The Tanais Tablets are two tablets dated late 2nd-3rd century AD, and written in Greek from the city of Tanais, in the proximity of modern Rostov-on-Don, Russia. At the time, Tanais was composed of a mixed Greek and Sarmatian population. The tablets are public inscriptions which commemorate renovation works in the city. One of the tablets, Tanais Tablet A, is damaged and is not fully reconstructed. The other one, Tanais Tablet B, is fully preserved and is dated to 220 AD.
The tablets were discovered by Russian archaeologist Pavel Mikhailovich Leontjev in 1853 and are today kept in the lapidary of the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. The tablets are considered important for the early Croatian history.
Among the names on the tablets are those of three men: Horoúathos, Horoáthos, and Horóathos (Χορούαθ[ος], Χοροάθος, Χορόαθος). Those names scholars interpret as anthroponyms of the Croatian ethnonym Hrvat. The ethnonym Hrvat is generally considered to be of Iranian origin, and that can be traced to the Tanais Tablets. The Tanais Tablet B mentions Horoathos as the son of Sandarz which is a Scytho-Sarmatian name, and scholars view this as an indication that early Croats could have been at that time Sarmatians or Alans who became Slavicized in the following centuries.
The tablets were discovered by the Russian archeologist Pavel Mihajlovič Leontjev (1822-1874) in September 1853. Mostly international scholars wrote about the tablets, while of Croatian scholars Stjepan Krizin Sakač, Dominik Mandić and Radoslav Katičić. However, during the time of Yugoslavia, Yugoslavian scholars avoided discussing them, or mainly wrote about them in a superficial way and misinterpreted (Ferdo Šišić, Trpimir Macan, Josip Horvat, Bogo Grafenauer, Jaroslav Šidak, Gordan Ravančić, Ivan Biondić, Stjepan Pantelić etc.), and sometimes malicious manner, for example, Miroslav Krleža saw the connection as "historical lunacy", while Nada Klaić ignored and only mentioned them for the criticizing of the Iranian-Caucasian theory of the Croatian ethnogenesis. The open debate only followed after the collapse of Yugoslav Communism.
First who connected the tablets personal names with Croatian ethnonym was A. L. Pogodin in 1902, while first who considered such a thesis and Iranian origin was Konstantin Josef Jireček in 1911. It should be noted that some scholars use this tablets only to explain the etymology, and not necessarily the ethnogenesis.
However, whether the early Croats have been Slavs who taken the name of Iranian origin or were ruled by Sarmatian elite caste, or were Slavicized Sarmatians, the remote Irano-Sarmatian elements or influences on the Croatian ethnogenesis cannot be entirely excluded. Still, the secure connection of those three personal names with the Croatian ethnonym, or ethnic identity, is rather difficult without more evidence.
Tanais Tablet A
The Tablet A is the larger and older inscription, dated to 175-211 AD, and which originates from the time when king Tiberius Julius Sauromates II (175-211 AD) ruled the Bosporan Kingdom. The marble tablet (0.92 x 0.73 x 0.09) probably sustained heavy damage even before the excavation. Thirty-two lines from thirty fragments were saved from the inscription. The public inscription mentions the king, the synod, or devotional assembly, the leadership of the devotional assembly, and its regular members, which were slightly less than forty. The fourth line ends by mentioning of the father of the devotional assembly, Horoúathos (Χορούαθος), who is referred to by name in the fifth line, and amongst others an unknown male who is said to be the son of Horoáthos (Χοροάθου) is also cited. The inscription ends with the date, from which is saved only the appellation of the Greek-Macedonian month, which corresponds to either July or August.
ΘΕΩι ΥΨΙΣΤΩι. ΆΓΑΘΗι ΤΥΧΗι.
ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΟΝΤΟΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΤΙΒ(ΕΡΙΟΥ) ΙΟΥΛ(ΙΟΥ) ΣΑΥΡΟΜΑΤΟΥ
ΦΙΛΟΚΑΙΣΑΡ[ΟΣ ΚΑ]Ι ΦΙΛΟ[Ρ]ΩΜΑΙΟΥ, ΕΥΣΕΒΟΥΣ, Η ΣΥΝΟΔΟΣ
Η ΠΕΡΙ Ι[ΕΡΕΑ ΙΟΥ)ΛΙΟΝ ΡΑΛΧΑΔΟΥ ΚΑΙ ΠΑΤΕΡΑ Σ[Υ]ΝΟΔΟΥ
ΧΟΡΟΥΑΘ[ΟΝ]-----Ο — ΚΑΙ ΣΥΝΑΓΩΓΩΝ ΆΡΔΑ[ΡΑ] ΚΟΝ
[Σ]ΥΝΕΓΔΗΜ[ΟΥ ΚΑΙ ΦΙΛ]ΑΓ[ΑΘ]ΟΝ ΔΙΑΙ[Ο]Ν ΚΕΡΔΩΝΑΚΟΥ (?) ΚΑΙ
[Π]ΑΡΑΦΙΛΑΓΑΘΟ[Ν]------ΙΟΝ ΦΟΡΓΑΒΑΚ[ΟΥ] ΚΑΙ [ΝΕΑ]ΝΙΣ-
[Κ]ΑΡΧΗΝ ΔΗΜΗΤ[ΡΙΟΝ ΑΠΟ]ΛΛΩΝΙΟΥ ΚΑΙ ΓΥΜ(Ν]ΑΣΙΑ[ΡΧΗΝ] ΒΑ -
[ΣΙ]ΛΕΙΔΗΝ ΘΕΟΝ[ΕΙΚ]Ο[Υ ΚΑΙ Α]ΤΤΑΝ ΗΡΑΚΛΕΙΔΟΥ ΦΙΛΟ[Ν]? ΤΗΣ
[ΣΥ]ΝΟΔΟΥ [ΚΑΙ] ΟΙ ΛΟ[ΙΠΟ]Ι [ΘΙΑ]ΣΪΤΑΙ· ΆΡΔΑΡΑΚΟΣ ΖΙΑ---ΟΥ, ΔΗ[ΜΗΤ]ΡΙΟΣ------ΟΥ, ΛΕΙΜΑΝΟΣ ΦΙΔΑ,
[ΜΙ]ΔΑΧΟΣ?-------ΑΝΟΥ, Ά[ΣΚ]ΛΗΠΙΑΔΗΣ ΟΥΑΛΕ[Ρ]ΙΟΥ
. .Γ?ΟΔΑΝ[Ο]Σ [ΔΗΜΗΤ?]ΡΙΟΥ, [Μ]ΕΝΕΣΤΡΑΤΟΣ ΛΥΚΙΣ [ΚΟ]Υ --------ΙΚΑΧΟ[Υ], ΔΙΟΦΑΝΤ[ΟΣ] ΔΕΙΟΥ, ΠΟΠΛ[ΙΟ]Σ 15-----------ΔΑ, ΗΡΑΚΛΕΙΔ[ΗΣ] ΕΠΙΓΟΝΟΥ, ΊΑΡΔΟ---------------[Δ] ΗΜΗΤΡΙΟΥ, Α[Φ]ΡΟΔΕΙΣΙΟΣ ΧΡΥΣΕ-
[ΡΩΤΟΣ, ΦΑΛ]ΔΑ[ΡΑ]ΝΟΣ ΑΠΟΛΛΩΝΙΟΥ, ΦΙΛΙΠ-
[ΠΟΣ]------------ΝΟ[Υ], ΚΑΛΟΫΣ ΑΘΗΝΙΟΥ, ΚΟΦΑΡΝΟΣ --------------------------------[Τ]ΡΥΦΩΝ ΑΝΔΡΟΜ[ΕΝ]ΟΥΣ,20 Ο-------------------------ΧΟΡΟΑΘΟΥ, ΘΕΟΤΕΙΜΟΣ ΨΥΧΑ-
ΡΙΩΝ[ΟΣ]----------ΔΙΒΑΛΟΣ ΦΑΡ[ΝΑΚΟΥ], ΕΫΙΟΣ 'ΡΟ-
ΔΩΝ[ΟΣ, ΗΡΑ]ΚΛΕΙΔΗΣ "ΑΤΤ[Α----------------'ΑΡΙΣ]-
ΤΟΔ[ΗΜΟΥ, Σ]ΥΜΜΑΧΟΣ ΣΑ---------------
ΟΡΑΝΣ - - - [ΖΩΡΘΪ? ]ΝΟΣ ΒΕ [ ΛΛΙΚΟΥ?]------
50 ΦΙΔ[Α]----------ΝΟΣ ΧΑΡΙ[ΤΩΝ--------:Α]-
ΈΝ Τ[Ωι-----ΕΤΕΙ ΚΑΙ ΜΗ]ΝΙ ΛΩ[Ωι]-----
God the Supreme. May it be with fortune!
