The Info List - Sistan

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Sīstān (Persian/Baloch/Pashto: سیستان), known in ancient times as Sakastan
(Persian/Baloch/Pashto: ساكاستان; "the land of the Saka"), is a historical and geographical region in present-day eastern Iran
( Sistan
and Baluchestan Province), southern Afghanistan
(Nimruz, Kandahar) and the Nok Kundi
Nok Kundi
region of Balochistan (western Pakistan).


1 Etymology 2 History

2.1 Early history 2.2 Sasanian era 2.3 Islamic conquest 2.4 Caliphate rule 2.5 Saffarid dynasty 2.6 Nasrid dynasty 2.7 Mihrabanid dynasty and its successors

3 References 4 Sources

Etymology[edit] Sistan
derives its name from Sakastan
("the land of the Saka"). The Sakas were a Scythian tribe which from the 2nd century BC to the 1st century migrated to the Iranian Plateau
Iranian Plateau
and Indus valley, where they carved a kingdom known as the Indo-Scythian Kingdom.[1][2] In the Bundahishn, a Zoroastrian
scripture written in Pahlavi, the province is called "Seyansih".[3] After the Arab conquest of Iran, the province became known as Sijistan/Sistan.[2] The more ancient Old Persian
Old Persian
name of the region - prior to Saka dominance - was zaranka ("waterland"; cf. Pashto dzaranda). This older form is also the root of the name Zaranj, capital of the Afghan Nimruz Province. Encyclopædia Iranica says "The name of the country and its inhabitants is first attested as Old Persian
Old Persian
z-r-k (i.e., Zranka) in the great Bīsotūn inscription of Darius I, apparently the original name. This form is reflected in the Elamite
(Sir-ra-an-qa and variants), Babylonian (Za-ra-an-ga), and Egyptian (srng or srnḳ) versions of the Achaemenid
royal inscriptions, as well as in Greek Zarángai, Zarangaîoi, Zarangianḗ (Arrian; Isidore of Charax), and Sarángai (Herodotus) and in Latin Zarangae (Pliny). Instead of this original form, characterized by non-Persian z (perhaps from proto-IE. palatal *γ or *γh), in some Greek sources (chiefly those dependent upon the historians of Alexander the Great) the perhaps hypercorrect Persianized variant (cf. Belardi, p. 183) with initial d-, *Dranka (or even *Dranga?), reflected in Greek Drángai, Drangḗ, Drangēnḗ, Drangi(a)nḗ (Ctesias; Polybius; Strabo; Diodorus; Ptolemy; Arrian; Stephanus Byzantius) and Latin Drangae, Drangiana, Drangiani (Curtius Rufus; Pliny; Ammianus Marcellinus; Justin) or Drancaeus (Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 6.106, 6.507) occurs."[4] In the Shahnameh, Sistan
is also referred to as Zabulistan, after the region in the eastern part of Iran. In Ferdowsi's epic, Zabulistan
is in turn described to be the homeland of the mythological hero Rostam. History[edit] Early history[edit] See also: Zabulistan In prehistoric times, the Jiroft Civilization
Jiroft Civilization
covered parts of Sistan and Kerman Province
Kerman Province
(possibly as early as the 3rd millennium BC). Later the area was occupied by Aryan
tribes related to the Indo-Aryans and Iranian Peoples. Eventually a kingdom known as Arachosia
was formed, parts of which were ruled by the Medean Empire by 600 BC. The Medes
were overthrown by the Achaemenid
Persian Empire
Persian Empire
in 550 BC, and the rest Arachosia
was soon annexed. In the 4th century BC, Macedonian king Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
annexed the region during his conquest of the Persian Empire
Persian Empire
and founded the colony of "Alexandria in Arachosia" (modern Kandahar). Alexander's Empire fragmented after his death, and Arachosia
came under control of the Seleucid Empire, which traded it to the Mauryan dynasty of India in 305 BC. After the fall of the Mauryans, the region fell to their Greco-Bactrian
allies in 180 BC, before breaking away and becoming part of the Indo-Greek
Kingdom. Indo-Parthian
king Gondophares
was leader of Sistan
around c. 20–10 BCE as it was part of the Indo-Parthian Kingdom
Indo-Parthian Kingdom
which was also called Gedrosia, its Hellenistic name. After the mid 2nd century BC, much of the Indo-Greek
Kingdom was overrun by tribes known as the Indo- Scythians
or Saka, from which Sistan
(from Sakastan) eventually derived its name. The Indo-Scythians were defeated around 100 BC by the Parthian Empire, which briefly lost the region to its Suren vassals (the Indo-Parthian) around 20 AD, before the region was conquered by the Kushan Empire
Kushan Empire
in the mid 1st century AD. The Kushans
were defeated by the Sassanid Persian Empire in the mid 3rd century, first becoming part of a vassal Kushansha state, before being overrun by the Hephthalites
in the mid 5th century. Sassanid armies reconquered Sistan
in by 565 AD, but lost the area to the Arab Rashidun
Caliphate after the mid 640s. Sasanian era[edit] Main article: Sakastan The province was formed in ca. 240, during the reign of Shapur I, in his effort to centralise the empire; before that, the province was under the rule of the Parthian Suren Kingdom, whose ruler Ardashir Sakanshah became a Sasanian vassal during the reign of Shapur's father Ardashir I
Ardashir I
(r. 224–242), who also had the ancient city Zrang rebuilt, which became the capital of the province.[5] Shapur's son Narseh
was the first to appointed as the governor of province, which he would govern until 271, when the Sasanian prince Hormizd was appointed as the new governor. Later in ca. 281, Hormizd revolted against his cousin Bahram II. During the revolt, the people of Sakastan
was one of his supporters. Nevertheless, Bahram II
Bahram II
managed to suppress the revolt in 283, and appointed his son Bahram III
Bahram III
as the governor of the province.

