Ancient Persia Empire

The First Persian Empire

Persia was settled by a people called Iranians who spoke an eastern Indo-European language. They originated somewhere to the northwest and about 1000 B.C. occupied the area between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. Their territory extended westward to the region of the older Mesopotamian civilizations. Among the major states established were Persis, along the northern shore of the Persian Gulf; Anshan, at the head of the gulf; and Media to the north, at the end of the Caspian Sea. Persis and Anshan were inhabited by Iranians called Persians; Media, by Iranians called Medes.

Cyrus, Darius, and Xerxes

Western Asia was dominated in the ninth to seventh centuries B.C. by the Assyrians. In 612 B.C., the Medes, allied with the Chaldeans (Babylonians), overthrew the Assyrians and destroyed their capital city of Nineveh. Media became the ruling Iranian state, with dominion over Persis and Anshan. In 550 B.C., Cyrus, king of Anshan and Persis, united all the Persians under his leadership and overthrew the Medes. He made himself Shahanshah (“King of Kings”) of all the Iranians.

Cyrus (called “the Great”) defeated the king of Lydia and gained control of all Asia Minor, including the Greek city-states of Ionia. He conquered the Chaldeans and occupied their capital, Babylon, in 539 B.C. Soon his empire extended to the border of Egypt, with its capital at Susa (the Biblical Shushan). Egypt was conquered under Cyrus’ son Cambyses (529–521 B.C.)

Darius I (ruled 521–486 B.C.) extended the empire eastward to beyond the Indus River, and built the new royal city of Persepolis. He built an extensive system of roads and speeded communications by using relays of mounted couriers. In establishing firmer control over his immense domain, he aroused the Ionian cities to revolt and soon found himself at war with Greece. Darius was defeated at Marathon, Greece, in 490 B.C. His son Xerxes (ruled 486–465 B.C.) renewed the campaign and defeated the Greeks at Thermopylae in 480 B.C., but the Greek navy routed the Persian fleet at Salamis, and the following year the Greeks drove the last of Xerxes’ army out of Greece.

Decline of the Empire

Persia made no further efforts to expand its boundaries. However, the administrative policies set up by Darius were effective in holding the empire together for more than 150 years. Persian assistance to the Greek city-state of Sparta in the Peloponnesian War helped destroy the Athenian empire. When Cyrus the Younger attempted to seize the Persian throne from his brother Artaxerxes II in 401 B.C., the king crushed the revolt.

Meanwhile, Persian strength was diminishing. In the fourth century B.C. the Phoenician cities began to break away. The Persians were defeated by Alexander the Great in 333 B.C.

The distinctive feature of the first Persian empire was the just and reasonable manner in which subject territories were ruled. Native laws, customs, and religions were permitted; native leaders often held high official positions. The empire was divided into provinces called satrapies under satraps (governors) responsible to the king.

Persian philosophs and sciences

It’s sure that they were Muslim but no Arab.

770-840 A.D. Mohanmmad Khwarizmi
864-930 A.D. Mohammad ibn Zakariya AL-RAZI
870-950 A.D. Farabi
900-971 A.D. born in Khorasan Mohammad ibn al-Hasan Khazin
940-997 A.D. born in Nishapur Abul Wafa Mohammad AL-BUZJANI
940-1020 A.D. born in Tus Ferdosi Faren til den modern Persisk
953-1029 A.D. born in Afschana Al-Karaji IBN SINA
1048-1131 A.D. born in Nishapur Omar Khayyam
1058-1128 A.D. born in Khorasan
1099- 1177 A.D
Hamid Ghazali
1201-1274 A.D. born in Tus Nasir al-Din Tusi
1207 A.D. born in Balkh, Persia Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi
1194 A.D. born in Shiraz Sa’di
1320-1389 A.D. born in Shiraz Shams-od-Din Mohammad Hafez
1380-1429 A.D. in Kashan, Iran Ghiyath al-Din Jamshid Mas’ud al-Kashi
Abu Bekr ibn Mohammad ibn al-Husayn

Iranians have always been interested in philosophic matters.
In the pre-Islamic period, philosophy was closely linked to theology, as indeed it also was in the early Islamic period.

