Ērān ud Anērān
Webfestschrift Marshak 2003


On the history of the ancient town of Vardāna and the Obavija Feud

Š. T. Adylov, J. K. Mirzaahmedov

In the territory of the ancient irrigated land of Bukhara, at about 7 km in northeast direction from the provincial center of Šafirkhan, lie the ruins of an ancient town called by the local people Kurgan-Vardanzeh. According to a subdivision common to other towns of its time, Vardanzeh was dominated by an ark-citadel with a lower town, the šahristān. At the present time only the rectangular-plan citadel is discernible. It extends in an east-west direction with an area of 0,5 ha and it is 15-16mts high.

It is entirely surrounded by a moat that reaches 20 m in depth, obviously filled with water in antiquity. The šahristān is oriented along the north-south axis, south of the citadel. From the 19th to the beginning of 20th century it reached the apex of its importance while nowadays it appears isolated and mostly invaded by sand. For this reason the dimensions and shapes of the šahristān must be determined theoretically. It should be said that at a hidden level in the suburban part there is the rabad.

As it is well-known, what is now the citadel, was until the 19th century a vast dwelling centre. Here was produced a kind of glazed ceramic very popular in the zone (Бурдyков, 1904, V-VI). This ceramic ware represents the last stage of the artistic development of Bukhara glazed ceramic ware of 18th-19th century, well-known even outside Bukhara (Мирзаахмедов, 1990, 63-64). The decline of Vardanzeh is connected to the desertification of the periphery of the Bukhara Oasis. Such a process, already observed by E. K. Mejendorf at the beginning of 19th century (Мейендорф, 1975, 85), resulted in a concentration of the people from the peripheric area to the centre of the Bukhara Oasis. During the 30’s of 20th century Vardanzeh was abandoned and its inhabitants founded a new centre: Vardanzeh-Kukhna, 2 km south of the former. Vardanzeh-Kukhna still exists. The territory around the abandoned part was considered for a long period an area of cultural interest and forbidden to the public. Now such a prohibition does not exist.

The citadel of Vardanzeh is one of the most well-known historical monuments of the region. Vardanzeh is mentioned often in the medieval written sources. In the Early Middle Ages it was the capital of a small but rich province whose governors were considered as important as the Lords of Bukhara, the Bukhār khudāt. The celebrated medieval historian Naršakhī (10th century), originally from the village of Naršakh not far from Vabkand and author of the 'Tarikhi Bukhāra' called this ancient town Vardāna. With the same name it is mentioned in the works of Arab geographers of 10th century Al-Istakhri (Kitab al-Masalik va-l-Mamalik) and Tabarī (Tarikhi al-Mulkba-l-Rasul). Another Arab geographer of 10th century al-Mukhaddasi (Akhsan at-Takhsim fi ma'rifat al-dalim) called this site Avarzāna. Then, on other two Arab geographers, as-Sam'anī (12th century, Kitab al-Ansab) and Yakut al-Khamavī (13th century, Mu'jam al-Buldan) in their works reported both Vardāna and Varzān (Камалиддинов, 1993, 63). The latter authors said also that in the Bukhara Oasis existed two sites with the same name Vardāna or Varzān1.

Probably, Vardāna should be considered the true name because it is reported more often in written sources and because the suffix '-zī' recurs in the names of modern localities. In Neopersian (Dari) it means 'place', 'zone'. The particle '-zī' is present in the names of ancient villages of the Bukhara region (for example Vaganzi, Isamzi, Paljanzi, etc.). So, the toponimous Vardānzī means 'the place of Vardāna'. The etymology of this old name is unknown.

