Persian people

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Persians
Regions with significant populations
Flag of Iran.svg  Iran 49,312,834 (61–65% of the total population) [1] [2]
Languages
Persian and closely related languages.
Religion
Shia Islam (predominantly), Irreligion, Christianity, Bahá'í Faith, Sunni Islam, Sufism, and Zoroastrianism.
Related ethnic groups
Other Iranian peoples.

The Persians are an Iranian ethnic group that make up over half the population of Iran. [1] [2] They share a common cultural system and are native speakers of the Persian language, [3] [4] [5] as well as languages closely related to Persian. [6]

Iranian peoples diverse Indo-European ethno-linguistic group

The Iranian peoples, or the Iranic peoples, are a diverse Indo-European ethno-linguistic group.

Ethnic group Socially defined category of people who identify with each other

An ethnic group or ethnicity is a category of people who identify with each other, usually on the basis of a presumed common genealogy or ancestry or on similarities such as common language or dialect, history, society, culture or nation. Ethnicity is often used synonymously with the term nation, particularly in cases of ethnic nationalism, and is separate from but related to the concept of races.

Cultural system

A cultural system, is the interaction of different elements in culture. While a cultural system is very different from a social system, sometimes both systems together are referred to as the sociocultural system.

Contents

The ancient Persians were originally an ancient Iranian people who migrated to the region of Persis, corresponding to the modern province of Fars in southwestern Iran, by the ninth century BC. [7] [8] Together with their compatriot allies, they established and ruled some of the world's most powerful empires, [9] [8] well-recognized for their massive cultural, political, and social influence covering much of the territory and population of the ancient world. [10] [11] [12] Throughout history, Persians have contributed greatly to art and science. [13] [14] [15] Persian literature is one of the world's most prominent literary traditions. [16]

Persis Region

Persis, better known as Persia, or "Persia proper", is a region located to the southwest of modern Iran. The Persians are thought to have initially migrated either from Central Asia or, more probably, from the north through the Caucasus. They would then have migrated to the current region of Persis in the early 1st millennium BC. The country name Persia was derived directly from the Old Persian Parsa.

Fars Province Province in Region 2, Iran

Fars Province, also known as Pars and Persis (Persia), is one of the thirty-one provinces of Iran. With an area of 122,400 km², it is located in Iran's southwest, in Region 2, and its administrative center is Shiraz. As of 2011, Fars had a population of 4.6 million people, of which 67.6% were registered as urban dwellers (urban/suburbs), 32.1% villagers, and 0.3% nomad tribes.

Persian art

Persian art or Iranian art has one of the richest art heritages in world history and has been strong in many media including architecture, painting, weaving, pottery, calligraphy, metalworking and sculpture. At different times, influences from the art of neighbouring civilizations have been very important, and latterly Persian art gave and received major influences as part of the wider styles of Islamic art. This article covers the art of Persia up to 1925, and the end of the Qajar dynasty; for later art see Iranian modern and contemporary art, and for traditional crafts see arts of Iran. Rock art in Iran is its most ancient surviving art. Iranian architecture is covered at that article.

In contemporary terminology, people of Persian heritage native specifically to present-day Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are referred to as Tajiks , whereas those in the Caucasus (primarily the present-day Republic of Azerbaijan), albeit heavily assimilated, are referred to as Tats . [17] [18] However, historically, the terms Tajik and Tat were used as synonymous and interchangeable with Persian. [17] Many influential Persian figures hailed from outside Iran's present-day borders to the northeast in Central Asia and Afghanistan and to a lesser extent to the northwest in the Caucasus proper. [19] [20] In historical contexts, especially in English, "Persians" may be defined more loosely to cover all subjects of the ancient Persian polities, regardless of ethnic background.

Afghanistan A landlocked south-central Asian country

Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in South-Central Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east; Iran in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and in the far northeast, China. Much of its 652,000 square kilometers (252,000 sq mi) is covered by the Hindu Kush mountain range. Kabul is the capital and largest city.

Tajikistan Landlocked republic in Central Asia

Tajikistan, officially the Republic of Tajikistan, is a mountainous, landlocked country in Central Asia with an area of 143,100 km2 (55,300 sq mi) and an estimated population of 9,275,828 people. It is bordered by Afghanistan to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east. The traditional homelands of the Tajik people include present-day Tajikistan as well as parts of Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan Landlocked Republic in Central Asia

Uzbekistan, officially the Republic of Uzbekistan, is a landlocked country in Central Asia. The sovereign state is a secular, unitary constitutional republic, comprising 12 provinces, one autonomous republic, and a capital city. Uzbekistan is bordered by five landlocked countries: Kazakhstan to the north; Kyrgyzstan to the northeast; Tajikistan to the southeast; Afghanistan to the south; and Turkmenistan to the southwest. Along with Liechtenstein, it is one of the world's only two doubly landlocked countries.

Ethnonym

Etymology

The term Persian, meaning "from Persia", derives from Latin Persia, itself deriving from Greek Persís ( Περσίς ), [21] a Hellenized form of Old Persian Pārsa ( 𐎱𐎠𐎼𐎿 ), which evolves into Fārs ( فارس ) in modern Persian. [22] In the Bible, particularly in the books of Daniel, Esther, Ezra, and Nehemya, it is given as Parás ( פָּרָס ).

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages. Like other Old Iranian languages, this language was known to its native speakers as Iranian language. Old Persian appears primarily in the inscriptions, clay tablets and seals of the Achaemenid era. Examples of Old Persian have been found in what is now Iran, Romania (Gherla), Armenia, Bahrain, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt, with the most important attestation by far being the contents of the Behistun Inscription. Recent research (2007) into the vast Persepolis Fortification Archive at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago have unearthed Old Persian tablets, which suggest Old Persian was a written language in use for practical recording and not only for royal display.

A Greek folk etymology connected the name to Perseus, a legendary character in Greek mythology. Herodotus recounts this story, [23] devising a foreign son, Perses, from whom the Persians took the name. Apparently, the Persians themselves knew the story, [24] as Xerxes I tried to use it to suborn the Argives during his invasion of Greece, but ultimately failed to do so.

