Conference: From Elam to Iran

The University of Bologna in Ravenna, hosted an excellent conference on March 22-23, 2013 entitled “From Elam to Iran”. For more information on topics presented by professors and consult the brochure here in pdf (From Elam to Iran-University of Bolognia).


Reconstruction of female Elamite dress (circa 3rd millennium BC) by Iranian researchers in the 1970s (for more click here…)

One of the topics presented was prominent Iranologist Professor Yuri Stoyanov (member of the Department of the Near and Middle East, Faculty of Languages and Cultures in the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the University of London):

Elam and Media in some contemporary Kurdish and Yezidi historiographical construct

Readers interested in  topics on ancient Elam, the Medes and other domains of  pre-Achaemenid Iran may wish to consult the following links: Pre-Achaemenid Iran.

Ravenna is also host to one of the Roman depictions of Iranians and their costumes during the Sassanian era:


Roman depiction of Iranian (Partho-Sassanian) costume as worn by the three wise men in the Basilica of Sant’pollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy. Traditional Partho-Sassanian dress was to be joined by newer forms of dress bearing elements of Central Asian influence by the late 6th and early 7th centuries CE, as seen in Tagh-e Bostan in Kermanshah, Western Iran (Picture source: Faith, Fiction, Friends Blogspot). 




Shimon D. Cohen: The Father of the Iranian Nation visits the United States

An interesting article by Shimon D. Cohen on the London-based CAIS website discusses the history of Cyrus the Great and his legacy to the present day. Cohen’s article was written in the context of the Exhibition of ‘The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia’ which opened on Saturday 9th March, 2013. The exhibition displays carvings, plaques,  architectural works and luxury objects. The exhibition opened in Washington D.C. at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery on March 9 and will continue through until April 28. After the display at the Sackler gallery, the Cyrus Cylinder will be bought over to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. The Cylinder will then conclude its North American trek at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles in October 2013.

The Cyrus Cylinder now housed in The British Museum. The policies advocated by Cyrus in this Cylinder are corroborated by independent Greek and Biblical sources as well as by a number of other archaeological findings in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), Egypt and western Anatolia (in Modern Turkey).

The Exhibition is being supported by the British museum and sponsored by members of the Iranian diaspora — especially the Iran Heritage Foundation.

Cohen’s article also discusses political lobbies opposed to the legacy of the Cyrus Cylinder, especially Eurocentrists and Pan-Islamists:

Outside Iran, the regime has also hired a number of foreigners to attack Cyrus the Great’ historical figure – some of which claim Cyrus was not even a Persian. It is alleged, that a well known among them is a pseudo-historian who calls himself Jona Lendering, and runs a blog that provides the most biased and inaccurate information about pre-Islamic Iran. It is believed that the majority of the Wikipedia articles concerning the Achaemenid history, particularly those referenced to Cyrus the Great, has been edited by Lendering. To back his propaganda, he references all the entries – majority back to his blog ‘’, or other likeminded blogs and websites. It was also alleged a few years ago that the Islamic republic has opened an office for him in Central Tehran and put him on their pay list for his supererogatory services. To promote himself as a ‘historian’, one of his friends even created a page in Wikipedia. He also began a hate campaign against those Iranian academics not favoured by the Islamic Republic, who are living outside Iran and are expert in Pre-Islamic Iranian history, in particular Dr Kaveh Farrokh. Lendering also succeeded to influence two prominent European newspapers; Der Spiegel and the Daily Telegraph which have fallen for his propaganda and began a hate campaign against Cyrus the Great and ancient Persia.

A Persian Rabbi in 2008 accused Der Spiegel of inciting anti-Semitism and called for a legal action against the editor. Rabbi Yohanna Hamadani described the article as a “dark coalition of anti-Semitic-Neo-Nazis, [Muslim] fundamentalists and Eurocentrics embodied in an article.”

Cohen has aptly summarized how historical icons can become politicized.

Before attacking Kaveh Farrokh, Jona Lendering first sold his pictures for Farrokh’s text Shadows in the Desert (2007) to Osprey Publishing. Mr. Lendering received money for his pictures published in pages 23, 53, 54, 89, 116, 128, 179, 180, 181, 183, 189, 195, 225, and 288 – After receiving payment Mr. Lendering launched ad hominem attacks against Kaveh Farrokh on Wikipedia, the internet (in Dutch and English) with the support of Dr. Wouter Henkelman, Dr. Amelie Kuhrt, Dr. Pierre Briant and Dr. Matt Stolper and their backers in the internet and Wikipedia (many based in Iran, Bosnia and Russia and posing as westerners).  NOTE: Farrokh had never written against any of these individuals or Mr. Lendering (or

Cohen’s article has identified the reason for these attacks: Farrokh was being “punished” for daring to contradict the post-1979 (revisionist) narratives against Cyrus the Great.


