Šahrestānīhā ī Ērānšahr

Šahrestānīhā ī Ērānšahr[2] (literally "The Provincial Capitals of Iran") is a surviving Middle Persian text on geography, which was completed in the late eighth or early ninth centuries AD. The text gives a numbered list of the cities of Eranshahr and their history and importance for Persian history. The text itself has indication that it was also redacted at the time of Khosrow II (r. 590–628) in 7th century as it mentions several places in Africa and Persian Gulf conquered by the Sasanians.[3]

The book serves as a source for works on Middle Iranian languages, a source on Sasanian administrative geography and history, as well as a source of historical records concerning names of the Sasanian kings as the builder of the various cities. The text provide information on the Persian epic, the Xwadāy-nāmag (lit. “Book of Kings”).[4]

The book may be the same as "Ayādgār ī Šahrīhā" (lit. “Memoir of Cities") named in the Bundahishn and said to have been written following an order of Kavadh I.[3]

Šahrestānīhā ī Ērānšahr
CountrySassanian Empire, lates edit in the Abbasid period[1]
LanguageMiddle Persian

Terms Eran and Eranshahr

Coin of Ardashir I (r. 224–242) and Shapur I (r. 240-270)

The terms Eranshahr (

) and Eran were in use in Sasanian Iran. From early Sasanian era (Ardashir I and Shapur I's elaborations), as a designation of their land they adopted Ērānšahr “Empire of the Iranians” and this served as the official name of their country.[5]


Ardashir I, who was the first king of the Sasanian Empire, had used the older word ērān (Parthian aryān) as part of his titles and in accordance with its etymology. At Naqsh-e Rostam in Fars province and the issued coins of the same period, Ardashir I calls himself Ardašīr šāhānšāh ērān in the Middle Persian version and šāhānšāh aryān in its Parthian version both meaning “king of kings of the Aryans.” His son Shapur I referred to himself as šāhānšāh ērān and anērān (lit. "king of kings of the Aryans and the Non-Aryans") in Middle Persian and šāhānšāh aryān and anaryān in Parthian. Later kings used the same or similar phrases.[6] and these titles became the standard designations of the Sasanian sovereigns.[5]

However the major trilingual (Middle Persian, Parthian, and Greek) inscription of Shapur I at the Ka'ba-ye Zartosht in Fars, introduces another term ērānšahr in Middle Persian and aryānšahr in Parthian. Shapur's declaration reads an. . .ērānšahr xwadāy hēm.. (lit. “I am lord of the kingdom (Gk. nation) of the Aryans”). This follows his title “king of kings of the Aryans,” and thus makes it "very likely" that ērānšahr "properly denoted the empire".[6] Next to Darius's inscription, this inscription of Shapur at walls of Ka'ba-ye Zartosht is among the most important inscriptional records. It records parts of Persian-Roman wars and gives "a clear picture of the extent of his empire" by naming of provinces, mentioning religious foundations and mentioning senior officials of the court of Papak, Ardashir and Shapur I. According to the inscription, after death of Shapur's father and his accession, the Roman emperor Gordianus III “marched on Assyria, against Ērānšahr and against us”.[7]

Beside the royal title, the term "Eran" was also used as an abbreviation of "Eranshahr" and referred to the empire in the early Sasanian era. In this case the Roman west was correspondingly referred to as “anērān”. As references to empires, Eran and Aneran occur already in a calendrical text from Mānī (dating back probably to Ardashir I's era.) This shorter term "Eran" appears in the names of the towns build by Shapur I and his successors as well as in the titles of several high-ranking administrative officials and military commanders. For the former there are examples such as "Eran-xwarrah-Shapur" (The glory of Eran (of) Shapur), "Eran-ashan-kard-kavadh" (Kavadh pacified Eran) and for the latter "Eran-amargar" (Accountant-General), ”Eran-dibīrbed" (Chief Secretary), ”Eran-drustbed“ (Chief Medical Officer), ”Eran-hambāragbed" (Commander of the Arsenal), and ”Eran-spāhbed“ (Commander-in-Chief).[6]

Kusts of Eranshahr

Coin of Khosrow I (531–579)

According to the book and as an ancient Iranian tradition, Ērānšahr is divided into four "mythologically and mentally"[8] defined regions or sides called kusts. These parts/regions/sides of the state during and after Khosrow I, on the pattern of the four cardinal points, are (1) Xwarāsān “northeast”; (2) Xwarwarān “southwest”; (3) Nēmrōz “southeast”; and (4) Ādurbādagān “northwest”.[3]

