Lecture: Influence of Sassanian Architecture upon European and Wider Civilization

Kaveh Farrokh will be providing a lecture at the University of British Columbia (UBC) entitled:

Influence of Sassanian Architecture upon European and Wider Civilization


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The lecture will be held at  the auditorium of the Asian Centre at UBC at 6:00 pm on Monday March 12, 2011.

[CLICK TO ENLARGE] PHOTO INSERT & COMMENTARY BY Kaveh Farrokh: Sassanian metalwork at right depicting  Khosrow I Anoushiravan and four Sassanian knights (possibly the Sassanian empire’s primary generals). Note the stance of one of the knights from the plate highlighted for reference. Note the figure highlighted  on the Surp Neshan Basilica – the parallels of this form (despite the wear of weather over the centuries) with the Sassanian are virtually exact. READ MORE…

The lecture will be followed up with a Question/Answer  session as well.

[Click to Enlarge] The Sarvistan palace built in the 300s AD [1], floor plan of Sarvistan by Nik Spatari [2] reconstruction of Sarvistan by Oscar Reuther, “Sasanian Architecture,” in Survey of Persian Art, Figure 152). [3] the Basilica di S. Marco in Veneziana built in the time period of 1100-1300 AD [4] and floor plan of the Basilica di S. Marco (Pictures used in Kaveh Farrokh’’s lectures at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division and Stanford University’s WAIS 2006 Critical World Problems Conference Presentations on July 30-31, 2006; Picture 3 originally posted in Iran Chamber Society). Consult also Spatari, 2003, pp, 270-271, 284-289 (Calabria, L’enigma Delle Arti Asittite: Nella Calabria Ultramediterranea, Author: Nik Spatari, Publisher: Italy: MUSABA, Date: 2003, ISBN: 8887935300). READ MORE…

 

 

 

The Expedition of Darius the Great

Below is an article by the late Professor Shapour Shahbazi on the expedition of Darius the Great into European Scythia (roughly modern-day Ukraine and parts of Western Bulgaria and Rumania). Professor Bury was the first to rationally question Herodotus’ version of historical events.

The Scythians, like their Sarmatian-Alan successors, were (like the Persians, Medes and parthians) of ancient Iranian stock.

Kindly note that the first scholar to question the veracity of Herodotus’ accounts of Darius’ invasion of the European Scythians was Professor J.B. Bury:

The article has been translated into Persian by Yusef Amiri: 

خلاص مقاله: داریوش اصلا به سکاها حمله ای نکرد و گسیلش نیروهایش احتمالا برای تصاحب معادن طلا زیبنبورگن بود که تنها در این امر موفق نبود چون سکاها ایونی ها را به شورش تحریک کردند. داستان هرودوت صرفا یک افسانه پردازی است. جالب است همانطور که مترجم مقاله یعنی یوسف امیری اشاره کرد عجیب این که با وجود این که 114 سال از نگارش این مقاله می گذرد هنوز از “شکست” داریوش از سکاها صحبت می شود.

See also article (in Persian) in the Asvaran Blog:

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NOTE: For References pertaining to the article below, kindly consult the original version of this article in the CAIS website entitled: Darius the Great”

A major event in Darius’ reign was his European expedition. The region from the Ukraine to the Aral Sea was the home of north Iranian tribes (Rostovtzeff; Vasmer) known collectively as Sakâ (Gk. Scythians). Some Sakâ had invaded Media (Herodotus, 1.103-06), others had slain Cyrus in war (1.201, 1.214), and some groups had revolted against Darius (DB 2.8).

 

[Click to Enlarge]A European depiction of Darius the Great meeting Scythian emissaries (Picture Source: Flickr and originally a painting by Franciszek Smuglewicz).

As long as the Saka remained hostile his empire was in constant danger, and trade between Central Asia and the shores of the Black Sea was in peril (Meyer, pp. 97-99). The geography of Scythia was only vaguely known (Figure above), and it seemed feasible to plan a punitive campaign through the Balkans and the Ukraine, returning from the east, perhaps along the west coast of the Caspian Sea (Meyer, pp. 101-04; Schnitzler, pp. 63-71).

