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Greater Khorāsān,Dabeersiaghi, Commentary on Safarnâma-e Nâsir Khusraw, 6th Ed. Tehran, Zavvâr: 1375 (Solar Hijri Calendar) 235–236 or Khorāsān ( pal, Xwarāsān; fa, خراسان ), is a historical eastern region in the
Iranian Plateau The Iranian plateau or Persian plateau is a geology, geological feature in Western Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia. It comprises part of the Eurasian Plate and is wedged between the Arabian Plate and the Indian Plate; situated between th ...
between Western and
Central Asia Central Asia, also known as Middle Asia, is a region of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical regions, which is either considered a continent in its own right or a subcontinent of Eurasia, which shares the c ...
. The name ''Khorāsān'' is Persian and means "where the sun arrives from" or "the Eastern Province".Sykes, M. (1914). "Khorasan: The Eastern Province of Persia". ''Journal of the Royal Society of Arts'', 62(3196), 279-286.A compound of ''khwar'' (meaning "sun") and ''āsān'' (from ''āyān'', literally meaning "to come" or "coming" or "about to come"). Thus the name ''Khorasan'' (or ''Khorāyān'' ) means "sunrise", viz. " Orient, East"
Humbach, Helmut, and Djelani Davari, "Nāmé Xorāsān"
, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz; Persian translation by Djelani Davari, published in Iranian Languages Studies Website. MacKenzie, D. (1971). ''A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary'' (p. 95). London: Oxford University Press. The Persian word ''Khāvar-zamīn'' ( fa, خاور زمین), meaning "the eastern land", has also been used as an equivalent term

The name was first given to the eastern province of
Persia Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
during the
Sasanian Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ) and also referred to by historians as the Neo-Persian Empire, was the History of Iran, last Iranian empire before the early Muslim conquests of the 7th-8th cen ...
and was used from the late
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the Post-classical, post-classical period of World history (field), global history. It began with t ...
in distinction to neighbouring
Transoxiana Transoxiana or Transoxania (Land beyond the Oxus) is the Latin name for a region and Sogdia, civilization located in lower Central Asia roughly corresponding to modern-day eastern Uzbekistan, western Tajikistan, parts of southern Kazakhstan, par ...
. ''Greater Khorasan'' is today sometimes used to distinguish the larger historical region from the former Khorasan Province of
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
(1906–2004), which roughly encompassed the western half of the historical Greater Khorasan. Khorasan comprised the present territories of northeastern Iran, parts of
Afghanistan Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,; prs, امارت اسلامی افغانستان is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central Asia and South Asia. Referred to as the Heart of Asia, it is bordere ...
and southern parts of
Central Asia Central Asia, also known as Middle Asia, is a region of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical regions, which is either considered a continent in its own right or a subcontinent of Eurasia, which shares the c ...
. The province was often subdivided into four quarters, such that
Nishapur Nishapur or officially Romanization of Persian, Romanized as Neyshabur ( fa, ;Or also "نیشاپور" which is closer to its original and historic meaning though it is less commonly used by modern native Persian speakers. In Persian literature, ...
(present-day
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
), Marv (present-day
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan / Түркменистан, ) is a country located in Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan to the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan border, northwest, Uzbekistan to the Turkmenistan–Uzbekistan border, north, eas ...
),
Herat Herāt (; Persian language, Persian: ) is an oasis city and the List of cities in Afghanistan, third-largest city of Afghanistan. In 2020, it had an estimated population of 574,276, and serves as the capital of Herat Province, situated south of ...
and
Balkh Balkh (; prs, , ''Balkh''; xbc, Βάχλο, ''Bákhlo''; grc, Βάκτρα, ''Báktra'') is a town in the Balkh Province of Afghanistan, about northwest of the provincial capital, Mazar-e Sharif, and some south of the Amu Darya river and the ...
(present-day Afghanistan) were the centers, respectively, of the westernmost, northernmost, central, and easternmost quarters.Minorsky, V. (1938). "Geographical Factors in Persian Art". ''Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies'', University of London, 9(3), 621-652. In a strict sense of the term, Khorasan stretched as far as the