Several medieval authors left information about this site. Al-Istakhri reported that Vardāna was close to the Safar canal (Камалиддинов, 1993, 66). Al-Mukaddasī called Avarzāna 'village, almost a town' (Беленицкий, Бентович, Большаков, 1973, 184). As-Samanī and Yakut al-Khamavī also used the term 'village' (Камалиддинов, 1993, 66). One should not wonder at this because after the Arab conquest Vardāna lost its position as one of the political centres of Western Sogd. These small towns often defined by ancient authors as villages, were economic centres of secondary areas called rustak. At Vardāna there was no mosque otherwise the ancient authors would have mentioned it. In that period the presence of a mosque determined the difference between village and town (Беленицкий, Бентович, Большаков, 1973, 164-165).

Vardāna is recorded by Naršakhī at length. In the XIIIth chapter of his History of Bukhara he reports an ancient legend about the foundation of this settlement which he considers a village. According to the legend, Vardāna was founded by a Persian prince of the Sasanian dynasty called Shapur a son of the šah Khosrow. After quarrelling with his father, Shapur went to Bukhara where the local governor, the Bukhār khudāt, received him with great honour. Shapur loved to hunt and the Bukhār khudāt gave him the uncultivated land in the north of Bukhara where many wild animals lived. The prince ordered a great canal to be dig in this area, called in his honour Šapurkām. The simple people called it 'Šafurkam'.

The new owner founded many villages along the canal, among which was Vardāna. The latter was Šapur’s residence and the centre of his feud 'Obavija' (Наршахи, 1991, 110-111). The prince and his successors, who, after a short time became kings, had the title of 'Vardān khudāt'2.

Naršakhī also mentions Vardāna in the IV chapter of his book: according to his description Vardāna was a great village with a huge stronghold which, in ancient times was the residence of the kings but in the days of the historian did not exist anymore. The founder of Vardāna was Malik (king) Šāhpūr (Šāpūr). Vardāna was on the border with Turkestan3 and, consequently, it had a great strategic, trading and producing importance. Here existed a weekly bazaar and here was produced a kind of material called 'zandaniji' as precious as Chinese silk. Naršakhī, then, said that Vardāna was more ancient than Bukhara (Наршахи, 1991, 98).

The information of Naršakhī is very interesting but controversial. In one part it is said that Vardāna was probably founded by Šāpūr on the uncultivated land left by the lord of Bukhara, but in the preceeding chapter that Vardāna was older than Bukhara. Then, it is not clear if there existed a king called Šāpūr. It is well-known that during the Sasanian period there were two šah called Khosrow: Khosrow I Anoširwan (531-578) and Khosrow II (590-628). Other historical written sources do not say anything about a son of one of them called Šāpūr who escaped to Bukhara. It is not improbable that 'Šāpūr' is a name but a title4. So, the name of this legendary prince, if ever existed, probably was not 'Šāpūr' and, consequently, the name 'Šāpūrkām' simply means 'the canal of the prince'5.

This canal if it existed at all was recorded soon as 'Šafirkan'. Researches showed that this is not an artificial canal but one of the tributaries of Zerafšan. The archaeologists proved that the villages along its banks existed in the first centuries B.C. On the surface of Vardānzī were found fragments of ceramic ware dated to 4th-5th century B.C. and even older. The cultivation of the region started long before the first Sasanian, Ardašīr I Papākān, was enthroned (aproximately 226 A.D.). In our opinion, the legend of prince Šāpūr is only partly based on real facts but it is difficult to establish how it is really connected to the canal. Probably these events happened in the time of the Hephtalites (second half of 5th century- 60’s of the 6th century). The huge Hephtalite state extended over a great part of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern India. It was a confederation of territories, more or less independent but linked to the central autorities through alliance agreements. The region of Bukhara was one of the most important feuds (Aдылов, 1998, 21). A king was at the head of this confederation but he had not absolute power over the governors.

There were several wars between Persia and the Hephtalite kingdom and the former was always defeated with the result that the Sasanians had to pay a regular tribute to the Hephtalites. Even the most powerful of the Sasanian šah -Khosrow I- had to pay tribute for a certain period, so it is not improbable that one of the Persian princes exiled by him found a perfect shelter among his father's strongest enemies. In this case his protector was the governor of Bukhara whose territory was situated close to the right bank of Jaykhun-Amudarja. This river was the borderline between Iran and the Hephtalite state.

