Shapour Shahbazi: Bahrām I

The article below by Shapour Shahbazi on Sassanian king Bahrām I (c. June 271 – September 274 CE) was originally published in the Encyclopedia Iranica on December 15, 1988 and last updated on August 24, 2011.

Kindly note that picture posted below does not appear in the original publication and on-line posting by Encyclopedia Iranica.

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Bahrām I, the fourth Sasanian king and son of Šāpūr I, succeeded Hormozd (Ohrmezd) I and ruled from June, 271 until September, 274 (for the chronology of the early Sasanians, the findings of W. B. Henning, Asia Major, 1957, p. 116, are followed here). Four of Šāpūr’s sons are named in his Kaʿba-ye Zardošt inscription (A. Maricq, Classica et Orientalia, Paris, 1965, pp. 61-62): Bahrām Gēlān Šāh, Šāpūr Mēšān Šāh (King of Mesene), Hormozd (Ohrmezd) Ardašīr, Wuzurg Šāh ī Arminān (Great King of Armenia), and Narseh Sakān Šāh (King of the Sakas, exceptionally honored later in the inscription, Maricq, ibid., p. 58, as “the noble Mazdā-worshipping Narseh, King of Sind, Sakastān, and Tūrān to the edge of the sea”). The order shows that Bahrām was the eldest son (Henning, “Notes on the Great Inscription of Šāpūr I,” in Professor Jackson Memorial Volume, Bombay, 1954, p. 419 n. 6), and indeed, the prince is shown on the Naqš-e Rajab investiture relief of Ardašīr I, facing his name-deity Bahrām, who is figured in the Hellenistic guise of Herakles, nude and club in hand (W. Hinz, Altiranische Funde und Forschungen, Berlin, 1969, p. 124 with pl. 59). However, despite Bahrām’s age and Narseh’s exalted position, the succession of Šāpūr had been decided in favor of Hormozd Ardašīr, who, however, reigned for only just over a year. Then Bahrām ascended the throne, probably with the help of the influential priest, Kardēr. Narseh probably looked upon Bahrām as a usurper (see bahrām, iii), but had to settle for the second rank in the empire, becoming “Great King of Armenia” (V. Lukonin, “Varakhran i Narse,” in VDI 1, 1964, pp. 48ff.; H. Humbach and P. O. Skjærvø, The Sassanian Inscription of Paikuli III/1, Wiesbaden, 1983. pp. 66ff.).

Bahram I-Sassanina Coin

Sassanian coin of Bahram I (c. June 271 – September 274 CE) (Source: Public Domain).

Bahrām was fond of fighting, hunting, and feasting, which he regarded as virtues (Henning, “Mani’s Last Journey,” BSOS 10, 1942, p. 951), and Sasanian-based sources praised him as a benevolent and worthy king. This was no doubt partly due to his reversal of Šāpūr’s policy of religious tolerance, which enabled the clergy led by Kardēr to proceed with the establishment of a Zoroastrian state church. In 274, he ordered the imprisonment and subsequent execution of Mani, and the persecution of his followers (Henning, ibid., pp. 949ff.). Otherwise Bahrām’s short reign was uneventful. His coins show him wearing the characteristic crown of Mithra: a headgear adorned with ray-shaped spikes (K. Erdmann, “Die Entwicklung der sasanidischen Krone,” Ars Islamica 15-16, 1951, p. 96; R. Göbl, Sasanian Numismatics, Brunswick, 1971, p. 43, pl. 3 nos. 40-47). The lost Book of the Portraits of Sasanian Kings (Ḥamza, p. 50) depicted Bahrām I as standing, holding a lance in the right hand and leaning upon a sword held in the left, and wearing red gown and trousers and a gold crown topped with a sky-blue globe (Erdmann, op. cit., p. 96 n. 3). Following Ardašīr and Šāpūr, Bahrām I symbolized his accession in a rock-relief (Bīšāpūr IV) showing him on horseback, receiving the diadem of royalty from Ohrmezd, also shown mounted. The relief is accompanied by a Mid. Pers. inscription. The dignified spirituality of the king, the sweeping gesture of the god, the finely balanced composition, and the proportionate, majestic figures of the horses make this monument “artistically the most appealing example of Sasanian rock sculpture” (E. F. Schmidt, Persepolis III: The Royal Tombs and Other Monuments, Chicago, 1970, p. 129. See further F. Sarre and E. Herzfeld, Iranische Felsreliefs, Berlin, 1910, pp. 215ff.; G. Herrmann and R. Howell, The Sasanian Rock Reliefs at Bishapur, pt. 2, Iranische Denkmäler, Lief. 10, Berlin, 1981). Later, Narseh tampered with this sculpture and substituted his own name for that of Bahrām (see Schmidt, op. cit., p. 129 n. 71 for reference).

