SīSTāN (Persian /Baloch /Pashto : سیستان), known in ancient
times as SAKASTAN (Persian/Baloch/Pashto: ساكاستان; "the land
Saka "), is a historical and geographical region in present-day
Sistan and Baluchestan Province
Sistan and Baluchestan Province ), southern Afghanistan
Kandahar ) and the
Nok Kundi region of Balochistan (western
* 1 Etymology
* 2 History
* 2.1 Early history
* 2.2 Sasanian era
* 2.3 Islamic conquest
* 2.4 Caliphate rule
* 2.6 Nasrid dynasty
* 2.7 Mihrabanid dynasty and its successors
* 3 References
* 4 Sources
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 and
India , where they carved
a kingdom known as the Indo-Scythian Kingdom . In the
Bundahishn , a
Zoroastrian scripture written in Pahlavi , the province is called
"Seyansih". After the Arab conquest of
Iran , the province became
known as Sijistan/Sistan.
The more ancient
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 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 (
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
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 (
Ptolemy ; Arrian;
Stephanus Byzantius ) and Latin Drangae, Drangiana,
Curtius Rufus ; Pliny;
Ammianus Marcellinus ; Justin ) or
Drancaeus (Valerius Flaccus , Argonautica 6.106, 6.507) occurs."
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
In prehistoric times, the
Jiroft Civilization covered parts of Sistan
Kerman Province (possibly as early as the 3rd millennium BC).
Later the area was occupied by
Aryan tribes related to the
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
in 550 BC, and the rest
Arachosia was soon annexed. In the 4rd century
BC, Macedonian king
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great annexed the region during his
conquest of the
Persian Empire and founded the colony of "Alexandria
Arachosia " (modern
Alexander's Empire fragmented after his death, and
under control of the
Seleucid Empire , which traded it to the Mauryan
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
Gondophares was leader of
Sistan around c. 20–10 BCE as it was part
Indo-Parthian Kingdom which was also called
Gedrosia , its
After the mid 2nd century BC, much of the
Indo-Greek Kingdom was
overrun by tribes known as the Indo-
Saka , from which
Sakastan ) eventually derived its name. The
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
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.
The province was formed in ca. 240, during the reign of
Shapur I , in
his effort ot centralization of 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
Ardashir I (r. 224–242), who also had the ancient
city Zrang rebuilt, which became the capital of the province.
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
Sakastan was one of his supporters. Nevertheless,
Bahram II managed
to suppress the revolt in 283, and appointed his son
Bahram III as the
governor of the province. Map of
Sakastan under the Sasanians.
During his early reign,
Shapur II (r. 309-379) appointed his brother
Shapur Sakanshah as the governor of Sakastan.
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.
Muslim conquest of Persia
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.
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 desert, Mujashi ibn Mas'ud arrived to
Sakastan. However, he suffered a heavy defeat and was forced to
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
Rashidun authority. He then did the same at the fortress
of Karkuya , which had a famous fire temple , which is mentioned in
Tarikh-i Sistan . 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.
Sakastan was thus under the control of the
However, only two years later, the people of
Zarang rebelled and
defeated Rabi ibn Ziyad Harithi's lieutenant and Muslim garrison of
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
Zabulistan , seizing Bust and a few
cities in Zabulistan.
First Islamic Civil War of 656–661 , the people of
Zarang rebelled and defeated the Muslim garrison of the city. In 658,
Yazdegerd III's son
Peroz III invaded
Sistan and established a kingdom
there, known in Chinese sources as the "Persian Area Command".
However, in 663, he was forced to leave the region after suffering a
defeat to newly established
Umayyad Caliphate , who had succeeded the
Sistan became a province of the
Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates . In
the 860s, the
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 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.
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
In 1236, Shams al-Din \'Ali ibn Mas\'ud founded Mihrabanid dynasty,
another branch of Saffarids, as melik of
Mihrabanid contested with Kartids during Mongol rule.
independence in 1335 after demise of Ilkhanate. 1383 Tamerlane
Sistan and forced Mihrabanids to become vassals.
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 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 conquered it.
Nadir Shah reconquered in 1727. After assassination of Nadir Shah,
Sistan under rule of
Durrani Empire in 1747. Between 1747 and 1872
Sistan was contested with
Afghanistan . The border dispute
Afghanistan was solved by
Sistan Boundary Mission,
led by British General
Frederick Goldsmid , who agreed to most of
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
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
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
Lake Hamun was one of two pilgrimage sites for
followers of that religion. In
Zoroastrian tradition, the lake is the
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
and the site on
Kuh-e Khwajeh , a hill rising up as an island in the
middle of Lake Hamun.
* ^ 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
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. Boswor