New readings of the Old Turkic runiform inscriptions Tuekta II and Tuekta III based on their 3D documentation

Irina Nevskaya, Mixail Vavulin and Larisa Tybykova

New readings of the Old Turkic runiform inscriptions Tuekta II and Tuekta III based on their 3D documentation

(63rd Annual Meeting Ulaanbaatar, 2021)

The Old Turkic runiform inscriptions Tuekta II and Tuekta III are a part of the archaeological site „Rock pictures and inscriptions of Tuekta“, officially recognized in Russia as a monument of archaeological heritage. It is situated in the region of Onguday of the Republic of Altai, Russian Federation, 0,5 km from the North-Western end of the village Tuekta, on the left bank of the river Ursul. The graffiti and inscriptions were discovered in 1989 by E. Miklashevich (2006: 219). The rock contains two pictures of animals made by picking and a hunting scene engraved by thin lines. There are three riders with bows and arrows and one person on foot holding a bow who has just shot an arrow at a deer. There are also five dogs chasing the game – a wounded deer and a crane. There is another picture of a crane and two more figures that cannot be identified anymore. One Old Turkic runiform horizontal inscription is situated in the right-hand corner of the rock, along its edge. The second, vertical, inscription is situated in the center of the rock.

The first readings of the inscriptions were presented by a group of the authors of the “Catalogue of runiform Old Turkic written documents in the Republic of Altai” (Catalogue 2012) which had resulted from yearly field research trips to the Mountainous Altai (starting in 2003 by Larisa Tybykova and Irina Nevskaya in order to document and catalogue Old Turkic runiform inscriptions there. Because of the poor preservation of the inscriptions, very thin runiform lines and traditional, i.e. contact, methods of documentation, those readings were defined as preliminary ones by the authors. The readings presupposed that the inscriptions and the graffiti form a structural and semantic unity, and the inscriptions comment on the rock pictures and even, probably, indicate their author (Tuekta II was read as ‘I depicted a warrior’; Tuekta III as ‘The one who is going to gallop wrote (this)’) (Catalogue 2012).

Since 2017 until now, the authors of the present article are dealing with three-dimensional documentation of runiform inscriptions in the Republic of Altai during yearly field work trips. Thanks to the modern technical means and methods of documentation (Vavulin et al. 2019), we can now much better define the composition of the runiform signs of most inscriptions and propose their more adequate readings, or first readings of inscriptions found recently (see Nevskaya et al. 2018; Nevskaya et al. 2019, etc.). The new readings of the inscriptions Tuekta II and III have brought a few surprises and corrected some details of our earlier readings.

The lecture will present their new readings proposed by Irina Nevskaya and discuss their implications for our understanding the runiform tradition on the territory of the Republic of Altai in the medieval times.


Catalogue 2012: Tybykova, L. N. & Nevskaya, I. A. & Erdal, M. 2012. Katalog drevnetjurkskix runičeskix pjamjatnikov Respubliki Gornyj Altaj [A catalogue of Old Turkic runic written monuments of the Republic Mountainous Altai]. Gorno-Altajsk: Gorno-Altajskoe knižnoe izdatel’stvo.

Miklashevich 2006: Miklashevich, E.A. Risunki na skalax u derevni Tuekta. [Pictures on rocks in the vicinity of the village Tuekta] In: Izuchenie istoriko-kul’turnogo nasledija narodov Juzhnoj Sibiri. Gorno-Altaisk, 2006. Volume 3. P. 219-234.

Nevskaya et al. 2018: Nevskaya, Irina & Larisa Tybykova & Mikhail Vavulin & Olga Zaytseva & Evgeniy Vodyasov. 3D documentation of Old Turkic Altai runiform inscriptions and revised readings of the inscriptions Tuekta-V and Bichiktu-Boom-III // Turkic Languages. – 22. – 2018. – P. 194-216.

Nevskaya et al. 2019: Nevskaya, I., Tybykova, L., Vavulin, M. Kuttu-I, a recently discovered Old Turkic Altai runiform inscription and its reading and interpretation // Turkic languages. – 23. – 2019. – P. 163-177.

Vaulin et al. 2019: Vavulin, Mikhail, Irina Nevskaya and Larisa Tybykova. Digital macro-photogrammetry in documentation of Old Turkic runiform inscriptions in the Altai Mountains // Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry Mediterranean archaeology & archaeometry. – Vol. 19, No.2. – 2019. – С. 81-104.