Bibliography

See also Ṭabarī, tr. Nöldeke, Geschichte der Perser, pp. 47-48.

Other Oriental, Greek, and Syriac sources are listed by Justi, Namenbuch, p. 361 no. 7.

The identification of Bahrām I with Bahrām Kūšān Šāh, who on his coins wears a crown adorned with a pair of ram’s horns and who is known also from a Sasanian silver plate now in the Hermitage (K. Erdmann, “Die sasanidischen Jagdschalen,” in Jahrb. d. preuss. Kunstsammlung LIX, 1930, p. 190 with references) must be rejected on the evidence of the Kaʿba-ye Zardošt inscription which specifies that Bahrām was King of Gēlān. On Bahrām’s religious policy see further W. Hinz, “Mani and Kardēr,” in La Persia nel medioevo, Rome, 1971, pp. 485ff.

Evangelos Venetis: Greeks in Modern Iran

Dr. Evangelos Venetis is the author of a seminal book entitled “Greeks in Modern Iran: Discovering the Past of a Prosperous Community (1837-2010)” in published in Athens, Greece in 2014 (this project was also supported by the collaboration of Elli Antoniades; publication supported by the Kefalidis family):

Venetis-Greeks in Iran

Greeks in Modern Iran: Discovering the Past of a Prosperous Community (1837-2010) (translated from Greek to English by Michael Mericas [(Νικόλαος Μερίκας)]), Athens, Greece: Poreia, 2014, ISBN:978-960-7043-89-4. To order this text, contact Dr. Evangelos directly: 28, Petropoulaki st., 10445, Athens, Greece, Email: e.venetis@yahoo.com.

The above text was first published in Greek in 2011:

Evangelos Venetis, Greeks in Modern Iran (Athens: Poreia Publications, 2011), Graeco- Iranica Series 1, 290 pp. 2 maps, 57 illustrations, index, ISBN: 978-960-7498-85- 1

The book is an historical monograph in the field of modern Greek-Iranian studies published by the Society for Hellenic-Iranian Studies (SHIS) in the Graeco-Iranica Monograph Series. It aims at informing the scientific and wide readership about the past, present and future of the Greek Diaspora in Iran in the last two centuries.

Greco-Iranians-Kermanshah

The Moschalis family in Kermanshah, 1910 (Source: Society for Hellenic-Iranian Studies collection; published by Evangelos Venetis).

The first part of the book narrates the history of the Greeks who entered Qajar Iran in the early 19th century and established their community in northern Iran.

3-Greco-Iranians-Rasht

The Misailidis family in Rasht (Northern Iran, 1913-1915) (Source: Misailidis family collection; published by Evangelos Venetis).

Long-Time-Between-Drinks

On a humorous note: A long time between drinks! A 1902 cartoon entitled “491 BC-1902 CE” in Puck magazine (v. 52, no. 1348, 1902, December 31) depicting “Persia” (at left) toasting “Greece” (at right) from a punch bowl labeled “Renewal of Diplomatic Relations” (Source: US Library of Congress). Contrary to Eurocentric or Nordicist popular narratives in news media, entertainment and scholarship, the relationship between the Greco-Roman and Iranian realms has been multifaceted and constructive since ancient times. The two civilizations have often engaged in strong exchanges in the arts, learning, architecture, theology, culture and commerce for millennia.

