Khwarazm /kwəˈrɛzəm/, or Chorasmia /kəˈræzmiə/ (Persian: خوارزم‎, Xvârazm) is a large oasis region on the Amu Darya river delta in western Central Asia, bordered on the north by the (former) Aral Sea, on the east by the Kyzylkum desert, on the south by the Karakum desert, and on the west by the Ustyurt Plateau. It was the center of the Iranian[1] Khwarazmian civilization, and a series of kingdoms such as the Persian Empire, whose capitals were (among others) Kath, Gurganj (the modern Konye-Urgench) and – from the 16th century on – Khiva. Today Khwarazm belongs partly to Uzbekistan, partly to Kazakhstan and partly to Turkmenistan.

The Khwarazm oasis on a satellite image from 2009
AralSea A2009169 0715 250m
The Khwarazm oasis on a satellite image from 2009
AralSea A2009169 0715 250m

Names and etymology


Khwarazm has been known also as Chorasmia, Khaurism,[2] Khwarezmia, Khwarizm, Khwarazm, Khorezm, Khoresm, Khorasam, Kharazm, Harezm, Horezm, and Chorezm.[3]

In Avestan the name is Xvairizem; in Old Persian Huwarazmish; in Modern Persian: خوارزمXvārazm; in Arabic: خُـوَارِزْمXuwārizm; in Old Chinese *qʰaljɯʔmriɡ (呼似密); in Modern Chinese Huālázǐmó (花剌子模 / Xiao'erjing: خٗوَلاذِموْ); in Tajik: Хоразм, Xorazm, خارَزم; in Kazakh: Хорезм (Xorezm), حورەزم; in Uzbek: Xorazm, Хоразм, خورەزم; in Turkmen: Horezm, Хорезм, خوْرِزم; in Turkish: Harezm; in Greek language Χορασμία (Chorasmía) and Χορασίμα (Chorasíma) by Herodotus.


The Arab geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi in his Muʿǧam al-buldan wrote that the name was a Persian compound of khwar (خوار), and razm (رزم), referring to the abundance of cooked fish as a main diet of the peoples of this area.[4]

C.E. Bosworth, however, believed the Persian name to be made up of xor (خور "the sun") and zam (زم "earth, land"), designating "the land from which the sun rises",[5] although a similar etymology is also given for Khurasan. Another view is that the Iranian compound stands for "lowland" from kh(w)ar "low" and zam "land.".[3] Khwarazm is indeed the lowest region in Central Asia (except for the Caspian Sea to the far west), located on the delta of the Amu Darya on the southern shores of the Aral Sea. Various forms of khwar/khar/khor/hor are commonly used also in the Persian Gulf to stand for tidal flats, marshland, or tidal bays (e.g., Khor Musa, Khor Abdallah, Hor al-Azim, Hor al-Himar, etc.)

The name also appears in Achaemenid inscriptions as Huvarazmish, which is declared to be part of the Persian Empire.

Some of the early scholars believed Khwarazm to be what ancient Avestic texts refer to as Airyanem Vaejah (Ariyaneh Waeje; later Middle Persian Iran vij).[6] These sources claim that Old Urgench, which was the capital of ancient Khwarazm for many years, was actually Ourva, the eighth land of Ahura Mazda mentioned in the Pahlavi text of Vendidad.[7] However, Michael Witzel, a researcher in early Indo-European history, believes that Airyanem Vaejah was located in what is now Afghanistan, the northern areas of which were a part of ancient Khwarazm and Greater Khorasan.[8] Others, however, disagree. University of Hawaii historian Elton L. Daniel believes Khwarazm to be the "most likely locale" corresponding to the original home of the Avestan people, and Dehkhoda calls Khwarazm "the cradle of the Aryan tribe" (مهد قوم آریا).[9]

Legendary history

Al-Biruni (973–1048), a native speaker of Chorasmian (an Iranian language),[10][11][12] says that the land belonging to the mythical king Afrasiab was first colonised 980 years before Alexander the Great (thus c. 1292 B.C., well before the Seleucid era) when the hero of the Iranian epic Siyavash came to Khwarazm; his son Kay Khusraw came to the throne 92 years later, in 1200 B.C. Al-Biruni starts giving names only with the Afrighid line of Khwarazmshahs, having placed the ascension of Afrighids in 616 of the Seleucid era, i.e. in 305 A.D.

Early people

Like Soghdiana, Khwarazm was an expansion of the BMAC culture during the Bronze Age which later fused with Indo-Iranians during their migrations around 1000 BC. Early Iron Age states arose from this cultural exchange. List of successive cultures in Khwarazm region 3000–500 BC:[13]

During the final Saka phase, there were about 400 settlements in Khwarezm.[14] Ruled by the native Afrighid Dynasty. It was at this point that Khwarezm entered the historical record with the Achamenid expansion.

Khwarezmian language and culture

An East Iranian language, Khwarezmian, was spoken in Khwarezm proper (i.e., the lower Amu Darya region) until soon after the Mongol invasion, when it was replaced by Turkic languages.[15][16][17][18] It was closely related to Sogdian. Other than the astronomical terms used by the native Iranian Khwarezmian speaker Al-Biruni,[12] our other sources of Khwarezmian include Zamakhshari's Arabic-Persian–Khwarezmian dictionary and several legal texts that use Khwarezmian terms to explain certain legal concepts.

