History of the name Azerbaijan

History of the name Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is the name used by the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Iranian region of Azerbaijan. This name originated from pre-Islamic history of Persia, derived from "Atropates", a Persian ["Miniature Empires: A Historical Dictionary of the Newly Independent States" by James Minahan, published in 2000, page 20] [ [http://www.livius.org/as-at/atropates/atropates.htm Livius.org] ] [Chamoux, Francois. "Hellenistic Civilization". Blackwell Publishing, published 2003, page 26] [Bosworth, A.B., and Baynham, E.J. "Alexander the Great in Fact and Fiction". Oxford, published 2002, page 92] satrap (governor). The article covers the etymology of this term and also territorial regions that utilized this name in the historical era as well as in modern times.


According to historian Vladimir MinorskyMinorsky, V.; Minorsky, V. "Ādharbaydjān ( Azarbāydjān ) ." Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by: P.Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2007. Brill Online. ] :cquote|called in Middle Persian Āturpātākān, older new-Persian Ād̲h̲arbād̲h̲agān, Ād̲h̲arbāyagān, at present Āzarbāyd̲j̲ān, Greek ᾿Ατροπατήνη, Byzantine Greek ᾿Αδραβιγάνων, Armenian Atrapatakan, Syriac Ad̲h̲orbāyg̲h̲ān. The province was called after the general Atropates (“protected by fire”), who at the time of Alexander's invasion proclaimed his independence (328 B.C.) and thus preserved his kingdom (Media Minor, Strabo, xi, 13, 1) in the north-western corner of later Persia (cf. Ibn al-Muḳaffaʿ, in Yāḳūt, i, 172, and al-Maḳdisī, 375: Ād̲h̲arbād̲h̲ b. Bīwarasf).

According to Professor Xavier Planhol [Encyclopedia Iranica, "Azerbaijan: Geography". X.D. Planhol [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v3f2/v3f2a088a.html] ] :cquote| The name of the country is derived from that of the Achaemenian satrap of Media Atropates (Strabo 11.523) who was retained by Alexander in the government of western Media and preserved it under his successors, thus founding a principality which maintained itself in a state of independence or at least semi-independence until the second century B.C., and was only definitively reunited with the Persian empire under the Sasanian king of kings Shapur I along with Armenia (cf. Markwart, Eranshahr, pp. 111-12). From the name of this man comes the Greek forms (Atropatene, Atropatios Media [Strabo, loc. cit.] , Tropatene [Ptolemy 6.2] , the Armenian form Atrpatakan (Movses Xorenaci, cf. Markwart. Eranshahr, pp. 108-14), the Middle Persian form Āturpātākān (cf. Schwarz, Iran, p. 960), the New Persian forms Ād̲harbāyjān and Ād̲arbāygān.

According to Professor K. Shippmann [Encyclopedia Iranica, "Azerbaijan: Pre-Islamic History", K. Shippmann] :cquote|In the Achaemenid period Azerbaijan was part of the satrapy of Media. When the Achaemenid empire collapsed, Atropates, the Persian satrap of Media, made himself independent in the northwest of this region in 321 B.C. Thereafter Greek and Latin writers named the territory Media Atropatene or, less frequently, Media Minor (e.g. Strabo 11.13.1; Justin 23.4.13). The Middle Persian form of the name was (early) Āturpātākān, (later) Ādurbādgān) whence the New Persian Ādarbāyjān

Pre-Islamic era

Strabo in Book 11 of his geography gives us one of the earliest accounts of the region and mentions the kingdom of Atropatene.Cquote| And then on the north by the Ocean as far as the mouth of the Caspian Sea; and then on the east by this same sea as far as the boundary between Albania and Armenia, where empty the rivers Cyrus and Araxes, the Araxes flowing through Armenia and the Cyrus through Iberia and Albania; and lastly, on the south by the tract of country which extends from the outlet of the Cyrus River to Colchis, which is about three thousand stadia from sea to sea, across the territory of the Albanians and the Iberians, and therefore is described as an isthmus....The other part is Atropatian Media, which got its name from the commander Atropates, who prevented also this country, which was a part of Greater Media, from becoming subject to the Macedonians. Furthermore, after he was proclaimed king, he organized this country into a separate state by itself, and his succession of descendants is preserved to this day, and his successors have contracted marriages with the kings of the Armenians and Syrians and, in later times, with the kings of the Parthians....Their royal summer palace is situated in a plain at Gazaca, and their winter palace in a fortress called Vera, which was besieged by Antony on his expedition against the Parthians. This fortress is distant from the Araxes, which forms the boundary between Armenia and Atropene, two thousand four hundred stadia, according to Dellius, the friend of Antony, who wrote an account of Antony's expedition against the Parthians, on which he accompanied Antony and was himself a commander.