4-Greco-Iranians-Rezaieh

Photo taken in 1935 of the Papadopoulos and Paraskevopoulos families in Rezaieh in northwest Iran’s West Azarbaijan province (Source: Elli Antoniades; published by Evangelos Venetis). Note that these Iranian-Greeks have adopted the favorite Iranian Samovar pastime of drinking tea (tea kettle atop metallic vase with tap for pouring hot water) along with the small glass teacups and accompanying saucers. The Samovar (Russian: self-boiler) is also highly popular in the Caucasus, Turkey, Ukraine and of course Russia (where the “Samovar” originates).

In the second part, the analysis focuses on the history of the Greek community of Tehran in the Pahlavi era and the period of the Islamic Republic, highlighting also the interaction between Greeks from all over the world and Iranians inside Iran in various fields such as economy, politics and culture.

5-Greco-Iranians-1943

The campaign regiment of Iranian-Greeks prior to their departure to Egypt, 1943 (Source: Greek Community of Tehran collection; published by Evangelos Venetis). Like much of Europe, Greece had fallen to brutal Nazi occupation in 1941 during the Second World War. These Iranian-Greeks were joining British and allied forces in North Africa to fight the Nazis. 

5a-Greco-Iranians-Vasilios Antoniades

Vasilios Antoniades (1910-1943) who was the only casualty of the Iranian-Greek regiment from Iran in Egypt (Source: Greek Community of Tehran collection; published by Evangelos Venetis).

Given that the contemporary research and study of Hellenic-Iranian studies worldwide stop in the seventh century AD., contemporary Hellenic-Iranian relations remain a terra incognita.

6-Greco-Iranians-Greek School on Tehran

The first official Greek school in Tehran in 1945 (Source: Greek Community of Tehran collection; published by Evangelos Venetis).

7-Greco-Iranians-Greek women tailor shop in saadi st Tehran

The first Greek women’s taylor shop in Tehran’s Saadi street. This was established by Eleni Salonikidis (Source: Violetta Grammatikopoulos collection; published by Evangelos Venetis).

As a result Dr. Venetis’ monograph is a general introduction to a long period, covering a wide range of topics and aiming to act as the framework for the development of the study and research of contemporary Hellenic-Iranian studies worldwide.

Fereydoun Farrokh and Greek Foregin Minsiter in Athens 1962

Fereydoun Farrokh (at left), the Iranian chargé d’affaires in Greece meeting with Evangelos Averoff (at right) the Greek Foreign Minister) in 1962 (Source: Archives of Kavehfarrokh.com; published by Evangelos Venetis). The Minister is entrusting a cheque on behalf of the Greek government to Farrokh to send to Iran to provide financial assistance for Iranian earthquake victims at the time.

9-Greco-Iranians-Embassy 1976 Tehran

The Greek Foreign Minster Demetrios Bitsios (sitting second from left) in the Greek community of Tehran with the president of the community Elli Antoniades, the Greek Ambassador Panayotis Economou (third from the left) and members of the diplomatic retinue of the Minster, 1976 (Source: Elli Antoniades; published by Evangelos Venetis).

Dr. Evangelos Venetis studied history at the University of Ioannina, where he received also his master’s degree in medieval history entitled: The Zoroastrian priesthood and their influence in diplomatic relations Byzantium and Persia. (Second International Award of Iranology, Tehran, 12.16.2002).

10-Greco-Iranians-Tehran 1999

Konstantinos Stefanopoulos (at left), the president of the Hellenic Republic being received by Ionnis Grammatikopoulos (at right), president of the Greek-Iranian community in Tehran in 1999 (Source: Ionnis Grammatikopoulos collection; published by Evangelos Venetis).

In 2006 Dr. Evangelos Venetis successfully completed his doctoral dissertation in the field of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Edinburgh. During the period 2006-2010 he was a Senior Research Associate at the Department of Arabic, Persian and Turkish, in the School of Middle Eastern Studies, the University of Leiden, the Netherlands.

11-Greco-Iranians-Bishop in Tehran 2001

His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos officiating in the Greek Orthodox Church of Annunciation in Tehran in 2001 (Source: Ionnis Grammatikopoulos collection; published by Evangelos Venetis).

