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(ä`värz), mounted nomad people who in the 4th and 5th cent. dominated the steppes of central Asia. Dislodged by stronger tribes, the Avars pushed west, increasing their formidable army by incorporating conquered peoples into it. Reaching their greatest power in the late 6th cent., they plundered all of present S Russia and the Balkans. Their siege (626) of Constantinople was unsuccessful, but they continued to dominate the Hungarian plain until Charlemagne defeated them. The Avars were not mentioned after the 9th cent. It is doubtful that the modern Avars, a pastoral, Muslim people of the Dagestan Republic, are descended from the original Avars.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(native name, Maarulal), a people residing primarily in the mountainous part of the Dagestan ASSR and also in the valleys of the Buinaksk and Khasaviurt raions. Some Avars also live in the northern Azerbaijan SSR, in the Belokany and Zakataly raions. According to the 1959 census, there were 270,000 Avars, of whom 239,000 lived in Dagestan. There were 396,000 Avars according to the 1970 census. They speak Avar.

After the October Revolution the Ando-Tsezy (AndoDidoitsy) nationalities and Archintsy, who are related to the Avars in language, culture, and customs, grouped themselves around the Avars; these nationalities called themselves Avars in the 1959 census, although they retain their native languages and some ethnographic characteristics. The practicing Avars are Sunni Muslims. They have a diversified economy that includes animal husbandry, farming, and horticulture. Many Avars work in industry. Literature and art have developed greatly, and a national intelligentsia has arisen.


Narody Kavkaza, part 1. Moscow, 1960.




a large tribal alliance in which Turkic-speaking tribes played a major role. The Russian chronicles called the Avars the Obry. The Avars were first mentioned by Priscus of Pania in the middle of the fifth century. Later information on the Avars is to be found in writings of ancient authors (Theophylact Simocattes, Menander, John of Ephesus), in the chronicle of Fredegarius, and in Kartlis Tskhovreba (a collection of Georgian annals). The Avars were the vanguard of a large group of tribes who moved from Central Asia and formed the nucleus of the West Turkic Khanate.

In the middle of the sixth century the Avars invaded the steppes in the western part of the Caspian region and from there moved into the northern part of the Black Sea steppe, the Danube valley, and the Balkans. Between 560 and 570 they devastated the lands of the Saviri, Antes, Gepidae, and other European tribes and set up the Avar Khanate in Pannonia (the territory of parts of present-day Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Austria). The Avar Khanate was a tribal federation similar to the barbarian empires and was headed by the great military commander Khan Baian. Using the Pannonian system of fortresses (hrings), the Avars made raids on the Slavs, Franks, Lombards, and Georgians and on Byzantium.

The khanate survived only by the military subjection of different tribes and by bribing tribal leaders. Its own economy was weak and limited to extensive nomadic livestock raising; the khanate was internally weak and short-lived. Although the upper strata of the tribes became rich, the formation of a class society was never completed.

After major victories in Dalmatia, Illyria, and Moesia (late sixth century), the military power of the Avars declined. In the first half of the seventh century they suffered a number of defeats at the hands of Byzantium, the Slavs, the Franks, and the Bulgars. The khanate was torn by internal strife and finally disintegrated. In the middle of the seventh century the Avars were driven out of the northern part of the Black Sea steppe and their rule in Pannonia was limited by the Bulgarian kingdom, which was created in 680 on the Danube. In the late eighth century the Avars were definitively routed by the Franks under Charlemagne, and in 796 the most important of the hrings fell. Later the Avars were completely absorbed by the peoples in the western part of the Black Sea region and in the Danube valley.


Bernshtam, A. N. Ocherk istorii gunnov. Leningrad, 1951.
Ocherki istorii SSSR, III-IX vv. Moscow, 1958.
Artamonov, M. I. Istoriia khazar. Leningrad, 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
There is a direct connection not only between the Avars and the structure of European identity (the Avars being one historical constitutive outside of Europe), but also between the Avars and certain states in today's Europe.
We are all out of our depth in such matters--the sources being so exiguous-but it seems here that Pritsak has simplified somewhat: both the Avar kaganate and the (first) Bulgarian kingdom were very important in shaping the Kyivan state.
From less-plied texts and documents (and hyper-critical surveys of the popular ones), we learn that Charlemagne was equally concerned with military offensives as with settling borders and tackling insurgency, that he was increasingly reliant on diplomacy, especially after the Saxons and Avars were defeated, that the limits of expansion were conditioned foremost by Charlemagne himself and the need of the Franks' neighbours and enemies to assert their own positions, and that generalizations about the ubiquity of major military offenses during his reign are unfounded -there were considerable periods of peace.
Moreover, Magomedov's ethnicity could be a factor in his ability to govern; he is a Dargin, the second-largest ethnic group in Dagestan, while his predecessor was an Avar, the most numerous group.
Las diferencias entre los grupos de edad en las distintas variables evaluadas se analizaron a traves de analisis de varianza univariados (AVAR), introduciendo el grupo de edad como variable independiente y las distintas variables como variables dependientes.
Greek and Roman, Getae, Thracian, Bulgar, Slavs, Avars, Goths, Celts, Tatars, Huns, Arabs, Turks, Russians, and, now, the U.S.
She focuses on the Byzantines at the Blachernai church and the Hodegon monasteries in Constantinople who attributed victories over the Avars to the Virgin Mary's intercession and therefore venerated her as their leader and protector, especially in war.
As the struggle of indigenous South Caucasian nations that were suddenly cast outside Russia by the breakup of the USSR (such as the Abkhaz and Ossetians in Georgia, the Avars and Lezghins in Azerbaijan) testifies, only 'mother Russia' [matushka Rossia] is perhaps the historic destiny for all Caucasian highlanders seeking prosperity and security within a stable and socially responsible great power.
They now called upon the Avars for assistance, offering rich presents to the qagan of the Avars and promising much more, provided that he would help them capture the city.
1100-500 BC," and "The late Bronze Age Aegean: the Mycenaeans, 1600-1100 BC"; Lise Bender Jorgensen "Europe"; Ian Jenkins, "The Greeks"; John Peter Wild, "The Romans in the west, 600 BC--AD 400"; Lise Bender Jorgensen, "Northern Europe in the Roman Iron Age, 1 BC--AD 400"; John Peter Wild, "The eastern Mediterranean, 323 BC--AD 350"; Lise Bender Jorgensen, "The continental Germans"; Penelope Walton Rogers, "The Anglo-Saxons and Vikings in Britain, AD 450-1050"; Lise Bender Jorgensen, "Scandanavia, AD 400-1000" and "The Balts, the Slavs and the Avars"; John Peter Wild, "The later Roman and early Byzantine east, AD 300-1000"; Joan Allgrove-Macdowell, "The Sasanians, AD 224-642"; Gillian Vogelsand-Eastwood, "The Arabs, AD 600-1000"; John H.