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The Khazars were a semi-nomadic Turkic people who created what for its duration was the most powerful political structure to emerge from the breakup of the western Turkish steppe empire, known as the Khazar Khanate or Khazaria.

Khazaria = Astride a major artery of commerce between northern Europe and southwestern Asia =Foremost trading emporia of the medieval world = western marches of the Silk Road = key crossroad between China, the Middle East, and Kievan Rus’.

Khazars = Dominated for from 650–965 the vast area extending from the Volga-Don steppes to the eastern Crimea and the northern Caucasus.

Khazar = In 8th century royalty and the aristocracy begin converting from phallic worship to Judaism

Khazaria long served as a buffer state between the Byzantine empire and both the nomads of the northern steppes and the Umayyad empire, after serving as Byzantium’s proxy against the Sassanid Persian empire.

The alliance was dropped around 900. Byzantium began to encourage the Alans to attack Khazaria and weaken its hold on Crimea and the Caucasus, while seeking to obtain an entente with the rising Rus’ power to the north, which it aspired to convert to Christianity.

Khazar Siew = Between 965 and 969, the Kievan Rus ruler Sviatoslav I of Kiev conquered the capital Atil and destroyed the Khazar state.

Qasar/Khazar after their conversion it is reported that they adopted the Hebrew script, and it is likely that, though speaking a Türkic language, the Khazar chancellery under Judaism probably corresponded in Hebrew.

Khazars are referred to as the Hunnic descendants of Gog and Magog and said to be circumcised and observing all the laws of Judaism.

Khazar Tribes = Comprising the Khazar empire were not an ethnic union = Steppe nomads + A core Tűrkic leadership + People driven West in the 4th century from Mongolia and South Siberia + A complex assortment of Iranian + Asian Avars

The ruling family of this confederation were a clan of the West Türkic tribes — their leader may have been Yǐpíshèkuì who lost power or was killed around 651.

Khazaria = Embryonic state began to form sometime after 630. The Khazar consolidated further westwards with a resounding victory over the tribes in 657. The Khazars thus took shape out of the ruins of this nomadic empire as it broke up under pressure from the Tang dynasty armies to the east sometime between 630-650.

Khazars conquest of the lower Volga region to the East and an area westwards between the Danube and the Dniepr = around 670, a properly constituted Khazar emerges

Three thrones = One for the King of China + the King of Byzantium + the King of the Khazars = equal status to kings of the other two superpowers

Khazaria developed a Dual kingship governance structure = 2 Kings of 2 Turkic nomad groups emerged as part of being deeply entwined with the conversion to Judaism. = The lesser king was managed & commanded the military, while the greater king’s role was primarily sacral, less concerned with daily affairs. = Greater king was recruited from the Khazar house of notables in an initiation ritual, was nearly strangled until he declared the number of years he wished to reign, on the expiration of which he would be killed by the nobles.

The lesser king would enter the presence of the reclusive greater king only with great ceremony, approaching him barefoot to prostrate himself in the dust and then light a piece of wood as a purifying fire, while waiting humbly and calmly to be summoned. = Particularly elaborate rituals accompanied a royal burial typical of inner Asian peoples. Both kings converted to Judaism sometime in the 8th century, while the rest, according to the Persian traveller Ahmad ibn Rustah, probably followed the old Tūrkic religion.

The ruling strata differed ethnically and linguistically from its subject peoples.

The Khazar took wives and concubines from the subject populations, were protected by a Khwârazmian guard corps = they hired mercenaries

Khazars = At the peak of their empire ran a centralized fiscal administration, with a standing army of some 7-12,000 men, which could, at need, be multiplied two or three times that number by inducting reserves from their nobles’ retinues to as many as one hundred thousand. They controlled and exacted tribute from 25-30 different nations and tribes inhabiting the vast territories between the Caucasus, the Aral Sea, the Ural Mountains, and the Ukrainian steppes.

Khazar armies would not retreat under any circumstances. If they were defeated, every one who returned was killed.

Khazars = Estimated to contol 25 to 28 distinct ethnic groups aside from the ethnic elite. Elites were constituted out of nine tribes/clans, themselves ethnically heterogeneous, spread over perhaps nine provinces or principalities.

Khazars = Evidence suggests that there was a racial distinction between “White Khazars” and “Black Khazars”

The 10th-century Muslim geographer claimed that the White Khazars were strikingly handsome with reddish hair, white skin, and blue eyes, while the Black Khazars were swarthy, verging on deep black, as if they were “some kind of Indian” = “white” ruling warrior caste and a “black” class of commoners.

Khazars = Physical remains, such as skulls at Sarkel, have revealed a mixture of Slavic, European, and a few Mongolian types.

Khazars = The import and export of foreign wares, and the revenues derived from taxing their transit, was a key hallmark of the Khazar economy, though it is said also to have produced isinglass (a substance obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish = A form of collagen used mainly for the clarification of beer and glue).

Khazars = Developed a self-sufficient domestic economy, a combination of sheep and cattle to be exported – extensive agriculture, abundant use of the Volga’s rich fishing stocks, together with craft manufacture + Lucrative returns from taxing international trade given its pivotal control of major trade routes.

Khazars = Great furnishers of slaves to the Muslim market = Supplying captured Slavs and tribesmen from the Eurasian northlands = Profits enabled it to maintain a standard army of Khwarezm Muslim troops.