"The Natural History of Pliny" states:

Shapur I's inscription in Naqsh-e-Rostam also lists the North Western and Caucasian provinces of Sassanid Iran, amongst them Albania, Atropatene, Armenia, Iberia, Balasgan, and the gate of Alans. [Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 4 May 2007 :"The list of provinces given in the inscription of Ka'be-ye Zardusht defines the extent of the empire under Shapur, in clockwise geographic enumeration: (1) Persis (Fars), (2) Parthia, (3) Susiana (Khuzestan), (4) Maishan (Mesene), (5) Asuristan (southern Mesopotamia), (6) Adiabene, (7) Arabistan (northern Mesopotamia), (8) Atropatene (Azerbaijan), (9) Armenia, (10) Iberia (Georgia), (11) Machelonia, (12) Albania (eastern Caucasus), (13) Balasagan up to the Caucasus Mountains and the Gate of Albania (also known as Gate of the Alans), (14) Patishkhwagar (all of the Elburz Mountains), (15) Media, (16) Hyrcania (Gorgan), (17) Margiana (Merv), (18) Aria, (19) Abarshahr, (20) Carmania (Kerman), (21) Sakastan (Sistan), (22) Turan, (23) Mokran (Makran), (24) Paratan (Paradene), (25) India (probably restricted to the Indus River delta area), (26) Kushanshahr, until as far as Peshawar and until Kashgar and (the borders of) Sogdiana and Tashkent, and (27), on the farther side of the sea, Mazun (Oman)"] . E.H.

Islamic era

Various historians and geographers and travelers have given description of the region during the Islamic era and the article. Some of these are listed in chronological order here.

Abdullah Ibn al-Muqaffa (d. 760) a Muslim or Zoroastrian scholar and translator of Persian background is quoted by Ibn Nadeem (d. 988) as incorporating the region of Azerbaijan into the Fahla [Kitab al-Fihrist mit Anmerkungen hrsg. von Gustav Flügel, t vols., Leipzig 1871. Original Arabic: فأما الفهلوية فمنسوب إلى فهله اسم يقع على خمسة بلدان وهي أصفهان والري وهمدان وماه نهاوند وأذربيجان] :cquote| And Fahlavi (Pahlavi language) pertains to the region of Fahla which is the region compromised of Esfahan, Ray, Hamadan, Mah Nahavand and Azerbaijan

Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn al-Husayn (896-956), the Arab historian states:

Ahmad ibn Yaqubi (d. 897) in his work "Al-Buldan" (The Countries) writes [ Yaʻqūbī, Aḥmad ibn Abī Yaʻqūb, d. 897?, Les pays, tr. par Gaston Wiet. Publications de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale du Caire. Textes et traductions d’auteurs orientaux ; t. 1, Le Caire, 1937. ] :cquote|And whoever wants to travel to Azerbaijan, must leave Zanjan and travel four stages to reach the city of Ardabil. And Ardabil is the first city, among the cities of Azerbaijan, he will encounter. From Ardabil to Barzand region in Azerbaijan is three stages. And from Barzand to Warthan city in Azerbaijan, and from Warthan to Beylakan and from Beylakan till the city of Maragheh, which is a city in the center of upper Azerbaijan, and the cities of Azerbaijan are: Ardabil, Barzand, Varthan, Barda', Shiz, Saraat, Marand, Tabriz, Miyaneh, Urmia, Khoy and Salmas. And the people of cities and regions of Azerbaijan are a mixture of Old Ajam (Persian Muslims) Azariyya and followers of Javidan.

Ahmad ibn Yaqubi (d. 897) in his work "Al-Tarikh" (The History) writes [ Ibn-Wadhih qui dicitur al-Jaʻqubi historiae. Edidit indicesque adjecit M. Th. Houtsma, Leiden, E. J. Brill, l969., pg 203] :cquote|Khazars took positions of all the cities of Armenia and they had king by the title of Khaghan. He had a successor whose name was Yazid Balash and he ruled upon Aran, Jurzan, Basfurjan, Sisjan and this province was called the Fourth Armenia which Kobad the Iranian king had won in battle.