Map of Sakastan
under the Sasanians.

During his early reign, Shapur II
Shapur II
(r. 309-379) appointed his brother Shapur Sakanshah as the governor of Sakastan. Peroz I
Peroz I
(r. 459–484), during his early reign, put an end to dynastic rule in province by appointing a Karenid as its governor. The reason behind the appointment was to avoid further family conflict in the province, and in order to gain more direct control of the province.[5] Islamic conquest[edit] During the Muslim conquest of Persia, the last Sasanian king Yazdegerd III fled to Sakastan
in the mid-640s, where its governor Aparviz (who was more or less independent), helped him. However, Yazdegerd III quickly ended this support when he demanded tax money that he had failed to pay.[6][7][8] In 650, Abd-Allah ibn Amir, after having secured his position in Kerman, sent an army under Mujashi ibn Mas'ud to Sakastan. After having crossed the Dasht-i Lut
Dasht-i Lut
desert, Mujashi ibn Mas'ud arrived to Sakastan. However, he suffered a heavy defeat and was forced to retreat.[9] One year later, Abd-Allah ibn Amir sent an army under Rabi ibn Ziyad Harithi to Sakastan. After some time, he reached Zaliq, a border town between Kirman and Sakastan, where he forced the dehqan of the town to acknowledge Rashidun
authority. He then did the same at the fortress of Karkuya, which had a famous fire temple, which is mentioned in the Tarikh-i Sistan.[8] He then continued to seize more land in the province. He thereafter besieged Zrang, and after a heavy battle outside the city, Aparviz and his men surrendered. When Aparviz went to Rabi to discuss about the conditions of a treaty, he saw that he was using the bodies of two dead soldiers as a chair. This horrified Aparviz, who in order to spare the inhabitants of Sakastan
from the Arabs, made peace with them in return for heavy tribute, which included a tribute of 1,000 slave boys bearing 1,000 golden vessels.[8][7] Sakastan
was thus under the control of the Rashidun Caliphate. Caliphate rule[edit] However, only two years later, the people of Zarang
rebelled and defeated Rabi ibn Ziyad Harithi's lieutenant and Muslim garrison of the city. Abd-Allah ibn Amir then sent 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Samura to Sistan, where he managed to suppress the rebellion. Furthermore, he also defeated the Zunbils
of Zabulistan, seizing Bust and a few cities in Zabulistan.[8] During the First Islamic Civil War
First Islamic Civil War
of 656–661, the people of Zarang rebelled and defeated the Muslim garrison of the city.[7] In 658, Yazdegerd III's son Peroz III invaded Sistan
and established a kingdom there, known in Chinese sources as the "Persian Area Command".[10] However, in 663, he was forced to leave the region after suffering a defeat to newly established Umayyad
Caliphate, who had succeeded the Rashiduns.[10] Saffarid dynasty[edit] Sistan
became a province of the Umayyad
and Abbasid Caliphates. In the 860s, the Saffarid dynasty
Saffarid dynasty
emerged in Sistan
and proceeded to conquer most of the Islamic East, until it was checked by the Samanids
in 900. After the Samanids
took the province from the Saffarids, it briefly returned to Abbasid control, but in 917 the governor Abu Yazid Khalid made himself independent. He was followed by a series of emirs with brief reigns until 923, when Ahmad ibn Muhammad
Ahmad ibn Muhammad
restored Saffarid rule in Sistan. After his death in 963, Sistan
was ruled by his son Khalaf ibn Ahmad until 1002, when Mahmud of Ghazni
Mahmud of Ghazni
invaded Sistan, ending the Saffarid dynasty. A year later, Sistan
revolted. In response, Mahmud brought an army to suppress the revolt. Mahmud's Hindu troops sacked the mosque of Zarang massacring the Muslims inside.[11] Nasrid dynasty[edit] In 1029, Tadj al-Din I Abu l-Fadl Nasr founded the Nasrid dynasty, who were a branch of the Saffarids. They became vassals of the Ghaznavids. The dynasty then became vassals of the Seljuks in 1048, Ghurids
in 1162, and the Khwarezmians in 1212. Mongols sacked Sistan
in 1222 and Nasrid dynasty was ended by Khwarezmians in 1225. Mihrabanid dynasty and its successors[edit] In 1236, Shams al-Din 'Ali ibn Mas'ud founded Mihrabanid dynasty, another branch of Saffarids, as melik of Sistan
for Ilkhanate. Mihrabanid contested with Kartids during Mongol rule. Sistan
declared independence in 1335 after demise of Ilkhanate. 1383 Tamerlane conquered Sistan
and forced Mihrabanids to become vassals. Overlordship of Timurids was ended in 1507 due to Uzbek invasion in 1507. Uzbeks were driven in 1510 and Mihrabanids became vassals of Safavids
until 1537 Safavids
deposed the dynasty and gained full control of Sistan.

