Ancient history of Indo-Europeans

Iranic People

Ancient history of Indo-Europeans


Eastern Iranic People

Bactrians, Saka Scythians and Tocharians

Author:  Dr. Fahim Naderi


Bactria :

Bactria (Bâkhtriš): country in northern Afghanistan, in Antiquity famous for its fierce warriors and its ancient religion, which was founded by the prophet Zarathustra.

If there was ever a region that can be described with the old geographical cliché that it is a country of opposites, it must be Bactria. Situated between the Hindu Kush mountain range in the south and the river Oxus (Amudar'ya) in the north, it is essentially an east-west zone that consists of extremely fertile alluvial plains, a hot desert, and cold mountains. The contrast between the country's fertility and desolation was already noted in Antiquity (e.g., by the Roman author Quintus Curtius Rufus); the presence of all types of landscape helps to explain why agriculture and urbanism started early in Bactria.

Bactria (Bactriana, Bākhtar in Persian, also Bhalika in Arabic and Indian languages, and Ta-Hsia in Chinese) was the ancient Greek name of the country between the range of the Hindu Kush and the Amu Darya (Oxus); its capital, Bactra or Balhika or Bokhdi (now Balkh), was located in what is now Afghanistan It is a mountainous region with a moderate climate. Water is abundant and the land is very fertile. Bactria was the home of one of the Iranian tribes. Modern authors have often used the name in a wider sense, as the designation of all the countries of Central Asia.

Bactria was the homeland of Aryan tribes who later moved south-west into Iran, South Afghanistan, North Pakistan and North-Western India around 2500-2000 BC Later it became the north province of the Persian Empire in Central Asia.(Cotterell, 59) It was in these regions, where the fertile soil of the mountainous country is surrounded by the Turanian desert, that the prophet Zarathushtra (Zoroaster) was said to have been born and gained his first adherents. Avestan, the language of the oldest portions of the Zoroastrian Avesta, was once called "old-iranic" which is related to Sanskrit. Today some scholars believe the Avestan-Language was the western dialect of the Sanskrit because both languages are the oldest Indo-Iranian language of Aryans we know. With the time the Avestan-Language became developed by own western style.


Bactria was bounded on the south by the ancient region of Gandhara. The Bactrian language is an Iranian language of the Indo-Iranian sub-family of the Indo-European family.

Bactrian was probably spoken by the local populations of Bactria when Alexander the Great invaded the area around 323 BCE, inaugurating a two-century period of Hellenistic rule by the Seleucid Empire and the then the Greco-Bactrian kingdom.

Greek rule ended around 123 BCE with the invasions of the Yuezhi ( Kushans) from the North, who adopted the Greek alphabet to write the local Bactrian language, a case which is unique among Iranian languages.  Before that time, Bactrian was written in the Aramaic alphabet.

Bactrian seems to have been, together with Greek, the official language of the Kushans, descendant of the Yuezhi, and was used in their coins and inscriptions. In 1993, the Bactrian Rabatak inscription was discovered, recording that under the Kushan king Kanishka (c. 120 CE), use of the Greek language was officially discontinued. The territorial expansion of the Kushans helped propagate Bactrian to Northern India and parts of Central Asia, as far as Turfan where Buddhist and Manichean inscriptions in Bactrian can be found.

The phonetic composition remains very hard to know for sure, because not all phonemes can be distincted from written documents. Supposedly, there were 9 vowels (all long and short, except short o), which could be reduced easily due to phonetic processes. The consonant mutations included *d > l, *c > dj, -rs- > -s'- etc. In general, Bactrian phonetics has features both seen in modern Pashto and in Middle Iranian Parthian and Sogdian.

In morphology, Bactrian went rather far from ancient languages than other Iranian tongues. The gender disappeared, only 2 noun cases were preserved (direct and indirect), the ancient inflected forms of the past tense were replaced. The language used a definite article i.

According to Professor Nicholas Sims-Williams of  SOAS, University of London, who is the leading expert of the Sogdian and Bactrian languages, gave a lecture on the discovery and decipherment of Bactrian documents, written in the little-known Iranian language of Ancient Afghanistan in modified Greek script, at the Ancient Orient Museum in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, on September 23.

During the first centuries of the Christian era, Bactrian could legitimately have been ranked amongst the world's most important languages. As the language of the Kushan kings, Bactrian must have been widely known throughout a great empire, in Afghanistan, Northern India and part of Central Asia. Even after the collapse of the Kushan empire, Bactrian continued in use for at least six centuries, as is shown by the ninth-century inscriptions from the Tochi valley in Pakistan.

and the remnants of Buddhist and Manichean manuscripts found as far away as the Turfan oasis in western China. (This slide, for instance [Slide 212KB], shows the unique fragment of a Bactrian text written in Manichean script, which forms part of the Turfan collection in Berlin.) The career of Bactrian as a language of culture thus lasted for close to a thousand years.


 Until forty years ago virtually nothing was known of the Bactrian language except for the legends on the coins of the Kushans and their successors. The Kushan coins are inscribed in Greek letters of an angular type, apparently imitating a style of writing used for monumental inscriptions. In principle these legends are not particularly difficult to read, but their content is limited to the names and titles of kings and deities. The coins of the later rulers of Bactria --- Kushano-Sasanians, Kidarites, Hephthalites, Turks, and so on --- are written in a cursive script, imitating manuscript styles, which has proved much more difficult to decipher. Some tiny scraps of manuscripts in a similar cursive script were also known, but they were too few and too incomplete to offer any realistic prospect of interpretation.

Although I have only been able to describe a small part of an immense new body of material, I hope that I have said enough to show that it will throw new light on many aspects of the history and culture of ancient Afghanistan. But as yet I have hardly mentioned its importance for Iranian historical linguistics, though for me personally this is its chief fascination .


This slide shows a small selection of forms which illustrate the position of Bactrian amongst the Iranian languages. In particular I have chosen forms which show the connection between Bactrian and the languages of the surrounding area: medieval Sogdian and Choresmian; modern Pashto, Yidgha-Munji, and Ishkashmi. Such forms support the conclusion which Henning reached on first acquaintance with the new language that it is "in its natural and rightful place in Bactria" and justify his decision to name it Bactrian.

In many cases the new material confirms or contradicts views originally reached on the basis of limited evidence. For instance, Gershevitch's controversial interpretation of lruh-minan in the Surkh Kotal inscription as the plural of a putative *lruh-min "enemy" receives strong support from the contexts in which the later form druh-min occurs. It is particularly impressive that the new texts provide examples of many previously unattested Bactrian words whose existence had already been postulated by Martin Schwartz on the basis of their occurrence as loanwords in other languages of Central Asia.

Bactrian coin: an imitation
of an Athenian drachma
(British Museum, London)

The Hindu Kush, which marks the fault line of the Iranian and Eurasian tectonic plates, runs more or less from the east to the west, and many small rivers run down from its slopes to the north, deposeting sediments on the foothills and the plain that runs parallel to the mountain range. Consequently, this is a very fertile area, where farmers produced wheat and barley in very ancient times. Their culture, known as the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC), can be dated to c.2200-1700 and is sometimes associated with the arrival of the Indo-Iranians.

Figurine from Bactria, c.
2000 BCE. (Louvre, Paris)


Once, there had been a semi-arid zone between the fertile area and the river. Some of the mountain streams, however, had reached the river Oxus, and had formed lush corridors through the steppe. When the farmers started to dig canals to irrigate fields immediately north of the foothills, however, the waters disappeared from the arid zone and it changed into a desert.

So, after 2000 BCE, several parallel zones can be discerned:

  • the Hindu Kush mountains in the south; 
  • the foothills and the fertile agricultural zone; 
  • the desert; 
  • the river Oxus.



North of the river was the steppe, which was occupied by Sogdian nomads, with whom the Bactrians must have exchanged products.

According to some scholars, the Bactrian prophet Zarathustra lived in the second half of the second millennium. He is the founder of Zoroastrianism and reformed aspects of an older religion. Archaeologists have tried to see traces of this older religion in the BMAC, but decisive proof is lacking. Besides, it must be noted that there are scholars who date Zarathustra in the mid-first millennium, which makes it very implausible that there is continuity from the BMAC to Zoroastrianism.

A modern picture of 

However this may be, Bactria was incorporated in the Achaemenid empire as a special satrapythat was sometimes ruled by the crown prince or intended heir (mathišta). The country north of the Oxus, Sogdia, was at times part of this satrapy. The capital of Bactria was Bactra (Balkh, near modern Mazâr-e Sharîf), an important city in the history of Zoroastrianism. It is known to have had a sanctuary dedicated to the goddess of water and fertility Anahita, and is called "the town with the high-lifted banners" in the Avesta, the sacred book of the Zoroastrians.

When Darius I the Great reorganized the Persian empire and created formal satrapies, the Bactrians and the otherwise unknown Aeglians were reckoned to be one tax district, which was supposed to pay 360 talents every year. The Bactrian warriors were famous: they are known to have been part of the army of Darius' son and successor Xerxes, who invaded Greece in 480. Herodotus mentions their turbans, bows, and spears, and tells that they were employed during the battle of Plataea in 479.

The Greeks knew no nation beyond Bactria. When the Athenian playwright Euripides wanted to write that the god Dionysus was born in the far east, he called it Bactria, and the philosopher Aristotle of Stagira argued that from the Hindu Kush, one could see the eastern Ocean.

From coins, it can be deduced that these exiles managed to keep in touch with the motherland. Another group of Greek settlers was called the "Branchidae" and descended from a group of priests that had once lived near Didyma (near Miletus) and had been taken captive by the Persians.

In 329, the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great arrived in Bactria, after a heroic crossing of the Hindu Kush. His opponent, the Persian leader Artaxerxes V Bessus, had expected an invasion from Aria in the west, and had destroyed the countryside, but Alexander arrived from the southeast. He captured Bactra, passed through the desert (text) and crossed the river Oxus. For the Iranian tribesmen in Bactria and Sogdia, the shock was too much, and their leader Spitamenes arrested Bessus, who was handed over to Alexander's colonel Ptolemy.

However, the Macedonian occupation of Sogdia and Bactria was not to be uncontested. Almost immediately after Alexander had decided to build a new city, called Alexandria Eschatê, 'the furthest Alexandria' (modern Khodzent), the Sogdians revolted, because they did not like urban settlements in their nomadic country. Another reason for this revolt was Zoroastrianism: the Zoroastrians did not want to soil the sacred earth or fire with dead corpses, and therefore exposed their dead to the vultures and dogs. The Macedonians were shocked and Alexander forbade this custom. Another cause may have been cattle raiding. It is impossible that the invading army did not confiscate cows - the only sin that was condemned explicitly in the Zoroastrian creed. All this was unacceptable to the Sogdians, and Spitamenes became their leader.

A mounted archer
(British Museum, London; ©**)

Many Bactrians sympathized with the insurrection, and Spitamenes knew how to exploit this. His mounted archers came dangerously close to the walls of Bactra. However, the Macedonians were able to overcome the revolt. Alexander's friend Hephaestion founded several new cities (including, probably, the one excavated near Ai Khanum). In the spring of 327, Bactria was more quiet, and Alexander married a native princess named Roxane to create more sympathy. Many Greek mercenaries -perhaps 30,000 men- were left behind as an occupation force when the Macedonian army crossed the Hindu Kush to invade the Punjab.

When Alexander was almost mortally wounded during the siege of the city of the Indian Mallians (early in 325), the Greek settlers in Sogdia and Bactria revolted and decided to march home. They were supported by the native population, who wanted to get rid of their new masters, leave the cities, and take up their old way of life. Order was restored, but a new insurrection in the summer of 323 (after the death of Alexander) was never really suppressed, although Alexander's successor Perdiccas had sent an army commanded by Peithon (text).

Peithon had wanted to save the Greek settlers, but they were killed by his army. From now on, there were insufficient Europeans to keep Bactria occupied. At the same time, war broke out between Perdiccas and several of Alexander's commanders, and it was only in 308, after Seleucus I Nicator had won the Babylonian War, that a new European army could invade Bactria again. From now on, Bactria belonged to the Seleucid Empire, and Seleucus' son and successor Antiochus I Soter was for some time governor of the eastern satrapies, as if he were an Achaemenid mathišta.

Greek-style capital from Balkh


The Greeks and Macedonian living in Bactria were now cut off from the European west. They became an independent kingdom, led by a man named Diodotus, who had already supported the Parni. Although the Seleucid king Antiochus III the Great invaded Parthia and Bactria in 206, the Bactrians were able to retain their independence. King Euthydemus appears to have been a powerful man. In 184, the Graeco-Bactrian kingdom seized Gandara and the Punjab, where the power of the Indian Maurya dynasty was in decline. Euthydemus' son Demetrius settled in Taxila, which he refounded as a Greek city (Sirkap).

Graeco-Bactrian coin
(Taxila museum)


In c.130, the Graeco-Bactrian kingdom came to an end: the Sacae nomad  ( Scythians ) from the north, who had often made incursions, broke through, and in 110, they were also present in India. There were many small kingdoms, which have produced a remarkable variety of coins.

