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These 5 photos show the same map through different zooms. What is interesting in this map is the information it offers about our country and the region in the past. For example we can see that the major cities of Khorasan were: Balkh, Bamyan, Kabul, Ghazni, Kandahar, Lashkargah, Ghur, Herat, Nishapur, Meshed and Merv. As the map shows, of these 11 major cities, the first 8 are now in Afghanistan; Of the last 3 cities, Nishapur and Meshed are now in Iran, and Merv in present day Turkmenistan. So it is quite visible that the main body of yesterday's glorious Khorasan corresponds to today's war-torn Afghanistan. We can also see that Khorasan has been one of the largest provinces/lands in the region compared to the provinces surrounding it. The map also informs us about who all were our neighbours. From the east, Khorasan shared borders with Kashmir, Panjab and possibly Sind (Indus river marking the probable eastern border). In north, Khorasan had borders with Khwarezm, Soghdiana and possibly Farghana (Oxdus river or Amu Darya partially marking the probable northern border). On the western side we had Persia (in 1935 the name Persia was changed to Iran). And in the south we bordered with Sistan. Though during the rule of many Khorasanian dynasties Sistan was part of Khorasan and our land did stretch to the coasts of the Arabian Sea, and of the Persian Gulf. The Timurid and the Ghaznavid empires and Ahmad Shah Abdali's era are some examples. However, in 19th century the Mohamadzai Amirs lost Balouchistan to the Biritish and Khorasan became permanantly land-locked. And at the end of 19th century, the ruthless Amir Abdurahman (1880-1901), signed the final border treaties with Russia and Britain (1893). He lost more provinces to them and fixed the borders as they are today, and named the remaining geographical entity, Afghanistan. While Abdurahman's own father, Amir Mohamad Afzal Khan (1866-1867), had marked his coin with the Dari (Persian) verse whose literal translation would sound as: "Mohamad Afzal became Amir of the land of Khorasan". This shows that even until 140 years ago the Kings or Amirs of this land still called their kingdom or emirate, Khorasan.
The Safavid dynasty of Persia (1501 - 1736) was contemporary to two other superpowers in the region. The first was the Moghol Empire founded by the Timurid prince, Zahirudin Babur, who estalished his kingdom in Kabul (1504). He later conquered India and laid the fundation stone for the Moghol Empire there (1526). The Moghol Empire lasted till the British colonisation of India. The second power was the Shaibani dynasty of Central Asia, founded by Mohammad Shaibani in Bukhara (1506). This simply means that the 17th century marked the partition period of Great Khorasan which lasted 1 century. As this map partially shows, Khorasan was devided between the Persian dynasty and the Moghol Empire; some northern provinces did fall under the rule of the Amirs of Bukhara. With frequently oscillating borderlines, this situation continued till 1747 when the Persian king, Nadir Shah Afshar, was assassinated. Taking advantage of the power vacuum, one of his high-ranking army officers called Ahmad Khan, an Abdali Pashtun, claimed independnce in Kandahar and proclaimed himself the ruler of Khorasan with Kandahar as his capital. He managed to reunite almost all of what was known as Khorasan before the partition, into a strong kingdom. He founded the Saduzai dynasty. After his death, his son Timur Shah moved the throne to Kabul. The Saduzai dynasty was overthrown in mid 19th century by another Pashtun tribe called Mohammadzai whose last king, Zahir Shah, ruled till 1973. However, many of the Saduzai and Mohamadzai kings, unlike Ahmad shah himself, proved to be inefficient leaders and tribal and barbaric in their attitude. They had a lot of in-fighting in their quest for the throne and due to their inabilities Khorasan began to lose ground to its new imperial neighbours -Russia and British India. Their intra-family conflicts also led the once glorious Khoraran into poverty and backwardness. The patriot King Amanullah (1919-1929) tried to modernise the country but failed and fled. And Mohamad Nadir Shah (1930-1933), instead of keeping his promise of returning Amanulla Khan back to the throne, sat himself in it and led the country back to tribalism. Khorasan's or present day Afghanistan's south and south east have been home to tribal societies and in the last couple of centuries they have been ruling the country. Even in 21st century we experienced the tribal government of the Taliban. And the tale continues yet.
This map shows the enormous realm of the Timurid Empire 1370 - 1506. The empire was founded by Timur, born on 8th April 1336 in Kesh near Samarkand, member of turkicized Barlas tribe, a Mongol subgroup that had settled in Transoxonia. Because of an arrow-wound in the leg, he was nicknamed Timur-e-Lang or Timur the Lame, corrupted in the West to Tamerlane. As displayed in this map, Khorasan (spelt Khurasan) makes a huge part of this empire, covering from the Oxus river (Amu Darya) regions in the north to the Arabian Sea in the south and from Indus river and gates of Panjab in the east to the east of Persia in the west. After Timur's death his conquest were divided between two of his sons: Miranshah (d. 1407) received the western part, while Shah Rokh was left with KHORASAN. Between 1406-1417 Shah Rokh extended his holdings to include those of Miranshah as well as Mazanderan, Seistan, Transoxonia, Fars (native Persia) and Kerman, thus reuniting almost all of his father's empire, which he ruled from Khorasan. Shah Rokh also retained a nominal suzerainty over China and India. In other words Shah Rokh founded the Timurid Empire of Khorasan, with HERAT as its capital city, which lasted for a whole century, till it was overthrown by the Shaibani Uzbeks in 1506. During Shah Rokh's reign 1405-47, economic prosperity was restored and much of the damage wrought by Timur's campaigns was repaired. Trading and artistic community were brought into CAPITAL CITY OF HERAT, where a library was founded, and the capital became the center of a renewed and artistically brilliant culture. The court of the last great Timurid, Husain Bayeqra (1478-1506) supported such luminaries as the poet Jami, the painters Mirkhwand and Khwandamir and the vizier, Mir Ali Shir.
This map shows Khorasan, Transoxiana and Kwarezm in 10th - 12th centuries. That means the era of the Ghaznavid and the Ghorid dynasties. Louvre has named this map "Eastern Iran", wherein the word Iran either refers to Ancient Iran or Aryana, or it is probably a replacement for Persia. But we will not get into those details here. The fact is that though Khorasan was part the pre-Islamic Persian empires of the Achamenids and the Sasanids, after the emergence of Islam the situation was turned around. Then it was Persia or today's Iran, which became part of different empires and dynasties that rose from Khorasan, or whose capitals were Khorasanian cities. Examples could be the Samanids, the Ghaznavids, the Ghorids and the Temurids of Herat. But for the west the name did not change. It was always Persia and later -after 1935- Iran! But that's a discussion for another time. Any way, what is important in this map is that here Khorasan is even wider. It reaches the Indus river, covers parts of Balouchistan and reaches the Arabian sea. It is also worthy of noticing that here the name of our northern neigbour, Soghdiane, has been changed to Transoxiane (Mawara-un-nahr), by the Arabs.