In addition to his “Greeks in Modern Iran” Dr. Evangelos Venetis has also authored five other academic books thus far:

  • The Iskandarnama (Book of Alexander): An analysis of an anonymous Persian prose romance (Saarbrücken, 2013)
  • The Shahnama Tradition, Storytelling in Contemporary Iran (Saarbrücken, 2012)
  • The Persian Book of Kings. Storytelling in Modern Iran (Lambert Publications, Saarbrügen, 2011);
  • Grammar of modern Persian for Greek Speakers (Tehran, 2007)
  • Bibliographica Sasanica (Costa Mesa, California, 2009)

12-Greco-Iranians-Greek Church in Tehran 2009

The Greek Church of Annunciation of Tehran in 2001 (Source: The Society for Hellenic-Iranian Studies collection; published by Evangelos Venetis).

An accomplished world-class academic, Dr. Evangelos Venetis has also authored a large number of articles on medieval and modern Islamic world in Greek and international journals. He is the founder and director of the Society for Hellenic-Iranian Studies.

Iran Air Force Operations and the UN in Congo (1962-1963)

The article below was first forwarded to Kavehfarrokh.com by Shahyar Mahabadi (posted originally in the IIAF website ). Kindly note that the text and picture captions below has been edited from the original version which appeared in the IIAF website.

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ONUC was established initially in July 1960 to ensure the withdrawal of Belgian forces, to assist the Government in maintaining law and order, and to provide technical assistance. The function of ONUC was subsequently modified to include maintaining the territorial integrity and the political independence of the Congo, preventing the occurrence of civil war, and securing the removal from the Congo of all foreign military, paramilitary and advisory personnel not under the United Nations Command, and all mercenaries. On completion of the mandate, the Mission was withdrawn in June 1964. For more on the UN’s Congo mission, see here… and here…

The Iranian Air Force played a major role in the success of the UN mission. Four F-86 Sabre fighter aircraft were deployed for the UN mission. The route of Iranian Air Force F-86 “Sabre” fighters from Iran to Congo was as follows: Dezful –Tehran- Dhahran (Saudi Arabia)-Jadeh (Saudi Arabia) -Addis a Baba (Ethiopia)–Entebbe (Uganda)–Katanga( Congo). The flight plan traversed more than 6,300 Km over a time of 10.

IIAF-Crew-Vahdati ABIranian airmen and crew pose with their F-86 Sabre combat aircraft in Dezful’s Airbase in 1963 (Source: IIAF).

Iranian Air Force aircraft were mission-ready at all times. There were no accidents or fatalities during the mission. The one exception was one incident during which Lt. Alaghband’s aircraft was hit by a bullet the F-86 was quickly repaired and ready to fly in less than 24 hours. It is notable that the four F-86 fighters of the IIAF flew more sorties than the Philippines and Sweden who had a total of 18 aircraft.

IIAF-F-86 Sabre

Iranian Air Force F-86 Sabre – note “UN” insignia on above aircraft (Picture Source: acig.org).

Iran’s airmen were commended by the United Nations for their excellent performance. After returning  to Iran Maj. Seyed Javadi, Major Rabii (Base Operation Commander), Lt. Mostafavi and Capt. Farywar were decorated with medals for their exemplary performance. In honor of these operations, Iranian Postal services issued a special stamp six Months after the mission on United Nation Day.

IIAF-Un StampIran’s postal services issued the above stamp in honor of the Iranian Air Force operations for the United Nations in the Congo in the early 1960s (Source: IIAF).

Originally, the medal awarded for service in the Congo was a UN blue and white ribbon with a bar indicating Congo service. In 1963 it was decided that a distinctive ribbon should be issued. The ribbon subsequently awarded carries a broad center band of green, symbolic of hope which was thought to be appropriate for a young nation, and also to represent the Congo Basin. The center band is flanked by two narrow white bands, representing the UN Mission and at either end are two bars of UN blue. To qualify for the medal, three months of service in the Mission were required.