The kusts were named diagonally beginning from northeast to southwest, and from southeast to northwest-a style likely following an Old Persian tradition in naming satraps. The usual Middle Persian term "abāxtar" (loanword from MIr.s: abāxtar, abarag <Av.: apāxtara) used for northern direction in ancient Iranian tradition has been avoided in this designation and replaced by the name of their province ādurbādagān. This is believed[9] to be because of "the Zoroastrian association of the north with the abode of evil"[10] which "would be evoked by use of abāxtar".[3]


  1. ^ http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/sahrestaniha-i-eransahr
  2. ^ Also transliterated as Shahrestaniha i Eranshahr
  3. ^ a b c d (Daryaee 2008)
  4. ^ (Daryaee2002)
  5. ^ a b (Shahbazi 2005) Rise of the Sasanian empire
  6. ^ a b c (Mackenzie 1998)
  7. ^ (Shahbazi 2005) War with Rome.
  8. ^ ..rather than "real"; per Gignoux, cf. (Tafazzoli 1989)
  9. ^ According to Tafażżoli and Cereti. cf. (Daryaee 2008).
  10. ^ (Tafazzoli 1989) Excerpt: In the Zoroastrian cosmogonical division, the northern part (nēmag/kanārag “side”) is called abāxtar, which is under the superintendence of the star Haptōrang “Ursa Major”. The Zoroastrians also supposed hell to be located in the north, where Ahreman and the demons reside...


  • Daryaee, Touraj (2008). "ŠAHRESTĀNĪHĀ Ī ĒRĀNŠAHR". Encyclopaedia Iranica. To appear.
  • Daryaee, Touraj (2002). Sahrestaniha I Eransahr (PDF). Mazda Pub. p. 90. ISBN 1-56859-143-8.
  • Markwart, J. (1931). A catalogue of the provincial capitals of Eranshahr. Rome: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum. ISBN 88-7653-203-X.
  • Mackenzie, D. N. (1998). "ĒRĀN,ĒRĀNŠAHR". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Vol. 8. ISBN 1-56859-058-X.
  • Shahbazi, A. Shapur (2005). "SASANIAN DYNASTY". Encyclopaedia Iranica. To appear. ISBN 1-56859-058-X.
  • Tafazzoli, A. (1989). "BĀḴTAR". Encyclopaedia Iranica. 3. ISBN 1-56859-058-X.

Ahvaz (Persian: اهواز‎, translit. Ahvāz or Ahwaz) is a city in the southwest of Iran and the capital of Khuzestan province. Ahvaz's population is about 1,300,000 and its built-up area with the nearby town of Sheybani is home to 1,136,989 inhabitants. It is home to Persians, Arabs, Lurs (Bakhtiaris), Dezfulis, Shushtaris, etc. and different languages are spoken in it, such as Persian, Arabic, the Persian dialects of Luri (Bakhtiari), Dezfuli, Shushtari, etc.Iran's only navigable river, the Karun, passes by the middle of the city. It has a long history dating back to the Achaemenid period. In the ancient times, it had been one of the main centers of the Academy of Gondishapur.


Derbent (Russian: Дербе́нт; Persian: دربند‎; Azerbaijani: Dərbənd; Lezgian: Кьвевар; Avar: Дербенд), formerly romanized as Derbend, is a city in the Republic of Dagestan, Russia, located on the Caspian Sea, north of the Azerbaijani border. It is the southernmost city in Russia, and it is the second-most important city of Dagestan. Population: 119,200 (2010 Census); 101,031 (2002 Census); 78,371 (1989 Census).Derbent occupies the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south.

Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms. In the 19th century, the city passed from Iranian into Russian hands by the 1813 Treaty of Gulistan.

Iran (word)

The modern Persian name of Iran (ایران) derives immediately from 3rd-century Sasanian Middle Persian ērān (Pahlavi spelling: ʼyrʼn), where it initially meant "of the Iranians", but soon also acquired a geographical connotation in the sense of "(lands inhabited by) Iranians". In both geographic and demonymic senses, ērān is distinguished from its antonymic anērān, meaning "non-Iran(ian)".In the geographic sense, ērān was also distinguished from ērānšahr, the Sasanians' own name for their empire, and which also included territories that were not primarily inhabited by ethnic Iranians.

