Pre islamic persian culture and dating

Culture of Iran - Wikipedia

pre islamic persian culture and dating

As a result of mass integration of various cultures from around the Middle East area Persians and ancient Medes(modern Kurds)established the first Iranian state. and very closed off to dating outside their race, contrary to Persian men who. The very struggle to uphold the viability of a given culture over a long Khuzestan, Elamite painted pottery dating from circa B.C.E. shows an Of the original inhabitants of the Iranian plateau prior to the invasion and. The culture of Iran also known as culture of Persia, is one of the oldest in the world. Owing to its Today of the 98% of Muslims living in Iran, around 89% are Shi'a and only around 9% are is quite the . The music of Persia dates to before the days of Barbod in the royal Sassanid courts. This is where many music.

The division of the satrapies was based on their traditional linguistic, geographical, racial, or tribal affiliations. A strong central government, however, kept firmly to the rein of power. Darius died at the age of 64 after 36 years of an eventful reign. He soon faced a revolt in Egyptfuelled by heavy taxation, deportation of people to Iran for work, and the high costs of maintaining a Persian garrison there.

The revolt was crushed ruthlessly. In the Babylonians revolted for the same reasons. This was easily suppressed, but a second revolt two years later in was put down with harsh punitive measures: Despite an initial reluctance, the Greeks put up a united front against the Persian army both at sea and on land and managed to inflict a severe defeat on the Persians at Salamis by sea and at Plataea on land and somewhat later at Mykale, events of momentous importance for the Greeks.

The Persians, defeated in their military venture, turned to intrigue and bribery to compensate for their military failure Frye,pp. Xerxes was succeeded by his youngest son Artaxerxes Iq. He favored in particular the worship of Mithra see at iranica. His Greek mercenary soldiers, some 10, in number, managed to retreat and reach Greece, a fact that indicates the onset of weakness in Achaemenid military power.

The reign of later Achaemenid kings reveals the exhaustion and the lack of initiative and resolve associated with a declining and ageing dynasty.

pre islamic persian culture and dating

For diverse communications and records the Achaemenids used the Aramaic script, which, as ideograms q. Letters written in this fashion have been found in Egypt 5th century B. If a satrap wanted to send a letter to one of his agents, he would dictate it in Old Persian; the scribe would make a mental translation of the message into Aramaic and put it down in Aramaic language and script.

The power and wealth of the Achaemenid kings was reflected in their imperial art seen best in the remains of Susa, Pasargadae, and particularly Persepolis, the latter principally the work of Darius I and his son Xerxes.

By drawing on elements from Assyria, Egypt, Greece, Urartu, and Anatolia, it mirrors the multi-national diversity of the empire, and yet it presents a unified art, where its various elements are combined in a coherent and harmonious style peculiar to the Achaemenid period.

It represents the most polished and the most refined form of ancient Middle Eastern art and its culmination, before it came under the impact of Hellenism and lost some of its characteristics and vigor.

The religious policy of the Achaemenids. The enlightened religious policy of the Achaemenids set by Cyrus the Great, according to which the Great King could claim to have been chosen by the gods of the conquered people, was an important element of their rule. Under Artaxerxes I r. The religion of the earlier Achaemenid kings, however, has remained controversial.

All this throws some doubt on the Zoroastrianism of the early Achaemenid kings. Had they been supporters of Zoroastrianism, the argument goes, their support would have been acknowledged in Zoroastrian writings, whereas there is no mention of the Achaemenid dynasty in the Persian historical tradition, which is based on Zoroastrian legends and myths of eastern and northeastern Iran see below, iii.

The Achaemenids were proud to call themselves Aryan Arya; q. The Achaemenid rule represented the highest degree of political power that the Iranians ever reached. At no other time did the Iranians achieve the same prominence or exercise the same degree of domination over peoples of western Asia and parts of northern Africa.