IIAF-MedalsMedal issued for service for the UN in the Congo in 1962-1963 (for more on medals see here…)

The Iranian Air Force crew assigned to the UN mission were: Maj. Amir Kamiabipour ” Mission Planner” Capt. Mostafa Hadj Seyed Javadi “Mission Commander“. 1St.Lt. Iradj Mostafavi (later Brig. General ) 1st. Lt Vahid Kimiagar ( Later Brig. General) 1st. Lt Mohsen Memarian (killed in Aircraft Crash) 1st. Lt Mohammad Alaghband ( Killed in Aircraft Crash) 1st. Lt Esmaeel Memari (Killed in Aircraft Crash) 1st. Lt Mohammad Abolmolouk (later Brig.General) 1st. Lt Mohammad Pezeshki (later Col.) 1st. Lt Nasser Zolali ( Later Brig.General, Died of Cancer ) 1St.Lt. Ali Akbar Farywar (later General) “commander of Support & Maintenance” and 33 maintenance and support crew (kindly forward the names of these personnel to the IIAF website as well as Kavehfarrokh.com in recognition for their services to the United Nations).

There was also a single C-47 “ Dakota” with 6 crew assigned with support duties for the UN mission. The Aircraft commander was Capt. Hessam Mirtolooi (later general). The C-47 made three sorties from Tehran to the Congo. The formidable Kilimanjaro Heights posed great challenges for the C-47 flying over them, a task which the aircraft successfully accomplished.

IIAF-C 47 DakotaIranian Air Force C-47 Dakota during the UN mission to the Congo (Source: IIAF). Ideal for landings in rough terrain, the venerable Dakota proved its worth in spades during and after the Second World War as a robust and reliable transport aircraft. The Dakota served in several countries decades after the conclusion of the Second World War. Numbers of the Dakota continue to fly in a number of countries.

The Unexpected origins of High Heel Shoes

The article below by William Kremer first appeared in the BBC News Magazine article “Why did men stop wearing high heels?” on 25 January 2013. Excepting two pictures, all other pictures/images are different from those featured in the the original BBC News Magazine report.

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For generations they have signified femininity and glamour – but a pair of high heels was once an essential accessory for men.

Beautiful, provocative, sexy – high heels may be all these things and more, but even their most ardent fans wouldn’t claim they were practical.

They’re no good for hiking or driving. They get stuck in things. Women in heels are advised to stay off the grass – and also ice, cobbled streets and posh floors.

And high heels don’t tend to be very comfortable. It is almost as though they just weren’t designed for walking in.

Originally, they weren’t.

The high heel was worn for centuries throughout the near east as a form of riding footwear,” says Elizabeth Semmelhack of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto.

Good horsemanship was essential to the fighting styles of Persia – the historical name for modern-day Iran.

3-Safavid-mailed Cavalry

A Safavid mailed lancer (Source Iranian Army reconstruction, 1971)…for more Click here

When the soldier stood up in his stirrups, the heel helped him to secure his stance so that he could shoot his bow and arrow more effectively,” says Semmelhack.

At the end of the 16th Century, Persia’s Shah Abbas I had the largest cavalry in the world. He was keen to forge links with rulers in Western Europe to help him defeat his great enemy, the Ottoman Empire.

2-Safavid Mens ShoesA men’s 17th Century Persian shoe, covered in shagreen – horse-hide with pressed mustard seeds (Source: Bata Shoe Museum as shown in BBC News Magazine).

So in 1599, Abbas sent the first Persian diplomatic mission to Europe – it called on the courts of Russia, Germany and Spain.

A wave of interest in all things Persian passed through Western Europe. Persian style shoes were enthusiastically adopted by aristocrats, who sought to give their appearance a virile, masculine edge that, it suddenly seemed, only heeled shoes could supply.

pic61-shahabbasShah Abbas I (r. 1587-1629) as depicted in a European copper engraving made by Dominicus Custos citing him as“Schach Abas Persarum Rex” or “Shah Abbas the Great monarch of Persia”. Note how Custos makes a particular emphasis on linking Shah Abbas to the “Mnemona Cyrus” (the Memory of Cyrus the Great of Persia). Shah Abbas’ victories over the Ottomans weakened them against the Europeans to the West, and especially in the Balkans and Eastern Europe…For more click here

As the wearing of heels filtered into the lower ranks of society, the aristocracy responded by dramatically increasing the height of their shoes – and the high heel was born.

