Abarshahr was a Sasanian province in Late Antiquity, that lay within the kust of Khorasan. The province bordered Media in the west, Hyrcania in the north west, Margiana in the north east, and Harev in the south east. The governor of Abarshahr is attested to have held the unique title of kanarang, distinguished from the title of marzban given to governors of frontier provinces.

Province of the Sasanian Empire
c. 240–651



Location of Abarshahr
Map of Abarshahr (far right) and its surroundings during the late Sasanian era
Capital Nishapur[1]
Historical era Late Antiquity
 •  Established c. 240
 •  Disestablished 651
Today part of


Several etymologies have been put forward as to the origin of the name of the province. During the Middle Ages, for example, Arab geographers stated that the name meant "cloud city".[2] It has also been interpreted to mean "upper country".[3] A more recent etymology that suggests that Abarshahr derives from Aparn-xšahr, "land of the Aparni" is considered the most accurate.[4]


The province was formed during the reign of Shapur I as part of his efforts to establish greater centralisation in the empire, and was made up of the vassal kingdom of Satarop, who had declared fealty to Shapur's father, Ardashir I, after his victory over the last Parthian king, Artabanus V, at the Battle of Hormozdgān in 224 AD.[5] The city of Nishapur (Middle Persian: Nēw-S̲h̲āhpūr "good city of Shapur) was founded or rebuilt by Shapur I as the administrative capital of Abarshahr, close to the temple of Adur Burzen-Mihr, home to one of three "Great Fires" held sacred by Zoroastrians.[6] Nishapur was considered a more secure location than the former capital of the province, Tus, against raids from nomadic tribes.

Mar Ammo, a disciple of Mani, founder of Manichaeism, led a mission to Abarshahr accompanied by the Parthian prince Ardavan and several others during the 260s. It is suggested that Ardavan, as a Manichean member of the Parthian elite, helped Mar Ammo to preach amongst the Parthian nobility and spread Manichaeism.[7]

In 629, during the Sasanian civil war of 628-632, Abarshahr was briefly ruled by the Sasanian usurper Khosrow III. In 651, the last Sasanian king Yazdegerd III was murdered by under the orders of his own general, Mahoe Suri, which marked the end of the Sasanian dynasty. However, Abarshahr continued to be under the rule of the kanarang, who was no longer under the suzerainty of the Sasanians. However, this was soon to end: in 652, Abarshahr was invaded by the Arab military general Abdullah ibn Aamir, who made a treaty with the kanarang, Kanadbak. In the treaty Kanadbak agreed to pay tribute to the Arabs while still remaining in control of his territories in Tus. However, at the same time, the Karenids of Nishapur under Burzin Shah and Sawar Karin, were threatening both Kanadbak and Abdullah, and managed to reclaim territory in Khorasan, which included cities such as Nishapur which was once under their control.[8] Abdullah then promised Kanadbak to give him back his lost territory, in return for help against the Karenid rebels. They then started pillaging the surroundings of Nishapur, and fought heavily to capture the city.

Sawar then tried to make peace with Abdullah, and told him that he would open the gates of Nishapur if the latter pardoned him.[9] Abdullah agreed, however, when the gates were opened, he entered the gate with his army, and started to plunder the city and killing citizens, until Kanadbak said to him: "O amir, once you have been victorious and triumphant forgiveness is a higher [virtue] than revenge and retribution." Abdullah then did as the latter said and restored the city to Kanadbak, who continued to rule as a Rashidun vassal.[10]


  1. ^ Encyclopædia Iranica: BORZŪYA
  2. ^ Walker, J. "Abarshahr." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Brill Online, 2015
  3. ^ Encyclopædia Iranica: ABARŠAHR
  4. ^ Daryaee, Touraj. "Abarshahr." Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE. Edited by: Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, Everett Rowson. Brill Online
  5. ^ Ehsan Yarshater. The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 3: The Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanid Periods. p. 729.
  6. ^ Honigmann, E.; Bosworth, C.E.. "Nīs̲h̲āpūr." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Brill Online, 2015
  7. ^ Zsuzsanna Gulácsi, Mani's Pictures: The Didactic Images of the Manichaeans from Sasanian Mesopotamia to Uygur Central Asia and Tang-Ming China, pp.74-75 [1]
  8. ^ Pourshariati (2008), pp. 274
  9. ^ Pourshariati (2008), pp. 273
  10. ^ Pourshariati (2008), pp. 272, 275–276


Coordinates: 36°12′N 58°48′E / 36.20°N 58.8°E


Adergoudounbadēs (Ancient Greek: Ἀδεργουδουνβάδης, before 488 – 541), was a prominent Sasanian nobleman, general, and kanarang during the reigns of Kavadh I (r. 488–531) and Khosrow I (r. 531–579). His life is known only through the work of the Byzantine historian Procopius. His native name was probably Adurgundbad (in New Persian: آذرگندبد‎), an abbreviation of Adurgushnaspbad.

