Russian archaeologists claim to have discovered medieval capital of ‘Jewish’ Khazar kingdom

Russian archaeologists from the University of Astrakhan claim to have discovered one of the lost capitals of the Khazar Khaganate.

Researchers from Russia’s Astrakhan Oblast near the Caspian Sea have completed excavations in the Kamyzyaksky district where they claim to have found the lost capital of the Khazars.

Archaeologists have uncovered thousands of unique artifacts that suggest the site may well be the kingdom’s lost capital, Atil.

One of the finds is a drawing of what appears to be a menorah – a seven-branched candelabra that stood at the heart of ancient Jewish temples. Other finds include coins, pottery, rings and more.

The excavation also unearthed part of a medieval fortress around 18 meters long and over 4 meters wide which will help researchers learn more about the fate of the city.

Astrakhan Oblast Governor Igor Babushkin announced the find on his Telegram channel and said that the search for the ancient site would be renewed in 2023.

The lost city of Atil has never been identified with certainty despite multiple excavation expeditions to different sites in the area believed to be the ancient Khazar capital. A popular theory says that the city was swept away by the rising Caspian Sea.

The Khazar Khaganate was a Turkic kingdom that spanned the Eurasian steppes in medieval times, between the 7th and 11th centuries AD. Its territory is believed to have stretched from the Volga and Don rivers in the north to the Caucasus Mountains and the Crimean Peninsula in the south, and from the Black Sea in the west to the Caspian Sea in the east.

The kingdom’s location on the Silk Road, the main artery of world trade in ancient times, made it an important trading hub. The Khazars controlled the trade routes between China and East Asia, Europe and the Muslim Caliphates.

The Khazar Khaganate had an international reputation as a buffer state between the Byzantine Empire, the Muslim caliphates and the nomadic tribes of the Eurasian steppes. It also played a vital role in the history of early Russia.

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בין הממצאים שהתגלו : ציור שנראה כמנורה

Piece of decorated clay found in the excavation

(Photo: Astrakhan Oblast)

The Khazars became one of the most powerful players in the Middle East from the 8th to the 10th century, alongside the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim caliphates.

According to some Muslim and Jewish sources, the Khazars, or at least some of them, converted to Judaism in a series of mass conversions. The extent of these conversions, their dates and the reasons behind them remain a mystery.

Some have speculated that the Khazars were the ancestors of Ashkenazi Jews, but this theory is met with great skepticism by scholars and rabbis, as linguistic and genetic studies have failed to link the Khazars and the Ashkenazi Jewish community.

The theory is sometimes associated with anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

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