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09 November 2022

The Burial of Unknown Alan near Lake Katlabukh

The Burial of Unknown Alan near Lake Katlabukh

The paper is devoted to the study of the burial of the Alan warrior in one of the barrows near Lake Kalabukh on the left bank of the Lower Danube. A hoard of 13 coins of three Byzantine emperors was found there: Manuel I Comnenus (1143-1180), Andronicus Comnenus (1183-1185), and Isaac Angelos (1185-1195). This gives us the opportunity to date the burials not earlier than the 1190s. Putting such coins into the grave gave the deceased a special prestige. In the 12th — 13th centuries, the Alans-Ases together with the Cumans-Kypchaks (Polovtsian) inhabited the lowlands of the Dniester and the Danube. In the scientific sources, they are called ‘Brodnyks’. The Kypchaks in the 1190s were allies of the Bulgarians in their war against the Byzantine Empire. And the Alans-Brodnyks from the Danube region united into special units, ‘engineering troops’, which ‘professionally’ provided the crossing of the Danube by the Kypchaks. And «… the Bulgarians, having Scythians as the allies, did much damage to the Roman possessions.» Therefore, «Emperor Isaac had to concentrate all the forces of the Romans in one army,» writes Georgios Akropolites, «and move it against them…». However, in the spring of 1190, «while passing through a narrow place (Trevnenski pass), he was attacked by the Bulgarians, who scattered the whole army and seized all the stock belonging not only to troops but also to the emperor himself… took a rich booty from the Romans… precious imperial accessories (they got emperor’s pyramids, vessels of nobles, a huge amount of money…». After the victory over the Byzantines, the Alans-Brodnyks together with the Kypchaks took part in the division of the war booty and returned to the Danube region. Some part of the ‘huge amount of money’ appeared to be, as you can see, in ‘our’ burial. It was made a little later in 1190, and the deceased was one of the war leaders, who in that military campaign, indisputably, distinguished himself. He was supposedly an honored and respected man in his circle that’s why he was buried with due respect at the very top of the barrow. And, as a mark of such respect, some money, the part of his war booty, was put into his grave.

Source: Dobroliubskii A., Smyrnov I. (2021). The Burial of Unknown Alan near Lake Katlabukh. Eminak: Scientific Quarterly Journal. 1(33): 308-317

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