In the muddy, rutted streets of 17th Century Europe, these new shoes had no utility value whatsoever – but that was the point.

One of the best ways that status can be conveyed is through impracticality,” says Semmelhack, adding that the upper classes have always used impractical, uncomfortable and luxurious clothing to announce their privileged status.

They aren’t in the fields working and they don’t have to walk far.”

When it comes to history’s most notable shoe collectors, the Imelda Marcos of his day was arguably Louis XIV of France. For a great king, he was rather diminutively proportioned at only 5ft 4in (1.63m).

2-Louis XIV GettyLouis XIV wearing his trademark heels in a 1701 portrait by Hyacinthe Rigaud (Bata Shoe Museum as shown in the BBC News Magazine).

He supplemented his stature by a further 4in (10cm) with heels, often elaborately decorated with depictions of battle scenes.

The heels and soles were always red – the dye was expensive and carried a martial overtone. The fashion soon spread overseas – Charles II of England’s coronation portrait of 1661 features him wearing a pair of enormous red, French style heels – although he was over 6ft (1.85m) to begin with.

Coronation of Charles IICoronation portrait of England’s Charles II (r. 29 May 1660 –6 February 1685) by John Michael Wright made in c. 1661 (Source: Public Domain).

In the 1670s, Louis XIV issued an edict that only members of his court were allowed to wear red heels. In theory, all anyone in French society had to do to check whether someone was in favor with the king was to glance downwards. In practice, unauthorized, imitation heels were available.

Although Europeans were first attracted to heels because the Persian connection gave them a macho air, a craze in women’s fashion for adopting elements of men’s dress meant their use soon spread to women and children. As noted by Semmelhack:

In the 1630s you had women cutting their hair, adding epaulettes to their outfits…They would smoke pipes, they would wear hats that were very masculine. And this is why women adopted the heel – it was in an effort to masculinise their outfits.”

From that time, Europe’s upper classes followed a unisex shoe fashion until the end of the 17th Century, when things began to change again.

Helen Persson, a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London state:

You start seeing a change in the heel at this pointMen started to have a squarer, more robust, lower, stacky heel, while women’s heels became more slender, more curvaceous.”

The toes of women’s shoes were often tapered so that when the tips appeared from her skirts, the wearer’s feet appeared to be small and dainty.

Fast forward a few more years and the intellectual movement that came to be known as the Enlightenment brought with it a new respect for the rational and useful and an emphasis on education rather than privilege. Men’s fashion shifted towards more practical clothing. In England, aristocrats began to wear simplified clothes that were linked to their work managing country estates.

It was the beginning of what has been called the Great Male Renunciation, which would see men abandon the wearing of jewellery, bright colours and ostentatious fabrics in favour of a dark, more sober, and homogeneous look. Men’s clothing no longer operated so clearly as a signifier of social class, but while these boundaries were being blurred, the differences between the sexes became more pronounced. Semmelhack avers:

There begins a discussion about how men, regardless of station, of birth, if educated could become citizensWomen, in contrast, were seen as emotional, sentimental and uneducatable. Female desirability begins to be constructed in terms of irrational fashion and the high heel – once separated from its original function of horseback riding – becomes a primary example of impractical dress.

High heels were seen as foolish and effeminate. By 1740 men had stopped wearing them altogether.

But it was only 50 years before they disappeared from women’s feet too, falling out of favour after the French Revolution.

By the time the heel came back into fashion, in the mid-19th Century, photography was transforming the way that fashions – and the female self-image – were constructed.

Pornographers were amongst the first to embrace the new technology, taking pictures of naked women for dirty postcards, positioning models in poses that resembled classical nudes, but wearing modern-day high heels.

Semmelhack, author of Heights of Fashion: A History of the Elevated Shoe, believes that this association with pornography led to high heels being seen as an erotic adornment for women.

The 1960s saw a return of low heeled cowboy boots for men and some dandies strutted their stuff in platform shoes in the 1970s.

But the era of men walking around on their toes seems to be behind us. Could we ever return to an era of guys squeezing their big hairy feet into four-inch, shiny, brightly coloured high heels?