Albania (satrapy)

Albania, or Ardhan in Parthian or Arran in Middle Persian, was a Caucasian satrapy (province) of the Sassanid Empire.


Boran (Middle Persian: ; Persian: پوراندخت, Pūrāndokht) was queen (banbishn) of the Sasanian Empire. She was the daughter of emperor Khosrow II, and the first of only two women to rule the Sasanian Empire; the other was her sister and successor, Azarmidokht. Various authors place her reign between one year and four months to two years.Her name appears as Bōrān (or Burān) on her coinage. The Persian poet Ferdowsi refers to her as Purandokht in his epic poem, the Shahnameh. She was committed to revive the memory and prestige of her father, during whose reign the Sasanian Empire had grown to its largest territorial extent.


Borzuya (or Burzōē or Burzōy) was a Persian physician in the late Sassanid era, at the time of Khosrau I.

He translated the Indian Panchatantra from Sanskrit into Pahlavi (Middle Persian). But both his translation and the original Sanskrit version he worked from are lost. Before their loss, however, his Pahlavi version was translated into Arabic by Ibn al-Muqaffa under the title of Kalila and Dimna or The Fables of Bidpai and became the greatest prose of Classical Arabic. The book contains fables in which animals interact in complex ways to convey teachings to princes in policy.

The introduction to The Fables of Bidpai or Kalila and Dimna presents an autobiography by Borzūya. Beside his ideas, cognitions and inner development leading to a practice of medicine based on philanthropic motivations, Borzuya's search for truth, his skepticism towards established religious thought and his later asceticism are some features lucidly depicted in the text.There is considerable discussion whether Borzūya is the same as Bozorgmehr. While sources indicate they are different people, the word "Borzūya" can sometimes be a shortened form of Bozorgmehr.

Carmania (region)

Carmania (Greek: Καρμανία, Karmanía, Old Persian: Karmanâ, Middle Persian: Kirmān) is a historical region that approximately corresponds to the modern province of Kerman and was a province of the Achaemenid, Seleucid, Arsacid, and Sasanian Empire. The region bordered Persia in the west, Gedrosia in the south-east, Parthia in the north (later known as Abarshahr), and Aria to the north-east. Carmania was considered part of Ariana.

Greater Khorasan

Khorasan (Middle Persian: Xwarāsān; Persian: خراسان‎ Xorāsān, Persian pronunciation: [xoɾɒːˈsɒːn] listen ), sometimes called Greater Khorasan, is a historical region lying in northeast of Greater Persia, including part of Central Asia and Afghanistan. The name simply means "East, Orient" (literally "sunrise") and loosely includes the territory of the Sasanian Empire north-east of Persia proper. Early Islamic usage often regarded everywhere east of so-called Jibal or what was subsequently termed 'Iraq Ajami' (Persian Iraq), as being included in a vast and loosely-defined region of Khorasan, which might even extend to the Indus Valley and Sindh. During the Islamic period, Khorasan along with Persian Iraq were two important territories. The boundary between these two was the region surrounding the cities of Gurgan and Qumis (modern Damghan). In particular, the Ghaznavids, Seljuqs and Timurids divided their empires into Iraqi and Khorasani regions.

The main cities of Khorasan in the Islamic period were Balkh and Herat (now in Afghanistan), Mashhad and Nishapur (now in northeastern Iran), Merv and Nisa (now in southern Turkmenistan), and Bukhara and Samarkand (now in southern Uzbekistan). The cities of Merv and Nisa have since been abandoned but the other cities remain integral parts of their respective states. The term Khorasan tended to further extend from these urban centers into the rural regions of their respective west, east, north and south. Sources from the 10th-century onwards refer to areas in the south of the Hindu Kush as the Khorasan Marches, forming a frontier region between Khorasan and Hindustan.Greater Khorasan is today sometimes used to distinguish the larger historical region from the modern Khorasan Province of Iran (1906–2004), which roughly encompassed the western half of the historical Greater Khorasan.