In the very early part of its history, the inhabitants of the area were from Iranian[19][20] stock and they spoke an Eastern Iranian language called Khwarezmian. The famous scientist Al-Biruni, a Khwarezm native, in his Athar ul-Baqiyah,[21] specifically verifies the Iranian origins of Khwarezmians when he wrote (in Arabic):

أهل خوارزم [...] کانوا غصناً من دوحة الفرس
("The people of the Khwarezm were a branch from Persian tree.")

The area of Khwarezm was under Afrighid and then Samanid control until the 10th century before it was conquered by the Ghaznavids. The Iranian Khwarezmian language and culture felt the pressure of Turkic infiltration from northern Khwarezm southwards, leading to the disappearance of the original Iranian character[12] of the province and its complete Turkicisation today, but Khwarezmian speech[12] probably lasted in upper Khwarezm, the region round Hazarasp, till the end of the 8th/14th century.[12]

The Khwarezmian language survived for several centuries after Islam until the Turkification of the region, and so must some at least of the culture and lore of ancient Khwarezm, for it is hard to see the commanding figure of Al-Biruni, a repository of so much knowledge, appearing in a cultural vacuum.[12]

Achaemenid, Parthian and Sassanid era

Xerxes I tomb Choresmian soldier circa 470 BCE
Xerxes I tomb, Choresmian soldier circa 470 BCE.

Sometime before the Achaemenid king Cyrus the Great's death in 530 BC, he had conquered Khwarezm. While he was dying, he appointed his son Smerdis/Bardiya as the governor of the region, along with Bactriana, Carmania, and the other eastern provinces of the empire.[22] And the Persian poet Ferdowsi mentions Persian cities like Afrasiab and Chach in abundance in his epic Shahnama.

When the king of Khwarezm offered friendship to Alexander the Great in 328 BC, Alexander's Greek and Roman biographers imagined the nomad king of a desert waste, but 20th-century Russian archeologists revealed the region as a stable and centralized kingdom, a land of agriculture to the east of the Aral Sea, surrounded by the nomads of Central Asia, protected by its army of mailed horsemen, in the most powerful kingdom northwest of the Amu Darya (the Oxus River of antiquity). The king's emissary offered to lead Alexander's armies against his own enemies, west over the Caspian towards the Black Sea (e.g. Kingdom of Iberia and Colchis). Alexander politely refused.

Although largely independent during the Seleucid, Bactrian and Arsacid dynasties, it is known that Khwarezm and neighboring Bactriana were part of the Sassanid empire during the time of Bahram II. Yaqut al-Hamawi verifies that Khwarezm was a regional capital of the Sassanid empire. When speaking of the pre-Islamic "khosrau of Khwarezm" (خسرو خوارزم), the Islamic "amir of Khwarezm" (امیر خوارزم), or even the Khwarezmid Empire, sources such as Al-Biruni and Ibn Khordadbeh and others clearly refer to Khwarezm as being part of the Iranian (Persian) empire.[23] The fact that Pahlavi script which was used by the Persian bureaucracy alongside Old Persian, passed into use in Khwarezmia where it served as the first local alphabet about the AD 2nd century, as well as evidence that Khwarezm-Shahs such as ʿAlā al-Dīn Tekish (1172–1200) issued all their orders (both administrative and public) in Persian language,[24] corroborates Al-Biruni's claims. It was also a vassal kingdom during periods of Kushans, Hephthalites and Gokturks power before the coming of the Arabs.


Khwarazm Bowl (BM)
Silver bowl from Khwarezm depicting a four-armed goddess seated on a lion, dated 658 AD, British Museum.[25]

The Afrighids (آفریغیان-آل آفریغ) were a native Chorasmian (i.g. Iranian) [10][26][27] dynasty which ruled over the kingdom of Khwarezm (according to Al-Biruni) from 305 until 995 A.D. Sometimes it was under Sassanid control.

In 712 Khwarezm was conquered by the Arab Umayyads. It thus came vaguely under Muslim suzerainty, but it was not until the end of the 8th century or the beginning of the 9th century that an Afrighid Shah was first converted to Islam appearing with the popular convert’s name of ʿAbdallah (slave of God). In the course of the 10th century, when some geographers such as Istakhri in his Al-Masalik wa-l-mamalik mention Khwarezm as part of Khorasan and Transoxiania, the local family of the Ma'munids who were based in Gurganj, on the left bank of the Amu Darya grew in economic and political importance due to trade caravans. In 995, they violently overthrew the Afrighids of Kath and themselves assumed the traditional title of Khwarazm-Shah. Briefly, the area was under Samanid suzerainty, before it passed to Mahmud of Ghazna in 1017. From then on, Turco-Mongolian invasions and long rule by Turco-Mongol dynasties supplanted the Iranian character of the region[27] although the title of Khwarezm-Shah was maintained well up to the 13th century.[27]

Khwarezmid Empire

Khwarezmian Empire 1190 - 1220 (AD)
East-Hem 1200ad
Political map of Asia, Europe and Africa around 1200 AD showing the Khwarezmid Empire in dark green

The Khwarezmid Empire was founded in the 12th century. It became a vassal of the Kara-Khitan Khanate after Yelü Dashi won the Battle of Qatwan (1141) against a Seljuk army commanded by Sanjar.[28] Kara-Khitan suzerainty weakened later. The Khwarezmid Empire ruled over all of Persia in the early 13th century under Shah ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn Muhammad II (1200–1220). From 1218 to 1220, Genghis Khan conquered Central Asia including the Kara-Khitan Khanate, thus ending the Khwarezmid Empire. Sultan Muhammad died after retreating from the Mongols near the Caspian Sea, while his son Jalal ad-Din, after being defeated by Genghis Khan at the Battle of Indus, sought refuge with the Delhi Sultanate, and was later assassinated after various attempts to defeat the Mongols and the Seljuks.