Amu Darya The Amu Darya, tk, Amyderýa/ uz, Amudaryo// tg, Амударё, Amudaryo ps, , tr, Ceyhun / Amu Derya grc, Ὦξος, Ôxos (also called the Amu, Amo River and historically known by its Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language b ...
(Oxus) river. However, the name has often been used in a loose sense to include a wider region that included most of Transoxiana (encompassing
Bukhara Bukhara (Uzbek language, Uzbek: /, ; tg, Бухоро, ) is the List of cities in Uzbekistan, seventh-largest city in Uzbekistan, with a population of 280,187 , and the capital of Bukhara Region. People have inhabited the region around Bukhara ...
and
Samarqand fa, سمرقند , native_name_lang = , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from the top:Registan square, Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, Bibi-Khanym Mosque, view inside Shah-i-Zinda, ...
in present-day
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, italic=yes / , ; russian: Узбекистан), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi, italic=yes / ; russian: Республика Узбекистан), is a Doubly landlocked, do ...
), extended westward to the Caspian coast and to the Dasht-e Kavir (Great Salt Desert), southward to
Sistan Sistān ( fa, سیستان), known in ancient times as Sakastān ( fa, سَكاستان, "the land of the Saka"), is a historical and Sistan Basin, geographical region in present-day Eastern Iran (Sistan and Baluchestan Province) and Southern A ...
, and eastward to the
Pamir Mountains The Pamir Mountains are a mountain range between Central Asia and Pakistan. It is located at a junction with other notable mountains, namely the Tian Shan, Karakoram, Kunlun Mountains, Kunlun, Hindu Kush and the Himalayas, Himalaya mountain rang ...
. Khorasan was first established as an administrative division in the 6th century (approximately after 520) by the Sasanians, during the reign of Kavad I () or
Khosrow I Khosrow I (also spelled Khosrau, Khusro or Chosroes; pal, 𐭧𐭥𐭮𐭫𐭥𐭣𐭩; New Persian: []), traditionally known by his epithet of Anushirvan ( [] "the Immortal Soul"), was the Sasanian Empire, Sasanian King of Kings of Iran from ...
(), which comprised the eastern and northeastern part of the empire. Early Islamic usage often regarded everywhere east of
Jibal Jibāl ( ar, جبال), also al-Jabal ( ar, الجبل), was the name given by the Arabs to a region and province located in western Iran, under the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates. Its name means "the Mountains", being the plural of ''jabal'' (" ...
or what was subsequently termed Iraq Ajami (Persian Iraq), as being included in a vast and loosely-defined region of Khorasan, which might even extend to the
Indus Valley The Indus ( ) is a transboundary river of Asia and a trans-Himalayan river of South and Central Asia Central Asia, also known as Middle Asia, is a region of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical reg ...
and the Pamir Mountains. The boundary between these two was the region surrounding the cities of Gurgan and Qumis. In particular, the
Ghaznavids The Ghaznavid dynasty ( fa, غزنویان ''Ġaznaviyān'') was a culturally Persianate society, Persianate, Sunni Islam, Sunni Muslim dynasty of Turkic peoples, Turkic ''mamluk'' origin, ruling, at its greatest extent, large parts of Persia, ...
, Seljuqs and
Timurids The Timurid Empire ( chg, , fa, ), self-designated as Gurkani (Chagatai language, Chagatai: کورگن, ''Küregen''; fa, , ''Gūrkāniyān''), was a PersianateB.F. Manz, ''"Tīmūr Lang"'', in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Online Edition, 2006 Tu ...
divided their empires into Iraqi and Khorasani regions. Khorasan is believed to have been bounded in the southwest by desert and the town of Tabas, known as "the Gate of Khorasan", from which it extended eastward to the mountains of central Afghanistan. Sources from the 10th century onwards refer to areas in the south of the
Hindu Kush The Hindu Kush is an mountain range in Central Asia, Central and South Asia to the west of the Himalayas. It stretches from central and western Afghanistan, Quote: "The Hindu Kush mountains run along the Afghan border with the North-West Fro ...
as the Khorasan Marches, forming a
frontier A frontier is the political and geographical area near or beyond a Border, boundary. A frontier can also be referred to as a "front". The term came from French in the 15th century, with the meaning "borderland"—the region of a country that ...
region between Khorasan and
Hindustan ''Hindūstān'' ( , from '' Hindū'' and ''-stān''), also sometimes spelt as Hindōstān ( ''Indo-land''), along with its shortened form ''Hind'' (), is the Persian-language name for the Indian subcontinent that later became commonly used b ...
.