Ahmad ibn Yaqubi quoted by the Arabian historian Abul Fida has stated: [ Yaʻqubi, Aḥmad ibn Abi Yaʻqub, d. 897?, Les pays, tr. par Gaston Wiet.,Publications de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale du Caire. Textes et traductions d’auteurs orientaux ; t. 1, Le Caire, 1937. pg 232]

Al-Istakhri, in 930, wrote:

Al-Muqaddasi (b. 945) lists the cities of Azerbaijan and Armenia and Aran: [Al-Muqaddasi, ‘The Best Divisions for Knowledge of the Regions’, a translation of his Ahsan at-taqasim fi Ma'rifat al-Aqalim by B.A. Collins, Centre for Muslim Contribution to Civilization, Garnet Publishing Limited,1994, pg 329-331 [http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1873938144] Original Arabic from www.alwaraq.net which has Muqaddasi online:فأما الران فإنها تكون نحو الثلث من الإقليم في مثل جزيرة بين البحيرة ونهر الرس ونهر الملك يشمقها طولاً، قصبتها برذعة ومن مدنها: تفليس، القلعة، خنان، شمكور، جنزة، يرديج، الشما خية، شروان، باكوه، الشا بران، باب الأبواب،الأبخان، قبلة، شكي، ملازكرد، تبلا. وأما أرمينية فإنها كورة جليلة رسمها أرميني بن كنظر بن يافث بن نوح ومنها ترتفع الستور والزلالي الرفيعة كثيرة الخصائص قصبتها دبيل ومن مدنها: بدليس، خلاط، أرجيش، بركري، خوي، سلماس، أرمية، داخرقان، مراغة، أهر، مرند، سنجان، قاليقلا، قندرية، قلعة يونس، نورين. وأما آذربيجان فإنها كورة اختطها اذرباذ بن بيوراسف بن الأسود بن سام بن نوح عليه السلام قصبتها وهي مصر الإقليم أردبيل بها جبل مساحته مائة وأربعون فرسخاً كله قرى ومزارع يقال أن به سبعين لساناً كثرة خيرات أردبيل منه. أكثر بيوتهم تحت الأرض ومن مدنها: رسبة، تبريز، جابروان، خونج، الميا نج، السراة، بروى، ورثان، موقان، ميمذ، برزند. فإن زعم زاعم أن بدليس من إقليم أقور واستدل بأنها كانت في ولايات بني حمدان أجيب بأنه لما ادعاها أهل الإقليمين جعلناها من هذا لانا وجدنا لها نظيراً في الاسم وهي تفليس، وأما الولايات فليست حجة في هذا الباب الا ترى أن سيف الدولة كانت له قنسرين والرقة ولم يقل أحد أن الرقة من الشام.] cquote| Al-Ran constitutes about one third of the region. it is like an island, between the lake and the River Al-Rass. The River Al-Malik (Kura) cuts through its length. Its capital is Bardha'a, and among its towns are Tiflis, Al-Qal'a, Khunan, Shamkur, Janza, Bardij, Al-Shamakhiya, Shirwan, Bakuh, Al-Sahabaran, Bab al-Abwab, Al-Abkhan(Abkhaz), Qabala, Shakki, Malazkird, Tabla. Arminiya is an important district. Its capital is Dabil, and among its towns are Bidlis, Khilat, Arjish, Barkari, Khuy, Salamas, Urmiya, Dakharraqan, Maragha, Ahar, Marand, Sanjan, Qaliqala, Qandariya, Qal'at, Yunus, Nurin. Azarbaijan: Its capital, and it is the metropolis of the region, is Ardabil. Among its towns are: Rasba, Tabriz, Jabirwan, Khunaj, Al-Miyanj, Al-Sarat, Barwa, Warthan, Muqan, Mimadh, Barzand.

