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"Report" and "River island": An anonymous note and the island of rus in a modern domestic historiography

v. A. Shorokhov


Work is presented by department of historical regional studies of St. Petersburg State University.

The research supervisor - the doctor of historical sciences, professor Yu.V. Krivosheyev

Article is devoted to the analysis of current trends in studying the Anonymous note about the people of Eastern Europe and the island of rus. Having considered the works of the most famous domestic orientalists touching this subject for the last 30 years, the researcher comes to a conclusion about underestimation in a historiography of complexity of structure of the Anonymous note. Obviously, the monument contains both real modern information, and echoes of written tradition. A striking example of such combination is the story about the island of rus.

V. Shorokhov


The paper is devoted to the research of modern tendencies in the historiography of the so-called Anonymous Note and the island of the Rus. The main idea of the author is that modern orientalists underestimate the complexity of the source, which contains real evidences and traces of the written tradition, sometimes combined in one information unit. The prime example of the combination is the story on the island of the Rus. Key words: early Russian history, foreign sources, modern historiography.

It is difficult to find in a modern domestic historiography a job about the early history of Russia which author would not address the Anonymous note about the people of Eastern Europe and data on the island of rus and Hakan Rusov which are contained in it. In many respects it is connected, unfortunately, with the simplified relation to this source, based on its characteristic formulated in works of modern orientalists. What is defined by the authoritative arabist as "the report of information" [8, page 139] is perceived by many specialists in Russian philology as a selection of reliable data with which it is possible "to ornament" the concept of origin of Russia, whether it be the "northern" holes-manistsky theory in V.Ya. Petrukhin's version [33; 32] or "southeast" Alania in E.S. Galkina's interpretation [5].

In this regard we decided to track some trends in source study study "a subject of the island of rus", formation of stereotypes of her perception in a modern historiography, to establish the causes of those and whenever possible to offer ways of their overcoming. Let's make a reservation that we understand the period since the beginning of the 1980th as "present", when in the conditions of gradual weakening of ideological control regarding compliance to the ideas of "a one-sided antinormanizm" [7, page 44], the opinion on a case in point of most of nowadays well authoritative researchers was in general created.

First of all at the solution of objectives it is necessary to answer a question: what condition of source study study

a monument during the considered period and in what look it was available to experts in national history?

"An anonymous note about the people of Eastern Europe" - the Arabic-language work which did not reach us in the original (or a part of the work) 9th century devoted to the description of an ethnopolitical situation in the southeast of Europe. (Fragments of the description are quoted by a great number of Muslim authors. The data provided in "Expensive values" ("The book of precious jewelry") of Ibn Ruste (it is created after 903 g), the anonymous Persian composition "Borders of the world" (it is written at the end of the 10th century), "Decoration of news" of Gardizi (wrote between 1050 and 1053), "Ways and the countries" al-Bakri are considered as the most significant (mind. in 1094), "The nature of animals" al-Marvazi (the end of XI - the beginning of the 12th century) [28; 25; 16]). We were reached by stories about Pechenegs, Khazars, burta-Sakha, the Volga Bulgars, Magyars, the expert-sakaliba (here - Slavs), rusa, the country of Sarir and also alana.

Each description contains spatial (localization of rather previous community), military-political (the international status, mobilization potential) and ethnographic components. At the same time the volume of information and its quality vary. For example, in the versions of the story about rusa which reached us there is no determination of distance from them to any other "country", data on the total number of army. The expert-sakaliba does not contain a source and information on the number of soldiers of the governor. Least of all attention is given in "Note" to alana. Besides, the text contains passing mentions of some people of Europe which are not described in special sections: in the masculine dates/masculine of watts, nandar and are-rum.

Without going deep into a discussion about the probable author of the work, we will note that it is impossible to establish it with an accuracy in lack of originals of works of the most probable applicants - Ibn Hordadbekh and al-Dzhaykhani. However it is possible to claim with confidence that the writer or his main informants came from Central Asia as a starting point of the description is Urgench.

Thus, before us rather integral description east author of the remote region of the world made on defined (the truth, not always maintained) the scheme which contains a significant amount real (or seeming that) information.

In more or less full look the work was introduced for scientific use about 140 years ago by the Russian orientalist D.A. Hvolson [36]. However the Anonymous note is a part of a significant amount of works of Islamic literature which translation into Russian is not present. The fullest versions of the work contain in the "Expensive values" of Ibn Ruste which are not translated completely, "Decoration of news" of Gardizi, "Ways and the countries" al-Bakri and "The nature of animals" al-Marvazi.

