Abiria: The Historical Region of Sindh

Abiria was a region in the province of Sindh of Pakistan described by the Classical authors, primarily Ptolemy. It covers the area east of the Indus River Delta and is apparently named for the Abhira people, presumably in residence of the region.

The 1st century CE Periplus of the Erythraean Sea explains Abiria as the territory east of the Indus delta and north of Surastrene (modern Saurashtra), the spot most readily attained by the Phoenicians, where the products of the north, gold and bdellium, and those of the south, such as sandalwood, would naturally be accumulated for common exploration.

Ptolemy (vii. 1, fol. 172) embraces the district on the north-west coast of India, between the present Bombay, Surat, Gujrat, Kutch and the Indus River Delta, under the name of Indo-Scythians;the south-easterly portion (Gujrat, with Surat and the Gulf of Cambay) he calls Syrastrene, i.e. Saurastra of the Indians; north-west of that is the Indus delta Patalene, and beyond that is Abiria (not Sibiria according to Ptolemy) the Abhira of Indian geography. And in the Periplus mar. Erythr. ed. Huds. p. 24, neither Iberia nor Siberia should be the reading, but ‘ Abnpla, whose level district Saurastra and whose metropolis Minnagara are mentioned by the author of the Periplus as the locality, where a great abundance of precious commodities were gathered, prior to their being sent to Barygaza, the great Indian emporium.

Even up to the current day a great Ahir tribe is found in that region. The word had originally the meaning cow-herd, and agreed well with the statement made by Arrian and Ptolemy, that the ancient Indo-Scythians were herdsmen. This Abhira people, together with many other tribes of the similar stock, originally settled in the northern Punjab But wandered southward as they gradually adopted peaceful habits.

“Beyond the gulf of Baraca are that of Barygaza and the coast of the country of Ariaca, which is the start of the Kingdom of Nambanus and of all India. That part of it lying inland and adjoining Scythia is calledḭ Abiria, but the coast is called Syrastrene.” Periplus, Chap. 41

 

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