Gradually, however, phi!osophy developed into a separate science, and most of the great Muslim philosophers were Iranians, although since they wrote mainly in Arabic, the universal language of Islam, they are often known in the West as Arab philosophers.
Iran adopted the Indian decimal system and numerals, transmitting them to the West as the “Arabic” numerals used today. Omar Khayyam wrote the most important medieval treatise on algebra, and systematized a very accurate calendar, which is the basis of the official Iranian calendar today.
Alchemy, the forerunner of chemistry, was widely studied, and Iranian alchemists discovered many important substances, including alcohol, and developed some of the apparatus used by modern chemists.
The philosophic tradition was kept alive by Sadr-od-Din Shirazi, who in Safavid times synthesized the various threads of Islamic philosophy into a comprehensive new system, and Sabzevan, a nineteenth-century philosopher who continued and revived the tradition.
Although scientific activity declined after the fifteenth century, the present century has seen a revival. Iranian scientists, at home and abroad, they are again making valuable contributions to mankind’s store of knowledge.

Muhammad Khwarizmi (770-840 A.D. born at Khwarizm, a town south of river Oxus in present Uzbekistan.)
(Uzbekistan, a city in Persia which was taken over by the Russians in 1873.)
Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi was an Iranian mathematician, founder of Algebra.
He is best known for introducing the mathematical concept Algorithm, which is so named after his last name.

Abu Bakr Muhammed ibn Zakariya al-Razi auch Ar-Razi, Rhazes (865-925 A.D.)
He born in in Raj, bei Teheran (Iran)
Razi was an Iranian alchemist and a philosopher

Farabi (870-950 A.D. born in a small village Wasij, near Farab in Turkistan)
Abu Nasr Mohammad Ibn al-Farakh al-Farabi along with Ibn Sina added much to what the Greeks taught in the theory of Music
His parents were originally of Persian descent. Known as al-Phrarabius in Europe, Farabi was the son of a general. He completed his earlier education at Farab and Bukhara but, later on, he went to Baghdad for higher studies, where he studied and worked for a long time viz., from 901 A.D. to 942 A.D. During this period he acquired mastery over several languages as well as various branches of knowledge and technology. He lived through the reign of six Abbasid Caliphs. As a philosopher and scientist, he acquired great proficiency in various branches of learning and is reported to have been an expert in different languages.
Farabi travelled to many distant lands and studied for some time in Damascus and Egypt, but repeatedly came back to Baghdad, until he visited Saif al-Daula’s court in Halab (Allepo). He became one of the constant companions of the King, and it was here at Halab that his fame spread far and wide. During his early years he was aQadi (Judge), but later on the took up teaching as his profession. During the course of his career, he had suffered great hardships and at one time was the caretaker of a garden. He died a bachelor in Damascus in 339 A.H./950 A.D. at the age of 80 years.

Muhammad ibn al-Hasan Khazin (900-971 A.D. born in Khorasan)
Abu Jafar al-Khazin may have worked on both astronomy and number theory or there may have been two mathematicians both working around the same period, one working on astronomy and one on number theory.
As far as this article is concerned we will assume that al-Khazin worked on both topics. There seems no way of being certian which position is correct.

Abul Wafa Muhammad AL-BUZJANI (940-997 A.D. born in Nishapur, Persia)
He flourished as a great mathematician and astronomer.
Abul Wafa’s main contribution lies in several branches of mathematics, especially geometry and trigonometry.
Ferdosi Faren til den modern Persisk ( 940-1020 A.D. born in Toos ) 329-416 A.H..>
Ferdosi was one of the greatest poets of Persian language. He gave a new life to Irans poetry.
His work is ShahNameh.
ShahNameh includes historical, heroic and fictional stories. Some of his other works like lyric,
fragment, quatrain and elegy are available.

