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The Name List of Bulgarian Khans

Also known as the "Nominalia of Bulgarian Princes", this document is a chronological list of the rulers of ancient Bulgaria, starting with the legendary Avitohol, and ending with the 8th century khan, Umor. It was found in 1861 AD by the Russian scholar A. Popov amongst the "Hellenic Chronicler," a collection of Old-Church Slavonic Russian and Bulgarian historical texts.

The original Name List was likely compiled during the reign of Khan Asparoukh (called ISPERIH in the Nominalia), and cut into rock columns at the capital city of Pliska. The final version is thought to have been written down after Umor's rule, to mark the 600 year anniversary of the Bulgarian state.

The original text, in English, with the Proto-Bulgarian terms preserved (in CAPITAL LETTERS):

  • AVITOHOL lived 300 years. His family was Dulo. His year was DILOMTVIREM.
  • IRNIK lived 150 years. His family was Dulo. His year was DILOMTVIREM.
  • GOSTUN. He was a proxy. His family was Ermi. His year was DOKSTVIREM.
  • KOURT held power for 60 years. His family was Dulo. His year was SHEGORVECHEM.
  • BESMER, 3 years. His family was Dulo. His year was SHEGORVECHEM.

    These princes ruled for 515 years on the other side of the Danube with shaved heads. Then came ISPERIH on this side of the Danube, as it is now.

  • ISPERIH, 61 years. His family was Dulo. His year was VERENIALEM.
  • TERVEL, 21 years. His family was Dulo. His year was TEKUCHITEM.
  • TVIREM, 28 years. His family was Dulo. His year was DVANSHEHTEM.
  • SEVAR, 15 years. His family was Dulo. His year was TOHALTOM.
  • KORMISOSH, 17 years. His family was VOKIL. His year was SHEGORTVIREM.
    This prince changed the family Dulo, that is VIHTUN.

  • VINEH, 7 years. His family was Vokil. His year was IMENSHEGORALEM.
  • TELETZ, 3 years. His family was Ugain. And his year was SOMORALTEM.
  • UMOR, 40 years. His family was Vokil. His year was DILOMTUTOM.

The name of the ruler is followed by the length of his reign, or in the case of a progenitor (such as AVITOHOL and ISPERIH), by the number of years he lived. The last entry for each prince is the time of the event described in the Nominalia, represented as a combination of the year and month. Each ruler is listed twice in the original text, except for the first. This double specification allows for deciphering of many of the unclear terms in the Proto-Bulgarian Calendar. The chronology of the Nominalia is based on a progression of twelve lunar years, each one represented by a particular animal. The names of each year correspond to the names of the months of the ancient Bulgarian calendar. So, for instance, ISPERIH is said to have crossed the Danube in VERENIALEM - the year of the Dragon, 11th month (November, 680 AD).

Traditionally, Bulgarians have traced the foundation of their state to this event, the ascension of Khan Asparoukh. However, it is clear from the Nominalia that, at least as far as the Bulgarians of the 8th century were concerned, the state Asparoukh founded "on this side of the Danube" is simply the extension of a much older one, tracing itself back through the Old Great Bulgaria of Kubrat (KOURT in the Nominalia), to the legendary AVITOHOL and IRNIK.

In fact, the last ruler on the name list, Umor, is mentioned in the Byzantine chronicles as having ascended the Bulgarian throne in February 765 AD. The time between that event, and the Danube crossing in 680 AD is 85 years. Added to the 515 years in which Asparoukh's predecessors ruled "on the other side of the Danube with shaved heads", these 85 years put the age of the Bulgarian state in, 765 AD, at 600.

In the span of these 600 years, Bulgaria was controlled by two major dynasties, the Dulo (or Duolo) and the Vokil. But, while the reign of Khan Kormisosh is listed as 17 years, the lifespans of the first two khans, AVITOHOL and IRNIK, are listed as being extremely long, 300 and 150 years, respectively. This is a common thing amongst ancient peoples - the Romans had Romulus and Remus, the Khazars had the mystical Togarma and the Skitians had Targitai. These two legendary Bulgarian rulers are commonly associated with Attila the Hun and his son, Ernich. Whether this is a solid conclusion is still debated in some circles.

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