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Khwarezmia was a state centered around the Aral Salt Flats (formerly the Aral Sea) including modern Karakalpakstan across the Ust-Urt plateaux perhaps extending to as far west as the eastern shores of the North Caspian Sea. To the south it bordered on Khorasan to the north the kingdom of Alans to the southeast Kangju and Sogdian Transoxiana, and on the northeast with the Huns of Transiaxartesia. Alternative spellings for the name of the capital city Khiva are numerous and include Khorasam, Khoresm, Khwarezm, Khwarizm, Khwarazm and Chorezm.

Table of contents
1 Early history
2 Classical times
3 Middle Ages
4 Reference
5 External Link

Early history

According to Tolstov, the first inhabitants of the area were Hurrians from the area of Transcaucasian Iberia and he explains the etymology of Chorezm as Hurri-Land. The first two names of rulers we have for the area are Sijavus c.1300BC (?synonymous with Afrasiab c.1100 BC) and Aurvat-Aspa usually placed in the late 600s BC though dating is very difficult.

Classical times

When the king of Khwarezmia offered friendship to Alexander the Great in 328 BC, Alexander's Greek and Roman biographers imagined the nomad king of a desert waste, but 20th century Russian archeologists revealed Khiva as a stable and centralized kingdom, a land of agriculture to the east of the Aral Sea, surrounded by the nomads of Central Asia, protected by its army of mailed horsemen, in the most powerful kingdom northwest of the Amu Darya ('Oxus River' of antiquity). The king's emissary offered to lead Alexander's armies against his own enemies, west over the Caspian towards the Black Sea. Alexander politely refused.

The Aramaic dialect that was used by Persian bureaucracy (no Iranian dialect yet had a written form), passed into use in Khwareszm to the north, where it served as the first local alphabet, about the 2nd century. It was there from that script that the various Turkic rune alphabets developed.

Middle Ages

According to Biruni the area was ruled by the Afrigid dynasty from the 4th-8th centuries. The resurgent kingdom was established around Khiva in 410CE by Avar tribes possibly under Hephthalites influence. The inhabitants were called Khwalis or Kaliz by the Magyars after the eastern-most Kabarss of Hungary, who dwelt in Carpathian Galicia. They were also called Khalisioi in Greek, Khvalis (and often associated with Khazars) in Russian and HuaLaZiMu(or perhaps Kua-Li & Ho-li-sih-mi-kia) in Chinese. The etymology of the name is unknown but may pertain to a kingdom of the Aral sea or Hua people.

Khiva was the birthplace of the great Persian mathematician of the Abbasid period, al-Khwarezmi.

In the 11th century a Muslim Khwarezmi state was formed by Oghuz nomads under a shah. The Khwarezm shah in the early 13th century, immediately before the Mongol conquest, was victorious over the Kara-Khitay Empire under its last Gur-Khan, the usurper Kuchlug.

In 1218 Genghis Khan sent some emissaries to the Khwarezmian shah. The shah executed the Mongol diplomats in defiance of the emerging great power, and Genghis retaliated with a force of 200,000 troops. The Shah fled and sought refuge throughout Khorasan, and eventually died on an island on the Caspian Sea. By 1220 the Muslim state was eradicated and the Khwarezmians, like many other Turkic tribes, were forced to flee westward.

In 1927's Great Captains Unveiled, B.H. Liddell Hart gave details of the Mongol campaign against Khwarezm which underscored his own philosophy of "the indirect approach," and highlighted many of the tactics used by Genghis which were to be subsequently included in the German blitzkrieg form of war, inspired in part by Liddell Hart's writings.

In the west the Khwarezmians came into contact with the Seljuk Turks and the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. In 1244 they captured Jerusalem at the end of the truce that had been established with the Crusaders 10 years earlier. In 1247 the Egyptian Mameluks captured Jerusalem from them. Many Khwarezmian soldiers served in Egypt as Mameluks.


External Link