| HISTORY |
The Bulgarian people first lived in Pamir and Hindukush and from there they began their journey westwards. According to the modern historian P. Dobrev there were three distinct moves by the ancient Bulgarians toward the territory now known as Bulgaria. The first two waves were not successful but the third one led to the founding of the state now known as Bulgaria.
Wherever the ancient Bulgarians passed they left evidence, which survives to this day, of stone-built towns, inscriptions and place-names of the regions they occupied. Many inscriptions from that time have been found - they are written in a peculiar runic alphabet. Archaeologists have excavated a copy of a chronicle from the reign of King Barad, the last King of the Volga Bulgarians, in which there are stories about the origin of the ancient Bulgarians.
Until recently, the official communist history, heavily censored to reflect the views of the Soviet Union, considered that the history of Bulgaria began in 681 when the state of Bulgaria was founded and acknowledged, spreading to the lands where it exists today. But, the historical chronicles and documents have proved that a large and powerful country with strong military organisation had existed long before this date. The chronicle of the ancient Bulgarian dynasties is proof of the history of the Bulgarian Khan dynasties from the period from 165 AD up to 765 AD, when the chronicle was written.
The writer states that in 165, during the reign of Avitohol, the Bulgarians settled in the region of Caucus, coming from their most ancient homeland in Pamir. This is the year when the Great Bulgaria (this is the name used by the Byzantium chroniclers to refer to the state) was founded. The boundaries of Great Bulgaria were between the rivers of Dneper and Volga, reaching the Caspian and Black Seas. After the death of Khan Koubrat, his five sons managed to resist for three years the raids of the Khazars which came from the steppes beyond the Caspian Sea.
The Byzantine chronicler Teofan tells us that Khan Koubrat's will was his sons should never split up, but be like a bundle of sticks that could not be broken whilst they were together but would be vulnerable if separate. This will is written on the top of the gate of the Parliament: "The unity creates force". But his sons forgot about this wise advice and decided to divide the people amongst themselves. Each of them, together with his part of the people went seeking new lands to settle. The firstborn son, Bayan, stayed in his native land and soon was subdued by the Khazars. The second son, Kotrag, founded a state in the confluence of the Volga and Kam rivers, which survived until the beginning of the 13th century. Kuber led part of the Bulgarians to Panonia and settled in Macedonia. Altsek and his group reached Italy, near the town of Ravena.
The third son, Asparukh or Isperikh led the Bulgarian people west to the Danube delta where he laid the foundations of the third Great Bulgarian state in Eurasia, which was to survive for 13 centuries. He managed to subdue and unite the native Slavonic tribes. After successful battles with Byzantine he forced it to acknowledge the existence of the Bulgarian state (681 AD) and even compelled it to pay taxes to him.
© 2023, D. Georgieva
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UK Embassy in Bulgaria, 31/01/2019
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