In the first century CE, the Yuezhi nomads or Kushans reunited Bactria and the Punjab. From their capital Peshawar in Gandara, the new kings ruled a powerful Buddhist empire, in which Indian, Iranian, Sacan, Parthian, and Greek elements were integrated. The Silk road connected Bactria with the Roman Empire in the west and China in the far east

 Bactrian language was completely assimilated by the Persian  and later by Turkish language, which spread in Tocharistan. This process is believed to take place until the 12th century. Some Bactrian tribes moved south, some north-west who saved partially thier languages


 The Bactrians are one of the ancestral lines of the modern-day  Pashtuns, Tajiks, Dards, and Pamirians . Some bactrians who lived around Oxus were assimilated by Altic people


 Pashtuns are classified as an Iranian people (Iranic People), possibly as partial modern-day descendants of Bactrians and  Saka-Scythians, an ancient Iranian group.[28] According to academic Yu. V. Gankovsky, the Pashtuns began as a "union of largely East-Iranian tribes which became the initial ethnic stratum of the Pashtun ethnogenesis, dates from the middle of the first millennium CE and is connected with the dissolution of the Epthalite (White Huns) confederacy."[29] Early precursors to the Pashtuns were Old Iranian tribes that spread throughout the eastern Iranian plateau.[30][31] The Pashto-speaking Pashtuns refer to themselves as Pashtuns or Pukhtuns depending upon whether they are speakers of the southern dialect or northern dialect respectively. In terms of phenotype, the Pashtuns overall are predominantly a Mediterranean Caucasoid people,[32] although light hair and eye colors are not uncommon, especially among remote mountain tribes.









Haraiva (Aria)

The Aryans first settled on the Oxus (AMU DARYA in BACTRIA) around 4000 B.C. They called this river the Sarasvati and here Vedic culture developed. Around this time agriculture begins, allowing the population to move from the foothills into oases along the rivers that flow into the Central Asian desert. The new settlements include large fortified buildings.

Seen in isolation, the Rigveda is undateable. However, by placing it in the context of external evidence some useful time brackets can be assigned. The reference to copper, harnessing of domesticated horse for transport and draft, and use of wheeled-vehicles show that the oral tradition of the
Rigveda is from around 4000-3000 BC.

The 2 rivers Sarasvati (Oxus) and Drishadvati (Jaxartes) represent Ikshvaku. Mr. Gangaram writes:” The Aryan civilisation was centered around the Sarasvati and Drishadavati rivers. We know that the goddes Sarasvati is also called Vaks (speech) and that the Sarasvati (daugher of the lake, sea) river is called Va(m)ksu in the Mahabharata. The Greek word Oxus is a corruption of Vaksu. The other river Jaxartes (Caks-sar(i)tes means eye-river) is. Drishadvati which means daugher of the eye (or stone). (Drish means: to see). The one river signifies sight while the other signifies speech. There is a relationship with Iksh-vaku (sight-speech), the well-known sage. Iksh-vaku is the great grandson of sage Kashyapa. The 2 rivers represent Iksh-vaku (see-speak), while Kashyapa is the Caspian sea, which in Vedic times was called Kasyapa Mira. Scientists have shown that the 2 rivers used to flow in the Caspian sea, before they changed their course and emptied in the Aral sea. This could be the cause of the southward movement of the Aryans. The Vedic river Raha ro Rasa is identified with the Volga river, which in old slavonic languages is called Rasa, from which Russia derives its name”.).

Aryans called their country Arya-varta or shortly varta. Later on varta was corrupted to varat, barat which in modern times is mistaken for Bharat a character from the Mahabharata.

Bunsen however states that around 4000BC or earlier the
Ayans were living on the Oxus or Sarasvati banks, around 3000 BC they were in Bactria and they reached the Indus around 2000 BC and in 1000 BC they reached Ceylon (Vambery, Bunsen, iii. 584,586), but some scolars object to this and state that the Aryans were much earler in the Indus/Ganga region).
From the Oxus river the Aryans reached the Tarim Basin around 3000 BC. Recently
Aryan Nordic type mummies from around 2000 BC have been found in his ormer part of Aryavarta.

Alexander the Great invaded Bactria, Arya and Arachosia in 332 BC. He built Alexandrias in many parts of the country. Later, one of his generals founded the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom in the north of Afghanistan which lasted two centuries.

Buddhism began to penetrate Afghanistan around 250 BC and from the 1st century to the 7th, it flourished in one of its greatest centers in the beautiful valley of Bamiyan where today the two giant statues of Buddha (the tallest in the world) carved in the face of a cliff, are one of the wonders of the world

According to the historians, the same Bactrian Aryans were the ancestors of the Eastern Iranian tribs (Tajiks, Pashtuns, Ossetians, Pamirians) they had settled in the areas of Balkh, Herat, Kabul and Gandhara. They gave it the name of Aryana. In the hymns of reg Veda, there was a clear-cut indication of sindho (inus) , kubha (Kabul) , kurrma (kurram) , gumati (gumal) suvastu (swat) and other rivers of the area. Above all, according to bakhtar shah zafar, the philologists agree that Pashto joined hands with the Aryans group of languages. Abdul hye habibi, the most eminent scholar, has given a list of Pashto words, which resemble other languages of house of Aryans.

In historical times, the Arians lived in the country along the river Arios (the modern Hari Rûd), which is more or less identical to the Afghanistan province of Herât (Arya). The Aryans moved later south-west into Iran and into North-Western India around 2500-2000 BC . There were large deserts surrounding the fertile river valley.

From the late seventh or early sixth century BCE, the Arians were subjects of the Medes, and their country became a satrapy of the Achaemenid empire when king Cyrus the Great defeated the Medes (550 BC).

During the civil war of 522/520, the Arians seem to have remained quiet. Under Persian rule, the Arians started to live in towns; the Greek geographer Ptolemy of Alexandria (Geography 6.17.3) states that there were many towns and villages in the valley of the river, and that there were nomadic tribes who were living in the mountains. The center of the Persian government was the palace at Artacoana, which is usually identified with the modern town of Herât (Arya)

In September 330 BC, the Macedonian king Alexander the Great conquered Aria in pursuit of the leaders of the Persian national resistance, king Bessus and the last satrap of Aria, Satibarzanes. Alexander used siege towers to take Artacoana; the inhabitants were killed or sold as slaves. The empty town was rebuilt and called Alexandria.

After Alexander's death (in 323), Aria became a stable part of the Seleucid empire -ruled by a Macedonian dynasty- for more than half a century. However, after 240, the neighboring countries Bactria and Parthia became independent from their Macedonian overlords. Aria was part of the new Bactrian kingdom, although the Seleucid king Antiochus III the Great managed to extend his realm to the east between 208 and 190. His son Antiochus IV Epiphanes sent a general, Eucratides, to do the same in 167, but the Parthian king Mithridates I outsmarted him and seized almost all Afghanistan. From now on, Aria was part of the Parthian empire.

In Antiquity, Aria was famous for its wine. It is mentioned in the Avesta as one of Ahuramazda's special creations (Vendidad, Fargard 1.9). 





by  W. J. Vogelsang              





The present town of Herat in western Afghanistan dates back to ancient times, but its exact age remains unknown. In Achaemenid times (ca. 550-330 B.C.E.), the surrounding district was known as Haraiva (in Old Persian), and in classical sources the region was correspondingly known as Areia. In the Zoroastrian Avesta (Yašt 10.14; Vidēvdāt 1.9), the district is mentioned as Harōiva. The name of the district and its main town is derived from that of the chief river of the region, the Hari Rud (Old Iranian *Harayu “with velocity”; compare Sanskrit Saráyu [Mayrhofer, Dictionary III, p. 443]), which traverses the district and passes just south (5 km) of modern Herat. The naming of a region and its principal town after the main river is a common feature in this part of the world. (Compare the adjoining districts/rivers/towns of Arachosia and Bactria.)

The site of Herat dominates the productive part of ancient Areia, which was, and basically still is, a rather narrow stretch of land that extends for some 150 km along both banks of the Hari Rud, from near Obeh in the east to near Kuhsān in the west. At no point along its route is the valley more than 25 km wide. The city and district of Areia/Herat occupy an important strategic place along the age-old caravan routes across the Iranian Plateau.

The Persian Achaemenid district of Areia is mentioned in the provincial lists that are included in various royal inscriptions, for instance, in the Bisotun inscription (q.v., DB 1.16) of Darius I (ca. 520 B.C.E.) in Fārs province. In the texts the name of Areia is grouped with Zranka (or Dranka), modern Sistān to the south; Parthava (Parthia) to the northwest, and Bāxtriš (Bactria) to the northeast. Representatives from the district are depicted in reliefs, e.g., at the royal Achaemenid tombs of Naqš-e Rostam and Persepolis. They are wearing Scythian-style dress (with a tunic and trousers tucked into high boots) and a twisted turban around the head. This costume is also worn by the representatives from nearby Sistān (to the south) and Arachosia (to the southeast) and is reminiscent of the dress worn by the representatives from almost all of the northern lands of the Achaemenid Empire, which were strongly influenced by the Scythic cultures from the Eurasian steppes. On the so-called Darius Statue that was discovered at Susa (Kervran, 1972), the representative from Areia is also shown wearing a long coat worn around the shoulders with empty sleeves. This type of coat is known from classical sources (Gk. kandys) and was sometimes also worn by the Persians and the Medes. The origin of this coat should be sought among the nomadic Scythians of Central Asia. (See further in Gervers-Molnár, 1973.)

Very little is known about Areia during the Achaemenid period. Herodotus (7.61 ff.) tells that Areians were included in Xerxes’ army against Greece, around 480 B.C.E. In Herodotus’s taxation list of the Achaemenid Empire (3.89 ff.), the Areians are listed together with the Parthians, Choresmians (from south of the Aral Sea), and Sogdians (from the valley of the Zarafshan River, around Bukhara and Samarkand). According to Herodotus, the Areians in Xerxes’ army were dressed in the Bactrian fashion, which means that they were wearing a Scythian-type outfit.

At the time of Alexander the Great, Areia was obviously an important district. It was administered by a satrap, called Satibarzanes, who was one of the three main Persian officials in the East of the Empire, together with the satrap Bessus [see BESSOS] of Bactria and Barsaentes of Arachosia. This would mean that the capital of Satibarzanes, which may have been Herat, was one of the three main Achaemenid centers in this part of the world, together with ancient Bactra (modern Bal, the capital of ancient Bactria), and Old Kandahār, the capital of ancient Arachosia. In late 330 B.C. Alexander the Great, according to his biographers, captured the Areian capital that was called Artacoana (Arrian, Anab. Alex. 3.25.2-6; Curtius 6. 6.33 [Artacana]; Diodorus 17.78.1 [Chortacana]; Pliny, Nat. hist. 6.61.93; Strabo 11.10.1 [Artacaena]). The etymology of this name remains unknown, and whether this place should be identified with the modern city of Herat is also uncertain, although the strategic position of modern Herat would suggest its great antiquity; and thus the possiblity remains that they are one and the same place. In the early nineteenth century a Persian Achaemenid cuneiform cylinder seal was found in or near Herat (Torrens, 1842).

After Alexander the Great, classical biographers refer to a city called Alexandreia in Areia, but again its identification remains unknown. Soon after the death of Alexander, Areia was briefly attacked by Scythic nomads from the far north (Pliny, Nat. hist. 6.47). In the following years, Areia became a frontier area between the empire of the Parthians to the west and that of the Greco-Bactrians to the east. In the late second century B.C.E. the Greco-Bactrians were defeated by northern tribes, and Scythians (or Sakas) traversed the district of Areia; perhaps under pressure from the Parthians, they finally settled in nearby Sistān (Mid. Pers. skstn “Sakastān”), farther to the south. In the Parthian Stations (14-16) by Isidore of Charax, an itinerary composed in the Augustan era, the district of Areia is placed between Margiana (in the vicinity of modern Marv to the north), and Anauon (around modern Farāh) to the south. At that time the district was clearly regarded as forming part of the Parthian realm.

In the Sasanian period (226-652 C.E.), “Harēv” (hryw) is listed in Šāpūr I’s Kaʿba-ye Zardošt inscription; and “Hariy” (hr’y) is mentioned in the Pahlavi catalogue of the provincial capitals of the empire (Markwart, Provincial Capitals, pp. 11, 46). Ca. 430 C.E., the town is also listed as having a Christian community. Sasanian seals and engraved gemstones were reported to have been found in or around Herat (Torrens, 1842). The city served as a Sasanian mint, its name being recorded as hr, hry, and hrydw. Additionally, gold and copper coins have been found that are clearly Sasanian in inspiration, although the Sasanians in Iran generally did not strike gold coins but preferred silver issues. The gold coins from the Herat area show a fire altar on the reverse and the portrait of the ruler on the obverse. The name of the ruler is often identical to one of those listed on the so-called Kushano-Sasanian coins from Bactria, and this would indicate that the Sasanian governor in the northeast of the Sasanian Empire at times also controlled the Herat district. (For the coin evidence, see Dani and Litvinsky, 1996.)

In the last two centuries of Sasanian rule, the area and town of Areia/Herat had great strategic importance in the endless wars between the Sasanian Iranians and the Chionites and Hephthalites (qq.v.), of Hunnish origin, who had been settled in modern northern Afghanistan since the late fourth century; but exact information is scarce. The city of Herat, however, became well known with the advent of the Arabs in the middle of the seventh century.