Geography

First established in the 6th century as one of four administrative (military) divisions by the
Sasanian Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ) and also referred to by historians as the Neo-Persian Empire, was the History of Iran, last Iranian empire before the early Muslim conquests of the 7th-8th cen ...
, the scope of the region has varied considerably during its nearly 1,500-year history. Initially, the Khorasan division of the Sasanian Empire covered the northeastern military gains of the empire, at its height including cities such as
Nishapur Nishapur or officially Romanization of Persian, Romanized as Neyshabur ( fa, ;Or also "نیشاپور" which is closer to its original and historic meaning though it is less commonly used by modern native Persian speakers. In Persian literature, ...
,
Herat Herāt (; Persian language, Persian: ) is an oasis city and the List of cities in Afghanistan, third-largest city of Afghanistan. In 2020, it had an estimated population of 574,276, and serves as the capital of Herat Province, situated south of ...
,
Merv Merv ( tk, Merw, ', مرو; fa, مرو, ''Marv''), also known as the Merve Oasis, formerly known as Alexandria ( grc-gre, Ἀλεξάνδρεια), Antiochia in Margiana ( grc-gre, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐν τῇ Μαργιανῇ) and ...
, Faryab, Taloqan,
Balkh Balkh (; prs, , ''Balkh''; xbc, Βάχλο, ''Bákhlo''; grc, Βάκτρα, ''Báktra'') is a town in the Balkh Province of Afghanistan, about northwest of the provincial capital, Mazar-e Sharif, and some south of the Amu Darya river and the ...
,
Bukhara Bukhara (Uzbek language, Uzbek: /, ; tg, Бухоро, ) is the List of cities in Uzbekistan, seventh-largest city in Uzbekistan, with a population of 280,187 , and the capital of Bukhara Region. People have inhabited the region around Bukhara ...
, Badghis, Abiward, Gharjistan, Tus and Sarakhs. With the rise of the
Umayyad Caliphate The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. The caliphate was ruled by the ...
, the designation was inherited and likewise stretched as far as their military gains in the east, starting off with the military installations at
Nishapur Nishapur or officially Romanization of Persian, Romanized as Neyshabur ( fa, ;Or also "نیشاپور" which is closer to its original and historic meaning though it is less commonly used by modern native Persian speakers. In Persian literature, ...
and
Merv Merv ( tk, Merw, ', مرو; fa, مرو, ''Marv''), also known as the Merve Oasis, formerly known as Alexandria ( grc-gre, Ἀλεξάνδρεια), Antiochia in Margiana ( grc-gre, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐν τῇ Μαργιανῇ) and ...
, slowly expanding eastwards into
Tokharistan Tokharistan (formed from "Tokhara" and the suffix ''-stan'' meaning "place of" in Persian) is an ancient Early Middle Ages name given to the area which was known as Bactria in Ancient Greece, Ancient Greek sources. In the 7th and 8th century C ...
and
Sogdia Sogdia (Sogdian language, Sogdian: ) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian civilization between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, and in present-day Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Sogdiana was also ...
. Under the Caliphs, Khorasan was the name of one of the three political zones under their dominion (the other two being ''Eraq-e Arab'' "Arabic Iraq" and ''Eraq-e Ajam'' "Non-Arabic Iraq or Persian Iraq"). Under the
Umayyad The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphate A caliphate or khilāfah ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an institut ...
and
Abbasid The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ; ar, الْخِلَافَةُ الْعَبَّاسِيَّة, ') was the third caliphate to succeed the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It was founded by a dynasty descended from Muhammad's uncle, Abbas ibn Abdul-Muttalib ...
caliphates, Khorasan was divided into four major sections or quarters (''rub′''), each section based on a single major city: Nishapur, Merv, Herat and Balkh. By the 10th century, Ibn Khordadbeh and the Hudud al-'Alam mentions what roughly encompasses the previous regions of Abarshahr, Tokharistan and Sogdia as ''Khwarasan'' proper. They further report the southern part of the Hindu Kush, i.e. the regions of
Sistan Sistān ( fa, سیستان), known in ancient times as Sakastān ( fa, سَكاستان, "the land of the Saka"), is a historical and Sistan Basin, geographical region in present-day Eastern Iran (Sistan and Baluchestan Province) and Southern A ...
, Rukhkhudh,
Zabulistan Zabulistan ( fa, زابلستان ''Zābulistān''/''Zābolistān''/''Zāwulistān'' or simply ''Zābul'', ps, زابل ''Zābəl''), was a historical region in southern Afghanistan roughly corresponding to the modern provinces of Zabul Provi ...
and
Kabul Kabul (; ps, , ; , ) is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. Located in the eastern half of the country, it is also a municipality, forming part of the Kabul Province; it is administratively divided into #Districts, 22 municipal dist ...
etc. to make up the ''Khorasan'' ''marches'', a frontier region between Khorasan and
Hindustan ''Hindūstān'' ( , from '' Hindū'' and ''-stān''), also sometimes spelt as Hindōstān ( ''Indo-land''), along with its shortened form ''Hind'' (), is the Persian-language name for the Indian subcontinent that later became commonly used b ...
.By the late Middle Ages, the term lost its administrative significance, in the west only being loosely applied among the Turko-Persian dynasties of modern Iran to all its territories that lay east and north-east of the Dasht-e Kavir desert. It was therefore subjected to constant change, as the size of their empires changed. In the east, ''Khwarasan'' likewise became a term associated with the great urban centers of Central Asia. It is mentioned in the Memoirs of Babur that: In modern times, the term has been source of great nostalgia and nationalism, especially amongst the
Tajiks Tajiks ( fa, تاجيک، تاجک, ''Tājīk, Tājek''; tg, Тоҷик) are a Persian language, Persian-speaking Iranian peoples, Iranian ethnic group native to Central Asia, living primarily in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Tajiks ...
of Central Asia. Many Tajiks regard Khorasan as an integral part of their national identity, which has preserved an interest in the term, including its meaning and cultural significance, both in common discussion and academia, despite its falling out of political use in the region. According to Ghulam Mohammad Ghobar, Afghanistan's current Persian-speaking territories formed the major portion of Khorasān, Ghubar, Mir Ghulam Mohammad (1937). ''Khorasan'', Kabul Printing House.
Kabul Kabul (; ps, , ; , ) is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. Located in the eastern half of the country, it is also a municipality, forming part of the Kabul Province; it is administratively divided into #Districts, 22 municipal dist ...
, Afghanistan.
as two of the four main capitals of Khorasān (Herat and Balkh) are now located in Afghanistan. Ghobar uses the terms ''"Proper Khorasan"'' and "''Improper Khorasan"'' in his book to distinguish between the usage of Khorasān in its strict sense and its usage in a loose sense. According to him, Proper Khorasan contained regions lying between Balkh in the east, Merv in the north,
Sistan Sistān ( fa, سیستان), known in ancient times as Sakastān ( fa, سَكاستان, "the land of the Saka"), is a historical and Sistan Basin, geographical region in present-day Eastern Iran (Sistan and Baluchestan Province) and Southern A ...
in the south, Nishapur in the west and Herat, known as the ''Pearl of Khorasan'', in the center. Improper Khorasan's boundaries extended to as far as Hazarajat and
Kabul Kabul (; ps, , ; , ) is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. Located in the eastern half of the country, it is also a municipality, forming part of the Kabul Province; it is administratively divided into #Districts, 22 municipal dist ...
in the east, Baluchistan in the south, Transoxiana and Khwarezm in the north, and
Damghan Damghan ( fa, دامغان, translit=Dāmghān) is the capital of Damghan County, Semnan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 57,331, in 15,849 families. It is situated east of Tehran on the high-road to Mashad, at an elevation ...
and Gorgan in the west.


