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(Nehāvand), a town in western Iran, situated in the northern Zagros region.

NEHĀVAND, a town in western Iran, situated in the northern Zagros region (lat 34˚11′ N, long 48˚22′ E, elev. 1,786 m/5,860 ft.). It lies some 90 km/50 miles south of Hamadan, from which it is separated by the massif of the Alvand Kuh, which rises to 3,572 m/11,716 feet, and from which streams provide Nehāvand and its agricultural hinterland with a plentiful water supply.

Since Nehāvand lies on an historic route from central Iraq through Kermanshah (q.v.) to northern Iran, it has often been traversed by armies and has been the site of various battles (see below). Nehāvand and its region have been inhabited since prehistoric times, as disclosed by the excavations conducted in 1931-32 at Giyan Tepe by Georges Contenau and Roman Ghirshman. The excavation showed that the site of Giyan Tepe had been occupied from at least the fifth millennium to about 1,000 BCE. In Achaemenid times, Nehāvand was within the southernmost part of Media, and according to Strabo, the town was (re-)founded by Xerxes I. In 1946 a stone stele was found near Nehāvand bearing an inscription of the Seleucid Emperor Antiochus III (r. 223-187 BCE) instituting the cult of his wife Queen Laodicea (see EPIGRAPHY ii. GREEK INSCRIPTIONS; Matheson, pp. 115-16). During Parthian times, Nehavand was, according to the later Arab historian Dinavari (p. 40; tr., p. 66), the seat of the Parthian prince Ardavān, son of Ašah (i.e, Artabanus I), while, under the Sasanians, the district of Nehāvand seems to have been granted out to the Qāren family (see KĀREN), and there was a fire temple there (Dinavari, p. 94; tr., pp. 124-25; cf. Markwart, p. 19).

When the Arabs invaded Iran from Iraq during the caliphate of ʿOmar (r. 13-23/634-44), a famous battle was fought near Nehāvand at a date placed by the Arabic sources between 18 AH/639 and 21/641 (Minorsky, p. 23). The Sasanian commander is named as Ḏu’l-Ḥājebayn Mardānšāh b. Hormoz and the Arab one as Noʿmān b. Moqarren, governor of Kaskar in Lower Iraq. The Arabs were victorious, and the Iranian plateau was opened up thereby to the invaders (Balāḏori, pp. 302-7; Dinavari, pp. 133-38; tr., pp. 168-74; Ṭabari, I, pp. 2596-615; tr., pp. 179-200; Maqdesi, V, pp. 180-82; tr., II, pp. 856-58; Caetani, IV, pp. 474-504; Spuler, pp. 13-14; Noth, pp. 274-76; Donner, pp. 428-35).

Nehāvand flourished in the early Islamic centuries as part of the wider province of Jebāl, at first as the center of the district of Māh al-Baṣra (Media of the Basrans) with its revenues allocated to the stipends (ʿaṭāʾ) of the troops from Basra garrisoning it. The geographers describe it as a prosperous commercial center, in particular trading in high quality saffron grown in the adjacent district of Ruḏrāvar between Nehāvand and Hamadan, and as growing fine crops of fruit, exported as far as Iraq, while willow wood was produced for polo mallets, as also were various scents and unguents. It had two congregational mosques, an older and a newer one (Moqaddasi, p. 393; Ebn Ḥawqal, pp. 358, 368; tr., pp. 350, 359-60; Eṣṭaḵri, p. 199; Abu Dolaf, p. 18; tr., p. 50; Ḥodud al-ʿālam, p. 141; tr., p. 132; Yāqut, V, pp. 313-14; Schwarz, pp. 498-509; Le Strange, pp. 196-97; tr., pp. 212-13; Barthold, p. 181; tr., p. 268).

In the 4th/10th century, the Arab traveler Abu Dolaf Yanbuʿi journeyed through the districts of Hamadan and Kermanshah, and noted “fine remains of the [ancient] Persians” at Nehāvand, including talismanic figures of a bull and a fish carved from stone. He mentioned also the discovery, in the time of the caliph al-Maʾmun, of a subterranean treasure chamber containing two gold caskets (p. 18, sec. 44; tr., pp. 49-50). Little is recorded of events in Nehāvand over the next centuries, although the assassination of the Great Saljuq vizier Neẓām-al-Molk (q.v.) took place at the nearby staging post of Saḥna in 485/1092 (Rāvandi, pp. 134-35).