Bibliography: F. R. Allchin and N. Hammond, The Archaeology of Afghanistan. From Earliest Times to the Timurid Period, London , 1978. Warwick Ball, Archaeological Gazetteer of Afghanistan / Catalogue des sites archéologiques d’Afghanistan, Paris, 1982. A. H. Dani and B. A. Litvinsky, “The Kushano-Sasanian Kingdom,” in History of Civilizations of Central Asia III. The cross-roads of civilizations, A.D. 250 to 750, Paris, 1996, pp. 103-18. Veronika Gervers-Molnár, The Hungarian Szür. An Archaic Mantle of Eurasian Origin, Toronto, 1973. Ph. Gignoux, Glossaire des Inscriptions Pehlevies et Parthes (Corpus Inscr. Iran., Supplementary Series, Vol. I), London, 1972, p. 52. Robert Göbl, Sasanian Numismatics, Braunschweig, 1971. Kent, Old Persian, p. 213. M. Kervran et al., “Une statue de Darius decouvert à Suse,” JA 260, 1972, pp. 235-66. H. Torrens, Õn a Cylinder and certain Gems, collected in the neighbourhood of Herat, by Major Pottinger,” Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 11, 1842, pp. 316-21. W. J. Vogelsang, The Rise and Organisation of the Achaemenid Empire. The Eastern Iranian Evidence, Leiden, 1992. Idem, The Afghans, Oxford, 2002.




Who are Iranic People ?

Iranian people ( Irannic People) are not confined to the borders of the current state of  Iran. The term Iranic People is sometimes used as an alternative in order to avoid confusion with the citizens of modern Iran. The Iranian peoples (Iranic People)  live chiefly in the Iran , AfghanistanCentral Asia, the Caucasus, and parts of the Indian subcontinent, though speakers of Iranian languages were once found throughout Eurasia, from the Balkans to western China.

"Iranian", as used above, refers to all Iranian peoples, at the time not yet differentiated from each other at the time of the composition of the Zoroastrian Yashts texts, where Zarathustra is described to have lived in Airyanem Vaejah meaning "Land of Aryans".

Persian/Farsi speaking region will have loan words from a geographically close neighboring nation. Languages like Pashto, Kurdish and Baluchi are close to Persian/Farsi but have become distinct Aryana languages of their own. These languages were very close  to Avestan ,Sanskrit and Old Persian during the arrival of the Aryans, but later during the development phase in Aryana ,they took their own course.


The Iranian peoples (Iranic people) are a collection of ethnic groups (Persians,Pushtuns,Ossetians, Yaghnobi, Tajiks, Kurds, Baluchis  and ...), who are descents of  Old Persians, Saka-Scythinas, Bactrians, Alanian, Sarmatians and Tocharians  defined by their usage of Iranian languages and discernable descent from ancient Iranian peoples( Indo-Europeans, Aryans ).  The Iranian peoples live chiefly in the Iran, Afghanistan, CentralAsia, Caucasus and parts of the Indian subcontinent, though speakers of Iranian languages were once found throughout Eurasia, from the Balkans to western China.

Tocharians language is classified as indo-european langauge,its not an Iranian language. 


Early Iranian tribes were the precursors to many diverse modern peoples, including  Persians, Pushtuns,Ossetians,Pamirians,Yaghnobi, Kurds,Baluchis and many other smaller groups. The southern Iranian peoples survived Alexander the Great's conquests, Muslim Arab attempts at cultural dominance, and devastating assaults by the Mongols.

The series of ethnic groups which comprise the Iranian peoples are traced to a branch of the ancient Indo-European Aryans known as the Iranians or Proto-Iranians.

Having descended from the Aryans (Proto-Indo-Iranians), the ancient Iranian peoples separated from the Indo-Aryans in the early 2nd millennium BCE. The Iranian languages form a sub-branch of the Indo-Iranian sub-family, which is a branch of the family of Indo-European languages. The Iranian peoples stem from early Proto-Iranians, themselves a branch of the Indo-Iranians, who are believed to have originated in either Central Asia or Afghanistan circa 1800 BCE. The Proto-Iranians are traced to the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex, a Bronze Age culture of Central Asia.


The area between northern Afghanistan and the Aral Sea is hypothesized to have been the region where the Proto-Iranians first emerged, following the separation of Indo-Iranians tribes.


By the first millennium BCE, Ancient Iranian peoples such as the Medes, Persians,  Bactrians ( Pushtuns,Pamirians,Tajiks ) and Parthians populated the Iranian plateau, while Iranian peoples such as the Scythians, Sarmatians, and Alans populated the steppes north of the Black Sea. The Saka and Scythian tribes remained mainly in the north, and spread as far west as the Balkans and as far east as Xinjiang. Later offshoots, related to the Scythians, included the Sarmatians, who vanished following Slavic and other invasions into southern Russia, the Ukraine, and the Balkans, presumably due to having been assimilated by other tribes.


Map of Iranic people : Persians , Pushtuns , Baluchis , Kurds,

  Ossetians , Yaghnobi , Pamirians, Gurani, Zazaki

Genetics :


Genetic testing of Iranian peoples has revealed many common genes for most of the Iranian peoples, but with numerous exceptions and regional variations. Genetic studies conducted by Cavalli-Sforza have revealed that Iranic peoples cluster closely with European groups and more distantly from Near Eastern groups. Preliminary genetic tests suggest common origins for most of the Iranian peoples.





The majority of all known ethnic Afghans share a unique genetic heritage that can be traced back to a single common ancesters, close to East Europeans

A Common Ancestor Discovered

In a study released by The Genographic Project, DNA analysis shows that the majority of all known ethnic Afghans share a unique genetic heritage that can be traced back to a single common ancestral population. A total of 204 Afghan DNA samples were investigated along with over 8,500 samples from surrounding populations concluding that the emergence of these early civilizations most likely occurred 10,000- 7,000 years ago during the Neolithic revolution and the formation of early agricultural communities. Published on March 28th, 2012 in the journal PLoS ONE, the study was led by principal investigator Pierre Zalloua and Marc Haber.

“Afghanistan embraces a rich diversity of multi-ethnic and multi-lingual communities. The goal of our study was to determine whether the various Afghan groups arose from a common population with different social systems but with the same genetic stock or whether cultural and ethnic differences were founded on already existing genetic differences,” said Zalloua.

Results of the study also indicate that fragmentation within these early civilizations began during the Bronze Age, probably due to migrations and invasions into various regions including Iran, Greece, India, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and East Asia.

"We knew that the Afghans were culturally diverse, but we were not sure if their DNA would give us any clues as to how they have evolved. We now know that major cultural evolutions and prehistoric technological advancements, followed later by migrations and conquests, have left traceable records in the Afghans' DNA, giving us an amazing insight into the origin of this population," said Haber.

Afghanistan's strategic geographical location serves as a major hub for trade as well as a crossroads of many invasion routes. Location alongside cultural developments has shaped the unique genetic heritage of the Afghan people

Led by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Spencer Wells, The Genographic Project has continued to surface numerous studies revealing new developments on shared genographic history. Not only has DNA analysis been applied to nearly 75,000 participants from over 1,000 indigenous populations around the world, but also more than 440,000 members of the general public who have purchased a testing kit online to discover their own family genealogy.

Dr. Spencer Wells noted, “This study, the first detailed analysis of Afghan populations, demonstrates the unprecedented geographic breadth of Genographic’s sampling. The project is striving to fill in the gaps in our knowledge of human migratory history. We now have a much better picture of how these groups relate to each other and to the surrounding regions. Moving forward, we hope to fill in the details of Afghanistan’s demographic history with studies of other genetic markers in these populations.”

Who were the Saka Scythians ?

The Scythians  or Scyths or Saka   (from Greek Óêýèçò), a nation of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who spoke an Iranian language.

Scholars generally classify the Scythian language as a member of the Eastern Iranian languages, and the Scythians as a branch of the ancient Iranian peoples expanding into the steppe regions caucasus from around 1000 BCE. The name was also used among early scholars studying the Proto Indo-Europeans, and the Scythians are still considered a reasonable analogue for their Proto Indo-European ancestors.They were also one of the ancestral  lines of Pushtuns and Pamirians in Afghanistan.

The Scythians migrated from Central Asia toward Eastern Europe. They disappeared from history after the Hunnish invasion of Europe in the 5th century AD, and Turkic (Avar, Batsange, etc.) and Slavic peoples probably assimilated most people speaking Scythian. However, in the Caucasus, a dialect belonging to the Scythian-Sarmatian linguistic continuum remains in use today, namely Ossetic

The most dominant surviving EasternIranians ( Saka-Scythians) are represented by the Pashtuns, whose origins are generally believed to be in southern Afghanistan, from which they began to spread until they reached as far west as Herat (Aria) and as far east as the Indus. The Pashtu language shows affinities to Scythians and Bactrians. Scythian tribe (Saka tribe) were somewhat illiterate when they first came to Europe, they left few records behind. However the Scythian language still survived. Pashtu is classified as Scythian language, and we can still trace the remains of Scythians in Europe their language is known as Ossetic or Ossetian. Which is the closest language to Pashtu.

There is a distant relationship between the Iranic Saka and the Germanic people due to the fact that both speak Indo-European languages. Their common forefathers, or better : the people speaking the proto-language which gave rise to Germanic and Iranian probably lived somewhere near the Black Sea. The contact between them must have terminated at an early stage. Most of Europeans and  Iranic Saka are from same ancestors.

The early Sakas or Scythians are remembered by Greek (e.g. Herodotus, Megatheses, Pliny, Ptolemy) and Persian historians as tall, large framed and fierce warriors who were unrivalled on the horse. Herodotus from the 5th century BC writes in an eye-witness account of the Scythians : " They were the most manly and law-abiding of the Thracian tribes. If they could combine under one ruler, they would be the most powerful nation on earth."

According to their origin myth recorded by Herodotus, the Sakas arose when three things fell from the sky: the I. plough, II. sword and III. cup. The progenitor of the Sakas picked them up and hence the Saka race began its long history of conquering lands, releasing its bounties and enjoying the fruits of their labor (the cup has a ceremonial-spiritual-festive symbolism). A branch of the Sakas kown as the Alani reached regions of Europe, Asia Minor and the Middle East. They have been connected to the Goths of France/Spain, Saxons and the Juts of Denmark.

The following sections deal mostly with popular traditions of Saka descent found among numerous Asian and European peoples. The Saka/Scythians are considered by mainstream historians and linguists as being Indo-Europeans who spoke a language in the Northern branch of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian also Aryan family of the Indo-European languages. The two surviving modern languages closest to Scythian are Ossetian in the Caucausus mountains and Pashto in Afghanistan .

Like other Iranians, these nomads probably called themselves by the generic term "Airya." This is testified inter alia by the native name of their descendants in the present day Europe . It seems, however, that they, or at least some of their powerful clans, also called themselves "SAKA" in the East, and *SKU?A, SKUDA, or SKUDRA [5] in the West. SKUDA is believed to be related to the German word "SACHS", meaning a type of throwing-dagger which the eponymic Saxons used to carry and shoot with [6]. Indeed, it is possible that like the historical Saxons, the Skuda derived their name from their ability to shoot.

The Northern Iranian Aryan speakers including the Saka/Scythians were slowly overwhelmed by the Mongol-Turkic expansion in Central Asia beginning in the 4th century AD. Despite significant deaths in the invasions and further loss of population as survivors moved to other areas, Saka/Scythians and other ethnic groups formerly speaking the Northern Iranian language groups today form an ethnic substratum of contemporary Central Asian Turkic peoples, including the Kazakhs.

The adherents of the Saka -Scythians theory  point out that the burial customs of the Scythians and the Vikings show certain similarities. Furthermore, the Old English chroniclers write that when the Saxons invaded England ca. 400 AD together with the Angli, they "sent back to Scythia for reinforcements". The implication is that the Saxons considered themselves to be Scythians -- the name having traveled with them even though they were far away from the region the Greeks had labelled "Scythia". However, the chroniclers have most probably taken over the name Scythia and its somewhat imprecise usage from the Latin literature; Scythia was identified with Sweden because of a superficial similarity of the two names (due to the fact that Scythia was pronounced [sitia] in Medieval Latin).

From 5th century BCE to 1st century BCE Europeans have faced many difficulties with this small tribe reasonably big enough to cause distractions. Scythians attacked many parts of Europe, including Ukraine and Greece. That doesn't mean end of Scythian invasion. Scythians attacked Altai regions many times and looted gold from its mountains after Alexander The Great's run another very important event took place the Saka Tribe made a new turning point to Indus valley from 250 BCE-50 BCE they are known as Indo-Scythians. This time Scythians were much more advanced bring a new history page to Indians.

Some of these Saka tribes entered northwest India through the Khyber pass, others through the more southerly Bolan pass which opens into Dera Ismail Khan in Sindh -- an entry point into Gujarat and Rajasthan. From here some invading groups went north (Punjab), others went south (Maharasthra), and others further east (UP, MP).





Paul Pezon supports this theory, claiming that the Saka Scythians and the seemingly related Cimmerians were ultimately ancestors to the Celts and Germans , and that the Germans fled the Baltic area when it was flooded by the rising sea level after the Ice age. He believes that the German tribe Cimbri have descended from a branch of the Cimmerians.

We know a great deal about their physical appearance. They were long-headed giants with blond hair and blue eyes; this well-known fact is attested by various classical sources [8], and by their skeletal and other remains in numerous archaeological excavations, which give a fairly detailed description of these ancient Iranians ( Iranic People). 

According to some traditions, the Saka race, with an affiliated tribe under a different name, migrated to the area of the Baltic Sea, and supposedly gave rise to the Saxon tribe in the area of present day Germany. This claim was cited in favour of Nazi claims that Germans were "original descendants of the Aryan race". Nevertheless, many Germans believe that there was a connection between people in Central Asia and their own ancestors who were migrants from the East.


