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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