380 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
kings, and were added, one by one, to their dominions. The process of physical growth was
coincident with the reverse process of decay on the part of the Persians, the Greeks, and
the Romans, in the countries of Central Asia.
The province of Chorasmia bounded Parthia proper on the north, and consisted of a low-
lying plain between the Parthian mountains and the ancient river Oxus. As we have
indicated above, this was for the greater part a desert region, capable of supporting only
the wild tribes of Tura with their flocks. It is believed that to the present day the
nomadic habit of life has prevailed with all the succeeding nations that have occupied the
country. Nor is it wonderful that the sparse peoples of such a district should have been
conquered with ease by the warlike Parthians.
The country of Margiana was sometimes considered as a distinct kingdom, and sometimes as a
province of Bactria. The region lay to the north-east of Parthia, and included a much more
favorable district than might be found in Chorasmia. The river Margus carried verdure and
plenty on its banks, and its waters were diverted, in both ancient and modern times, by
channels and canals and dykes, extending for many miles from the principal stream. Strabo
has given us an account of the fertility of this region, and of the extraordinary
fruitfulness of the vine, bending with rich clusters on the banks of the Margus.
Next among the provinces touching Parthia, and lying on the eastern border of that
country. Was Arya, the little district which in the fate and vicissitude of things has
preserved to modern times the name of our ancestral race. This province embraces the
ancient valley of Herat. The country is mountainous, limited in area, not- populous,
easily subdued by the more powerful Parthians in the time of their warlike greatness.
Next in our progress to the south we find the province of Sarangia, greater m extent than
Arya, but hardly stronger in development. Here dwelt the desert barbarians called the
Sarangae. The region was one of alternate hills and plains, not wholly waste, having a few
small rivers flowing in a south-westerly direction. It does not appear that the primitive
Sarangians. were a people of great force, either in war or in peace, and their country was
in course of time easily absorbed in the Parthian Empire.
Still skirting the latter country in a south-westerly direction, we come to the larger
State of Sagartia-larger, but at the same time more inhospitable, less capable of
supporting a great population. The ancient tribes were men of the desert, living after the
manner of Bedouin Arabs, subsisting for the most part by the capture of such animals as
nature had assigned to the sandy waste. The disposition of the ancient people was more
warlike than that of the tribes inhabiting Sagartia and Sarangia; but their armies were
never sufficiently strong to compete in battle with the Parthian horsemen.
We now complete the circuit on the west with the province of Hyrcania. As we have said
above, this country was at times included under the common name of Parthia. It had the
same geographical and climatic character with the latter country. It was traversed through
its major diameter by two valleys lying between mountain ridges of considerable elevation.
, The country was well wooded and fairly watered. In this respect Hyrcania rivaled the
better parts of Parthia in excellence of tree-growth and vegetable products. It was said
to be a land abounding in shrubs and green slopes and flowers -fruitful in many things,
pleasing to the eye, abounding in the creatures of the chase. The country has been
represented in both ancient and modern times as especially prolific in animal life. The
traveler, as far back as the times of Strabo, was pleased with the prospect. In area the
province was considerably inferior to Parthia proper. Of all the bordering regions of the
latter country, Hyrcania, however, was the most interesting and important. It has been
urged by Rawlinson and other competent critics of the situation, that the place and
character of both the country and people of Parthia were favorable to the expansion of
political power and the establishment of a widely extended rule over the surrounding
nations. We have now considered briefly the