Osman Karatay

Keywords: Magyars/Hungarians, Onogurs, Hungarian homelands, Etelköz, Khazars, Bashkirs


The book known as De Administrando Imperio, written by the Byzantine emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus in the 10th century, describes two former lands of the Magyars before coming to the Carpathian basin. The concerning data, however, lacks internal cohesion, and is contradictory to a great degree with the data of other sources. On the other hand, Constantine gives substantially valuable information, too, by providing the most detailed information regarding the pre-Carpathian Magyars. Thus, his book has been given a great prominence, and other sources have been left to the secondary rank. As a consequence, the existing results in the scholarship do not answer some vital questions. The theories based on Constantine's book locate the two Magyar lands on the two sides of Dnieper. But there is no any reliable clue showing that the Magyars had a patria on the west of Dnieper (up to Lower Danube); we cannot be sure of even their reaching en masse at the Dnieper banks in those days, except for their military raids to Central Europe. If all sources and clues are evaluated altogether, and if the contradictory expressions of Constantine are reconciled with each other and with other sources, one may see that really there are two lands, one on the western banks of the river Don and the other on the east of the mid-Volga. This essay offers reading the place name Etelköz, one of the two lands, in Turkic as "source (land) of Volga", instead of the conventional Hungarian reading 'mesopotamia'. The Turkic reading would indicate the banks of Kama and Belaya, where is today Bashkiria. The other patria, given by Constantine as 'Levedia', is properly the land on the western Don banks, which occurs in medieval Hungarian annals with a different name.