In the time of the reign of king Tiberius Julius Sauromates, Friend of Caesar and of the people of Rome, Pious. The devotional assembly with the priest Julius, the son of Rhalchades, at the head, and the father of the devotional assembly Horuat[a, the son of ---]o[---], and the gathered devotional assembly, with Ardarak, the son of [S]ynegdemus, and the noble Diaion, the son of Kerdonak (?) and the very noble [---]ion, the son of Forgabak, and the leader of the youth Demetrius, the son of Apollonius, and the gymnasium instructor Basilides, the son of Theonicus, and Atta, the son of Heraclius, a friend of the devotional assembly. And the remaining members: Ardarakos, the son of Zia-[---]on, Demetrius, the son of [---]on, Leimanus, the son of Phidas [Mi]dach?, the son of [---]an, Asklepiades the son of Valerius. [--g?]odan, the son of Demetrius, Menestratus, the son of Lyciscus, [the son of -----]ikachus, Diophantus, the son of Deius, Poplius [the son of -----]din, Heraclius, the son of Epigon, Iardo[---------], the son of Demetrius, Aphrodisius, the son of Chryserotus, [Phal]da[ra]nos, the son of Apollonius, Philip [the son of –------]n, Kaloys, the son of Athenius, Kopharnos [the son of -------------] [T]ryphon, the son of Andromenes, o [--------------], the son of Horoath, Theotimus, the son of Psycharion, [-----]dibal, the son of Far[nak], Euios, the son of Rodon, [Hera]clius, the son of At[i, --------- the son of Aris]-tod [emus, S]ymmachus, the son of Sa[---------], kos[----------------] philo[---------------] orano[--- Zorthi?]n, the son of Be[lik?], Radam[istus?], the son of [---], the son of Phadina[mos] Myr[on?], the son of [-----], the son of Mastoy[s------] po[-------]os, the son of Ardarak, [----] Fid[a, the son of -------]n, Chari[ton, the son of -----], [A]- rathi[----, the son of -----------] in [the year and month] Lo[u] [---]
Tanais Tablet B
The Tablet B is the smaller inscription (1.053 x 0.71 x 0.08), dated to 220 AD (517 according to the Bosporan calculation of time). This inscription is younger, which is apparent as is mentioned Tiberius Julius Rhescuporis II, the son of Sauromates II. The inscription sustained less damage, it is broken into four parts, and is relatively readable. On it are engraved twenty lines in Greek monumental capitals. Cited in the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth lines, along with the names of their fathers, are the four leaders of the city of Tanais at the time when this monument was erected (Hofarno, Babos, Niblobor, and Horoathos). The monument was erected because of the renovation of the central square in the city of Tanais.
ΕΠΙ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΙ ΡΗΣΚΟΥΠΟΡΙΔΙ, ΥΙΩ
ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΣΑΥΡΟΜΑΤΟΥ, ΚΑ[Ι]
ΖΗΝΩΝ ΦΑΝΝΕΩΣ ΠΡΕΣΒΕΥΤΗ ΒΑ-
ΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΡΗΣΚΟΥΠΟΡΙΔΟΣ, ΚΑΙ ΧΟ-
ΦΑΡΝΟΥ ΣΑΝΔΑΡΖΙΟΥ, ΒΑΒΟΣ ΒΑΙΟ-
ΡΑΣΠΟΥ, ΝΙΒΛΟΒΩΡΟΣ ΔΟΣΥΜΟΞΑΡ–
ΘΟΥ, ΧΟΡΟΑΘΟΣ ΣΑΝΔΑΡΖΙΟΥ ΑΡΧΟΝ–
ΤΕΣ ΤΑΝΑΕΙΤΩΝ, ΧΟΦΡΑΖΜΟΣ ΦΟΡΓΑ-
ΒΑΚΟΥ, ΒΑΣΙΛΕΙΔΗΣ ΘΕΟΝΕΙΚΟΥ ΕΛ-
ΛΗΝΑΡΧΗΣ ΕΞΑΡΤΙΣΑΣ ΤΗΝ ΑΓΟΡΑΝ
ΕΚ ΤΩΝ ΙΔΙΩΝ ΑΝΑΛΩΜΑΤΩΝ ΑΠΕΚΑ–
ΤΕΣΤΗΣΑ ΤΗ ΠΟΛΕΙ ΚΑΙ ΤΟΙΣ ΕΜΠΟ-
ΡΟΙΣ ΔΙΑ ΕΠΙΜΕΛΗΤΩΝ ΖΗΝΩΝΟΣ ΦΑ[Ν-
Ν]ΕΩΣ, ΦΑΡΝΟΞΑΡΘΟΥ ΤΑΥΡΕΟΥ,
ΦΑΛΔΑΡΑΝΟΥ ΑΠΟΛΛΩΝΙΟΥ ΚΑΙ
[ΑΡ]ΧΙΤΕΚΤΟΝΩΝ ΔΙΟΦΑΝΤΟΥ ΝΕ-
ΟΠΟΛΟΥ ΚΑ[Ι] ΑΥΡΗΛΙΟΥ ΑΝΤΩΝΕ[Ι]-
ΝΟΥ, ΝΑΥΑΚΟΣ ΜΕΥΑΚΟΥ.
