By Mehmet Kurtkaya
Published online on November 13, 2016 (Updated May 30, 2017)
The mythology of the Turks is as vast as the land they occupied in history, which was most of Eurasia. There are many volumes of books dedicated to Turkic mythology. One important note about the Turkic people and their languages is that there are many forms of languages, from common Turkish to the mutually unintelligible Chuvash language, the only known remaining Ogur Turkic language.
It is quite probable that Hungarian is another Gur/Oghur Turkic language, but that's my speculation at this point as the separation of Hungarian from main Turkish seems have taken place 2,000-4,000 years ago (see Hungarian-Sumerian relations chapter for more info).
Different forms of Turkish languages spread around Eurasia are only considered one language and not a language family. Turkic mythology accordingly encompasses a lot of the common myths and tales, plus local Turkish culture specific elements and tales.
The first historic record for the name Turk is dated to 2400 BC, as written on cuneiform by the Sumerian Turks: Turuk. Cuneiform phonetic errors stemming from spelling Sumerian through Akkadian and Afroasiatic (Semitic) languages that can be seen in words such as Elam(a), An(u), etc., are present with this word, too, as it is written as Turukku (instead of Turuk) by academics.
A Chinese historian, Li Sheng, writes that Turks were present 4,000 years ago in Northwest China. By combining these two data, we can suggest Turkic people may have formed a continuity from the Altai to Mesopotamia and probably to Central Europe about 4,000 years ago. We know such a Eurasian continuity existed much later, with Scythians (800-200 BC), with Huns (200BC-600 AD), and with Mongols (1300s).
The first person to ever compare Sumerian Mythology with Turkic mythology was a French scholar named Francois Lenormant in 1874.
The second scholar was German Fritz Hommel about a century ago, concluding it was Turanian (Turkic). Sumerian "pantheon" (that's a Turkic-Greek word from 2,000 years later) consisted of primordial gods and then lesser gods, just like in Turkic mythology. Similarly, he observed that Sumerians prayed to good gods against evil gods.
The traditional Turks of Turkey from Central Asia, Yoruk, Turkmen, and Alevi (Alawite) who have kept some of their ancient customs tell myths akin to Sumerian ones.
Muazzes Ilmiye Cig explains many of the mythological parallels in her books, Sumerde Tufan Tufanda Turkler (Flood in Sumer and Turks during the Flood) and Sumerler Turklerin Bir Koludur:
In Inanna's Descent to the Underworld and Bilgemesh (Gilgamesh) myths, she speaks of parallels to known Turkish myths. Likewise, in flood myths, Creation myths, bird and snake totems, Anzu bird, etc. And this is probably only a partial list.
She also notes how Toktamesh, Alpamesh, and Ilalmesh are Turkic Kings similar to Bilgemesh (Gilgamesh). Note the ending "mesh" denoting ‘honorable’ in Turkish.
Gilgamesh has been corrected as Bilgamesh in Az i Ya, Kazakh scholar Olcas Suleymanov's book. I believe it should have been Bilgemesh for the strict vowel harmony rule present in both Sumerian and Turkish. Bilge means wise in Turkish and not surprisingly the Bilgemesh (Gilgamesh) myth is a story of wisdom, the first existential story.
Putting together them all: the myths, beliefs, cosmic mountain, cosmology of Underworld-Earth-Sky-Heaven, Shamanism and shaman rituals, sky god, as well as the linguistic terms that refer to sky and sky god (An and Dingir being the same in Turkic and Sumerian), we can firmly conclude that Sumerians were Turkic people from Central Asia whose ancestral home was Siberia.
Also See: An interesting video by Dr. Metin Gunduz comparing Sumerian Ram in a Thicket and tombstones in Turkmenistan.
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Discover groundbreaking revelations on the roots of modern civilization. How did we arrive to where we are? How ancient civilizations a world apart, Sumer and Maya were connected. An overview that covers a wide range of topics from human migrations 50000 years ago to Gobeklitepe, the first temple in history, the first matriarchal society with written records, Elam, and to the Sun Cult of the Hattis. Their origins and influence on other ancient civilizations including their neighbors, distant relatives: Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Hurrian, Scythian, Oguz, Kassite, Gutian, Hyksos and more. (And all my articles on this website included.)