was the duke of Bavaria from 748 to 788, the last of the house of the Agilolfings. Tassilo, then still a child, began his rule as a Franks, Frankish ward under the tutelage of his uncle, the Carolingian Mayor of the Pa ...
, and the establishment of direct Frankish rule over
Bavaria Bavaria (; German language, German and Bavarian language, Bavarian: ''Bayern'' ), officially the Free State of Bavaria (German and Bavarian: ''Freistaat Bayern''; ), is a Landlocked country, landlocked Federated state, state (''States of Germany ...
in 788. At that time, the border between Bavarians and Avars was situated on the river Enns. An initial Avarian incursion into Bavaria was repelled, and Franco-Bavarian forces responded by taking the war to neighbouring Avarian territories, situated along the
river Danube The Danube ( ; ) is Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as c ...
, east of Enns. The two sides collided near the river Ybbs, on Ybbs Field (german: Ybbsfeld), where the Avars suffered a defeat (788). This heralded the rise of Frankish power and Avarian decline in the region. In 790, the Avars tried to negotiate a peace settlement with the Franks, but no agreement was reached. A new Frankish campaign against the Avars, initiated in 791, ended successfully for the Franks. A large Frankish army, led by
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; 2 April 748 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks The Franks—Germanic-speaking peoples that invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century—were first led by i ...

Charlemagne
, crossed from Bavaria into the Avarian territory beyond the river Enns, and started to advance along the
river Danube The Danube ( ; ) is Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as c ...
in two columns, but found no resistance and soon reached the region of the
Vienna Woods The Vienna Woods (german: Wienerwald) are forested highlands that form the northeastern foothills of the Northern Limestone Alps The Northern Limestone Alps (german: Nördliche Kalkalpen), also called the Northern Calcareous Alps, are the ranges ...
, at the gates of the
Pannonian Plain alt=The Roman empire in red with a land in darker red; water is in pale blue, and non-Roman land in grey, The highlighted borders of the province of Pannonia within the Roman Empire The Pannonian Basin, or Carpathian Basin, is a large basin s ...
. No pitched battle was fought, since the Avars had fled before the advancing Carolingian army, while disease left most of the Avar horses dead. Tribal infighting began, showing the weakness of the khaganate. The Franks had been supported by the Slavs, who established polities on former Avar territory. Charlemagne's son
Pepin of Italy Pepin or Pippin (or ''Pepin Carloman'', ''Pepinno'', April 777 – 8 July 810), born Carloman, was the son of Charlemagne and King of the Lombards (781–810) under the authority of his father. Pepin was the second son of Charlemagne by his the ...
captured a large, fortified encampment known as "the Ring", which contained much of the spoils from earlier Avar campaigns. The campaign against the Avars again gathered momentum. It would take two massive hammer-blows, two major musters of the host, drawing upon levies from every part of the now great kingdom, before the Avars were decisively defeated. In the year 796, eight years after the war began, the Avars cracked and lay utterly at the king's mercy. By 796, the Avar chieftains had surrendered and became open to the acceptance of Christianity. In the meantime, all of Pannonia was conquered. According to the ''
Annales Regni Francorum The ''Royal Frankish Annals'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the po ...
'', the Avars began to submit to the Franks in 796. The song "'' De Pippini regis Victoria Avarica''" celebrating the defeat of the Avars at the hands of
Pepin of Italy Pepin or Pippin (or ''Pepin Carloman'', ''Pepinno'', April 777 – 8 July 810), born Carloman, was the son of Charlemagne and King of the Lombards (781–810) under the authority of his father. Pepin was the second son of Charlemagne by his the ...
in 796 still survives. The Franks baptized many Avars and integrated them into the
Frankish Empire Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Regnum Francorum), Frankish Kingdom, Frankland or Frankish Empire, was the largest post-Roman barbarian kingdom A barbarian is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most popu ...

Frankish Empire
. In 799, some Avars revolted. In 804,
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Република България, links=no, Republika Bǎlgariya, ), is a country in Southeast Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia ...