History


Ancient era

Before the region fell to
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc, wikt:Ἀλέξανδρος, Ἀλέξανδρος, Alexandros; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king of the Ancient Greece, ancient Greek kingdom of Maced ...
in 330 BC, it was part of the Persian
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire or Achaemenian Empire (; peo, wikt:𐎧𐏁𐏂𐎶, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, , ), also called the First Persian Empire, was an History of Iran#Classical antiquity, ancient Iranian empire founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC. Bas ...
and prior to that it was occupied by the
Medes The Medes (Old Persian: ; Akkadian language, Akkadian: , ; Ancient Greek: ; Latin: ) were an Iranian peoples, ancient Iranian people who spoke the Median language and who inhabited an area known as Media (region), Media between western ...
. The land that became known as Khorasan in geography of
Eratosthenes Eratosthenes of Cyrene (; grc-gre, wikt:Ἐρατοσθένης, Ἐρατοσθένης ;  – ) was a Greek polymath: a Greek mathematics, mathematician, geographer, poet, astronomer, and music theory, music theorist. He was a man of lear ...
was recognized as Ariana by Greeks at that time, which made up
Greater Iran Greater Iran ( fa, ایران بزرگ, translit=Irān-e Bozorg) refers to a region covering parts of Western Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, Xinjiang, and the Caucasus, where both Culture of Iran, Iranian culture and Iranian langua ...
or the land where
Zoroastrianism Zoroastrianism is an Iranian religions, Iranian religion and one of the world's History of religion, oldest organized faiths, based on the teachings of the Iranian peoples, Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster. It has a Dualism in cosmology, du ...
was the dominant religion. The southeastern region of Khorasan fell to the
Kushan Empire The Kushan Empire ( grc, Βασιλεία Κοσσανῶν; xbc, Κυϸανο, ; sa, कुषाण वंश; Brahmi: , '; Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, BHS: ; xpr, 𐭊𐭅𐭔𐭍 𐭇𐭔𐭕𐭓, ; zh, wikt:貴霜, 貴霜 ) was a Sync ...
in the 1st century AD. The Kushan rulers built a capital in modern-day
Afghanistan Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,; prs, امارت اسلامی افغانستان is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central Asia and South Asia. Referred to as the Heart of Asia, it is bordere ...
at
Bagram Bagram (; Pashto/ fa, بگرام) is a town and seat in Bagram District in Parwan Province of Afghanistan Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,; prs, امارت اسلامی افغانستان is a landlocked c ...
and are believed to have built the famous Buddhas of Bamiyan. Numerous Buddhist temples and buried cities have been found in Afghanistan. However, the region of Khorasan remained predominantly Zoroastrian but there were also Manichaeists, sun worshippers,
Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of ...
, Pagans, Shamanists,
Buddhists Buddhism ( , ), also known as Buddha Dharma and Dharmavinaya (), is an Indian religions, Indian religion or Indian philosophy#Buddhist philosophy, philosophical tradition based on Pre-sectarian Buddhism, teachings attributed to the Buddha. ...
,
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים, , ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is the age of the Israelites""The ...
,
Hindus Hindus (; ) are people who religiously adhere to Hinduism.Jeffery D. Long (2007), A Vision for Hinduism, IB Tauris, , pages 35–37 Historically, the term has also been used as a geographical, cultural, and later religious identifier for ...
and others. One of the three great fire-temples of the Sassanids "Azar-burzin Mehr" is situated near Sabzevar in Iran. The boundary of the region began changing until the Kushans and Sassanids merged to form the Kushano-Sassanian civilization. During the Sasanian era, likely in the reign of Khusrow I, Persia was divided into four regions (known as ''kust'' Middle Persian), Khwārvarān in the west, apāxtar in the north, nīmrūz in the south and Khorasan in the east. Since the Sasanian territories were more or less remained stable up to Islamic conquests, it can be concluded that Sasanian Khorasan was bordered to the south by Sistan and Kerman, to the west by the central deserts of modern Iran, and to the east by China and India. In the Sasanian era, Khorasan was further divided into four smaller regions, and each region was ruled by a marzban. These four regions were Nishapur, Marv, Herat and Balkh. Khorasan in the east saw some conflict with the
Hephthalite The Hephthalites ( xbc, ηβοδαλο, translit= Ebodalo), sometimes called the White Huns (also known as the White Hunas, in Iranian as the ''Spet Xyon'' and in Sanskrit as the ''Sveta-huna''), were a people who lived in Central Asia during t ...
s who became the new rulers in the area but the borders remained stable. Being the eastern parts of the Sassanids and further away from
Arabia The Arabian Peninsula, (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") or Arabia, is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. ...
, Khorasan region was conquered after the remaining Persia. The last Sassanid king of Persia, Yazdgerd III, moved the throne to Khorasan following the Arab invasion in the western parts of the empire. After the assassination of the king, Khorasan was conquered by Arab Muslims in 647 AD. Like other provinces of Persia it became a province of the
Umayyad Caliphate The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. The caliphate was ruled by the ...
.