Thus, all translations of the description available to not arabists represent the fragments taken out of a context. In this situation independently it is simply impossible to analyze extent of distortion of a source under the influence of the concrete text environment.

The most considerable fragments of the Anonymous note on Russian used still appeared in the 1960th * Despite high translation quality, they have a number of the essential features complicating the adequate analysis of the work.

So, B.N. Zakhoder's work, covering practically all maintenance of the Anonymous note, distributes it together with other materials of east authors under thematic sections that considerably complicates perception of this already non-uniform source [10].

The translations of certificates of the description made by A.P. Novoseltsev for appropriate section of the collective monograph "Old Russian State and Its International Value" reflect all most important versions of the report, but only about Slavs and rusa [28].

The optionality, characteristic of both mentioned translations, often forces researchers to address earlier editions

rather full versions of the text - to fragments from the work by Ibn Ruste in the edition D.A. Hvolson and the publication "Extraction from Gardizi Zayn's composition V.V. Bar-tolda is scarlet-akhbar" [2]. As we see, again it is only about the large fragments published in the 19th century

It is necessary to add such feature of Islamic medieval sources to above-mentioned difficulties in general and retellings of the description in particular as extremely distorted transfer of foreign-language personal names and terms multiplied by features of the Arab graphics. Most it affected "neighbors" (in the place in the text, but as we will see, it is not obligatory at all on localization) rus - the expert-sakaliba (which in this case are meant as Slavs). At the same time the most important data - a name of the governor of Slavs, his deputy and also suburban and capital Slavic "cities" underwent distortions. And judgment of information on Magyars and rusa also depends on their identification. By the beginning of the considered period there was already an extensive historiography devoted to attempts of interpretation of dark places of the Anonymous note [3], providing a wide choice konjektur.

All these essential "but" turned "Note" into a peculiar source study phantom because of what even arabists, referring to the data which are going back to it, often prefer to call only the author of the used compilation.

To a source it is possible to give A.P. Novoseltsev's works as an example of mistrust. It is indicative that in the above-mentioned edition of the description of the middle of the 1960th the famous domestic orientalist surely allocated the case of data of the Anonymous note and commented on the most difficult places of the work including concerning the island of rus which was located, according to him, "somewhere in the north of Eastern Europe" [28, page 403]. However in articles of the 1980th A.P. Novoseltsev's relation to "Note" underwent significant changes.

In particular, there is a curtailment of attempts of interpretation of information about ost-roverus. Already in article of 1982 devoted

to studying history of existing of a title Kagan in Eastern Europe, the author limited use of a source to the analysis of mentions in it this term in relation to Khazars and Russia, having refrained from attempts of localization of "island" (i.e. possession of one of kagan) [29].

In work of 1986, describing a social order of east Slavs, the researcher used data on attacks of rus on the expert-saka-liba for reconstruction "ancient option polyudya" [27, page 404]. However without the corresponding interpretation of information on the island of rus the identification of attacks of the last on Slavs with polyudy looks disputable. The author ignores this subject.

The fundamental monograph devoted to Khazars became the next major stage in interpretation of data of the Anonymous note by A.P. Novoseltsev. The famous orientalist not less than twelve times addressed information of the description [31], and in the section on sources even dated the work (to 875 g) and called the probable author - Ibn Khor-dadbekha [31, page 12]. But in an analytical part of a research the potential of "a cycle of news" is obviously underused, especially when it comes to movements the Magyar and a problem of the Russian khaganate. In the first case A.P. Novoseltsev almost completely relied on data of Konstantin Bagryanorodny and Hungarian anonymous author. And the scientist carried "early east news of Hakan Rusov" to Scandinavians whom, however, found it difficult to localize on open spaces of Eastern Europe [31, page 205-211] (at the same time the subject of the island of rus was not mentioned again).

a Peculiar culmination of washing out of ideas of A.P. Novoseltsev of a mysterious geographical object. In it hypotheses of the southern location of "island" were resolutely rejected (tmutarakansky and Danube), but also the northern option is recognized as unconvincing. As a result the only fact in evidence the researcher recognized the Scandinavian accessory of Russia [30] described in a source.

It is characteristic that refusal of the most widespread and, obviously, the most doubtful

it is found localizations in footnotes, and the Scandinavian attribution of Russia together with quite late dating of a source leaves considerable space for resuscitation of "the northern version".

Results of activity of A.P. Novoseltsev on studying the Anonymous note showed need of diversification of approaches to studying a source, impossibility of its adaptation to hypothetical realities like "the Danube Russia" or "The Ladoga khaganate" [35; 23]. In these conditions the continuing attempts of "use" of the description, appear, could not be apprehended seriously any more.