Perseus Ancient Greek hero and founder of Mycenae

In Greek mythology, Perseus is the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty. He beheaded the Gorgon Medusa for Polydectes and saved Andromeda from the sea monster Cetus. He was the son of Zeus and the mortal Danaë, as well as the half-brother and great-grandfather of Heracles.

Greek mythology body of myths originally told by the ancient Greeks

Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the ancient Greeks. These stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities, heroes, and mythological creatures, and the origins and significance of the ancient Greeks' own cult and ritual practices. Modern scholars study the myths in an attempt to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece and its civilization, and to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself.

Herodotus Ancient Greek historian

Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus in the Persian Empire. He is known for having written the book The Histories, a detailed record of his "inquiry" on the origins of the Greco-Persian Wars. He is widely considered to have been the first writer to have treated historical subjects using a method of systematic investigation—specifically, by collecting his materials and then critically arranging them into an historiographic narrative. On account of this, he is often referred to as "The Father of History", a title first conferred on him by the first-century BC Roman orator Cicero.

History of usage

Although Persis (Persia proper) was only one of the provinces of ancient Iran, [25] varieties of this term (e.g., Persia) were adopted through Greek sources and used as an exonym for all of the Persian Empire for many years. [26] Thus, especially in the Western world, the names Persia and Persian came to refer to all of Iran and its subjects. [26] [7]

Persian Empire ancient empire, comprising many dynasties

The Persian Empire refers to a series of imperial dynasties that were centred in Persia/Iran from the 6th century BC Achaemenid Empire era to the 20th century AD in the Qajar dynasty era.

Western world Countries that identify themselves with an originally European shared culture

The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various nations depending on the context, most often including at least parts of Europe, Australasia, and the Americas, with the status of Latin America disputed by some. There are many accepted definitions, all closely interrelated. The Western world is also known as the Occident, in contrast to the Orient, or Eastern world. It is often correlated with the Northern half of the North-south divide.

Some medieval and early modern Islamic sources also used cognates of the term Persian to refer to various Iranian peoples and languages, including the speakers of Khwarazmian, [27] Mazanderani, [28] and Old Azeri. [29] 10th-century Iraqi historian Al-Masudi refers to Pahlavi, Dari, and Azari as dialects of the Persian language. [30] In 1333, medieval Moroccan traveler and scholar Ibn Battuta referred to the people of Kabul as a specific sub-tribe of the Persians. [31] Lady Mary (Leonora Woulfe) Sheil, in her observation of Iran during the Qajar era, states that the Kurds and the Leks would consider themselves as belonging to the race of the "old Persians". [32]

On 21 March 1935, former king of Iran Reza Shah of the Pahlavi dynasty issued a decree asking the international community to use the term Iran, the native name of the country, in formal correspondence. However, the term Persian is still historically used to designate the predominant population of the Iranian peoples living in the Iranian cultural continent. [33] [34]

History

Persia is first attested in Assyrian sources from the third millennium BC in the Old Assyrian form Parahše, designating a region belonging to the Sumerians. The name of this region was adopted by a nomadic ancient Iranian people who migrated to the region in the west and southwest of Lake Urmia, eventually becoming known as "the Persians". [7] [35] The ninth-century BC Neo-Assyrian inscription of the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, found at Nimrud, gives it in the Late Assyrian forms Parsua and Parsumaš as a region and a people located in the Zagros Mountains, the latter likely having migrated southward and transferred the name of the region with them to what would become Persis (Persia proper, i.e., modern-day Fars), and that is considered to be the earliest attestation to the Persian people. [36] [37] [38] [39] [40]

Ancient Persian costumes worn by soldiers and a nobleman. The History of Costume by Braun & Scheider (1861-1880). Ancient Persian costumes.jpg
Ancient Persian costumes worn by soldiers and a nobleman. The History of Costume by Braun & Scheider (1861–1880).

The ancient Persians were initially dominated by the Assyrians for much of the first three centuries after arriving in the region. However, they played a major role in the downfall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. [41] [42] The Medes, another group of ancient Iranian people, unified the region under an empire centered in Media, which would become the region's leading cultural and political power of the time by 612 BC. [43] Meanwhile, under the dynasty of the Achaemenids, the Persians formed a vassal state to the central Median power. In 552 BC, the Achaemenid Persians revolted against the Median monarchy, leading to the victory of Cyrus the Great over the throne in 550 BC. The Persians spread their influence to the rest of what is considered to be the Iranian Plateau, and assimilated with the non-Iranian indigenous groups of the region, including the Elamites and the Mannaeans. [44]

Map of the Achaemenid Empire at its greatest extent. Achaemenid Empire (flat map).svg
Map of the Achaemenid Empire at its greatest extent.

At its greatest extent, the Achaemenid Empire stretched from parts of Eastern Europe in the west to the Indus Valley in the east, making it the largest empire the world had yet seen. [8] The Achaemenids developed the infrastructure to support their growing influence, including the establishment of the cities of Pasargadae and Persepolis. [45] The empire extended as far as the limits of the Greek city states in modern-day mainland Greece, where the Persians and Athenians influenced each other in what is essentially a reciprocal cultural exchange. [46] Its legacy and impact on the kingdom of Macedon was also notably huge, [11] even for centuries after the withdrawal of the Persians from Europe following the Greco-Persian Wars. [11]

Ancient Persian and Greek soldiers as depicted on a color reconstruction of the 4th-century BC Alexander Sarcophagus. NAMABG-Colored Alexander Sarcophagus 1.JPG
Ancient Persian and Greek soldiers as depicted on a color reconstruction of the 4th-century BC Alexander Sarcophagus.

