New Course: The Silk Route-Origins and History

A new course by Kaveh Farrokh entitled “The Silk Route-Origins and History” is being offered at the University of British Columbia (final lecture on December 16, 2014):


The lectures will be delivered at the Tapestry Center in the University of British Columbia’s Wesbrook Village. For information on registration, etc., kindly contact the University of British Columbia-Continuing Studies Division.


Tajik girls celebrate the Iranian Nowruz (New Year) on March 21, 2014 in Dushanbe, Tajikestan.

Below is a synopsis of the course as delivered in the Class syllabus:

The origins and history of the east-west Silk Route that connected the empires of Asia, Central Asia, Persia and the Romano-Byzantine West, as well as the lesser-known north-south route that connected Persia, the Caucasus and East- Central Europe. Emphasis will be placed on the development and transfer of the arts, music, culture, mythology, cuisine, and militaria. The peoples of the Silk Route from China across Eurasia, Central Asia, Persia to Europe are also examined


The curriculum and impetus of this course is the direct outcome of meetings with the Cultural Diplomacy’s Department of Traditions & Cultural History of the WAALM Academy based in London, England. WAALM is affiliated with the Academic Council On The United Nations System (ACUNS) and The International Peace Bureau. WAALM was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. Kaveh Farrokh has been featured in WAALM’s Tribune Magazine (click here…).

silk painting

Chinese painting of Leizu (Xi Ling Shi) the ancient Chinese empress credited with inventing silk in c. 2700 BCE; she was the teenage wife of the Yellow Emperor Huangdi.


The “Shir Dar” (Lion Gate/doorway) of the Islamic college at Samarkand built originally in 1627 (Nafīsī, 1949, p. 62). The sun motif is characterized by Kriwaczek (2002, picture Plate 1) as ”…the image of Mithra, the rising and unconquered sun, Zoroastrian intercessor between God and Humanity” (Courtesy of Kriwaczek, 2002).

Chinese women silk-12th century CE

Chinese women produce silk in the 12th century CE.

Kyrgiz MusiciansKyrgyz musicians performing with traditional instruments. Hsiang-Nou races replaced Iranian speaking peoples of Central Asia; Despite this: These greatly assimilated the cultural and mythological traditions of their Iranic predecessors.


One of ancient founding peoples of the Silk Route? Mummies bearing Caucasoid features uncovered in modern northwest China; these were either Iranic-speaking or fellow Indo-European Tocharian (proto-Celtic?). Archaeologists have found burials with similar Caucasoid peoples in ancient Eastern Europe. Much of the colors and clothing of the above mummies bear striking resemblance to the ancient dress of pre-Islamic Persia/Iran and modern-day Iranian speaking tribal and nomadic peoples seen among Kurds, Lurs, Persians, etc.  (Source: Kaveh Farrokh’s lectures at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division – this was also presented at Stanford University’s WAIS 2006 Critical World Problems Conference Presentations on July 30-31, 2006, the annual Tirgan event at Toronto (June, 2013) and at Yerevan State University’s Iranian Studies Department (November, 2013) – Diagram is Copyright of University of British Columbia and Kaveh Farrokh). For more on this topic, see also here…

The Iranian Navy: 1921-1941

The content of the article below on the history of the Iranian navy from 1921 to 1961 is derived from Iran at War: 1500-1988-(ایران در جنگ (۱۹۸۸-۱۵۰۰– The photographs are mainly derived from the Photo archives of Mehdi Farrokh, and Babaie. will continue to produce more articles on the history and evolution of the Iranian navy.

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In 1921 the Persepolis and Shoush from the Nasser e Din Shah era were finally decommissioned. Only the four vessels acquired by Ahmad Shah (last Qajar monarch) remained to be officially formed as the nucleus of the new Iranian navy by 1923. The only “naval” operation in the Persian Gulf was that of a small naval ship, the Khuzestan which was originally a British craft in World War One. The British then handed the vessel to Iran after they removing its heavy cannon (unknown calibre).


