2020, Volume 17, Issue 1

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Alikber К. Alikberov
Institute of Oriental Studies of the RAS
Moscow, Russia

Oleg А. Mudrak
Institute of Linguistics of the RAS
National Research University, Higher School of Economics
Moscow, Russia

Arran and the Neighbouring Countries in the Parthanian Text of the 3rd Century Trilingual Inscription at Ka’ba-ye Zartosht (ŠКZ)

Voprosy onomastiki, 2020, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp. 190–202 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2020.17.1.010

Received 9 June 2018

Abstract: The paper continues the discussion about the historical onomastics of Caucasian Albania. The previous article named “Historical Names Albania, Aluank, and Alan in Cross-Cultural Communication” established the existence of a common etymological source of the names Albania, Aluank, and Alans. The present study focuses on toponyms of the western part of the Persian (Sasanian) empire mentioned in the Parthian part of the trilingual inscription on the rock of Ka’ba-ye Zartosht (ŠKZ) near Persepolis (Iran), dating ca. 260–262 CE. The authors propose a corrected reading of the Parthian text of the ŠKZ inscription based on a detailed analysis of the script and existing knowledge about the historical phonology of the Parthian language. They introduce a revised phonetic transcription of the Parthian names for Media, Adiabene, and Caucasian Albania. Particularly interesting is the case of the historical toponym Arran corresponding to (the Caucasian) Albania/Aluank and opposed to the attributing element Alan which appears in the name of the “Gate of the Alans” in the same inscription. The authors explain the reasons for the emergence of the confusing word Ardan in the Parthian text. The graphical difference between the forms Arran and Alan and their cooccurrence within the same text may point to the different etymologies of these words. In this vein, the authors examine the use of the reflexes of the first term in the written languages of Transcaucasia showing the questionability of its Iranian origin and proposing an alternative interpretation based on North Caucasian languages.

Keywords: Caucasian Albania, historical toponymy, etymology, Ka’ba-ye Zartosht inscription, ŠKZ, Arran, Alan, Gate of the Alans.

The study was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (grant 19-012-00160, Internal Etymological Dictionary of Nakh Languages. The Nakh Stems).


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