BALANJAR, town of the *Khazars located between *Bāb al-Abwāb and *Samandar in the north Caucasus region. It was formerly identified by Artamonov (see bibliography) with the ruins of Endere near Andreyeva, or as the site of present-day Buinaksk, but is now placed by him south of Makhachkala, where the remains of a town have been found (communication of November 1964). Balanjar is mentioned in Arabic sources as existing in the seventh and eighth centuries. Originally the name appears to have been an ethnic designation. A Pehlevi source cited by the historian al-Ṭabarī (vol. I, 895–6) states that in the time of the Sassanid ruler Khusraw Anūshirwān (531–79) a tribal group within the West Turkish empire was called Balanjar. According to the historian al-Masʿūdī (al-Tanbīh, 62), Balanjar was formerly the Khazar capital. It was the principal objective of the Arabs after they reached the Caucasus in 641 or 642. In 652 the Muslims attempted unsuccessfully to besiege Balanjar, then a fortified town, and were heavily defeated nearby. In 723, during the second Arab-Khazar
war, it was captured by al-Jarrāḥ ibn ʿAbdallah al-Ḥakamī and is occasionally mentioned later.
Dunlop, Khazars, index; M.I. Artamonov, Istoriya Khazar (1962), index.
[Douglas Morton Dunlop]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.