[Click to Enlarge] A small patrol vessel manned by a small crew of 10 men. This had been built in 1933 in Palermo, Italy. This vessel was propelled by a 150 hp engine which ran on petroleum. Its dimensions (length and width) were 3/2×13/30 meters (Photo Archives of Mehdi Farrokh).

The Khuzestan carried 60 soldiers along the Karun River between Khorramshahar and Ahvaz to support the operations of the army in 1924 against Sheikh Khazal.


[Left] Sheikh Khazal of Khuzestan, circa 1920. Khazal had strong ties to the British but this failed to rescue him from the arrival of Reza Shah’s forces into Khuzestan (Picture Source: Photo Archives of Mehdi Farrokh) (Right) Sheikh Khazal’s palace in Khuzestan along the Shatt al Arab waterway. Khazal amassed considerable wealth by collecting taxes from the local Arab and non-Arab urban and tribal populations of Khuzestan. As noted by Price, Khazal’s rise in Khuzestan had been facilitated by “an … isolated population, a weak central government, and British support” (Price, M., Iran’s Diverse Peoples: A Reference Sourcebook. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2005, pp.160) (Picture Source:

After the fall of Sheikh Khazal, three of the latter’s ships were appropriated by the armed forces. One of these was re-Christened as the Homa (able to carry 1000 troops) and was capable of operating as far as the Indian Ocean; the other two were contracted to American naval engineers for repairs. 

The original Palang (Leopard) manned by a crew of 70 men. This vessel had no significant armaments at first, thereby being used exclusively for the transportation of supplies. The vessel was later installed with armaments prior to World War Two (Photo Archives of Mehdi Farrokh).

In April 1925, Iran took delivery of its first German built minesweeper (weight at 141 tons). The Iranian navy however remained inadequate at disrupting piracy and smuggling along Iran’s coastline prompting the Tehran Majlis to legislate the buildup of the Iranian navy on March 20, 1928. This entailed working alongside Italian naval advisors to appropriate ships suitable for Iran’s naval needs. Italian naval advisors were in Iran from 1928-1933. The Italian naval advisors stayed in Iran until 1935. The first cadre of European trained naval officers arrived from Italy in 1933 and gradually the navy acquired Italian-built ships (two ships of 950 tons each, four ships at 330 tons, three smaller craft at 75 tons). These were named as the Gilan, Mazandaran and Azarbaijan (each armed with a 75mm cannon.


Iranian naval ships at the eve of the Anglo-Soviet invasion. The Babr (above at left) was shelled by the HMAS Yarra on August 25. Hassan Milanian, the captain of the Palang, had extended an invitation to his British Commonwealth counterpart to visit his vessel a day before hostilities began on August 24 Picture Source TOP: Babaie, 2005a, pp.435.. Babaie, A. (2005). Tarikh e Artesh e Iran [The History of the Iranian Army]. Tehran: Iman Publications).

The Caspian Sea witnessed a diminutive “navy” of s single ship, the Sefid-Rood, landing a contingent of 61 Rashti infantry on the Gorgan coast to raid rebel Turkmens in March 1925. When the ship returned to Bandar Anzali it was renamed as the “Nahang”.


Science Daily Report: Lost Civilization under the Persian Gulf?

The article below was originally posted on the The Science Daily on December 8, 2010. The version printed on is essentially the same with minor edits.

Before proceeding to reading the Science Daily article, readers are invited to watch the video (narrated in Persian) which notes of the citation of “Golfo Persico” (Persian Gulf) on the walls of Rome’s Colosseum:

خليج فارس دو هزار سال پيش در ديوار روم هم ثبت شده

The ancient Colosseum of Rome has maps of the ancient world in which the name of Golfo Persico (Persian Gulf) in mentioned. Rome’s citizens would have recognized the body of water as the Golfo Persico.


Jeffrey Rose, an archaeologist and researcher with the University of Birmingham in the U.K., says that the area in and around this “Persian Gulf Oasis” may have been host to humans for over 100,000 years before it was swallowed up by the Indian Ocean around 8,000 years ago. Rose’s hypothesis introduces a “new and substantial cast of characters” to the human history of the Near East, and suggests that humans may have established permanent settlements in the region thousands of years before current migration models suppose.