His son, Alexander q. His repeated successes, and the absence of an effective resistance by the Iranian satrapies to his relentless march across the land, suggests a weakness in the body politic of the Achaemenids, the disaffection of the peoples of the empire and the loss of the fighting spirit which characterized their early military ventures.

Soon the entire realm of the Achaemenids came under Macedonian rule. About a hundred years later, the fall of Maurya dynasty enabled the Bactrian Greeks to expand southward. In the mid-second century Elymais in southwestern Iran and Persis in southern Persia broke away from the Seleucid domain. In both, local kingdoms came into being and later continued as vassals of the Arsacids.

From about B. With him and his successors the Greek civilization spread in the entire Achaemenid domain. The fact that he co-opted many of the local elements in the political schemes that he had in mind seems to have eased local antagonism towards him, and the Macedonian and Greek avoidance of pressuring the conquered peoples into adopting Greek institutions and religious views made the acceptance of aspects of their culture more palatable to the conquered people.

The fact that in Persian the names of most precious stones and jewels, such as diamond, ruby, emerald, silver simagate, and possibly pearl, are derived from Greek, is itself an indication of the wealth and luxury of the Greek and Macedonian ruling classes in Iran. The Iranian elite, eager to save their skin and retain their privileges, were the first to adapt themselves to Greek ways. In Bactria, which had seceded from the Seleucid Empire, the Greek alphabet was adopted for writing the Bactrian language.

pre islamic persian culture and dating

Zoroastrian clergy, however, remained adamant in their defiance of Alexander. In the countryside people were naturally far less affected by the Greek foreign culture, and continued with their own religious beliefs, practices, and superstitions. But after his defeat by the Romans inthe Arsacids resumed their advance westward and southward. In Mithridates I conquered western Iran and Babylonia. Their nimble, light-armored cavalry was renowned. Most of their reign coincided with the expansion of the Roman Empire and its eastward drive, resulting in its domination of the eastern Mediterranean lands, making the eastern Roman provinces neighbors of the Arsacid power.

Clashes between the two were inevitable, considering the eagerness of the Roman emperors and generals for conquest and glory on the one hand, and the hard and proud resistance of the Parthian army on the other. Many wars took place between the two, with the possession of a number of Mesopotamian border cities and the suzerainty over Armenia being often the bones of contention between them. The Arsacids effectively halted any further Roman advances to the east. In one of the most memorable Parthian victories at Carrhae q.

Persian Empire

In a number of other battles, mostly towards the end of the Arsacid period, the Parthian were defeated, and even Ctesiphon q. The Parthians managed to defend their territory and stay in power for over years B. The Arsacids were fairly tolerant in their religious policy, as can be inferred from their treatment of the Jewish community of Mesopotamia reflected in the Babylonian Talmud Neusner,pp.

We know little about the cultural life of Iran in the Parthian period. Their monuments have nearly all disappeared, and next to nothing is known of their literature, save for two small works: The Persian verse narrative Vis o Ramin has also been traced back to the Parthian era Minorsky,pp.

The little we know about Parthian art is inferred from scant remnant of buildings, some of them in Mesopotamia and Syria, a few rock carvings, and some archeological objects found in Susa and elsewhere. The paucity of Arsacid remains is no doubt partly due to the profound enmity of the Sasanians towards them and the deliberate eradication of their traces; that is also why in the Arabic and Persian histories, which derive from Sasanian sources, all that is said about more than half a millennium of the Parthian rule is a truncated list of Parthian kings.

We must also admit the fact that the Parthian period was in no way outstanding in terms of cultural achievements. It is generally through Roman sources, beside the coins, that we know something of their political history. Their administration was one of feudal nature, with noble houses ruling in the regions belonging to them by tradition or assigned to them by the Great King.

At the start the Arsacids were under the unavoidable influence of Hellenism, and, as Ernst Herzfeld q.

pre islamic persian culture and dating

This is particularly true of the first phase of the period, that is, the 3rd and the 2nd centuries B. This tendency is also symbolically apparent in Arsacid coins. It is obvious that, with the passage of time, the Greek influence weakened and the native modes of expression, presumably encouraged by a growing sense of nationalism, revived and prevailed.

