Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Chechens Want to Show They’re the Direct Descendants of Noah

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 20 – It is almost universally the case that nations claim that they originated in the distant past – or at least earlier than those around them. Now, the Chechens are getting involved in this competition and claim they are descendants from Noah, even suggesting that archaeologists have found the Biblical figure’s ark in the mountains of the republic. 

            In the Prague-based Caucasus Times, political analyst Yevgeny Romanovsky points out that Chechens call themselves “Nokhcho,” which literally means “people.” But many Chechens argue that its more precise translation is “people of the race of Noah” (caucasustimes.com/ru/mif-o-noevom-kovchege-i-chechencah/).

            They believe that Biblical references to the region where Noah’s ark came to rest correspond with their republic; and “some investigators go even further: they seriously assert that the influence of the Chechens can be traced through all stages of the development of humanity,” Romanovsky continues.

            Such claims often taken on a hyperbolic form.  Ruslan Khaskhanov, a Chechen scholar at the University of Copenhagen, says that he has found traces of the influence of the Chechens in Scandinavia. And Chechen writer Said-Khamza Nunuyev has written several books advancing the idea that “the Chechens are the most ancient people on earth.”

            That has led some Chechens to suggest that the prophet Moses led into the wilderness not Jews but het ancestors of the Chechens and even that “when dying on the cross, Jesus Christ spoke Chechen.”  And now such outlandish notions are attracting more attention given that Chechen archaeologists claim to have found the remains of Noah’s ark on Chechen territory. 

            Moscow’s Dozhd television channel recently interviewed Marat Aslakhanov, one of the promoters of the idea that Noah left his ark in the mountains of Chechnya.  (Aslakhanov also believes that the Tyroleans in Northern Italy are a Chechen tribe that has forgotten its “’true origins.’”)

            Aslakhanov’s ideological soul mate, the Chechen artist Mukhammad Yaskhanov, has an online group with 6,000 people who actively discuss whether Noah chose to start humanity anew in Chechnya first of all, Romanovsky says. Their ideas are also finding support in the government of Ramzan Kadyrov.

            Dzhambulat Umarov, the nationalities minister, has provided funding for the preservation of the ark’s remains. And Chechen mufti Salakh Mezhiyev supports the Noah theory as well.  In Arabic, he says, “Noah is called Nukh or Nokh, and true Vaynakhs know that the real name of the Chechens is the Nokhs – in other words, the sons of Noah.”

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