The governor of Bukhara received the prince for political reasons and later, according to an ancient aristocratic costume, they became relatives through the marriage of Šāpūr with one of the daughter of the Bukhār khudāt. In this way the prince became a vassal of the lord of Bukhara and the land of Vardāna was intended as the marriage settlement of the woman.

Certainly this land had been cultivated since antiquity and Vardāna already existed along the tributary river. It is not improbable that in this period there were still some parts uncultivated where wild animals lived. It is worth noting that in the same period this territory had not such a strategic and economic importance. It was on the border between the cultivated lands and the steppes, often threatened and far away from the main trade routes.The fortified town of Vardāna was outside of the Kampirak wall which surrounded the greater of the part of the Bukhara Oasis as a protection against nomad’s attack6.

This prince of whose existence it is not sure, lived with his wife in Vardāna and protected the northern border of Bukhara. Probably he promoted the enlargement of the canal and the construction of smaller other ones in order to bring water to the fields and drinking water to the town and the villages. Maybe, it is for this reason that his name survived. So, the canal called 'Safara'- which, according to al-Istakhri, passed through Vardāna- is this Šāpūrkām. Safara is a corruption of the name 'Šāpūr' 7.

To support this hypothesis we can report some facts obtained from the historical sources on the relations between Persians and the Hephtalites.

The first fact is linked with the period of reign of the šah Pērōz (459-484), the one who attacked the Hephtalites three times and every time was defeated. After the first war he was imprisoned but he was rescued by the Byzantine Basileus. After the second defeat he swore on his own life to pay a great tribute which he could not raise at once but in two years and he left his son Kavād as an hostage. The third incursion costed him his own life and his camp was captured together with his daughter who was taken as wife by the Hephtalite king Kun-khi (Гафуров, 1989, 250-251; История народов Узбекистана, 128-129)8.

The second fact is linked to the Mazdakite revolution which happened in Iran in 5th-6th century. The šah Kavād (488-531) tried to use disorders to suppress the great aristocratic families, the great landowners and the priests. The Persian aristocracy deposed Kavād and enthroned his brother in 496. Kavād escaped to the Hephtalite court where he had had friendly relations since his sister was married to their king. He knew that only the military Hephtalite power could support his return on the Sasanian throne. He also married the king's daughter, that is to say his niece. Kavād lived for three years among the Hephtalites and, after his requests, the king gave him a great army in order to conquer the throne of Iran in 499 (Пигулевская, 1940, 136).

We do not know if the Hephtalite princess gave to Kavād any son. If he had existed he would have lived for sure at his grandfather's court for a certain period in order to allow the control of the Hephtalites over the Persian Empire. During the Middle Ages the custom of keeping hostages was a successful system to control aggression from the neighbouring countries.

So, we have the information about a long period of residence of Pērōz and his son at the Hephtalite court. The first time Kavād was just a prince, the second time he was the exiled šah and a relative of the Hephtalite king. If it is correct to consider the residence of the Hephtalites as located in the region of Bukhara (История народов Узбекистана, 129), then our hypothesis could be considered likely and in Šāpūr of the legend could be recognized Kavād, while in the figure of the Khosrow of the legend could be recognized Pērōz or his other son the usurper of Kavād9. This is not improbable although also Khosrow I, son of Kavād, could be the considered the šah called in the legend Šāpūr. In the history of Persian-Hephtalite relations there was likely to have been some episode which agrees with this legend.

It is important to mention also the rest of the area of the feud belonging to the Vardān khudāt, Obavija (or something pronounced similarly). In the territory of the modern region of Šafirkan there is some ancient village with its name ending in '-Uba'. The toponimous 'Obavija-Uba' comes probably from the Persian 'āb', water.