Khazars = Capital Atil was Divided: Western bank where the king and his Khazar elite, with a retinue of some 4,000 attendants, dwelt + East, inhabited by Jews, Christians, Muslims and slaves and by craftsmen and foreign merchants.

Khazars = Ruling elite wintered in the city and spent from spring to late autumns in their country field homes = A large irrigated greenbelt, drawing on channels from the Volga river, lay outside the capital, where meadows and vineyards extended for some 60 miles.

Khazars = Taxed = Customs duties imposed on traders, and tribute and tithes were exacted from 25-30 tribes = Sable skin + Squirrel pelt + Sword + Ploughshare + Hides + Wax + Honey + Livestock

Khazars = Ruling elite probably spoke an eastern variety of Turkic = Bulğaric and Hungarian = Language was different from any other known tongue

Khazars = Originally practiced a traditional Turkic form of cultic practices focusing on the sky god = Horse sacrifices were made to this supreme deity. Rites involved offerings to fire, water, and the moon, to remarkable creatures, and to “gods of the road” = Widespread cultic ornaments. Afterlife was much a continuation of life on earth, warriors being interred with their weapons, horses, and sometimes with human sacrifices (300 soldiers killed to accompany one). Ancestor worship was observed. The key religious figure appears to have been a Phallic Symbol that were, according to the Khazar Hebrew conversion stories, were driven out.

Khazaria = The conversion of Khazars to Judaism though unusual, was not unique. In 682, according to the Armenian chronicle, the king of Caucasian Albania dispatched a bishop Israyêl to convert Caucasian “Huns” who were subject to the Khazars, and managed to bring a son-in-law of the Khazar king and his army, to abandon their phallic cults and join the Christian fold.

The Arab Georgian martyr St Abo, who converted to Christianity within the Khazar kingdom around 779-80, describes local Khazars as irreligious , but some christians + muslims + jews are known to have migrated to Khazaria during periods of persecution. Jewish communities from the Balkans, Armenia, and Crimea began migrating to the more hospitable climate of pagan Khazaria in the wake of these persecutions – Friendly to jews sent roots down into the whole of the population. One important condition for mass conversion was a settled urban state, where synagogues provided a focus for religion, as opposed to the free nomadic lifestyle of life on the open steppes. A tradition of the Iranian Judeo-Tats claims that their ancestors were responsible for the Khazar conversion. At some point between 740 CE and 920 CE, the Khazar royalty and nobility appear to have converted to Judaism. Christian of Stavelot (ca.860-870s) refers to them as descendants of Gog and Magog, who were circumcised and observed all the laws of Judaism. Coins dated 837/8 bear the inscriptions Land of the Khazars and Moses the messenger of God. By the 10th century, while the royal clan officially claimed Judaism, a non-normative variety of Islamization took place among the majority of Khazars. Persian historian wrote that ‘all the Khazars are Jews, but they have been Judaized recently’. Conversion was a slow process through stages ending between 954 and 961. Native pagan traditions with Jewish law were melding together. It is generally agreed they adopted Rabbinical rather than Qaraite Judaism.

Khazar king saw himself as a defender of Jews even beyond the kingdom’s frontiers, retaliating against Muslim or Christian interests in Khazaria in the wake of Islamic and Byzantine persecutions of Jews abroad. = The king of Khazaria destroyed the minaret of a mosque in Atil.

Karaite scholar Benjamin Nahâwandî, interpreted “The Lord hath loved him” as a reference “to the Khazars, who will go and destroy Babel” (i.e., Babylonia), a name used to designate the country of the Arabs. This has been taken as an indication of hopes by Persian Jews that the Khazars might overthrow the caliphate.

Khazaria = Collapsed in the 10th century = Attributed to the enfeebling effects of ‘false’ religion. = Rise of the Great Seljuq Empire, whose founding traditions mention Khazar connections = Could not longer function hold back the east and south of nomad expansions. Khazaria nonetheless left its mark on the rising states and some of their traditions and institutions = Distinctive kaftan or riding habit of the nomadic Khazars was adopted as a solemn element of imperial dress. A dissident group of Khazars, the Qabars, joined the Hungarians in their flight. Elements within the Hungarian population can be viewed as perpetuating Khazar traditions as a successor state. Some archeological evidence suggests the practice of Judaism for warrior graves with Jewish symbols = menorahs + inscriptions in Hebrew + Six-pointed star identical to the Star of David.

Khazaria = Only Jewish state to rise between the Fall of the Second Temple (67-70 CE) and the establishment of Israel (1948)

1121 = Egyptian Solomon ben Duji = Often identified as a Khazarian Jew = attempted to stir up a messianic crusade for the liberation of, and return of all Jews to, Palestine. He eventually moved to Kurdistan where his son Menachem some decades later assumed the title of Messiah and, raising an army for this purpose, took the fortress of Amadiya north of Mosul. Opposed by the rabbinical authorities he was poisoned in his sleep.

Khazars were absorbed by many peoples = Slavic + Bukharan + Muslim Kumyks, + Kazakhs + Turkic-speaking Krymchak + Karaites + Moldavian + Mountain Jews + Significant impact on the rise of Ashkenazi Jews migrated West to eventually form part of the core of the later Ashkenazi Jewish population of Europe.

“The main part of Jewry never was in Judea” + Biblical Ashkenaz referred to northern Asia Minor, and identified it with the Khazars. 2012 a significant Khazar component in the paternal line based on the study of Y-DNA of Ashkenazi Jews, using Caucasian populations, Georgians, Armenians and Azerbaijani Jews as proxies.


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