Thursday, June 05, 2008

Islamic Historians (part III)

Istakhri (Estakhri, ?- 957 AD)
Full: Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al Farsi al Istakhri
ابواسحاق ابراهيم بن محمدبن فارسي الاصطخري
Work: Masalek wa Mamalek (Roads and Countries), Sovar al Aqalim (Maps of Lands)
مسالك و ممالك, صور الاقاليم

Istakhri (died 346 Hijri) was from Istakhr (Estakhr) in Fars and traveled in Islamic countries.

Istakhri’s geographic work presents separate maps of Armenia, Aran (Aghvank) and Azarbaijan and gives names of cities in Aran: Beylakan (Pytakaran, Փայտակարան), Varthan (Vartanakert), Shamakhi, Shirvan, Shabran, Abkhaz, Qabalah (Kabalak, Կապաղակ), Sheki (Shakeh, Շաքէ), Ganja (Gandzak, Գանձակ), etc. and Bardhae (Partaw, Պարտաւ) as its capital. He cites Ardebil, Maragha, Urmia, Mianeh, Khuneh, Ujan, Dakharghan (Dehkharghan), Salmas, Khoy, Marand, Tabriz, Barzand, Varthan (Vartanakert), Mughan, Oshneh (Oshno), etc. as cities in Azarbaijan (Atrpatakan) and Ardebil as the capital of the same.

It’s interesting that Istkahri sometimes considers Neshwi (Nakhijevan) part of Azarbaijan (the real) and other times part of Armenia. This is because Nakhijevan would at times be assigned under the administration of real Azarbaijan. This fact can be abused by “Azeris” to claim Nakhijevan. This is misleading simply because at that time fake “Azerbaijan” did not exist and Aghvank and Azarbaijan (the real) were accounted for as separate entities, with Aghvank seen as part of Armenia. Istakhri’s account of the borders of Azarbaijan (the real) eliminates all doubts: “the limits of Azarbayegan are from Tarom to Zangan (Zanjan) to Dinvar (Dinawar) to Halvan up to the city Zur to Tigris and the borders of Armenia”. Note that according to Istakhri, real Azarbaijan has no borders with Aghvank.

Describing the language of the people of Azarbaijan (Atrpatakan) Istakhri says: “In these regions everyone speaks Arabic and Persian …the people of Ardebil speak Armenian. Around Bardha (Partaw) there’s a mountain and they have different languages”. About the language of the peoples of Aghvank he says: “Seventy and some groups live around that mountain (Darband H.) and each speaks a different language so that neighbors do not understand the language of one another”.

An interesting point in Istakhri’s book is that he also confirms: “the language of the Khazars is similar to Turkish and no other people speak this language”, a proof that not only in Azarbaijan (Atrpatakan) and Armenia, but also in Aghvank not a single soul could understand a word of Turkish in those days. ●

Ibn Rosteh (mid 9th-early 10th centuries AD)
ابن رسته
Full: Abu Ali Ahmad ibn Omar ibn Rosteh
ابو علي احمدبن عمربن رسته
Work: Al A’laq an Nafiseh
الاعلاق النفيسه

Written around the end of the third century Hijri, the late third or early fourth century Hijri Isfahani geographer Ibn Rosteh confirms Aghvank as being a province (Khoras = province, from Greek) of Armenia.

He cites Aran (Aghvank), Jorzan (Georgia), Neshwi (Nakhijavan, Նախիջևան), Khlat, Dabil (Dvin, Դւին), Saghdbil, Seraj, Arjish (Arjesh), Bajonis, Sisjan (Sisakan) and Bab ul Abwab (Darband, Chor) as Khoras of Armenia.

Regarding Azarbaijan (the real) he names Ardebil, Marand, Bajrevan (Bagrevand, Բագրևանդ), Varthan (Vartanakert), Maragha as its provinces or cities (Khoras). ●


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