IBN SINA (980-1037 A.D.)
He born in Afschana (bei Buchara; Usbekistan) and died in 1037 in Hamadan (Persien)
He was the most famous physician, philosopher, encyclopaedist, mathematician and astronomer of his time.
His major contribution to medical science was his famous book al-Qanun, known as the “Canon” in the West.
The Qanun fi al-Tibb is an immense encyclo- paedia of medicine extending over a million words

Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi (born in 1207 Balkh, Persia)
The name Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi stands for Love and ecstatic flight into the infinite.
Mevlana is one of the great spiritual masters and poetical geniuses of mankind and was the founder of the Mevlevi Sufi order.
Escaping the Mongol invasion, Rumi and his family travelled extensively in the Muslim lands, performed the pilgrimage to Mecca and finally settled in Konya, Anatolia (Turkey), where he succeeded his father in 1231 as professor in religious sciences.
He was introduced into the mystical path by a wandering dervish, Shamsuddin of Tabriz. His love and his bereavement for the death of Shams found their expression in a surge of music, dance and lyric poems, `Divani Samsi Tabrizzi’. Rumi is the author of a huge didactic work, The `Mathnawi’, and discourses, `Fihi ma Fihi’, written to introduce his disciples to metaphysics. If there is `Fihi ma Fihi’, written to introduce his disciples to metaphysics. If there is any general idea underlying Rumi’s poetry, it is the absolute love of God. His influence on thought, literature and all forms of aesthetic expression in the world of Islam cannot be overrated.

Omar Khayyam (1048-1131 A.D. in Nishapur, Persia)
Omar Khayyam’s full name was Ghiyath al-Din Abu’l-Fath Umar ibn Ibrahim Al-Nisaburi al-Khayyami.
Khayyam was an outstanding mathematician and astronomer and, despite the difficulties which he described in this quote, he did write several works includingProblems of Arithmetic, a book on music and one on algebra before he was 25 years old.
In 1070 he moved to Samarkand in Uzbekistan which is one of the oldest cities of Central Asia. There Khayyam was supported by Abu Tahir, a prominent jurist of Samarkand, and this allowed him to write his most famous algebra work,Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra from which we gave the quote above. We shall describe the mathematical contents of this work later in this biography.

Norooz in History of Iran
The first person who re-organized the calendar successfully was Omar Khayyam, the mathematician and astronomer of 5th century HG (11-12th A.D.). He drew a chart for the year and put the start of the year at the moment of Aries entrance to the house of Sun. He made a calendar of 6 months with 31 days, and 6 months with 30 days making a year of 365 days, and suggested the addition of 1 day every four years and also addition of a months every 13,000 years. This is the most complete calendar ever made. Khayyam called it ‘the Jalali Calendar’ because of ‘Jalal’ al-Din Malekshah Saljuqi, his patron king.
This calendar called the ‘Khorshidi’(Sun based) calendar, as oppose to the Arabic ‘Ghamari’ (moon based) calendar.

Although Khayyam was Iranian and he created this calendar based on the pre-Islamic calendar of Zoroastrians, it was not used widely in Iran until the 1925 AD(1304 HS) when Reza Shah Pahlavi ordered it to be used instead of ‘Ghamari’ calendar. In the process of finding names for the months, there are some interesting mistakes happened which are note-worthy.
Norooz, in word, means a new day. It is a new day that starts the year, traditionally in the exact astronomical beginning of the Spring, but it was not always like this!

Abu-Saiid-e-Abul-Kheyr (fl. 11th century) was an Iranian Gnostic.
He was born in Meehneh-a village in the old Khorasan. His father was a pharmacist who was a firm believer in the tenets of sufi mysticism. Abu-Saiid came to know sufi mysticism through the gatherings of sophists to which his father frequented. He was taught theology and literature in his hometown, as well as in the towns of Marve and Sarakhs. He then began practicing asceticism-the cleansing of the soul through self-denial, under the guidance of some great masters and teachers. This metamorphosed him into a complete Gnostic. Thereafter, aside from a short period of preaching in Neyshaboor,he spentmost of his life in his hometown of Meehneh.

Hamid Ghazali (1058- 1128 A.D. born in Khorasan, Iran)
Abu Hamid Ibn Muhammad Ibn Muhammad al-Tusi al-Shafi’i al-Ghazali an Iranian Philosopher.
His father died while he was still very young but he had the opportunity of getting education in the prevalent curriculum at Nishapur and Baghdad. Soon he acquired a high standard of scholarship in religion and philosophy and was honoured by his appointment as a Professor at the Nizamiyah University of Baghdad, which was recognised as one of the most reputed institutions of learning in the golden era of Muslim history.