Jona “Tehran” Lendering (left) and one of his defamatory-attack victims, Iranian historian Shapour Suren-Pahlav (right) who is also host of the Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies (CAIS) in London which provides resources for learning about ancient Iran. Lendering used his Wikipedia supporters and administrators to forcefully eject CAIS postings regarding Cyrus the Great out of the Wikipedia in 2007-2009. The reason:  Mr. Lendering’s perspective that the Human Rights legacy of Cyrus the Great  is “Shah propaganda”Even more bizarre are Lendering’s attacks against Shapour-Suren Pahlav for raising alarm bells regarding the destruction of historical sites (including UNESCO sites) in Iran. Lendering has even attempted to whitewash reports that the Sivand Dam is harmful to Cyrus’ tomb at Pasargad by labelling this as ”anti-Iranian propaganda“! A number of Eurocentric Assyriologists and their supporters inside the Iranian establishment support Jona Lendering’s narratives.


Professor Ilber Ortayli Highlights Links between Turkic and Iranian Civilizations

The article below is derived from a BBC Persian interview with Turkish History Professor Ilber Ortayli of Galatasaray Universitry in Istanbul Turkey who outlines the long-standing cultural and historical ties between the Turkic and Iranian peoples since pre-Islamic times. Below is the BBC-Persian interview with Professor Ortayli:

Readers are invited to consult Professor Ortayli’s textbook in

1-Ortayli-TextFor Persian readers, an article on the Professor’s interview has been reproduced which was originally posted on the Ahura News website.


 History Professor Ilber Ortayli of Galatasaray University in Istanbul Turkey. For the full BBC Persian interview and report on Professor Ortayli’s interview, kindly click on the above picture.

Below are some excerpts from that interview:

The influence of Iran upon the Turks is like the influence of ancient Greece upon the entirety of Europe

This is a very astute observation, one that has been long overdue in academia. The Turkic and Iranian peoples share a profound, rich, complex and long-standing cultural tradition known as the Turco-Iranian or Persianate civilization. The professor then expands on the above observation by expostulating that:

We [the Turks] adopted much of our bureaucratic and governance methods from the Iranians during the Ottoman dynasty. We have been influenced by Iranian civilization since ancient pre-Islamic times. The only difference between us [the Turks] and them [the Iranians] is in our language groups…Persian is an Aryan language.”

Professor Ortayli is cognizant of an important fact: the members of Persianate or Turco-Iranian civilzation are distinct from (and pre-date) the Islamic era.  To this family may be added the cultures and civilizations of the Caucasus (Arran or modern Republic of Azerbaijan, Armenia, the Lezgians, Georgia, etc.) as well as Central Asia.

The Yulduz Turdieva Musical Ensemble of Uzbekistan. The above video displays Uzbek singer Yulduz Turdieva singing in Persian accompanied by Uzbek musicians composing Classical Persian music. Western historians and writers often refer to the non-Arabian civilizations of the Near East, Central Asia, Iran, etc. as “Islamic” or “MIddle Eastern” . What is often not acknowledged is that there is a powerful and very unique culture shared by Iranian and Turkic peoples known as the Persianate or Turco-Iranian civilzation.

Professor Ortayli also draws upon the influence of ancient Iran, especially Zoroastrianism upon the Turks:

Our worship of nature and creed of Shamanism has been heavily influenced by Zoroastrianism. And in the days of Islam, all of our learned men/teachers who taught us were all Iranians. Even our alphabet is derived from the Iranians…because of our history with the Ottomans we continue to share a special bond with the Iranians”.

 A detail of the painting “School of Athens” by Raphael 1509 CE (Source: Zoroastrian Astrology Blogspot). Raphael has provided his artistic impression of Zoroaster (with beard-holding a celestial sphere) conversing with Ptolemy (c. 90-168 CE) (with his back to viewer) and holding a sphere of the earth. Note that contrary to Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” paradigm, the “East” represented by Zoroaster, is in dialogue with the “West”, represented by Ptolemy.  Prior to the rise of Eurocentricism in the 19th century (especially after the 1850s), ancient Persia was viewed positively by the Europeans. For more see Ken R. Vincent: Zoroaster-the First Universalist

Ortayli also notes of European views of Iranians, past and present:

When I was a young man, the people of Europe had a different view of the people of Iran, seeing them as gentlemanly and noble…today the Europeans know the Iranians as a people endowed with culture, knowledge and a strong work ethic.”