In the 8th/14th century, Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfi described Nehāvand as a medium-sized town with a fertile surrounding agricultural region, with corn and cotton grown there in addition to various fruits; the population was mainly of Kurds, who were in religious affiliation Twelver Shiʿites (p. 74; tr., pp. 76-77). During the warfare between the Ottomans and Safavids over control of Iraq and western Iran, Nehāvand came into prominence. Soon after the beginning of Shah ʿAbbās I’s reign (r. 996-1038/1588-1629), Morād Ill’s commander Čeḡālezāda (Čaḡāloḡli), in 998/1589, built a fortress there as an advance base for a future Ottoman invasion of Iran, and this was held by the Turks for several years, until in 1011/1602-3 an internal revolt of the populace of Nehavand, coinciding with the Ottoman sultans being distracted by the Jalāli rebellions in Anatolia, brought about the expulsion of the Turks, after which Shah ʿAbbās’s governor of Hamadan, Ḥasan Khan, razed the fort to the ground (Eskandar Beg, 406-7, 410, 515, 635-36; tr., pp. 584, 588, 691, 825-26; Savory, p. 85). With the decay of the Safavids in the early 12th/18th century, the Ottomans were again in control of Nehāvand until Nāder Shah Afšār recovered the town in 1142/1730. It fell prey, however, to local Baḵtiāri chiefs until, in around 1165/1752, Moḥammad Khan Zand advanced from Hamadan in the name of the nominal Safavid ruler installed at Isfahan, and a battle took place at Nehavand. The Baḵtiāri leader ʿAli Mardān Khan was at first victorious, but when Karim Khan Zand came personally to Nehāvand, ʿAli Mardān Khan was defeated, and he fled into the mountainous interior of the Zagros (Golestāna, pp. 192-201; Perry, pp. 33-35).

Various Western travelers have passed through the Nehāvand region over the last few centuries (for these, see Gabriel, index s.v.). In modern times, Nehāvand has become the administrative center of a sub-province (šahrestān) of the same name in the province of Hamadan (Razmārā, pp. 460-61). In 1960 the town had a population of 26,500, but this has now increased to 72,218 (2006 census).



Abu Dolaf Yanbuʿi Ḵazraji, al-Resāla al-ṯāniya, ed. and tr. Vladimir Minorsky, Cairo, 1955.

Balāḏori, Fotuḥ al-boldān, ed. Michaël J. de Goeje, 2nd ed., Leiden, 1968; tr. Philip K. Hitti and Francis Clark Murgotten, as The Origins of the Islamic State, Beirut, 1966.

Abu Ḥanifa Dinavari, al-Aḵbār al-ṭewāl, ed. ʿAbd-al-Moʾmen ʿĀer and Jamāl-al-Din Šayyāl, Cairo, 1960; tr. Maḥmud Mahdawi Dāmḡāni, Tehran, 1987.

Ebn Ḥawqal, Ketāb ṣurat al-arż, ed. Johannes Hendrik Kramers, Leiden, 1967; tr. Johannes Hendrik Kramers and Gaston Wiet, as Configuration de la terre, 2 vols., Paris, 1964.

Eskandar Beg Torkamān Monši, Tāriḵ-e ʿālamārā-ye ʿabbāsi, ed. Iraj Afšār, 2 vols., Tehran, 1971; tr. Roger M. Savory, as History of Shah ʿAbbās the Great, 3 vols., Boulder and New York, 1979-86.

Eṣṭaḵri, Ketāb masālek al-mamālek, ed. Michaël Jan de Goeje, Leiden, 1967.

Ḥodud al-ʿālam men al-mašreq ela’l-maḡreb, ed. Manučhr Sotuda, Tehran, 1962; tr. with commentary Vladimir Minorsky, as Hudūd al-ʿĀam: The Regions of the World, London, 1970.

Ebn al-Faqih, Ketāb al-boldān, ed. Michaël Jan de Goeje, Leidon, 1967, pp. 258-60.

Abu’l-Ḥasan Golestāna, Mojmal al-tawāriḵ, ed. Moḥammad-Taqi Modarres Rażawi, Tehran, 1965.

