Modern Sistan (PerB|سیستان) is a border region in southeastern
Iran(see Sistan and Baluchestan Province) and southwestern Afghanistan(see Nimruz Province). In ancient times the area was known as Arachosia; it became known as ' Sakastan' in the 1st century BC, after it was conquered by the Saka( Scythiansof Central Asia) tribes. Later Sakastan was changed to "Seistan" and in modern times, Sistan.
Shahnameh, Sistan is also referred to as Zabulistan, after Zabul, originally a pure Tajik (Persian) province. In Ferdowsi's epic, Zabulistanis in turn described to be the homeland of the mythological hero-king Rostam.
History of Sistan
In prehistoric times, the
Jiroft Civilizationcovered parts of Sistan and Kerman Province(possibly as early as the 3rd millennium BC).
Later the area was occupied by
Aryantribes related to the Indo-Aryansand Iranian Peoples. Eventually a kingdom known as Arachosiawas 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, Alexander the Greatannexed the region during his conquest of the Persian Empireand 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 dynastyof India in 305 BC. After the fall of the Mauryans, the region fell to their Greco-Bactrianallies in 180 BC, before breaking away and becoming part of the Indo-GreekKingdom.
After the mid 100s BC, much of the Indo-Greek Kingdom was overrun by tribes known as the
Indo-Scythiansor Sakas, 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 Surenvassals (the Indo-Parthian) around 20 AD, before the region was conquered by the Kushan Empirein the mid 1st century AD. The Kushanswere defeated by the Sassanid Persian Empire in the mid 3rd century, first becoming part of a vassal Kushanshastate, before being overrun by the Hephthalitesin the mid 400s. Sassanid armies reconquered Sistan in by 565 AD, but lost the area to the Arab RashidunCaliphate after the mid 640s. (For Sistan's history after the Islamic conquest, see History sections of Afghanistanand Iran).
Saffarids(861-1003 CE), one of the early Iranian dynasties of the Islamic era, were originally rulers of Sistan.
Sistan has a very strong connection with
Zoroastrianismand during Sassanid times Lake Hamunwas 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 site in Sistan is on
Kuh-e Khwajeh, a hill rising up as an island in the middle of Lake Hamun.
* [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9068007/Sistan Britannica]
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