 Indo-German  ( Indo-European ) migration.

Leaving the Black sea Basin, the Nordic Indo- European people invaded Europe and Asia.

Europe was settled four main groups :  The Celts , the Germans , the Balts and the Slaves .

In south penetrating, the Aryans ( Afghanistan and Iran ) and Indo-Aryans ( north India ).




Ancient Ariana :  From the Aryans to the Medes. 1500 BCE–551 BCE


Between 2000–1200 BCE, a branch of Indo-European-speaking tribes known as the Aryans began migrating into the region. They appear to have split into Iranian (Iranic), Nuristani, and Indo-Aryans groups at an early stage, possibly between 1500 and 1000 BCE in what is today Afghanistan or much earlier as eastern remnants of the Indo-Aryans drifted much further west as with the Mitanni. The Iranians ( Persians , Pushtuns , Balochis, Tajiks, Kurds..) and Nuristanis dominated the Iranian plateau, while the Indo-Aryans ultimately headed towards the Indian subcontinent, but probably not before establishing some early civilization in what is today eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan. The Avesta is believed to have been composed possibly as early as 1800 BCE and written in ancient Ariana (Aryana), possibly the earliest name of Afghanistan which indicates an early link with Iranian tribes to the west, or adjacent regions in Central Asia or northeastern Iran in the 6th century BCE.

Due to the similarity between early Avestan and Sanskrit (and other related early Indo-European languages such as Latin and Ancient Greek), it is believed that the split between the Iranian and Indo-Aryan tribes had taken place at least by 1000 BCE. There are striking similarities between the Eastern Iranian language of Avestan and Sanskrit, which may support the notion that the split was contemporary with the Indo-Aryans living in Afghanistan at a very early stage. Also, the Avesta itself divides into Old and New sections and neither mention the Medes who are known to have ruled Afghanistan starting around 700 BCE. This suggests an early time-frame for the Avesta that has yet to be exactly determined as most academics believe it was written over the course of centuries if not millennia. Much of the archaeological data comes from the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) that probably played a key role in early Iranic civilization somewhere between Oxus and Indus River. Afghanistan.


Aryan migration

It has also been surmised by many researchers that the Iranian prophet Zoroaster was born somewhere in ancient Aryana, possibly in the ancient city of Balkh, but it remains unknown even if he was born in what is today Afghanistan or northeastern Iran or Central Asia, and the timeframe of his life literally spans millennia from as early 2000 BCE to as late as 600 BCE. Regardless, Zoroastrianism spread throughout the region alongside early pagan beliefs and centuries later Buddhism.

During this early period, the Pashtuns or some of their early Eastern Iranian ancestors are believed to have originated near the vicinity of Kandahar and possibly begun to expand into other parts of Afghanistan. Herodotus mentions a tribe called the Pactyan as inhabiting much of what is today Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan, and it is speculated by some that these people were the ancient ancestors of the Pashtuns, although, aside from phonetic name similarities, this remains unproven. Others such as Strabo relate the existence of tribes west of the Indus as part of Ariana, whereas the east is referred to as 'India', but it is not clear whether or not various Pashtun tribes are what Strabo is referring to. Arrian's Indica also makes reference to various  powerful tribes between Hindu-kush and Hindus River, who may or may not have been ancestors of the Pashtuns. The Rig Veda makes mention of a group called the Pakhat and it is possible that either this is a reference to the ancestors of the Pashtuns . whereas other eastern Afghans remained pagans not unlike their neighbors the Kafirs of Nuristan as well as the Kalash.

The Medes, a Western Iranian people, arrived from what is today Kurdistan sometime around the 700s BCE and came to dominate most of ancient Afghanistan. They were an early Iranian tribe that forged the first empire on the Iranian plateau and were rivals of the Persians whom they initially dominated in the province of Fars to the south. Median domination of Afghanistan would last until the Persians challenged and ultimately replaced them from their original base in Fars in southern Iran near ancient Elam

Aryan Migration


Indo-European People

Celtic , Germanic,  Romance,  Slavic, Baltic, Albanian  , Armenian , Greek , Aryans ( Irano-Afghans ) and  Indo-Aryans (north India ) .


Naqshe europa , da goshesh  khord Asia





The Aryans of Europe and Ariana





Who are  the Ossetians ?


Ossetic is the spoken and literary language of the Ossetes, a people living in the central part of the Caucasus and constituting the basic population of the North-Ossetic ASSR, which belongs to the Russian Federation, and of the South-Ossetic Autonomous Oblast which belongs to the Georgian Republic. Ossetic belongs to the Northern subgroup of the Eastern-Iranian group of the Indo-European family of languages. Thus, it is genetically related to the other Eastern-Iranian languages,e.g. Pashto and Yaghnobi_language.

From deep antiquity (since the 7th-8th centuries B. C), the languages of the Iranian group were distributed in a vast territory including present-day Iran (Persia), Central Asia, and Southern Russia. Ossetic is the sole survivor of the northeastern branch of Iranian languages known as Scytho-Sarmatians ( Alanians).

 The Scythian group included numerous tribes in Central Asia and Southern Russia, known in ancient sources as the Scythians, Massagetae, Saka, Sarmatians, Alans and Roxolans. The more easterly Khorezmians and the Sogdians were also closely affiliated, in linguistic terms.

Ossetic is classified as Northeastern Iranian, the other surviving members of the subgroup being Yaghnobi and Pashto .These are remnants of the Scytho-Sarmatian dialect group which was once spoken across Central Asia.


The Huns could not push all the Alans out of their homeland. Their descendants, known as Ossets, are the only Iranians who still live in Europe. They call their country "Iron", which is a variation of Alan, Iran, as well as Eran. Eran was the name of the Iranian Transcaucasia before it was lost to the Russians in the 19th century and subsequently renamed Azarbaijan.

Ossets are mostly Christian, speaking Ossetic, or as they themselves call it "Ironig", or "Ironski", which is classified as an Eastern Iranian language. Ossetic maintains on the one hand, some remarkable features of the Gathic Avestan, and possesses on the other, a number of words, such as, thau (tauen, to thaw, as in snow) and gau (region, district) which are remarkably similar to their modern Germanic equivalents.

This modern Iranian nation, still provides a physical link between the Indo-Europeans of the East, and those of the West, that is, most people of Europe. Such a romantic link, it will be remembered, had already been established thousands of years ago by their  European looking ancestors




Were the Proto-Bulgarians and East Iranians ( Pushtuns & Pamirians) from the same ancestors ?


Ossetians were conected to their neighbours "Proto-Bulgarians" in some Point somewhere in Caucasus. That's why linguistically there is some similarity between Bulgarians and East-Iranians (Ossetians, Pushtuns and Pamirians ) .


There is also another theorys about bulgarians origin :


 1. Bactrians origin of  Proto-Bulgarians  (Aryans and Saka Scythians) :  Bactrians are one of ancestor lines of Modern East Iranians.

 2. Avars, Hephthalites (white huns) origin :  

 3. Altic orgine ( Eastern Turks)  :  Iranized in The neighbourhood of Iranic People.



Proto-Bulgarians origin



But there is no doubt about 2000 words which Bulgarian language shares with Afghan langueges ( Pushtu, Pamirian Languages and Farsi-dari ).

This fact supports Bactrian Origin theory of Bulgarians . There is also  some grammatical similarity between Bulgarian and Pushtu ( East iranic language).




The Saks (Shaka), were another neighbouring people of the Bulgarians of the earliest period. This great and mighty tribe once lived to the east and north of Imeon. According to the legends, Budha, also known as Shakyamuni, sprang. Little is known of the relations between the Bulgarians and the Saks. It is known though that the Saks spoke a language of the Eastern-Iranian type, which was close to the Sogdian language. They resembled the ancient Bulgarians in their outer appearance; there is information about that in the Indian sources. In the Arabic chronicles, the Bulgarians were called by two parallel names, Bulgarians and Sakalibs. When their king sent a letter to the Arab khalif, Al-Moktadir, he called himself King of the Sakalibs in order, perhaps, to highlight his connection to the famous ancient Saks. It is also known that a characteristic feature of the clothing of the Saks and the Volga Bulgarians was the tall pointed fur cap. That is shown in the Persian images and the picture of Volga Bulgaria where the tall pointed cap is called kalansuva va al-Bulgaria (Bulgarian cap) by the Arab writer.


The information of the ancient calendar of the Sacs, which was brought to India and kept many centuries, shows that it was similar to the ancient Bulgarian calendar. In it, every year had a special name, sal bagai, which means commander of the year in the language of the Saks. The specific word bagai (commander) almost entirely matches the word bagain which was a war title of the ancient Bulgarians



Ancient Aryana (Afghanistan and  East Iran)

Afghanistan is the present geographical name of Ancient Aryana. The oldest records of the Aryans, the Vedas (1500 BC) and the Avesta of Zoroaster (600 BC) refer clearly to the land of the Aryana, around the ranges of the Hindukush, between the Oxus and Indus rivers.

Ariana according to Romans

Ancient Ariana

Afghanistan has been an ancient crossroads and a melting post of different cultures and civilizations. The birthplace of Zoroaster  (Zardushte) is considered by many to be Balkh (Bactria).


"According to most anthropologists, Pashto-speaking Pashtuns appear to be primarily of Iranian origin (as well as being modified by various other invaders and migrants over the centuries) and are very similar to the Pamirians,Ossetians,Yaghnobis, Persians, Tajiks  and probably Proto-Bulgarians.  

Pashtuns have Eastern Iranian origin as the Pashto language is classified as an eastern Iranian tongue distantly related to Ossetic among other Iranian languages (see Ethnologue for further details). The other East Iranians "Ossetians" in Caucasian would later adopt Christianity, with Russian Orthodoxy becoming dominant following their annexation into the Russian Empire, while some converted to Islam due to the influence of the Ottomans.




Aryana, a name older than History

The first mentioning by an Iranian tribe of their "Aryan" lineage is from an early inscription known as the Behistun Inscription, recording a proclamation by Darius I of Persia that he was of Aryan ancestry and that his language was an Aryan language. The inscription thus provides a link in the Iranian languages to the usage of the term Arya in early Indo-Aryan texts. These ancient Persians recognized three official languages (Elamite, Babylonian, and Old Persian), which suggests a multicultural society. It is not known to what extent other Proto-Iranian tribes referred to themselves as "Aryan", or if the term has the same meaning in other Old Iranian languages.

Old Persian believed to be very similar to the languages spoken by the Bactrians (Pushtu,Pamirian) and Soghdians in the east. Following the establishment of the Achaemenid Empire, the Persian language spread from Fars to various regions of the empire, with the modern dialects of Iran, Afghanistan (also known as Dari) and Central-Asia (known as Tajiki) descending from Old Persian.

The most dominant surviving Eastern Iranians are represented by the Pashtuns, whose origins are generally believed to be in south and east Afghanistan, from which they began to spread until they reached as far west as Herat and as far east as the Indus. The Pashto language shows affinities to Bactrian, as both languages are believed to be of Middle Iranian origin. The modern Ossetians claim to be the descendants of the Alano-Sarmatians ( Iranic tribs ), and their claims are supported by their Northeast Iranian language, while culturally the Ossetians resemble their Caucasian neighbors, the Kabardians, Circassians and Georgians.


The theory that the Pashtun people originate from the exiled Lost Tribes of Israel was proven wrong.

Those who advocate the theory cite oral history and the names of various clans, which resemble the names of the Israelite tribes that were exiled by the Assyrian Empire , as evidence for this claim. This evidence, however, has not substantiated by a genetic studies, such as the study by Sengupta et al. (2006) and Firasat et al. (2007) which found no substantial connection between Jewish populations and the Pashtuns.

Numerous ancient texts, such as the Rig Veda, composed before 1200 BCE, which mentions the "Paktha" as an enemy group (e.g. in 4.25.7c), and Herodotus (Greeks historian) in his Histories composed circa 450 BCE which mentions the Pashtuns as "Paktyakai" (Book IV v.44) and as the "Aparytai" = Afridis (Book III v.91) in what is now Afghanistan and Pakistan, yet no sources before the before the conversion of the Pashtuns to Islam mention any Israelite or Jewish connection, nor is the Eastern Iranian language of the Pashtuns taken into account when examining the claims of Hebrew ancestry.

It could be concluded that these claims appear  to have emerged amongst the some Pashtuns following the Islamic conquest of Afghanistan; it is conceivable that many tribes have created elaborate ancestral lineages to link themselves to prominent peoples mentioned in the Qur'an such as Jews, Greeks (see Alexander the Great in the Qur'an), and Arabs, all of whom have come to the region, but appear to have contributed a very small genetic input into the population rather than drastically altering the demographics of Afghanistan.  So this theory is just a mythor propaganda  because there is no prove from Genetic or linguistic studies.

The Bactrians appear to have spoken a related Middle Iranian language and it is conceivable that some Pashtuns are at least partially related to them (Greco-Bactrians).

The Pakthas were one of the tribes that fought against Sudas in the Dasarajna battle. The Rig-Veda( 1500 BC ) mentions a tribe called the Paktues  in the Battle of the Ten Kings  (in the region of Pakhat) as inhabiting present-day Afghanistan.

