Kingdom of Balhara

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For other uses, see Balhara.
Balhara according to Acad. Suren T. Eremian's reconstruction of the original map of Central Asia from the Armenian geographical atlas 'Ashharatsuyts'

Kingdom of Balhara is a fringe theory of some Bulgarian scientists (for example: Georgi Bakalov, Petar Dobrev, Ian Mladjov) to have been the earliest known state [1][2][3][4][5][6] of the ancient Bulgars, situated in the upper course of Oxus River (present Amu Darya), and the foothills and valleys of Hindu Kush and Pamir Mountains (ancient Mount Imeon).[7] One historian - Dr Peter Dobrev (senior research fellow), places the date of the kingdom around the 12th century BC,[8] while others (from Ashharatsuyts) place the date 7/6th century BC.

Origins of the name[edit]

In Sanskrit, "Bal" means "strength" and "hara" means "the possessor", thus, "Balhara" means "the possessor of strength" (and so, in that regard also the name of Bulgar could mean "possessor of strength"); another theory is that "Balh" refers to the city of Balkh (Balhara's capital) and that "ar" means "man of", so Bal-hara could mean "man of Balh/Balkh"; consequently "Balh-ar/Bulg-ar" could then mean "man of stength". The name "Balkan" (mountains) could also come from this connection, instead of the Turkish word for mountain (this is an alternative theory).


According to Bulgarian historian Georgi Bakalov, Bulhi was probably the Armenian name of the ancient Bulgars. Historiographers in late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages such as Agathias of Myrina, Theophylact Simocatta, and Michael the Syrian also identify Mount Imeon as an early homeland of the ancient Bulgars.[citation needed]. A medieval Armenian source that testifies to this is the "Ashharatsuyts" by Anania Shirakatsi. It was apparently said that the Kingdom was very prosperous and wealthy, trading with other kingdoms and empires (China, Persia, Massegetes), but was conquered and destroyed by a number uncertain forces over the years - probably ancient China, Alexander the Great and various Iranian and Turkic tribes in the vicinity. After the conquest/destruction of the Kingdom of Balhara, the Bulgars (sometime in the 2nd/3rd century AD) migrated west and in the process somehow co-opted into the Hunnic confederacy[1]

Some of them migrated to Europe already BC. Bakalov cites Byzantine historian Zacharias Rhetor as saying that the Burgars (presumably also identical to the Bulgars), had towns in the valleys of Northern Caucasus. They had also the territory along the north coast of Black Sea east of Axiacus River (Southern Bug) (Latin: Bulensii)[citation needed]. He concludes that they had migrated to that region from Balhara. In Bakalov's view, the Bulgars established their first state there in 165 AD, a date he arrives at by summing the years of life or reign of all rulers listed in the Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans. The Nominalia claims that the first two rulers lived for 300 and 150 years respectively, which has led earlier historians to ignore these figures. Bakalov, however, is of the opinion that their legendary names should be interpreted as referring to entire dynasties, but the dates themselves are accurate. The Kingdom of Old Great Bulgaria is known to have been established in that area in 632 AD. Among the successors of the latter are the medieval Bulgarian Empire and Volga Bulgaria, and present Bulgaria, Tatarstan, and Chuvashia.

According to the Brockhaus Bilder-Conversations-Lexikon (Band 1. 1837., S. 339-340) - The Bulhi contributed to the ethnogenesis of the present Tajiks in both Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan[citation needed], and possibly the homonymous ethnic group of Balhara in India.

According to some people, the Armenian geographical atlas ‘Ashharatsuyts’ described the Bulgars as such: The inhabitants of Balhara were called Bulh in the 5th-7th century Armenian geographical atlas ‘Ashharatsuyts’. The atlas describes them as an old settled, artisan and trading nation rather than nomadic tribe, inhabiting the area centered around the ancient major city of Balh (Balkh)(which was the capital of Balhara - it was very old - the Arabs called it the "mother of all cities") that comprised roughly present northern Afghanistan and most of Tajikistan. That, though, can't be verified 100%.

Another possible connection between Balhara and the Bulgars is the words by Nasir Khosrow Qubadyani, the famous Persian poet of 11th century, who was born in Qubadyan, a village near Balkh in Afghanistan, says:

Doshvar shavad bange to az khaneh be dehliz Va asan shavad avaze vey az Balkh be Bulgar

Your voice hardly reaches the corridor from the room But his song (poem) easily reaches from Balkh to Bulgar

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ .
  5. ^
  6. ^ [1]". Brockhaus Conversations-Lexikon Bd. 7. Amsterdam 1809, S. 161-162.
  7. ^ "[2]". Pierer's Universal-Lexikon, Band 2. Altenburg 1857, S. 230.
  8. ^ Peter Dobrev, Tangra TanNakRa All Bulgarian Foundation and the Centre For Research On The Bulgarians