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The name is not Khazar but Caspian Sea
Maziar Aptin
October 29, 2011

Caspian Sea Map

I have seen so many Iranian people wrongly call the Caspian Sea; Daryaye Khazar which bothers me very much. Recently I came across to a book named “Answer to History” written by the Ex-Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who had used the term Khazar in his book.

Answer to History

Apparently the Shah had copied the name Daryaye Khazar from a high-school text book. My reasoning is; aside from the “Khazar” mistake, all the wrong things that we had learn in our high-school history books such as praising the two Iranian Dynasties of Samanian and Taherian were written in “Answer to History” as well.

In reading history books, written by the European historians, I have learned that the above two dynasties were the main cause and the reason for the continuation of the Arab occupation in Iran which subsequently had resulted in the Turkic, Mongolian, and Turkmen invasions and continuous foreign occupations totaling over 900 years.

The reason that the two above dynasties were praised in school books were; as I indicated in my memoir posted on IPC site;

Reza Shah vs. Mohammad Reza Shah

In 1941 the British exiled Reza Shah and installed Crown Prince Mohammad Reza as the Shah of Iran. From that point-on the mullahs became active in Iran’s political arena again and one of their activities was making the school curriculums Islamic friendly.

This inspired me to write this article and clarify those mistakes. Hopefully this will catch the attention of the future Iranian scholars and the mistakes will be corrected.

During Mohammad Reza Shah’s reign at least three different names were being used for the Caspian Sea in school text books, and also on the maps of Iran, as follows:

1. Daryaye Khazar

2. Daryaye Tabarestan, the “T” was the Arabic “Tayn”

3. Daryaye Mazandaran

In relying on those foreign sources above, the top two names are incorrect.

a) Calling the Caspian Sea, Daryaye Khazar is equivalent to calling The Persian Gulf “Khalije Arabi” (Arabian Gulf). The Khazars were a Turkic people that used to live in North West of Caspian Sea (present day Russia). By the late 13th century the Khazar people, as an ethnic entity, seized to exist and the area that used to be called Khazaria gave its name to “Crimea”. The French historian Rene Grousset in his book “The Empire of the Steppes a History of Central Asia” indicates that “the Khazars were by far the most civilized people of Turkic people”. Also according to historian and linguist Barthold, “the Khazar language and the old language of the Bulgars belonged to the ancient Western Turkic group”. Apparently some times in the past, an uninformed Iranian scholar, for some unknown reason, had used Khazar for the Caspian Sea and gradually the name became accepted by the future Iranian historians and subsequently it found its way into the text books and on the maps of Iran.

b) Tabarestan is an Arabized version of “Tapourestan” which was the ancient name of Mazandaran. The name Tapourestan was derived from the name of “Tapour People” that used to live in ancient Tapouria (South of Caspian Sea area). The name Mazandaran, according to “Sadegh Hedayat”, evolved some times after 9th or 10th century AD. The story is that Maziar the Spahbod of Tapourestan, from about late 210s Tazi calendar (830s AD), was anticipating imminent Arab invasion to Tapourestan. He started building walls across the Western Tapourestan which stretched hundreds of kilometers. In every few meters across the wall there was an opening called “Maaz” (crack) for the guards to be able to see the other side of the wall and detect the approach of the enemy soldiers. The number of the Maazes was so numerous. All the areas inside the wall used to be called “Maaz andaroon” which gradually within a few centuries the whole state acquired the name Maaz andaroon, (officially Mazandaran) but the Mazanadaranies still pronounce it “Mazenderoon”.

As we can see, Daryaye Mazandaran is the new version of Daryay Tapourestan (not Tabarestan). But the more ancient and correct name is “Daryaye Kaaspy or Caaspy. The reason is; the Aryans that emigrated from Europe to the East consisted of three different major branches. The largest branch of Aryans that scattered from Mesopotamia to Central Asia was the Casps (ancestors of present day Iranians). After they settled in the new land they named the sea up north Daryaye Casp or Caspha, and present day Qazvin (Caspin) area Darvazeye Casp (Caspian Gate).

With above in mind we should call the Caspian Sea either Daryaye Mazandaran or if we want to be in line with international community we could call it “Daryaye Caspian”.  

In Answer to History, Mohammad Reza Shah also had a great deal of praise for Shah Esmail and Shah Abbas Safavi. Even though those two Shahs have done some services for the country, they had their dark sides that Mohammad Reza Shah did not point it out. To learn about their dark sides please read my article titled “What is wrong with us the Iranians?”

What is wrong with us the Iranians?

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