20 September 2008

Khazar capital found, says archeologist

A scholar claims to have found the medieval Jewish capital of the Khazars near the Caspian Sea, although the dig has not revealed neither Jewish artifacts nor Khazar writings. The AP story was published in the Calgary Sun here.

MOSCOW - A Russian archeologist says he has found the lost capital of the Khazars, a powerful nation that adopted Judaism as its official religion more than 1,000 years ago, only to disappear leaving little trace of its culture.

Dmitry Vasilyev, a professor at Astrakhan State University, said his nine-year excavation near the Caspian Sea has finally unearthed the foundations of a triangular fortress of flamed brick, along with modest yurt-shaped dwellings, and he believes these are part of what was once Itil, the Khazar capital. By law, Khazars could use flamed bricks only in the capital, Vasilyev said.

The general location of the city on the Silk Road was confirmed in medieval chronicles by Arab, Jewish and European authors.

Despite the fact that the dig has yielded no Jewish artifacts nor writings, Kevin Brook ("The Jews of Khazaria") believes the team has "truly found the long-lost city."

The Turkic tribe roamed from northern China to the Black Sea, and during the 7th-10th centuries, conquered large areas of southern Russia and Ukraine, the Caucasus Mountains and Central Asia.

The site, Itil, is some 1,300 km south of Moscow, may have had a population of up to 60,000 and covered 2 sq. km of marshy plains southwest of the Russian Caspian Sea port of Astrakhan, said archeologist Vasilyev.
Read the complete story at the link above.

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