The Battle of the Ten Kings (dāśarājñá) is a battle alluded to in Mandala 7 of the Rigveda (hymns 18, 33 and 83.4-8). It is a battle between Aryans (an "internecine war", as the 1911 Britannica puts it, as opposed to the more frequent accounts of Aryans fighting Dasyus), taking place as Puru tribes, allied with other tribes of the Punjab and goaded by the royal sage Vishvamitra[citation needed], invade the country of the Trtsu (Bharata) king Sudas, and are defeated in an epic battle through the inspired power of the priestly sage Vasishtha, the composer of the hymns. K. F. Geldner in his 1951 translation of the Rigveda considers the hymns as "obviously based on an historical event", even though any details save for what is preserved in the hymns have been lost.

The tribes Further information: Rigvedic tribes


Tritsu: The tribe of King Sudas.

Alinas: They were probably one of the tribes defeated by Sudas at the Dasarajna,[1] and it was suggested that they lived to the north-east of

Nurestan, because the land was mentioned by the Chinese pilgrim Hiouen Thsang. (Macdonell and Keith, Vedic Index, 1912, I, 39)

Anu: They were said to be a dynasty that lived in Kashmir.

Bhrigus: Said to be descended from Lord Varuna. They are also related to the composition of the Atharva Veda.

Bhalanas: One of the tribes that fought against Sudas in the Dasarajna battle. Some scholars have argued that the Bhalanas lived in  East Kabulistan, and that the Bolan Pass derives its name from the Bhalanas.[2]

Dasa, Dasyu: A term labelled to all Iranic tribes that were in opposition to King Sudas, cognate to the Iranian ethnonym Dahae (also known as Dahan Scythians). In the Rig Veda, Dasyu refers to an inimical people and is generally a term of denigration.

Druhyus: From them came Gandhari, Pakhtas . who gave his name to a region he settled in the Gandhara Valley.


Parsu: The Parsus have been connected with the Persians, though this view is disputed by some.[2] This is based on the evidence of     an Assyrian inscription from 844 BC referring to the Pesians as Parsu, and the Behistun Inscription of Darius I of Persia referring  to Parsa as the origin of the Persians.[3]

Purus: The tribe of King Sudas. The Bharatas were a clan among the Puru tribe.[4] The Prthas were also a clan from the Puru tribe,[1] judging from Arjuna's Pandava clan descending from the Kaurava clan in the Bhagavad Gita, which in turn descends from the Pauravas, but Krishna also referred to Arjuna as Pārtha (descendant of the Prtha clan.)

Panis: Also known as the Parni, a Scythian tribe which later founded the Parthian dynasty of the Persian Empire.



Heinrich Zimmer connects Pakhtas with a tribe already mentioned by Herodotus (Pactyans), and with Pakhtuns in Afghanistan.[1][2]


A Pushtun is Caucasian.  Anthropologist Carleton S. Coon described Irano-Afghans in his The Races of Europe.  A Pushtun is of the East Iranian genetic base, bearing a genetic make up that resembles that of a European.


Research into human DNA has emerged as a new and innovative tool being used to explore the genetic make-up of various populations in order to ascertain historical population movements. According to some recent genetic research the Pashto-speaking Pashtuns are mainly related to East-Iranian people with "R1a "Haplotypes. There is also evidence of a small Greek contribution to the Pashtun gene pool that will likely require further testing in order to ascertain its pervasiveness.


The Pushtu language says enough about pushtuns origin :   Pusho language is Classified as East-Iranian, a branche of Indo-European language. 

In Pashto most of the lexicon is of Eastern Iranian origin; those words can be easily compared to those known from Avestan, Ossetic and Pamir languages. Post 7th century borrowings came primarily from Arabic; however, modern borrowings come from Persian, Hindi/Urdu, English.

Unlike many Iranian languages, in Pashto nouns and adjectives are inflected for gender (masc./fem.), as well as the usual Indo-European number (sing./plur.), and case (direct, oblique I, oblique II and vocative).


From the time of Islam's rise in South-Central Asia, Pashto has used a modified version of the Arabic script.

Pashto has more vowels and consonants than either Arabic or Persian. As a result, the Pashto alphabet has several letters which do not appear in any other Arabic script. For example, the letters representing the retroflex consonants /ʈ/, /ɖ/, /ɺ̡/ and /ɳ/ are written like the standard Arabic teh, dâl, reh and nun with a "panddak", "gharrwandah" or also called "skarraen" attached underneath, which looks like a small circle: ړ ,ډ ,ټ, and ڼ, respectively. It also has the letters šin and žeh (representing voiceless and voiced retroflex fricatives), which look like a sin and reh respectively with a dot above and beneath: ښ and ږ. The letters representing /ts/ and /dz/ are also specific to Pashto; they look like a ح with three dots above and an hamza (ء) above; څ and ځ witch is identical with slavian /ц/ (ts,or tz).



This map Shows Proto-Langueges ( Proto - IndoEuropean  langueges )




Celtic Branch

Welsh : Irish Gaelic : Scottish Gaelic : Breton
Cornish : Gaulish : Cumbrian : Manx : Galatian

Germanic Branch

English : Dutch : Flemish : Frisian : Afrikaans
German : Yiddish : Danish : Swedish : Norwegian
Faroes : Icelandic
Anglo Saxon : Old Norse : Frankish : Gothic
Lombardo : Visigoth : Vandal

Romance (Latin) Branch

Italian : Sardinian : French : Provencal : Catalonian
Spanish : Ladino : Galician : Portuguese : Romansh
Romanian : Moldavian
Latin : Oscan : Umbrian : Faliscan : Sabine : Dalmatian

Slavic Branch

Russian : Belorussian : Ukrainian : Polish : Sorbian
Czech : Slovak : Slovene : Croatian : Serbian
Kashubian : Bulgarian : Macedonian : Bosnian
Old Church

Baltic Branch

Lithuanian : Latvian

Hellenic Branch

Modern Greek
Mycenaean : Koine : Byzantine Greek
Classical Greek (Attic : Doric, Ionic, Aeolic)

Illyric Branch

Illyric : Mesapian

Anatolian Branch

Hittite : Lydian : Lycian: Luwian : Palaic

Thracian Branch

Dacian : Thracian : Phrygian

Iranian Branch

Farsi : Pashto : Kurdish :  Baluchi : Ossetian : Tadzhik

Old Persian : Avestan (Old Bactrian) : Scythian



Tokharian Branch

Turfanian : Kuchean







Iranian languages




Median · Old Persian


Avestan (Old Bactrian) · Old Scythian



Parthian · Middle Persian


Bactrian · Khwarezmian · Ossetic · Saka (Sacian) · Scythian · Sogdian



Old Azari · Baluchi · Bashkardi · Central Iran · Dari (Zoroastrian) · Gilaki · Gorani · Kurmanji · Laki · Luri · Bakhtiari Lori · Mazandarani · Ormuri · Sangsari · Parachi · Persian · Sorani · Taleshi · Tajik  · Tat · Tati · Zazaki


Bartangi · Hindukush Group · Ishkashmi · Karakoram Group · Khufi · Munji · Oroshori · Ossetic · Parachi · Pashto · Roshani (Roshni) · Sanglechi · Sarikoli · Shughni · Wakhi · Vanji · Waziri · Yaghnobi · Yidgha · Yazgulami · Zebaki

Legend: † Extinct language





Who are Tajiks?

The Persian-speaking Tajiks are, at least in terms of language, culture, and history, closely related to the Persian-speakers of Iran.

The Tajiks trace their ancestry to the East Iranian-speaking Bactrians, Sogdians, and Parthians, which means that the historical ancestors of the Tajiks did not speak Persian. This fact could be explained by "R1a" genetic haplotypes  which is the highest by East-Iranic people not by West-Iranian Persians.

The 'Tajiks' adoption of the now dominant southwestern branch Persian DARI language is believed to have as its root cause, the Islamic conquest of Central Asia by the Arabs.

Sir George Abraham Grierson holds that the Tajiks of Badakshan ( Pamirians ) belong to the east Iranian group as do the other Ghalcha speakers( Pamirians ) of the Tajikstan “. George Grierson also records that the speech of Badakshan was a Ghalcha till about three centuries ago when it was supplanted by a form of new Persian ( Dari).

It has been shown that the modern Ghalcha dialects, Vakhi, Shigali, Sriqoli, Jebaka (also called Sanglichi or Ishkashim), Munjani and Yidga , mainly spoken in Pamirs and countries on the headwaters of the Oxus, still use terms derived from ancient Kamboja verb Śavati in the sense "to go". Furthermore, the Yagnobi dialect spoken in Yagnobi province around the headwaters of Zeravshan valley in Sogdiana, also still contains a relic "Śu" from the ancient Kamboja Śavati in the sense "to go".The ancient Kambojas, were originally located in the Badakshan, Pamirs and northern territories including Yagnobi province in the doab of the Oxus and Jaxartes. On the east they were bounded roughly by Yarkand and/or Kashgar, on the west by Bahlika (Uttaramadra), on the northwest by Sogdiana, on the north by Uttarakuru, on the southeast by Darada, and on the south by Gandhara. Numerous Indologists have located Kamboja in Pamirs and Badakshan and the Parama Kamboja, in the Trans-Pamirian territories, comprising Zeravshan valley and north up the parts of Sogdiana/Fargana—in the Sakadvipa or Scythia of the classical writers.The Ghalcha speaking Tajik population occupy, more or less, the same territories, which in ancient time, were held by east Iranian Kambojas and the Parama Kambojas.This people are stated to have held their own in spite of centuries of Hunic, Turkic and Mongol invasions.Based on George Grierson's Sociolinguistics researches in India, eminent scholars like Dr J. C. Vidyalankara, Dr Moti Chandra, Dr S. K. Chatterjee, Dr J. L. Kamboj etc write that the Tajiks are the modern representatives of the ancient Kambojas/Parama Kambojas. Some scholars hold that the Ghalcha Tajiks ( Pamirians ) are descendants both of the Kambojas as well as the Tukharas

The geographical division between the eastern and western Iranians is often considered historically and currently to be the desert Dasht-e Kavir, situated in the center of the Iranian plateau.

Origin of the term

"Tājik" is a word of Turko-Mongol origin and means (literally) Non-Turk. The 17th century Persian dictionary Farhang Burhan Qati'  by Muhammad Husayn ibn Khalaf Tabrizi also defines it as "non-Arab" and "non-Turk". It has the same root as the word Tat which is used by Turkic-speakers for the Persian-speaking population of the Caucasus. In a historical context, it is synonymous with Iranian and particularly with Persian. Since the Turko-Mongol conquest of Central Asia, Persian-speakers in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran and all the way to Pakistan and Kashmir have been identified as Tājiks based of their language. The term is mainly used as opposed to "Turk" and "Mongol". "Tajik" is just another word for "Dari speakers". The origin of the name Tajik has been embroiled in twentieth-century political disputes about whether Turkic or Iranian peoples were the original inhabitants of Central Asia. The explanation most favored by scholars is that the word evolved from the name of a pre-Islamic Arab tribes.

History of the name "Tajik"

First mentioned by the Uyghur historian Mahmoud Al-Kāshgharī, Tājik is an old Turkic expression referring to all Dari (Persian)-speaking peoples of Central Asia. From the 11th century on, it came to be applied principally to all East-Iranians, and later specifically to Persian-speakers. It is hard to establish the use of the word before the Turkic- and Mongol conquest of Central Asia, and since at least the 15th century it has been used by the region's Iranian population to distinguish themselves from the Turks. Persians in modern Iran who live in the Turkic-speaking areas of the country, also call themselves Tājik, something remarked upon in the 15th century by the poet Mīr Alī Šer Navā'ī. In addition, Tibetans call all Persian-speakers (including those in Iran) Tājik

Other meanings of the word "Tajik"

At certain periods of history, the word Tājik also referred to Persian-speaking scholars and clerks of early Islamic time who were schooled in Arabic.

According to some old Tājik folktales, as well as old Persian books, the word "Tājik" literally refers to the "people having the crown" ("Tāj" means crown in Persian). It is believed that it initially refers to the East-Iranian people ,who adopted  Persian language after the Islamic conquest of Central Asia by the Arabs, which means that the historical ancestors of the Tajiks did not speak Persian - the southwestern Iranian language, today known as 'Farsi' in Iran and Afghanistan. The 'Tajiks' adoption of the now dominant southwestern branch Persian language is believed to have as its root cause, the Islamic conquest of Central Asia by the Arabs. This conquest sent large numbers of Persians fleeing into Central Asia. Subsequently, many Persians, after conversion to Islam, entered Central Asia as military forces and settled in the conquered lands. As a result of these waves of Persian migration (Zoroastrian and Muslim) over the course of more than 200 years, the Tajiks have ethnic Persian ancestry in addition to their original East-Iranian (Aryan) ancestry. Cultural dissemination through Persian literature also helped to establish the new language, as well as intermittent military dominance. According to Iranologist Richard Nelson Frye, the Persian migration to Central Asia may be considered the beginning of the "modern" Tajik nation, and ethnic Persians along with East-Iranian Bactrians and Sogdians, as the main ancestors of "modern" Tajiks.


Who are Pamirians :

The Pamiris of the Badakhshan region in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, as well as the smaller group in China's western Xinjiang region are descendants of the original East-Iranian tribes.