The Hephtalites led by their king Ghatifar were defeated by the Turks in the region of Bukhara around 567-568 and their state was destroyed. Bukhara with other lands was incorporated into the Turk Qaghanate. The Kampirak wall lost its importance as the territory of the Bukhara Oasis now became an internal province of the Qaghanate. There was no reason anymore for its mantainance and the relationships between Turks and Sogdians were friendly. Many Sogdian feuds recognized nominally the Turkic power but were substantially independent and were allowed to have their own coinage and make pacts among themselves.

The territory of Western Sogd was divided into several feuds and three were dominant: Bukhara was the centre of one of these and its governors kept the title of Bukhār khudāt. The second big centre was Ramitan. This ancient town is mentioned in Arab sources as the second capital of the region of Bukhara. There are some hints to consider the name of its governors as 'X-n-kkhudāt' ('Khunukkhudāt'? the real pronunciation and etymology of which are obscure). One of the 'Khunukkhudāt' is mentioned in the History of Bukhara where he is linked to the renewal of the destroyed Varakhša and another is mentioned as a governor who opposed to the advance of Qutayba ibn-Muslim (Aдылов, 1998, 22-25). The two capitals were both situated along the Silk Road. The third feud was Obavija with the Vardān khudāt as governor.

According to Naršakhī and Tabarī the Vardān khudāt were powerful governors and they could compete with the Bukhār khudāt (Наршахи, 1991, 111; История ат-Табари, 120-121). The reason of the flourishing of Obavija under the successors of Šāpūr was the new geopolitical reality. Obavija was situated on the border between the nomadic steppe and the territories along the Silk Road linking Bukhara and Samarkand, called 'Šahrākh' ('Main branch')10.

In every period, the steppe under nomadic rule did not only import but also export along this segment of the Silk Road. The Turks had their interests in trading with the Sogdians. The Sogdian colonies were settled along the Silk Road. For this reason the Vardān khudāt exploited the important position of Obavija. It is not possible to exclude the possibility that they enlarged their feud and had a sort of control over many smaller territories in the region of Bukhara. According to Tabarī it is arguable that Obavija had its golden age in this period.

The historian wrote about a territory called 'Kharkana as-Sufla' ('Low Kharkana') in the vicinity of the Vardān khudāt feud (История ат-Табари, 120). Al-Istakhrī mentioned this region as well. According to him in the region of 10th century Bukhara there were two rustak called Kharkana. One of these -the Kharkana as-Sufla- was inside the Kampirak wall, the second, called Kharkana ul-Ulija (High Kharkana) was external. Both the rustak had their names from the canals in their territories (Бартолдь, 1963, 163). The canal of High Kharkana is the modern Kalkan-Ata canal in the province of Kanimekh in the region of Navoī (Шишкин, 1963, 22). Also Naršakhī wrote of the High Kharkana: he called the internal canal 'Kharkanrud' ('river Kharkan') (Наршахи, 1991, 111) the same name exactly as the homonimous village which was probably situated on the bank of this river (Наршахи, 1991, 91). So, this canal was a borderline between Obavija and Low Kharkan11.

It is argued that the Kharkanrud canal was the modern canal Khalkanrud in the Gižduvan region (Бартолдь, 1963, 172; Шишкин, 1963, 2). Such identification is based on the similarity of the two names, but the Khalkanrud is a small canal which drains into a bigger canal called Pirmast from the left side. The name 'Kharkan' in Sogdian meant 'big canal' so it is improbable that this is the Kalkanrud. Then, 'Kharkan' is the ancient name of Gižduvan used until 12th century (Чехович, 1965, 88). In the territory of the province of Gižduvan flows the Pirmast canal but this is not the Kalkanrud. Consequently, the ancient Low Kharkana canal is the modern Pirmast, while the corrupted form 'Kalkanrud' is linked to his left tributary. So, the early Middle-Age and Samanid rustak known as Low Kharkana is now found between the Pirmast and the Kalkanrud canals with an administrative centre probably in the Gižduvan area. The territories in the north between the Pirmast and the Šafirkan canals belonged to Obavija (comprising the whole of the territory of Šafirkan and part of the land of the Gižduvan, Peškun and Kyzyl Tepe provinces).