Modern age

Khwarezm (Karasm), on a 1734 French map. The Khanate on the map surrounds the Aral Sea (depicted as much smaller than it actually was in those days) and includes much of the today's Kazakhstan's and Turkmenistan's Caspian coast

The region of Khwarezm was split between the White Horde and Jagatai Khanate, and its rebuilt capital Gurganj (modern Kunya Urgench, "Old Gorganj" as against the modern city of Urgench some distance away ) again became one of the largest and most important trading centers in Central Asia. In the mid-14th century Khwarezm gained independence from the Golden Horde under the Sufid dynasty. However, Timur regarded Khwarezm as a rival to Samarkand, and over the course of 5 campaigns, he destroyed Urganch completely in 1388. This together with a shift in the course of the Amu-Darya caused the center of Khwarezm to shift to Khiva, which became in the 16th century the capital of the Khanate of Khiva, ruled over by the dynasty of the Arabshahids.

The rumors of gold on the banks of the Amu Darya during the reign of Russia's Peter the Great, together with the desire of the Russian Empire to open a trade route to the Indus (modern day Pakistan), prompted an armed trade expedition to the region, led by Prince Alexander Bekovich-Cherkassky, which was repelled by Khiva.

It was under Tsars Alexander II and Alexander III that serious efforts to annex the region started. One of the main pretexts to Russian military expeditions to Khiva was to free Russian slaves in the khanate and to prevent future slave capture and trade.

Early in The Great Game, Russian interests in the region collided with those of the British Empire in the First Anglo-Afghan War in 1839.

The Khanate of Khiva was gradually reduced in size from Russian expansion in Turkestan (including Khwarezm) and, in 1873, a peace treaty was signed that established Khiva as a quasi-independent Russian protectorate.

After the Bolshevik seizure of power in the October Revolution, a short-lived Khorezm People’s Soviet Republic (later the Khorezm SSR) was created out of the territory of the old Khanate of Khiva, before in 1924 it was finally incorporated into the Soviet Union, with the former Khanate divided between the new Turkmen SSR, Uzbek SSR and Karakalpakstan ASSR (initially part of Kazakh ASSR as Karakalpak Oblast).

The larger historical area of Khwarezm is further divided. Northern Khwarezm became the Uzbek SSR, and in 1925 the western part became the Turkmen SSR. Also, in 1936 northwestern part became Kazakh SSR. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, these became Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan respectively. Many of the ancient Khwarezmian towns are situated currently in Xorazm Province, Uzbekistan.

Today, the area that was Khwarezm has a mixed population of Uzbeks, Karakalpaks, Turkmens, Tajiks, Tatars, and Kazakhs.

In Persian literature

Pir 'Ali al-Jami - A Court Scene with Timur and His Maiden From Khwarezm - Walters W64837A - Full Page
Emir Timur and his maiden from Khwarezm.

Khwarezm and her cities appear in Persian literature in abundance, in both prose and poetry. Dehkhoda for example defines the name Bukhara itself as "full of knowledge", referring to the fact that in antiquity, Bukhara was a scientific and scholarship powerhouse. Rumi verifies this when he praises the city as such:

Other examples illustrate the eminent status of Khwarezmid and Transoxianian cities in Persian literature in the past 1500 years:

عالم جانها بر او هست مقرر چنانک

The world of hearts is under his power in the same manner that
دولت خوارزمشاه داد جهان را قرار
The Khwarazmshahs have brought peace to the world.

Khaqani Shirvani

یکی پر طمع پیش خوارزمشاه

A greedy one went to Khwarezm-shah
شنیدم که شد بامدادی پگاه
early one morning, so I have heard


Yaqut al-Hamawi, who visited Khwarezm and its capital in 1219, wrote: "I have never seen a city more wealthy and beautiful than Gurganj". The city, however, was destroyed during several invasions, in particular when the Mongol army broke the dams of the Amu Darya which flooded the city. He reports that for every Mongol soldier, four inhabitants of Gurganj were killed. Najmeddin Kubra, the great Sufi master, was among the casualties. The Mongol army that devastated Gurganj was estimated to have been near 80,000 soldiers. The verse below refers to an early previous calamity that fell upon the region:

آخر ای خاک خراسان داد یزدانت نجات
Oh land of Khorasan! God has saved you,
از بلای غیرت خاک ره گرگانج و کات
from the disaster that befell the land of Gurganj and Kath

—Divan of Anvari

Nevertheless, the beauty and fame of Bukhara and Samarqand are well known in Persian literature. The following famous cosmopolitan ode perhaps best provides a notable example of this:

اگر آن ترک شیرازی به دست آرد دل ما را
If that Shirazi Turk can win my heart,
به خال هندویش بخشم سمرقند و بخارا را
I would sell even the jewel cities of Samarqand and Bukhara for the Indian mole on her cheek.


Legend has it that Tamerlane sent for Hafiz regarding this verse and asked angrily: "Are you he who was so bold as to offer my two great cities Samarkand and Bukhara for the mole on thy mistress's cheek?" Hafiz then replied, "Yes, sire, and it is by such acts of generosity that I have brought myself to such a state of destitution that I have now to solicit your bounty." Tamerlane is written to have been so pleased at his ready wit that he dismissed the poet with a handsome present.

