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In his famous book "The History of Prophets and Kings", al-Isfahani writes, "Aryan which is also called Pars is in the middle of these countries and these six countries surround it because the South East is in the hands China, the North of the Turks, the middle South is India, the middle North is Rome, and the South West and the North West is the Sudan and Berber lands".
All this evidence shows that the name arya "Iranian" was a collective definition, denoting peoples (Geiger, pp. 31) who were aware of belonging to the one ethnic stock, speaking a common language, and having a religious tradition that centered on the cult of Ahura Mazdā.
The earliest epigraphically attested reference to the word arya occurs in the 6th-century B. Behistun inscription, which describes itself as having been composed "in arya [language or script]" (§ 70). Mallory argues that "As an ethnic designation, the word [Aryan] is most properly limited to the Indo-Iranians, and most justly to the latter where it still gives its name to the country Iran.
As is also the case for all other Old Iranian language usage, the arya of the inscription does not signify anything but "Iranian". In early Vedic literature, the term Āryāvarta (Sanskrit: आर्यावर्त, abode of the Aryans) was the name given to northern India, where the Indo-Aryan culture was based.
The term now only appears in the context of the "Indo-Aryan languages".is a term meaning "noble", which was used as a self-designation by Indo-Iranian people.