Undoubtedly, Obavija had its own coinage. In the Historic-Architectural Museum of Bukhara there is a hoard found at Šafirkan. It comprises of silver coins of the drachm type, modelled after Bahrām V (421-439) coinage. The hoard was found together with a corpse dated to the period of the Arab conquest of Bukhara. The Sasanian silver coins and their local silver imitations were spread in the territory of the Bukhara Oasis and also outside its limits.The drachms of Bahrān V were particularly imitated. The Sasanian and Bukhara drachms were locally recycled with the addition of new inscriptions. In the Šafirkan hoard there are some specimens of this kind in the form of the so-called 'Bukhara tamga' with corrupted Pahlavi inscriptions. The coins of the hoard reflect a specific moment in the Bukhār khudāt drachm production (Aдылов, Семенов, 2000, 184). It is not improbable that these coins are connected with the mint of Vardāna (Мусакаева, 1991, 15-16).

In 706-7 the Arab general Qutayba ibn-Muslim crossed the Jaykhun and started the conquest of Sogd. In 712 the whole of Sogd, including Bukhara and Samarkand, was under Arab rule. The written sources record that the Vardāna governor fiercely opposed the Arab advance. Tabarī called him the king of all Bukhara (История ат-Таьари, 120-121) and Naršakhī 'honoured king' (ан-Наршахий, 1991, 111). Regarding this problem, it is said that after the surrendering of Taghšod (son of Bidun and the illustrious queen 'Khatun'12) to Qutayba, the governor of Vardāna proclaimed himself king of the whole Bukhara (Смирнова, 1970, 279). Then, he continued the resistance to the conquerors as a king of all the people of this part of Sogd.

As it is known, finally the Vardān khudāt died and his feud was taken by the Arabs. Qutayba gave this domain to Tagšod as a sign of his loyalty to the conquerors and Obavija ceased to exist as an independent feud. Vardāna too lost its importance (ан-Наршахий, 1991, 111). Considering these facts, some scholars date the usurpation of the Vardān khudāt to 707/8-709/10 (Смирнова, 1970, 279; Гоибов, 1989, 43).

Developing these hypotheses, one can imagine in which circumstances the Vardān khudāt proclaimed himself king of Bukhara. According to our opinion, the reason for this change of power are the previous events described in chapter XVIII of 'The History of Bukhara', where Naršakhī says that in the Bukhār khudāt palace a strong opinion existed concerning the honour of 'Khatun'. The father of Tagšod was not the husband of Khatun but one of her bodyguards with whom she had an intimate relationship. As a result, a strong opposition was found in the court of Bukhara among the military class which wanted a noble and worthy person as a ruler. However, the queen who knew about the conspiracy prevented it. Later the expedition of Sa'id ibn-Osman -the representative of the Caliph in Khorasan (675/6)- Khatun included members of the aristocracy who opposed to her among the 80 hostages taken to Arabia by Sa'id. Later they all died heroically in the palace of Sa'id in Medina, after killing Sa'id himself (ан-Наршахий, 1991, 116-118).

After the death of the queen the struggle began again and there appeared several pretenders to the throne of Bukhara. The most powerful was the ruler of Obavija, who, during the period of Qutayba's incursions, was quarreling with the Bukhār khudāt. He considered himself as a descendant of the Sasanian house and so the legitimate and worth pretender to the throne of Bukhara. Tagšod was young, unexperienced and compromised because of his friends with the Arabs. The Vardān khudāt was undoubtedly supported by the local population and army. According to Tabarī he even defeated the Arabs during their first battle and his prestige increased (История ат-Таьари, 121). According to Naršakhī, the Vardān khudāt was originally from Turkestan. Qutayba was obliged to lead a long war against him and he pushed him many times out of the kingdom of Bukhara but the Vardān khudāt escaped to his Turkish allies. Only after the Vardān khudāt's death, Qutayba managed to give Bukhara to Tagšod. Then, Qutayba defeated the other pretender and the decentralizing ambitions of the local aristocracy. As a result, Tagšod accepted to conversion to Islam and his son was called Qutayba in honour of his patron (ан-Наршахий, 1991, 93).