Notable people

XXth Century Citizen's Atlas map of Central Asia
The borders of the Russian imperial territories of Khiva, Bukhara and Kokand in the time period of 1902-1903.

The following either hail from Khwarezm, or lived and are buried there:

See also


  1. ^ West 2009, pp. 402–405
  2. ^ Kinnear, N. B. (1920). "The past and present distribution of the lion in south eastern Asia". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 27: 33–39.
  3. ^ a b Encyclopedia Iranica, Chorasmia, Yuri Aleksandrovich Rapoport
  4. ^ Yaqut al-Hamawi, Mu'jam al-buldān, Vol2, p395
  5. ^ C. E. Bosworth, The Encyclopedia of Islam, Vol IV, 1978. p. 1061
  6. ^ Bahram Farahvoshi. Iranovich, Tehran University Press. 1991. p. 8
  7. ^ Musa Javan. Tarikh-i Ijtima'i Iran-i Bastan (The social history of ancient Iran), 1961. p. 24
  8. ^ Michael Witzel. "The Home of the Aryans." (.pdf)
  9. ^ Elton L. Daniel, The History of Iran. 2001. ISBN 0-313-30731-8. p.28
  10. ^ a b ” ĀL-E AFRĪḠ” IN Encyclopedia Iranica by C. E. Bosworth
  11. ^ L. Massignon, "Al-Biruni et la valuer internationale de la science arabe" in Al-Biruni Commemoration Volume (Calcutta, 1951), pp. 217–219. excerpt: In a celebrated preface to the Book of Drugs, Biruni says: "It is through the Arabic language that the sciences have been transmitted by means of translations from all parts of the world. They have been enhanced by the translation into the Arabic language and have as a result insinuated themselves into men's hearts, and the beauty of this language has commingled with these sciences in our veins and arteries. And if it is true that in all nations one likes to adorn oneself by using the language to which one has remained loyal, having become accustomed to using it with friends and companions according to need, I must judge for myself that in my native Chorasmian, science has as much as chance of becoming perpetuated as a camel has of facing Kaaba."
  12. ^ a b c d e f Bosworth, C.E. "Ḵh̲ W Ārazm." Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2007. Brill Online. Accessed at 10 November 2007 <>
  13. ^ MacKenzie, D.N. (1996). "Encyclopædia Iranica". CHORASMIA. Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  14. ^ MacKenzie, 1996
  15. ^ Encyclopedia Iranica, "The Chorasmian Language", D.N.Mackenzie Archived 14 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Andrew Dalby, Dictionary of Languages: The definitive reference to more than 400 languages, Columbia University Press, 2004, pg 278
  17. ^ MacKenzie, D. N. "Khwarazmian Language and Literature," in E. Yarshater ed. Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. III, Part 2, Cambridge 1983, pp. 1244–1249
  18. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, "Iranian languages" (Retrieved on 29 December 2008)
  19. ^ Encyclopædia Iranica, "CENTRAL ASIA: The Islamic period up to the mongols", C. Edmund Bosworth: "In early Islamic times Persians tended to identify all the lands to the northeast of Khorasan and lying beyond the Oxus with the region of Turan, which in the Shahnama of Ferdowsi is regarded as the land allotted to Fereydun's son Tur. The denizens of Turan were held to include the Turks, in the first four centuries of Islam essentially those nomadizing beyond the Jaxartes, and behind them the Chinese (see Kowalski; Minorsky, "Turan"). Turan thus became both an ethnic and a geographical term, but always containing ambiguities and contradictions, arising from the fact that all through Islamic times the lands immediately beyond the Oxus and along its lower reaches were the homes not of Turks but of Iranian peoples, such as the Sogdians and Khwarezmians."
  20. ^ C.E. Bosworth, "The Appearance of the Arabs in Central Asia under the Umayyads and the establishment of Islam", in History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Vol. IV: The Age of Achievement: AD 750 to the End of the Fifteenth Century, Part One: The Historical, Social and Economic Setting, edited by M. S. Asimov and C. E. Bosworth. Multiple History Series. Paris: UNESCO Publishing, 1998. excerpt from page 23: "Central Asia in the early seventh century, was ethnically, still largely an Iranian land whose people used various Middle Iranian languages.
  21. ^ الآثار الباقية عن القرون الخالية (p. 47)
  22. ^ Huart, Clement. Ancient Persia and Iranian Civilization. 1972. ISBN 0-7100-7242-2. p. 46
  23. ^ Nasser Takmil Homayoun. Kharazm: What do I know about Iran?. 2004. ISBN 964-379-023-1. p.35
  24. ^ A. A. Simonov
  25. ^ British Museum Collection
  26. ^ C.E. Bosworth, “The Ghaznavids” in History of Civilization: Central Asia in History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Volume IV: The Age of Achievement : A.D. 750 to the End of the Fifteenth Century : Part One : The Historical Social and Economic Setting/edited by M.S. Asimov and C.E. Bosworth. Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 1999, 485 pages. (Vol. IV, Pt. I). ISBN 81-208-1595-5. Excerpt from page 101: “The ancient Iranian kingdom of Khwarazm had been ruled until 995 by the old established line of Afrighids of Kath, but control subsequently passed to the new line of Khwarazm Shahs, the Ma'munids of Gurganj”
  27. ^ a b c Clifford Edmund Bosworth, The New Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological and Genealogical Manual, Columbia University, 1996.
  28. ^ Biran, Michel, The empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian history, (Cambridge University Press, 2005), 44.


