The battle of Nedao (still unidentified Pannonian river) at 455 AD put an end to the Hunnic empire. Some time later, as we learn from the Gothic historian Jordanes, groups of Huns returned to their "inner" territory on the river Dnieper (Ukraine) where they reorganized on a smaller scale (Pritsak, 1982, p. 429 ). These post-Attila Huns were called with different tribal names: Utigurs, Kutrigurs, Onogurs, Bulgars, Sabirs and so on. Despite the fact that these names are not the same as the tribal names from the beginning of the Hun invasion in Europe, it is sure that the Huns did not disappear. As we learn from Gibbon:
" And both Procopius and Agathias represent Kutrigurs and Utigurs as tribes of Huns. There can be no doubt Kutrigurs, Utigurs and Bulgars belong to the same race as the Huns of Attila and spoke tongues closely related, - were in fact Huns. They had all been under Attila's dominion" ( page 537, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 4) ( read more here: Origin of Huns and Bulgars )
So we have come to our first conclusion: Bulgars have something to do with the Huns. But how is that possible? May be Bulgarians and Bulgars are not the same people? After all, Bulgarians are Europeans, they have nothing to do with some Mongols and they are not Turks? May be modern Bulgarians simply inherited the name Bulgar, but they are different people? This was a widespread speculation before 10 years: Bulgarians inherited the name Bulgar, but they are not Bulgars. Now we have genetic research:
“Although many scholars had posited that the Bulgars were Turkic tribes of Central Asia, modern genetic research points to an affiliation with European and western Eurasian populations.” ( Encyclopedia Britannica, Bulgars)
“ The phylogenetic analysis of ancient DNA samples shows that mtDNA haplogroups can be classified as European and Western Eurasian and suggest a Western Eurasian matrilineal origin for proto-Bulgarians as well as a genetic similarity between proto- and modern Bulgarians.” ( Digital Commons, Wayne State University)
“The Y-Chromosome genetic (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Y-chromosome_DNA_haplogroup) tests suggest that a common paternal ancestry between the proto-Bulgarians and the Altaic and Central Asian Turkic-speaking populations either did not exist or was negligible.” (Y-Chromosome Diversity in Modern Bulgarians )
The conclusion is inevitable: At least part of the Huns must have been Indo-Europeans. Indeed western Huns comprised two groups of tribes with different ethnic affinities (Pulleyblank, 1999, p. 37): “ Apart from the ruling group that bore the name Hun, the European Huns undoubtedly included other tribes with different ethnic affinities.” This is evident from the writings of the ancient authors, for example St Jerome tells us about the Great Hun raid of 395-6 into Armenia and Syria that " swarms of Huns and monstrous Massagetae filled the whole earth with slaughter". (The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia, page 182) Maenchen-Helfen also noted in his famous monography that despite the fact that the Huns were called Massagetae by the Romans, the Huns, not the Massagetae, attacked the Alans, who threw themselves upon the Goths.(The World of the Huns, page 6) But why Massagetae? There were no Massagetae in the 4th century AD. The Massagetae are known primarily from the writings of Herodotus from the 5th century BC. Let's see if we can find out who were these Massagetae from the 4th century AD.
Alexander Cunningham, B.S. Dahiya (1980, 23) and Edgar Knobloch (2001, 15 ) identify Massagetae with the Great Yuezhi: Da Yuezhi -> Ta-Yue-ti (Great Lunar Race) -> Ta-Gweti -> Massa-Getae. Dahiya wrote about the Massagetae and Thyssagetae : "These Guti people had two divisions, the Ta-Yue-Che and Siao-Yue-Che, exactly corresponding to the Massagetae and Thyssagetae of Herodotus ... " (Dahiya 1980, 23). Thyssagetae , who are known as the Lesser Getae, correspond with the Xiao Yuezhi, meaning Lesser Yuezhi . James P. Mallory and Victor H. Mair also supported this identification and wrote in their book : " Da (Greater) Yuezhi or in the earlier pronunciation d'ad-ngiwat-tieg, has been seen to equate with the Massagetae who occupied the oases and steppelands of West Central Asia in the time of Herodotus; here Massa renders an Iranian word for "Great," hence "Great Getae." (more here Origin of Bulgars and Huns)
Obviously it is quite possible that Yuezhi (Indo-European Scythians who lived in western Kazakhstan in the 4th century AD; one of their tribes were the Tochars of classical sources) have entered Europe together with the Huns. But who were the “core” Huns and what was their relation to the (predominantly European) Yuezhi? Can we relate Yuezhi with some of the post-Attila Huns? Yes, we can.
Yury Zuev, Edwin G. Pulleyblank and many modern Bulgarian scholars identify the Utigurs as one of the tribes of the Yuezhi: "the Utigurs of Menandr are Uti, and the word Uti was a real proto-type of a transcription Yuezhi < Uechji < ngiwat-tie < uti." ( Zuev, pages 38, 62 - Ancient Turks)
I will not explain here who were the “core” Huns - they were tribes of Jie people, the little Yuezhi of the second century BC. It is explained in my article "Origin of Bulgars and Huns" (http://hunnobulgars.blogspot.bg/2016/04/origin-huns-bulgarians.html)
Now we know that Huns and Massagetae were actually the Little Yuezhi (Jie people, one of the 19th Xiongnu tribes) and the Great Yuezhi. We see that the hypothesis first proposed by the French sinologist J. Deguignes in 1748 (Huns=Xiongnu) actually is partially true. And the Gothic legend of the origin of the Huns is also true:
At the end of the 4th century the name "Huns and Tochars" (Faunos-Ficarios) surfaces for the last time in the Gothic legend, rooted in annalistic traditions, about an origin of the western Huns: " Filimer, Gothic king and son of Gandaric the Great... learned that among his people are witches, whom he called "Haliarunna" - "diabolic sorcery" in the Gothic language. They were expelled on his orders, and sentenced to range in the steppes, far from the Gothic camp. The forest people Fauns - Fikars ("Huns and Tochars"), upon seeing the witches wandering in the desert, mated with them, and produced these barbarous people - Huns". And in silvestres homines, the "wood people" of the "General history" we see Greek ακατζιροι, Latin Akatziri, Huns - Turkic Agach-eri and Yiysh-teem ("wood people") of the Iranian and Türkic authors. If that so, then according to this version, the Türkic-speaking Huns - Agacheri must be viewed as a western branch of "Huns and Tochars" of the Jetisu.
Absence of information about historical migration of Xiongnu-Huns to the west before the end of the 4th century AD, and existence of the "Hun" population on the eastern fringes of Europe in the 3rd century and earlier, lead to the conclusion that in the composition of the western Huns participated also other tribes, and first of all Yuezhi-Massagetae.
A short and very good movie about the whole story was made by my friend Ivo Tcvetanov, enjoy it too!