Harev (province)

Harev (also known as Harey), was a Sasanian province in Late Antiquity, that lay within the kust of Khorasan. The province bordered Kushanshahr in the west, Abarshahr in the east, Marv in the north, and Sakastan in the south.

History of Nishapur

The history of Nishapur begins with the city's founding during the Sasanian dynasty (and given the title of New Shapur); the city is located in the eastern province of Khorasan and served as the seat of the governor and commander in chief of the province.

Nishapur retained its importance under the Seljuqs, after its occupation by the first sultan of the Turkic dynasty in 1037. It was sacked by the Oghuz in 1154, and damaged in a series of earthquakes in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, yet it remained an active urban centre until its destruction by the Mongols in 1221.

During the Sasanian dynasty and medieval ages, the Nishapur quarter (Persian: ربع نیشابور) included Khorasan Province and Ahal Province.


Hyrcania () (Greek: Ὑρκανία Hyrkania, Old Persian: 𐎺𐎼𐎣𐎠𐎴 Varkâna, Middle Persian: 𐭢𐭥𐭫𐭢𐭠𐭭 Gurgān, Akkadian: Urqananu) is a historical region composed of the land south-east of the Caspian Sea in modern-day Iran, bound in the south by the Alborz mountain range and the Kopet Dag in the east.The region served as a satrapy (province) of the Median Empire, a sub-province of the Achaemenid Empire, and a province within its successors, the Seleucid, Arsacid and Sasanian empires. Hyrcania bordered Parthia to the east (later known as Abarshahr), Dihistan to the north, Media to the south and Mardia to the west. After the fall of the Sasanian Empire in 651 AD, Hyrcania was known as Tabaristan.


Kanadbak, also known as Kanara, was an Iranian nobleman, who was the kanarang during the reign of the Sasanian king Khosrau II (r. 590-628), and various other Sasanian monarchs, which includes Yazdegerd III (r. 632-651), the last Sasanian king.


The kanārang (Persian: کنارنگ‎) was a unique title in the Sasanian military, given to the commander of the Sasanian Empire's northeasternmost frontier province, Abarshahr (encompassing the cities of Tus, Nishapur and Abiward). In Byzantine sources, it is rendered as chanaranges (Greek: χαναράγγης) and often used, for instance by Procopius, in lieu of the holder's actual name.The title was used instead of the more conventional marzbān, which was held by the rest of the Persian frontier wardens. Like the other marzbān, the position was hereditary. The family holding it (the Kanārangīyān) is first attested in the reign of Yazdegerd I (r. 399–421), but was descended from some pre-Sasanian, most likely Parthian, dynasty. They enjoyed a high prestige and great authority in the Sasanian Empire's northeastern borderlands, as reflected in their glorified description in the Shahnameh of the great Persian poet Ferdowsi.The family was active until the very end of the Sasanian realm. A man called Kanāra in Arab sources commanded the Persian light cavalry at the decisive Battle of al-Qādisiyyah, and his son, Shahrīyār bin Kanāra, is reported to have fought valiantly before being killed. The family is later recorded as assisting the Muslim conquest of Khorasan by Abd-Allah ibn Amir, and being rewarded with the right to keep the province of Tus and half of the province of Nishapur under their control.

Kavadh I

Kavadh I (Middle Persian: 𐭪𐭥𐭠𐭲‎ Kawād, Persian: قباد‎ Qobād; 473 – 13 September 531) was the king (shah) of the Sasanian Empire from 488 to 531, with an interruption of two years. A son of Peroz I (r. 459–484), he was crowned by the nobles in place of his deposed and blinded uncle Balash (r. 484–488). His reign saw the uprising of Vakhtang I of Iberia, the rise of Mazdakism, as well as the Anastasian War and the Iberian War against the Byzantine Empire. During Kavadh's reign, massive fortification activities were conducted in the Caucasus, including Derbent.At the accession of Kavadh, the authority and status of the Sasanian kings had reached rock-bottom; when Kavadh died 43 years later, his son Khosrow I inherited a sturdy and mighty empire that equaled that of the Byzantines. Many vital reforms were introduced by Kavadh, which were completely implemented by Khosrow I. Due to the many challenges and issues that Kavadh successfully thwarted, he is considered one of the most effective and successful kings to rule the Sasanian Empire, in the words of Schindel, "a genius in his own right, even if of a somewhat Machiavellian type."

