Maka (satrapy)


Maka (Old Persian: 𐎶𐎣 Maka-)[1] was a satrapy (province) of the Achaemenid Empire and later a satrapy of the Parthian and Sassanian empires (known as Mazun), corresponding to Greek Gedrosia, in the barren coastal areas of modern Pakistan and Iranian Baluchistan.[2] Alternatively, it may have corresponded to modern day Bahrain, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates, plus the northern half of Oman (see Magan).[3]

The territory of Maka (𓅓𓂝𓎼, M-ā-g)[citation needed] on the Statue of Darius I.
Makan on the tomb of Artaxerxes I, c. 430 BC.
Makan with cuneiform identification label on the tomb of Artaxerxes II, c. 360 BC.
Maka soldier of the Achaemenid army, c. 338 BC. Tomb of Artaxerxes III.

Maka was already a part of the Achaemenid Empire before Darius the Great came to power in 522 BC - it is mentioned in the Behistun inscription that it was already there when he inherited the throne. It is possible (because Cambyses and Smerdis are not known to have been there) that it was conquered by Cyrus the Great in 542 BC. He is known to have campaigned on the other side of the Persian Gulf (he seems to have lost most of his army in the Gedrosian Desert). It continued to be a satrapy until Alexander's conquests of Persia, at which point it became independent. According to Herodotus, the "Mykians" belonged to the same tax district as the Drangians, Thamanaeans, Utians, Sagartians and "those deported to the Persian Gulf".[3]

According to Fleming, Maka, in the area of Gedrosia, can be considered one of the Indian satrapies of the Achaemenid Empire.[4]

Achaemenid eraEdit

The Achaemenid empire at its greatest extent, including the region of Maka (Gedrosia in Greek terminology)

Maka was an important early eastern satrapy of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire. The Babylonians had made voyages using Maka to communicate with India.[5] After Cyrus' death, Darius I of Persia succeeded his throne, and, according to Greek historian Herodotus, 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".[6] After personally leading his elite forces, whose ranks were restricted to those with Persian, Mede, or Elamite ancestry, to fight the invading Scythians, he led a campaign of conquest towards South Asia,[7][8][9] conquering Sindh in 519 BC and constituting it as his 20th satrapy.[10][11] After the fall of the Achaemenid Empire, Alexander the Great also crossed Maka in his campaign of conquest. His army marched through a harsh desert path in Makran, where he lost a significant number of soldiers due to the harsh desert conditions.

Herodotus on several occasions mentions the contributions of the "Mykians", who inhabited the eastern portion of the Achaemenid Empire.[12] They are mentioned as "the men from Maka" in daiva inscriptions. The "Daiva inscription" is one of the most important of all Achaemenid inscriptions. The Mykians served in the army of Xerxes the Great at the battle of Thermopylae. They are also thought to be responsible for inventions such as qanats and underground drainage galleries that bring water from an aquifer on the piedmont to 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, are thought to have later become independent, as they are not mentioned in Arrian of Nicomedia's account of the campaigns of Alexander the Great; he mentions only the Omani side of Maka, which he calls "Maketa". The reasons for this may have been the arguably unjust rule of Xerxes.[13][3]


  1. ^ Schmitt, Rüdiger. Wörterbuch der altpersischen Königsinschriften. p. 209.
  2. ^ FLEMING, DAVID (1993). "Where was Achaemenid India?". Bulletin of the Asia Institute. 7: 67–72. JSTOR 24048427.
  3. ^ a b c "Maka".
  4. ^ FLEMING, DAVID (1993). "Where was Achaemenid India?". Bulletin of the Asia Institute. 7: 70. JSTOR 24048427.
  5. ^ "The history of antiquity". Max Duncker. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  6. ^ "History of Herodotus by Herodotus – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)". Retrieved 2010-09-11.
  7. ^ "Persia". Retrieved 2010-09-09.
  8. ^ "Iranian Provinces: Sistan and Baluchistan". Retrieved 2010-09-07.
  9. ^ "Ancient Persia". Retrieved 2010-09-09.
  10. ^ "Darius the great". Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  11. ^ "The largest empire in ancient history". Archived from the original on 2010-09-17. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  12. ^ "Full Text of Herodotus, Book 7,8 and 9". Retrieved 2010-10-02.
  13. ^ "The History, by Herodotus (book7)". Retrieved 2010-09-07.