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Name and Historical Background

Regarding the name of Semnan, different opinions are common, the most important of them are the following explanations:

  • In the distant past, at the site of the Great Fire Temple of Harris in Koomesh (Semnan), there was a huge city with a large idol house with a high and glorious building. So, it is probable that the people of this land, had the religion of "Semti" or "Samineh" before the advent of Zarathustra, and their great idol house was located in what is now Semnan.
  • Others believe that Semnan is originally "Sakan" belonging to the tribes of coins and its A and N are signs of proportion and place that is seen in the words of Gilan and so on.
  • Other residents of Semnan believe that the old name of Semnan was (Sim Lam), which was built by two sons of the Prophet Noah named (Sim al-Nabi) and (Lam al-Nabi) whose tombs are in the mountains of the northeast called the Prophets. Accordingly, the word (Sim Lam) has become Semnan over time due to its many uses.
  • Some have attributed the myth of the original building to two thousand years BC by order of Tahmurth Deoband. At that time, the city was named Semina, which has changed to Semnan over time.
  • Another narration states that the old name of Semnan in the local language was "Seh Meh Nan" and its inhabitants meant that the agricultural products of this region did not provide people bread and food for more than three months. Later, over time, "Se Mehne Nan" was changed to Semnan. In any case, according to historical sources and books, Semnan is one of the ancient regions of Iran that has gone through many ups and downs throughout history.



Semnan was considered as one of the great provinces of Parthia or Parto during the whole period of the rules of the Medes and Achaemenids, Kumisneh or Kumishan (Qoms after Islam). In this period, Semnan was the border city of the Parthian and Median states. So, some historians sometimes consider it as part of the Medes and sometimes part of the Parthians.

The Seleucids were the greatest factor in the Greekization of the East, and so, they needed the favorable opinion of the people in order to continue their government. So they built about sixty cities in the East and the state of Parthia. One of these cities is the current Apama or Lasgerd, which is located 34 km from Semnan, and the other is the city of Hekta Polis (one hundred gates), which is called Damghan. The Parthians divided the Iranian provinces into eighteen large parts, one of the most important of which was the Qomis or Qoms Commission in Semnan and Damghan.


At the beginning of the seventh century AD, internal conflicts in the socio-political life of Iran increased and the struggle for power and government between various groups led to the weakening of Iran. At the same time, Yazdgerd III, the last king of the Sassanid dynasty, was fighting the Arab invaders who had just invaded Iran. This struggle, which lasted until 651 AD, ended with the complete conquest of Iran by the Arabs. The Arabs first conquered Rey, then they went to the northeast and reached the land of Kumesh (Semnan, Damghan, Bastam) and conquered it.

Semnan in the post-Islamic periods was considered part of the historical land of Qoms (Kumesh). Semnan has witnessed countless ups and downs, wars, defeats and victories during its two-thousand-year history. In the following periods, the Semnan was given special attention by the central governments and numerous disputes broke out over it between the powers.

During the Umayyad and Abbasid rules, especially after the assassination of Abu Muslim Khorasani by Mansour Dovanighi, riots broke out throughout Iran and numerous movements took place, the most important of them was the Zoroastrian uprising. In a short time, the Zoroastrians of Tabarestan and the northern areas of Qoms, namely Sangsar (Mahdi Shahr), Shahmirzad and Foolad Mahalla, gathered around the leader of this movement and captured Qoms and Rey, but were defeated in Saveh and Sanbad fled to Qoms. After seizing the treasures of Abu Muslim, Sanbad went to Tabarestan. He was killed in Sangsar and Shahmirzad valleys.


The province of Qoms was one of the important centers of the Ismailis in the sixth and seventh centuries AH. There were 150 castles in the possession of this sect, each set of which was supervised by a Kadkhoda and each separate castle was monitored by a nobleman who was the governor or great ruler.

During the Mongol era, Semnan, like other parts of Iran, was undergone the attack, killing, slaughter of people and financial losses. This slaughter continued during the reign of Timur Lang, who started the invasion of Iran in 783 AH.

By the establishment of the Safavid rule, Shah Ismail Safavid suppressed the beheaders of the provinces. For example, the ruler of Firuzkuh castle was captured and thus, the provinces of Firuzkuh and Khawar, Semnan and Sangsar were captured by the Safavids. Karim Khan Zand reigned as the Lawyer of the people in Iran for 29 years. But during this period he gave the cities of Semnan, Damghan, Shahroud, Bastam to the elders of the Qajar family. After the death of Khan Zand, Agha Mohammad Khan left Shiraz and went to Kumesh and Damghan, and by gathering some members of his tribe, he finally reached Kumash province (Semnan, Damghan and Bastam) and the southern province of the Caspian Sea. After Agha Mohammad Khan, his nephew named Fath Ali Shah Qajar relied on the throne. From the very beginning of the monarchy, he paid much attention to Qoms, which was his birthplace and appointed Zulfiqar as the ruler of Semnan. The geographical name of Qoms was common until the end of the Qajar period, but during the first Pahlavi rule, Semnan became one of the cities of the second province, namely Mazandaran.