Medieval era

The first movement against the Arab conquest was led by Abu Muslim Khorasani between 747 and 750. Originally from
Isfahan Isfahan ( fa, اصفهان, Esfahân ), from its Achaemenid empire, ancient designation ''Aspadana'' and, later, ''Spahan'' in Sassanian Empire, middle Persian, rendered in English as ''Ispahan'', is a major city in the Greater Isfahan Regio ...
, scholars believe Abu Muslim was probably Persian. It's possible he may have been born a slave. According to the Ancient Persian historian Al-Shahrastani, he was a Kaysanite. This revolutionary Shi'a movement rejected the three Caliphs that had preceded Ali. Abu Muslim helped the
Abbasid The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ; ar, الْخِلَافَةُ الْعَبَّاسِيَّة, ') was the third caliphate to succeed the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It was founded by a dynasty descended from Muhammad's uncle, Abbas ibn Abdul-Muttalib ...
s come to power but was later killed by Al-Mansur, an Abbasid Caliph. The first kingdom independent from Arab rule was established in Khorasan by Tahir Phoshanji in 821, but it seems that it was more a matter of political and territorial gain. Tahir had helped the Caliph subdue other nationalistic movements in other parts of Persia such as Maziar's movement in Tabaristan. Other major independent dynasties who ruled over Khorasan were the
Saffarids The Saffarid dynasty ( fa, صفاریان, safaryan) was a Persianate dynasty of eastern Iranian peoples, Iranian origin that ruled over parts of Persia, Greater Khorasan, and eastern Makran from 861 to 1003. One of the first indigenous Persians, ...
from Zaranj (861–1003), Samanids from
Bukhara Bukhara (Uzbek language, Uzbek: /, ; tg, Бухоро, ) is the List of cities in Uzbekistan, seventh-largest city in Uzbekistan, with a population of 280,187 , and the capital of Bukhara Region. People have inhabited the region around Bukhara ...
(875–999),
Ghaznavids The Ghaznavid dynasty ( fa, غزنویان ''Ġaznaviyān'') was a culturally Persianate society, Persianate, Sunni Islam, Sunni Muslim dynasty of Turkic peoples, Turkic ''mamluk'' origin, ruling, at its greatest extent, large parts of Persia, ...
from Ghazni (963–1167), Seljuqs (1037–1194), Khwarezmids (1077–1231), Ghurids (1149–1212), and
Timurids The Timurid Empire ( chg, , fa, ), self-designated as Gurkani (Chagatai language, Chagatai: کورگن, ''Küregen''; fa, , ''Gūrkāniyān''), was a PersianateB.F. Manz, ''"Tīmūr Lang"'', in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Online Edition, 2006 Tu ...
(1370–1506). In 1221,
Genghis Khan ''Chinggis Khaan'' ͡ʃʰiŋɡɪs xaːŋbr /> Mongol script: ''Chinggis Qa(gh)an/ Chinggis Khagan'' , birth_name = Temüjin , successor = Tolui (as regent) Ögedei Khan , spouse = , issue = , house = Borjigi ...
's son Tolui oversaw the
Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , , ; ; russian: Монголы) are an East Asian ethnic group native to Mongolia, Inner Mongolia Inner Mongolia, officially the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, is an Autonomous regions of Chin ...
subjugation of Khorasan, carrying out the task "with a thoroughness from which that region has never recovered."


Rashidun era (651–661)

Under
Caliph A caliphate or khilāfah ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an institution or public office under the leadership of an Islamic steward with the title of caliph (; ar, خَلِيفَة , ), a person considered a political-religious successor to th ...
Umar ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb ( ar, عمر بن الخطاب, also spelled Omar, ) was the second Rashidun, Rashidun caliph, ruling from August 634 until his assassination in 644. He succeeded Abu Bakr () as the second caliph of the Rashidun C ...
(), the
Rashidun Caliphate The Rashidun Caliphate ( ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلرَّاشِدَةُ, al-Khilāfah ar-Rāšidah) was the first caliphate A caliphate or khilāfah ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an institution or public office under the leadersh ...
seized nearly the entire
Persia Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
from the
Sasanian Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ) and also referred to by historians as the Neo-Persian Empire, was the History of Iran, last Iranian empire before the early Muslim conquests of the 7th-8th cen ...
. However, the areas of Khorasan weren't conquered until during the caliphate of
Uthman Uthman ibn Affan ( ar, عثمان بن عفان, ʿUthmān ibn ʿAffān; – 17 June 656), also spelled by Colloquial Arabic, Turkish language, Turkish and Persian language, Persian rendering Osman, was a second cousin, son-in-law and nota ...
(). The Rashidun commanders Ahnaf ibn Qays and Abd Allah ibn Amir were assigned to lead the invasion of Khorasan.The Muslim Conquest of Persia By A.I. Akram. Ch:17 , In late 651, the Rashidun army defeated the combined forces of the Sasanian and the
First Turkic Khaganate The First Turkic Khaganate, also referred to as the First Turkic Empire, the Turkic Khaganate or the Göktürk Khaganate, was a Turkic peoples, Turkic khaganate established by the Ashina tribe, Ashina clan of the Göktürks in medieval Inner Asia ...
in the Battle of the Oxus River. The next year, Ibn Amir concluded a peace treaty with Kanadbak, an Iranian nobleman and the '' kanarang'' of Tus. The Sasanian rebel Burzin Shah, of the Karen family, revolted against Ibn Amir, though the latter crushed the rebels in the Battle of Nishapur. The Rashidun troops marched towards
Herat Herāt (; Persian language, Persian: ) is an oasis city and the List of cities in Afghanistan, third-largest city of Afghanistan. In 2020, it had an estimated population of 574,276, and serves as the capital of Herat Province, situated south of ...
and seized the city, concluding another treaty with its governor.


