Boyan Totev

The fall of the Western Turkic Khanate led to events that rocked the European steppes and seriously changed the history of their people. Under the leadership of Kubrat from Dulo family Bulgarian tribes formed a powerful tribal alliance known as Great Bulgaria. This steppe state was not much going through his founder. The remains of Ashina family legitimized and founded a new steppe superpower on its territory – The Khazar Khanate. The traces of these dramatic events are complexes of Pereshchepino culture found mainly along the Dnieper. These treasures are characterized by the appearance of artifacts unknown before in the European steppes unanimously been attributed to the heritage of the Western Turkic Khanate. For example, in eponymous hoard for Pereshchepino culture a group of items produced in the Turkic-Sogdian style is identified. This style is adopted by some researchers as a characteristic style of "the master of Pereshchepino Minor". To this group we can add single-edged swords with a ring, stirrups and such ornaments as earrings, bracelets and neck-rings. At the same time another steppe empire – Avar Khanate also went into decline. It finally lost the control of the territories in Lower Danube basin. In its central part, in the Middle Danube, a new people appeared. They probably came from the East. To this period belong so-called princely burials of Bocha and Kunbabon. These finds have obvious similarity with Pereshchepino culture and according to many researchers are related to the elite of the third son of Kubrat – Kuber who escaped to Avars. The presence of such typical for Turkic influence things as vessels with a round handle, single-edged swords with a ring, earrings in the male burials and some others is emblematic for the Central Danubian complexes. It is logical that similar rich nomadic complexes and objects of the same time are found in the Lower Danube region also, where Bulgarian tribes dwelt and founded their new state under the leadership of Asparukh.

Our work on identifying the aristocratic burials of the Lower Danube Bulgarians served as occasion for discussion on this topic. There were found a lot of insignia indicative of its direct relation to Pereshchepino culture which we consider as elite extraction of the aristocratic culture of the Great Bulgaria. Some of them – the belt decorated with gold appliqués with granulation, gold chape of drinking horn, and earrings were found near Pliska – the Old Bulgarian capital, while others - the gold repousse plaque with the image of fantastic animal, a gold pendant-wheel – in Southern Bulgaria.

It is significant that most of these things are found together with the elite belts of Wrap type. The most representative of their details, decorated with the specific ornamentation, which develops the Turkic-Sogdian style, executed in a manner characteristic for so-called master of Pereshchepino Minor. It is possible to assume that the traditions of the atelier of the Great Bulgaria ruler Kubrat which produced things in the Turkic-Sogdian style, have been developed in the ateliers of his sons and heirs in the Balkan Peninsula – Asparukh and Kuber.

Regional Historical Museum - Dobrich
Barnaul, Russia
The influence of the Western Turkic Khanate on the elite culture of Old Bulgarian aristocracy
The fall of the Western Turkic Khanate led to events that rocked the European steppes and seriously changed the history of their people.