In the West Pamirs there live several small peoples with the common self-designation Pamir, who speak the Pamir languages belonging to the East-Iranian branch of the Indo-European family -- the Shughni, the Bartang, and the Roshani (the Shughni-Roshani Group) together number around 30,000--40,000, the Yazgulami about 2,000, the Wakhis 15,000--20,000, the Ishkashmi, and the Yaghnabi and others 3,000--4,000 all together. No precise data exists regarding the Pamir-speaking peoples since statistics constantly overlooked them in the U.S.S.R. where they were last separately registered in 1939. This is also the case in other countries. Under the U.S.S.R. they were registered as Tadzhik. It is also clear that in a system which made consistent efforts to wipe out ethnic minorities, even a census would not yield absolutely reliable results.

In literature the Pamir peoples are sometimes referred to as the Mountain-Tadzhik whereas the Tadzhik themselves refer to them as the Pamir or the Shughni, according to which group is the most populous. No Pamir people has a written language, the function within the old U.S.S.R. being fulfilled by the Tadzhik language which also serves as a means of communication between the peoples themselves. This form of Tadzhik, Forsi, differs greatly from the literary Tadzhik. The Persian-Tadzhik linguistic influence on the Pamir languages began rather early. It is known, for example, that as early as the 11th century the Islamic faith was propagated here in the Dari, that is, the classical literary Persian language. Via Tadzhik numerous arabisms have established themselves in the Pamir languages.

The Islamic faith, more precisely Ismailite, began to spread in the Pamirs in the 11th century. Marco Polo who visited Wakhan in 1274 noted that the people were Mohammadans. The Islamic faith has left a deep imprint on the culture and way of life of the Pamir peoples.

Alongside the minor Pamir languages several dialects of the Tadzhik and Kirgiz languages are spoken. The upper valleys of the Vakhan, the Shokhodar, the Gunda and the Bartang have developed a peculiar parallelism of Pamir (Iranian) and Turkic place-names due to their heterogenous population and bilingualism. The Kirgiz settled in the Pamirs in the 17th century, possibly even earlier. Historically, Shughni or Ishkashmi have been spoken here.

Anthropologically, the Pamir peoples belong to the local Pamir-Fergana race.

Politically, the Pamir peoples have always been heterogenous. Formerly the Yazgulami, for example, were connected with Darvaz through Vandzh, belonging, as did the latter, to the state of Darvaz. The speakers of the Shughni-Roshani languages constituted the states of Shughnan and Roshan. In the 18th century Roshan became a vassal to the Shughnan, both contending against their closer neighbours, Badakhshan and Darvaz and alternately falling under the supremacy of one or the other. Bartang, at the time, was part of the state of Roshan. Shughnan and Vakhan were constantly at war with each other over Ishkashmi where ruby deposits are to be found. From the late 16th century the small Pamir states were occasionally vassal-states to Bukhara. In the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century the nomadic Kirgiz tribes caused the Pamir peoples hardship, cutting them off from the cultural and trade centres in the Kashgar and Fergana valleys. In the second half of the 18th century Afghanistan's interest in the Pamir began to grow. In 1883 the Emir of Afghanistan, seized Vakhan, Shughnan and Roshan. By the second half of the 19th century Russia had seized most of Central Asia, including the East Pamir. In 1868 Russia established a protectorate over the Bukhara Khanate. In 1895 Russia and Britain came to an agreement over the border in the Pamir, according to which the left banks of the Roshan, the Shughnan and the Vakhan went to Afghanistan. The right banks were ceded nominally to the vassal of Russia, the Emir of Bukhara. The border divided the ethnic territories between two countries. In 1905, real power went to the commander of the local Russian military force. Soviet power was wholly established by the end of 1921. In 1925 a Pamir District was established in Badakhshan, an area that had been left to the U.S.S.R. Later in the same year this area was renamed the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region and placed under the jurisdiction of the Tadzhik SSR, with Khorog as the administrative centre.

Outside the ex-U.S.S.R., where at least half of the speakers of the Pamir languages reside, they are also to be found in Afghanistan (Wakhi, Ishkashmi, Shughni, Roshani), China, Pakistan and India. The Munji language, which belongs to the Pamir Group, is spoken in the Afghan Badakhshan, and the Sarikoli language in the Uighur Autonomous Region in Chinese Xinjiang.

The first explorers of the Pamir and Yaghnob areas called these and their inhabitants Ghalchah (R. Shaw. Ghalchah Languages, 1876). This term has been connected with the Iranian word gar -- 'mountain'. V. Bartold explains it as a geographical name Garch ~ Garchistan.

More comprehensive research into the Pamir languages was undertaken in the 1880s and 1890s primarily by western scholars, but later followed by Russians. The first pieces of information concerning the Pamir peoples and languages were, however, brought into Europe by ethnographers and travellers. In Tadzhikistan, academic study of the Pamir languages began in the 1960s. In 1967 the Department of Pamir Languages was established in the Dushanbe Institute for Language and Literature. There are those who believe that the legendary mountain of Meru, mentioned in the Mahabharata (6th c. BC), the abode of gods and demigods, unattainable to man even in his imagination, is the Pamir.

Linguistically 'the Pamir languages' is a tentative term for it is not clear whether they are a genetically separate group descended from the hypothetical Proto-Pamir language, or if they have independently developed from the ancient Common Iranian. The genetic coherence of the Shughni subgroup, however, is beyond doubt:

  • the Shughni language
  • the Bajuvi dialect
  • the Khufi dialect
  • the Roshani dialect
  • the Bartangi language
  • the Oroshori language
  • the Sarikoli language

In comparison with the other Iranian languages the Pamir Group has retained a lot of ancient characteristics of Old and Middle Iranian, brought about by territorial seclusion. The relative homogeneity of the Pamir languages is evident in contrast to other current Iranian languages.

As mentioned earlier, none of the Pamir languages, including Shughni, has a written form and education has been received in Tadzhik. It has been surreptitiously impressed on the Pamir ethnic minorities 'from an upper level' that their languages have no future. The gradual perishing of these peoples and their assimilation with the Tadzhiks has, for example, been glorified by S. Tokarev (1958) as a natural and healthy consolidation and a positive outcome of the national policy of the Communist Party. In the name of learning it has often been suggested that children should speak Tadzhik even during their breaks at school. On the other hand it has been suggested that the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region ought to switch over to Russian at schools since the children do not initially know Tadzhik -- Tadzhik would then be taught to the same degree as all other disciplines.

Local newspapers are in Tadzhik and Russian as are radio broadcasts. Tadzhik is the language of all public meetings.

The extensive propagation of the Tadzhik language in the Pamirs is mainly a phenomenon linked to the Soviet era. In the past Tadzhik was spoken by the men who had seasonal jobs in eastern Bukhara, Afghanistan and Chitral in Pakistan. Women, in general, were monolingual. Before the establishment of Soviet power there was practically no school system in the Pamir and most of the people were illiterate. There had been only one school with 24 pupils and the percent of literacy was 0.02 %.

Of the Pamir languages, the Vandzhi language has become completely extinct. The Vandzhi lived in the valley of the River Vandzh (Vanch) belonging to the Emirate of Bukhara. Forced imposition of the Islamic faith (Sunnite) served to assimilate them with the Tadzhik quicker than any other of the Pamir peoples. Records of the Vandzhi language are very few. In the 1920s I. Zarubin was able to make a list of 50 words in the Vandzhi language.

It should, however, be noted that the Pamir peoples display no special tendency towards assimilation with their neighbours. Mixed marriages to the Kirgiz are rare. The main obstacle to mixed marriages is that the Kirgiz are Sunnites while the Pamir peoples, with the exception of the Yazgulami, are Ismailites. Marriages between the representatives of different Pamir ethnic groups are also very unusual. It happens rarely that a Pamir youth serving in the army brings himself a wife from some distant part. Immigration is restricted by border-zone regulations. It is also relevant to mention that industry is notably underdeveloped in the Pamirs.

Communications have always been difficult in the Pamirs. In the past vehicular transport was made redundant by the absence of roads. Asses and camels, the latter especially in Roshan and Bartang, were used as beasts of burden and pack animals. An uncontestable achievement of the Soviet era is the construction of a road network -- in 1934 the Osh-Khorog motorway was completed, followed by Dushanbe-Khorog in 1940. During World War II the road network was developed still further. Nowadays the roads are supplemented by air traffic.

Since World War II the inhabitants of the high mountain villages have been forced to move down to the new cotton growing regions such as the Vakhsh valley. In these regions the forcibly resettled inhabitants form 40--70% of the population (N. Ginzburg). The resettlements were justified by the difficulties in maintaining socio-cultural and medical services due to lack of roads, as well as by scarcity of arable land and seismically hazardous conditions, (L. Monogarova, N. Ginzburg). The resettling of the inhabitants of the Pamirs began in the late 1940s but reached massive proportions in 1951--54 when whole villages and collective farms were deported to the cotton plantations. N. Ginzburg admits that the resettlement of the Pamir people can by no means be considered a success since less than 20 % of the resettled people remained in the prescribed areas. According to Ginzburg, the reason for this was the Pamir peoples' inability to adapt to the hot climate of the lowlands and work on the cotton farms. In the early 1950s many villages in the Yazgulam valley and on the upper Bartang were emptied but by the end of the decade as the opportunity presented itself, the people moved back home. From many of the cotton farms the whole Pamir population has left to move back to their historical territories sometimes despite repeated deportations. According to N. Ginzburg, the uselessness of resettlement is now fully evident.


Ethnic Interpretations: Indo-European - Indo-Iranian (Iranian, Indo Aryan, and Nuristani)


1.      The Indo-Iranian sub family of Indo-European is divided into three main branches: Iranian, Indo-Aryan, and Nuristani.


HOLLIS lists 14 additional sub-families for the Iranian language: Avestan(Old Bactrian), Baluchi, Dari, Ephthalite, Gilaki, Hazara, Old Persian, Persian, Pushto (Pashto), Talysh, Tat, Wakhi, Yaghnobi, and Yueh Chih. [Arutiunov states that Yueh Chi and Ephthalite are probably the same and might be Tokharic but are not Iranian 15 ] HOLLIS, as listed above, includes Yueh Chi and Ephthalite as members of the Iranian language family. As per Arutiunov, Dari, Modern Persian, and Tadjik are three slightly different standards of one language, Farsi.

Iranian languages in more detail: Avestan is one of the two ancient languages comprising Old Iranian and that in which the sacred books of the Zoroastrian religion were written and as an ancient language is extinc. Baluchi is spoken by an Indo-Iranian people of the Irano-Afghan type in Baluchistan; and Dari is the literary language still used in Afghanistan. The Ephthalites were a member of the western branch of the Yueh Chih Tokharians who ruled Western Turkistan and northwestern India in the fifth and sixth centuries AD (also called the White Huns) and spoke a Tokharian language; Gilaki was spoken by a forest people of northern Persia inhabiting the southwestern shore of the Caspian Sea; Hazara is the language spoken by the Hazaras, a Mongoloid people of Afghanistan; and Old Persian is the other language composing Old Iranian and known from cuneiform inscriptions from the sixth and fifth century BC but is now extinct


Persian is one of the ancient Iranian people who under Cyrus became the dominant people in Asia. Parthian is an ancient language spoken by inhabitants of Parthia, an ancient country located southeast of the Caspian Sea. Pashto (Pushtu or Pushto) is East-Iranian language of the Pathan people (Pathans, a Hindi word, refers to an Iranian people living in Afghanistan and in colonies scattered throughout Pakistan and India) and the chief vernacular language of eastern Afghanistan, northern Baluchistan, and the northwestern frontier province of Pakistan. The Tajiks are dispersed among populations of Afghanistan and Turkistan and speak Tajiki, a veriety of modern Persian. Talysh are a people of the region around Lenkoran, Azerbaijan who speak a dialect related to Talishi. The Tat are an agricultural people living in scattered groups throughout Transcaucasia and possibly allied to the Tajiks; they speak a Tat language. The Wakhi are an Indo-European people living on the northern slope of the Hindu Kush who speak Wakhi and Wama. The Yueh Chih (Tokharian) were people of advanced culture dwelling in Central Asia during the ?first millennium AD until overrun by the Uighurs [the Uighurs were a Turkic people from Mongolia who spoke a Turkic language]. The Yueh Chih spoke a Tokharian language, a branch of the Indo European language.


·         Iranian Language - modified from HOLLIS with additions by Arutiunov in Bold Face.

1.      Avestan ( Old Bactrian) - extinct

2.      Baluchi

3.      Dari (variety of modern Persian)

4.      Ephthalite (might be Tokharic, not Iranian; they likely are the same as the Yueh Chih and were replaced by the Uighurs)

5.      Farsi (includes modern Persian, Dari, and Tajik)

6.      Gilaki (???extinct)

7.      Hazara

8.      Kurdish

9.      Old Persian (extinct)

10.  Ossetic

11.  Pamir

12.  Parthian (extinct)

13.  Persian (the standard of Iran is called Farsi)

14.  Pashto (Pushtu or Pushto; spoken by the Pathan people)

15.  Tajik (variety of Modern Persian)

16.  Talishi

17.  Tat

18.  Wakhi (Wama and other Kafir languages of Nuristan)

19.  Yaghnobi (relic of ancient Sogdian) 16

20.  Yueh Chih (might be Tokharic, not Iranian; the Yueh Chih were replaced by Uighurs)


HOLLIS lists the following Iranian People : Alani, Indo Iranians (Indo Aryans & Iranians), Indo Scythians (Saka & Yueh Chih), Kurds, Ossetes, Parthians, Pushtuns, Saka, Sarmatians, Scythians, Tajiks.

Iranian people in more detail: the Alani (see lecture 14) are an Iranian people who migrated from Central Asia to the northern Caucasus. The Ossetes who today still live in the central Caucasus are related to the Alani (Alans).

