When the royal queen and princesses of the last Sassanian royal family fled before the onslaught of the invading Arab armies, they did so to the lands of Yazd. And in their footsteps would follow – over the next five hundred years – many other Zoroastrians who did not wish to subject themselves to Arab rule – from all over Iran. The lands of Yazd lie in the heart of Iran and today make up the province of Yazd.
Yazd Province is one of the provinces of Iran. It is in the center of the country, and its administrative center is the city of Yazd. In 2014, it was placed in Region.
Eighty kilometers southwest of Yazd city, in the slate rock of the Arnan height, thirty-one rock art petroglyphs (scraped or scratched rock art) figures dating to the stone ages (the Neolithic) – that is some 4,000 to 12,000 years ago – were discovered were excavating a water channel called a kareez or qanat. The example shown here now resides in Yazd’s Water Museum. Yazd province in the area of 129,285 km2 (49,917 sq mi) is situated at an oasis where the Dasht-e Kavir desert and the Dasht-e Lut desert meet. The city itself is sometimes called “the bride of the Kavir” because of its location, in a valley between Shir Kuh, the tallest mountain in the region at 4,075 m (13,369 ft) above sea level, and Kharaneq. The city proper is located at 1,203 m (3,947 ft) above sea-level, and covers 16,000 km2 (6,200 sq mi).
The name is derived from Yazdegerd I, a Sassanid ruler of Persia. The city was definitely a Zoroastrian center during Sassanid times. After the Arab conquest of Iran, many Zoroastrians migrated to Yazd from neighboring provinces. By paying a levy, Yazd was allowed to remain Zoroastrian even after its conquest, and Islam only gradually became the dominant religion in the city.
The majority of the people of Yazd are Persians, and they speak Persian with Yazdi accent different from Persian accent of Tehran, but there are also small populations of other Iranian ethnicities in the city such as Azerbaijanis and Qashqais who speak Persian as their second language.
Yazd and Zoroastrian-Aryan History
We do not know for certain when Yazd entered Aryan or Zoroastrian history. Like Yazd’s neighbor, the province of Pars – the seat of the Persian empire – Yazd appears to have become a part of the Zoroastrian Aryan lands after the Avestan canon – the texts that included in the Zoroastrian scriptures – was closed. However, there are some who identify Yazd with the land known in legends of the Pishdadian dynasty as ‘sar-Zameen Yazdan’ meaning the ‘headlands of the divine’ or alternatively the ‘abode of the angels’.