The address to structure of a source and identification in it separate subject layers became a natural exit from the created situation. This work was done at the beginning of the 2000th by A.P. Novoseltsev's schoolgirl I.G. Konovalova [21].

It managed to show that "Note" was initially non-uniform work, besides very selectively quoted by compilers. So, I.G. Konovalova defined the Iranian epic sources of stories about circumstances of emergence of rus on the island and separated them from the main array of data of Ibn Ruste, Gardizi and is scarlet - Maqdisi. The researcher connected concrete localization of the island in the Black and/or Azov seas with Islamic geographical tradition of the Mediterranean.

I.G. Konovalova's scepticism concerning attempts of correlation of the island of rus with a real geographical object as well as attempts of identification of the reservoir surrounding it turned out to be important consequence of the deep analysis of sources.

Work as I.G. Konovalova (in other researches of I.G. Konovalov also concerned this subject [20; 19]), undoubtedly, became a step forward in a question of interpretation of "Description" as parts of live Arab-Persian literary tradition. However relation of this author to a source, perhaps, sometimes giperkritichno. For example, it is it is unlikely possible to agree with allocation of two equivalent versions of the Anonymous Note happening, respectively, from

Iran and Mediterranean. The data on swimmings of Russia across the Black Sea used by writers of H1-HU11 of centuries for a specification of more ancient story about the island of ru-owls and which are going back to independent plots al-Masudi and schools al-Balkhi (10th century), obviously, were not a part of the "Note" which actually appeared no later than the end of the IX century.

The identification in works of sources of the Anonymous note as I.G. Konovalova in the Islamic world calling into question a possibility of correlation of the geographical objects mentioned in it with reality of Eastern Europe had limited impact both on a description historiography in general, and on works of her colleagues orientalists.

So, D.E. Mishin and T.M. Kalinina concentrate the attention on questions which solution traditionally is considered a prerogative of orientalists [25; 15; 18; 16; 13; 8]. In the center of attention there are konjektura and comparison of separate versions of the description. At interpretation of the last in some cases the tendency to acceptance of conclusions of D.A. Hvolson, the first publisher of the version Ibn Ruste prevails [36]. There are also subjects on which discussion is considered complete. Double localization the expert-sakaliba (checked by time the response to attempts to correlate this community to residents of Vyatka [28; 34; 35]) and especially realistic nature of a source (so unusual for east historical and geographical literature) are again brought as facts in evidence.

Thus, the set of information on Eastern Europe reconstructed on the basis of east sources the IX century which is conditionally called the Anonymous note cannot be rather precisely characterized as the complete work today. It is connected not only with numerous difficulties of its source study study, but also with underestimation of complexity of its structure. Therefore the most perspective direction of studying the description detection of possible references of the Anonymous note, first of all within modern is represented to it the Arab geographical tradition.

On a concrete example we will try to show opportunities which are given by similar approach.

We will try to assume that the author of the description, compensating for the deficiency of real information and being guided by tradition, entered some imaginary realities into the text. In what sections can they be found?

Most there correspond to the standard characteristic of the description data on Pechenegs, Khazars, burtasa and Bulgars, i.e. people of the Volga region and the southern Cisural area. In these parts travelers from the East, first of all merchants, could visit personally. The information about Magyars is so full. But already the story about Slavs is obviously compiled from different sources and contains a set of household details which can quite be carried to wonders (for example, the story about suicide of the inconsolable widow [28, page 388, 389]). In the story about rusa externally quite corresponding to "form" of the description, there is no major detail - localization concerning the closest neighbors (though there are data on the island and its sizes). And the country as-Sarir in general is described lapidarno and with fantastic details [28, page 397-402; 2, page 60, 61; 12, page 705, 706].

From this list the section on Russia and its governor Hakan is selected. We will note only those its features which can be interpreted as loan from earlier geographical works.

The main difference of the section on rusa is that these people are familiar to the anonymous author only as the formidable opponent of the next communities. For this reason the author in general denies existence of agriculture at them ("they have no arable lands, and eat only what is brought from the earth of Slavs" [28, page 397; 12, page 705]). Besides, the habitat of Russia, according to the description, - the island in the middle of the lake (Ibn Ruste) or the sea (Gardizi) [28, page 397, 399; 12, page 705, 709]. However, the word of a dzhazir allows many variants of translation, from actually island or the peninsula to the area which is to Entre Rios [21].

It should be noted once again that numerous attempts to coordinate notorious

"island" with the North of Eastern Europe are insolvent at least owing to the fact that are not confirmed by the only parallel description of a part of this region in the 9th century, known as "the Bavarian Geographer". And a mention of Russia in it near Khazaria, and geographical coverage of the work in general, and the causes of this South German monument which are recently reconstructed by A.V. Nazarenko exclude a possibility of the room of rus of the first half - the middle of the 9th century in Priladozhye [6; 26].

