Tuesday, June 5, 2007

 
http://histclo.com/chron/ancient/ac-per.html


Ancient Civilizations: Persia

Figure 1.--.
Persia is not one of the early cradles of civilization and Persian civilization did not develop in river valley. Persian civilization developed east of the Fertile Crescent on the Iranian plateau of central Asia. The Iranian plateau was not settled until about 1500 BC by Aryan tribes, especially the Medes. The name Persian comes from the Parsua, another Aryan tribe. The first great war chief was Hakhamanish or Achaemenes who founded the Achaemenid dynasty about 700 BC. The Achaemenids built a great capital city at Persepolis. They conquered a vast empire from Egypt to India. Conquered were allowed to keep their own religion, customs, and laws and were governed by natove princes. The Persians encouraged cultural diversity. They saw the world as a cosmic struggle between good and evil, concepts that profoundly influenced Jewish and Christian theology. Darius the Great after crushing a Ionian Greek revolt in Anatolia was defeated by the Greeks in the epic battle of Marathon in 490 BC, one of the decisive battles of history. Alexander defeated Darius III in battles 334-331 BC, destroying the Persian Empire. Alexander hoped to unite the Greeks and Persians into one great empire. His early death undid these ambitious plans. Following a civil war among his generals, Seleucus, gained control over the Persian part of his empire. At the same time Potolomy gained control of Egypt. Unlike Alexander's plans, Seleucus ruled Persia as a conquered land through Greek troops and satraps. The Parthians overthrew the Greeks, who were unable to generate Persian support, about 250 B.C. The Parthians came from the deserts of central Asia. Unlike the Greeks, they were impressed with Persian civilization and ruled Persian through native kings. The Parthian empire lasted more than four centuries and during that period there was no important Persian revolt. The Parthians were one of the few people who successfully resisted the Roman Empire, desimating a Roman army led by Anthony. This played a major role in the defeat of Anthony and Cldeopatra by Octavian. Gradually Christianity spread to Persia and the power of the Parthians wained. Artaxerxes, a descendant of Sassan, in 226 A.D., declared Persia independent of Parthia and began a military campaign aginst neignoring countries and the Parthians. The revived Persian Empire like the Parthians were able to challenge Rome at the height of its power.
Origins
Persia is not one of the early cradles of civilization and Persian civilization did not develop in river valley. Persian civilization developed east of the Fertile Crescent on the Iranian plateau of central Asia. The time line here is a subject of archeological debate. Some had thought that the Iranian plateau was not settled until about 1500 BC by Aryan tribes, especially the Medes. The Medes in the north and Persians in the south were the two major tribal groups peopleing the Iranian plateau. Both were at first nomasdic people who gradually developed settle agriculture. The Medes were ar first the dominant group. The name Persian comes from the Parsua, another Aryan tribe. Other archeologists report evidence of advanced civilization much earlier. Literary accounts from Mesopotamia describe the mysterious Broze Age civilization of Aratta. Some believe this is a mythical civilization. Others believe that Aratta was located in Armenia or Persia. An Iranian archeologist is escavating ruins in the Halil River Valley of southeastern Iran at Tepe Yahya and Jiroft. Artifacts suggest that urban centers were on trade routes between Mesopotamia and the Indus River culture. One archeologist theorizes that it may be the oldest Oriental civilization and perhaps may predate Mesopotamia. That claim seems fanciful at this time, but ruins there are clearly quite old. He dates artifacts to the mid 3rd mellennium. There are drainage systems and stone foundations. The drainage system and irrigation canals appears to have been the technological leap that allowed the Persians to gain superiority over the Medes and other rival tribes. One early archeological find is a mound which appears to have been a kind of Ziggurat temple comple made with 3-4 million mud bricks. Archeologists Yousef Madjidzadeh dates the civilization at 2700 BC. [Lawler]
Dynastic History
The history of ancient Persian can be divided into several different dynastic eras. Rhe native Persian dynasties were interupted by Alexander and a relatively brief period of Macedonian rule.
Achaemenids (700-331 BC)
The first great war chief was Hakhamanish or Achaemenes who founded the Achaemenid dynasty about 700 BC. The Achaemenids built a great capital city at Persepolis. They conquered a vast empire from Egypt to India. Conquered were allowed to keep their own religion, customs, and laws and were governed by native princes. The Persians encouraged cultural diversity. Persia was dominated by the Medes until Cyrus the Great rose to the throne (558 BC). Cyrus overthrew the Median rulers and conquered important neighboring territories, Lydia (546 BC) and Babylon (539 BC)--establishing Persian as the preminent power of the age. Cyrus is one of the most famed rulers of the ancient world. He styled himself as a liberator rather than a conqueror. Of course this was a kind of early propaganda, but his relativelyly enlighted and tolerant rule was often a relief from despotic local rulers. One of his many actions which is a central event in the Bible was freeing the Jews from their Nabylonian captivity. How many rulers from the ancoent world are known for freeing a captive people. His son Cambyses II extended the Empire further by defeating the last Egyptian pharaoh and bringing Egypt within the Empire (525 BC). Darius I, a distant relative, succeded Cambyses and conquered territory as far east as the Indus River bringing him the title of Darius the Great. The Persians engaged in vast building projects. Under Darious a canal was built from the Nile to the Red Sea ocer 2 milenia before Suez. Darius next yurned his attention west. After crushing a Ionian Greek revolt in Anatolia (499-493 BC) he moved against the Greeks city states. His huge army was defeated by the Greeks in the epic battle of Marathon (490 BC), one of the decisive battles of history. Darius' son Xerxes assembled an even larger army and again invaded Greece. His navy, however, was defeated by the Athenians in the battle of Salamis (480 BC). Deprived of supplied by the destruction of the Persian fleet, large elements of the Persian army had to with draw and the reamining units were defeated by the Greeks (439 BC). The Oxus River Treasure gives us a fascinating view of Achaemenid Persia.
