Iranian peoples

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Settlement area of ​​the Iranian peoples today.

The term Iranian peoples refers to a group of ethnicities who speak Iranian languages .

In the narrower sense, the term refers to a number of Iranian-speaking and mostly nomadic tribes that lived between 2000 BC. BC and 1000 BC The region named after them around the Iranian plateau , which subsequently became the core area of ​​later Iranian-speaking populations. In a broader sense, groups are also counted among the Iranian peoples who historically inhabited the above-mentioned region. Such a simplified assignment is made for groups in which the sources provide insufficient information and whose ethnicity is not definitely known.


Spread of modern Iranian languages.

Belonging to the "Iranian peoples" is primarily defined linguistically. The “Iranian ethnic group” is used to describe societies that have inherited or adopted and passed on a language from the Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family . This purely linguistic classification summarizes populations based on their language, which can clearly differ from one another in other features. The differentiating features of Iranian ethnic groups include different or common economic forms or mythologies as well as the varying degrees of influence of non-Iranian-speaking populations.


The term "Iranian peoples" is derived from the name "Iran" ( Persian ايران- Iran ), which itself goes back to the Middle Persian Ērān and, ultimately, to the old Iranian * Aryanam , "[land] of the Aryans ". * Aryanam is the genitive plural of the ethnonym Arya , which can be found in Achaemenid inscriptions as well as in the Zoroastrian traditions of the Avesta . In the form āˊrya- , the term is also known in ancient Indian and was the name given to the earliest speakers of Indo-Iranian (“Aryan”) languages, from which the modern Iranian and Indo-Aryan languages ​​branched off. The classification as “Aryans” is therefore basically a linguistic concept and is intended to denote the close relationship between the Iranian and Indo-Iranian languages ​​- including the Nūristāni branch - whose speakers had experienced a common linguistic and cultural development in the early phase independently of other Indo-European groups.

Peoples and ethnic groups

See also


  • Philip S. Khoury, Joseph Kostiner (Eds.): Tribes and State Formation in the Middle East. University of California Press, Berkeley CA et al. 1990, ISBN 0-520-07079-8 .
  • Iranian Peoples of the Caucasus. A Handbook (= Peoples of the Caucasus Handbook. Vol. 11). Curzon, London 1999, ISBN 0-7007-0649-6 .
  • Jahanshah Derakhshani: The Aryans in the Middle Eastern sources of the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC BC Basic features of the prehistory and early history of Iran. 2nd revised edition with addendum. International Publications of Iranian Studies, Tehran 1999, ISBN 964-90368-6-5 .
  • Ludwig Paul (Hrsg.): Handbuch Iranistik. Reichert Verlag, Wiesbaden 2013, ISBN 978-3-89500-918-1
  • Ludwig Paul (Ed.): Handbook of Iranian Studies. Volume 2. Reichert Verlag, Wiesbaden 2017, ISBN 978-3-95490-131-9

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Rüdiger Schmitt: Aryans. In: Encyclopædia Iranica . online edition, 2011.
  2. Richard Frye : Persia. (Translated from English by Paul Baudisch). Kindler, Zurich 1963, p. 48 ff.
  3. ^ Richard Frye: Peoples of Iran . In: Encyclopædia Iranica. online edition, 2012: Secondly and inevitably, "Iranian" also acquires the broader sense of "[a people] resident on the Iranian plateau", since the ethnicity of various peoples who are only briefly mentioned in historical sources often is not definitely known.
  4. Harold W. Bailey: Arya . In: Encyclopædia Iranica . online edition, 2009.