This style, which was in vogue in the Near and Middle East under the Parthians, influenced the late Roman provincial style and early Byzantine art Ghirshman,pp.

Nonetheless, the combined evidence of art, architecture, script, coinage, and literature bear witness to the profound effect of Hellenism on Middle Eastern culture, including that of Iran. EASTERN IRAN The history of eastern Iran and Transoxiana in ancient and early medieval times is even less clear than that of western Iran, partly because the peoples inhabiting this vast region, which comprised Aria, Bactria, Sogdiana, and Chorasmia as well as the plains inhabited by the eastern Scythians Sakashad not come under the influence of great urban centers, as had the Medes and the Persians, since the distance between them and the centers of Middle Eastern civilization such as Babylonia, Elam, and the Asianic kingdoms of Anatolia and northwestern Iran e.

The events in these regions attracted less international attention than those in western and southern Iran, and therefore the Greek and Roman sources are less informative about them.

Coins and passages from Chinese reports as well as brief accounts in some Arabic and Persian sources used to form our chief source of information about the events of the region. The proximity to the plains of Central Asia made the region a frequent prey to nomadic invasions, and kingdoms were made and unmade as a result. The Scythian tribes invaded the region repeatedly, and, beside the Arsacids, who took possession of Parthia and the adjacent territories, they were responsible also for the formation of the Indo-Scythian see at iranica.

The proximity to India brought Indian influences: The dynasties that ruled Iran proper, such as the Achaemenids, the Parthians, and the Sasanians, tried, with only partial success, to dominate Central Asia and stem the threat of nomadic invasions.

pre islamic persian culture and dating

Cyrus the Great was killed while fighting against the Massagetae B. His army included contingents drawn from the Iranian nomadic tribes and settled peoples of Central Asia and Eastern Iran.

Alexander conquered most of the regions inhabited by these peoples in his drive towards the northeast and India.

During the Seleucid reign Bactria managed to gain independence under a Greek dynasty that was later swept away by the Arsacids. The Sakas of Central Asia continued to be active. Pushing southward, they formed the Indo-Scythian kingdom in ca. In the meantime, the Tokharians, probably also a Saka tribe, were pressured by Hsiung-nu tribes, who originated from Chinese borders, conquered Bactria, and formed the Kushan empire in the 1st century C.

The Kushans adopted the Bactrian language and its Greek script and embraced Buddhism. For at least a century they constituted the greatest power in eastern Iran, ruling vast areas that extended from Central Asia to India.

They were defeated and eliminated by the rising Sasanian power in the 3rd century. In the next century, however, the region was subjected to new waves of invaders from the east, variously designated as Hephthalites q. The ethnicity of these tribes is not quite certain. Often they are assumed to have had Hunnic origins, but they may have been of Iranian stock and may possibly be the same people called in the sources by different names.

Culture of Iran - history, people, clothing, traditions, women, beliefs, food, customs, family

From among the eastern Iranians of Central Asia, the Sogdians prospered as traders and became transmitters of culture. Much of the Sogdian writing was discovered in the course of archeological excavations begun at the turn of the 20th century in Turfan, the capital of an Uighur Khanate which had adopted the Manichean religion. Samarqand, Bukhara, and Panjikand were among the major Sogdian centers.

Sogdiana reached the height of its prosperity between the 6th and 8th centuries C. They introduced Manicheism to the Chinese and, together with the Bactrians, left traces of their art and artistic influence in China. They also introduced a number of fruits and vegetables into China, as described by Berthold Laufer in his invaluable Sino-Iranica Chicago, There was some truth in what the Sasanians leveled against the Arsacids in the period of their decline, even though much of it was the inevitable consequence of the corruption of power with the passage of time.

The amnesia about the Median and Achaemenid kings and their glorious deeds came about as a result of the spread of Zoroastrianism from the northeast to the rest of the country.

