Szarvas inscription

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The Szarvas inscription refers to the inscription on a bone needle case found near Szarvas in southeastern Hungary and dating from the second half of the 8th century, the "Late Avar" period (700-791).[1]

The needle case and its inscription[edit]

The bone needle case of Szarvas
Drawing of the inscription made by the archeologist and historian István Erdélyi in 1984. The edges of the bone needle case are worn, and the top and bottom edges for part of the characters are not clearly visible.[2][3]

The name of the script of the Szarvas inscription[edit]

Picture of the bone needle case of Szarvas with Carpathian Basin Rovas alphabet on a coin issued around 1996.

The Hungarian archeologist, historian and linguist Gábor Vékony named the script used on the needle case as "Kárpát-medencei rovásírás" ("Carpathian Basin Rovas script").[4][5] He often used this term in his book, A székely írás emlékei, kapcsolatai, története, e.g. in the chapter "A kárpát-medencei rovásábécé korabeli feljegyzése" ("The contemporary record of the Carpathian Basin Rovas alphabet").

Vékony analysed the similarities and the differences between the Old Hungarian and the Carpathian Basin scripts on page 154 of his book.[6] On page 232, Vékony wrote: "- Aethicus Ister jelei azonosak az egykori Kárpát-medencei rovásírás jeleivel." ("The symbols of Aethicus Ister are identical to the symbols of the quondam Carpathian Basin script").[7]

Vékony also writes : "E jel a Szarvason azonosított Kárpát-medencei f alig torzult megfelelője..." ("This symbol is identical to the Carpathian Basin 'f' identified in Szarvas". (referring to the bone needle case found in Szarvas)[8]

In page 233, Vékony writes: "Erre utalhat az is, hogy ez a betűalak levezethető egy párthus alep formából. Feltehető tehát ennek a jelnek a megléte a Kárpát-medencei rovásírásban is (a székelybe is innen származhatott)." ("This could imply also that this glyph can be derived from the Parthian Aleph form. Consequently, the existence of this symbol can be supposed in the Carpathian Basin script as well (it could originate from this to the Székely)."[9] Here the 'Szekely' refers to the Szekely-Hungarian Rovas script also known as Old Hungarian script. Vékony's writing suggests a proposal that a Carpathian Basin Rovas script may be one of the ancestors of the Szekely-Hungarian Rovas script.

The meaning of the inscription[edit]

Gábor Vékony's transcription[10] was improved by linguist Erzsébet Zelliger.[citation needed] The last character of the fourth row of the inscription was reconstructed by Vékony. The edges of the bone needle case are worn, and the top and bottom edges for part of the characters are not clearly visible.[11]

Transcription with IPA notation[edit]

The following transcription using the International Phonetic Alphabet is based on Vékony's original transcription.[12] Superscript segments and those in brackets are reconstructed.

No. of row Transcription (using IPA) Translating from Ancient Hungarian
1st /ynɡyr isnɛk im iʎ βaʃu/ Szarvas Rovas inscription Row 4
2nd /[t]iɣ teβɛen isen tiɣ tiɣ sur bek βo/ Szarvas Rovas inscription Row 4
3rd /fɛʃɛs ɛlei sɜl [...]/ Szarvas Rovas inscription Row 4
4th /yyr ne adɣon [ɜzdɣ] imesd eɣt ɛn iʃtɛnɛ[m]/ Szarvas Rovas inscription Row 4

In the inscription, the third symbol of the third row (from left) could be considered a descendant of the ideograms in Turkic languages.[citation needed] However, their possible relationship needs further evidence.

Transcription with Hungarian phonetic notation[edit]

No. of row Transcription (using Hungarian phonetic notation) Translating from Ancient Hungarian (modern meaning)
1st /üngür : isznek im ily : βasu/ Here is an iron [needle] against demon Üngür;
2nd /[t]iɣ tëβeën : iszën : tiɣ tiɣ szur bëk βo/ [Needle should be pricked into the demon; needle, needle, stab, poke, sew-[in]!
3rd /fesesz : elëi szɜl [...]/ [Who] unstitches […];
4th /üngür në : adɣon : [ɜzdɣ] imëszd ëɣt en : istene[m]/ Üngür shall not give [curse]; […], blast him, my God!’'

Critics and alternative theories[edit]

Vékony had read the Szarvas transcription as Hungarian, thus proposing it as evidence that the Hungarian-speaking people had appeared in the region by the 7th century. There are several critics of Vékony's theories and translations, most notably the Hungarian linguist and historian, András Róna-Tas. The debates were summarized by István Riba in 1999 and 2000: "many find themselves unable to accept Vékony's theory".[13][14]