During the Achaemenid era, Persian colonists settled in Asia Minor. [47] In Lydia (the most important Achaemenid satrapy), near Sardis, there was the Hyrcanian plain, which, according to Strabo, got its name from the Persian settlers that were moved from Hyrcania. [48] Similarly near Sardis, there was the plain of Cyrus, which further signified the presence of numerous Persian settlements in the area. [49] In all these centuries, Lydia and Pontus were reportedly the chief centers for the worship of the Persian gods in Asia Minor. [49] According to Pausanias, as late as the second century AD, one could witness rituals which resembled the Persian fire ceremony at the towns of Hyrocaesareia and Hypaepa. [49] Mithridates III of Cius, a Persian nobleman and part of the Persian ruling elite of the town of Cius, founded the Kingdom of Pontus in his later life, in northern Asia Minor. [50] [51] At the peak of its power, under the infamous Mithridates VI the Great, the Kingdom of Pontus also controlled Colchis, Cappadocia, Bithynia, the Greek colonies of the Tauric Chersonesos, and for a brief time the Roman province of Asia. After a long struggle with Rome in the Mithridatic Wars, Pontus was defeated; part of it was incorporated into the Roman Republic as the province of Bithynia and Pontus, and the eastern half survived as a client kingdom.

Following the Macedonian conquests, the Persian colonists in Cappadocia and the rest of Asia Minor were cut off from their co-religionists in Iran proper, but they continued to practice the Iranian faith of their forefathers. [52] Strabo, who observed them in the Cappadocian Kingdom in the first century BC, records (XV.3.15) that these "fire kindlers" possessed many "holy places of the Persian Gods", as well as fire temples. [52] Strabo, who wrote during the time of Augustus (r. 63 BC-14 AD), almost three hundred years after the fall of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, records only traces of Persians in western Asia Minor; however, he considered Cappadocia "almost a living part of Persia". [53]

The Iranian rule collapsed in 330 BC following the conquest of the Achaemenid Empire by Alexander the Great, but reemerged shortly after through the establishment of the Parthian Empire in 247 BC, which was founded by a group of ancient Iranian people rising from Parthia. Until the Parthian era, the Iranian identity had an ethnic, linguistic, and religious value. However, it did not yet have a political import. [54] The Parthian language, which was used as an official language of the Parthian Empire, left influences on Persian, [55] [56] [57] as well as on the neighboring Armenian language.

A bas-relief at Naqsh-e Rustam depicting the victory of Sasanian ruler Shapur I over Roman ruler Valerian and Philip the Arab. Victory of Shapur I over Valerian.jpg
A bas-relief at Naqsh-e Rustam depicting the victory of Sasanian ruler Shapur I over Roman ruler Valerian and Philip the Arab.

The Parthian monarchy was succeeded by the Persian dynasty of the Sasanians in 224 AD. By the time of the Sasanian Empire, a national culture that was fully aware of being Iranian took shape, partially motivated by restoration and revival of the wisdom of "the old sages" (dānāgān pēšēnīgān). [54] Other aspects of this national culture included the glorification of a great heroic past and an archaizing spirit. [54] Throughout the period, Iranian identity reached its height in every aspect. [54] Middle Persian, which is the immediate ancestor of Modern Persian and a variety of other Iranian dialects, [55] [58] [59] [60] became the official language of the empire [61] and was greatly diffused among Iranians. [54]

The Parthians and the Sasanians would also extensively interact with the Romans culturally. The Roman–Persian wars and the Byzantine–Sasanian wars would shape the landscape of Western Asia, Europe, the Caucasus, North Africa, and the Mediterranean Basin for centuries. For a period of over 400 years, the Sasanians and the neighboring Byzantines were recognized as the two leading powers in the world. [62] [63] [64] Cappadocia in Late Antiquity, now well into the Roman era, still retained a significant Iranian character; Stephen Mitchell notes in the Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity: "Many inhabitants of Cappadocia were of Persian descent and Iranian fire worship is attested as late as 465". [65]

Following the Arab conquest of the Sasanian Empire in the medieval times, the Arab caliphates established their rule over the region for the next several centuries, during which the long process of the Islamization of Iran took place. Confronting the cultural and linguistic dominance of the Persians, beginning by the Umayyad Caliphate, the Arab conquerors began to establish Arabic as the primary language of the subject peoples throughout their empire, sometimes by force, further confirming the new political reality over the region. [66] The Arabic term ʿAjam, donating "people unable to speak properly", was adopted as a designation for non-Arabs (or non-Arabic speakers), especially the Persians. [67] Although the term had developed a derogatory meaning and implied cultural and ethnic inferiority, it was gradually accepted as a synonym for "Persian" [66] [68] [69] and still remains today as a designation for the Persian-speaking communities native to the modern Arab states of the Middle East. [70] A series of Muslim Iranian kingdoms were later established on the fringes of the declining Abbasid Caliphate, including that of the ninth-century Samanids, under the reign of whom the Persian language was used officially for the first time after two centuries of no attestation of the language, [71] now having received the Arabic script and a large Arabic vocabulary. [72] Persian language and culture continued to prevail after the invasions and conquests by the Mongols and the Turks (including the Ilkhanate, Ghaznavids, Seljuks, Khwarazmians, and Timurids), who were themselves significantly Persianized, further developing in Asia Minor, Central Asia, and South Asia, where Persian culture flourished by the extension of Persianate societies, particularly those of Turco-Persian and Indo-Persian blends.

The Iranian hegemony was reestablished after over eight centuries of foreign rule within the region by the emergence of the Safavid Empire in the 16th century, [73] after which a number of modern Iranian monarchies emerged. Under the Safavid Empire, focus on Persian language and identity was further revived, and the political evolution of the empire once again maintained Persian as the main language of the country. [74] During the times of the Safavids and subsequent modern Iranian dynasties such as the Qajars, architectural and iconographic elements from the time of the Sasanian Persian Empire were reincorporated, linking the modern country with its ancient past. [75] Contemporary embracement of the legacy of Iran's ancient empires, with an emphasis on the Achaemenid Persian Empire, developed particularly under the reign of the Pahlavi dynasty, providing the motive of a modern nationalistic pride. [76] Iran's modern architecture was then inspired by that of the country's classical eras, particularly with the adoption of details from the ancient monuments in the Achaemenid capitals Persepolis and Pasargadae and the Sasanian capital Ctesiphon. [77] Fars, corresponding to the ancient province of Persia, with its modern capital Shiraz, became a center of interest, particularly during the annual international Shiraz Arts Festival and the 2,500th anniversary of the founding of the Persian Empire. [78] The Pahlavi rulers modernized Iran, and ruled it until the 1979 Revolution.