Umayyad era (661–750)

After the invasion of Persia under Rashidun was completed in five years and almost all of the Persian territories came under Arab control, it also inevitable created new problems for the caliphate. Pockets of tribal resistance continued for centuries in the Afghan territories. During the 7th century, Arab armies made their way into the region of Afghanistan from Khorasan. A second problem was as a corollary to the Muslim conquest of Persia, the Muslims became neighbors of the city states of
Transoxiana Transoxiana or Transoxania (Land beyond the Oxus) is the Latin name for a region and Sogdia, civilization located in lower Central Asia roughly corresponding to modern-day eastern Uzbekistan, western Tajikistan, parts of southern Kazakhstan, par ...
. Although Transoxiana was included in the loosely defined "Turkestan" region, only the ruling elite of Transoxiana was partially of Turkic origins whereas the local population was mostly a diverse mix of local Iranian populations. As the Arabs reached Transoxiana following the conquest of the Sassanid Persian Empire, local Iranian-Turkic and Arab armies clashed over the control of Transoxiana's Silk Road cities. In particular, the Turgesh under the leadership of Suluk, and Khazars under Barjik clashed with their Arab neighbours in order to control this economically important region. Two notable Umayyad generals, Qutayba ibn Muslim and Nasr ibn Sayyar, were instrumental in the eventual conquest. In July 738, at the age of 74, Nasr was appointed as governor of Khorasan. Despite his age, he was widely respected both for his military record, his knowledge of the affairs of Khorasan and his abilities as a statesman. Julius Wellhausen wrote of him that "His age did not affect the freshness of his mind, as is testified not only by his deeds, but also by the verses in which he gave expression to his feelings till the very end of his life". However, in the climate of the times, his nomination owed more to his appropriate tribal affiliation than his personal qualities. The problems of Transoxiana could be resolved, although the Umayyad was on decline and being replaced by the
Abbasid The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ; ar, الْخِلَافَةُ الْعَبَّاسِيَّة, ') was the third caliphate to succeed the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It was founded by a dynasty descended from Muhammad's uncle, Abbas ibn Abdul-Muttalib ...
. In 724, immediately after the rise of Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik (r. 724–743) to the throne, Asad's brother Khalid al-Qasri was appointed to the important post of governor of Iraq, with responsibility over the entire Islamic East, which he held until 738. Khalid in turn named Asad as governor of Khorasan. The two brothers thus became, according to Patricia Crone, "among the most prominent men of the Marwanid period". Asad's arrival in Khorasan found the province in peril: his predecessor, Muslim ibn Sa'id al-Kilabi, had just attempted a campaign against Ferghana and suffered a major defeat, the so-called " Day of Thirst", at the hands of the Turgesh Turks and the Soghdian principalities of
Transoxiana Transoxiana or Transoxania (Land beyond the Oxus) is the Latin name for a region and Sogdia, civilization located in lower Central Asia roughly corresponding to modern-day eastern Uzbekistan, western Tajikistan, parts of southern Kazakhstan, par ...
that had risen up against Muslim rule. From the early days of the
Muslim conquests The early Muslim conquests or early Islamic conquests ( ar, الْفُتُوحَاتُ الإسْلَامِيَّة, ), also referred to as the Arab conquests, were initiated in the 7th century by Muhammad, the Muhammad in Islam, main Islamic ...
, Arab armies were divided into regiments drawn from individual tribes or tribal confederations (''butun'' or ''‘asha‘ir''). Despite the fact that many of these groupings were recent creations, created for reasons of military efficiency rather than any common ancestry, they soon developed a strong and distinct identity. by the beginning of the Umayyad period, this system progressed to the formation of ever-larger super-groupings, culminating in the two super-groups: the northern Arab Mudaris or Qaysis, and the south Arabs or "Yemenis" (''Yaman''), dominated by the Azd and Rabi'ah tribes. By the 8th century, this division had become firmly established across the Caliphate and was a source of constant internal instability, as the two groups formed in essence two rival political parties, jockeying for power and separated by a fierce hatred for each other. During Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik's reign, the Umayyad government appointed Mudaris as governors in Khorasan, except for Asad ibn Abdallah al-Qasri's tenure in 735–738. Nasr's appointment came four months after Asad's death. In the interim, the sources report variously that the province was run either by the
Syrian Syrians ( ar, سُورِيُّون, ''Sūriyyīn'') are an Eastern Mediterranean Eastern Mediterranean is a loose definition of the East, eastern approximate One half, half, or third, of the Mediterranean Sea, often defined as the countries a ...
general Ja'far ibn Hanzala al-Bahrani or by Asad's lieutenant Juday' al-Kirmani. At any rate, the sources agree that al-Kirmani stood at the time as the most prominent man in Khorasan and should have been the clear choice for governor. His Yemeni roots (he was the leader of the Azd in Khorasan), however, made him unpalatable to the Caliph.


Abbasid era (750–861)

Khorasan became the headquarters of the Abbasid Revolution against the
Umayyad The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphate A caliphate or khilāfah ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an institut ...
s. It was led by Abu Muslim, who himself belonged to Khorasan. This province was part of Iranian world that had been heavily colonised by Arab tribes following the Muslim conquest with the intent of replacing Umayyad dynasty which is proved to be successful under the sign of the Black Standard.The Cambridge History of Islam
vol. 1A, p. 102. Eds. Peter M. Holt, Ann K.S. Lambton and Bernard Lewis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.


