New Course: Art and Architecure of Ancient Persia

 

Kaveh Farrokh will be offering a summer course (commencing June 15, 2009) at the University of British Columbia entitled:

One of the topics discussed in the course will be the Arch of Ctesiphon (located about 40 kilometers from modern Baghdad) and its influence on European architecutre.   

 

 

 The Church of Saint-Pierre built in the 5th Century AD located in modern Isere, Austria. The archways of this structure are parallele to the ancient Sassanian capital at Ctesiphon.

For further information on registration and offerings, kindly contact Ms. Joanne Savory at the University of British Columbia at: joanne.savory@ubc.ca.

The Forgotten and Ancient City of Dastova

 

One of the most interesting ancient sites at Khuzestan is the virtually forgotten city of Dastova. This ancient city is situated approximately 2 kilometers to the south of Shushtar in the province of Khuzestan along the Dariyoon stream.

The site has witnessed human construction activities since at least the Elamite period (3400-550 BC). One recent study undertaken in late 2004-mid 2005 was led by Dr. Mehdi Rahbar which investigated burial practices at the site dated to the Parthian era (250 BC-224 AD). A number of these findings were reported by the Payvand News of Iran (citing from original reports by the Cultural heritage News of Iran or CHN) in April 25, 2005. The Payvand News/CHN reports the following:

Social class segregated even the dead of the ancient city of Dastova, near Shushtar: the rich were buried along their precious objects in beautiful caskets and the poor in dingy conditions somewhere far away from the rich.” 

 


A skeleton at Dastova. The inhabitants of Dastova retained their social status even in the grave. The more affluent dead are seen with superior burial regalia and caskets in contrast to the more “humble” members of Dastovian society. The 2005 archaeological expeditions reveal that the rich and the poor were buried in different graveyards.

 

Dr. Mehdi Rahbar who led the 2005 expedition, noted that:

“…social class played an important role in the city formation, as much as separating the rich and poor even when dead and buried…

Some sources suggest that construction at Dastova city during the Parthian era was mainly undertaken by a certain “Shilhak Inshushinak“.

 


A Parthian pillar in human form at the Shush Museum in Khuzestan, Iran.

More recent archaeological excavations at Dastova can be dated to late 2006 which led to the discovery of a raised platform of brocks and a large structure attributed to the Elamite era. Research continues at this site by a team of students who continue excavation work. Unfortunately, parts of that site have been destroyed by local farmers working on irrigation projects.

There is a general consensus among archaeologists that the Dastova structures may have been intended to accommodate religious ceremonies or possibly sacrificial rites. As noted by Professor Ali Heidari, an archaeologist at Azad University in the city of Shushtar:

Regarding the size of the platform, it could not have been the base of a pillar or the pier of a wall. Most possibly, the place was used during religious rituals. 30 by 30 by 70 centimeter bricks and stucco were used in its construction…Since ordinary people used raw adobe to build their houses, the high quality bricks and materials which were used in the construction of this complex indicate that it must have belonged to people with high social classes. Nevertheless, more studies are still needed for clarifying the case.”

In practice, the real purpose of the structure remains conjectural. Professor Heidari notes:

Our information about this historical site is not comprehensive, thus making us unable to carry out excavations in a specific area. We can only work on those hills which have not been leveled to the ground yet“.

The Elamites were to be eventually absorbed by the Indo-European Iranic arrivals, notably the ancient Persians who settled in the region. The Elamite language was respected by the Persians as indicated by archaeological discoveries revealing the existence of the Elamite language during the Achaemenid era. 

 


An ancient casket at Shush Museum in Iran’s Khuzestan province.

 

Interestingly, Dastova continued to flourish long after the fall of Achaemenid Persia to the Greek invasions of Alexander, and their Seleucid successors. As noted by Professor Heidari:

The inhabitants of Dastova city enjoyed a strong economy. They were mostly engaged in trade relations in 45 AD, and thus imposed a great influence on the economy and business of the region…”

By the early first century AD, the Iranian Parthian dynasty was ruling Iran having displaced the Seleucids from Iran and defeated the Roman invasions of Marcus Lucinius Crassus in 54 BC and Marc Antony in 37 BC.

By the early Islamic era, Dastova was gradually abandoned. The author of the text “Al Ansab” has cited Dastova as having been “A city in Khuzestan“. The same source mentions Dastova as the location from which its famed textiles came from.

9,000 yr old mysterious burial ritual discovered in Iran

 

As reported by the Discoveryon academic website on May 18, 2009, archeologists at Iran’s Sialk Mound recently discovered a mysterious burial ritual dated to approximately 9,000 years ago. Sialk is located in the center of Iran.

The ancient Sialk Ziggurat located near the city of Kashan, is generally acknowledged to be tone of the focal origins of technology, industry and even religious thought in Iran. Recentl discoveries have shed new light on the genesis of religious rituals in ancient Iran.

Iran’s Press TV reported on May 11, 2009 that an Iranian-Polish archeological team have come upon a fascinating discovery at Sialk: a mysterious burial ritual.

Hassan Fazeli (the director of Iran’s Archeology Research Center) has stated:

In this 9,000-year-old practice, four bodies were burned at a heat of 400 to 700 degrees. The ash and remains of the bodies were then buried in a jar…Traces of red petals were found in the jar. Archeologists believe red flowers signified life and eternity in ancient PersiaA burial ritual encompassing burning has never been observed in Iran…It makes the rare discovery of great importance

An ancient skeleton discovered at the Sialk site.