The key point of the critics has been that in traditional Hungarian scholarship, the existence of the Hungarian-speaking population dates from 896 (when the Magyars took over the Carpathian Basin ), while the Szarvas needle case dates from the 8th century. Consequently, either the Szarvas inscription is not in Hungarian or Hungarians were in the Carpathian Basin much earlier than the late 9th century. Róna-Tas attempted to read the Szarvas relic in Turkic instead of Hungarian, but wrote that his transcription needed further improvement.[15] The issue remains an open question amongst Hungarian scholars.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Róna-Tas, András (1996): A honfoglaló magyar nép [The landtaking Hungarian nation]. Bevezetés a korai Magyar történelem ismeretébe [Introduction to the knowledge of the early Hungarian history]. Budapest: Balassi Kiadó, ISBN 963-506-106-4
  2. ^ Vékony, Gábor (1987): Spätvölkerwanderungszeitliche Kerbinschriften im Karpatenbecken. Acta Acheologica Hungarica Vol. 39, pp. 211-256.
  3. ^ Vékony Gábor (2004): A székely írás emlékei, kapcsolatai, története. Budapest: Nap Kiadó
  4. ^ Vékony Gábor (2004): A székely írás emlékei, kapcsolatai, története. Budapest: Nap Kiadó. ISBN 963-9402-45-1, page 203, first line of the second paragraph
  5. ^ G. Hosszú: Proposal for encoding the Carpathian Basin Rovas script in the SMP of the UCS. National Body Contribution for consideration by UTC and ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2, January 21, 2011, revised: May 19, 2011, Universal Multiple-Octet Coded Character Set. ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2 N4006
  6. ^ Vékony Gábor (2004): A székely írás emlékei, kapcsolatai, története. Budapest: Nap Kiadó. ISBN 963-9402-45-1, page 154, first row of the second paragraph
  7. ^ Vékony Gábor (2004): A székely írás emlékei, kapcsolatai, története. Budapest: Nap Kiadó. ISBN 963-9402-45-1, page 232, eighth and ninth rows of the second paragraph
  8. ^ Vékony Gábor (2004): A székely írás emlékei, kapcsolatai, története. Budapest: Nap Kiadó. ISBN 963-9402-45-1, page 235, second and third rows of the second paragraph
  9. ^ Vékony Gábor (2004): A székely írás emlékei, kapcsolatai, története. Budapest: Nap Kiadó. ISBN 963-9402-45-1, page 233, last six rows in the first paragraph
  10. ^ Vékony, Gábor (1987): Későnépvándorláskori rovásfeliratok a Kárpát-medencében [Rovas inscriptions from the Late Migration Period in the Carpathian Basin]. Szombathely-Budapest
  11. ^ Vékony, Gábor (1987): Későnépvándorláskori rovásfeliratok a Kárpát-medencében [Runic inscriptions from the Late Migration Period in the Carpathian Basin]. Szombathely-Budapest: Életünk szerkesztősége
  12. ^ Vékony Gábor (2004): A székely írás emlékei, kapcsolatai, története. Budapest: Nap Kiadó
  13. ^ Riba,István: Jöttek, honfoglaltak, fújtak. Régészvita egy rovásírásról [Came, settled, blown. Archaeological debate about the runic writing]. In: Heti Világgazdaság [Weekly Word's Economy], Vol. 21. 1999. N. 46. pp. 101-102, 105.
  14. ^ Riba, István (2000). "Reading the Runes: Evidence of the Dual Conquest?" Archived 16 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.. The Hungarian Quarterly. Vol. XLI. No. 157, Spring 2000
  15. ^ Róna-Tas, András (1996): A honfoglaló magyar nép [The landtaking Hungarian nation]. Bevezetés a korai Magyar történelem ismeretébe [Introduction to the knowledge of the early Hungarian history]. Budapest: Balassi Kiadó, pp. 108-110

References[edit]

  • Juhász, Irén (1983): Ein Avarenzeitlicher Nadelbehälter mit Kerbschrift aus Szarvas. In: Acta Acheologica 35 (1983), p. 34
  • Juhász, Irén (1985): A szarvasi avar rovásírásos tűtartó [The Avar need-case of Szarvas with Rovas script]. Magyar Tudomány [Journal of the Hungarian Science], 85:2, pp. 92–95 (in Hungarian)
  • Kristó, Gyula & Makk, Ferenc (2001): A kilencedik és a tizedik század története [The history of the 9th and the 10th centuries]. In: Magyar Századok [Hungarian Centuries]. Published by Pannonica Kiadó, Ser. ed.: Gyula Szvák, 222 p. ISBN 963-9252-38-7 (in Hungarian)
  • Riba,István: Jöttek, honfoglaltak, fújtak. Régészvita egy rovásírásról [Came, settled, blown. Archaeological debate about the runic writing]. In: Heti Világgazdaság [Weekly Word's Economy], Vol. 21. 1999. N. 46. pp. 101–102, 105; ISSN 1217-9647 (in Hungarian)
  • Róna-Tas, András (1999). Hungarians and Europe in the early Middle Ages: An introduction to early Hungarian history. Central European University Press. ISBN 963-9116-48-3
  • Róna-Tas, András (1996). "The Migration and Landtaking of the Magyars", The Hungarian Quarterly. Vol. XXXVII, No. 144, Winter 1996, pp. 37–41
  • Vékony, Gábor (1985): Késő népvándorláskori rovásfeliratok [Runic inscriptions from the Late Migration Period]. In: Életünk Vol. XXII, No. 1, pp. 71–84 (in Hungarian)
  • Vékony, Gábor (1987): Későnépvándorláskori rovásfeliratok a Kárpát-medencében [Runic inscriptions from the Late Migration Period in the Carpathian Basin]. Szombathely-Budapest: Életünk szerkesztősége. ISBN 978-963-02-5132-7 (in Hungarian)
  • Vékony Gábor (2004): A székely írás emlékei, kapcsolatai, története. Budapest: Nap Kiadó. ISBN 963-9402-45-1 (in Hungarian)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]