Ibn Hawqal (943-977), the 10th century Arabian traveler gives an eyewitness account of his stay in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Aran. [ Muhammad ibn Haukal, "The Oriental Geography of Ebn Haukal, an Arabian Traveller of the Tenth Century", Translated by William Ouseley, Adamant Media Corporation, 2001, pages 156-165 (description of Armenia, Aran and Azerbaijan). Some quotes from Ibn Hawqal: The borders of Azerbaijan extent from Tarem to Zangan to Deinel and Howlan and to Shehrzour, to the river Dejleh (Tigris), and back to the borders of Armenia...On one side of Derband is a great mountain called Adeib; on this they assemble every year, and make many fires, that they may confound and dispere their enemies from the borders of Azerbaijan, and Armenia, and Arran...Armenia is an extensive and fertile region, bounded by the sea and full of delightful situations: the towns are Misan, Khounah, Bervanan, Khoy, Selmas, Neshoui, Marend, abriz, Berzend, Derban, Moukan and Khaberan; and several smaller towns...Ardabil is the most considerable city in Azerbaijan...Maragheh is nearly the same size as Ardebil..Deinel is a larger city than Ardabil, and the chief town of Armenia. The place of the governor is there, as at Barda, the capital of Aran...There is a lake in Azerbaijan called the lake of Urmia...Throughout this country the Persian and Arabian languages are understood. The inhabitants of Ardebil use also the Armenian tongue; in the mountainous country belong to Berdaa, the people use a different dialect. In Azerbaijan, and Aran, and Armenia, gold and silver coins are current.] Fakhr ad-din Asad Gorgani, a 11th century poet, who rhymed the pre-Islamic story of Vis o Ramin into new Persian poetry, mentions Azerbaijan, Armenia and Aran in two couplets as the special domain of the princess vis [Mohammad Roshan, Vis o Ramin, Critical edition with introduction and commentary, Seda Muasir Publishers, Tehran, 2001منبع: ويس و رامين با مقدمه و تصحيح و تحشيه‌ي محمد روشن، انتشارات صداي معاصر ،تهران۱۳۸۱جهان در دست ويس دلستان بود / وليكن خاصش آذربايگان بودهميدون كشور ارّان و ارمن / سراسر بد به دست آن سمن‌تن(بخش ۱۲۴:نشستن رامين بر تخت پادشاهي، ص ۳۶۹)Translation:The world was at the hand of heart-grabbing princess Vis, But her choice was the land of Azerbaijan, And also the countries of Aran and Armenia, All these lands were at hand of that flower-bodies princess] Ḥamd-Allāh ibn Abī Bakr Qazvīnī Mustawfi, in his "Nuzhat al-qulub" (d. 1339-40) also mentions Azerbaijan, Arran, Mughan, and Shirvan as different provinces. ["Nuzhat al-qulūb" by Ḥamd-Allāh ibn Abī Bakr Qazvīnī Mustawfi 1339-40, republished in 1919 as "The Geographical Part of the Nuzhat-al-qulūb" page 24: "Thus the provinces of the two Iraqs, Adharbayjan, Arran and Mughan, Shirvan, Ghushtasfi and in part of Gurjistan, and in the whole of Kurdistan, Qumis, Mazandaran, Tabaristan, Jilanat and in part also of Khurasan, it is necessary when you would stand facing the Qiblah that the north pole should be behind..."]
Bala'mi (946-973), the 10th century Persian court chronicler of Samanids, translated an abridged version of Tabari's history into Persian and wrote his own additional comments. He states [ Bal'ami, Abu Ali Muhammad. Tarikh Ba'lami. Mohammad Gonabadi in accordance with the corrected edition of Bahar. Second Edition, Tehran, Zavar Publishers, 1974. Volume I, pg 48-49 Original Persian: زمين مغرب و روم و سقلاب و آذربايگان و اران و كرج تماميت مرسلم را داد و او را قيصر نام كرد.] :

Bala'ami also states: [Abu Alimuhammad ibne Muhammad Bal’ami; Tarikhnaame Tabari, Volume 1, Tehran 1366 (1987), Xabare gushaadane Azerbaijan ve Darbande Khazaran (The news of conquer of Azerbaijan and Darband), page 529.]

Ibn Rusta, a 9th/10th century Persian explorer and geographer traveled to region and has mentioned the names of the districts and provinces. He writes in his famous book "al-A'laq Al-Nafisah":

The "Hodud al-Alam", finished in 982, "considered Azerbaijan, Arran, and Armenia as the pleasantest of all the Islamic lands." [ [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/v2f5/v2f5a010.html Encyclopaedia Iranica: Aran] C. E. Bosworth] It also states:

Ali ibn al-Athir on the Mongol invasions (1163-1233):

Zakariya ibn Muhammad Qazvini (1208/1209-1283/1284), the writer of Athar Al-Bilad wa Akhbar al-'ibad writes [Qazwini, Zakariyya ibn Muhammad. Bayrut : Dār Bayrūt, 1984, pg 284: Original Arabic: آذربیجان: ناحیة واسعة بین قهستان و اران ] :cquote|Azerbaijan is a wide region in the middle of Aran and Qahestan.