The Zoroastrian progression brought with it the myths and legends of the Avestan people, adumbrated in their holy scriptures, and amplified in the course of oral transmissions see below, iii. This tradition obliterated all local myths and legends as pagan, and neglected and finally discarded the historical memory. His political victories were accompanied by a number of social and religious reforms.

He also made moves to strengthen the authority of central government, without, however, disturbing the basically feudal system of the Parthian period and the privileges of the great noble families. He resumed the attack on the Roman provinces and in the course of several campaigns from to defeated the Roman emperors Gordian III, who was killed on the battlefield C.

pre islamic persian culture and dating

He laid waste to a number of cities in the region, among them Dura, which never recovered. When the Sasanians rose to power, Armenia was governed by a ruling house Arshakuni, C. They remained loyal to the Arsacids and were therefore subjected to repeated attacks by the Sasanian kings, who considered Armenia as part of their domain.

When Armenia adopted Christianity in the 4th century, it naturally began to look to Byzantium for protection against Persia, providing the rivalry between the two great powers with a new religious dimension. The growth of the number of Christians in Iran who were suspected of political treason hardly helped the matter. Sasanians and the Arabs. The Arabs had gradually spread northward and westward, penetrating into Syria and Mesopotamia, before the rise of the Sasanians.

In Trajan destroyed the Nabatean kingdom in northern Arabia. These were replaced by the Ghassanids, a Christian ruling house that controlled trade in the adjacent areas and served as a buffer kingdom between Iran and Byzantium.

In the south a similar kingdom with Hira on Euphrates as its center and ruled by the Lakhmids as Sasanian vassals, served the same purpose and blocked Arab bedouin attacks on the Iranian borders Rothstein, ; repr. The Sasanians had commercial interests in the Arabian Peninsula, and at times their control reached even the Hijaz Kister, pp.

The character of Sasanian rule. For over years Sasanians formed one of the two great powers of western Asia, the other being first Rome and then Byzantium. They subdued a number of kingdoms and principalities and established an empire that, although not as extensive as that of the Achaemenids, extended from the Caucuses to northwest India and from Central Asia to the southern shores of the Persian Gulf.

Their military power, the splendor of their royal courts, and their administrative system distinguished their rule. We can characterize Sasanian rule by three major features.

One was its tight relationship with the Zoroastrian church, bringing it close to a theocracy. It is conceivable that his brand of Zoroastrianism differed from that of the Parthians in the northeast.

He was also responsible for the execution of Mani Thus, under the Sasanians Iran was tightly bound and closely identified with Zoroastrian religion apparently of the Zurvanite school; Boyce, The frequent persecution of the Jews and the Christians, and particularly the ruthless attempts at eradicating Manicheans and Mazdakites, were the direct result of Sasanian commitments to the exclusive Zoroastrian orthodoxy.

A second feature of the Sasanian rule was its nationalistic stand. This went hand in hand with the rather xenophobic attitude of the Zoroastrian clergy. A third feature of the Sasanian rule is a growing tendency towards centralization. Despite the firm grip of the Zoroastrian faith on the Persian society, zealously promoted by Kerdir and his likes, the Iranian society was a multi-religious one. Jewish communities, the oldest religious minority, existed in most provinces.

The number of Christians gradually increased through the efforts of Christian missionaries and Nestorian refugees from Byzantium. Inwhen the third Synod was convened at Ctesiphon, the Church of Persia, which had adopted the Nestorian teaching emphasizing the distinctness of the divine and human natures in the incarnate Christhad become practically independent of the Western jurisdiction.

This separation of the Persian Church from both the Roman and Byzantine churches eased the condition of the Christians in Iran, even though suspicions concerning their sympathy and support for Byzantium lingered on. The most important religious events of the Sasanian period were the advent of Manicheism and later the Mazdakite movement.