The professor then made the following observation:

There are two million Iranians outside of their country and the majority are successful and educated …the fact that they preserve their culture is a miracle…they have made remarkable scientific advances…they work very hard to understand cultures and people’s of the world…

Professor Orkayli emphasized the importance of the poetry of Molavi (known as Mevlana in Turkey) as the medium in which the Turks can become familiarized with the Persian language.

 Mevlana_KonyaThe tomb of Jalal-e-Din Rumi, known as Mevlana by the Turks. Rumi is a highly respected and revered figure in Turkey. The literary links between the Turks and the Iranians remain strong to this day.

The Turks have in fact done a remarkable job in preserving this site and are also credited for their efforts in preserving ancient Hellenic sites in Western Turkey, one example being ancient Ephesus. Recognition of links transcending political borders and “nationalistic” sentiments”, led the WAALM Academy to a uniquely successful initiative to foster Turkish-Iranian dialogue.


At left is Radio Istanbul with their distinguished guest, the young and rising star, Ersin Faikzade and at right is the legendary Iranian singer Sattar being cited by the Turkish press. Iranian-Turkish cultural ties predate and transcend the oft-used term “Middle East”, a construct of 20th century Western origin.

 Cultural ties between the Iranian and Turkic peoples remain profound and deep-rooted.

Jahel-Morteza-Aghili-Homayoun-as-JahelIranian actors Homayoun and Morteza Aghili depicting street-toughs known in Persian as “Jahel” in the movie “Topoli” (the Chubby one). Interestingly, the almost exact type of street-toughs can be seen in Turkey – similar attire (hat, shirt, jacket, shoes), gestures, conversing, codes of conduct and even the minutiae of drinking tea, coffee or alcohol are strikingly parallel! 



The parallels in culture can be seen in recent history when Reza Shah visited Mustafa Kemal Attaturk in Turkey. Below is the first video in which Reza Shah of Iran converses in Turkish with Mustafa Kamal Ataturk of Turkey. The clip below was filmed in 1934 and accidentally discovered after 76 years in a fruit shop in Istanbul.

Reza Shah of Iran conversing in Turkish with Turkey’s Mustafa Kemal Attaturk. This historic meeting serves as yet another highlight of the long-term historical relations between the Iranians and the Turks which has resulted in the phenomenon known as the Turco-Persian or Persianate civilization.

There appears to be a resurgence of interest in the Persian language in Turkey, as seen in the video below:

An interview with Professor Ortayli in Turkish TV’s Haber Turk where he discusses the Persian epic Shahname.  Iranians and Turks in fact share many common traits, notably in culture, music, foods, etc. While considerably downplayed by Western writers and “nationalists” on all sides, the reality is that Iranians and Turks are (at the very least) cultural cousins.

New Course: Forgotten Gifts of Persia

Kaveh Farrokh, an instructor at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division is offering a new course entitled:

The Forgotten Gifts of Persia

Below is the official course description:

Learn about the forgotten contributions of Persia to world civilization in the realm of technology and architecture. Topics include the world’s first movies, the artificial eye, the battery, aqueducts, refrigeration and air-conditioning systems, windmills, pontoon bridges and the world’s first hospital and medical university, as well as examples of the influence of Persian architecture in China, India, Rome, Western Europe, and throughout the Middle East.


[Click to enlarge] An 18th century Persian Astrolabe  housed in Cambridge Museum’s History of Sciences section Picture source:

For details consult The Forgotten Gifts of Persia | UBC Continuing Studies (pdf):

  • Format: In Class
  • Code: UP723 W13 A
  • Start: Weds Mar 13, 2013
  • Schedule: Weds  1pm – 3pm
  • Location: Tapestry at Wesbrook Village (University of British Columbia Point Grey campus)


[Click to Enlarge] (RIGHT) Iranian researcher examining the artificial eye found at Shahr e Sookhteh – further tests are being conducted in Iran to determine the exact chemical composition of the prosthetic (LEFT) A curious feature of the “eye” are parallel lines that have been drawn around the pupil to form a diamond shape …READ MORE

There is also a determined drive from the Asian Studies department of the University of British Columbia to establish a full-time Iranian Studies program.

Professor Harjot S. Oberoi of the UBC Asian Studies program introduces “An Evening with Dr. Kaveh Farrokh – Sassanian Architecture” (Monday March 12, 2011). This talk was given as part of the overall drive to promote support for the University of British Columbia’s Iranian Studies and Persian language initiative.