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The present day Makran (Urdu: مکران) is a semi-desert coastal strip in the south of Sindh, Balochistan, in Iran and Pakistan, along the coast of the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. The present day Makran derived its name from Maka, a satrap of Achaemenid Empire.


Achaemenid era

Maka was an important early eastern satrapy of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Makra corresponds to modern day Bahrain, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates, plus the northern half of Oman as well as Balochistan and the Sindh province of Pakistan.[1]Cyrus the Great united several ancient Iranian tribes to create an empire.

The word Maka later became Makran as it is common in closely related ancient Avestan and Old Persian languages to use "an" and "ran" at the end of plurals.[2]. The Babylonians had also made voyages using Maka to communicate with India.[3] After Cyrus' death Darius I of Persia succeeded his throne. According to Greek historian Herodotus, Darius wanted to know more about Asia. He wished to know where the "Indus (which is the only river save one that produces crocodiles) emptied itself into the sea".[4]. After personally leading his elite forces, whose ranks were restricted to those with Persian, Mede or Elamite ancestry, to fight the invading Scythians, he lead another conquest towards Indian sub-continent.[5][6][7] where he conquered Sindh in 519 BC and constituted it as his 20th Satrapy and made use of the ocean there.[8][9]After the fall of Achaemenid Empire, Alexander also used Maka during his conquest and marched through a harsh desert path in Makran where he lost a significant number of soldiers but did not come across any Baluch force during his conquest except some coastal inhabitants. The harsh desert path is often mistaken as the whole of Makran region. Herodotus on several occasions mentions the contribution of "Mykian" that inhabited the eastern portion of the Achaemenid empire.[10]They are mentioned as "the men from Maka" in daiva inscriptions. The "Daiva inscription" is one of the most important of all Achaemenid inscriptions. They also took part in army of Xerxes the great at the battle of Thermopylae. The Mykians are also thought to be responsible for many inventions like qanats and underground drainage galleries that bring water from an aquifer on the piedmont to the gardens or palm groves on the plains. These inventions were very important reasons behind the success of the empire. The Mykians of the other side of ancient Maka, the present day region of Balochistan and Sindh had later taken independence because they are not mentioned in the book written by Arrian of Nicomedia about campaigns of Alexander the great but he only mentions the Oman side of Maka which he calls "Maketa". The reasons for this may have been the arguably unjust rule of Xerxes.[11][12][13] [14]

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