Proposal for a New Reading on the Bilgä Qaγan Inscription
(60th Meeting of the PIAC, Székesfehérvár 2017)
It has been more than 120 years since Vilhelm Thomsen deciphered (1893) the alphabet of runic inscriptions used in the Orkhon and Yenissei regions. During this long period, a variety of runic inscriptions belonging to Old Turkic communities have been continuously discovered, and investigated by many scholars. Today, the relatively well-understood ones among all Old Turkic runic inscriptions are the Orkhon Inscriptions, primarily those of Köl Tegin, Bilgä Qaγan and Tuńuquq. However, even these three inscriptions preserve some of their mysteries so far. The basic reasons for this are that some parts of the inscriptions are worn off, and consequently the readings and the meanings of some lexemes are unclear. Therefore, the interpretation of some parts of the inscriptions is difficult, and several reading proposals are put forward in the literature.
The present paper attempts to reconsider a group of problematic signs belonging to the Eastern face, 19th line of the Bilgä Qaγan Inscription. These signs are inscribed between “BWDN” and “kẄrgẄŋn” sign groups on the mentioned line. When Radloff’s unretouched photograph is checked, it is seen that the first three signs of this problematic part are obviously “rtz”. Due to some erosion on the stone, the fourth sign is completely invisible. Following these four signs, there are two more hardly visible signs on the stone, and the sequence ends with a clear “n”. However, the researchers who studied the inscription deciphered and interpreted these sequences in many different ways. In this paper, the research history of the inscription will be evaluated, and a new reading and interpretation regarding the problematic sequence will be proposed.