Yaqut al-Hamawi (d. 1229), a Syrian born geographer is famous for his geography bible Mu'jam Al-Buldan. He states:cquote|According to Hamza 'Isfahan, Pahlavi (Middle Persian) ..is the language of the district of Fahlah. And Fahlah is composed of Esfahan, Ray, Hamadan, Mah Nahavand and Azerbaijan...Arran is a Persian name and is a wide land with many cities and one of its cities is Janza which people there call Ganja. Barda' and Shamkur and Beylaghan are its other cities. Between Azerbaijan and Aran there is a river which is called Aras. The region to the North and West of this river is Aran, and whatever lies to its south is Azerbaijan....Azar means fire in Pahlavi and Baykan means protector and holder. Thus the name means house of fire or protector of the fire. The boundaries of Azerbaijan is from Barda' to the east to Arzanjan to the west and to south, its boundaries are the lands of Deylam, Gilan and Tarom. And Azerbaijan is a wide and expansive land and its most famous city is Tabriz which is its center and most important city. Before that, its center was Maragheh. Among its cities are Khoy, Salmas, Urmia, Ardabil, Marand, and others. [ Shihab al-Din ibn ʻAbd Allah Yaqut ibn ʻAbd Allah al-Hamawi al-Rumi al-Baghdadi, Muʻjam al-buldan, Bayrut : Dar Ṣadir, 1984Original Arabic under Fahlaw for the first quote:فَهْلَو: بالفتح ثم السكون ولام ويقال فهلة. قال حمزة الأصبهاني في كتاب التنبيه كان كلام الفرس قديماً يجري على خمسة ألسنة وهي الفهلوية والدرية والفارسية والخوزية والسريانية فأما الفهلوية فكان يجري بها كلام الملوك في مجالسهم وهي لغة منسوبة إلى فهلة. وهو اسم يقع على خمسة بلدان أصبهان والري وهمذان وماء نهاوند وأذربيجان،Original Arabic for the second quote:أرانُ: بالفتح وتشديد الراء وألف ونون، إسمَ أعجمي لولاية واسعة وبلاد كثيرة منها جَنزة وهي التي تسميها العامة كَنجة وبرذَعة وشَمكور وبَيلَقان وبين أذربيجان وأزان نهر يقال له الرس كلما جاورهُ من ناحية المغرب والشمال فهو من أران وما كان من جهة المشرق فهو من أذربيجان.Original Arabic for the third quote:بل أذر اسم النار بالفهلوية وبايكان معناه الحافظ والخازن فكان معناه بيت النار أو خازن النار وهذا أشبه بالحق وأحرى به لأن بيوت النار في هذه الناحية كانت كثيرة جداً، وحد أذربيجان من برزذَعة مشرقاً إلى أرزنجان مغرباً ويتصل حدها من جهة الشمال ببلاد الديلم والجيل والطرم وهو إقليم واسع ومن مشهور مدائنها تبريز وهي اليوم قصبتها وأكبر مُدُنها وكانت قصبتها قديما المراغة ومن مدنها خُوَي وسَلماس وأرمية وأردَبيل ومَرَند وغير ذلك، ]

Hamdollah Mostowfi (1281-1349 A.D), Persian chronicler who worked for the Ilkhanid administration and was familiar with administrative affairs of his time writes: [The geographical part of the Nuzhat-al-qulub composed by Hamd-Allāh Mustawfī of Qazwīn in 740 (1340), edited and translated by G. Le Strange and printed for the trustees of the "E. J. W. Gibb memorial.] :

cquote| The distances from Tabriz to the various places in Adharbayjan are as follows; to Ujan 8 leagues; to Ardabil 30; to Ushnuyah 30; to Urmiyah 24; to Ahar 14; to Pishkin 18; to Khoi 20; to Salmas 18, but going round by Maraghah it is 26 leagues; to Sarav 20; to Maraghah 20; to Dih-Khwarqan 8; to Marand 15; and lastly to Nakhchivan 24 leagues....The Shirvan country extends from the bank of the Kur (Cyrus) river to Darband of the Gate of Gates. The revenues thereof during the days of the Khans of Shirvan amounted to one million dinars of the money of our time; but at present, all that is inscribed on the registers is 113,000 dinars. Further in the matter of the military fiefs there are many of these in the divers districts....The Arran province is the land "Between the Rivers'’ namely from the bank of the Aras to the river Kur.

The 17th century Persian dictionary/quasi-encyclopedia Burhan Qati' under the words Aras and Aran gives two definitions [ Muhammad Husayn Ibn Khalaf Tabrizi, Muʾassasah-ʾi Maṭbu'ati- Faridun-i 'Ilmi Burhan, 1965. Original Persian for Aras: ارس بفتح اول و ثانی و سکون سين بی نقطه نام رود خانه ای است مشهور که از کنار تفليس و مابين آذربايجان و آران می گذرد.Original Persian for Aran: ولایتی است ازآذربایجان که گنجه و بردع از اعمال آن است] cquote
Aras: the name of a famous river which flows past Teflis and forms a boundary between Azerbaijan and Aran.Aran: It is a province from/of (Persian: از ) Azerbaijan, Barda' and Ganja are parts of its territories

In his book entitled "The travels of Sir John Chardin, by the way of the Black Sea, through the countries of Circassia, Mingrelia, the country of the Abcas, Georgia, Armenia, and Media, into Persia proper", Sir John Chardin, a traveller from France who visited the Middle East at the end of the 17th century described Azerbaijan as follows:

Modern (18th, 19th, and 20th centuries)

William Jones, an English Historian and translator of Mirza Muhammad Mahdi Khan Astrabadi's "Tarikh-i Jahangusha-yi Naderi" (a history book written about Nader Shah) mentions Azerbaijan and its major cities in the preface, which include Tabriz and Ardabil. It also describes the major cities of Arran and Armenia, and Shirvan and Daghestan, which were Gangia and Erivan, and Baku, Shamakhi, and Derbent respectively. [ William Jones, Esq., The history of the life of Nader Shah, King of, Prinded by J. Richardson, MDCCLXXIII (1773). Some quotes from the book: "AZARBIGIAN*, or Media, ARRAN or Atropatia, and ARMENA, or Armenia, are considered by some Eastern Geographers as One Province or Kingdom, and we may, therefore, describe them together. They are bounded on the east by part of Cuhistan, and the Caspian provinces, on the west, by Rum, or the lower Asia; on the north they have Georgia and Circassia, on the south, a canton of Mesopotamia, and Curdistan, part of the ancient Assyria. The most remarkable cities of Azarbigian are; 1. ARDEBIL, considered as sacred by the Persians, for containing the tombs of Sefiaddin and Heider, the venerable ancestors of the Sefi family. 2. TABRIZ, commonly called Tauris, which, in the last century, was a large and beautiful city, but has been much impaired during the late disorders in Persia: it stands at the foot of a mountain, which the Greeks called Orontes, a word cor¬rupted, perhaps, from Orond; and a small river winds through its streets"


"The great cities of Arran and Armenia are, GANGIA, and ERIVAN, its Capital, a large but unpleasant town, without any fine edifice in it, or any other ornament than a number of gardens, and vineyards. Some Geographers, and among them the prince of Hamah, place in Armenia the cities which we consider as belonging to Georgia or Gurgistan; these are SHAMCUR, and TEFLIS, a city not large but tolerably elegant: it is washed on the eastern side by the river Ker or Cyrs, and defended on the other sides by strong and beautiful walls."


"SHIRVAN and DAGHESTAN or The country of rocks... The cities of Shirvan are, 1. BACU, a port on the Caspian lake, whence it is called the Sea of Bacu: 2. SHAMAKHI, a city well known to the Russians: and 3. DERBEND or the barrier, which stands at the foot of Mount Caucasus or Keitaf, and commands the Caspian: this place was called by the ancients Caspiæ portæ, by the Turks, Demir Capi, or, the gate of iron, and by the Arabs, Babelabwab or the important passage. It was anciently considered as the boundary of the Persian Empire, and an old king of Persia built to the north of it a vast wall, like that of China, which has been repaired at different times, in order to prevent the incursions of the Khozars, and other savage nations, who infested the rocks between the Caspian and Euxine seas." ] In "A System of Geography", published in 1832, the Asiatic Caucasian provinces of Russia are called Daghistan, Shirwan, and Aran. Persia's boundary is limited to the Araxes, and the land below the Araxes is labeled as Azerbaijan. ["A System of Geography" by James Bell, published in 1832, Vol. IV, pages 88, 89, 91, 263-264]

Keith Abbot, British Consular General in Persia, wrote in the Memorandum on the Country of Azerbaijan in 1863:

cquote|The country known to the Persians as Azerbaijan is divided between them and Russia, the latter Power possessing about five-eighths of the whole, which may be roughly stated to cover an area of about 80,000 square miles, or about the size of Great Britain; 50,000 square miles are therefore about the extent of the division belonging to Russia, and 30,000 of that which remains to Persia.

The Russian division is bounded on the north and north-east by the mountains of Caucasus, extending to the vicinity of Bakou on the Caspian. On the west it has the provinces of Imeritia, Mingrelia, Gooriel, and Ahkhiska (now belonging to Russia); on the east it has the Caspian Sea, and on the south the boundary is marked by the course of the River Arrass (Araxes) to near the 46 th parallel of longitude, thence by a conventional line across the plains of Moghan to the district of Talish, and by the small stream of Astura which flows to the Caspian through the latter country. In this area are contained the following territorial divisions: - Georgia or Goorjistan, comprising Kakhetty, Kartaliny, Somekhetty, Kasakh; the Mohammedan countries of Eriwan, Nakhshewan, Karabagh, Ghenja, Shirwan, Shekky, Shamachy, Bakou, Koobeh, Salian and a portion of Talish. Georgia is traversed by the River Koor (Cyrus), a stream of no commercial importance, since it is not navigable except by boats...The population of Russian Azerbaijan consists of mixed races... The country included in these boundaries and, perhaps a large part, if not all, of Russian Azerbaijan recognized as Medea Atropotena in ancient geography. [Extracts from a Memorandum on the Country of Azerbaijan By Keith E. Abbott, Esq., H.M. Consul-General in Persia. [Communicated by the Foreign Office.] Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Vol. 8, No. 6. (1863 - 1864), pp.275-279.]

