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Sumerian Magyars?

by Stephen Simmons




The origin of the Magyars is a question which has puzzled scholars for many years. It is commonly held that the Magyars were a nomadic people of the north, descended from the Voguls, and their language of Finno-Ugrian origin. They migrated southwards and mixed with Bulgar-Turkic and Alanic peoples. Later they raided west under Arpad, until they came to settle in the sparsely populated Carpathian Basin, bringing with them their language and traditions. (Bartha, 7)

But there is a different and more controversial explanation for the origins of the Magyars. Dr. Nagy believes that the people who later became known as Magyars had settled and lived in the Carpathian Basin for many years before Arpad's conquest, and that these people were the Sumerains that were pushed out of the Fertile Crescent. Dr. Nagy attempts to prove his theory by using extensive examples to show the linguistic similarities between the Sumerian, Old Magyar, and the current Magyar language. He also refers to several works written during the first millennium, including the Arpad codices and the De Administrando Imperio, and also relies on his own research of over fifty years. One point he makes is that while there are only two hundred Magyar words related to the Finno-Ugric language, there are over two thousand words related to the Sumerian language. (Nagy, 10)



The Sumerians were a highly advanced non-Semitic people who appeared in lower Mesopotamia around the fifth or sixth millennia BC and settled between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. (Nagy, p. 27) City states supported by irrigation and a form of writing called cuneifrom had appeared by around 3,000 BC. They flourished until being pushed out by the Akkadians and Elamites. (Encyclopedia) But did these people simply die out or blend in with their conquerors? Dr. Nagy believes that they did not cease to exist, but that there were two separate migrations of the Sumerian people out of their homeland.

One group traveled northwest through Turkey, across the Bosporus and up into the Carpathian Basin. The other group migrated east then north across the Caucuses Mountains, into the area between the Caspian and Black Seas. (Nagy, map2) Facts show that the early settlers in the Carpathian Basin became known as the Turanians, and were working the land long before the conquest of Arpad. But who were these Turanians? They were a non-Aryan people who preceded the Indo-European migration through Europe, and Nagy believes that they are the migrated Sumerians. (Nagy, 17)

Part of Nagy's proof that the Sumerian were the people that became known as the Turanians is a word study of the current names of the rivers to the north and west which flow in to the Black Sea. These rivers lie in the direct path the Sumerians supposedly took out of the Fertile Crescent, and the area from which the conquering Magyars came. In Sumerian, the first river, the Don, means 'loud, rumbling sound'. The Donec or Donetz flows into the Don and it means to 'give or make sound'. The Dnieper comes from the Sumerian Don-aper - 'the father of the Don', and the river Dniester or Don-Ister meaning the 'divine Don'. And the Danube, from Don-aba which means 'the great Don'. Ister is also the name of one of the Sumerians' favorite deities, the goddess of Nature. (Nagy, 26)



Nagy also goes into particular detail of the names of cities, towns and counties in modern Hungary and show that many of the names mean something in Sumerian, with minor variations. e.g. The city Esztergom, whose name was changed in Roman times - thus it precedes Arpad's conquest - from the Sumerian language it is Istergam, from Ister the Sumerian deity and 'gom' or 'gam' meaning bend in the river in both Magyar and Sumerian. (Nagy, 51)

 Nagy also speaks of an ancient runic writing system that has been found in the region. A writing system which preceded the Greek form of writing, and is unrelated to the Phoenician form of writing. It is based on 34 letters. (Nagy, 71) He quotes the work of Adorjan Magyar, an ethnologist, "'In Europe, Magyarorszag was the only nation which had its own alphabet before Christianity.'" (Nagy, 72) Nagy believes that the Sumerian cuneiform evolved into the runic system which appeared in the Carpathian basin, and that this writing system is related to the Etruscan writing system. Magyar states, "'How is it possible that the ancient Magyar runic numerical system resembles the Etruscan, ...while the Etruscan runic numerical system disappeared centuries ago, before the Magyar nomad people...conquered the Carpathian Basin in the tenth century?'" (Nagy, 73) So, they conclude that an advanced people lived in the Carpathian basin, that they were related to the Etruscans, and that the languages have many similarities to modern Magyar.

What follows is a brief history of what happened from Roman times until the conquering by Arpad. From 35 BC to 9 AD the Romans fought with the inhabitants of the Carpathian basin, whom they called the Pannonians. The Pannonians were finally conquered and added to the empire. Nagy believes that the name Pannonians does not derive from the Roman god Pan, but rather from Pannon which means 'belonging to Panna" a nickname for the Sumerian goddess of creation, Anu. (Nagy 83,84) In 359 AD, the people revolted against the heavy burden of taxes. Around 400 BC the Huns arrived in the region and pushed out the Romans, and established themselves on the Magyar plain. (Nagy, 103) By 469, the Huns had fallen apart, and settled and mixed with the population, in the well defended Carpathians. (Nagy, 108) In 557, the Avar-Huns moved into Eastern Europe, and dominated the region until Charlemagne and the Franks fought a bloody eight year war of conquest and defeated the Avars to close out the eighth century. (Nagy, 108,111)



The conquering Magyars invaded the Carpathian basin in 896 AD from the Etelkoz region. Everything that has been said so far leads to one question, and Nagy answers that by saying that there was a people in Hungary before the conquering Magyars arrived. Nagy attempts to show that through history, the conquering people usually adapts the language of their minions. Nagy believes that when the Magyars came in, they did just that and adopted the language that was already being spoken in the conquered lands, adding their own contributions to the language, but because they were in power, the language became known as Magyar. e.g. Modern France is actually named after the Franks, a Germanic people that conquered Gaul. Over time the Franks adopted the language of the people - which was a Romance language, not Germanic - but the name of the country and the language became known as France and French, respectively, due to the conquerors influence. (Nagy, 23-24, 99-100) But who where these conquering Magyars and where were they from? Nagy believes that they were the Medes who lived east of the Caspian sea, out of which came the Megyeri or Magyari tribes. (Nagy, 133)

In De Administrando, Impereo, Constantine writes that the Pechengs attacked a 'Turkish' people and that it split them into two tribes, the one half going towards Etelkoz north of the Black Sea and the other down southeast towards Persia. (Note: Turkish was a name given to all peoples of this area - comparable to Slavic, many nations but with some similarities.) The name of that peoples know as "Szabartofaszfalo". (Nagy, 135-136) Nagy believes that the roots of this word mean the 'people of Subartu'. Subartu is a land just to the east of ancient Sumeria. (Nagy, 139-140) Thus, Nagy concludes the conquering Magyar were the same Sumerians who traveled north into the Caucuses and adapted to the life of the horse-riding Turkish peoples. And after more attacks moved westward into modern Hungary.



  • Bartha, Antal. Hungarian Society in the 9th and 10th Centuries. Budapest: Akademiai Kiado, 1975.

  • Nagy, Sandor. The Forgotten Cradle of the Hungarian Culture. Toronto: Patria Publishing Co. Ltd., 1973

  • The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia. Columbia University Press, 1991.





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