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American Center of Khazar Studies]
A Resource for Turkic and Jewish History in Russia and Ukraine

Last Updated: July 26, 2019

For information about THE JEWS OF KHAZARIA, click here Read about The Jews of Khazaria - the best general-interest book about the Khazars in English

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"O nakhodke sosuda s graffiti v Mariupole" by Eduard Ye. Kravchenko and V. K. Kul'baka was published in Russian (with an English summary) in the journal Arkheologicheskii al'manakh No. 21 (2010) on pages 386-395. This article describes Khazar-era artifacts found in the city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine. They include two Arabic dirhams that were used as pendants, mirror fragments, and a pot (shown on the bottom of page 389) that bears two drawn symbols: a Jewish menorah and a plus sign that's interpreted as a Christian cross. The authors believe the potter was neither a Jew nor a Christian but was a pagan who was familiar with these other religions that were practiced in Khazaria at the time. Was the plus sign really not a tamga? Some other authors disagree with the hypothesis that that plus sign was Christian.
       In his article "Iudaizm, khristianstvo, islam v khazarskom kaganate po arkheologicheskim dannym (kratkiy obzor)" ("Judaism, Christianity, Islam on archaeological data in Khazaria") in volume 8 (2018) of the journal Prinosi kum bulgarskata arkheologiya on pages 139-145, Valery S. Flyorov agrees that among artifacts currently unearthed it depicts a unique image of a Jewish Khazarian menorah (with 7 candles above a rhombus) "S bol'shoy doley veroyatnosti" (with a high degree of probability) (page 140). Having said that, Flyorov regards it as Jewishly inappropriate to find a menorah in a kitchen and thus believes that the pot was made by a "neophyte" (page 141). He also points out that the pot was found in a grave together with other artifacts, including a mirror, a copper chain, and two dirham coins originating from 8th-century Baghdad, and burials with objects typify paganism rather than standard Judaism (page 140). The rhombus within the menorah is also unusual and "raises questions" (pages 139). Flyorov disagrees with the idea that the pot's "small clumsily incised oblique cross with equal bars" was inspired by Christianity (page 139).

Tatiana Tatarinova of the University of La Verne and three of her colleagues wrote the paper "Population history of Russian medieval nomads" that delves into the autosomal DNA of the Khazars, utilizing full genome NGS sequencing of bonafide Khazar bones from medieval burials and interpreting this with reAdmix and GPS tools. Tatarinova presented it on May 30, 2019 at the conference "Centenary of Human Population Genetics" in Moscow. They concluded that the Khazars' DNA doesn't match the Ashkenazic Jews' DNA. They also confirmed that the Khazars had a combination of Caucasoid and Mongoloid origins. Both of these findings match statements in the 3rd edition of The Jews of Khazaria, which was written two years earlier. In Tatarinova's interview with PCR News' Aleksey Torgashev, she said she studied the DNA of 9 ruling-class Khazars whose bones were provided for the research by the archaeologist Vladimir Klyutchnikov and his colleague Elena Batieva. They had been buried near the Don river from the 8th-10th centuries, sometimes alongside horses and one with a camel. She indicated that all but one of them show significant Mongoloid ancestry from southern Siberia and Central Asia, and one of those appears to be mixed with Europeans; the other one appears to have Arabian origin.

A new book by Mikhail Zhirohov and David Nicolle, The Khazars: A Judeo-Turkish Empire on the Steppes, 7th-11th Centuries AD, was published by Osprey in January 2019. It includes photographs of artifacts and illustrations by Christa Hook and focuses on the military aspects of Khazaria including their wars with Arabs and the Rus', their weapons such as spears, battleaxes, and swords, their helmets and armor, and their fortifications made from stone and timber. I was startled to see the Jewish symbols - including a clearly-defined menorah - on a Khazar warrior's helmet shown in a photo in this book. If those are authentic instead of a modern forger's etchings, this would be a very significant find. I had first seen the helmet in June of 2015 when it was brought to my attention that it was sold at auction at the Ukrainian online auction site Violity. The authors say it was "recently discovered". But I had a suspicion about its authenticity and asked some other Khazar experts; Gennadiy Afanas'yev, Dan Shapira, and Peter Golden agree with my suspicion and believe it is a modern forgery.
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If you are interested in purchasing the Spanish-language hardcover book about the Khazars, Jazaria: el imperio olvidado por la historia by Félix Kitroser, which contains information, artifact illustrations and photographs, translated texts (Cambridge Document and the Hasdai-Joseph correspondence in Spanish), color maps, bibliography, and more, email with the subject "Jazaria". The price is $16.00 plus shipping. More details are here.

Medieval Kingdom of Khazaria, 652-969

Over a thousand years ago, the far east of Europe was ruled by Jewish kings who presided over numerous tribes, including their own tribe: the Turkic Khazars. After their conversion, the Khazar people used Jewish personal names, spoke and wrote in Hebrew, were circumcised, had synagogues and rabbis, studied the Torah and Talmud, and observed Hanukkah, Pesach, and the Sabbath. The Khazars were an advanced civilization with one of the most tolerant societies of the medieval period. It hosted merchants from all over Asia and Europe. On these pages it is hoped that you may learn more about this fascinating culture.

Current Publications for Sale

by Kevin Alan Brook
This book discusses all major issues surrounding the Khazar Empire, including diplomacy, trade, culture, military affairs, Khazarian Judaism, and migrations. The book draws from major primary and secondary sources, and includes a concise timeline and glossary towards the end. This was the first English-language book on the Khazars to contain a substantial amount of archaeological data. The third edition was the first book on the Khazars to contain genetic data from Khazaria.

by Mikhail Zhirohov and David Nicolle
An illustrated guide to Khazar history, focusing on military affairs including Khazaria's wars with Arabs and the Rus', their weapons such as spears, battleaxes, and swords, their helmets and armor, and their fortifications made from stone and timber.

edited by Peter B. Golden, Haggai Ben-Shammai, and András Róna-Tas
An expensive but valuable collection of wide-ranging views from academic specialists on the Khazars. The 18 articles discuss the Khazars' economy, language, international relations, and more.

by Boris Zhivkov
Examines documentary sources, archaeological discoveries, religious history, art history, folklore studies, and more.

translated and annotated by Rabbi N. Daniel Korobkin
In this classic philosophical work by Yehuda HaLevi, a Jewish sage explains the principles of Judaism to an inquisitive Khazar king. As a special bonus, the historical communications exchanged between Khazar King Joseph and the Spanish Jewish diplomat Hasdai ibn Shaprut are included in this volume.

More books about Khazars
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