Transoxiana (also spelled Transoxania), known in Arabic sources as Mā
warāʼ an-Nahr (Arabic: ما وراء النهر Arabic
pronunciation: [ˈmaː waˈraːʔ anˈnahr] – 'what [is] beyond
the [Oxus] river') and in Persian as Farārūd (Persian:
pronunciation: [fæɾɒːɾuːd]—'beyond the [Amudarya]
river'), is the ancient name used for the portion of Central Asia
corresponding approximately with modern-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan,
southern Kyrgyzstan, and southwest Kazakhstan. Geographically, it is
the region between the
Amu Darya (Ancient Greek: Ώξος Ốxos) and
Syr Darya rivers. The area had been known to the Romans as
Transoxania (Land beyond the Oxus), to the Arabs as Mā warāʼ
an-Nahr (Land Beyond the River), and to the Iranians as Turan, a term
used in the Persian national epic Shahnameh.
The region was one of the satrapies of the
Achaemenid dynasty of
Persia under the name Sogdiana. Early
Arab geographers named it
"Bilād al-Turk" or "Turkestan", both of which mean 'the lands of the
A Chinese sancai ceramic statuette depicting a Sogdian stableman,
dated to the
Tang Dynasty (AD 618–907)
Transoxiana stuck in Western consciousness because of the
exploits of Alexander the Great, who extended Greek culture into the
region with his invasion in the 4th century BC;
Transoxiana was the
most north-eastern point of the Hellenistic culture until the Arab
invasion. During the
Sassanid Empire, it was often called Sogdiana, a
provincial name taken from the Achaemenid Empire, and used to
distinguish it from nearby Bactria.
The Chinese explorer Zhang Qian, who visited the neighbouring
Parthia along with
Transoxiana in 126 BC,
made the first known Chinese report on this region.
Zhang Qian clearly
Parthia as an advanced urban civilisation that farmed grain
and grapes, made silver coins and leather goods. It was ruled
successively by Seleucids, the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, the Parthian
Empire and the
Kushan Empire before
Sassanid times, the region became a major cultural and scientific
centre due to the wealth derived from the Northern Silk Road. Sassanid
rule was interrupted by the
Hephthalite invasion at the end of the 5th
century and didn't return to the Sassanids until 565. Many Persian
nobles and landlords escaped to this region after the Muslim invasion.
Before the Muslim invasion it was also ruled by Göktürks. After that
it was ruled by Tang China until the
Arab conquest between 705 and
715, the area became known as Mā warāʼ al-Nahr (Arabic, 'what is
beyond the river'), sometimes rendered as "Mavarannahr".
Transoxiana's major cities and cultural centres are
Bukhara. Both are in the southern portion of
Transoxiana (though still
to the north of the
Amu Darya itself, on the river Zeravshan), and the
majority of the region was dry but fertile plains. Both cities
remained centres of Persian culture and civilisation after the Islamic
conquest of Iran, and played a crucial role in the revival of Persian
culture with establishment of the Samanid dynasty.
Part of this region was conquered by
Qutayba ibn Muslim
Qutayba ibn Muslim between 706
and 715 and loosely held by the
Umayyads from 715 to 738. The conquest
was consolidated by
Nasr ibn Sayyar
Nasr ibn Sayyar between 738 and 740, and continued
under the control of the
Umayyads until 750, when it was replaced by
the Abbasids. The
Tang dynasty also controlled the eastern part of the
region until about the same time, when a civil war known as the An
Lushan Rebellion occurred.
Genghis Khan, founder of the Mongol Empire, invaded
1219 during his conquest of Khwarezm. Before his death in 1227, he
assigned the lands of Western
Central Asia to his second son Chagatai,
and this region became known as the Chagatai Khanate. In 1369, Timur,
Barlas tribe, became the effective ruler and made
capital of his future empire.
Transoxiana was known to be flourishing
in the mid-14th century.
References and notes
^ "Transoxania (historical region, Asia)". Encyclopedia Britannica.
^ Sabloff, Paula L.W. (2011). Mapping Mongolia: Situating Mongolia in
the World from Geologic Time to the Present. Philadelphia: University
of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. p. 62.
ISBN 1934536180. OCLC 794700604.
^ Soucek, Svat (2000). A History of Inner Asia. Cambridge University
Press. p. 25. doi:10.1017/cbo9780511991523.
^ Silk Road, North China, C. Michael Hogan, The Megalithic Portal, ed.
A. Burnham (2007)