Anthropology

In modern Iran, the Persians make up the majority of the population. [1] They are native speakers of the modern dialects of Persian, [79] which serves as the country's official language. [80]

Persian language

Old Persian inscribed in cuneiform on the Behistun Inscription. BehistunInscriptiondetail.jpg
Old Persian inscribed in cuneiform on the Behistun Inscription.

The Persian language belongs to the western group of the Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. Modern Persian is classified as a continuation of Middle Persian, the official religious and literary language of the Sasanian Empire, itself a continuation of Old Persian, which was used by the time of the Achaemenid Empire. [59] [55] [58] Old Persian is one of the oldest Indo-European languages attested in original text. [58] Samples of Old Persian have been discovered in present-day Iran, Armenia, Egypt, Iraq, Romania (Gherla), [81] [82] and Turkey. [83] The oldest attested text written in Old Persian is from the Behistun Inscription, [84] a multilingual inscription from the time of Achaemenid ruler Darius the Great carved on a cliff in western Iran.

There are several ethnic groups and communities that are either ethnically or linguistically related to the Persian people, living predominantly in Iran, and also within Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, the Caucasus, Turkey, Iraq, and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. [85]

The Tajiks are a people native to Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan who speak Persian in a variety of dialects. [17] The Tajiks of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are native speakers of Tajik, which is the official language of Tajikistan, and those in Afghanistan speak Dari, one of the two official languages of Afghanistan.

The Tat people, an Iranian people native to the Caucasus, more specifically the Republic of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and the Russian republic of Dagestan, speak a language (Tat language) that is closely related to Persian. [86] The origin of the Tat people is traced to an Iranian-speaking population that was resettled in the Caucasus by the time of the Sasanian Empire. [87] [88] [89] [90] [91] [92] [93]

The Lurs, an ethnic Iranian people native to western Iran, are often associated with the Persians and the Kurds. [94] They speak various dialects of the Lurish language, which is considered to be a descendant of Middle Persian. [95] [96] [60]

The Hazaras, making up the third largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, [97] [98] [99] speak a variety of Persian by the name of Hazaragi, [100] which is more precisely a part of the Dari dialect continuum. [101] [102] The Aimaqs, a semi-nomadic people native to Afghanistan, [103] speak a variety of Persian by the name of Aimaqi, which also belongs to the Dari dialect continuum. [79] [104]

Persian-speaking communities native to modern Arab countries are generally designated as Ajam, [70] including the Ajam of Bahrain, the Ajam of Iraq, and the Ajam of Kuwait.

Culture

From Persis and throughout the Median, Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sasanian empires of ancient Iran to the neighboring Greek city states and the kingdom of Macedon, [105] [11] and later throughout the Islamic world, [106] [14] all the way to modern Iran and others parts of Eurasia, Persian culture has been extended, celebrated, and incorporated. [107] [15] [106] [108] This is due mainly to its geopolitical conditions, and its intricate relationship with the ever-changing political arena once as dominant as the Achaemenid Empire.

The artistic heritage of the Persians is eclectic and has included contributions from both the east and the west. In addition, due to the central location of Iran, it has served as a fusion point between eastern and western traditions. Persians have contributed to various forms of art, including carpet waving, calligraphy, miniature painting, illustrated manuscripts, glasswork, lacquerware, khatam (a native form of marquetry), metalwork, pottery, mosaic, and textile design. [13]

Literature

The Persian language is known to have one of the world's oldest and most influential literatures. [16] Old Persian written works are attested on several inscriptions from between the 6th and the 4th centuries BC, and Middle Persian literature is attested on inscriptions from the time of the Parthian Empire and in books centered in Zoroastrian and Manichaean scriptures from between the 3rd to the 10th century AD. New Persian literature flourished after the Arab conquest of Iran with its earliest records from the 9th century, [109] and was developed as a court tradition in many eastern courts. [16] The Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, the works of Rumi, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the Panj Ganj of Nizami Ganjavi, the Divān of Hafez, The Conference of the Birds by Attar of Nishapur, and the miscellanea of Gulistan and Bustan by Saadi Shirazi are among the famous works of medieval Persian literature. A thriving contemporary Persian literature has also been formed by the works of writes such as Ahmad Shamlou, Forough Farrokhzad, Mehdi Akhavan-Sales, Parvin E'tesami, Sadegh Hedayat, and Simin Daneshvar, among others.

Not all Persian literature is written in Persian, as works written by Persians in other languages—such as Arabic and Greek—might also be included. At the same time, not all literature written in Persian is written by ethnic Persians or Iranians, as Turkic, Caucasian, and Indic authors have also used Persian literature in the environment of Persianate cultures.

Architecture

The most notable examples of ancient Persian architecture are the works of the Achaemenids hailing from Persis. Achaemenid architecture, dating from the expansion of the empire around 550 BC, flourished in a period of artistic growth that left a legacy ranging from Cyrus the Great's solemn tomb at Pasargadae to the structures at Persepolis and Naqsh-e Rostam. [110] The Bam Citadel, a massive structure at 1,940,000 square feet (180,000 m2) constructed on the Silk Road in Bam, is from around the 5th century BC. [111] The quintessential feature of Achaemenid architecture was its eclectic nature, with elements from Median architecture, Assyrian architecture, and Asiatic Greek architecture all incorporated. [112]

The architectural heritage of the Sasanian Empire includes, among others, castle fortifications such as the Rudkhan Castle, the Shapur-Khwast Castle and the Fortifications of Derbent (located in North Caucasus, now part of Russia), the Palace of Ardashir, the Sarvestan Palace, the Archway of Ctesiphon, bridges such as the Shahrestan Bridge and the Shapuri Bridge, and the reliefs at Taq-e Bostan.

