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A Study on the Chronology of Old Turkic Inscriptions*

Hao Chen

Pages 313 - 322


With a correct understanding of the usage of the calendar and the way of
calculating age, we are able to establish a reliable chronology of the Bilge
Kağan and Kül Tégin Old Turkic inscriptions. Through a comparative study of the
Old Turkic inscriptions and the relevant Chinese sources, we can conclude that
the two kinds of chronological data can only tally with each other in a broad
sense. The two exceptions are the battle against General Çaça and the battle in
Beş Balık, by which there is one-year-difference between the two kinds of
sources. As to the Beş Balık Battle, if we take two crucial factors into
consideration, then the one-year-difference will disappear. The first crucial
factor is the asynchronous character of mediaeval society. For an event that had
happened in the land of Türk, the date recorded in the Turkic inscriptions was
usually two months earlier than the date recorded in the Chinese sources,
because it took supposedly around two months for the envoys to bring the news
from Ötüken to the Tang court. The second crucial factor is that the Türk army
might set off in late autumn or winter, as they wanted to take advantage of the
frozen Yellow River to cross the border. However, as far as the battle against
General Çaça is concerned, even if we take the above two factors into
consideration, we can't properly explain the one-year-difference between two
different kinds of sources. We are inclined to believe that Bilge Kağan's memory
about the events that had happened in the early years of his life became
blurred; meanwhile we don't exclude the possibility that the Chinese annalists
could have made a mistake. The single exception does not hurt the reliability of
our reconstructed chronology.

在正確理解曆法和計算年齡方法的基礎之上,我們成功地為古代突厥碑銘建立 了一套編年體系。通過古代突厥碑銘與漢文史料的對照研究,我們得出了兩者
的編年數據基本吻合的結論,不過鳴沙戰役和北庭之戰尚需進一步解釋。表面 上看,漢文史料與突厥碑銘在這兩起事件上有一年的出入,但如果我們把兩個
因素考慮進去,就可以有效地解釋兩種史料中存在的一年“誤差”問題。這兩 個因素分別是:一、就某一肇始於突厥汗國內部的事件而言,由於路途遙遠和
交通不便,突厥碑銘中記載的日期往往比漢文史料中的日期要早兩個月左右; 二、突厥軍隊出征唐朝的時間有可能選擇在歲末嚴冬。

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