The recent exciting discoveries have resulted in the convergence of a larger archaeological team at the site. These include archaeologists not just from Iran but France, Italy, England and Germany. This new team has been examining the northern mound at the site for a week.

Pottery from Sialk. This particular item has been dated to 1000-800 BC and is now housed at the British Museum.  

Congresswoman Harmon retracts Iran “Separation” Statements

 

According to a report by NIAC (forwarded by Javad Yassari to Iranian.com), Congresswoman Jane Harman has fully retracted her statement on dividing Iran along ethnic-linguistic lines. Specifically, Harman has retracted the portion of her statement regarding the “separation” of Iran’s ethnic groups and regrets the concern it has caused. Harman had recently called on the division of Iran along ethnic lines.

Harmon stated to NIAC:

I was not and am not calling for the creation of ethnic tensions or separation in Iran – nothing would be less productive…Although my comments on Iran were taken out of context, I regret any concern they might have caused…My point was that the diversity of views in Iran should be better understood in order for the United States to formulate the best strategy for persuading the Iranian government not to pursue nuclear weapons development,” 

harman.jpg

Congresswoman Jane Harmon has retracted her earlier comments regarding the division of Iran along ethno-linguistic lines

Harman’s statements supporting Balkanization arose during the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual conference. Harmon’s answer regarding preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon was as follows:

“The Persian population in Iran is not a majority, it is a plurality. There are many different, diverse, and disagreeing populations inside Iran and an obvious strategy, which I believe is a very good strategy, is to separate those populations.”

Following Harman’s retraction, Reza Firouzbakht, the Chairman of NIAC stated:

This is an important statement from Rep. Harman…It makes clear that while there are many opinions about how to address the Iranian nuclear challenge, some options are simply not acceptable.”

Credit is given to all members of the Iranian-American community to confront the potential conmsequences of Congresswoman Harman’s statements. Indeed the Iranian diaspora community responded promptly. A petition was quickly circulated which by May 22, 2009 had collected 10,723 signatures.

Kaveh Farrokh Receives 2009 Scholarship and Merit Award

 

This News item was announced in the widely consulted Payvand Iran News Website on May 5, 2009:

Iran Heritage, Persian Gulf, and Iran Alliance 2009 Scholarship and  Merit Awards

The selection committee and board members are pleased to announce the 2009 recipients of Scholarship and Merit Awards. Some of the criteria used to evaluate individuals were: (a) difficulty of the tasks, (b) length of time devoted to the community, and (c) their innovative ideas to help the Iranian community.

For scholarship, the recipient is Mr. Saeed Tasbihsazan. In the Merit category, the Awards go to Dr. Pirouz Mojtahed-Zadeh and Dr. Kaveh Farrokh. For those who follow our country’s events, these individuals do not need any introduction. However, a brief bio of each will follow to give others a chance to get to know them.

The honorees will receive gifts to demonstrate our appreciation for their hard work and for their dedication to our community. With their efforts, we have been able to raise awareness in the international press about our rights and our heritage.

Please join us in congratulating these fine individuals and in wishing them well for many years to come.

Board members of Iran Heritage, Persian Gulf, and Iran Alliance
Mohammad Ala and Javad Fakharzadeh
http://www.iran-heritage.org, http://www.persiangulfonline.org, http://www.iranalliance.org


Dr. Pirouz Mojtahed-Zadeh

Dr. Pirouz Mojtahed-Zadeh has been a professor of Political Geography and Geopolitics in Iran and aboard. He was born in Nour (Mazandaran – Iran) by the Caspian Sea in 1946 and is married with two daughters. He is internationally known for his major contribution to the studies of the issues of the Middle East and its two adjacent regions of the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea, as well as regularly contributing to international media on various subjects related to the security arrangements of these regions. He completed his Ph.D. in Political Geography at Oxford (1979) and London (1993) universities. He has lectured extensively in Europe, North America, Middle East and Far East. Dr. Mojtahed-Zadeh’s publications in Persian includes 16 books, a large number of book chapters and encyclopedic pieces as well as more than 400 articles and research papers published in reputable Persian journals at home and abroad.

Dr. Kaveh Farrokh

Dr. Farrokh obtained his undergraduate arts degree in May 1985 and his Ph.D. on September 24, 2001 from the University of British Columbia, where he specialized in the study of cognitive and linguistic processes of Persian speakers. As a result of his life experience, education, and studies of linguistics, Dr. Farrokh now speaks English, German, French, and Persian. He also has a working understanding of at least three living languages, Provencal, Italian, Dutch, and Kurmanji Kurdish, as well as two ancient languages, Latin and Pahlavi. He has also lived in and traveled to several countries, including Germany, France, England, Belgium, Italy, Russia, and Iran. Dr. Farrokh has been recognized as an expert in the field of Iranian history and linguistics.

Mr. Saeed Tasbihsazan

Mr. Tasbihsazan was born in the city of Urmia to Mashhadi parents in Abaan 1356. He left Iran to work on his Engineering degree in Electronics Engineering at the University of South Australia.  He started his professional life in IT immediately after leaving the university at the age of 21 and has been in the field ever since. Mr. Tasbihsazan’s father has been a strong voice for Persian history and culture and was a major influence in shaping his childhood and existing world view and ideology. To date, he has sent several thousands of emails, notes, and web comments to various organizations throughout the world. Mr. Tasbihsazan has been successful in over 300 cases in eliminating incorrect names for the Persian Gulf from various websites, papers and news agencies.