Carmania (region)

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Province of the Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian Empire
c.334 BC–650 AD
Location of Carmania
Capital Karmana[1]
Historical era Antiquity
 •  Established c.334 BC
 •  Annexed by the Rashidun Caliphate 650 AD

Carmania (Greek: Καρμανία, Karmanía, Old Persian: Karmanâ,[2] Middle Persian: Kirmān[3]) is a historical region that approximately corresponds to the modern province of Kerman and was a province of the Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian Empire. The province bordered Persia in the west,[2] Gedrosia in the south-east,[4] Parthia in the north,[4] and Aria to the north-east.[4]


Pre-Hellenistic Period[edit]

In the Early Bronze Age, late third millennium BC, it is postulated that a civilisation known as Jiroft civilisation developed and flourished in the region of Carmania.[2] However, little is known of the history of the region during the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age.[2]

Carmania was conquered by Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire, in the 6th century BC.[2] The 3rd century BC Babylonian writer Berossus detailed that Cyrus the Great granted Nabonidus, the last King of Babylon, Carmania as a vassal kingdom after the Achaemenid conquest of Babylonia in 539 BC.[5] According to the 5th century BC Greek historian Ctesias, Cyrus, on his deathbed, appointed his son Bardiya as governor of the Bactrians, Chorasmians, Parthians, and Carmanians.[6] Darius I later confiscated part of Nabonidus' land in Carmania.[5] During the reign of Darius I, a royal road was built in Carmania,[2] and the region was administered as a district within the province of Persia.[3] At a later date, Carmania came under the administration of a certain Karkiš, satrap (governor) of Gedrosia.[3] It has been suggested that, due to an anachronism on behalf of Ctesias, Carmania may have become a province by the time of Artaxerxes II, in the late 5th century BC.[3]

By the time of Alexander the Great's invasion of the Achaemenid Empire in 334 BC, Carmania had become a province administered by a certain Aspastes, Satrap of Carmania.[7] Aspastes was permitted to remain in office as satrap upon Alexander's conquest of the neighbouring province of Persia in 330 BC, however, Aspastes later attempted to rebel against Alexander whilst campaigning in the Indus Valley.[7] Upon Alexander's return from India, Aspastes met with Alexander in the province of Gedrosia in 326 BC, where he was executed.[7] To replace Aspastes, Alexander appointed Sibyrtius as satrap of Carmania,[2] who was followed by the general Tlepolemus in the winter of 325/324 BC.[3] Whilst in Carmania, Alexander established the city of Alexandria Carmania in early 324 BC where he settled his veterans,[2] and also erected a pillar on the coastline. Alexander also consolidated his empire during his stay in Carmania as he summoned a number of governors and generals accused of conspiring and misbehaving and executed them, such as Cleander, accused of extortion, in 324 BC.[8]

Hellenistic Period[edit]

The partition of Alexander's empire amongst the diadochi upon his death took place in the Partition of Babylon of 323 BC, and the Partition of Triparadisus in 321 BC, both of which confirmed Tlepolemus' control of Carmania.[3] During the Second War of the Diadochi, Tlepolemus rallied his soldiers to join with Eumenes in the war against Cassander and Antigonus.[3] Antigonus' victory in the war against Eumenes in 315 BC allowed him to gain undisputed control of the Asian territories of the empire, but allowed Tlepolemus continued in his office as satrap of Carmania. The eruption of the Third War of the Diadochi in 314 BC and the subsequent Babylonian War in 311 BC, however, led Antigonus to be deprived of the western and eastern halves of the Asian territories of the empire, respectively, and Carmania came under the control of Seleucus I Nicator in 309 BC, thus forming part of the Seleucid Empire. During the Fourth Syrian War, in the spring of 217 BC, Antiochus III the Great rallied soldiers from Carmania who were put under the command of Aspasianus the Mede and Byttacus the Macedonian and took part in the Battle of Raphia against Ptolemaic Egypt, which resulted in Antiochus' defeat.[9] In 205 BC, Antiochus III, returning from India by way of Gedrosia, wintered in Carmania before continuing his march west.[10] Carmania remained a province within the Seleucid Empire until the mid 2nd century BC in which it was conquered by the Parthian Empire.[2]


Carmania was noted in Antiquity for its abundance of a number of mineral resources such as copper, salt, sulphur, ochre, orpiment and agate. The mines surrounding Carmana are also attested for the production of silver necessary for the minting of coinage. A mine near Carmana is known to have produced turquoise gems, but of lesser quality and number than the mines of Parthia.[11] Sissoo wood was also exported and was notably used in the construction of the palace of Darius I at Susa.[3]

Wines produced in Carmania proper, a cultivated and fertile area, were famous and, alongside other goods, were exported through Hármouza, the principal port within the region.[3] Effective road communications with the other provinces of the empire also facilitated trade and exportation of goods from within Carmania.[3]


Carmanians (Greek: Καρμάνιοι, Karmánioi, Καρμανιτοι, Karmanitoi,[3] or Germanioi,[12] Latin: Carmanii)[13] were the inhabitants of the region of Carmania during Antiquity, who were a warlike people who practised cannibalism, according to Strabo.[3] Under the Achaemenid Empire, the Carmanians had become Persianised and Strabo noted the cultural and linguistic similarities the Carmanians shared with the neighbouring Persians.[12] Despite Persianisation, the Carmanians retained a number of unique traditions and social structure, as attested by the requirement of the presentation of the head of a slain enemy to the king in order to marry, as well as strict rites of passage distinct from Persian traditions.[12]

Herodotus listed Carmanians amongst other Iranian tribes that had settled and abandoned nomadic life to take part in agriculture, as opposed to other tribes that had continued to practise nomadic pastoralism.[3] One such nomadic tribe was that of the Sagartians who also inhabited Carmania.[14]


  1. ^ Roaf (2012)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Lendering (1997)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Planhol & Hourcade (2014)
  4. ^ a b c Schmitt (1990), pp. 822-823
  5. ^ a b Burstein (1989), pp. 165-166
  6. ^ Dandamayev (1988), pp. 785-786
  7. ^ a b c Shahbazi (1987), p. 788
  8. ^ Walbank (2015)
  9. ^ Mahaffy (1895), p. 256
  10. ^ Polybius 11.34
  11. ^ Rawlinson (1875)
  12. ^ a b c Briant (2001), p. 506
  13. ^ Wiesehöfer (2006)
  14. ^ Eilers (1987), p. 701


Coordinates: 30°17′27″N 57°04′04″E / 30.2907°N 57.0679°E / 30.2907; 57.0679