Charles Anthon (d. 1888) writes:

Russian Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary, published in 1890, states the following in the article called "Azerbeijan":

The "Methodist Magazine and Review" (d. 1900) states:

According to the "Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland" (d. 1901):

cquote|Description of Marvels in various parts of Iran: -In Khurasan, Kumis, Mazandaran, and Kuhistan, 243n; in 'Irak 'Ajam, Kurdistan, Luristan, and Gilan, 243s; in Fars, Kirman, and Shabankarah, 246e; in Adharbayjan, Mughan, Arran, and Shirvan, 247;...Mughan or Mukan is still the name of the Steppe country lying south of the lower course of the Aras river....The territory of Arran, which the Arab geographers always spell Al-Ran (pronounced Ar-Ran), as though it were an Arabic name, is the triangle of land included between the rivers Aras and Kur - the Arazes and Cyrus....The province of Shirvan lay to the north of the Kur river, and extended to the foot of that part of the Caucasus range known to Moslem geographers as Darban-i-Bab-al-Abwab - 'the Barrier of the Gate of Gates.' Bakuyah, or Baku, was its port on the Caspian, and Shamakhi inland - now called Shemakha - was the capital city... "Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland" published in 1902, Chap 3 page 63, Chap 4 page 255-254, Chap 5 page 256]

"The Nuttall Encyclopædia" (d. 1907) states:

"The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge" (d. 1908) states:

Encyclopaedia Britannica (d. 1911), states the following in the article called "Azerbaijan":

Also, according to "The History of the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews" (d. 1908) ["The History of the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews" by Rev. W. T. Gidney, M.A., published in 1908, page 301] , "Persia: The Land of the Magi" (d. 1913) ["Persia: The Land of the Magi" by Samuel K. Nweeya, Ph. D, M.D., published in 1913, page 49] , and "The Foreign Doctor: A Biography of Joseph Plumb Cochran, M.D. of Persia " (d. 1917) ["The Foreign Doctor: A Biography of Joseph Plumb Cochran, M.D. of Persia" by Robert E. Speer, published in 1911, page 16] , Azerbaijan is described as a province of Persia.


Assessments of modern scholars

According to "Barrington atlas of the Greek and Roman world":

According to Vladimir Minorsky:

According to Professor Tadeusz Swietochowski:

According to C.E. Bosworth:

According to Professor Xavier De Planhol:

According to Professor Ben Fowkes:

According Professor Bert. G. Franger [(Bert G. Fragner, ‘Soviet Nationalism’: An Ideological Legacy to the Independent Republics of Central Asia ’ in” in Van Schendel, Willem(Editor) . Identity Politics in Central Asia and the Muslim World: Nationalism, Ethnicity and Labour in the Twentieth Century. London , GBR: I. B. Tauris & Company, Limited, 2001.)] :

cquote|In the case of Azerbaijan , there is another irrational assault on sober treatment of history to be witnessed: its denomination. The borders of historical Azerbaijan crossed the Araxcs to the north only in the case of the territory of Nakhichevan . Prior to 1918, even Lenkoran and Astara were perceived as belonging not to Azerbaijan proper but to Talysh, an area closely linked to the Caspian territory of Gilan . Since antiquity, Azerbaijan has been considered as the region centered around Tabriz , Ardabil, Maraghch, Orumiych and Zanjan in today's (and also in historical) Iran . The homonym republic consists of a number of political areas traditionally called Arran . Shirvan, Sheki, Ganjeh and so on. They never belonged to historical Azer­baijan , which dates back to post-Achaemcnid, Alexandrian 'Media Atropatene'. Azerbaijan gained extreme importance under (and after) the Mongol Ilkhanids of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when it was regarded as the heartland of Iran.


Under Soviet auspices and in accordance with Soviet nationalism, historical Azerbaijan proper was reinterpreted as 'Southern Azer­baijan', with demands for liberation and, eventually, for 'reunification with Northern (Soviet) Azerbaijan a breathtaking manipulation. No need to point to concrete Soviet political activities in this direc­tion, as in 1945-46 etc.The really interesting point is that in the independent former Soviet republics this typically Soviet ideological pattern has long outlasted the Soviet Union.