Semnan province is located on the southern slopes of the Alborz Mountains, on the middle border of Alborz and the beautiful desert plain. So, beautiful and attracting sceneries along with various climates can be found in this region. In ancient times, Semnan province was part of the fourteenth historical state of Verne (Verne) of the sixteen Avestan divisions. Due to its geographical location, desert and semi-desert climate, soil and water limitations, this region does not have a favorable agricultural position, but it is one of the significant centers of handicrafts and one of the industrial regions of the country. It is one of the most important provinces of Iran, which due to its special situational and historical features, has included a set of unique beauties and natural landscapes such as desert, mountainous and unique historical attractions. Semnan province, with an area of 96815 square kilometers, is located in the east of Tehran province. Damghan, Semnan, Shahroud and Garmsar are the cities of this province. This province is divided into two parts: mountainous and flat plains. Its "mountainous" areas have good mineral, tourist and tourism potential, and its flat plains also include the very old cities of Iran.

It is the sixth province in terms of area of Iran and its area is estimated to be about four times of Tehran province. It is located between the orbits of 34 degrees and 17 minutes to 37 degrees of north latitude and 51 degrees and 58 minutes to 57 degrees and 58 minutes of east longitude. Semnan province with the center of Semnan city is limited to Mazandaran province from the north, Isfahan province from the south, South Khorasan province from the east and Tehran province from the west.

The cities of Semnan province are: Semnan, Shahroud, Damghan, and Garmsar. The cities of Semnan, Mehdi Shahr, Shahmirzad, Sorkheh, Shahroud, Bastam, Tajan, Kalateh, Khaij, Miami, Biarjamand, Damghan, Garmsar, Ivanki and Ardan are also the cities of the province.

According to the national census of 1996, Semnan province had a population of 50,146. The race of the people of Semnan is Aryan and they speak Persian with Semnan dialect.


Geology of Semnan province

Geological studies show that the oldest formations from Paleozoic rocks to Quaternary alluvium exist in this area. There are Paleozoic rocks in the north of Semnan, around Shahmirzad and south of the northern heights of Damghan and Shahroud. Mesozoic stones can be seen in the north of Shahmirzad near Sheikh Cheshmeh Sar and Jam. The sediments of the Tertiary period can be seen from Semnan to Ahavan and gypsum floors in the north of Semnan. Quaternary rocks can also be seen from the northern mountains to the desert plain.

Semnan province is located in the following zones based on the division of structural-sedimentary units of Iran:

  • Central Iran Zone

Central Iran Zone is one of the main and major units that is located in the shape of a triangle in the center of Iran and is one of the largest and most complex geological units. In this unit, there is the oldest transformed unit to today's active and semi-active volcano. The northern boundary of this zone is the Alborz heights, and it is limited to the Sanandaj-Sirjan metamorphic zone (part of central Iran) by a submerged area in the west. This submerged area includes Lake Urmia, Tuzgvil or Arak desert and the depression of the bloody cow-Sirjan, which continues to the Jazmourian pit and southern Baluchistan of Iran. The eastern boundary of this zone is Lut block. Precambrian sediments in Iran have changed drastically and formed the platform of Central Iran, which from the Late Precambrian to Triassic, shallow continental or marine sediments cover the ramie and is called the platform cover. This unit is located directly below the Cambrian fossil sediments. Chilean limestone and sandstone form the main lithology of the Cambrian. Ordovician-Silurian and Lower Devonian sediments were not present in other parts of central Iran except the eastern and northeastern regions of Iran. Extensive sea advance in the Upper Devonian and Lower Carboniferous leads first to destructive sediments and sandstones, and then to shallow marine limestone and shale. With the retreat of the sea in the Upper Carboniferous and the advance in the Permian between the Permian sediments and older rocks, there is a deformation in the Permian. And in the Permian, sandstone-calcareous and Chilean facies form the main rocks. Upper Triassic is often characterized by continental facies such as sandstone and coal shale.

In the Lias period, there were shallow continental and marine sediments consisting of shale and sandstone, so that it is inferred that the formation of such sediments had been in the Upper Triassic and Lias and part of most of the coastal environments and marshes. The massive spread of plants and forests in this area is proven with the existence of coal mines. The gradual advance of seawater in Dugger and Malm (Middle and Upper Jurassic) results in the formation of truly marine sediments and facies of marl, shale and lime. But in the Jurassic there is an end with the retreat of the sea and red continental sediments, which is the effect of the Cimmerian orogenic phase.

After the Neocumin (Early Cretaceous), whose sediments can be seen in some places, the Lower Cretaceous Sea with its wide advance covers most of central Iran and leaves conglomerate, sandstone, limestone and shale sediments.

In the Upper Cretaceous, due to intense orogenic movements and high erosion, facies changes are severe and deep sediments along with ophiolite rocks in the oceanic grooves have merged to form a colored mixture.