  • Yuri Bregel. "The Sarts in the Khanate of Khiva", Journal of Asian History, Vol. 12, 1978, pp. 121–151
  • Robin Lane Fox. Alexander the Great, pp. 308ff etc.
  • Shir Muhammad Mirab Munis & Muhammad Reza Mirab Agahi. Firdaws al-Iqbal. History of Khorezm (Leiden: Brill) 1999, trans & ed. Yuri Bregel
  • Minardi, M. (2015). Ancient Chorasmia. A Polity between the Semi-Nomadic and Sedentary Cultural Areas of Central Asia. Cultural Interactions and Local Developments from the Sixth Century BC to the First Century AD. Peeters. ISBN 978-90-429-3138-1.
  • West, Barbara A. (1 January 2009). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 1438119135. Retrieved 13 March 2015.

External links

Coordinates: 42°11′22.59″N 59°19′34.22″E / 42.1896083°N 59.3261722°E

Abu'l-Harith Muhammad

Abu'l-Harith Muhammad was ruler of Khwarazm for a period in 1017. The son of Abu al-Hasan Ali, he was the last member of the Iranian Ma'munid dynasty to rule Khwarazm.

In 1017, a young Muhammad was declared shah by the murderers of his uncle Abu'l Abbas Ma'mun. Mahmud of Ghazna, who had been Ma'mun's brother-in-law, was afforded a pretext for invading and a force was assembled in northern Khurasan. The Khwarazamis were unable to provide any effective resistance, and Muhammad was captured and imprisoned; Khwarazm therefore became a part of the Ghaznavid Empire. After taking vengeance on the Ma'mun's murderers Mahmud installed a Turk, the hajib Altun Tash, as governor of the province.


The Afrighids (from 305 to 995 AD) (Persian: آفریغیان - آل آفریغ‎) were a native Chorasmian Iranian dynasty who ruled over the ancient kingdom of Chorasmia until 995 AD. Over time, they were under the suzerainty of the Sassanid Empire, the Hephthalite Empire, the Göktürk Khaganate, the Umayyad Caliphate and the Samanid Empire.

Altun Tash

Altun Tash (died 1032) was Khwarazm-Shah from 1017 until his death.Altun Tash was originally a slave commander serving the Ghaznavid Sebük Tigin. In 1008 he played a leading role in a battle against the Karakhanids at Sharkhiyan near Balkh, in which the Ghaznavids were victorious. By 1011 he had been made governor of Herat by Sebük Tigin's son, Mahmud.

In 1017 Mahmud conquered Khwarazm from its Ma'munid rulers, and made Altun Tash its governor. Altun Tash's tenure as Khwarazm-Shah consisted of preventing the Oghuz and Qarluqs from making raids into the region. He also participated in Mahmud's 1025 campaign against the Karakhanid ruler of Transoxiana, 'Ali-tigin, in which Samarkand was temporarily occupied, and was present at the meeting between Mahmud and his ally, the Karakhanid ruler of Kashgar, Qadir-khan Yusuf.

In 1032 Mahmud's successor, Mas'ud struck a new alliance with Qadir-khan Yusuf against 'Ali-tigin, who had recovered his realm shortly after the Ghaznavids had left Transoxiana. Mas'ud ordered Altun Tash to undertake a campaign against 'Ali-tigin, and he dutifully responded, invading Transoxiana. He met up with the Karakhanid army near Bukhara and engaged them in battle, but was mortally wounded. His lieutenant Ahmad Sirazi was able to conclude a peace with 'Ali-tigin, and shortly afterwards Altun Tash died.

Altun Tash never wavered in his loyalty to the Ghaznavids and in 1032 led an army at the battle of Dabusiyya against the Kara-Khanid ruler, Ali Tigin Bughra Khan. Though he was able to extricate his army from the indecisive battle, Altun died of wounds received in the conflict. Harun was not made Khwarazm-Shah following his death, although he was effectively ruler of Khwarazm.


Arsiyah (other forms of the word include al-Arsiyya, al-Arsiya, As-yah, al-Ursiyya, al-Larisiya, al-Orsiyya, Aorsi and Ors) was the name used for a group of Muslim mercenaries in the service of the Khazar Khaganate. Whether the Arsiyah were a single tribe or composed of Muslims from a number of different tribes is unclear. Also unclear is their origin; many historians regard them as deriving from Khwarazm, but some scholars point to the fact that "As" is the Turkic term for Alans and believe that the Arsiyah were Alanic in origin. Other scholars derive the name from Iranian Auruša (white).According to Muslim sources, the Arsiyah formed the core of the Khazar army and were extremely influential in Khazar politics, but these assertions may be designed to exaggerate the importance of the Muslim community in Khazaria. The Arsiyah did often act independently of their government. Part of the treaty binding them to Khazar service guaranteed that they would not be used to fight other Muslims. In 913, the Arsiyah ambushed a Varangian fleet that had been granted passage to the Caspian Sea by the Khazar government, wiping out thousands of Rus warriors.


Atsïz (Persian: علاء الدين أتسز; full name: Ala ad-Dunya wa ad-Din Abul-Muzaffar Atsiz Qizil Arslan ibn Muhammad) was the second Shah of Khwarezm from 1127 to 1156. He was the son of Qutb ad-Din Muhammad.