Architectural elements from the time of Iran's ancient Persian empires have been adopted and incorporated in later periods, [75] and were used especially during the modernization of Iran under the reign of the Pahlavi dynasty in order to contribute to the characterization of the modern country with its ancient history. [76] [77]

Gardens

Xenophon, in his Oeconomicus , [113] states:

The Great King [Cyrus II]...in all the districts he resides in and visits, takes care that there are parádeisos ("paradise") as they [Persians] call them, full of the good and beautiful things that the soil produce.

The Persian garden, the earliest examples of which were found throughout the Achaemenid Empire, has an integral position in Persian architecture. [114] Gardens assumed an important place for the Achaemenid monarchs, [113] and utilized the advanced Achaemenid knowledge of water technologies, [115] including aqueducts, earliest recorded gravity-fed water rills, and basins arranged in a geometric system. The enclosure of this symmetrically arranged planting and irrigation by an infrastructure such as a palace created the impression of "paradise". [116] The word paradise itself originates from Avestan pairidaēza (Old Persian paridaida; New Persian pardis, ferdows), which literally translates to "walled-around". Characterized by its quadripartite ( čārbāq ) design, the Persian garden was evolved and developed into various forms throughout history, [113] and was also adopted in various other cultures in Eurasia. It was inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List in June 2011.

Carpets

A Persian carpet kept at the Louvre. Louvre - Tapis a decor de jardin de paradis, dit Tapis de Mantes.jpg
A Persian carpet kept at the Louvre.

Carpet weaving is an essential part of the Persian culture, [117] and Persian rugs are said to be one of the most detailed hand-made works of art.

Achaemenid rug and carpet artistry is well recognized. Xenophon describes the carpet production in the city of Sardis, stating that the locals take pride in their carpet production. A special mention of Persian carpets is also made by Athenaeus of Naucratis in his Deipnosophistae , as he describes a "delightfully embroidered" Persian carpet with "preposterous shapes of griffins". [118]

The Pazyryk carpet—a Scythian pile-carpet dating back to the 4th century BC, which is regarded the world's oldest existing carpet—depicts elements of Assyrian and Achaemenid design, including stylistic references to the stone slab designs found in Persian royal buildings. [118]

Music

Dancers and musical instrument players depicted on a Sasanian silver bowl from the 5th-7th century AD. Dancers and musicians on a Sasanian bowl.jpg
Dancers and musical instrument players depicted on a Sasanian silver bowl from the 5th-7th century AD.

According to the accounts reported by Xenophon, a great number of singers were present at the Achaemenid court. However, little information is available from the music of that era. The music scene of the Sasanian Empire has a more available and detailed documentation than the earlier periods, and is especially more evident within the context of Zoroastrian musical rituals. [119] In general, Sasanian music was influential, and was adopted in the subsequent eras. [120]

Iranian music, as a whole, utilizes a variety of musical instruments that are unique to the region, and has remarkably evolved since the ancient and medieval times. In traditional Sasanian music, the octave was divided into seventeen tones. By the end of the 13th century, Iranian music also maintained a twelve interval octave, which resembled the western counterparts. [121]

Observances

The Iranian New Year's Day, Nowruz, which translates to "new day", is celebrated by Persians and other peoples of Iran to mark the beginning of spring on the vernal equinox on first day of Farvardin, the first month of the Iranian calendar, which corresponds to around March 21 in the Gregorian calendar. An ancient tradition that has been preserved in Iran and several other countries that were under the influence of the ancient empires of Iran, [122] [123] Nowruz has been registered on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists. [124] In Iran, the Nowruz holidays (incl. Charshanbe Suri and Sizdebedar) begin on the eve of the last Wednesday of the preceding year in the Iranian calendar and last on the thirteenth day of the new year. Islamic festivals are also widely celebrated.

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The Medes were an ancient Iranian people who spoke the Median language and who inhabited an area known as Media between western and northern Iran. Under the Neo-Assyrian Empire, late 9th to early 7th centuries BC, the region of Media was bounded by the Zagros Mountains to its west, to its south by the Garrin Mountain in Lorestan Province, to its northwest by the Qaflankuh Mountains in Zanjan Province, and to its east by the Dasht-e Kavir desert. Its neighbors were the kingdoms of Gizilbunda and Mannea in the northwest, and Ellipi and Elam in the south.

Mithridates I of Parthia Parthian king

Mithridates I, also known as Mithridates I the Great, was king of the Parthian Empire from 171 BC to 132 BC. During his reign, Parthia was transformed from a small kingdom into a major political power in the Ancient East as a result of his conquests. He was the first Parthian king to assume the ancient Achaemenid title of King of Kings. Due to his accomplishments, he has been compared to Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Mithridates I died in 132 BC, and was succeeded by his son Phraates II.

King of Kings title

King of Kings was a ruling title employed primarily by monarchs based in the Middle East. Though most commonly associated with Iran, especially the Achaemenid and Sasanian Empires, the title was originally introduced during the Middle Assyrian Empire by king Tukulti-Ninurta I and was subsequently used in a number of different kingdoms and empires, including the aforementioned Persia, various Hellenic kingdoms, Armenia, Georgia and Ethiopia.

In the Western world, Persia was historically the common name for Iran. On the Nowruz of 1935, Reza Shah Pahlavi asked foreign delegates to use the term Iran, the endonym of the country, in formal correspondence. Since then, in the Western World, the use of the word "Iran" has become more common. This also changed the usage of the terms for Iranian nationality, and the common adjective for citizens of Iran changed from "Persian" to "Iranian". In 1959, the government of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, Reza Shah Pahlavi's son, announced that both "Persia" and "Iran" could officially be used interchangeably. However the issue is still debated today.

