The history and fate of the Khazars have exercised a fascination in the thousand years since the collapse of their mighty steppe empire in 970 C.E. The Khazars, whose ruling classes converted to Judaism, disputed with both the Islamic world and the early Russian state for control of the northern shores of the Black Sea. Their reputation was so great, and the legends surrounding them so powerful, that Jews in far-away Spain made efforts to contact them. This book represents a modern effort to unravel the mysteries which still surround the Khazars. It makes skillful use of the vast literature, in many different languages, related to the Khazars. It will be a very helpful guide for the general reader who wishes to discover the truth about this legendary people. -- John D. Klier, Professor of Modern Jewish History, University College, London
The origins and history of the Khazars, a Turkic people who converted to Judaism sometime in the eighth-ninth century C.E., remains one of the most complex questions in the history of Medieval Eurasia.... The sources for Khazar history are extremely varied, representing all of the major cultural groups and languages of Eurasia (Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac, Persian, Turkic, Greek, Latin, Slavic, Georgian, Armenian, and Chinese). Kevin Alan Brook has put together an absorbing account of their history based on this wide array of sources, supplemented by archaeological, ethnographic and linguistic data dealing with Khazar Jewry and their legacy. This is a most useful introduction to this at times enigmatic, but always fascinating people. -- Peter B. Golden, Professor of History, Rutgers University
The Jews of Khazaria
chronicles the history of the Khazars, a people who, in the early Middle Ages, founded a large empire in eastern Europe (located in present-day Ukraine and Russia). The Khazars played a pivotal role in world history. Khazaria was one of the largest-sized political formations of its time, an economic and cultural superpower connected to several important trade routes. It was especially notable for its religious tolerance, and in the 9th century, a large portion of the royal family converted to Judaism. Many of the nobles and commoners did likewise shortly thereafter. After their conversion, the Khazars were ruled by a succession of Jewish kings that began to adopt the hallmarks of Jewish civilization, including the Torah and Talmud, the Hebrew script, and the observance of Jewish holidays. In this thoroughly revised edition of a modern classic, The Jews of Khazaria
explores many exciting new discoveries about the Khazars' religious life, economy, military, government, and culture. It builds upon new studies of the Khazars, evaluating and incorporating recent theories, along with new documentary and archaeological findings. The book gives a comprehensive accounting of the cities, towns, and fortresses of Khazaria, and features a timeline summarizing key events in Khazar history.