Moqaddasi (Maqdesi), Aḥsan al-tawāriḵ fi maʿrefat al-aqālim, ed. Michaël Jan De Goeje, Leiden, 1877; 2nd ed., Leiden, 1967.

Moṭahhar b. Ṭāher Maqdesi, Ketāb al-badʾ wa’l-taʾriḵ, 6 vols., Paris, 1899-1907; tr. Moḥammad-Reżā Šafiʿi Kadkani, as Āarineš wa tāriḵ, 6 vols. in 2, Tehran, 1995.

Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfi, Nozhat al-qolub, ed. Guy Le Strange, Leiden, 1915; tr. Guy Le Strange, as The Geographical Part of Nuzhat-al-qulūb, Leiden, 1919.

Moḥammad b. ʿAli Rāvandi, Rāḥat al-ṣodur wa āyat al-sorur dar tāriḵ-e Ā-e Saljuq, ed. Moḥammad Eqbāl, rev. ed. with corrections Mojtabā Minavi, Tehran, 1985.

Moḥammad b. Jarir Ṭabari, Taʾriḵ al-rosol wa’l-moluk, ed. Michaël Jan De Goeje et al., 15 vols., repr. Leiden, 1964; tr. by various scholars as The History of al-Ṭabari, 40 vols., Albany, New York, 1985-2007, XIII, tr. Gautier H. A. Juynboll, as The Conquest of Iraq, Southwestern Persian, and Egypt, 1989.

Yāqut, Moʿjam al-boldān, 5 vols., Beirut, 1955-57.


Wilhelm Vladimirovich Barthold, An Historical Geography of Iran, tr. Svat Soucek, Princeton, 1984, pp. 180-81; tr. Homāyun Ṣanʿatizāda, as Joḡrāfiā-ye tāriḵi-e Irān, Tehran, 1998.

Leone Caetani, Annali dell’Islam, 10 vols., Milan, 1905-26.

Georges Contenau and Roman Ghirshman, Fouilles du Tépé Giyan,près de Néhavend, 1931 et 1932, Paris, 1935.

Fred McGraw Donner, The Early Islamic Conquests, Princeton, 1981.

Alfons Gabriel, Die Erforschung Persiens: die Entwicklung der abendländischen Kenntnis der Geographie Persiens, Vienna, 1952.

Moḥammad-Taqi Khan Ḥakim, Ganj-e dāneš: Joḡrāfiā-ye tāriḵi-e šahrhā-ye Irān, Tehran, 1987, pp. 964-68.

Guy Le Strange, The Lands of the Eastern Caliphate … from the Muslem Conquest to the Time of Timur, 3rd ed., Cambridge, 1966; tr. Maḥmud ʿErfān, as Joḡrāfiā-ye sarzaminhā-ye ḵelāfat-e šarqi, Tehran, 1958.

Josef Marquart (Markwart), Ērānšahr nach der Geographie des Ps. Moses Xorenacʿi, Abhandlungen der Königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, phil.-hist. Kl., N. F. 3/2, 1901.

Sylvia A. Matheson, Persia: An Archaeological Guide, London, 1972.

Vladimir Minorsky, “Nihāwand,” in EI2 VIII, pp. 23-24.

Albrecht Noth, “Iṣfahān-Nihāwand: ein Quellenkritische Studie zur friihislamischen Historiographie,” ZDMG 118, 1968, pp. 274-96.

John A. Perry, Karim Khan Zand: A History of Iran, 1747-1779, Chicago, 1979.

Ḥosayn-ʿAli Razmārā, ed., Farhang-e joḡrāfiāʾi-e Irān V: Kordestān wa Kermānšāh, Tehran, 1952, pp. 460-62.

Roger M. Savory, Iran under the Safavids, Cambridge, 1980.

Paul Schwarz, Iran im Mittelalter nach den arabischen Geographen, 9 vols., Leipzig, 1929-36.

Berthold Spuler, Iran in früh-islamischer Zeit, Wiesbaden, 1952; tr. ʿAbd-al-Jawād Falāṭuri, as Irān dar qorun-e naḵostin-e eslāmi, Tehran, 1985.

Cite this page
C. Edmund Bosworth, “NEHĀVAND”, in: Encyclopaedia Iranica Online, © Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York. Consulted online on 19 July 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2330-4804_EIRO_COM_11373>
First published online: 2020
First print edition: 00000000

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