Bulgaria
conquered the southeastern Avar lands in Transylvania and southeastern Pannonia up to the
Middle Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga The Volga (; russian: Во́лга, a=Ru-Волга.ogg, p=ˈvoɫɡə) is the List of rivers of Europe#Rivers of Europe by length, longest river in Europe. Situated ...
, and many Avars became subjects of the
Bulgarian Empire In the medieval history of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarde ...
. Khagan Theodorus, a convert to Christianity, died after asking Charlemagne for help in 805; he was succeeded by Khagan
Abraham Abraham, ''Ibrāhīm''; el, Ἀβραάμ, translit=Abraám, name=, group= (originally Abram) is the common patriarch of the Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Judaism, he is the founding father of the covenan ...
, who was baptized as the new Frankish client (and should not be assumed from his name alone to have been Kabar, Khavar rather than Pseudo-Avar). Abraham was succeeded by Khagan (or Tudun) Isaac (Avar khagan), Isaac (Latin ''Canizauci''), about whom little is known. The Franks turned the Avar lands under their control into a March (territory), frontier march. The March of Pannoniathe eastern half of the Avar Marchwas then granted to the Slavic Prince Pribina, who established the Pannonian Slavs#Principality, Lower Pannonia principality in 840. Whatever was left of Avar power was effectively ended when the
Bulgars The Bulgars (also Bulghars, Bulgari, Bolgars, Bolghars, Bolgari, Proto-Bulgarians) were Turkic semi-nomadic warrior tribes that flourished in the Pontic–Caspian steppe and the Volga region during the 7th century. They became known as nomadi ...

Bulgars
expanded their territory into the central and eastern portions of traditional Avar lands around 829. According to Pohl, an Avar presence in Pannonia is certain in 871, but thereafter the name is no longer used by chroniclers. Pohl wrote, "It simply proved impossible to keep up an Avar identity after Avar institutions and the high claims of their tradition had failed", although Regino of Prüm, Regino wrote about them in 889. The growing amount of archaeological evidence in Transdanubia also presumes an Avar population in the Carpathian Basin in the very late 9th century. Archaeological findings suggest a substantial, late Avar presence on the Great Hungarian Plain, however it is difficult to determine their proper chronology. The preliminary results of the new excavations also imply that the known and largely accepted theory of the destruction of the Avar settlement area is outdated; a disastrous depopulation of the Avar Khaganate never happened. Byzantine records, including the "''Notitia episcopatuumî''", the "''Additio patriarchicorum thronorumî''" by Neilos Doxopatres, the "''Chronica''" by Petrus Alexandrinus and the "''Notitia patriarchatuum''" mention the 9th century Avars as an existing Christian population.OLAJOS, TERÉZ
Az avar továbbélés kérdésérõl
, A 9. SZÁZADI AVAR TÖRTÉNELEM GÖRÖG ÉS LATIN NYELVÛ FORRÁSAI, Tiszatáj, 2001, pp. 50–56
The Avars had already been mixing with the more numerous Slavs for generations, and they later came under the rule of external polities, such as the Franks, Bulgaria, and Great Moravia. Fine (2010, p. 79) presumes that Avar descendants who survived the Hungarian Conquest in the 890s AD were likely absorbed by the Hungarian population. After the mid to late eighth-century Frankish conquest of Pannonia, Avar and Bulgar refugees migrated to settle in the area of Bulgaria and along its western periphery. The Avars in the region known as ''solitudo avarorum''currently called the Alföldvanished in an arc of three generations. They slowly merged with the Slavs to create a bilingual Turkic-Slavic-speaking people who were subjected to Frankish domination; the invading
Magyars Hungarians, also known as Magyars ( ; hu, magyarok ), are a nation and ethnic group native to Hungary (Hungarian: Magyarország) and Kingdom of Hungary, historical Hungarian lands who share a common Hungarian culture, culture, Hungarian histor ...

Magyars
found this composite people in the late 9th century. The ''
De Administrando Imperio ''De Administrando Imperio'' ("On the Governance of the Empire") is the Latin title of a Greek-language work written by the 10th-century Eastern Roman Emperor Constantine VII. The Greek title of the work is ("To own son Romanos"). It is a dom ...
'', written around 950 and based on older documents, states that "there are still descendants of the Avars in Kingdom of Croatia (925–1102), Croatia, and are recognized as Avars", modern historians and archaeologists until now proved the opposite, that Avars never lived in Dalmatia (Roman province), Dalmatia proper (including Lika), and that statement occurred somewhere in Pannonia. There has been speculation that the modern Avars (Caucasus), Avar people of the Caucasus might have an uncertain connection to the historical Avars but direct descent from them is rejected or doubted by many scholars.