Abu-Rayhaan-e-Birooni (1099-1177 A.D)
Birooni was an Iranian mathematician, astronomer, historian, and geographer

Shaikh Sadi Shirazi (1194 born in Shiraz)
originally named Muslih-uddin..He remained there for about 30 years, establishing his fame as a great Persian poet and popular writer. He took the name Sadi in honor of his patron Sad b. Zengi. Between 1226 and 1256 he traveled widely, visiting Europe, Ethiopia, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Armenia, Turkey, Arabia, Iran, and beyond the Indus to Hindustan. In a prose work called The Gulistan (or The Rose Garden) he provided prose stories that touch on practical wisdom and moral questions in an easy and entertaining style.

Shams-od-Din Muhammad Hafez (1320-1397 A.D.)
A Classic Poet from Shiraz Hafez created the best literary and Gnostic concepts in the form of eloquent and pithy lyrics. His concepts surpassed those of other contemporary philosophers, thinkers and scholars.

Ghiyath al-Din Jamshid Mas’ud al-Kashi (about 1380-1429 Kashan, Iran)
Kashi was an Iranian mathematician and astronomer
Details of Jamshid al-Kashi’s life and works are better known than many others from this period although details of his life are sketchy.
One of the reasons we is that he dated many of his works with the exact date on which they were completed, another reason is that a number of letters which he wrote to his father have survived and give fascinating information.

Abu Bekr ibn Muhammad ibn al-Husayn Al-Karaji (953 – 1029)
Karaji was an Iranian Mathematician
It appears both as al-Karaji and as al-Karkhi but this is not a simple matter of two different transliterations of the same Arabic name.
The significance is that Karaj is a city in Iran and if the mathematician’s name is al-Karaji then certainly his family were from that city. On the other hand Karkh is one of the original suburbs of Baghdad which grew up outside the southern gate of the original city. The name al-Karkhi would indicate that the mathematician came from the suburb of Baghdad.

Nasir al-Din Tusi (1201-1274 A.D. was born in Tus, Khorasan and died in Baghdad)
He was an astronomer who worked at the Il-Khanid Observatory situated in Persia. In his astronomical studies, Al-Tusi was able to obtain an accurate value for the solar procession. In addition to his work on the solar procession, Al-Tusi attempted to come up with an alternative to Ptolemy’s system of epicycles.

The Hittites – Ancient Torkey

History of Ancient Turkey

Roaring into history from mysterious origins, the Hittites would rule a great empire that stretched from Mesopotamia to Syria and Palestine. The Hittites are shrouded in fog and mystery; we don’t where they came from, and for a long time the language they spoke was undecipherable. In the end, it turns out they were Indo-European, that is, they spoke a language from the Indo-European language family, which includes English, German, Greek, Latin, Persian, and the languages of India.

An early Hittite Stela showing a warrior with spear and shield

Their invasion spelled the end of the Old Babylonian empire in Mesopotamia (1900-1600 BC), and like so many others before them, the invaders adopted the ways of the conquered; after the conquest of Mesopotamia, the Hittites adopted the laws, religion, and the literature of the Old Babylonians thus continuing the long heritage of Sumerian culture.

Their empire was at its greatest from 1600-1200 BC, and even after the Assyrians gained control of Mesopotamia after 1300 BC, the Hittite cities and territories thrived independently until 717 BC, when the territories were finally conquered by Assyrians and others.

The Hebrew scriptures have little to say about the Hittites, and the Egyptians regarded them as barbarians. In fact, from 1300-1200 BC, the Hittites waged a war against Egypt that drained both empires tragically. The Hittites themselves seem to have left few accounts of their history, so until this century no-one really knew their culture or the greatness of their political ascendacy

Above: The Hittites from an egyptian relief

But the Hittites are perhaps one of the most significant peoples in Mesopotamian history. Because their empire was so large and because their primary activity was commerce, trading with all the civilizations and peoples of the Mediterranean, the Hittites were the people primarily responsible for transmitting Mesopotamian thought, law, political structure, economic structure, and ideas around the Mediterranean, from Egypt to Greece. So the Hittites are the great traders in the culture built by the Sumerians and adopted and modified by later peoples. Because of the Hittites, when the Hebrews migrated to Canaan under Moses they found a people, the Canaanites, who were, culturally speaking, Mesopotamian

Dunhuang Caves In China

Dunhuang and the Cave of ManuscriptsDunhuang has 492 caves, with 45,000 square meters of frescos, 2, 415 painted statues and five wooden-structured caves.