Atsïz gained his position following his father's death in 1127. During the early part of his reign he focused on securing Khwarazm against nomad attacks. In 1138 he rebelled against his suzerain, the Seljuk sultan Ahmed Sanjar, but was defeated in Hezarasp and forced to flee. Sanjar installed his nephew Suleiman Shah as ruler of Khwarazm and returned to Merv. Atsïz returned, however, and Suleiman Shah was unable to hold on to the province. Atsïz then attacked Bukhara, but by 1141 he again submitted to Sanjar, who pardoned him and formally returned control of Khwarazm over to him.

The same year that Sanjar pardoned Atsïz, the Kara Khitai under Yelü Dashi defeated the Seljuks at Qatwan, near Samarkand. Atsïz took advantage of the defeat to invade Khurasan, occupying Merv and Nishapur. Yelü Dashi, however, sent a force to plunder Khwarazm, forcing Atsïz to pay an annual tribute.In 1142 Atsiz was expelled from Khurasan by Sanjar, who invaded Khwarazm in the following year and forced Atsïz back into vassalage, although Atsïz continued to pay tribute to the Kara Khitai until his death. Sanjar undertook another expedition against Atsïz in 1147 when the latter became rebellious again.In 1153 Sanjar was defeated and imprisoned by a collection of Oghuz tribes, and Khurasan soon descended into anarchy. The portion of the Seljuk army that refused to join the Oghuz proclaimed the former ruler of the Karakhanids, Mahmud Khan, as their leader. Mahmud sought an alliance with Atsïz against the Oghuz, while Atsïz's brother Ïnal-Tegin had already in 1154 plundered a part of Khurasan. Atsïz and his son Il-Arslan departed from Khwarazm, but before they could make any gains Sanjar escaped from his captivity and restored his rule. Atsïz died soon afterwards, and was succeeded in Khwarazm by Il-Arslan.

Harun, Ghaznavid Governor of Khwarezm

Harun (died 1035) was the de facto ruler (later Shah) of Khwarazm from 1032 to 1035. He was the son of Altun Tash.

Following his father's death in 1032, Harun was effectively made governor of Khwarazm by the Ghaznavid sultan Mas'ud. The title of Khwarazm-Shah was not given to him, but to Mas'ud's son Sa'id; Mas'ud had been distrustful of Altun Tash and probably wanted to avoid giving his son too much power. In 1034, however, Harun revolted against Mas'ud, assuming the title of Khwarazm-Shah, and turned to the Ghaznavids' enemies, the Karakhanids of Samarkand and the Seljuks, for support. Mas'ud managed to put an end to this revolt by gaining the support of Harun's guards, who assassinated him. Khwarazm then fell to Harun's brother Ismail Khandan.

Ibn Isfandiyar

Bahā’ al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Ḥasan ibn Isfandiyār was a 13th-century Iranian historian from Tabaristan, who wrote a history of his native province, the Tarikh-i Tabaristan. What little is known of his life comes from the introduction of this work.

In his early career, Ibn Isfandiyar was a member of the court of the Bavandids, a native dynasty of Tabaristan, and enjoyed the patronage of Ardashir I (died 1206). He began compiling material for his history in 1206, which up to then mainly consisted of the "Bavand-nameh", a now-lost work presumably in Persian which our author viewed as a Bavandid romance only. In 1209 he travelled briefly to Baghdad. On his return he stayed for two months in Rayy, where he came across in Rustam b. Shahriyar's library the Uqidu sihr wa-qala'idu durar of Abu 'l-Hasan Muhammad al-Yazdadi - an Arabic history of Tabaristan subsequently lost. Ibn Isfandiyar translated this work into Persian, and this, coupled with genealogical and historical information on the Bavandids, formed the core of his history. He added more material over the years, especially during his five-year stay in Khwarazm. His fate is unknown; he may have returned to his native Tabaristan and died there, or he may have perished in the Mongol sack of Khwarazm in 1220.

His history, which was not completed before 1217/17, ends with the first fall of the Bavandid dynasty in 1210. An anonymous later author continued it up to 1349, when the dynasty’s second period ended, based chiefly on Awliya Allah Amuli's Tarikh-i Ruyan. Ibn Isfandiyar's work includes much unique historical, biographical and geographical information, including verses in Tabari language and a Persian translation of the Letter of Tansar, an important piece of Pahlavi literature, sent by the Sasanian ruler Ardashir III's chief priest to Jusnasaf, prince of Tabaristan.

Khwarazmian dynasty

The Khwarazmian dynasty (; also known as the Khwarezmid dynasty, the Anushtegin dynasty, the dynasty of Khwarazm Shahs, and other spelling variants; from (Persian: خوارزمشاهیان‎, translit. Khwārazmshāhiyān "Kings of Khwarazm") was a Persianate Sunni Muslim dynasty of Turkic mamluk origin. The dynasty ruled large parts of Central Asia and Iran during the High Middle Ages, in the approximate period of 1077 to 1231, first as vassals of the Seljuqs and Qara-Khitan, and later as independent rulers, up until the Mongol invasion of Khwarezmia in the 13th century. The dynasty spanned 2.3 (or 3.6) million square kilometers.

The dynasty was founded by commander Anush Tigin Gharchai, a former Turkic slave of the Seljuq sultans, who was appointed as governor of Khwarezm. His son, Qutb ad-Din Muhammad I, became the first hereditary Shah of Khwarezm.