Absolutely,” says Semmelhack. There is no reason, she believes, why the high heel cannot continue to be ascribed new meanings – although we may have to wait for true gender equality first:

If it becomes a signifier of actual power, then men will be as willing to wear it as women.”

The Buddha’s Links to Achaemenid Persia

The article below by  Harvey Kraft “Ancient Persian Inscriptions Link a Babylonian King to the Man Who Became Buddha” first appeared in Ancient Origins on May 4, 2015.

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Dramatic evidence has revealed the presence of Siddhartha Gautama, the man who became Buddha, as far west as Persia. Family seals and records found at Persepolis, the ancient capital of the fourth Persian Emperor, Darius the Great, have been identified and associated with the names of Siddhartha Gautama and his father, Suddhodana Gautama.

1-Buddha offers fruit to the devil

‘Buddha offers fruit to the devil’ from 14th century Persian manuscript ‘The Jāmiʿ al-Tawārīkh’ (Compendium of Chronicles) (Source: Ancient origins).

The Persepolis Seals identified royals and other important personages within the Persian ruling sphere. Guatama was the name of the royal family of the Saka kingdom.

Analysis of Seals PFS 79, PFS 796 and PF 250 found among the collection of important seals in Persepolis, the Persian capital of Emperor Darius I, are purported to be the Gautama family according to an interpretation by Dr. Ranajit Pal (The Dawn of Religions in Afghanistan-Seistan-Gandhara and the Personal Seals of Gotama Buddha and Zoroaster, published in Mithras Reader: An Academic and Religious Journal of Greek, Roman and Persian Studies. Vol. III, London, 2010, pg. 62).

The family crest bore the etching of a crown-headed king flanked by two totems, each a standing bird-headed winged lion. The Seal of Sedda depiction of a Sramana (Persepolis Seal PFS 79), a Lion-Sun shaman, is based on information gathered from a number of other seals the name refers to Sedda Arta (Siddhartha), i.e., Siddha (Liberator of) and Arta (Universal Truth).

2-Persepolis-Seal-PFS-79Persepolis Seal PFS 79 and outline. Seal of Seddha, standing ruler flanked by bird-headed Arya-Sramana priests of Indus-Vedic tradition, linked to Saka tribe (Scythians) royal family of King Suddhodana Gautama, and his son-prince Siddhartha. Seal art courtesy of Oriental Institute, Chicago (Source: Ancient Origins).

The twin guardians each had the body of lion and the head and wings of a mythic sunbird (i.e., Egyptian Sun-bearing falcon). The lion and falcon-gryphon motifs represented a pair of Sramana shamans. Therefore, the family seal associated with Gautama, described a royal person of the Arya-Vedic tradition.

A similar image of Buddhist iconography shows a Buddha seated on a “lion-throne” under a bejeweled tree with cosmic aides at his side. The Buddhist montage declares his enlightenment under the cosmic Sacred Tree of Illumination.

3-Buddhist Emblem

Possibly a modification of his family seal designed to reflect his new teachings, once Siddhartha Gautama achieves enlightenment this Buddhist emblem comes to represent him seated on the lion-throne under the sacred cosmic tree flanked by two celestial Bodhisattva (Source: Ancient Origins).

What would the family crest of the Gautama family be doing in Persia? Was Siddhartha Gautama connected to the Persian Empire?

The inscriptions of Darius the Great (Per. Darayavaush), the Persian emperor for thirty-five years, boast that the Zoroastrian God Assura Mazda (Per. Ahura Mazda) chose him to take the throne (in 522 BCE) from a usurper named “Gaumâta.” Darius shrouds the short-lived reign of his predecessor in a power struggle involving deceit, conspiracy, murder, and the prize of the Persian throne. He characterizes “Gaumâta” as an opportunist who illegally grabbed the throne in Babylon while the sitting Persian Emperor Kambujiya was away in Egypt.

4- Darius-ParsaRelief carving of Darius the Great at Persepolis (Source: Public Domain).

Written in Cuneiform Script on tablets at Mount Bisutun (aka Behistun) in three different languages: Old Persian, Elamite and Babylonian (a form of Akkadian), the Bisutun Inscriptions may have echoed the name of Siddhartha Gautama, the man who became the Buddha, in the name of a little known King of Babylon.