In the beginning of the 80’s of 7th century, during the suppression of the anti-Arabic rebellion under Mukanna, the opposition was renewed by strong nomadic elements. The inhabitants of Bukhara remained pagan and this was one of the reason why the representatives of the Baghdad Caliphs at Bukhara rebuilt the Kampirak wall. Once more, Vardāna was outside it, as a border fort. At the end of 9th century, in the time of Emir Ismail as-Samanī, the wall already had lost its military importance. Naršakhī recorded one sentence of the Emir: 'While I am alive, I am the wall of Bukhara' (ан-Наршахий, 1991, 112). Nevertheless, Vardāna failed to restore its previous glory.

In the second half of 9th-10th century, several rustak appeared in the territory of former Obavija. According to Al-Istakhri in the territory of Bukhara there were 22 rustak, 15 of which were situated inside the Kampirak. Among the inside rustak is mentioned Arvan, where there was a canal with the same name (Бартолдь, 1963, 163). Also Naršakhī mentioned a canal with this name (ан-Наршахий, 1991, 111). Al-Mukaddasī wrote of a town called 'Garvan' or 'Urvan' (Беленицкий, Бентович, Большаков, 1973, 184). Most likely, the center of the rustak was situated in a place near to the town with the same name. If so it corresponds to a ruined old town situated approximately 7 km west of Vardanzeh. The local inhabitants call this place Jalvan. As Vardanzeh, it was inhabited also in the 19th century. In the Soviet period a new village called Jalvan appeared situated north of Vardanzeh where there was a canal called Jalvan.

The canal was excavated in Soviet times so that its water could be used for cultivation of the northern territory. In this case the village gave its name to the canal. As for the place of old Jalvan, it was situated at the terminal part of the present day dry canal of Sultanabad which flows between Šafirkan and Pirmast. Modern Sultanabad corresponds to ancient Arvan.

The other part of ancient Obavija including Vardāna (on the right bank of Šafirkan) belonged to the external rustak. Among the 7 external rustak, Al-Istakhri recorded Šah-Balš ('Gift of the king') (Бартолдь, 1963, 163). In the name we identify the legendary (or real?) gift of the Bukhār khudāt (the king of the Hephtalites) to prince Šāpūr (Kavād?). It is necessary to mention that all the other external rustak are correctly identified around the Bukhara Oasis. So, the identification of the right bank of Šafirkan with the Šah-Balš is certain. Naturally, the center of the rustak was Vardāna.

In conclusion, the rich history of this ancient town with its surrounding settlements entirely deserves the interest of the authorities and the scientific community, in order to sponsor a big scale archaeological investigation for the study of the site.


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*Published originally in Russian: Ш. Т. Адылов, Д. К. Мирзаахмедов, Из истории древнего города Вардана и владения Обавия, История Материальной Kультуры Узбекистана, 32, 2001, 150-157. Translated and adapted by I. A. Shelykh and M. Compareti.

1 Another village with the same name exists nowadays. It is called Vardana-Šajkhon, at c. 5 km east of Ramitan. In its north-east periphery there is the ancient corresponding town.

2 The title 'Vardān khudāt' means litterally 'Lord of Vardana'. The ancient Iranian term 'khudāh' ('khudāt' according to Arab writings) means 'lord', 'governor', 'owner', etc. In the ancient period among the Iranians and the Turkish people it meant God (Allah). From the ancient Persian 'khudāh' comes the Neopersian term 'khojā' (khujāin) and the Russian 'хозяин' (owner).