EΝ ΤΩ ΖΙΦ'.
May it be with fortune!
In the time of king Rhescuporis, the son of the great king Sauromates, and Zenon, the son of Phannes, emissary of king Rhescuporis, and [in the time of] Hopharnas, the son of Sandarzios, Babos, the son of Baioraspes, Nibloboros, the son of Dosymoxarthos, Horoathos, the son of Sandarz, the archons of the Tanaisians, Hophrazmos, the son of Phorgabakos, Basilides, the son of Theoneicus, the hellenarch. Prepared by the council at their own expense once again renovate [the square] for the city and for the merchants, through the supervision of Zenon, the son of Phannes, Pharnoxarthos, the son of Taureus, Phaldaranos, the son of Apollonius, and the architect Diophantus, the son of Neopolus and Aurelius, the son of Antoninus, Nauakos, the son of Meuakos.
The year 517.
- White Croats
- White Croatia
- Origin hypotheses of the Croats
- Etymology of the Croatian ethnonym
- Škegro 2005, p. 15.
- Ustinova, Yulia (1999). The Supreme Gods of the Bosporan Kingdom: Celestial Aphrodite and the Most High God. Brill. p. 194. ISBN 9004112316. Retrieved June 22, 2014.
- Škegro 2005, p. 19-20.
- Škegro 2005, p. 22.
- Škegro 2005, p. 9.
- Škegro 2005, p. 25-27.
- Gluhak, Alemko (1990), Podrijetlo imena Hrvat [The origin of the ethnonym Hrvat] (in Croatian), Zagreb: Jezik (Croatian Philological Society), pp. 131–133
- Matasović, Ranko (2008), Poredbenopovijesna gramatika hrvatskoga jezika [A Comparative and Historical Grammar of Croatian] (in Croatian), Zagreb: Matica hrvatska, p. 44, ISBN 978-953-150-840-7
- Škegro 2005, p. 10.
- Džino 2010, p. 21.
- Škegro 2005, p. 10-19.
- Škegro 2005, p. 11.
- Heršak, Nikšić 2007, p. 263.
- Heršak, Lazanin 1999, p. 26.
- Košćak 1995, p. 110.
- Heršak, Nikšić 2007, p. 260.
- Škegro 2005, p. 12.
- Škegro 2005, p. 19.
- Škegro 2005, p. 20.
- Škegro 2005, p. 21.
- Škegro 2005, p. 23.
- Škegro 2005, p. 24.
- Vladimir, Košćak (1995), "Iranska teorija o podrijetlu Hrvata" [Iranian theory on the origin of Croats], in Budak, Neven (ed.), Etnogeneza Hrvata [Ethnogenesis of Croats] (in Croatian), Matica Hrvatska, ISBN 953-6014-45-9
- Heršak, Emil; Lazanin, Sanja (1999), "Veze srednjoazijskih prostora s hrvatskim srednjovjekovljem" [Connections between Central Asia and Medieval Croatia], Migration and Ethnic Themes (in Croatian), 15 (1–2)
- Škegro, Ante (2005), "Two Public Inscriptions from the Greek Colony of Tanais at the Mouth of the Don River on the Sea of Azov", Review of Croatian History, 1 (1)
- Heršak, Emil; Nikšić, Boris (2007), "Hrvatska etnogeneza: pregled komponentnih etapa i interpretacija (s naglaskom na euroazijske/nomadske sadržaje)" [Croatian Ethnogenesis: A Review of Component Stages and Interpretations (with Emphasis on Eurasian/Nomadic Elements)], Migration and Ethnic Themes (in Croatian), 23 (3)
- Džino, Danijel (2010), Becoming Slav, Becoming Croat: Identity Transformations in Post-Roman and Early Medieval Dalmatia, Brill, ISBN 9789004186460
- N. Black Sea — Tanais — 173-211 AD — IosPE II 445
- N. Black Sea — Tanais — 220 AD — IosPE II 430