Modern era

Between the early 16th and early 18th centuries, parts of Khorasan were contested between the
Safavids Safavid Iran or Safavid Persia (), also referred to as the Safavid Empire, '. was one of the greatest Iranian empires after the 7th-century Muslim conquest of Persia, which was ruled from 1501 to 1736 by the Safavid dynasty. It is often conside ...
and the
Uzbeks The Uzbeks ( uz, , , , ) are a Turkic peoples, Turkic ethnic group native to the wider Central Asia, Central Asian region, being among the largest Turkic ethnic group in the area. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan, next to ...
. A part of the Khorasan region was conquered in 1722 by the Ghilji Pashtuns from
Kandahar Kandahar (; Kandahār, , Qandahār) is a List of cities in Afghanistan, city in Afghanistan, located in the south of the country on the Arghandab River, at an elevation of . It is Afghanistan's second largest city after Kabul, with a population ...
and became part of the
Hotaki dynasty The Hotak dynasty ( ps, fa, ) was an Afghan (ethnonym), Afghan monarchy founded by Ghilji Pashtuns that briefly ruled portions of Iran and Afghanistan during the 1720s. It was established in April 1709 by Mirwais Hotak, who led a successful r ...
from 1722 to 1729.
Nader Shah Nader Shah Afshar ( fa, نادر شاه افشار; also known as ''Nader Qoli Beyg'' or ''Tahmāsp Qoli Khan'' ) (August 1688 – 19 June 1747) was the founder of the Afsharid dynasty of Iran and one of the most powerful rulers in History o ...
recaptured Khorasan in 1729 and chose
Mashhad Mashhad ( fa, مشهد, Mašhad ), also spelled Mashad, is the List of Iranian cities by population, second-most-populous city in Iran, located in the relatively remote north-east of the country about from Tehran. It serves as the capital of R ...
as the capital of Persia. Following his assassination in 1747, the eastern parts of Khorasan, including
Herat Herāt (; Persian language, Persian: ) is an oasis city and the List of cities in Afghanistan, third-largest city of Afghanistan. In 2020, it had an estimated population of 574,276, and serves as the capital of Herat Province, situated south of ...
was annexed with the
Durrani Empire The Durrani Empire ( ps, د درانيانو ټولواکمني; fa, امپراتوری درانیان) or the Afghan Empire ( ps, د افغانان ټولواکمني, label=none; fa, امپراتوری افغان, label=none), also know ...
. Mashhad area was under control of Nader Shah's grandson Shahrukh Afshar until it was captured by the
Qajar dynasty The Qajar dynasty (; fa, دودمان قاجار ', az, Qacarlar ) was an IranianAbbas Amanat, ''The Pivot of the Universe: Nasir Al-Din Shah Qajar and the Iranian Monarchy, 1831–1896'', I. B. Tauris, pp 2–3 royal dynasty of Turkic peoples ...
in 1796. In 1856, the Iranians, under the Qajar dynasty, briefly recaptured Herat; by the Treaty of Paris of 1857, signed between Iran and the British Empire to end the Anglo-Persian War, the Iranian troops withdrew from
Herat Herāt (; Persian language, Persian: ) is an oasis city and the List of cities in Afghanistan, third-largest city of Afghanistan. In 2020, it had an estimated population of 574,276, and serves as the capital of Herat Province, situated south of ...
. Later, in 1881, Iran relinquished its claims to a part of the northern areas of Khorasan to the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire was an empire and the final period of the List of Russian monarchs, Russian monarchy from 1721 to 1917, ruling across large parts of Eurasia. It succeeded the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad, which ended th ...
, principally comprising
Merv Merv ( tk, Merw, ', مرو; fa, مرو, ''Marv''), also known as the Merve Oasis, formerly known as Alexandria ( grc-gre, Ἀλεξάνδρεια), Antiochia in Margiana ( grc-gre, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐν τῇ Μαργιανῇ) and ...
, by the Treaty of Akhal (also known as the ''Treaty of Akhal-Khorasan'').