V.Ya. Petrukhin in one of the recent works suggested about possible refraction in this story of book legends of islands in the Northern ocean [32, page 70]. It is represented that development of this hypothesis has certain prospects.

What legendary geographical tradition the anonymous author could adapt for the being available data?

Judging by the Arab geographical works of the 9th century as the most authoritative conductor of scientific tradition which reached us there was "the Greek school" which was guided by "The geographical guide" of Ptolemaeus during this period (2nd century). Her outstanding representatives were the employee of the Baghdad "House of wisdom" Mahomed al-Hvarizmi (mind. after 847 g) and the astronomer-saby Mahomed al-Battani (apprx. 858-929). "The book of a picture of Earth" by the first and "Sabiyev zidzh" the second were used by authors of descriptive works as contained exact coordinates of a number of the major geographical objects. They before emergence of works al-Balkhi and his followers had to form the basis of the majority of the Arab cards.

If to assume that one of Ptolemaeus's processings was a source of data for the author of the description, the island plot at the lake/sea receives rather logical explanation.

The fact is that the Sarmatian Ocean Ptolemeya occupying the most part of the real East European plain is and at al-Hvarizmi, it is only called by the North External Sea [17, page 46, 86]. In the south remained "not flooded" space

it is limited to the Sea Bariki and Laziki, the sea Hvarizma, Tabaristan and Deylem and also the lake al-Batikha (that in Arab and is translated - the lake). In a reservoir on the bank of which there is a lazsky kingdom Egrisi (Arabs called his Lazik), it is easy to learn the Black Sea [4, the Caspian Sea [1, page 367 can only be page 21-24], and the sea at the same time of Khwarezm, Tabaristan and Deylem; 20, page 127, 128]. And here it is possible to identify "lake" only by construction on coordinates (the only card attached to the reached list contains the image al-Batikhi, but it does not match the description of "lake" in the text [17, page 55, 106]). It appears, this Sea of Azov without the Kerch Strait. But in representation al-Hvarizmi it is not isolated water basin. From it on the northwest follow two rivers crossing then the mountain Dikiya (Ripeyskiye of Mount Ptolemeya) and flowing into the North External Sea [17, page 53]. Besides, in the west of Eastern Europe al-Hvarizmi places the lake Barastanis (i.e. Borisfen) from where the river also flows into the North Sea [17, page 51, 52]. And at last, at al-Hvarizmi there is a detailed description of two big islands of Amazunus located in the North External Sea at coast of Eastern Europe.

The identity of the island of rus with one of the islands of Amazunus is the most probable. First of all in attempt of imposing on the card al-Hva-rizmi data on numerous Magyars and the expert-sakaliba for Russia of the place on the continent it is simple

does not remain. The sizes of islands specified in a source are quite comparable (extent 3 days of traveling, the population of 100,000 people). There is also an explanation of trade of rus only on the Volga way. The fact is that to get by the ship (and rusa of the Anonymous note moved on vessels) from the North external Sea to Black, according to data al-Hvarizmi, it is impossible. But idea of communication of the Caspian Sea with the Ocean by means of the big river (or the passage) was extremely widespread in east tradition [8]. The aggressive temper of rus absolutized by the author of the description can be also charged to echoes of a legend of amazons.

Probability of influence of all-geographical representations on interpretation of real data of the Anonymous note especially is probable that chronologically "next" to it "The book of ways and the states" of Ibn Hordadbekh and "Expensive values" of Ibn Ruste also underwent considerable influence of "the Greek school".

So, Ibn Hordadbekh, following antique tradition, describes the Western sea which is "behind Slavs" where islands Happy and the earth Tula are located [11, page 91].

Ibn Ruste at the description of the Black Sea uses the general with "Zidzh as-Sabi" al-Battani a source **.

Thus, in our opinion, studying the Anonymous note is far from over

>, and search of new interpretations of information which is contained in it is very perspective.

* The newest editions of versions of the description are sketchy. See: [9, page 208-213; 12, page 699-709; 8, page 139-141, 164-167].

** However, at the end of the description "the seas al-Hinda" At Ibn Ruste "it is absolutely unexpected" data on the sea which is on 21 shares to the north of the Tropic of Cancer are provided it is scarlet - Armani (possibly reading al-Urmani) which with many reservations can be identified with Baltic. However T.M. Kalinina who paid attention to this fragment stipulates extreme unsteadiness of the offered treatment [22; 17; 14].


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Hubert Joshua Richard
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