Mani ; see at iranica. It had strong Gnostic tendencies and believed that divine particles of light were imprisoned in the body of men, who were created in fact by demons. The whole purpose of the faith was to teach its followers how to release these particles from the body so that they could return to the purity of their original home, the abode of light.

The faith spread from Iran to Central Asia and as far as China. An Uighur Khanate adopted Manicheism in the 8th century, and thanks to its protection some original Manichean writings in Parthian, Sogdian, Middle Persian, and Uighur Turkic were preserved and finally unearthed through excavations in the 20th century.

In the West it influenced the doctrines of some Christian sects, such as the Cathars, the Bogomils, and the Albigensians, who were ruthlessly persecuted by Christian orthodoxy, as were the Manicheans in Iran under both Zoroastrian and Islamic rule.

It demanded the distribution of wealth among the poor, the abolition of harems, and equal opportunity for all men to take a wife. The allegation, however, that they preached promiscuity and sharing of women can be regarded as deriving from the usual fabricated propaganda against heretical movements Yarshater,; contra Shaki, But their excesses created a backlash.

However, the ills that were eating at the roots of Sasanian institutions were too deeply entrenched, and the Mazdakite discontent continued to simmer under the surface of forced obedience. The Arab conquest and the introduction of Islam gave popular aspirations an opportunity to surface again, mostly under Islamic heterodox guises.

Two different currents can be observed to interact under the Parthians: The latter began by having a dominant position, but gradually the native art of eastern Iran and the steppes began to assert itself, a process clearly noticeable in numismatic iconography and legends.

Scenes of investitures with divine sanction served the same purpose. Unfortunately, except for rock carvings, and a collection of silver bowls, mostly showing a prince or a king riding a horse or a camel while hunting, and hordes of coins, not much of Sasanian art has survived. Sasanian art shows greater vitality and vigor than Parthian art.

The Hellenic influence is still detectable, but it weakened with the passage of time. Backed by royal authority and power, Sasanian art influenced the art of neighboring regions.

It affected the art of Central Asia and northwest India, including the Buddhist art of the area Ghirshman,pp. At the same time, Sogdian and Bactrian art found its way into China, and there are remarkable examples of such art in carved reliefs on stone slabs belonging to the period between the fall of the Han dynasty C.

The splendor of the Sasanian court, the power of its king of kings, and the long duration of their reign encouraged the emulation of their art, their court etiquette, and the refinement of their clothing even after the fall of the dynasty. He was better able, through more benign policies, to reconcile his subjects to Persian rule; the longevity of his empire was one result.

Cyrus's son, Cambyses IIconquered the last major power of the region, ancient Egyptcausing the collapse of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt. Since he became ill and died before, or while, leaving Egyptstories developed, as related by Herodotusthat he was struck down for impiety against the ancient Egyptian deities. The winner, Darius Ibased his claim on membership in a collateral line of the Achaemenid Empire.

Darius' first capital was at Susa, and he started the building programme at Persepolis. He improved the extensive road system, and it is during his reign that mention is first made of the Royal Road shown on mapa great highway stretching all the way from Susa to Sardis with posting stations at regular intervals.

Major reforms took place under Darius. Coinagein the form of the daric gold coin and the shekel silver coin was standardized coinage had already been invented over a century before in Lydia c. The Old Persian language appears in royal inscriptions, written in a specially adapted version of the cuneiform script. Under Cyrus the Great and Darius Ithe Persian Empire eventually became the largest empire in human history up until that point, ruling and administrating over most of the then known world, [42] as well as spanning the continents of EuropeAsia, and Africa.

The greatest achievement was the empire itself. The Persian Empire represented the world's first superpower [43] [44] that was based on a model of tolerance and respect for other cultures and religions.

In the late sixth century BC, Darius launched his European campaign, in which he defeated the Paeoniansconquered Thraceand subdued all coastal Greek cities, as well as defeating the European Scythians around the Danube river. This led to an Achaemenid campaign against mainland Greece known as the Greco-Persian Warswhich lasted the first half of the 5th century BC, and is known as one of the most important wars in European history.