DANDĀNQĀN, a small town of medieval Khorasan, in the Qara Qum, or sandy desert, between Marv and Saraḵs, 10 farsaḵs from the former, on which it was administratively dependent (Ebn Ḵorradāḏbeh, pp. 24, 202; Eṣṭaḵrī, p. 284; Ebn Rosta, p. 279; Zhukovskiĭ, pp. 21-22, 38). The site of the settlement is now in the Republic of Turkmenistan. From the reports of the 10th-century Arabic and Persian geographers it is clear that the town was protected by a wall 500 paces in circumference, with a rebāṭ or caravansary for travelers en route to Marv (Ebn Ḥawqal, pp. 436-37; tr. pp. 422, 440; Moqaddesī, pp. 312, 348, 359; Ḥodūd al-ʿālam, tr. Minorsky, p. 105). By the time of Yāqūt (early 13th century) it was ruined and abandoned, apparently because of the encroaching sands; only the rebāṭ, minaret, and walls were visible, though Yāqūt also quoted from a lost work by Abū Saʿd ʿAbd-al-Karīm Samʿānī a report that it had been sacked by Oghuz Turks in 553/1158, during the disturbances after the Saljuq sultan Sanjar’s death (Boldān, Beirut, II, p. 477). In its time, however, the town had produced a significant number of traditionists and other scholars (Samʿānī, ed. Yamānī, V, pp. 381-83).
This otherwise insignificant place was the scene of one of the decisive battles that led to the establishment of the Saljuq empire. On 8 Ramażān 431/23 May 1040, in the desert outside Dandānqān, a force of some 16,000 Turkmen led by the Saljuq brothers Ṭoḡrel Beg and Čaḡrī Beg, defeated a heavily armed Ghaznavid army under Sultan Masʿūd I (421-32/1030-41), whose fighting efficiency had been badly impaired by famine and drought conditions in the region.
The victory opened up all Khorasan to the Saljuqs and ended Ghaznavid dominion there (see Bayhaqī, ed. Fayyāż, pp. 842ff.; Biberstein-Kazimirski, pp. 126-29; Zahoder; Bosworth, Ghaznavids, index, s.v.).
V. Bartol’d (W. Barthold), “Istoriko-geograficheskiĭ obzor Irana,” (Historical-geographical survey of Iran) in V. Bartol’d, Sochineniya (Collected works), Moscow, 1971, pp. 31-225; tr. S. Soucek as A Historical Geography of Iran, Princeton, N.J., 1984, p. 43.
A. de Biberstein-Kazimirski, Menoutchehri, poète persan du 11ième siècle de notre ère (du 5ième de l’hégire), Paris, 1887.
B. Zahoder, “Dendanekan,” Belleten 18, 1954, pp. 581-87.
V. A. Zhukovskiĭ, Razvaliny Starago Merva (Ruins of ancient Marv), St. Petersburg, 1894.
(C. Edmund Bosworth)
Originally Published: December 15, 1993
Last Updated: November 14, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. VI, Fasc. 6, p. 645