Kay Khosrow

Kay Khosrow (Persian: کیخسرو‎) is a legendary king of Iran of Kayanian dynasty and a character in the Persian epic book, Shahnameh. He was the son of the Iranian prince Siavash who married princess Farangis of Turan while in exile. Before Kay Khosrow was born, his father was murdered in Turan by his maternal grandfather Afrasiab. Kay Khosrow was trained as a child in the desert by Piran, the wise vizier of Afrasiab. His paternal grandfather was Kay Kāvus, the legendary Shah of Iran who chose him as his heir when he returned to Iran with his mother. The name Kay Khosrow derives from Avestan Kauui Haosrauuah, meaning "he who has good fame".


Mazun was a Sasanian province in Late Antiquity, which corresponded to modern day Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and the northern half of Oman. The province served as a Sasanian outpost, and played an important role in the Sasanian efforts to gain control over the Indian Ocean trade, and to establish their dominance in the wealthy regions of Hadramaut and Yemen.In the 6th-century, the province was ruled by the clients and allies of the Sasanians, the Lakhmids.

Sasanian Empire

The Sasanian Empire (), also known as the Sassanian, Sasanid, Sassanid or Neo-Persian Empire (known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr, or Iran, in Middle Persian), was the last kingdom of the Persian Empire before the rise of Islam. Named after the House of Sasan, it ruled from 224 to 651 AD. The Sasanian Empire succeeded the Parthian Empire and was recognised as one of the leading world powers alongside its neighbouring arch-rival the Roman-Byzantine Empire for a period of more than 400 years.The Sasanian Empire was founded by Ardashir I, after the fall of the Parthian Empire and the defeat of the last Arsacid king, Artabanus V. At its greatest extent, the Sasanian Empire encompassed all of today's Iran, Iraq, Eastern Arabia (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatif, Qatar, UAE), the Levant (Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan), the Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Dagestan), Egypt, large parts of Turkey, much of Central Asia (Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan), Yemen and Pakistan. According to a legend, the vexilloid of the Sasanian Empire was the Derafsh Kaviani.The Sasanian Empire during Late Antiquity is considered to have been one of Iran's most important, and influential historical periods and constituted the last great Iranian empire before the Muslim conquest and the adoption of Islam. In many ways, the Sasanian period witnessed the peak of ancient Iranian civilisation. The Sasanians' cultural influence extended far beyond the empire's territorial borders, reaching as far as Western Europe, Africa, China and India. It played a prominent role in the formation of both European and Asian medieval art. Much of what later became known as Islamic culture in art, architecture, music and other subject matter was transferred from the Sasanians throughout the Muslim world.


Spāhbed (Middle Persian: 𐭮𐭯𐭠𐭧𐭯𐭲‬‎; also spelled spahbod and spahbad, early form spāhpat) is a Middle Persian title meaning "army chief" used chiefly in the Sasanian Empire. Originally there was a single spāhbed, called the Ērān-spāhbed, who functioned as the generalissimo of the Sasanian army. From the time of Khosrow I (r. 531–579) on, the office was split in four, with a spāhbed for each of the cardinal directions. After the Muslim conquest of Persia, the spāhbed of the East managed to retain his authority over the inaccessible mountainous region of Tabaristan on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea, where the title, often in its Islamic form ispahbadh (Persian: اسپهبذ‎; in Arabic: اصبهبذ‎ ʾiṣbahbaḏ), survived as a regnal title until the Mongol conquests of the 13th century. An equivalent title of Persian origin, ispahsālār, gained great currency across the Muslim world in the 10th–15th centuries.

The title was also adopted by the Armenians (Armenian: սպարապետ, [a]sparapet) and the Georgians (Georgian: სპასპეტი, spaspeti), as well as Khotan (spāta) and the Sogdians (spʾdpt) in Central Asia. It is also attested in Greek sources as aspabedēs (ἀσπαβέδης). The title was revived in the 20th century by the Pahlavi dynasty, in the Modern Persian form sepahbod (سپهبد), equivalent to a three-star Lieutenant General, ranking below arteshbod (full General).

Yazdegerd II

Yazdegerd II (Middle Persian: 𐭩𐭦𐭣𐭪𐭥𐭲𐭩‎ Yazdekert, meaning "made by God"; New Persian: یزدگرد Yazdegerd), was the sixteenth Sasanian king (shah) of Iran. He was the successor and son of Bahram V (420–438) and reigned from 438 to 457. His reign was marked by wars against the Byzantine Empire in the west and the Hephthalite Empire in the east, as well as by his efforts and attempts to impose Zoroastrianism on the largest religious minority within the empire, namely the Christians.

Yazdegerd II was the first Sasanian ruler to assume the title of kay, which evidently associates him and the dynasty to the mythical Kayanian dynasty commemorated in the Avesta.

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