The Mogao Grottoes contain priceless paintings, sculptures, some 50,000 Buddhist scriptures, historical documents, textiles, and other relics that first stunned the world in the early 1900s.

Dunhuang is an oasis town in Chinese Central Asia west of Xian, a former capital of China.

To the west of Dunhuang lies the Taklamakan Desert. The silk road coming from the west split to follow the northern and southern borders of the desert where there were many small oases.

Dunhuang was the town where the two branches of the silk road rejoined for the final leg into China’s capital.

The cave-temples near the town of Dunhuang form what is arguably the world’s most extraordinary gallery of Buddhist art: a gallery whose magnificent mural paintings and stucco sculptures were not collected from distant sources but were created in situ over a period of nearly a thousand years. Moreover, one particular cave contained a sealed library whose contents, consisting of written documents, silk paintings and woodblock prints, reflect contacts with every major Buddhist centre of both Central Asia and the Chinese empire.

The town was founded by Emperor Wudi of the Han dynasty in 111 BC as one of the four garrison commanderies which assured Chinese control over the trade routes to the western regions. For several hundred years after the collapse of the Han empire (206 BC-220 AD), the area was subjected to successive waves of invasions, which often caused great upheaval. For example, in 439, conquest of the area by the Northern Wei (386-535) led to a relocation of thirty thousand of its inhabitants to the dynastic capital in Shanxi province.

In 781, during the Tang dynasty (618-906), Dunhuang surrendered to the Tibetans after ten years’ resistance. When Chinese rule was restored in 848, one local family assumed power, to be followed in the tenth century by other powerful clans. Dunhuang was last considered a place of importance when it was under the control of the Western Xia kingdom (990-1227) and the Mongol Yuan dynasty (1271-1368).

From the time of the Han to the end of the Yuan, a most important trade route developed from China to the West, which later became known by the marvelously evocative name, The Silk Road. The ancient traveler leaving China along this road would pass through Dunhuang before braving the many hazards of the journey westwards through East Turkestan (present-day Xinjiang). Dunhuang has a special place in history because of its location close to the parting of the northern and southern routes that skirted the impassable Taklamakan desert.

Silk was traded along this seven thousand kilometre braid of caravan trails from China right across Asia to the eastern Roman empire on the shores of the Mediterranean, and also to south Asia. Persian and Sogdian merchants travelled the whole length, and were such familiar sights in the Chinese capitals Chang’an (present-day Xi’an) and Luoyang that they can frequently be found, for example, portrayed on Tang dynasty figurines.

This route was also used by Buddhist monks from China and Korea traveling west in search of images and scriptures, and by ambassadors and princes from the west making the long journey to China. It was by means of the Silk Road that all manner of exotic imports reached China, as diplomatic gifts or through trade, and mainly in exchange for silks: vessels made of gold and silver and the techniques for working these metals; fine glass; fragrances and spices; exotic animals such as lions and ostriches; new fruits such as grapes; dancers, musicians and their instruments.

After the splendours of the Tang dynasty, however, trade along the Silk Road was severely curtailed, and Dunhuang was left in isolation. Later trade between China and Europe was entirely by sea. By the late nineteenth century, with the decline of Chinese imperial power, the whole of Central Asia, including Dunhuang, was a political void which invited foreign interest from many sides, including Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Japan. This provided the opportunity for the “rediscovery” of ancient cultures and treasures along the trade routes.

It was not just merchandise, technology and culture that passed along the Silk Road. From the early centuries AD, learned monks from the monastic centres of Central Asia imparted their knowledge and interpretations of the scriptures to their Chinese counterparts by way of these trade routes.

Representatives of Zoroastrianism, the ancient Persian dualist religion, and of Nestorianism, an Eastern Christian sect, also reached China and established themselves there.

