29 Facts About Khazars


Khazars were a semi-nomadic Turkic people that in the late 6th-century CE established a major commercial empire covering the southeastern section of modern European Russia, southern Ukraine, Crimea, and Kazakhstan.

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The native religion of the Khazars is thought to have been Tengrism, like that of the North Caucasian Huns and other Turkic peoples.

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The ruling elite of the Khazars was said by Judah Halevi and Abraham ibn Daud to have converted to Rabbinic Judaism in the 8th century, but the scope of the conversion to Judaism within the Khazar Khanate remains uncertain.

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Where the Khazars dispersed after the fall of the Empire is subject to many conjectures.

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Qaganate of 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 and 650.

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Khazars'storians have often referred to this period of Khazar domination as the Pax Khazarica since the state became an international trading hub permitting Western Eurasian merchants safe transit across it to pursue their business without interference.

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The 10th-century Muslim geographer al-Istakhri 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".

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However, Khazars are generally described by early Arab sources as having a white complexion, blue eyes, and reddish hair.

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The Khazars constituted one of the two great furnishers of slaves to the Muslim market, supplying it with captured Slavs and tribesmen from the Eurasian northlands.

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Once the Khazars emerged as a power, the Byzantines began to form alliances with them, dynastic and military.

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Khazars fled to Bulgaria, whose Khan Tervel helped him regain the throne.

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Khazars sent an embassy to the Khazar qagan Bihar and married his son, the future Constantine V, to Bihar's daughter, a princess referred to as Tzitzak, in 732.

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Khazars proved unpopular, and his death ended the dynastic link of the Khazars to the Byzantine throne.

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The Khazars struck back in 726, led by a prince named Barjik, launching a major invasion of Albania and Azerbaijan; by 729, the Arabs had lost control of northeastern Transcaucasia and were thrust again into the defensive.

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Khazars then launched a surprise attack in which The Qaghan fled north and the Khazars surrendered.

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The suggestion that the Khazars adopted Judaism as early as 740 is based on the idea that, in part, it was, a re-assertion of independence with regard to both Byzantium and the Caliphate, while conforming to a general Eurasian trend to embrace a world religion.

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In 758, the Abbasid Caliph al-Mansur attempted to strengthen diplomatic ties with the Khazars, ordering Yazid ibn Usayd al-Sulami, one of his nobles and the military governor of Armenia, to take a royal Khazar bride.

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The Khazars initially allowed the Rus' to use the trade route along the Volga River, and raid southwards.

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Khazars 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.

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Khazars's project was opposed by the rabbinical authorities and he was poisoned in his sleep.

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In 682, according to the Armenian chronicle of Movses Dasxuranc'i, the king of Caucasian Albania, Varaz Trdat, dispatched a bishop, Israyel, to convert Caucasian "Huns" who were subject to the Khazars, and managed to convince Alp Ilut'uer, a son-in-law of the Khazar qagan, and his army, to abandon their shamanising cults and join the Christian fold.

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Ibn Fadlan, based on his Caliphal mission to the Volga Bulgars, reported that "the core element of the state, the Khazars, were Judaized", something underwritten by the Qaraite scholar Ya'kub Qirqisani around 937.

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Khazars decided to convert when he was convinced of Judaism's superiority.

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Claims of Khazar origins for peoples, or suggestions that Khazars were absorbed by them, have been made regarding the Kazakhs, the Hungarians, the Slavic Judaising Subbotniks, the Muslim Karachays, Kumyks, Avars, the Cossacks of the Don and Ukrainian Cossacks, the Turkic-speaking Krymchaks and their Crimean neighbours the Karaites to the Moldavian Csangos, the Mountain Jews and others.

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Several scholars have suggested that the Khazars did not disappear after the dissolution of their Empire, but migrated west to eventually form part of the core of the later Ashkenazi Jewish population of Europe.

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In 1909 Hugo von Kutschera developed the notion into a book-length study, arguing Khazars formed the foundational core of the modern Ashkenazi.

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Israel Bartal has suggested that from the Haskalah onwards polemical pamphlets against the Khazars were inspired by Sephardi organizations opposed to the Khazaro-Ashkenazim.

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The evidence from historians he used has been criticised by Shaul Stampfer and the technical response to such a position from geneticists is mostly dismissive, arguing that, if traces of descent from Khazars exist in the Ashkenazi gene pool, the contribution would be quite minor, or insignificant.

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Cities associated with the Khazars include Atil, Khazaran, Samandar; in the Caucasus, Balanjar, Kazarki, Sambalut, and Samiran; in Crimea and the Taman region, Kerch, Theodosia, Yevpatoria, Samkarsh, and Sudak; and in the Don valley, Sarkel.

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