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ARIA´NA ( Ἀριανή, Strab.; Ariana Regio and Ariana, Plin. Nat. 6.23: Eth. Ἀριηνοί, Dion. Perieg. 714 and 1097; Arianus, Plin. Nat. 6.25, who distinguishes between Arii and Ariani), a district of wide extent in Central Asia, comprehending nearly the whole of ancient Persia; and bounded on the N. by the provinces of Bactriana, Margiana, and Hyrcania, on the E. by the Indus, on the S. by the Indian Ocean and the eastern portion of the Persian Gulf, and on the W. by Media and the mountains S. of the Caspian Sea. Its exact limits are laid down with little accuracy in ancient authors, and it seems to have been often confounded (as in Plin. Nat. 6.23, 25) with the small province of Aria. It comprehended the provinces of Gedrosia, Drangiana, Arachosia, Paropamnisus mountains, Aria, Parthia, and Carmania.

By Herodotus Ariana is not mentioned, nor is it included in the geographical descriptions of Steph. B. sub voce and Ptolemy, or in the narrative of Arrian. It is fully described by Strabo (xv. p.696), and by Pliny, who states that it included the Arii, with other tribes. The general idea which Strabo had of its extent and form may be gathered from a comparison of the different passages in which he speaks of it. On the E. and S. he agrees with himself. The E. boundary is the Indus, the S. the Indian Ocean from the mouth of the Indus to the Persian Gulf. (Strab. xv. p.688.) The western limit is, in one place (Strab. xv. p.723), an imaginary line drawn from the Caspian Gates to Carmania; in another (Strab. xv. p.723) Eratosthenes is quoted as describing the W. boundary to be a line separating Parthyene from Media, and Carmania from Paraetacene and Persia (that is comprehending the whole of the modern Yezd and Kirman, but excluding Fars). The N. boundaries are said to be the Paropamisan mountains, the continuation of which forms the N. boundary of India. (Strab. xv. p.689.) On the authority of Apollodorus the name is applied to some parts of Persia and Media, and to the N. Bactrians and Sogdians (Strab. xv. p.723); and Bactriana is also specified as a principal part of Ariana. (Strab. xv. p.686.) The tribes by whom Ariana was inhabited (besides the Persians and Bactrians, who are occasionally included), as enumerated by Strabo, are the Paropamisadae, Arii, Drangae, Arachoti, and Gedrosii. Pliny (6.25) specifies the Arii, Dorisci, Drangae, Evergetae, Zarangae, and Gedrusii, and some others, as the Methorici, Augutturi, Urbi, the inhabitants of Daritis, the Pasires and Icthyophagi,--who are probably referred to by Strabo (xv. p.726), where he speaks of the Gedroseni, and others along the coast towards the south. Pliny (6.23) says that some add to India four Satrapies to the W. of that river, [p. 1.211]--the Gedrosii, Arachosii, Arii, and Paropamisadae, as far as the river Cophes (the river of Káibul). Pliny therefore agrees on the whole with Strabo. Dionysius Periegetes (1097) agrees with Strabo in extending the N. boundary of the Ariani to the Paropamisus, and (714) speaks of them as inhabiting the shores of the Erythraean Sea. It is probable, from Strabo (xv. p.724), that that geographer was induced to include the E. Persians, Bactrians, and Sogdians, with the people of Ariana below the mountains, because they were for the most part of one speech. There can be no doubt the modern Iran represents the ancient Ariana,--a word itself of native origin; a view which is borne out by the traditions of the country preserved in the Mohammedan writers of the ninth and tenth centuries,--according to whom, consistently with the notices in ancient authors, the greater part of Ariana was Iran or Persia. (Firdusi, in the Shah Namah; Mirkhond, Rozat-as-safa.

The names Aria and Ariana, and many other ancient titles of which Aria is a component element, are connected with the Hindu term Arya, “excellent,” “honourable.” In Manu, Aryá wartta is the “holy land or abode,” a country extending from the eastern to the western sea, and bounded on the N. and S. by the Himála and Vindhya Mountains. The native name of the Hindus was Aryans. The ancient Persian name of the same district was, according to Anquetil Duperron, Aryanem Vaéjo (Sansc. Aryavarsha). Burnouf calls it Airyana or Airyadagya (Sansc. Arya-desa, and Arya-bhsumi, “the land of the Arians” ); and the researches of De Sacy, St. Martin, Longperier, and others, have discovered the word Iran on the coins of the Sassanian princes. We may therefore conclude that Airya or Airyanca are old Persian words, and the names of that region to which the Hindus extended the designation of Arya, which the Sassanian coins denominate Iran, and which the Greeks of Alexander's time understood. On the Persian cuneiform inscription the original word is Ariya. (Rawlinson, As. Journ. xi. pt. 1.)

The towns, rivers, and mountains of Ariana are described under its provinces. [ARACHOSIA, DRANGIANA, &c.] (Wilson, Ariana, pp. 119--124; Burnouf, Comma. sur le Yaçna, Text. Zend. p. cxxxvi. and not. p. cv.; Pott, Etym. Forsch. pp. lxx, lxxii.; Lassen, Ind. Alterth. vol. i. pt. 2; De Sacy, Antiq. de la Perse; St. Martin, Hist. de l'Armen.)


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  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.23
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.25
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