The name Khwarezmian (also Khorezmian, Khwarezm, Khwarizmim, Chorasmian, Carizmian, and others) may refer to:

Khwarazm, a large oasis region on the Amu Darya river delta in western Central Asia bordering the former Aral Sea and the center of the Khwarezmian civilization

Khwarazmian dynasty, a Persianate Sunni Muslim dynasty of Turkic mamluk origin that ruled Greater Iran from about 1077 to 1231

Khwarazmian language, an extinct East Iranian language

Khorezmian language (Turkic), an extinct Turkic language

Muhammad II of Khwarazm

Ala ad-Din Muhammad II (Persian: علاءالدین محمد خوارزمشاه; full name: Ala ad-Dunya wa ad-Din Abul-Fath Muhammad Sanjar ibn Tekish) was the Shah of the Khwarezmian Empire from 1200 to 1220. His ancestor was a Turkic slave who eventually became a viceroy of a small province named Khwarizm. He is perhaps best known for inciting the Mongol invasion of Khwarezmia, which resulted in the utter destruction of his empire.

Muhammad I of Khwarazm

Qutb ad-Din Muhammad (Persian: قطب الدين محمد; full name: Qutb ad-Dunya wa ad-Din Abul-Fath Muhammad Arslantegin ibn Anushtegin) was the first Shah of Khwarezm from 1097 to 1127. He was the son of Anushtegin Gharchai.

In around 1097 Qutb al-Din Muhammad was appointed governor of Khwarazm by the Seljuk sultan Barkiyaruq's military commander, Habashi ibn Altun-Taq. Habashi had just put down a revolt by two Seljuk amirs, Qodun and Yaruq-Tash, who had killed the previous governor of Khwarazm, Ekinchi, and wanted to rule the province themselves. Qutb al-Din Muhammad therefore took control of Khwarazm and stopped an attempt by Ekinchi's son, Toghril-Tegin, to take control of the region.

During his lifetime, Qutb al-Din Muhammad remained loyal to the Seljuk ruler of Khurasan, Sanjar. In 1113 or 1114 he helped a fellow Seljuk vassal, the Karakhanid Arslan Khan, stifle turmoil caused by the discontented religious classes in his realm. He also participated in Sanjar's military campaign against the Great Seljuk Mahmud II, who ruled in western Iran and Iraq, in 1119.

Qutb al-Din Muhammad died in 1127 and was succeeded by his son Atsiz.


The Salghurids of Fars (Persian: اتابکان فارس 'Atābakān-e Fārs' or سلغُریان 'Salghoriān'), were a dynasty of Turkmen origin that ruled Fars, first as vassals of the Seljuqs then for the Khwarazm Shahs in the 13th century. The Salghurids were established by Sunqur in 1148, who had profited from the rebellions during the reign of Seljuq sultan Mas'ud b. Muhammad. Later the Salghurids were able to solidify their position in southern Persia to the point of campaigning against Kurds and involving themselves in the succession of the Kirman Seljuqs, holding Seljuq sultan Malik-Shah III's son Mahmud as a possible claimant to the Seljuq throne. They captured Isfahan in 1203-4, and later occupied Bahrain taken from the Uyunid dynasty in 1235.Under Sa'd I b. Zangi, the Salghurids experienced a significant prosperity, which was marred by his acknowledging the Khwarazm Shahs as his overlord. Saadi Shirazi, the Persian poet, dedicated his Bostan and Gulistan to Sa'd I and Sa'd II. Following Sa'd I's death, his brother Zangi b. Mawdud took power in 1161. Dekele/Tekele followed his father, Zangi, only after eliminating Sonqur's son Toghril.During the 13th century, the Salghurids patronized a cultural and intellectual atmosphere which included, Kadi al-Baydawi, Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi, Saadi Shirazi and the historian Wassaf.During the closing years of Aku Bakr and Sa'd II, Fars fell under the dominion of Mongol empire and later the Ilkhanate of Hulegu. Under the Mongols, Abu Bakr was given the title of Qutlugh Khan. Later Salghurids were powerless figureheads, until the daughter of Sa'd II, Abish Khatun was given the title of Atabegate of Fars. She was the sole ruler of Fars for one year whereupon she married, Mengu Temur, eleventh son of Hulegu. Following their deaths, Fars was ruled directly by the Ilkhanate.

Sasanian Khwarazm

Sasanian Khwarazm (Middle Persian: Xwarāzm) refers to the period that the ancient civilization of Khwarazm was under the suzerainty of the Sasanian Empire from 242 to its conquest by the nomadic Xionites in c. 350.

Sultan Shah of Khwarezm

Sultan Shah (died 1193) was a claimant to the title of Khwarazm Shah from 1172 until his death. He was the son of Il-Arslan.

In 1172 Il-Arslan died and his sons began fighting over who would succeed him. Sultan Shah was the younger son, but he was considered the formal heir and his mother, Terken Khatun, placed him on the throne. The elder son, Ala ad-Din Tekish, fled to the Qara Khitai and asked for them to enthrone him in place of his brother, promising an annual tribute in exchange. He was given a large army, and he soon set off for Khwarazm.

Sultan Shah and his mother, upon hearing of Tekish's approach, decided to flee, and Tekish installed himself in Khwarazm unopposed in December 1172. Sultan Shah and Terken Khatun managed to gain the support of Mu'ayyid al-Din Ai-Aba, a former Seljuk amir who had set himself up in Nishapur since the collapse of Seljuk power there. In 1174 he led an army into Khwarazm, but was defeated, captured and executed by Tekish. Following Ai-Aba's death, Sultan Shah eventually found refuge with the Ghurids, but Terken Khatun was hunted down and killed by Tekish's forces.

