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Title: Sistan  
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Subject: Muslim conquest of Persia, Hamun Lake, Sistan, Autonomous Government of Khorasan, Hindu–German Conspiracy
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The gates of Haozdar, in Sistan

Sīstān (Persian/Baloch/Pashto: سیستان), also known as Scythia, Sijistān (}

}}: سجستان‎), and Sākāstān (Persian/Baloch/Pashto: ساكاستان; literally "land of the Saka or Scythians"), is a historical and geographical region in present-day eastern Iran (Sistan and Baluchestan Province), southern Afghanistan (Nimruz, Kandahar, and Zabul Province), and the Nok Kundi region of Balochistan (western Pakistan). At times, the Saka territory encompassed areas as far east as Minnagara on the Indus River, in southwestern Sindh province of present-day Pakistan. Sistan was a part of the region of ancient Ariana.

Sistan was once the homeland of Saka, a Scythian. The Saffarids, one of the early Iranian dynasties of the Islamic era, were originally from Sistan.


Sistan derives its name from Sakastan which, on its part, derives from the name of the Saka tribes. The Saka (known as Scythians in Greek sources) began to settle in this region during the Parthian era.

The more ancient Old Persian name of the region - prior to Saka dominance - was zaranka ("waterland"; cf. Pashto dzaranda). This older form is also the root of the name Zaranj, capital of the Afghan Nimruz Province.

Encyclopædia Iranica says "The name of the country and its inhabitants is first attested as Old Persian z-r-k (i.e., Zranka) in the great Bīsotūn inscription of Darius I, apparently the original name. This form is reflected in the Elamite (Sir-ra-an-qa and variants), Babylonian (Za-ra-an-ga), and Egyptian (srng or srnḳ) versions of the Achaemenid royal inscriptions, as well as in Greek Zarángai, Zarangaîoi, Zarangianḗ (Arrian; Isidore of Charax), and Sarángai (Herodotus) and in Latin Zarangae (Pliny). Instead of this original form, characterized by non-Persian z (perhaps from proto-IE. palatal or *γh), in some Greek sources (chiefly those dependent upon the historians of Alexander the Great) the perhaps hypercorrect Persianized variant (cf. Belardi,p. 183) with initial d-, *Dranka (or even *Dranga?), reflected in Greek Drángai, Drangḗ, Drangēnḗ, Drangi(a)nḗ (Ctesias; Polybius; Strabo; Diodorus; Ptolemy; Arrian; Stephanus Byzantius) and Latin Drangae, Drangiana, Drangiani (Curtius Rufus; Pliny; Ammianus Marcellinus; Justin) or Drancaeus (Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 6.106, 6.507) occurs."[1]

In the Shahnameh, Sistan is also referred to as Zabulistan, after the region in the eastern part of Iran. In Ferdowsi's epic, Zabulistan is in turn described to be the homeland of the mythological hero Rostam.


In prehistoric times, the Jiroft Civilization covered parts of Sistan and Kerman Province (possibly as early as the 3rd millennium BC).

Later the area was occupied by Aryan tribes related to the Indo-Aryans and Iranian Peoples. Eventually a kingdom known as Arachosia was formed, parts of which were ruled by the Medean Empire by 600 BC. The Medes were overthrown by the Achaemenid Persian Empire in 550 BC, and the rest Arachosia was soon annexed. In the 3rd century BC, Macedonian king Alexander the Great (known in East as Sikander) annexed the region during his conquest of the Persian Empire and founded the colony of "Alexandria in Arachosia" (modern Kandahar).

Alexander's Empire fragmented after his death, and Arachosia came under control of the Seleucid Empire, which traded it to the Mauryan dynasty of India in 305 BC. After the fall of the Mauryans, the region fell to their Greco-Bactrian allies in 180 BC, before breaking away and becoming part of the Indo-Greek Kingdom. Indo-Parthian king Gondophares was leader of sistan around c. 20–10 BCE as it was part of the Indo-Parthian Kingdom which was also called Gedrosia, its Hellenistic name.

Map of Sakastan, with the capital Sigal.