Cultural importance

Khorasan has had a great cultural importance among other regions in
Greater Iran Greater Iran ( fa, ایران بزرگ, translit=Irān-e Bozorg) refers to a region covering parts of Western Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, Xinjiang, and the Caucasus, where both Culture of Iran, Iranian culture and Iranian langua ...
. The literary
New Persian New Persian ( fa, فارسی نو), also known as Modern Persian () and Dari (), is the current stage of the Persian language spoken since the 8th to 9th centuries until now in Greater Iran and surroundings. It is conventionally divided into thre ...
language developed in Khorasan and Transoxiana and gradually supplanted the
Parthian language The Parthian language, also known as Arsacid Pahlavi and Pahlawānīg, is an extinct ancient Northwestern Iranian language once spoken in Parthia, a region situated in present-day northeastern Iran and Turkmenistan. Parthian was the language of s ...
. The New
Persian literature Persian literature ( fa, ادبیات فارسی, Adabiyâte fârsi, ) comprises oral compositions and written texts in the Persian language and is one of the world's oldest literatures. It spans over two-and-a-half millennia. Its sources h ...
arose and flourished in Khorasan and Transoxiana where the early Iranian dynasties such as Tahirids, Samanids, Saffirids and
Ghaznavids The Ghaznavid dynasty ( fa, غزنویان ''Ġaznaviyān'') was a culturally Persianate society, Persianate, Sunni Islam, Sunni Muslim dynasty of Turkic peoples, Turkic ''mamluk'' origin, ruling, at its greatest extent, large parts of Persia, ...
(a Turco-Persian dynasty) were based. The early Persian poets such as Rudaki, Shahid Balkhi, Abu al-Abbas Marwazi, Abu Hafas Sughdi, and others were from Khorasan. Moreover,
Ferdowsi , image = Statue of Ferdowsi in Tus, Iran 3 (cropped).jpg , image_size = , caption = Statue of Ferdowsi in Tus by Abolhassan Sadighi , birth_date = 940 , birth_place = Tus, Samanid Empire The Samanid Empire ( fa, سامانیان, Sā ...
and
Rumi Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī ( fa, جلال‌الدین محمد رومی), also known as Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī (), Mevlânâ/Mawlānā ( fa, مولانا, lit= our master) and Mevlevî/Mawlawī ( fa, مولوی, lit= my ma ...
were also from Khorasan. Until the devastating
Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , , ; ; russian: Монголы) are an East Asian ethnic group native to Mongolia, Inner Mongolia Inner Mongolia, officially the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, is an Autonomous regions of Chin ...
invasion of the 13th century, Khorasan remained the cultural capital of Persia. It has produced scientists such as
Avicenna Ibn Sina ( fa, ابن سینا; 980 – June 1037 CE), commonly known in the West as Avicenna (), was a Persians, Persian polymath who is regarded as one of the most significant physicians, astronomers, philosophers, and writers of the ...
, Al-Farabi, Al-Biruni, Omar Khayyam,
Al-Khwarizmi Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī ( ar, محمد بن موسى الخوارزمي, Muḥammad ibn Musā al-Khwārazmi; ), or al-Khwarizmi, was a Persians, Persian polymath from Khwarazm, who produced vastly influential works in Mathematics ...
,
Abu Ma'shar al-Balkhi Abu Ma'shar al-Balkhi, Latinization (literature), Latinized as Albumasar (also ''Albusar'', ''Albuxar''; full name ''Abū Maʿshar Jaʿfar ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿUmar al-Balkhī'' ; 10 August 787 – 9 March 886, Hijri year, AH 171–272), was ...
(known as Albumasar or Albuxar in the west), Alfraganus, Abu Wafa, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, Sharaf al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī, and many others who are widely well known for their significant contributions in various domains such as mathematics,
astronomy Astronomy () is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry in order to explain their origin and chronology of the Universe, evolution. Objects of interest ...
, medicine,
physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical science is that depar ...
,
geography Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia''. Combination of Greek words ‘Geo’ (The Earth) and ‘Graphien’ (to describe), literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, i ...
, and geology.Starr, S. Frederick, ''Lost Enlightenment. Central Asia's golden age from the Arab conquest to Tamerlane'', Princeton University Press (2013) Khorasan artisans contributed to the spread of technology and goods along the ancient trade routes have been traced to this ancient culture, including art objects, textiles and zoomorphic metalworks. Decorative antecedents of the famous "singing bowls" of Asia may have been invented in ancient Khorasan. In Islamic
theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the Divinity, divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an Discipline (academia), academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the ...
,
jurisprudence Jurisprudence, or legal theory, is the theoretical study of the propriety of law. Scholars of jurisprudence seek to explain the nature of law in its most general form and they also seek to achieve a deeper understanding of legal reasoning ...
and
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. Some ...
, and in Hadith collection, many of the greatest Islamic scholars came from Khorasan, namely
Imam Bukhari Imam (; ar, إمام '; plural: ') is an Islamic leadership position. For Sunni Islam, Sunni Muslims, Imam is most commonly used as the title of a worship leader of a mosque. In this context, imams may lead Salah, Islamic worship services, ...
, Imam Muslim, Abu Dawood, Al-Tirmidhi, Al-Nasa'i,
Al-Ghazali Al-Ghazali ( – 19 December 1111; ), full name (), and known in Persian language, Persian-speaking countries as Imam Muhammad-i Ghazali (Persian: امام محمد غزالی) or in Medieval Europe by the Latinized as Algazelus or Algazel, was ...
, Al-Juwayni, Abu Mansur Maturidi, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, Fakhruddin al-Razi, and others. Shaykh Tusi, a Shi'a scholar, the grandfather of Abu Hanifa, Imam Abu Hanifa was from Khorasan and Al-Zamakhshari, the famous Mu'tazili, Mutazilite scholar, also lived in Khorasan.


See also

* Ariana * Bactria * Dahae, Dahistan * Khwarazm * Khurasan Road * Margiana * Parthia *
Sogdia Sogdia (Sogdian language, Sogdian: ) or Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian civilization between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, and in present-day Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Sogdiana was also ...
* Tokharistan *
Transoxiana Transoxiana or Transoxania (Land beyond the Oxus) is the Latin name for a region and Sogdia, civilization located in lower Central Asia roughly corresponding to modern-day eastern Uzbekistan, western Tajikistan, parts of southern Kazakhstan, par ...
* Turkestan


References


Sources

* * * * * * * *


Further reading

{{Authority control Khorasan, Iranian countries and territories, Khorasan Geography of Central Asia Geography of Western Asia Regions of Afghanistan Regions of Iran Regions of Tajikistan Regions of Turkmenistan Regions of Uzbekistan History of Khorasan History of Western Asia Historical regions of Afghanistan Historical regions of Iran Iranian Plateau History of Balkh Province History of Herat History of Nishapur Geographic history of Tajikistan History of Turkmenistan Geographic history of Uzbekistan People from Khorasan, *