The Parthian language, also known as Arsacid Pahlavi and Pahlawānīg, is a now-extinct ancient Northwestern Iranian language spoken in Parthia, a region of northeastern ancient Iran. Parthian was the language of state of the Arsacid Parthian Empire, as well as of its eponymous branches of the Arsacid dynasty of Armenia, Arsacid dynasty of Iberia, and the Arsacid dynasty of Caucasian Albania.

Iranian languages language family

The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in the Indo-European language family that are spoken natively by the Iranian peoples.

Sistan historical and geographical region in present-day Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan

Sistān, known in ancient times as Sakastān, is a historical and geographical region in present-day eastern Iran and southern Afghanistan. Largely desert, the region is bisected by the Helmand River, the largest river in Afghanistan, which empties into the hamun lakes that form part of the border between the two countries.

The history of the Assyrian people begins with the appearance of Akkadian speaking peoples in Mesopotamia at some point between 3500 and 3000 BC, followed by the formation of Assyria in the 25th century BC. During the early bronze age period Sargon of Akkad united all the native Semitic-speakers and the Sumerians of Mesopotamia under the Akkadian Empire. Assyria essentially existed as part of a unified Akkadian nation for much of the period from the 24th century BC to the 22nd century BC, and a nation state from the mid 21st century BC until its destruction as an independent state between 615–599 BC.

The modern Persian name of Iran (ایران) derives immediately from 3rd-century Sasanian Middle Persian ērān, where it initially meant "of the Iranians", but soon also acquired a geographical connotation in the sense of "(lands inhabited by) Iranians". In both geographic and demonymic senses, ērān is distinguished from its antonymic anērān, meaning "non-Iran(ian)".

Asoristan a satrapy of Parthian and Sasanian empires

Asoristan was the name of the Sasanian province of Babylonia from 226 to 637.

Achaemenid Assyria aspect of history

Athura, also called Assyria, was a geographical area within the Achaemenid Empire in Upper Mesopotamia from 539 to 330 BC as a military protectorate state. Although sometimes regarded as a satrapy, Achaemenid royal inscriptions list it as a dahyu, a concept generally interpreted as meaning either a group of people or both a country and its people, without any administrative implication.

Ganzak

Ganzak, is an ancient town founded in northwestern Iran. The city stood somewhere south of Lake Urmia, and it has been postulated that the Persian nobleman Atropates chose the city as his capital. The exact location, according to Minorsky, Schippmann, and Boyce, is identified as being near Leylan, Malekan County in the Miandoab plain.

Parthia region of north-eastern Iran

Parthia is a historical region located in north-eastern Iran. It was conquered and subjugated by the empire of the Medes during the 7th century BC, was incorporated into the subsequent Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great in the 6th century BC, and formed part of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire following the 4th-century-BC conquests of Alexander the Great. The region later served as the political and cultural base of the Eastern-Iranian Parni people and Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire. The Sasanian Empire, the last state of pre-Islamic Persia, also held the region and maintained the Seven Parthian clans as part of their feudal aristocracy.

Ariana District in Achaemenid, Parts of Modern day Afghanistan and Iran

Ariana, the Latinized form of the Ancient Greek Ἀρ(ε)ιανή Ar(e)ianē, was a general geographical term used by some Greek and Roman authors of the ancient period for a district of wide extent between Central Asia and the Indus River, comprising the eastern provinces of the Achaemenid Empire that covered the whole of modern-day Afghanistan, as well as the easternmost part of Iran and up to the Indus River in Pakistan.

Frataraka Ancient noble rank of Persia

Frataraka is an ancient Persian title, interpreted variously as “leader, governor, forerunner”. It is an epithet or title of a series of rulers in Persis from 3rd to mid 2nd century BC, or alternatively between 295 and 220 BC, at the time of the Seleucid Empire, prior to the Parthian conquest of West Asia and Iran. Studies of frataraka coins are important to historians of this period.