The inscriptions refer to a religious figure named “Gaumâta,” from whom the Achaemenid Persian Emperor, Darius the Great, seized the throne in Babylon. Darius painted “Gaumâta” an imposter and illegal ruler, although the description does not seem to fit the highly educated and beloved leader. Darius identified him as a Magi (practitioner of esoteric knowledge), and sardonically labeled him as a “stargazer.” If the name “Gaumâta” referred to Siddhartha Gautama, this reference would mean that he held a key leadership position in the Magi Order. Moreover, as the headquarters of the Magi was in the temple complex of Esagila, home of the ziggurat tower dubbed “House of the Raised Head,” the designation of “stargazer” suggests that Gautama was involved with Babylon’s star observatory.

Could it be that Siddhartha Gautama was the mysterious King “Gaumâta”?

5- Darius victorous over rebels

During lifetime of Buddha (b. 563 – d. 483 BCE) when the Persian Empire stretched from Egypt to the Indus, Darius the Great comes to power by overthrowing the stargazer-Magus “Gaumata” in Babylon about whom his Bisutun Inscriptions claim: “he seized the kingdom on July 1, 522 BCE. Then I prayed to Ahuramazda and slew him.” Image of Darius reasserting Persian domination stomps on “rebels” with inscriptions etched below (Source: Ancient Origins).

The name “Gaumâta” appears to be a variant of Gautama, the Buddha’s family name. In the ancient multilingual land of Babylonia, multiple names and titles with spelling variations referring to the same person were common.Does evidence of the Babylonian Magi Order’s influences appear in Buddhist literature? Could we discover Mesopotamian references in the Buddhist scriptures?

The earliest mathematical systems, astronomical measurements, and mythological literature were initiated in the ziggurat tower-temples of the Fertile Crescent by the cultures of Sumer/Akkad and Amorite Babylonia. Both Magi and Vedic seers furthered knowledge of a cosmic infrastructure, well known in the Buddha’s time from the Tigris to the Ganges. Discovering this connection in the Buddhist sutras would challenge the prevailing view that Buddhism was born and developed in isolation exclusively in India. Although the oral legacy of the sutras were assembled and recorded later in India, a Babylonian finding would have major implications regarding the origin, influences, and intentions of the Buddha.

6- Persian Magi at Ravenna
Byzantine depiction of the Three Magi in a 7th-century mosaic at Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo (Source: Public Domain).
Described as a compassionate philosopher-cosmologist “Gaumâta” decreed freedom for slaves, lowered oppressive taxes across the board, and inspired neighbors to respect one another in a city known for its diverse ethnic groups and many languages. His espousal of liberty, human rights, and generosity supports the thesis that “Gaumâta” and Gautama were one and the same person.
7-Siddharta Gautama
Prince Siddharta Gautama shaves the hair off his head as the sign to decline his status as ksatriya (warrior class) and becomes an ascetic hermit, his servants hold his sword, crown, and princely jewelry while his horse Kanthaka stands on right. Bas-relief panel at Borobudur, Java, Indonesia (Source: Public Domain).
Darius, a military strongman, and a member of the Achaemenid family, prepared for his coup with a propaganda campaign designed to legitimize his overthrow of “Gaumâta.” In his public inscription he referred to his cohorts as witnesses who would confirm the killing of the usurper.While his story appears to be full of cunning deceptions, the real behind the scenes story of this episode has remained elusive to history. Certainly as Darius had good reason to write history in his own self-interest, what happened has gone undetected for thousands of years because historians know little to nothing about “Gaumâta.”Of course, if “Gaumâta” was really Siddhartha Gautama, this assassination had to be a lie, because he did go on to become the Buddha. Either someone else was murdered in the name of “Gaumâta,” or Darius shrewdly produced a disinformation campaign designed to cover up what really happened. With the “death of the imposter” the new emperor wanted to send a message to supporters of “Gaumâta” that he would not tolerate rebellions and suppressed any hope for the return of this popular leader. But in the wake of the coup nineteen rebellions arose throughout the empire. It would take Darius more than a year of brutal military action to crush the liberation-minded communities inspired by “Gaumâta.”