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Arran (Azerbaijan)

From Academic Kids

Aran or Arran, a historical geographical name in Azerbaijan. The term has undergone major alterations in meaning throughout history, and is used to refer to both North Azerbaijan and the historical Karabakh area, consisting of Nagorno-Karabakh and lowland plains adjacent to it. Currently, the term is used in Azerbaijan to signify the territory consisting of the lowland Karabakh plains situated between Kura and Araks rivers, including the Mil plain and parts of the Mughan plain.

The name Arran derives from the legendary founder of Caucasian Albania, who according to legend was son of Noah's grandson Yafet (Japheth) and also, possibly the eponym of the ancient Caucasian Albanians.

First mention of Arran as a geographical name can be found in Arab sources of the 8th century. Following the Arab invasion of present-day Azerbaijan in the 8th century, most of the former territory of Caucasian Albania was renamed, and included in their Khalifate under the name Arran (ar-Ran).

However, it should be noted that according to some scholars, the name is considerably more ancient, noting that the Parthian name for Albania was Ardan, and that still older Iranian sources even refer to it as "Aran". The nearby Araks (Aras) river was known to Ancient Greek geographers as Araxes, and has a source not far from Mt. Ararat. Moreover, this region, long considered the earliest seat of the Zoroastrian faith, is likely the one referred to in the Zend Avesta as the "First land" (Airyana Vaego). Thus, 'Arran' is quite possibly the "missing link" between the names Ararat and Aryan (and indeed, Iran). The son of Japheth who first settled the Aras valley may have been Madai, if anecdotal tales related in the Book of Jubilees have any value.

Historically, the names Arran and Azerbaijan (Ancient Atropatene) were used interchangeably to refer to territory of North Azerbaijan. However, Azerbaijan was used to signify the larger area combining both South (Iranian) Azerbaijan and North Azerbaijan (Arran). At the same time, term Arran was often used in a narrower sense, implying not the whole territory of North Azerbaijan, but only the right bank of the Kura river, centered around the Karabakh area. In this interpretation, North Azerbaijan was generally divided into three historical areas: Arran, Shirvan and Talish-i Gushtasbi.

In a medieval chronicle “Ajayib-ad-Dunia”, written in 13th century by an unknown author, Arran is said to have approximately 30 farsakhs (200 km) width, and 40 farsakhs (270 km) length. All the right bank of the Kura until it joined with the Araks was attributed to Arran (the left bank of the Kura was known as Shirvan).

The medieval Islamic geographers gave descriptions of Arran in general, and of its towns (Barda, Beylagan, Ganja etc.) in particular, describing their agricultural fertility and their importance for commerce across the Caucasus.

Today, the term Arran is mainly used in Azerbaijan to indicate territories consisting of Mil and Mughan plains (mostly, Beylaqan, Imishli, Saatli, Sabirabad provinces of Azerbaijan).

External links

  • Arran Province (http://www.iranchamber.com/geography/articles/arran.php) by C.E.Bosworth, Iranian Chamber of Commerce. Useful information on history of Arran province, Caucasus Albania and Azerbaijan
  • ARRĀN (http://www.azargoshnasp.net/~iran/geography/azararan/realname.htm)
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