The Indo Iranians consist of the Indo Aryans whom HOLLIS relates to the Parya Indic People and the Iranians. The Indo Scythians are related to the Saka, a nomadic people of the steppelands north of the Iranian plateau, and to the Yueh Chih (also known as Tocharian) a people in Central Asia (Xingjang) during the ?first millennium AD until overrun by Uighurs. [According to Arutiunov: "the Indo Scythians are Saka who migrated to India; Saka are the eastern Scythians. Western Scythians were succeeded by Sarmatians, later Alans, and finally Ossetes; they are all descendants of each other"] The Kurds are a pastoral and agricultural people inhabiting a large mountainous plateau region in adjoining parts of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria as well as in Armenia and Azerbaijan. [As per Arutiunov: "In religion in Armenia, the Kurds are Zoroastrian; in Azerbaijan they are Muslim. The Ossetes likely immigrated from the Eurasian Steppes to the central Caucasus and are descendants of the Alani (Alans)"]

Parthia is an ancient country to the south east of the Caspian Sea. Parthians are inhabitants of the ancient country of Parthia and many historical references describe the Parthians as warriors on horseback armed with bow and arrow. Pushtun (Pushtu/Pashto) is the Iranian language of the Pathan people, an Iranian people living in Afghanistan and in colonies scattered throughout Pakistan and India; it is the chief vernacular of eastern Afghanistan, northwest frontier province of Pakistan, and northern Baluchistan. The Saka, as listed above, are nomadic people of the steppelands north of the Iranian plateau. Sarmatia is an ancient region north of the Black Sea; the language of the Sarmatians was likely Iranian; the Sarmatians were succeeded by the Alans. The term Sarmatia has on occassion been used to reference "Russia". Scythia is an ancient country lying partly north and northeast of the Black Sea and partly east of the Aral Sea. The origins and dispersal of the Scythians have occupied historians from Herodotus to contemporary scholars (see lecture 14). The Tajiks are Iranian people speaking an Iranian language who are dispersed among the populations of Afghanistan and Turkistan including Tajikistan.


·         Iranian People - modified from HOLLIS with additions by Arutiunov in Bold Face.

1.      Alani - are descendants of Sarmatian (and were replaced by the Ossetes; thus Alani are extinct)

2.      Indo Iranians

a.       Indo Aryans 17

·         (Parya Indic People 18) - a small group; they are the only Indo-Aryan people in the former USSR

b.      Iranians

3.      Indo Scythians

a.       Saka (eastern Scythians; extinct)

b.      Yueh Chih (not Iranian; extinct)

4.      Kurds

5.      Ossetes (successors of Alans, deriving from Sarmates)

6.      Parthians (extinct)

7.      Pushtuns (language of the Pathans)

8.      Saka (eastern Scythians; extinct)

9.      Sarmatians (partly successors to Scythians; extinct)

10.  Scythians (extinct)

11.  Tajiks

12.  Pathans (who speak Pushtun)


Alexeev did not detail the Indo Aryan branch of the Indo Iranian language. The Indo Aryan branch of the Indo Iranian subfamily of Indo European language, as per HOLLIS, includes Dardic, Palic, Prakrit, Sanskrit, and Vedic.

The Dardic people or Dards were a stocky, broad shouldered moderately fair people living in the upper valley of the Indus and spoke Dardic. The complex of languages spoken by the Dards included Shina, Khowar, Kafiri, Kashmiri, and Kohistani. Palic is an Indic language found in the Buddhist canon and used as the liturgical and scholarly language of Hinayana Buddhism. Prakrit is a catch all category including any or all of the ancient Indic languages or dialects other than Sanskrit. Sanskrit, meaning cultivated or refined, is the ancient classical language of India and of Hinduism. Vedic is the language that the Vedas, the most ancient and sacred writing of the Hindus, is written.

According to Arutiunov, Sanskrit and Vedic are very closed; only Sanskrit is the written standard, Vedic is not. Vedic is older than Sanskrit. Palic is one of the Prakrits (in medieval India there were several Prakrits). Kashmiri is one of the Dardic group.


·         Indo Aryan Languages - as per HOLLIS with additions by Arutiunov in Bold Face.

1.      Dardic [also listed under Nuiristani]

a.       Kashmiri 19

b.      Phalura 20

c.       Torwali 21

d.      Wotapuri Katarqalai

2.      Palic (is one of the Prakrits) 22

3.      Prakrit

a.       Apabhramsa

b.      Avahattha

c.       Sauraseni

4.      Sanskrit (the written standard)

a.       Manipravalam language Malayalam

5.      Vedic


·         Indo Aryan Languages - other sources including standard dictionary and Parpola 23

1.      Indo Aryan Languages - other sources including standard dictionary and Parpola

a.       Shina

b.      Khowar

c.       Kafiri

d.      Kashmiri

e.       Kohistani


·         Dardic (from Parpola) 24; however we do not know if extinct languages and/or dialects are included.

1.      Kalasa

2.      Khowar

3.      Dameli

4.      Gawar-bati

5.      Sumasti

6.      Pasai

7.      Baskarik

8.      Torwali

9.      Maiya

10.  Wotapuri

11.  Tirahi

12.  Sina (or Shina)

13.  Phalura

14.  Dumaki

15.  Kashmiri


·         Indo Aryan People 25 - as per HOLLIS with additions by Arutiunov in Bold Face

1.      Parya Indic people 26 - wrong!


·         Indo Aryan People - as per standard dictionary

1.      Dards

The Nuristani branch of the Indo Iranian subfamily of the Indo European language family was not detailed by Alexeev. HOLLIS lists Nuristani as a subgroup of Indo Iranian along with Indo Aryan and Iranian. As per Arutiunov, Nuristan (land of light) was formerly Kafiristan and was renamed after being forcefully converted to Islam around the 1890's. As per HOLLIS, Nuristan encompasses Afghanistan and the Chitral district of Pakistan (Kafiristan region of Pakistan27. HOLLIS equates Nuristani with Dardic 28, with Bashgali 29, and with the Kafiri languages 30 (Bashgali, Dardic, and Nuristani are languages of Afghanistan). The term, however, usually is used disparingly. A "caffer" is defined as one who is not a Muslim, again used disparingly.





·         Kafir or Nuristani Languages - as per Parpola

1.      Kati

2.      Tregami

3.      Waigali

4.      Prasun

                           5.      Askun 



Burusho or Hunza People :

The Burusho or Brusho people live in the Hunza, Nagar, and Yasin valleys of northern Pakistan. There are also over 300 Burusho living in Srinagar, India. They are predominantly Muslims. Their language, Burushaski, has not been shown to be related to any other.[1] They have an East Asian genetic contribution, suggesting that at least some of their ancestry originates north of the Himalayas.[2]

The Hunza people, or Hunzakuts, descend from the principality of Hunza. They live alongside the Wakhi and the Shina. The Wakhi reside in the upper part of Hunza locally called Gojal. Wakhis also inhabit the bordering regions of China, Tajikstan and Afghanistan and also live in Gizar and Chitral district of Pakistan. The Shina-speaking people live in the southern part of Hunza. They have come from Chilas, Gilgit, and other Shina-speaking areas of Pakistan.

The Hunzakuts and the region of Hunza has one of the highest literacy rates as compared to other similar districts in Pakistan. Hunza is a major tourist attraction in Pakistan, and many Pakistani as well as foreign tourist travel to the region to enjoy the picturesque landscape and stunning mountains of the area. The district has many modern amenities and is quite advanced by Asian standards. Local legend states that Hunza may have been associated with the lost kingdom of Shangri La. The people of Hunza are by some noted for their exceptionally long life expectancy[3], others describe this as a longevity myth and cite a life expectancy of 53 years for men and 52 for women, although with a high standard deviation

The Hunza and Macedonia

Burusho legend maintains that they descend from the village of Baltir, which had been founded by a soldier left behind from the army of Alexander the Great—a legend common to much of Afghanistan and northern Pakistan.[5] In 1996 an ex-patriate Macedonian linguist attempted to demonstrate a link between Burushaski and the modern, Macedonian language, and told the Hunza about the modern state of Republic of Macedonia.[6] His proposed linguistic connection has not been accepted by other linguists, and genetic evidence only supports a Balkan genetic component in the Afghan Pushtun,[7] not the Burusho.[8] Nonetheless, in 2008 the Republic of Macedonia organized a visit by Hunza Prince Ghazanfar Ali Khan and Princess Rani Atiqa as descendants of the Alexandran army.[9] They were greeted by the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and heads of the church, but the opposition dismissed the visit as populism. This political support of a connection with the Hunza parallels Greek relations with the neighboring Kalash people of Pakistan, who also claim Alexandran ancestry. The issue may thus have more to do with nationalism and the Macedonia naming dispute than with the Burusho themselves. Recent research shows that infact the Hunza people are decendents from ancient Vedic Tribes.



he break-up of the PIE ( Proto-Indo European ) speech-community

The early branching order of the immediate descendants of PIE is largely indeterminate. A theory popular in previous years was that of a centum-satem initial split, based largely on a distinction in the realisation of palatal stops in different sub-families: in more western branches (Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Greek) they seem to merge with original velars; in more eastern branches (Indo-Iranian, Balto-Slavic, Armenian) the original velars merge with the labiovelar series, while the palatals become sibilants and affricates eg. Latin centum, Avestan satem "hundred". However, this neat division was obscured by the more recent discovery and decipherment of Tocharian and Anatolian, which are centum varieties, but located in the east of the Indo-European family.


 This map shows Bactria, Aria and Pactyana( Arachosia): 

 600 BC, east of persian Empire ( 1300 years befor Islam )



This map of Persian empire shows GANDHARA  in the area east of Persia . 500 BC


The name of the Gandharis is attested from the Rigveda (RV 1.120.1)and in ancient inscriptions dating back to Achaemenian Persia. The Behistan inscription listing the 23 territories of King Darius 1 (552-46 BCE) includes Gandharis along with Bactria and Sattagudi. In the book of "Historica" by Heroditus, Gandhara is named as a source of tax collections for King Darius 1. The Gandharis, along with the Mujavantas, Angas and the Magadhas, are also mentioned in the Atharvaveda (AV 5.22.14), but apparently as a despised people. Gandharas are included in the *Uttarapatha division of Puranic and Buddhistic traditions. Aitareya Brahmana refers to king Naganajit of Gandhara who was contemporary of *Janaka, king of Videha.. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau (see Taxila) and on the northern side of the Kabul River. However, the heart of Gandhara was always the Peshawar valley.

The Gandharis are a tribe attested from the Rigveda (RV 1.120.1, 1.126.7) and later texts.

According to Zimmer, they lived East on Kubha river( Kabul River)  in Vedic times.[1] In later times, they formed a part of the Persian empire.[2]

The Gandharis, along with the Mujavantas, Angas and the Magadhas, are also mentioned in the Atharvaveda (AV 5.22.14), but apparently as a despised people. Gandharas are included in the Uttarapatha division of Puranic and Buddhistic traditions. Aitareya Brahmana refers to king Naganajit of Gandhara who was contemporary of Shah Janaka of Videha. The Ghandaris are also mentioned in the Chandogya Upanishad and the Srauta Sutras.

The Puranas record that the Druhyus were driven out of the land of the seven rivers by Mandhatr and that their next king Ghandara settled in a north-western region which became known as Ghandara.[3] The sons of the later Druhyu king Pracetas finally migrate to the region north of Afghanistan. This migration is recorded in the following Puranas: Bhagavata 9.23.15-16; Visnu 4.17.5; Vayu 99.11-12; Brahmanda 3.74.11-12 and Matsya 48.9.[4]

Gandharas and their king figure prominently as strong allies of the Kurus against the Pandavas in Mahabharata war. The Gandharas were a furious people, well trained in the art of war. According to Puranic traditions, this Janapada was founded by Gandhara, son of Aruddha, a descendant of Yayati. The princes of this country are said to have come from the line of Druhyu who was a famous king of Rigvedic period. The river Indus watered the lands of Gandhara. According to Vayu Purana (II.36.107), the Gandharas were destroyed by Pramiti aka Kalika, at the end of Kalyuga.

The Afridi, Dilazak and Khattak tribes were the prominent Pashtun tribes of ancient Gandhara (called by them "Qandahar". This name was later given by some Gandaharis who moved from ancient Gandahara and founded the present day Afghan city of the same name). They were Buddhist or followers of Dharmic paganism .

The city of Kandahar in Afghanistan was probably named after Gandhara. According to H.W. Bellow, the emigrants from Gandhara in the fifth century brought this name to modern Kandahar


The name Afghanistan came into vogue during the rule of Ahmed Shah Durrani (1747-1773 AD). Prior to that Afghanistan was referred to as Aryana, Bactria, Aryanam Viju, Pakhtiya, Khurasan and Pashtoonkhwah.

The Bactrian religious leader Zarathrushta (Zardasht) in his work Zendavesta calls this region Aeseen Vijo or Aryanum Vijo meaning the land of the Aryans.
Rig Veda and the Zendavesta are believed to be the oldest texts in the world. Many European scholars believe that both the texts were composed in Afghanistan.

