Ancient Iran: A Captivating Guide to Persia
Ancient Iran (Persia) is considered one of the cradles of civilization. Along with its close neighbor, ancient Iraq or Mesopotamia, these regions were often considered a single geo-political region throughout the Persian Empires. Spanning four millennia from 3500 BCE to 650 CE, the ancient dynasties of Iran were arguably the most culturally influential the world has ever known. Their royal courts birthed the foundations of modern-day art, architecture, governance, and law, and Persian politics and elements of warfare were emulated for millennia by friends and foes alike.
Iran’s origins are obscure, but some of the oldest in the world, and the dynasties of kings that lived before the mighty empires arose laid the foundation for greatness. The first royal lineages came from deep within the Zagros Mountains of Western Iran. Spreading out to the greater Zagros, or Elam, ancient Iran grew to fill the plains to the west abutting Mesopotamia and melded with the Aryan nomads across the Iranian Plateau to the east.
Empires grew from the expansive plains, beginning with Media in the 7th century BCE, and were followed by the Achaemenids a hundred years later. The Achaemenids were considered the first true Iranian Empire and dominated half of the ancient world of Eurasia for two centuries from the mid-6th century BCE. The Macedonian infiltration led by Alexander the Great opened the Hellenistic era of ancient Iran from 330 BCE, after which the Greeks continued to rule Persian lands for a century under the Seleucid Empire that followed the death of Alexander.
Two more Iranian Empires succeeded the Seleucids, both almost half a millennium in duration. The Parthian Empire dominated Iran from the removal of the Seleucids in 247 BCE and lasted for almost 250 years into the Common Era. The Sasanian Empire that governed next arose from the Parthians and ruled Persia until the Arab invasion in the 7th century. The Islamic overthrow of the Sassanids took just two decades and had irretrievably altered Iran by 651 CE.
Although this was the quickest spread of a monotheistic religion during Iran’s ancient history, it took a further 400 years for Islam to become entrenched across Iranian lands. Despite the waves of change that Persia experienced from its origins to the 7th century of the Common Era, the ancient Iranian culture held firm. This unique culture continues to serve as the foundation of modern Iran through a national identity that was set in motion more than five thousand years ago.
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|Epub||June 27, 2022|
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