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|History of Afghanistan|
Ariana, the Latinized form of the Ancient Greek Αρειανή Arianē, (inhabitants: Ariani (Ancient Greek: Αρειανοί Arianoi), was a general geographical term used by some Greek and Roman authors of the ancient period for a district of wide extent between Central Asia and the Indus River, comprehending the eastern provinces of the Achaemenid Empire that covered entire modern-day Afghanistan, northwestern Pakistan, most of Tajikistan, most of Turkmenistan and southern Uzbekistan.
At various times, the region was governed by the Persians (Achaemenids, 550–330 BC; Sasanians, 275–650 AD; Kushano-Sasanians, 345–450 AD), Macedonians (Seleucids, 330–250 BC; Greco-Bactrians, 250–110 BC; Indo-Greeks, 155–90 BC), Iranian peoples from Persia and Central Asia (Parthians, 160 BC–225 AD; Indo-Scythians, 90 BC–20 AD; Indo-Parthians, 20–225 AD; Kushans, 110 BC–225 AD), white Huns (Kidarites, 360–465 AD; Hephthalites, 450–565 AD), Indian empires (Mauryans, 275–185 BC; Hindu-Shahis)
The Greek term Arianē (Latin: Ariana) is based upon an Iranian word found in Avestan Airiiana- (esp. in Airiianəm vaēǰō, the name of the Iranian peoples’ mother country). The modern name Iran ( which has been used since 1959) represents a different form of the ancient name Ariana and implies that Iran is "the" Ariana itself – a word of Old Iranian origin.-  a view supported by the traditions of the country preserved in the Muslim writers of the ninth and tenth centuries.
The names Ariana and Aria, and many other ancient titles of which Aria is a component element, are connected with the Sanskrit term Arya-, the Avestan term Airya-, and the Old Persian term Ariya-, a self designation of the peoples of Ancient India and Ancient Iran, meaning "noble", "excellent" and "honourable".
The exact limits of Ariana are laid down with little accuracy in classical sources. It seems to have been often confused (as in Pliny, Naturalis Historia, book vi, chapter 23) with the small province of Aria.
As a geographical term, Ariana was introduced by the Greek geographer, Eratosthenes (c. 276 BC – c. 195 BC), and was fully described by the Greek geographer Strabo (64/63 BC – ca. AD 24), and by the Roman author and natural philosopher, Pliny (23–79 AD), who states that it included the Arii, with other tribes.
Per Eratostene's definition, the borders of Ariana were defined by the Indus River in the east, the sea in the south, a line from Carmania to the Caspian Gates in the west, and the so-called Taurus Mountains in the north. This large region included almost all of the countries east of Media and ancient Persia, including south of the great mountain ranges up to the deserts of Gedrosia and Carmania, i.e. the provinces of Carmania, Gedrosia, Drangiana, Arachosia, Aria, the Paropamisadae; also Bactria was reckoned to Ariana and was called "the ornament of Ariana as a whole" by Apollodorus of Artemita.
After having described the boundaries of Ariana, Strabo writes that the name Αρειανή could also be extended to part of the Persians and the Medes and also to the northwards Bactrians and the Sogdians. A detailed description of that region is to be found in Strabo's Geographica, Book XV – "Persia, Ariana, the Indian subcontinent", chapter 2, sections 1–9.
Having considered these various sources, Ariana includes modern-day Afghanistan (Bactria, Arachosia, Aria, Drangiana and the Paropamisadae), east and southeast Iran (east Media, Persia, Carmania and Gedrosia), most of Tajikistan (Sogdiana), most of Turkmenistan (Margiana), south Uzbekistan (parts of Sogdiana) and extending to the Indus River in Pakistan.
Pliny (vi. 23) says that some add to India four satrapies to the west of the river, – the Gedrosii, Arachosii, Arii, and Paropamisadae, as far as the river Cophes (the river Kabul). Pliny therefore agrees on the whole with Strabo. Dionysius Periegetes (1097) agrees with Strabo in extending the northern boundary of the Ariani to the Paropamisus, and (714) speaks of them as inhabiting the shores of the Erythraean Sea. It is probable, from Strabo (xv. p.724), that the term was extended to include the east Persians, Bactrians, and Sogdians, with the people of Ariana below the mountains, because they were for the most part of one speech.
Eratosthenes’ use of this term (followed by Diodorus 2.37.6) is obviously due to a mistake, since, firstly, not all inhabitants of these lands belonged to the same tribe and, secondly, the term "Aryan" originally was an ethnical one and only later a political one as the name of the Iranian empire (for all North Indians and Iranians designated themselves as "Aryan"; See Aryan), thus comprising still other Iranian tribes outside of Ariana proper, like Medes, Persians or Sogdians (so possibly in Diodorus 1.94.2, where Zarathushtra is said to have preached Ahura Mazdā's laws "among the Arianoi").—R. Schmitt, 1986