 

[Click to Enlarge] Eastern Scythians or “Saka Tigrakhauda” (Pointed cap Saka) as depicted in Persepolis. The Scythians played an important role in the military machine of the Achaemenids. A branch of the Scythians or Saka, the Parthians, were to revive the Iranian kingdom after Alexander’s conquests and his Seleucid successors.

 Having first sent a naval reconnaissance mission to explore shores of the Black Sea (cf. Fol and Hammond, pp. 239-40), in about 513 Darius crossed the Bosporus into Europe (Shahbazi, 1982, pp. 232-35), marching over a pontoon bridge built by his Samian engineer, Mandrocles. He continued north along the Black Sea coast to the mouth of the Danube, above which his fleet, led by Ionians, had bridged the river; from there he crossed into Scythia (Herodotus, 4.87-88, 4.97).

[Click to Enlarge]A map depicting Darius the Great’s invasion of Eastern Europe and Ukraine. The veracity of these events as narrated by Herodotus have been questioned (Picture Source: The Skriker Site).  

The Scythians evaded the Persians, wasting the countryside as they retreated eastward. After following them for a month Darius reached a desert and began to build eight frontier fortresses; owing to Scythian harassment of his troops and the October weather, which threatened to hinder further campaigning, he left them unfinished and returned via the Danube bridge. He had, however, “advanced far enough into Scythian territory to terrify the Scythians and to force them to respect the Persian forces” (Herodotus, 4.102-55; cf. Meyer, pp. 105-07; Macan, pp. 2-45; Prašek, II, pp. 91-108; Rostovtzeff, pp. 84-85; Junge, 1944, pp. 104-05, 187-88; Schnitzler, pp. 63-71; Fol and Hammond, pp. 235-43; Ùernenko, with further references).

 

[Click to Enlarge]A reconstruction of the European Scythians (the Saka Paradraya) by the late Angus McBride. As noted by Cotterell “:..the close relations of the Scythians (Saka) with the Persians is perhaps most illustrative…in the … fact that the Scythians and Persians spoke closely related languages and understood each other without translators” (Cotterell, A. The Chariot: The Astounding Rise and Fall of the World’s First War Machine. London, England: Pimlico, 2004, p.61 ).

Shortly afterward Megabyzus reduced gold-rich Thrace and several Greek cities of the northern Aegean; Macedonia submitted voluntarily (Herodotus, 4.143, 5.1-30), and Aryandes (q.v.), satrap of Egypt, annexed Cyrene (Libya; 4.167, 4.197-205). Four new “satrapies” were thus added to Darius’ empire: Sakâ tyaiy paradraya “Overseas Scythians,” Skudra (Thrace and Macedonia), Yaunâ takabarâ or Yaunâ tyaiy paradraya (Thessalians and Greek islanders), and Putâyâ (Libya).

 

[Click to Enlarge]  A Map by Professor P.J. Mallory that shows the Dniester, Dnieper, Donets and Don Rivers above the Black Sea in Eastern Europe. Professor Mallory notes that all of these river names are of Iranian origin: the term “Danu” is old Iranian for “Water/River” (like Celtic Danuvius) – hence the names “Don” and “Donets”. Dnieper is from the Old Iranic “Danu-Apara” [rear river] and Dniester from Old Iranic “Danu Nazdaya” [river to the front]. For more information consult: Mallory, J.P. (1989). In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology and Myth. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd.

 

 

 

 

Professors Curatolia and Scaria: Dome Architecture and Europe

Readers are invited to consult the following book by:

Giovanni Curatola & Gianroberto Scarcia (Translated by M. Shore, 2007). The Art and Architecture of Persia. New York: Abbeville Press. Order from Amazon.

As noted by Professors Curatola and Scarcia a common theory postulates that:

“…domed spaces in Christian buildings in Europe derive from the Armenian model, which, in turn, comes from Sassanian Persia: This can be attributed to geographic proximity and also to the fact that for long periods Armenia was contained within Eranshahr. “ (Curatola & Scarcia, page 92, 2007).

