“Neighbouring Bulgaria” project

By: | Post date: 2010-07-02 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Culture, History, Modern Greek
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In a previous blog post, I went through Shishmanov’s listing of erstwhile Bulgarian villages in Asia Minor, and tried to map their location—to get a sense of how isolated Kızderbent was, and whether that would account for the heavy Turkicisation that Trakatroukika reportedly underwent.

Stoyan Shivarov, of the Ottoman Archive in the Bulgarian National Library, has been in touch to ask about my sources, and that has made me aware of his own ongoing research into the Anatolian Bulgarians. Shivarov and his colleagues Georgi Zelengora and Konstantin Panayotov have been undertaking archival research as well as visits to the sites of the villages; so his own Google map of the villages is going to be rather more reliable than my own.

Here’s my uninformed map (blue = Bulgarian villages, red = Kızderbent):

View Anatolian Bulgarians in a larger map
And here’s his well-informed map, with notes on the identifications if you click through:

View bulgarian villages in anatolia in a larger map
Shivarov has a blog about the “Neighboring Bulgaria” research project. He has just come back from his second field trip, and he is finding new villages not previously reported, as well as identifications of previously reported villages. He has also found some Bulgarian still spoken in the region (Kocapınar), by Pomaks.From this post, it looks like Pomaks were already settling the region in 1878, and more came after 1922 from Drama.

So Christian speakers of Bulgaro-Macedonian settle in Bithynia between the 1500s and 1875, mostly from southern Bulgaria, though also from Kastoria and probably Ohrid. Muslim speakers of Bulgaro-Macedonian settle in Bithynia from 1878 on, also from southern Bulgaria but also from Greece. Most of the Christians ended up going back to Bulgaria. Some Christians ended up going to Greece instead. So you can speak Bulgarian, but your descendants, depending on your credal choices, end up Bulgarian, Greek, or Turkish. Yes, ethnicity in the Balkans is a complex thing.

As to why the Pomaks came to Bithynia, maybe the Ottomans decided to settle them where there was already Bulgarian spoken, maybe they chose the location themselves. I’d be fascinated to find out about how the Christian and Muslim Bulgarian-speakers of Kocapınar got along: finding themselves together in a strange place, similar but not the same.

Like the Trakatroukides and the indigenous villagers in Polypetro, say.

You’ll see that Kızderbent looks rather more isolated in his map than mine, although I was uncertain about the villages closest to it. That is circumstantial evidence for why the language of Kızderbent was so Turkicised, although I still don’t have a real sense of how its Turkicisation really worked.

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