References

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  3. Beck, Lois (2014). Nomads in Postrevolutionary Iran: The Qashqa'i in an Era of Change. Routledge. p. xxii. ISBN   978-1317743866. (...) an ethnic Persian; adheres to cultural systems connected with other ethnic Persians (...)
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  6. Anonby, Erik J. (20 December 2012). "LORI LANGUAGE ii. Sociolinguistic Status of Lori". Encyclopædia Iranica. Conversely, the Nehāvand sub-province of Hamadān is home to ethnic Persians who speak NLori as a mother tongue. (...) The same is true of areas to the southwest, south, and east of the Lori language area (...): while the varieties spoken there show more structural similarity to Lori than to Persian, speakers identify themselves as ethnically Persian.
  7. 1 2 3 Xavier de Planhol (24 January 2012). "FĀRS i. Geography". Encyclopædia Iranica. IX. pp. ?–336. The name of Fārs is undoubtedly attested in Assyrian sources since the third millennium B.C.E. under the form Parahše. Originally, it was the "land of horses" of the Sumerians (Herzfeld, pp. 181-82, 184-86). The name was adopted by Iranian tribes which established themselves there in the 9th century B.C.E. in the west and southwest of Urmia lake. The Parsua (Pārsa) are mentioned there for the first time in 843 B.C.E., during the reign of Salmanassar III, and then, after they migrated to the southeast (Boehmer, pp. 193-97), the name was transferred, between 690 and 640, to a region previously called Anšan (q.v.) in Elamite sources (Herzfeld, pp. 169-71, 178-79, 186). From that moment the name acquired the connotation of an ethnic region, the land of the Persians, and the Persians soon thereafter founded the vast Achaemenid empire. A never-ending confusion thus set in between a narrow, limited, geographical usage of the term—Persia in the sense of the land where the aforesaid Persian tribes had shaped the core of their power—and a broader, more general usage of the term to designate the much larger area affected by the political and cultural radiance of the Achaemenids. The confusion between the two senses of the word was continuous, fueled by the Greeks who used the name Persai to designate the entire empire.
  8. 1 2 3 Sacks, David; Murray, Oswyn; Brody, Lisa R. (2005). Encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek World. Facts On File. p. 256 (at the right portion of the page). ISBN   978-0-8160-5722-1.
  9. {{cite encyclopedia |url=http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/achaemenid-dynasty |title=ACHAEMENID DYNASTY |encyclopedia=Encyclopædia Iranica |pages=414–426 |volume=I |first=R. |last=Schmitt |quote=In 550 B.C. Cyrus (called "the Great" by the Greeks) overthrew the Median empire under Astyages and brought the Persians into domination over the Iranian peoples; he achieved combined rule over all Iran as the first real monarch of the Achaemenid dynasty. Within a few years he founded a multinational empire without precedent—a first world-empire of historical importance, since it embraced all previous civilized states of the ancient Near East. (...) The Persian empire was a multinational state under the leadership of the Persians; among these peoples the Medes, Iranian sister nation of the Persians, held a special position.
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  17. 1 2 3 "TAJIK i. THE ETHNONYM: ORIGINS AND APPLICATION". Encyclopædia Iranica. 20 July 2009. By mid-Safavid times the usage tājik for 'Persian(s) of Iran' may be considered a literary affectation, an expression of the traditional rivalry between Men of the Sword and Men of the Pen. Pietro della Valle, writing from Isfahan in 1617, cites only Pārsi and ʿAjami as autonyms for the indigenous Persians, and Tāt and raʿiat 'peasant(ry), subject(s)' as pejorative heteronyms used by the Qezelbāš (Qizilbāš) Torkmān elite. Perhaps by about 1400, reference to actual Tajiks was directed mostly at Persian-speakers in Afghanistan and Central Asia; (...)
  18. Ostler, Nicholas (2010). The Last Lingua Franca: English Until the Return of Babel. Penguin UK. pp. 1–352. ISBN   978-0141922218. Tat was known to have been used at different times to designate Crimean Goths, Greeks and sedentary peoples generally, but its primary reference came to be the Persians within the Turkic domains. (...) Tat is nowadays specialized to refer to special groups with Iranian languages in the west of the Caspian Sea.
  19. Nava'i, Ali Shir (tr. & ed. Robert Devereaux) (1996). Muhakamat al-lughatain. Leiden: Brill. p. 6.
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  27. For example, Al-Biruni, a native speaker of Khwarezmian, refers to "the people of Khwarizm" as "a branch of the Persian tree". See: Al-Biruni (2001). Al-Athar al-Baqiyya 'an al-Qurun al-Khaliyya[The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries]. Tehran: Miras-e Maktub. p. 56. و أما أهل خوارزم، و إن کانوا غصنا ً من دوحة الفُرس (...). (Translation: "The people of Khwarizm, they are a branch of the Persian tree.")
  28. The language used in Marzbān-nāma was, in the words of the 13th-century historian Sa'ad ad-Din Warawini, "the language of Ṭabaristan and old, ancient Persian (fārsī-yi ḳadīm-i bāstān)". See: Kramers, J.H. (2007). "Marzbān-Nāma". In Bearman, P.; Bianqui, Th.; Bosworth, C.E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W.P. (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam. Brill. Retrieved 18 November 2007.
  29. 10th-century Arab Muslim writer Ibn Hawqal, in his Ṣūrat al-Arḍ, refers to "the language of the people of Azerbaijan and most of the people of Armenia" as al-fāresīya. Yarshater, E. (18 August 2011). "AZERBAIJAN vii. The Iranian Language of Azerbaijan". Encyclopædia Iranica. III. pp. 238–245.
  30. Al Mas'udi (1894). De Goeje, M.J. (ed.). Kitab al-Tanbih wa-l-Ishraf (in Arabic). Brill. pp. 77–78.
  31. Ibn Battuta (2004). Travels in Asia and Africa, 1325-1354. Routledge. p. 180. ISBN   0-415-34473-5. We travelled on to Kabul, formerly a vast town, the site of which is now occupied by a village inhabited by a tribe of Persians called Afghans. They hold mountains and defiles and possess considerable strength, and are mostly highwaymen. Their principal mountain is called Kuh Sulayman. It is told that the prophet Sulayman [Solomon] ascended this mountain and having looked out over India, which was then covered with darkness, returned without entering it.
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  36. Schmitt, R. (21 July 2011). "ACHAEMENID DYNASTY". Encyclopædia Iranica. I. pp. 414–426. The Achaemenid clan possibly ruled over the Persian tribes already in the 9th century B.C., when they were still settled in northern Iran near Lake Urmia and tributary to the Assyrians. Of a king with the name Achaemenes there is no historical evidence; but it may have been under him that the Persians, under the pressure of Medes, Assyrians, and Urartians, migrated south into the Zagros region, where they founded, near the Elamite borders, the small state Parsumaš (with residence at present-day Masǰed-e Solaymān in the Baḵtīārī mountains, according to R. Ghirshman).
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  39. Firuzmandi, Bahman (1996). Mād, Haxāmaneši, Aškāni, Sāsāniماد، هخامنشی، اشکانی، ساسانی[Median, Achaemenid, Arsacid, Sasanian]. Marlik. pp. 12–20, 155.
