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(Redirected from Kharezmians)

Khwarezmia (also spelled Chorasmia) was a state centered around the Aral Salt Flats (formerly the Aral Sea) including modern Karakalpakstan across the Ust-Urt plateau perhaps extending to as far west as the eastern shores of the North Caspian Sea. To the south it bordered on Khorasan to the north the kingdom of Alans to the southeast Kangju and Sogdian Transoxiana, and on the northeast with the Huns of Transiaxartesia . Alternative spellings for the name of the capital city Khiva are numerous and include Khorasam, Khoresm, Khwarezm, Khwarizm, Khwarazm and Chorezm.


Early history

According to Ancient Khorezm (Moscow 1948), written by the head of the Soviet archaeological-ethnographic expedition of 1945 - 1948, Sergei Pavlovich Tolstov (1907-1976), the first inhabitants of the area were Hurrians from the area of Transcaucasian Iberia, and he explains the etymology of "Chorezm" as Hurri-Land. The first two names of rulers we have for the area are Sijavus c.1300BC (?synonymous with Afrasiab c.1100 BC) and Aurvat-Aspa , usually placed in the late 600s BC though dating is very difficult. From the ancient times the Iranian tribes entered and inhabited the area. Their language, Khwarezmian, was one of the Eastern Iranian languages.

Classical times

When the king of Khwarezmia offered friendship to Alexander the Great in 328 BC, Alexander's Greek and Roman biographers imagined the nomad king of a desert waste, but 20th century Russian archeologists revealed Khiva as a stable and centralized kingdom, a land of agriculture to the east of the Aral Sea, surrounded by the nomads of Central Asia, protected by its army of mailed horsemen, in the most powerful kingdom northwest of the Amu Darya ('Oxus River' of antiquity). The king's emissary offered to lead Alexander's armies against his own enemies, west over the Caspian towards the Black Sea. Alexander politely refused.

The Pekhlevi script based on Aramaic alphabet was used by Persian bureaucracy alongside Old Persian passed into use in Khwarezmia to the north, where it served as the first local alphabet, about the 2nd century.

Middle Ages

According to Biruni the area was ruled by the Afrigid dynasty from the 4th-8th centuries. The resurgent kingdom was established around Khiva in 410CE by Avar tribes possibly under Hephthalites influence. The inhabitants were called Khwalis or Kaliz by the Magyars after the eastern-most Kabars of Hungary, who dwelt in Carpathian Galicia. They were also called Khalisioi in Greek, Khvalis (and often associated with Khazars) in Russian and HuaLaZiMu (or perhaps Kua-Li & Ho-li-sih-mi-kia) in Chinese. The etymology of the name is unknown but may pertain to a kingdom of the Aral sea or Hua people.

Khiva was the birthplace of the great Persian mathematician of the Abbasid period, al-Khwarezmi.

In the 11th century, Oghuz Turks founded the Khwarezmid Empire, that in the 1200s conquered all of Persia under the shah Allah al-Din Muhammad II. In 1218 to 1220 Genghis Khan and his Mongols conquered all of Persia, however, destroying the empire.

Modern Age

The region of Khwarezm became part of the Jagatai Khanate before it gained some autonomy as theKhanate of Khiva under the Mongols. On August 12 1873, a peace treaty was signed that established the Khanate as a Russian protectorate. In 1924, northern Khwarezmia became the Uzbek SSR, in 1925 the western part became the Turkmen SSR and in 1936 the eastern Khwarezm became the Tadzhik SSR. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, these became Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan respectively. Southern Khwarezmia is today a part of Iran.

See also


  • Robin Lane Fox, Alexander the Great, pp 308ff etc.

External link

  • [Link Severed]

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45