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MARGIA´NA

MARGIA´NA ( Μαργιανή, Strab. xi. p.516, Ptol. 6.10; Plin. Nat. 6.16. s. 18), a district of considerable extent in the western part of Central Asia, which was bounded on the W. by Hyrcania, on the N. by Scythia and the Oxusas far as Bactriana, on the E. by Bactriana, and on the S. by Ariana. At present the country is called Khorásan, and comprehends also some part of the territory occupied by the Turkoman tribes. Like most of the districts at a great distance from Greece or Rome, it was but partially known to the ancients; hence its limits are variously stated by ancient authors. Thus Strabo makes it the province next to Parthia, to the N. of the Sariphi mountains, and gives the same boundaries to the W., N., and E. as the other geographers (xi. p. 516). Pliny places it in the same direction, but adds that a desert of 120 M.P. must be crossed before it could be reached (6.16. s. 18). Both Strabo and Pliny speak of the great fertility of its land, and the fineness of its climate; the former stating that the vines were often so large that a man could not embrace their stems in his arms; the latter, that it was the only district in that part of the world which produced grapes. The accounts of the ancients are in this particular confirmed by modern and by Muhammedan writers. According to the latter, it would seem to have comprehended the territory from Bunjurd on the west, to Merv and the Murgh-áb in the east, a tract remarkable for its beauty and fertility. (Wilson, Ariana, p. 149.) The principal river of Margiana, from which, too, it probably derived its name, was the Margus (now Murgh-áb). Various races and tribes are noticed in different authors as occupying parts of Margiana. All of them may be considered as of Scythian or Tátar origin;--indeed, in this part of Asia, the population has remained nearly the same to the present day which it was in the classical times. The principal of these were the DERBICCAE or DERBICES (Steph. p. 23; Strab. xi. p.508; Dionys. A. R. 5.734), who lived to the N. near the mouth of the Oxus; the MASSAGETAE the PARNI, and the DAAE who lived to the S. of the former along the Caspian and the termination of the Margus, which loses itself in the sands before it reaches the Caspian; and the TAPURI and MARDI The chief towns were, ANTIOCHEIA MARGIANA (certainly the present Merv), NISAEA or NESAEA, ARIACA, and JASONIUM [See these places under their respective names.]

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    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.16
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