Alexander (331-323 BC)
Alexander defeated Darius III in battles 334-331 BC, destroying the Persian Empire. Alexander hoped to unite the Greeks and Persians into one great empire. He incorporated Persian soldietrs into his army. He demanded that his important officers, all Macedonians, take Persian wives. His early death undid these ambitious plans (323 BC).
Seleucids (323-250 BC)
Following a civil war among his generals, Seleucus Nicator, gained control over much of Alexander's Empire, except for Greece itself and Egypt. Seleucus conquured Babylon (312 BC). He annexed it to Persia, lands as farv east as the Indus River, Syria and Analtolia. At the same time Potolomy gained control of Egypt. Unlike Alexander's plans, Seleucus ruled Persia as a conquered land through Greek troops and satraps. Persia for nearly 5 centuries was ruled as a province of the Selecuid Empire.
Parthians (250 BC - 226 AD)
The Parthians overthrew the Greeks, who were unable to generate Persian support, about 250 B.C. The Parthians came from the deserts of central Asia. Unlike the Greeks, they were impressed with Persian civilization and ruled Persian through native kings. The Parthian empire lasted more than four centuries and during that period there was no important Persian revolt. The Parthians were one of the few people who successfully resisted the Roman Empire, desimating a Roman army led by Anthony. This played a major role in the defeat of Anthony and Cldeopatra by Octavian. Gradually Christianity spread to Persia and the power of the Parthians wained.
Sassanians (226-641 AD)
Artaxerxes or Ardashir I, a descendant of Sassan, rebelled against the Parthians (226 A.D.). He founded the Sassanian dynasty. He defeated the Parthians at the the battle of Hirmuz and annexed neighboring kingdoms. He invaded India but close to levy tribute rather than annex the defeated principalities. He then conquered Armenia. He established Zoroastrianism as the state religion of the Persian Empire. His son Shapur succeded him (240 AD) and began a long series of wars with the Romans. The revived Persian Empire like the Parthians were able to challenge Rome at the height of its power. Shapur waged two long wars with the Romans gaining territory in Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, and Syria. Odenathus, the Prince of Palmyra and an ally of Rome managed to regain the lost Roman territories (260-263 AD). Narses became king of Persia (293 AD) and renewed the wars with Rome, but lost a devestating battle (297 AD). He had to seek peace with the Romans and boundary of Persia was moved east to the Tigris River. Shapur II became king (309 AD) and during his long reign conducted three wars with Rome, regaining the lost territoiries. Yazdegerd I became king (399) and lived in peace with Rome. He considered conversion to Christianity but launched a ruthless campaign of suppression. His son Bahrum V continued the syppression and decalred war on Rome (420). The Romans defeated his army (422) and in the peace traety the two empires pledged mutual religiius toleration of (Zoroastrianism and Christianity). At the Council of Dad-Ishu, the eastern Christian church broke away from Rome and the western church. King Firuz II was defeated by barbaric tribes called the Ephthalites (White Huns) (483) and Persian for some years was firced to pay tribute. Nestorianism became the official faithn of Persian Christians (483). Kavadh I became king (485) and supported the communist teachings of Mazdak, a Zoroastrian priest. His more orthodox brother deposed him (498) but with the help of the Ephthalites regained his throne (501). He enagaged in two inconclusive wars with Rome and then withdrew his suppoirt from Mazdak and slaughtered his followers (523). His son Khosrau I greatly expanded the boundaries of the empire to the Caucauses and Black Sea through two successfulm wars with the Byzantine Empire. He also restored Zoroastrianism as the state religion. Khosrau became king (590) and began a war with the Byzantine Empire (602) with resulted in the conquest of most of southwest Asian and Egypt, but the Emoeror Eraclius regained much lost territory. Yazdegred III who rose to the throne (632). He was the last Persian king.
The Arabs (641- )
The Arabs emerged from the Arabian desert and invaded both Mesopotamia amd Persia. Arab armies after the conquest of the Levant turned east to Persia. The Persian Empire confronted by Arab armies had been weakened by war with the Byzantine Empire. Arab armies after their victory over the Byzantines turned east. They first seized Mesopotamia (modetn Iraq) from the Persians and then conquered Persia itself. Aran warriors, fired by Islamic fervor, smashed much lasrger Persian armies. Persia was incorporated into the Islamic Calipate. Zoroastrianism was gradually replaced by Islam as the majority religion of the Persian people.. Persia was not, however, Arabized like Mesopotamia, the Levant, Egypt, North Africa, Somalia, and Sudan. At in part out of resistance to the Arabs, the Shiia sect of Islam became dominant in Persia. ThecArab comquest of Persia was but one phase of a much wider advance of Islam spread by Arab armies.
Middle East
Persian with the Arab conquests became part of Islamic Capiphate (7th century). Persia during the Caliphate became largely Shi'a, separating it from the larger Suni faith of the Arabs and the rest of the Islamic worl. The Caliphate was destroyed by the Mongol kinvasions (13 th century). After the decline of the Mongols, a Persian kingdom rose. While the Arabs were largely conquered by the Ottomon Turks, the Persiabs successfully resisted Otttomon encroachments. Modern Persian history is addressed within the wider context of Middle Eastern history.
Religion
The ancient Persians saw the world as a cosmic struggle between good and evil, concepts that profoundly influenced Jewish and Christian theology.
Slavery
Clothing
Hair Styles
An artifact part of the Oxus River Treasure provide an indication of boys' hair styling in the Persian Empire.
Sources
Lawler, Andrew. "Rocking the cradle," Smithsonian (May 2004), pp. 40-48.
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