Azerbaijan as the name of an independent republic

Tadeusz Swietochowski comments on the Czarist reforms during the 19th century [Tadeusz Swietochowski, Russia and Azerbaijan: A Borderland in Transition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995. pg 16] :cquote|For all the built-in pitfalls in Russian administrative reforms, it was also apparent that these reforms enhanced its internal consolidation of Azerbaijan in at least two important respects: the dismantling of Khanates weakened deeply rooted local particularisms, and the formation of the two guberniaas of Eastern Transcaucasia resulted in territorial block that the “Shirvanis” or “Arranis” would regard as the core of their homeland. Even the term Azerbaijan, although seldom used for the territory north of Araxes, began to appear in the works of European scholars or journalists.

With the collapse of Tsarist Russia in 1917, the Musavat Party met in Tbilisi on May 28, 1918 and proclaimed independence of their country with the name Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. Tadsuez Swietchowski also comments on the Iranian reaction and subsequent response from the new government [Tadeusz Swietochowski, Russia and Azerbaijan: A Borderland in Transition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995. pg 69] :cquote|Although the proclamation restricted its claim to the territory north of the Araxes, the use of the name Azerbaijan would soon bring objections from Iran. In Teheran, suspicions were aroused that the Republic of Azerbaijan served as an Ottoman device for detaching the Tabriz province from Iran. Likewise, the national revolutionary Jangali movement in Gilan, while welcoming the independence of every Muslim land as a "source of joy", asked in its newspaper if the choice of the name Azerbaijan implied the new republic's desire to join Iran. If so, they said, it should be stated clearly, otherwise Iranians would be opposed to calling that republic Azerbaijan. Consequently, to allay Iranian fears, the Azerbaijani government would accommodatingly use the term Caucasian Azerbaijan in its documents for circulation abroad.

He also states:

According to Igor M. Diakonoff:

According to Vladimir Minorsky:

Vasily Bartold has stated:

Terminology today

Today the name Azerbaijan denotes both the republic of Azerbaijan and the north western provinces of Iran, which are East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, Ardabil and Zanjan. During the soviet era, the name 'Southern Azerbaijan' was created and propagated throughout the USSRMichael P. Croissant, "The Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict: Causes and Implications", Praeger/Greenwood, 1998. pg 61] . The USSR also created two organizations cite web| url=http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?topic_id=1409&fuseaction=va2.browse&sort=Collection&item=1945%2D46%20Iranian%20Crisis| title="Cold War International History Project 1945-46 Iranian Crisis"] for separating East and West Azerbaijan provinces from Iran. Today, the nomenclature South Azerbaijan is used by some politicians in the Republic of Azerbaijan and some groups advocating separatism of Iranian Azerbaijan. At the same time, the heavily Kurdish populated province of west Azerbaijan in Iran has also been called East Kurdistan(Rojhelat) by some Kurdish political groups and this nomenclature has also been used by some western sources. [Alessandra Galié, Development in Syria, Kurdish Human Rights Project, pg 49] . Some Armenian political groups have also marked parts of Iranian Azerbaijan as greater Armenia and the term ‘’Greater Armenia’’ has been used by some western sources to refer to portions of Iranian Azerbaijan.Fact|date=June 2008

Azerbaijani people

Historically the Turkic-speaking people of Iranian Azerbaijan and the Caucasus often called themselves or were referred to by some neighbouring peoples (e.g. Persians) as Turks, and religious identification prevailed over ethnic identification. When Transacaucasia became part of the Russian empire, Russian authorities, who traditionally called all Turkic people Tatars, called Azeris Aderbeijani/Azerbaijani or Caucasian Tatars to distinguish them from other Turkic people, also called Tatars by Russians. [ru icon [http://www.demoscope.ru/weekly/2005/0187/perep04.php Demoscope Weekly. Alphabetical list of people, living in the Russian empire, 1895.] ] Russian Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary also refers to Azerbaijanis as Aderbeijans in some articles. [ru icon [http://www.cultinfo.ru/fulltext/1/001/007/103/103729.htm Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary. "Turks".] Saint Petersburg, Russia, 1890-1907] According to the article Turko-Tatars of the above encyclopedia, “some scholars (Yadrintsev, Kharuzin, Shantr) suggested to change the terminology of some Turko-Tatar people, who somatically don’t have much in common with Turks, for instance, to call Aderbaijani Tatars (Iranians by type) Aderbaijans”. [ru icon [http://www.cultinfo.ru/fulltext/1/001/007/103/103731.htm Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary. "Turko-Tatars".] Saint Petersburg, Russia, 1890-1907] The modern ethnonym Azerbaijani/Azeri in its present form was accepted in 1930s.

See also

*Republic of Azerbaijan
*Iranian Azerbaijan
*Caucasus Albania
*Azerbaijani people
*Iranian Theory Regarding Azeri's


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