Kavadh II

Shērōē (also spelled Shīrūya, New Persian: شیرویه), better known by his dynastic name of Kavadh II (Middle Persian: 𐭪𐭥𐭠𐭲‎ Kawād; New Persian: قباد Qobād or Qabād), was king (shah) of the Sasanian Empire briefly in 628. He was the son of Khosrow II (r. 590–628), whom he succeeded after having him overthrown in a coup d'état. Kavadh's reign is seen as a turning point in Sasanian history, and has been argued by some scholars as playing a key role in the fall of the Sasanian Empire.

Kirman (Sasanian province)

Kirman (Middle Persian: Kirmān) was a Sasanian province in Late Antiquity, which almost corresponded to the present-day province of Kerman. The province bordered Pars in the west, Abarshahr and Sakastan in the northeast, Paradan in the east, Spahan in the north, and Mazun in the south. The capital of the province of Shiragan.

The province allegedly functioned as some kind of vassal kingdom, being mostly ruled by princes from the royal family, who bore the title of Kirmanshah ("King of Kirman"). The non-royal governors of the province bore the title of marzban ("margrave").


Marzbān, or Marzpān (Middle Persian transliteration: mrzwpn, derived from marz "border, boundary" and the suffix -pān "guardian"; Modern Persian: مرزبان Marzbān) were a class of margraves, warden of the marches, and by extension military commanders, in charge of border provinces of the Parthian Empire (247 BC–224 AD) and mostly Sasanian Empire (224–651 AD) of Iran.


Nishapur or Nishabur (pronunciation ; Persian: نیشابور‎, also Romanized as Nīshāpūr, Nišâpur, Nişapur, Nīshābūr, Neyshābūr, and Neeshapoor, from Middle Persian: New-Shabuhr, meaning "New City of Shapur", "Fair Shapur", or "Perfect built of Shapur") is a city in Razavi Khorasan Province, capital of the Nishapur County and former capital of Province Khorasan, in northeastern Iran, situated in a fertile plain at the foot of the Binalud Mountains. It had an estimated population of 239,185 as of 2011 and its county 433,105. Nearby are the turquoise mines that have supplied the world with turquoise for at least two millennia.

The city was founded in the 3rd century by Shapur I as a Sasanian satrapy capital. Nishapur later became the capital of Tahirid dynasty and was reformed by Abdullah Tahir in 830, and was later selected as the capital of Seljuq dynasty by Tughril in 1037. From the Abbasid era to the Mongol invasion of Khwarezmia and Eastern Iran, the city evolved into a significant cultural, commercial, and intellectual center within the Islamic world. Nishapur, along with Merv, Herat and Balkh were one of the four great cities of Greater Khorasan and one of the greatest cities in the middle ages, a seat of governmental power in eastern of caliphate, a dwelling place for diverse ethnic and religious groups, a trading stop on commercial routes from Transoxiana and China, Iraq and Egypt.

Nishapur reached the height of its prosperity under the Samanids in the 10th century, but was destroyed and the entire population slaughtered by Mongols in 1221. This massacre, combined with subsequent earthquakes and other invasions are believed to have destroyed the pottery industry the city was known for.


Shirvan (from Persian: شروان‎, translit. Shirvān; Azerbaijani: Şirvan; Tat: Şirvan), also spelled as Sharvān, Shirwan, Shervan, Sherwan and Šervān, is a historical region in the eastern Caucasus, known by this name in both Islamic and modern times. Today, the region is an industrially and agriculturally developed part of the Azerbaijan Republic that stretches between the western shores of the Caspian Sea and the Kura River and is centered on the Shirvan Plain.


Zonuz (Persian: زنوز‎; Azerbaijani: zunuz; also Romanized as Zunus) is a city in the Central District of Marand County, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 2,618, in 826 families.Zonuz is located on a mountain, and has cold and snowy weather in winter and moderate summers. Civilization and culture of city related to Bronze Age (3800 BC), and Kura – Arax culture. The Zonouz valley is located between two mountain ranges, extending east to west. The mountain ranges are connected to each other in the east by Soltan Sanjar Mountain. The height of these mountains decreases from east to west. Soltan Sanjar has an altitude of 3,168 meters; other mountains namely,– Nevasar, Gerdehowul and Diragah – range from 2500 to 2200 meters in height.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.