List of Avar Khagans

The recorded avar khagans were: * 552? — 562? уп. 558 — Kandik * 562—602 —
Bayan I Bayan I reigned as the first khagan of the Avar Khaganate between 562 and 602. As the Göktürk Empire expanded westwards on the Eurasian Steppe during the 6th century, peoples such as the Pannonian Avars, Avars (also known as the ''Pseudo-Avars' ...
* 602—617 —
Bayan II Bayan II was an Avars (Carpathians), Avar khagan between 602 and 617. 617 deaths 7th-century monarchs in Europe Pannonian Avars Year of birth unknown {{East-Slavic-hist-stub ...
* 617—630 — brother of Bayan II, unknown name * Unknown khagans * 795—814 — Theodorus * 814— ? — Abraham (Avar khagan) * ? —835 — Isaac (Avar khagan), Isaac * Unknown khagans


Social and tribal structure

The
Pannonian Basin alt=The Roman empire in red with a land in darker red; water is in pale blue, and non-Roman land in grey, The highlighted borders of the province of Pannonia within the Roman Empire The Pannonian Basin, or Carpathian Basin, is a large basin s ...

Pannonian Basin
was the centre of the Avar power-base. The Avars re-settled captives from the peripheries of their empire to more central regions. Avar material culture is found south to
Macedonia Macedonia most commonly refers to: * North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia until February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe. It gained independence in ...
. However, to the east of the Carpathians, there are next to no Avar archaeological finds, suggesting that they lived mainly in the western Balkans. Scholars propose that a highly structured and hierarchical Avar society existed, having complex interactions with other "barbarian" groups. The khagan was the paramount figure, surrounded by a minority of nomadic aristocracy. A few exceptionally rich burials have been uncovered, confirming that power was limited to the khagan and a close-knit class of "elite warriors". In addition to hoards of gold coins that accompanied the burials, the men were often buried with symbols of rank, such as decorated belts, weapons, stirrups resembling those found in central Asia, as well as their horse. The Avar army was composed from numerous other groups: Slavic, Gepidic and Bulgar military units. There also appeared to have existed semi-independent "client" (predominantly Slavic) tribes which served strategic roles, such as engaging in diversionary attacks and guarding the Avars' western borders abutting the
Frankish Empire Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Regnum Francorum), Frankish Kingdom, Frankland or Frankish Empire, was the largest post-Roman barbarian kingdom A barbarian is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most popu ...

Frankish Empire
. Initially, the Avars and their subjects lived separately, except for Slavic and Germanic women who married Avar men. Eventually, the Germanic and Slavic peoples were included in the Avaric social order and culture, itself Persian-Byzantine in fashion.History of Transylvania Scholars have identified a fused, Avar-Slavic culture, characterized by ornaments such as half-moon-shaped earrings, Byzantine-styled buckles, beads, and bracelets with horn-shaped ends. Paul Fouracre notes, "[T]here appears in the seventh century a mixed Slavic-Avar material culture, interpreted as peaceful and harmonious relationships between Avar warriors and Slavic peasants. It is thought possible that at least some of the leaders of the Slavic tribes could have become part of the Avar aristocracy". Apart from the assimilated
Gepids The Gepids ( la, Gepidae, Gipedae, grc, Γήπαιδες) were an East Germanic tribe who lived in the area of modern Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern ...
, a few graves of west Germanic (Carolingian) peoples have been found in the Avar lands. They perhaps served as mercenaries.


Language

The language or languages spoken by the Avars are unknown. Classical Philology, philologist Samu Szádeczky-Kardoss states that most of the Avar words used in contemporaneous Latin or Ancient Greek, Greek texts appear to have their origins in possibly Mongolian language, Mongolian or Turkic languages. Other theories propose a Tungusic languages, Tungusic origin. According to Szádeczky-Kardoss, many of the titles and ranks used by the Pannonian Avars were also used by Turks, Proto-Bulgars, Uyghur Khaganate, Uighurs and/or Mongols, including ''khagan'' (or ''kagan''), ''Khan (title), khan, Kavhan, kapkhan, tudun, tarkhan'', and ''khatun''. There is also evidence, however, that ruling and subject clans spoke a variety of languages. Proposals by scholars include Languages of the Caucasus, Caucasian,
Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ایران ), is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia ...
, Tungusic languages, Tungusic, Hungarian language, Hungarian and
Turkic Turkic may refer to: * anything related to the country of Turkey * Turkic languages, a language family of at least thirty-five documented languages ** Turkic alphabets (disambiguation) ** Turkish language, the most widely spoken Turkic language * T ...

Turkic
. A few scholars speculated that Proto-Slavic became the
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'disco ...
of the Avar Khaganate. Historian
Gyula László Gyula László (Kőhalom, 14 March 1910 – Oradea, 17 July 1998) was a Hungarian people, Hungarian historian, archaeologist and artist. His main work is the novel theory of "double conquest" of the Carpathian Basin by Hungarians in 5th and 9th c ...
has suggested that the late 9th century Pannonian Avars spoke a variety of Old Hungarian language, Old Hungarian, thereby forming an Avar-Hungarian continuity with then-newly arrived Hungarians.