Map of the Safavid dynasty
Safavid dynasty
in ca. 1720, with Sistan
as one of its major provinces.

Safavid rule was lasted till 1717 except Uzbeks rule between 1524 and 1528 and 1578 and 1598. In this year Hotaki dynasty
Hotaki dynasty
conquered it. Nadir Shah
Nadir Shah
reconquered in 1727. After assassination of Nadir Shah, Sistan
under rule of Durrani Empire
Durrani Empire
in 1747. Between 1747 and 1872 Sistan
was contested with Persia
and Afghanistan. The border dispute between Persia
and Afghanistan
was solved by Sistan
Boundary Mission, led by British General Frederick Goldsmid, who agreed to most of Sistan
in Persia
but the Persians won the withdrawal of the right bank of the Helmand. The countries were not satisfied. The border was defined more precisely with the Second Sistan
Boundary Commission (1903-1905) headed by Arthur Mac Mahon, who had a difficult task due to lack of natural boundaries. The part assigned Persia
was included in the province of Balochistan (which took the name of Sistan and Baluchistan in 1986) being the capital Zahedan. In Afghanistan
it was part of the Sistan
province of Farah-Chakansur that was abolished in the administrative reorganization of 1964 to form the province of Nimruz, with capital Zaranj. Sistan
has a very strong connection with Zoroastrianism
and during Sassanid times Lake Hamun
Lake Hamun
was one of two pilgrimage sites for followers of that religion. In Zoroastrian
tradition, the lake is the keeper of Zoroaster's seed and just before the final renovation of the world, three maidens will enter the lake, each then giving birth to the saoshyans who will be the saviours of mankind at the final renovation of the world. The most famous archaeological sites in Sistan
are Shahr-e Sukhteh
Shahr-e Sukhteh
and the site on Kuh-e Khwajeh, a hill rising up as an island in the middle of Lake Hamun. References[edit]

^ Frye 1984, p. 193. ^ a b Bosworth 1997, pp. 681-685. ^ Brunner 1983, p. 750. ^ Schmitt, Rüdiger (15 December 1995). "DRANGIANA or Zarangiana; territory around Lake Hāmūn and the Helmand river in modern Sīstān". Encyclopædia Iranica.  ^ a b Christensen 1993, p. 229. ^ Pourshariati 2008, p. 222. ^ a b c Morony 1986, pp. 203-210. ^ a b c d Zarrinkub 1975, p. 24. ^ Marshak & Negmatov 1996, p. 449. ^ a b Daryaee 2009, p. 37. ^ C.E. Bosworth, The Ghaznavids
994-1040, (Edinburgh University Press, 1963), 89.


Daryaee, Touraj (2009). Sasanian Persia: The Rise and Fall of an Empire. I.B.Tauris. pp. 1–240. ISBN 0857716662.  Greatrex, Geoffrey; Lieu, Samuel N. C. (2002). The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars (Part II, 363–630 AD). New York, New York and London, United Kingdom: Routledge (Taylor & Francis). ISBN 0-415-14687-9.  Pourshariati, Parvaneh (2008). Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire: The Sasanian-Parthian Confederacy and the Arab Conquest of Iran. London and New York: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84511-645-3.  Zarrinkub, Abd al-Husain (1975). "The Arab conquest of Iran
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Coordinates: 31°00′00″N 62°00′00″E / 31.0000°N 62.0000°E