After the mid 2nd century BC, much of the Indo-Greek Kingdom was overrun by tribes known as the Indo-Scythians or Saka, from which Sistan (from Sakastan) eventually derived its name. The Indo-Scythians were defeated around 100 BC by the Parthian Empire, which briefly lost the region to its Suren vassals (the Indo-Parthian) around 20 AD, before the region was conquered by the Kushan Empire in the mid 1st century AD. The Kushans were defeated by the Sassanid Persian Empire in the mid 3rd century, first becoming part of a vassal Kushansha state, before being overrun by the Hephthalites in the mid 5th century. Sassanid armies reconquered Sistan in by 565 AD, but lost the area to the Arab Rashidun Caliphate after the mid 640s.

Islamic conquest

Early Islamic era

Sistan became a province of the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates. In the 860s, the Saffarid dynasty emerged in Sistan and proceeded to conquer most of the Islamic East, until it was checked by the Samanids in 900. After the Samanids took the province from the Saffarids, it briefly returned to Abbasid control, but in 917 the governor Abu Yazid Khalid made himself independent. He was followed by a series of emirs with brief reigns until 923, when Ahmad ibn Muhammad restored Saffarid rule in Sistan. After his death in 963, Sistan was ruled by his son Khalaf ibn Ahmad until 1002, when Mahmud of Ghazni invaded Sistan, ending the Saffarid dynasty.

A year later, Sistan revolted. In response, Mahmud brought an army to suppress the revolt. Mahmud's Hindu troops sacked the mosque of Zarang massacring the Muslims inside.[3]

In 1029, Tadj al-Din I Abu l-Fadl Nasr founded the Nasrid dynasty, who were a branch of the Saffarids. They became vassals of the Ghaznavids. The dynasty then became vassals of the Seljuks in 1048, Ghurids in 1162, and the Khwarezmians in 1212. Mongols sacked Sistan in 1222 and Nasrid dynasty was ended by Khwarezmians in 1225.

In 1236, Shams al-Din 'Ali ibn Mas'ud founded Mihrabanid dynasty, another branch of Saffarids, as melik of Sistan for Ilkhanate. Mihrabanid contested with Kartids during Mongol rule. Sistan declared independence in 1335 after demise of Ilkhanate. 1383 Tamerlane conquered Sistan and forced Mihrabanids to become vassals. Overlordship of Timurids was ended in 1507 due to Uzbek invasion in 1507. Uzbeks were driven in 1510 and Mihrabanids became vassals of Safavids until 1537 Safavids deposed the dynasty and gained full control of Sistan.

Safavid rule was lasted till 1717 except Uzbeks rule between 1524 and 1528 and 1578 and 1598. In this year Hotaki dynasty conquered it. Nadir Shah reconquered in 1727. After assassination of Nadir Shah, Sistan under rule of Durrani Empire in 1747. Between 1747 and 1872 Sistan was contested with Persia and Afghanistan. The border dispute between Persia and Afghanistan was solved by Sistan Boundary Mission, led by General Sir Frederick Goldsmid, who agreed to most of Sistan in Persia but the Persians won the withdrawal of the right bank of the Helmand. The countries were not satisfied.

The border was defined more precisely with the Second Sistan Boundary Commission (1903-1905) headed by Col. Arthur Mac Mahon (later Sir), who had a difficult task due to lack of natural boundaries. The part assigned Persia was included in the province of Balochistan (which took the name of Sistan and Baluchistan and Sistan and Baluchistan in the 1986) being the capital Zahedan. In Afghanistan he was part of the Sistan province of Farah-Chakansur that was secreted in the administrative reorganization of 1964 to form the province of Nimruz with capital Zaranj.

Sistan has a very strong connection with Zoroastrianism and during Sassanid times Lake Hamun was one of two pilgrimage sites for followers of that religion. In Zoroastrian tradition, the lake is the keeper of Zoroaster's seed and just before the final renovation of the world, three maidens will enter the lake, each then giving birth to the saoshyans who will be the saviours of mankind at the final renovation of the world.

The most famous archaeological sites in Sistan are Shahr-e Sukhteh and the site on Kuh-e Khwajeh, a hill rising up as an island in the middle of Lake Hamun.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ World religions and Islam: a critical study, Part 1 By Hamid Naseem Rafiabadi , Published by Sarup and Sons ,Page 137
  3. ^ C.E. Bosworth, The Ghaznavids 994-1040, (Edinburgh University Press, 1963), 89.
  • Britannica

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