In the late 1170s the Qara Khitai recalled Sultan Shah, who was still living in Ghurid territory. Tekish had become rebellious, refusing to pay tribute and killing Qara Khitai officials. Sultan Shah came out of exile and a Qara Khitai army was sent to reinstate him as Khwarazm Shah. Tekish managed to halt this offensive, however, by opening the dykes of the Amu Darya, flooding the enemy's path.

The bulk of the Qara Khitai army decided to return home, but Sultan Shah convinced its commander to leave a contingent of troops with him. With this force he set of into Khurasan, still under the control of various Oghuz tribes and Seljuk amirs. He succeeded in overthrowing several local rulers, resulting in the conquest of Sarakhs, Tus and Merv by 1181. He also harassed the Ghurid territories around Badghis.

Over the next several years Sultan Shah remained a threat to Tekish, who was forced to conduct expeditions into Khurasan several times as a result. Despite this, Sultan Shah was unable to make any significant gains against his brother. He also had occasional problems with the Ghurids; in an 1189/1190 campaign they invaded his territory, defeated him and took some of his possessions.

In 1192 Sultan Shah decided to launch an expedition against Khwarazm, taking advantage of Tekish's absence there; the latter was at the time in western Iran dealing with the Seljuks of Hamadan. While the campaign was underway, however, he died (1193) and Tekish seized some of his possessions, reuniting the Khwarazmid lands.

Xorazm Region

Xorazm Region (Uzbek: Xorazm viloyati, Хоразм вилояти, خارەزم ۋىلايەتى) or Khorezm Region as it is still more commonly known, is a viloyat (region) of Uzbekistan located in the northwest of the country in the lower reaches of the Amu-Darya River. It borders with Turkmenistan, Karakalpakstan, and Bukhara Region. It covers an area of 6,464 square kilometres (2,496 sq mi). The population is estimated to be around 1,776,700, with some 80% living in rural areas.

Khorezm Region is divided into 10 administrative districts. The capital is Urgench (pop est 135,000). Other major towns include Xonqa, Khiva, Shovot, and Pitnak.

The climate is a typically arid continental climate, with cold winters and extremely hot, dry summers.

The city of Khiva in Khorezm Region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with world-famous architectural monuments, making Khiva one of the main centers for international tourism in the country.

The economy of Khorezm Region is primarily based on cotton. Cotton is by far the main crop, although rice production has increased significantly in the last several years. (though the Uzbek government discourages rice production near to deserts, over water usage concerns) There are also many orchards and vineyards, melon and gourd plantations and potato fields. Khorezm Region is famous for its "gurvak" melon in Uzbekistan.

Industry is also heavily oriented to cotton, with cotton refining, cottonseed oil extraction and textiles predominating.

Khorezm is a place where many famous scholars were born, such as Abu Rayhan Biruni and al-Khwārizmī. The famous terms algorithm and algebra come from the works of the latter. Algorithm is a modified spelling of Khwārizmī and algebra derives from his famous work "al-jabr wa-l-muqābala".

The region has a well-developed transportation infrastructure, with over 130 km of railways and 2000 km of surfaced roads. The region is connected by rail to European Russia and the Caucasus.

Yelü Zhilugu

Yelü Zhilugu (simplified Chinese: 耶律直鲁古; traditional Chinese: 耶律直魯古; pinyin: Yēlǜ Zhílǔgǔ) — was the last emperor of Liao dynasty.

Zakhireye Khwarazmshahi

Zakhireye Khwarazmshahi

(Persian: ذخیرهٔ خوارزمشاهی‎ Zakhīra-i Khwârazmshâhī, "Treasure dedicated to the king of Khwarazm"), is a Persian medical encyclopedia written by the Persian, Ismail Gorgani (1040-1136) in 1110.

Zayn al-Din Gorgani

Zayn al-Din Sayyed Isma‘il ibn Husayn Gorgani (1040–1136), also spelled al-Jurjani, was a Persian 12th century royal Islamic physician from Urganj, Uzbekistan. In addition to medical and pharmaceutical sciences, he was also an adept in theological, philosophic and ethical sciences. He was a Persian physician and learned the rudiments of medicine in Kunya-Urgench, Old Urgench or Urganj of Uzbekistan. Jurjani was a pupil of Ibn Abi Sadiq and Ahmad ibn Farrokh. He arrived at the court in the Persian province of Khwarazm in the year 1110 when he was already a septuagenarian. There he became a court physician to the governor of the province, Khwarazm-Shah Qutb al-Din Muhammad I, who ruled from 1097 to 1127. It was to him that he dedicated his most comprehensive and influential work, the Persian-language compendium Zakhirah-i Khvarazm'Shahi.

Jurjani continued as court physician to Khwarazm'Shah Qutb al-Din's son and successor, Ala al-Din Atsiz, until at some unspecified time he moved to the city of Merv, the capital of the rival Seljuq Sultan Sanjar (ruled 1118–1157), where he died nearly at 100 lunar years of age.

Jurjani composed a number of important medical and philosophical treatises, in both Persian and Arabic, most of them written after he moved to Khwarazm at the age of 70 lunar years.

Provinces of the Sasanian Empire

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