Cenozoic sediments due to the Laramid orogenic phase in the Paleocene begin with the conglomerate, sandstone and swamp sediments. During the Eocene and Oligocene, limestone and marl facies existed in different parts of the zone, but intense volcanic activity during this period overshadowed sedimentary phenomena. Neogene rocks are mostly from terrestrial facies and are composed of sandstone, marl and conglomerate which belong to shallow sedimentary basin.


Geotourism (geological tourism) of Semnan province

Forest ecosystem in the north and rangeland and desert ecosystems in the central and southern parts of Semnan province, as well as the rich culture of rangeland exploitation developed by the nomadic community, make this province one of the most important areas in the country to attract private investment in the field of attracting tourists and providing infrastructure for the development of the tourism industry.

Forests, desert pastures, wildlife, the existence of many beautiful and impressive landscapes, large desert areas as well as the historical context of the province and the existence of nomads made private investors to invest in this region for the creation of tourism infrastructure

Rivers, springs and waterfalls of Semnan province

Due to the prevailing climate in Semnan province, there are no large and important rivers in this region. So, the rivers that exist in this region are generally shallow and seasonal and flood when it rains. Some of the rivers have tourism values. One of the most important rivers is Gol Rudbar river, which originates from the northern heights of Shahmirzad, and the upper margins of this river have suitable spring and summer resorts. Tash or Shahroud river which has resorts in spring and summer and Ahmadabad river which is surrounded by a plain of flowing sands along with Hableh river which is the main source of agricultural water in Garmsar city and has an important impact on economy and development of this region are the most important rivers in the region.

Abundant springs of Semnan province are other natural and valuable attractions of the region that the most important of them are: Shah spring, Ain al-Rasheed spring, Ab Morad springs, Qulanj water, hot and cold water, Talkhab mineral spring, Shoorab mineral spring, Namak Darreh mineral spring, Sheikh spring (Cheshmeh Sar), Roozbeh spring, Havakhorsar spring, Jovin spring, Imamzadeh Shahzadeh Mohammad Zaid spring, Imamzadeh Abdullah (AS) spring, Ali spring and its mansion. The total springs and rivers of this region have increased the tourist attractions of Semnan province.


Area tectonics

Semnan province is located on the southern slopes of the Alborz highlands (Central-Eastern) and on the northern edge of the Great Desert. Therefore, from a tectonic point of view it belongs to the two structural zones of Alborz (Central) and Central Iran. In the north of Semnan, "Semnan fault" is known as the border separating Alborz from Central Iran. While in 30 km east of Semnan, Attari fault is the border of two structural-sedimentary zones of Central Iran. Semnan and Attari faults are two major tectonic events that pass through the northern parts of Semnan province in an approximate northeast, southwest direction. Regional data and especially comparison of geological features of areas located in the north (Alborz) and south (Central Iran) of Semnan and Attari faults show that the geological differences between the northern part of Semnan province (Alborz) and its southern part (Central Iran) does not exist. In other words, the Alborz part of Semnan province is actually the suburbs of central Iran. Nevertheless, block tectonics and sedimentary basins limited to fault zones have caused differences in the lithology and thickness of homogeneous and simultaneous stratigraphic units.


Social and cultural attractions of Semnan province

In addition to historical monuments, desert and mountainous attractions, interesting cultural features, Semnan province also has its own socio-cultural attractions. The tribes and nomads of Semnan region depict one of the most attractive ways of social livelihood. Among the cities of Semnan province, the most diversity and dispersion of tribes can be seen in Shahroud city and the least diversity in Damghan city. It is said that one of the most important features of Semnan nomads is that there are families of all tribes of Iran in this vast area. Various national and religious celebrations that are held privately and publicly, along with various local dishes are the most important social attractions of Semnan province.


Nomads of Semnan province

Semnan province has long been the residence of different ethnic groups with different origins (including Parthian, Mikami and Persian). In general, the tribes living in Semnan province can be divided into two groups:

  • Indigenous tribes: A group of tribes in Semnan province have lived since ancient times and before Islam in this area, and in fact they are natives of this land. The examples are tribes of Sangsaris, Parvirs and Afritas.
  • Groups that came to the region after the reign of Karim Khan Zand: This group was brought around the capital and held hostage after Tehran became the capital of Iran.

Due to ethnic heterogeneity and especially differences in dialects and social differences, these groups could not come together to form large tribal unions; Hence, they formed scattered tribes. Elikai tribes and clans, Osanloo, Hadavand, Arab Darazi, Katie are among these groups. Currently, the most important nomadic groups in Semnan province by city are:

  • Semnan city: Sangsari tribe, Aftari, Parvi, Arabi and Baseri tribes.
  • Garmsar city: Elikai, Osanloo, Hadavand, Arab colonel and Arab Darazi.
  • Shahroud city: Khartouran, Taroud, Abrisham (Kurdish, Arab, Baluch, Kermani), Grabli and Gonili tribes.
  • Damghan city: fourteen nomads, Kalateh and Badleh in the north of Damghan and Rasm nomads in the south of Damghan.
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