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  43. Yarshater, Ehsan (29 March 2012). "IRAN ii. IRANIAN HISTORY (1) Pre-Islamic Times". Encyclopædia Iranica. XIII. pp. 212–224. Of the numerous Iranian tribes who had settled in Iranian plateau, it was the Medes (...) who grew in power and achieved prominence. (...) Finally in 612 B.C.E. and in alliance with the Babylonians, he attacked the Assyrian capital, Nineveh. Their combined forces succeeded in bringing the Assyrian Empire down, thus eliminating a power that had ruled with ruthless efficiency over the Middle East for several centuries. (...) Achaemenes (q.v.; Haxāmaniš), eponymous ancestor of the Achaemenids according to Darius I, formed a kingdom in the Elamite territory of Anshan in Fārs as a vassal of the Median king (...).
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  54. 1 2 3 4 5 Gnoli, Gherardo (30 March 2012). "IRANIAN IDENTITY ii. PRE-ISLAMIC PERIOD". Encyclopædia Iranica. XIII. pp. 504–507. The inscriptions of Darius I (...) and Xerxes, in which the different provinces of the empire are listed, make it clear that, between the end of the 6th century and the middle of the 5th century B.C.E., the Persians were already aware of belonging to the ariya "Iranian" nation (...). Darius and Xerxes boast of belonging to a stock which they call "Iranian": they proclaim themselves "Iranian" and "of Iranian stock," ariya and ariya čiça respectively, in inscriptions in which the Iranian countries come first in a list that is arranged in a new hierarchical and ethno-geographical order, compared for instance with the list of countries in Darius's inscription at Behistun (...). All this evidence shows that the name arya "Iranian" was a collective definition, denoting peoples (...) 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. (...) Although, up until the end of the Parthian period, Iranian identity had an ethnic, linguistic, and religious value, it did not yet have a political import. The idea of an "Iranian" empire or kingdom is a purely Sasanian one. (...) It was in the Sasanian period, then, that the pre-Islamic Iranian identity reached the height of its fulfilment in every aspect: political, religious, cultural, and linguistic (with the growing diffusion of Middle Persian). Its main ingredients were the appeal to a heroic past that was identified or confused with little-known Achaemenid origins (...), and the religious tradition, for which the Avesta was the chief source.
  55. 1 2 3 Ammon, Ulrich; Dittmar, Norbert; Mattheier, Klaus J.; Trudgill, Peter (2008). Sociolinguistics / Soziolinguistik (2 ed.). Walter de Gruyter. p. 1912. ISBN   978-3110199871. The Pahlavi language (also known as Middle Persian) was the official language of Iran during the Sassanid dynasty (from 3rd to 7th century A. D.). Pahlavi is the direct continuation of old Persian, and was used as the written official language of the country. However, after the Moslem conquest and the collapse of the Sassanids, Arabic became the dominant language of the country and Pahlavi lost its importance, and was gradually replaced by Dari, a variety of Middle Persian, with considerable loan elements from Arabic and Parthian.
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  58. 1 2 3 Skjærvø, Prods Oktor (29 March 2012). "IRAN vi. IRANIAN LANGUAGES AND SCRIPTS (2) Documentation". Encyclopaedia Iranica. XIII. pp. 348–366. Only the official languages Old, Middle, and New Persian represent three stages of one and the same language, whereas close genetic relationships are difficult to establish between other Middle and Modern Iranian languages. Modern Yaḡnōbi belongs to the same dialect group as Sogdian, but is not a direct descendant; Bac-trian may be closely related to modern Yidḡa and Munji (Munjāni); and Wakhi (Wāḵi) belongs with Khotanese. (...) New Persian, the descendant of Middle Persian and official language of Iranian states for centuries, is today spoken widely in and outside Iran in a number of variants.
  59. 1 2 Lazard, Gilbert (1975). "The Rise of the New Persian Language". In Frye, R. N. (ed.). The Cambridge History of Iran. 4. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 595–632. The language known as New Persian, which was usually called at this period by the name of darī or parsī-i darī, can be classified linguistically as a continuation of Middle Persian, the official, religious and literary language of Sasanian Iran, itself a continuation of Old Persian, the language of the Achaemenids. Unlike the other languages and dialects, ancient and modern, of the Iranian group such as Avestan, Parthian, Soghdian, Kurdish, Pashto, etc., Old Middle and New Persian represent one and the same language at three states of its history. It had its origin in Fārs (the true Persian country from the historical point of view) and is differentiated by dialectical features, still easily recognizable from the dialects prevailing in north-western and eastern Iran.
  60. 1 2 Coon, C.S. "Demography and Ethnography". Iran. Encyclopaedia of Islam. IV. E.J. Brill. pp. 10–8. The Lurs speak an aberrant form of Archaic Persian (...)
  61. Fortson, Benjamin W. (2009). Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction. John Wiley and Sons. p. 242. Middle Persian was the official language of the Sassanian dynasty (...)
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  75. 1 2 Hillenbrand, R. (11 August 2011). "ARCHITECTURE vi. Safavid to Qajar Periods". Encyclopædia Iranica. II. pp. 345–349. Safavid inscriptions on the pre Islamic monuments (e.g., Persepolis and Bīsotūn) perhaps presage that wholesale adoption of and identification with ancient Iran that later characterized the Qajars, but there are not enough inscriptions to clinch the point. (...) An unexpected burst of activity in secular architecture marks the 17th century. Bridges which have wider functions than carrying traffic were built, reviving Sasanian custom (...). (...) Qajar decoration is usually unmistakable. Simple, rather strident tiled geometric or epigraphic designs in small glazed bricks were especially popular. The repertory of cuerda seca tiles now included episodes from the epic and legendary past, portraits of Europeans, scenes from modern life, and the country’s heraldic blazon of the lion and the sun (...). Pavilions and palaces bore figural paintings which revived Sasanian royal iconography (Negārestān palace, Tehran) or betrayed the influence of European illustrated magazines or painted postcards depicting landscapes and tourist spots (...).
  76. 1 2 Amanat, Abbas (22 March 2012). "HISTORIOGRAPHY ix. PAHLAVI PERIOD (1)". Encyclopædia Iranica. XII. pp. 377–386. Typical of comparable nationalist historiographies in the early part of the 20th century (e.g., Greek, Italian, Egyptian, and Turkish), the state-sponsored historical narrative under the Pahlavis decidedly favored highlighting the might and glory of the ancient Persian empires, as supported by new archeological and textual evidences. (...) Moreover, promotion of the ancient past as a wholesale propaganda tool in the service of the state engendered nationalistic pride that proved detrimental to dispassionate historical inquiry. (...) The most visible change in the nationalist historiography under Reżā Shah was emphasis on the pre-Islamic, and particularly the Achaemenid, past.
  77. 1 2 Wilber, D. N. (11 August 2011). "ARCHITECTURE vii. Pahlavi, before World War II". Encyclopædia Iranica. II. pp. 349–351.
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