Founded in the sixth century BC, Buddhism soon began expanding northwards from the foothills of the Himalayas. In the third century BC, under its most influential convert, the Indian emperor Asoka, it was dispersed by missionaries across Central Asia, where it remained dominant for about a thousand years, until invaders in the seventh century AD brought in Islam.

In China itself, Buddhism was introduced probably as early as the first century BC, with communities of Buddhist monks in existence by the first century AD. Learned Buddhist monks became valued as palace advisors, and it was through imperial and aristocratic patronage that Buddhism made its first substantial progress in the empire. Because of its vitally important position on the Silk Road, virtually every stage of this progress is chronicled in the caves at Dunhuang.

Summerian Art and Architecture

Art and Architecture

More than 4,000 years ago the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers began to teem with life–first the Sumerian, then the Babylonian, Assyrian, Chaldean, and Persian empires. Here too excavations have unearthed evidence of great skill and artistry.

From Sumeria have come examples of fine works in marble, diorite, hammered gold, and lapis lazuli. Of the many portraits produced in this area, some of the best are those of Gudea, ruler of Lagash.

Some of the portraits are in marble, others, such as the one in the Louvre in Paris, are cut in gray-black diorite.

Dating from about 2400 BC, they have the smooth perfection and idealized features of the classical period in Sumerian art.

Sumerian art and architecture was ornate and complex. Clay was the Sumerians’ most abundant material. Stone, wood, and metal had to be imported.

Art was primarily used for religious purposes. Painting and sculpture was the main median used.

Marble Statues

The famous votive stone/ marble sculptures from Tell Asmar represent tall, bearded figures with huge, staring eyes and long, pleated skirts.

Enlarged eyes were found on many statues

The tallest figure is about 30 inches in height. He represents the god of vegetation. The next tallest represents a mother goddess-mother goddesses were common in many ancient cultures. They were worshipped in the hope that they would bring fertility to women and to crops. (Another connection to African culture.)

The next largest figures are priests. The smallest figures are worshippers – a definite hierarchy of size. This is an example of artistic iconography. We learn to read picture symbols—bodies are cylindrical and scarcely differentiated by gender, with their uplifted heads and hands clasped. This is a pose of supplication-wanting or waiting for something.

Ur yielded much outstanding Sumerian work, e.g., a wooden harp with the head of a bull on top, showing mythological scenes in gold and mosaic inlay on the sound box (c.2650 B.C., Univ. of Penn., Philadelphia).

Sumerian techniques and motifs were widely available because of the invention of cuneiform writing before 3000 B.C.

This system of writing developed before the last centuries of the 4th millennium B.C. in the lower Tigris and Euphrates valley, most likely by the Sumerians. The characters consist of arrangements of wedge-like strokes, generally on clay tablets. The history of the script is strikingly like that of the Egyptian hieroglyphic.

Among other Sumerian arts forms were the clay cylinder seals used to mark documents or property. They were highly sophisticated.

Chronology of Ancient Mesopotamia

Chronology of Ancient Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia Egypt Israel / Palestine
3500-3100 BCE Uruk
3100-2900 BCE Jemdet-Nasr 3100-2686 Early Dynastic 3150-2200 Early Bronze
2900-2700 BCE Early Dynastic I
2700-2500 BCE Early Dynastic II
2500-2300 BCE Early Dynastic III 2686-2200 Old Kingdom
2300-2150 BCE Sardonic/Akkadian
2150-2100 BCE Guti 2200-2040 1st Intermediate
2100-2000 BCE Ur III 2040-1786 Middle Kingdom
2000-1600 BCE
2000-1700 BCE
Old Babylonian
Old Assyrian
2000-1200 Middle Bronze II
1600-1500 BCE Dark Age 1786-1558
2nd Intermediate
1600-1050 BCE Kassite/Middle Babylonian 1558-1085 New Kingdom 1100 “Conquest”
1400-1000 BCE Middle Assyrian
1000-626 BCE Neo-Assyrian 1050-925 United Kingdom
625-539 BCE Neo-Babylonian 586 Exile
539-330 BCE Persian/Achaemenid 539 Return
330-65 BCE Alexander and Seleucid successors
250 BCE – 230 CE Parthians (Arsacid)
230-650 CE Sassanian
650 CE – present Arab / Islamic