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Airyanem Vaejah (Avestan: 𐬀𐬌𐬭𐬌𐬌𐬀𐬥𐬀 𐬬𐬀𐬉𐬘𐬀𐬵 airiiana vaējah, approximately “expanse of the Aryans”, i.e. Iranians)[1] is the homeland of the early Iranians and a reference in the Zoroastrian Avesta (Vendidad, Farg. 1) to one of Ahura Mazda's "sixteen perfect lands."[2]


Etymology and related wordsEdit

The Avestan term airyanəm vaējah is formed from the plural genitive case of airya and the word vaējah (whose oft-used nominative case is vaējō). The meaning of vaējah is victory as in Vijay. It may be related to Vedic Sanskrit vej/vij, suggesting the region of a fast-flowing river.[3] It has also been interpreted by some as "seed". Avestan airya is etymologically related to the Old Persian ariya.

The related Old Iranian term *aryānām xšaθra- is the origin of the modern Persian term "Iran" via Middle Persian 𐭠𐭩𐭥𐭠𐭭𐭱𐭲𐭥𐭩 Ērān-shahr and 𐭠𐭩𐭥𐭠𐭭 Ērān during the Sasanian Empire.

Historical conceptsEdit

The historical location of Airyanem Vaejah is still uncertain. In the first chapter of the Vendidad is a listing of 16 countries, and some scholars believe that Airyanem Vaejah lies to the north of all of these.[4] As Darmesteter notes in his translation of the Avesta, Bundahishn 29:12 directly states that it was beside Azerbaijan,[5] however, most modern scholars favor a more eastern location.

Bahram Farahvashi and Nasser Takmil Homayoun suggest that Airyanem Vaejah was probably centered on Khwarezm,[6] a region that is now split between several Central Asian republics. The University of Hawaii historian Elton L. Daniel likewise believes Khwarezm to be the “most likely locale” corresponding to the original home of the Avestan-speaking peoples,[7] and Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda once called Khwarezm “the cradle of the Aryan tribe”.

Conversely, according to Michael Witzel, Airyanem Vaejah lies at the center of the 16 lands mentioned in the Vendidad: an area now in the central Afghan highlands[8] (around Bamyan Province).

David Anthony's The Horse, the Wheel and Language,[9] makes no direct reference to Airynem Vaejah. Anthony may, however, provide evidence linking it to four successive Indo-European cultures.

Shrikant G. Talageri, in his book The Rigveda: A Historical Analysis, proposes that Airyam Vaejah was located in Kashmir.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ See p. 164 in: P.O. Skjaervo, The Avesta as source for the early history of the Iranians. In: G. Erdosy (ed.), The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia. (Indian Philology and South Asian Studies, A. Wezler and M. Witzel, eds.), vol. 1, Berlin/New York: de Gruyter 1995, pp.155-176.
  2. ^ Darmesteter, James. Sacred Books of the East (1898). Peterson, Joseph H., Avesta - Zoroastrian Archives: VENDIDAD (English): Fargard 1.
  3. ^ See Edwin Bryant, The Quest for the origins of Vedic culture, 2001: 327
  4. ^ Zoroaster’s Time and Homeland: A Study on the Origins of Mazdeism and Related Problems by Gherardo Gnoli, Instituto Universitario Orientale, Seminario di Studi Asiatici, (Series Minor VII), Naples, 1980
  5. ^ Darmesteter, James. Sacred Books of the East (1898). Peterson, Joseph H., Avesta - Zoroastrian Archives: VENDIDAD (English): Fargard 1. [1]
  6. ^ Nasser Takmil Homayoun, Kharazm: What do I know about Iran?. 2004. ISBN 964-379-023-1
  7. ^ Elton L. Daniel, The History of Iran. 2001. ISBN 0-313-30731-8
  8. ^ M. Witzel, "The Vīdēvdað list obviously was composed or redacted by someone who regarded Afghanistan and the lands surrounding it as the home of all Aryans (airiia), that is of all (eastern) Iranians, with Airiianem Vaẽjah as their center." p. 48, “The Home Of The Aryans”, Festschrift J. Narten = Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft, Beihefte NF 19, Dettelbach: J.H. Röll 2000, 283-338. Also published online, at Harvard University (LINK)
  9. ^ Anthony, David W. (2007). The Horse, the Wheel, and Language. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-05887-0
  10. ^

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