Numerous examples of the earliest church architecture can be seen in Armenia and Iran today:

[Click to Enlarge]Armeno-Sassanian style Domed Christian churches of Armenia  (1) Karmravor built in the 7th century (Source: WowArmenia.Com) (2) interior dome at the Echmiadzin Cathedral (original vaulted basilica built in 301-303 AD) (Source: 123RF.com). Iran and Armenia have enjoyed a profound thousands-year long symbiosis at the cultural, linguistic, and artistic-architectural levels – for more see Iran and Caucasia…. (Pictures used in Kaveh Farrokh’’s lectures at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division and Stanford University’s WAIS 2006 Critical World Problems Conference Presentations on July 30-31, 2006).

Sassanian Iran was to leave a profound legacy on Romano-Byzantine architecture during its tenure in 224-651 AD.

[Click to Enlarge] The Sarvistan palace built in the 300s AD [1], floor plan of Sarvistan by Nik Spatari [2] reconstruction of Sarvistan by Oscar Reuther, “Sasanian Architecture,” in Survey of Persian Art, Figure 152). [3] the Basilica di S. Marco in Veneziana built in the time period of 1100-1300 AD [4] and floor plan of the Basilica di S. Marco (Pictures used in Kaveh Farrokh’’s lectures at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division and Stanford University’s WAIS 2006 Critical World Problems Conference Presentations on July 30-31, 2006; Picture 3 originally posted in Iran Chamber Society). Consult also Spatari, 2003, pp, 270-271, 284-289 (Calabria, L’enigma Delle Arti Asittite: Nella Calabria Ultramediterranea, Author: Nik Spatari, Publisher: Italy: MUSABA, Date: 2003, ISBN: 8887935300). 

Armenia, Georgia and the Caucasus in general have undergone a  profound cultural synthesis which has spanned for thousands for years. As noted by Professor Mark Whittow of Oxford University:

“The oldest outside influence in Trans-Caucasia is that of Persia (p.203)…many of its populations, including Armenians and Georgians, as well as Persians and Kurds, the Transcaucasus had much closer ties with the former Sassanian world to its south and east than with the world to the west (p.204)”. [Whittow, Mark, The Making of Byzantium: 600-1025, Berkley: University of California Press, p. 203-204].

[Click to Enlarge] Pictures of a Medieval Armenian Church at Goshavank
sent to Kavehfarrokh.com by Professor George Nercessian. This was built on the remains of cyclopean walls, where a Zoroastrian fire temple (Armenian Atrushan =Iranian Atar-Roshan) originally stood. There are many similar sites in Armenia where Churches were built on top of Zoroastrian fire temples (Pictures courtesy of Professor George Narcessian). For more on the topic of Armenian-Zoroastrian fire temples consult CAIS: The Armenian Fire Temple of Ani and Payvand News of Iran: The Northernmost Zoroastrian Fire Temple in the World (in the Republic of Georgia).

Goshavank was named after the 12th century philosopher and theologian Mkhitar Gosh who is buried not far from the Church. “Vank” is Armenian for “Cathedral”, therefore Goshvank can be translated as “Cathedral of Gosh”. 

For more on Iran-Caucasus links see: Iran and Caucasia…

The domed architectural style was to attain its own unique style in the Romano-Byzantine Empire, as exemplified by the Holy church of Orthodox Christendom, the Haghia Sophia:

Haghia Sophia (Greek: Sacred Wisdom) Church in modern Istanbul (ancient Constantinople), Turkey.(Source: Turkey Vacation Places)  

The site of Haghia Sophia was actually home to three different churches over the centuries. The first was the “Megale Eklesia” (Greek: Great Church) completed by the early 360s but this was completely burnt down and destroyed in the riots of 404. A second church was inaugurated by 415 however this too feel victim to fire in 532 and was destroyed. However, Emperor Justinian I (r. 527-565) ordered a new structure to be built on February 23, 532 – literally just days after the second church had been destroyed. The structure was finally inaugurated in late December 537 with further construction continuing after Justinian’s time.

Note that “Istanbul” is derived from the Greek terms “Es tan Polis” [to the city]. Turkey has done an exemplary job in preserving world heritage Classical sites such as Ephesos, Troy, Cappadocia and Haghia Sophia.

The dome of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy. This essentially bridged the architectural gap between between the Renaissance and Baroque styles (Source: Rough Guides). The original structure was built in 319-333 and then rebuilt-repaired in the mid-15th century.

For more in Iran-Europe links see: Arthurian and European Culture and Ancient Iran (Eire-An)…