The Info List - Transoxiana

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TRANSOXIANA (also spelled TRANSOXANIA), known in Arabic sources as Mā WARāʼ AL-NAHR (Arabic : ما وراء النهر‎‎ Arabic pronunciation: – 'what beyond the river') and in Persian as Farārūd (Persian : فرارود‎‎, Persian pronunciation: —'beyond the river'), is the ancient name used for the portion of Central Asia
Central Asia
corresponding approximately with modern-day Uzbekistan
, Tajikistan
, southern Kyrgyzstan
, and southwest Kazakhstan
. Geographically, it is the region between the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
(Ancient Greek : Ώξος Ốxos) and Syr Darya
Syr Darya
rivers. The area had been known to the Romans as TRANSOXANIA (Land beyond the Oxus ), to the Arabs as MAWARANNAHR (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 Turks'.


A Chinese sancai ceramic statuette depicting a Sogdian stableman, dated to the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
(618–907 AD)

The name TRANSOXIANA stuck in Western consciousness because of the exploits of Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
, who extended Greek culture into the region with his conquests of the 4th century BCE
; Transoxiana
was the most north-eastern point of the Hellenistic culture until the Arab invasion. During the Sassanid Empire
Sassanid Empire
, it was often called Sogdiana , a provincial name taken from the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
, and used to distinguish it from nearby Bactria

The Chinese explorer Zhang Qian , who visited the neighbouring countries of Bactria
and Parthia
along with Transoxiana
in 126 BC, made the first known Chinese report on this region. Zhang Qian clearly identifies 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
Kushan Empire
before Sassanid rule.

In 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 Samarkand
and Bukhara
. Both are in the southern portion of Transoxiana, (though still to the north of the Amu Darya
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 between 738 and 740, and continued under the control of the Umayyads
until 750, when it was replaced by the Abbasids . The Tang dynasty
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
Genghis Khan
, founder of the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
, invaded Transoxiana
in 1219 during his conquest of Khwarezm . Before his death in 1227, he assigned the lands of Western Central Asia
Central Asia
to his second son Chagatai , and this region became known as the Chagatai Khanate
Chagatai Khanate
. In 1369, Timur , of the Barlas tribe, became the effective ruler and made Samarkand
the capital of his future empire . Transoxiana
was known to be flourishing in the mid-14th century.


* Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan
* Khwarezm * Turan


* ^ Encyclopædia Britannica online * ^ Mapping Mongolia: Situating Mongolia in the World from Geologic Time to the Present, Paula L.W. Sabloff, P.62 * ^ Svat Soucek, A History of Inner Asia Cambridge University Press 2000 Page 25 * ^ Silk Road, North China, C. Michael Hogan, The Megalithic Portal, ed. A. Burnham (2007) * ^ The Timur