Zarathrushta, the composer of Avesta was born in north Afghanistan near Balkh, where he preached the Zorastrian religion which was the national religion of Iran for almost one thousand years. Not only is the language of the Vedas and that of the Avesta similar, but also the names of their gods like Mitra, Indra, Varun are the same. The description of battles between the gods and the demons are found in both the texts.
There are so many references made to Afghanistan in the Chhandogya Upanishad, Markandey Puran and other Vedic and Buddhist literature.
According to most historians, the
Rigveda was composed in the ancient homeland of the Aryans, Afghanistan. The language of the ancient Afghans was Brahmui which is very similar to the language of the Vedas. References of the Pashtoon people and the Afghan rivers are found in the Rigveda. The rivers which are today known as Aamu, Kabul, Kurram, Ranga, Gomal and Harirudh were known to the ancient Indians as Vakshu, Kubha, Krum, Rasaa, Gomati, Haryu respectively. The places which are now called Kabul, Kandhar, Balkh, Wakhan, Bagram, Pameer, Badkhasha, Peshawar, Swat and Charsadda are referred to in Sanskrit and Pali literature as Kuhka, Gandhar, Bahlik, Vokkan, Kapisha, Meru, Kamboj, Purushpur, Suvastu and Pushkalavati respectively. Gandhari, the devoted wife of King Dhritrashtra of Hastinapur (now Delhi), Panini, the great Sanskrit grammarian and Guru Gorakhnath were all Pathans. Takshshila, which is believed to be the first university in the world was established in 600 BC.



East-Iranian Afghans are mainly descendants of  2 groups Iranic people  ( Aryans ) :

1. Saka-Scythians ( Indo-Europeans, Eastern Iranic People ) .

2. Bactrians ( Aryans, Tocharians) .

But there is no doubt that some Afghan tribs are mixed with Hephthalites and Greeks in somepoint & a few Afghan tribes are  mixed with Altic people and  Indo-Aryans. 

The Iranic peoples have often mingled with other populations, with the notable example being the Hazaras, who display a distinct Turkic-Mongol background that contrasts with most other Iranian peoples. Similarly, the Baloch have mingled with the Dravidian-speaking Brahui (who have been strongly modified by Iranian invaders themselves), while the Ossetians have invariably mixed with Georgians and other Caucasian peoples. The Pashtuns are split between those who have mingled with fellow Iranian groups such as the (Persians) and those to the south who have mingled with  Dardic People( such as Nuristanis,  Kalash..),Greeks and hephtalites.  Some Persians have mingled with  Armenian, Azeri Turks and Arabs .  Some Tajiks are mixture of Persian, Arabs, Pushtuns Pamirian and Altic poeple. Thus al these Iranic tribs have been mingled with each other, sometimes with non-Aryan groups .  

But generally all these poeple have an Aryan ( Iranic ) origin .

Many of the cultural traits of the ancient Iranians were similar to other Proto-Indo-European societies. Like other Indo-Europeans, the early Iranians practiced ritual sacrifice, had a social hierarchy consisting of warriors, clerics, and farmers, and poetic hymns and sagas to recount their deeds.

Following the Iranian split from the Indo-Iranians, the Iranians developed an increasingly distinct culture. It is surmised that the early Iranians intermarried with and assimilated local cultures over a long period of time, and thus a caste identity was never needed or created by the Iranians—in sharp contrast with the Indo-Aryans.

Various common traits can be discerned amongst the Iranian peoples. For example, the social event Norouz is an Iranian festival that is practiced by nearly all of the Iranian peoples as well as others in the region. Its origins are traced to Zoroastrianism and pre-historic times.

Some Iranian peoples exhibit distinct traits that are unique unto themselves. The Pashtuns adhere to a code of honor and culture known as Pashtunwali.

Iranian influence upon Turkic peoples

In matters relating to culture, the various Turkic-speaking minorities of Iran (notably the Azerbaijani people) and Afghanistan (Uzbeks, Turkmen, Hazaras) are often conversant in Iranian languages, in addition to their own Turkic languages, and also have Iranian culture to the extent that the term Turko-Iranian can be applied. The usage applies to various circumstances that involve historic interaction, intermarriage, cultural assimilation, bilingualism, and cultural overlap or commonalities.  In fact, throughout much of the expanse of Central Asia and the Middle East, Iranian and Turkic culture has merged in many cases to form various hybrid populations and cultures, as evident from various ruling dynasties such as the Ghaznavids, Saljuqs,Safavids,Afsharids,Qajar dynasty and Mughals.

Iranian cultural influences have also been significant in Central Asia, where Turkic invaders are believed to have largely mixed with native Iranian peoples of which only the Tajik are still speaking an Iranian language.

The areas of the former Soviet Union adjacent to Iran, Afghanistan, and the Kurdish areas (such as Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan) have gone through the prism of decades of Russian and Soviet rule that has reshaped the Turko-Iranian cultures there to some degree.

Arabs in Iran

A 1998 report by UNCHR reported half a million Arabs residing in Khuzestan Province, most of whom are Shi'a. Sunni Muslim Arabs live along the Persian Gulf coastline.

According to Jane's Information Group, "Most Iranian Arabs seek their constitutionally guaranteed rights and do not have a separatist agenda ... While it may be true that some Arab activists are separatists, most see themselves as Iranians first and declare their commitment to the state's territorial integrity." [3]

The first Arabs in Iran came in the Islamic conquest of Persia in 633, and many of them settled Persia in 656.

Payame Noor University, which has 229 campuses throughout the country, in 2008 declared that Arabic will be the "second language" of the university, and that all its services will be offered in Arabic, concurrent with Persian.[


Although after the Arab invasion of Persia in the 7th century, many Arab tribes settled in different parts of Iran, it is the Arab tribes of Khuzestan that have retained their identity in language, culture, and Shia Islam to the present day. But ethno-linguistic characteristics of the region must be studied against the long and turbulent history of the province,with its own local language khuzi, which may have been of Elamite origin and which gradually disappeared in the early medieval period. The immigration of Arab tribes from outside the province was also a long-term process. There was a great influx of Arab-speaking immigrants into the province from the 16th to the 19th century, including the migration of the Banu Kaab and Banu Lam. There were attempts in vain by the Iraqi regime during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) to generate Arab nationalism in the area but without any palpable success [5]


Regional groups


Most Iranian Arabs in Khūzestān Province are bilingual, speaking Arabic as their mother tongue, and Persian as a second language. The variety of Arabic spoken in the province is Khuzestani Arabic, which is a Mesopotamian dialect shared by Arabs across the border in Iraq. It has significant Persian influence and may be harder to understood by other Arabic-speakers. [6]

Modern Standard Arabic and Classical Arabic, which differ to a degree from Khuzestani Arabic dialect, are taught across Iran to students in secondary schools, regardless of their ethnic or linguistic background. In fact the constitution of the Islamic republic requires this particular subject to be taught after primary school.

They are majority Shi'a, with Sunni minority and small numbers of Christians and Jews.

See also: Khūzestān Province, History of Khūzestān Province, and Politics of Khūzestān Province


In Hormozgan Province the Iranian Arab population speak various local dialects of Gulf Arabic that like the Mesopotamian dialects has significant Persian influence.The Arabs in the province are most fishermans from neighboring Oman, but still the Arabs of the province are estimated to be 4 - 8 % of the population of Hormozgan.


In Bushehr Province, there are about 20,000 Arabs that immigrated to Iran because of the unpleasant environment of Saudi Arabia. Many of them arrived in Bushehr Province in 1946. The majority of these Arabs live in Kangan and Bandar-i Tahiri.


Khamseh nomads live in eastern Fars Province.


Most Khorasani-Arabs belong to the tribes of Sheybani, Zangooyi, Mishmast, Khozaima and Azdi. Khorasani-Arabs are Persian speakers and only a few speak Arabic as their mother tongue.


Arabs in Central Asia :

Central Asian Arabic is a variety of Arabic spoken in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and currently facing extinction. It was once spoken among Central Asia's numerous settled and nomadic Arab communities, which inhabited areas in Samarqand, Bukhara, Qashqadarya, Surkhandarya (present-day Uzbekistan), and Khatlon (present-day Tajikistan), as well as Afghanistan. The first wave of Arabs migrated to this region in the 8th century during the Muslim conquests and was later joined by groups of Arabs from Balkh and Andkhoy (present-day Afghanistan). Due to heavy Islamic influences, Arabic quickly became the common language of science and literature of the epoch. Most Central Asian Arabs lived in isolated communities and did not favour intermarriages with the local population. This factor helped their language survive in a multilingual milieu until the 20th century. By the 1880s many Arab pastoralists had migrated to northern Afghanistan from what is now Uzbekistan and Tajikistan following the Russian conquest of Central Asia. These Arabs nowadays speak no Arabic having adapted to Dari and Uzbek.[1] With the establishment of the Soviet rule in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, Arab communities faced major linguistic and identity changes having had to abandon nomadic lifestyles and gradually mixing with Uzbeks, Tajiks and Turkmen. According to the 1959 census, only 34% of Arabs, mostly elderly, spoke their language at a native level. Others reported Uzbek or Tajik as their mothertongue. Nowadays Central Asian Arabic (heavily influenced by the local languages in phonetics, vocabulary and syntax) is spoken in 5 villages of Surkhandarya, Qashqadarya and Bukhara. In Uzbekistan, there are at least two dialects of Central Asian Arabic: Bukharian (influenced by Tajik) and Qashqadaryavi (influenced by Turkic languages). These dialects are not mutually intelligible.[2] In Tajikistan, Central Asian Arabic is spoken by 35.7% of the country's Arab population having been largely replaced by Tajik.[3]




History of Arabs in Afghanistan


The History of Arabs in Afghanistan span several centuries from ethnic Arab fighters who battled or migrated to the area now known as Afghanistan during conflicts dating back from the 7th century[1] till the recent Soviet-Afghan War when they assisted fellow Muslims in fighting the Soviets and pro-Soviet Afghans. Most of these Arabs gradually lost their Arabic hegemony and ultimately mixed with the local population, though they are still considered a cognizably distinct ethnic group according to Afghanistan's constitution[2] and national anthem.


First Wave of Arabs into Afghanistan

Further information: Rashidun Empire

At the end of the 7th century, the Ummayad Arabs entered into the area now known as Afghanistan after decisively defeating the Sassanians in Nihawand. The route the Arabs selected to enter the area was from north-eastern Iran[3] and thereafter into Herat where they stationed a large portion of their army before advancing toward eastern Afghanistan. During this time, some Arabs settled in the area and married locals while adopting new customs. Other groups and contingents who elected not to settle gradually pushed eastwards but encoutered fierce resistance in areas surrounding Bamiyan. [4] When ultimately arriving at Kabul, the Arabs confronted the Kabul Shahan who built a defensive wall, part of which still remains today. The historical details of this battle remains largely unknown, though the Arabs were nonetheless victorious. Despite the lack of written accounts, another famous archaeological legacy of this battle remains standing in Kabul, notably the tomb of the Shah-e Do Shamshira (translated into, The leader with the Two Swords in Persian) next to the Shah-Do Shamshira Mosque. The site, located near Kabul's market district, was built near the area where an Arab commander died. According to local account, the warrior fought the Kabul Shahan with two swords in his hands until each of his arms were severed as he continued to battle.[5]

Following the confrontation, the Arabs partially relinquished some of their territorial control though reasserted its authority approximately 50 years later in 750 A.D when the Abbasid caliphs replaced the Ummayads.[6] By that time, many Arabs increasingly blended with the locals as the Arabic identity in region began to undergo a significant change. Arab contingents settled throughout various parts of present day Afghanistan including Wardak, Logar, Kabul and Balkh. They adopted local customs and Persian[7] as their main language. Despite maintaining some clothing customs and attire, most of these Afghan-Arabs (or Arab-Afghans) gradually lost their original tongue of Arabic. This is confirmed in the 15th century work, Baburnama, which notes that the Arabs of Afghanistan have virtually lost the Arabic language and instead speak Persian. Although the exact number of Arab Afghans remains unknown, mostly due to ambiguous claims of descent, an 18th century academic estimated that the number of Afghan-Arabs/Arab-Afghans is at approximately 60,000 families. Currently, some notable descendants of the first wave of Arabs into Afghanistan, include the former President of Afghanistan, Sibghatullah Mojadadi


Second Wave of Arabs into Afghanistan

After the Bolshevik Revolution, many Arabs residing in Bukhara and other areas of Central Asia migrated to Afghanistan where they were more able to practice their religion. One estimate indicated that approximately 30,000 Arabs lived in Bukhara during the mid-nineteenth century. The Arabs who entered into Afghanistan during this time still retained some Arabic in contrast to the Afghan Arabs who came during the first wave. Nevertheless, the Arabic they spoke was heavily mixed with Persian and Uzbeki words. Additionally, many Arabs from the second wave were keen to mix with the local population as they adopted the languages of Northern Afghanistan, namely Uzbek, Turkmen, and Persian.[13] Many settled in Kunduz, Takhar and Baghlan provinces. Currently, while they still view themselves as Arab, almost all the Arabs from the second wave have lost their language of Arabic and have completely blended with the local population. Many of these Afghan Arabs work in the agricultural industry, often growing cotton and wheat.

Third Wave of Arabs into Afghanistan

Further information: Defensive Jihad and Afghan Arabs

During the Soviet-Afghan War, many Muslims, most of them Arabs, came to Afghanistan to help Afghans fight the Marxist regime and Soviet military. Some remained and intermarried with local Afghans while others arrived with their families to Afghanistan. Kandahar is home to a sizeable Arab Cemetery that has become a frequently visited area of contemplation amongst locals who believe that touching the graves of Arab fighters and their families will cure them of illnesses, including paralysis.

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