Gyula László's Avar-Hungarian continuity theory

Gyula László suggests that late Avars, arriving to the khaganate in 670 in great numbers, lived through the time between the destruction and plunder of the Avar state by the Franks during 791–795 and the arrival of the Hungarians, Magyars in 895. László points out that the settlements of the Hungarians (Magyars) complemented, rather than replaced, those of the Avars. Avars remained on the plough fields, good for agriculture, while Hungarians took the river banks and river flats, suitable for pasturage. He also notes that while the Hungarian graveyards consist of 40–50 graves on average, those of the Avars contain 600–1000. According to these findings, the Avars not only survived the end of the Avar polity but lived in great masses and far outnumbered the Hungarian conquerors of Árpád. He also shows that Hungarians occupied only the centre of the Pannonian Basin, Carpathian basin, but Avars lived in a larger territory. Looking at those territories where only the Avars lived, one only finds Hungarian geographical names, not Slavic languages, Slavic or
Turkic Turkic may refer to: * anything related to the country of Turkey * Turkic languages, a language family of at least thirty-five documented languages ** Turkic alphabets (disambiguation) ** Turkish language, the most widely spoken Turkic language * T ...

Turkic
as would be expected interspersed among them. This is further evidence for the Avar-Hungarian continuity. Names of the Hungarian tribes, chieftains and the words used for the leaders, etc., suggest that at least the leaders of the Hungarian conquerors were Turkic speaking. However, Hungarian is not a Turkic language, rather Uralic languages, Uralic, and so they must have been assimilated by the Avars that outnumbered them. László's Avar-Hungarian continuity theory posits that the modern Hungarian language descends from that spoken by the Avars rather than the conquering Magyars. Based on DNA evidence from graves, the original Magyars most resembled modern Bashkirs, a Turkic peoples located near the Urals, whereas the Khanty people, Khanty and Mansi people, Mansi, whose languages most resemble Hungarian, live some ways to the northeast of the Bashkirs. According to Neparáczki: "From all recent and archaic populations tested the Volga Tatars show the smallest genetic distance to the entire Conqueror population" and "a direct genetic relation of the Conquerors to Onogurs, Onogur- ancestors of these groups is very feasible."


See also

*
Avar–Byzantine wars The Avar–Byzantine wars were a series of conflicts between the Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during La ...
*
Bulgars The Bulgars (also Bulghars, Bulgari, Bolgars, Bolghars, Bolgari, Proto-Bulgarians) were Turkic semi-nomadic warrior tribes that flourished in the Pontic–Caspian steppe and the Volga region during the 7th century. They became known as nomadi ...

Bulgars
*
Huns The Huns were a nomadic people A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation which regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, pastoral ...

Huns
* Keszthely culture * Treasure of Nagyszentmiklós *
Rouran Khaganate The Rouran Khaganate, also Juan-Juan Khaganate (), was a tribal confederation and later state founded by a people of Proto-Mongolic Proto-Mongolic is the hypothetical ancestor language of the modern Mongolic languages. It is very close to the M ...
* Pannonian Romance * Székelys


Notes


Citations


Sources

* * * * * E. Breuer, "Chronological Studies to Early-Medieval Findings at the Danube Region. An Introduction to Byzantine Art at Barbaric Cemeteries." (Tettnang 2005). * * * * * * * * Bruno Genito & Laszlo Madaras (eds.), (2005) "Archaeological Remains of a Steppe people in the Hungarian Great Plain: The Avarian Cemetery at Öcsöd 59. Final Reports. Naples". * * * * *
- YouTube
Documentary with Gyula László in Hungarian, on state television channel Duna. * * * *László Makkai & András Mócsy, editors, 2001.

* * * * * * * * * *Róna-Tas, András (1999). ''Hungarians and Europe in the early Middle Ages: an introduction to early Hungarian history''. Central European University Press. * * * * p. 221 *


External links



{{DEFAULTSORT:Avar Pannonian Avars, States and territories established in the 560s States and territories disestablished in the 820s Medieval Bulgaria Ancient peoples of Russia Hungary in the Early Middle Ages Romania in the Early Middle Ages Moldova in the Early Middle Ages 6th century in the Byzantine Empire, Avars Migration Period Medieval ethnic groups of Europe Barbarian kingdoms Turco-Mongol 6th-century establishments in Europe 9th-century disestablishments in Europe 560s establishments 820s disestablishments