3 In Early and Late Middle Ages, Turkestan (the land of the Turks) meant South Russia, Kazakhstan, South Siberian steppes and also the desertic territory bordering the Central Asian oases. Just after the Middle Ages this term started to mean the whole of the geographic area of Central Asia.

4 In Middle Persian (Pahlavi) translation, 'Šāpūr' (more correctly 'Šāh-pūr') means 'son of the king', 'prince'. It is correct to suppose that Middle Persian knew a wide diffusion arounf Bukhara since 6th-7th century together with Sogdian. This is confirmed by historical sources, archaeological finds and in modern languages the ancient hydro-toponym were kept until the present moment of time. Probably for this reason Neopersian completely ousted Sogdian language in its historical territory.

5 In ancient Iranian languages the term 'kan' meant 'to dig', 'place of the canalized waters', 'canal'. In the region of Bukhara, where it is possible to find many hydro-toponym ending in '-kan', it is possible often to observe the form 'kām' ('Kharamkam', 'Kami-Zar', Kami-Dajmun', 'Kalkanrud', 'Kalkan-Ata', etc.). During the 19th century, at Bukhara, the term 'kam' signified long main canal, while a small canal was called 'jui' (aryk) (Кисляков, 1962, 134).

6 The study of the written sources and the archaeological and cartographic investigations showed that the Kampirak wall was built in two phases. The first one is dated to the Hephtalite period (end of the 5th-middle of the 6th century). The second phase is dated to the period between 782 and 831 and it is described in the XV chapter of the History of Bukhara. Between the two phases there was a long period when the wall had no importance. The second phase wall presents signs of destruction. Both the first as the second phase were conceived for defence against the nomadic Turkish tribes (Aдылов, 1998, 19-21; Mирзаахмедов, 1994).

7 As it is well-known, Naršakhī wrote his book in Arabic and in 11th century it was translated in Fārsī by al-Kubavī, originary of Kuva (Ferghana). Nowadays it was preserved just the Persian version. Clearly, in the read and written Arab form, the name of the canal was 'Šāfūrkām', in accordance with the rules of Arab language and the local dialectal variations. Nevertheless, al-Kubavī does not simply 'adapt' authomatically the arabized form of the canal but he reflects the adaptation according to the rules of literary Fārsī (although he reflects the dialectal pronunciation as well). According to al-Istakhri, also his variant (without '-kām') was naturally arabized with more alterations. Possibly, the mistakes in the script were not due to the authors but to the copysts. In the place of 'šin' they could have written 'sin' which, in Arab script is almost identical. Such mistakes in calligraphy were quite common among the Middle Ages copysts. As a result of such a phonetic corruption, 'Šāpūr' could have be transformed in 'Sāfār'.

8 Kunkhi (Gunkhaz) is the name attributed to him by the Byzantine historian Priscus. According to Ferdousi his name was Khušnavaz and for Tabarī Akhšunvar. Possibly, the latter variant was not a name but a title (Гафуров, 1989, 251).

9 Among the šah of the Sasanian dynasty, Khosrow I was not only the most powerful but also the most famous. His predecessors and successors on the throne of Iran had this name not only in the literatury tradition but also in the representations of the Sasanian šah in the national monuments.

10 The constructions were built along the left bank of the Rudi-Zar canal (alias Nakhri-Zar, Rudi-Šarg, Nakhri-Bukhoro, Kharamkan) which during the ancient time was identified with the course of the lower reaches of Zerafšān. Now this course is called Šahrud.

11 In the ancient time the administrative and political borderlines were often fixed along a river, firstly because a river was a natural obstacle, secondly because it was a steady dividing line.

12 Naršakhī called the queen just 'Khatun'. According to other historians her name was Kabaj-khatun (Tabarī) and Khutak-khatun (?) (Kh-t-k-khatun) (Asam ibn-Kufi). Probably this name is actually a title (Aдылов, 1998, 24).

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