In August 2015, Institute for the Study of the Autochthonous Peoples of the Caucasian-Caspian Region, Yerevan organized its regular summer expedition; this time its route having ran alongside the South Caspian area, further to Northern Khorasan province neighbouring Heart province of Afganistan, then, on the way back from Afganistan - Southern Khorasan, Yazd, Tehran and Azerbaijan (we will write separately on the Iranian part of the expedition). The members of the expedition - Prof. Garnik Asatrian, Prof. Levon Yepiskoposyan, Dr. Victoria Arakelova and Dr. Vahe Boyajian focused on various aspects of the ethno-linguistic and ethno-religious situation particularly in Heart, as well as in a number of villages of the province.
Herat, one of the most beautiful and enigmatic cities of the East, dating back to Avestan time and famous for its wine, known in Middle Ages as “the pearl of Khorasan”, is nowadays a third largest cities of Afganistan with the population of around half a million people.
Among the historic sites of the city is the Heart Citadel, the Friday Mosk of Herat (the Masjid-I Jami’, built in 1200), the tombs of the outstanding mystics and poets Khwajah Abdullah Ansari Nur ad-Din Abd ar-Rahman Jami, the 15-century Gawhar Shad Musalla complex including the Mosque of Gawhar Shad, Madrasa of Sultan Husain Baiqara and Mausoleum of Mir Ali Sher Navai, etc.
The province of Heart is marked with the specific ethno-linguistic and ethno-religious situation. It is a multi-ethnic region with the SunniTajik majority (around 85%). Persian, the native language of Heart, serves as lingua franca. Its local dialects – Herātī – belong to the Khorasani cluster.
Despite the generally unstable situation all over Afganistan, Herat remains a more or less safe region, which currently is fully under the control of the central government and the national army. Iranian influence on and investment to the province of Herat is particularly noticeable in economy – paved roads, power sphere, etc., as well as in education sector.
More photos are available here