Antique map of the Persian Gulf posted by the Science Daily (Credit: iStockphoto/Chad McDermott)

In recent years, archaeologists have turned up evidence of a wave of human settlements along the shores of the Gulf dating to about 7,500 years ago. Rose said:

Where before there had been but a handful of scattered hunting camps, suddenly, over 60 new archaeological sites appear virtually overnight…“These settlements boast well-built, permanent stone houses, long-distance trade networks, elaborately decorated pottery, domesticated animals, and even evidence for one of the oldest boats in the world.”

But how could such highly developed settlements pop up so quickly, with no precursor populations to be found in the archaeological record? Rose believes that evidence of those preceding populations is missing because it’s under the Persian Gulf. Rose further averred:

Perhaps it is no coincidence that the founding of such remarkably well developed communities along the shoreline corresponds with the flooding of the Persian Gulf basin around 8,000 years ago…These new colonists may have come from the heart of the Gulf, displaced by rising water levels that plunged the once fertile landscape beneath the waters of the Indian Ocean.”

Historical sea level data show that, prior to the flood, the Persian Gulf basin would have been above water beginning about 75,000 years ago. And it would have been an ideal refuge from the harsh deserts surrounding it, with fresh water supplied by the Tigris, Euphrates, Karun, and Wadi Baton Rivers, as well as by underground springs. When conditions were at their driest in the surrounding hinterlands, the Gulf Oasis would have been at its largest in terms of exposed land area. At its peak, the exposed basin would have been about the size of Great Britain, Rose says.

Evidence is also emerging that modern humans could have been in the region even before the oasis was above water. Recently discovered archaeological sites in Yemen and Oman have yielded a stone tool style that is distinct from the East African tradition. That raises the possibility that humans were established on the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula beginning as far back as 100,000 years ago or more, Rose says. That is far earlier than the estimates generated by several recent migration models, which place the first successful migration into Arabia between 50,000 and 70,000 years ago. Rose notes that:

The Persian Gulf Oasis would have been available to these early migrants, and would have provided “a sanctuary throughout the Ice Ages when much of the region was rendered uninhabitable due to hyperaridity…The presence of human groups in the oasis fundamentally alters our understanding of human emergence and cultural evolution in the ancient Near East.”

It also hints that vital pieces of the human evolutionary puzzle may be hidden in the depths of the Persian Gulf.

Protest to US Navy for Incorrect use of Terminology for the Persian Gulf


The letter below has been sent to the Honorable Robert M. Gates (Secretary of Defense, 1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, D.C. 20301-1000). was first informed of this matter by the Pasargard Heritage Foudnation.


Dear Secretary Gates,

This letter has been drafted to protest against the US Navy’s decision to rename the Persian Gulf by another historically and legally non-recognized name in its Official style guide .


The “A” section of the US Navy Style Guide.

The “P” section of the US Navy Style Guide instructs that:

Persian Gulf – use Ar…n Gulf. “Gulf” is acceptable in second reference. Note: The Arabian Sea is its own body of water and should not be confused with references to the Ar….n Gulf.

Your decision is in direct violation of the directives and decisions of the United Nations. Kindly note the Editorial Directive (ST/CS/SER.A/29/Add.2) issued by the Office of the Secretariat of the United Nations on August 18, 1994 regarding UN Editorial Directive ST/CS-SER.A/29 – the scan of the original socument has been inserted in this document further below for your reference. 

The Editorial Directive (ST/CS/SER.A/29/Add.2 makes claar that:

Attention is one again drawn to Editoral Directive ST/CS-SER.A/29 and Corr.1 and Add.1 on the use of the term “Persian Gulf”. The purpose of the present addendum is to urge that care be taken to ensure the appropriate use of this term in documents, publications and statements prepared by the Secretariat. The full term “Persian Gulf” should be used in every case instead of the shorter term “Gulf” , including in repetitions of the term after its initial use in a text.

May I humbly ask why the US Navy directive has chosen to violate the UN Secretariat? Put simply, your directive or “Action Note”  is illegal in the strict international sense.

If the staff of the US Navy are hoping to pander to the pan-Arabist nationalist sentiments of the local Arab sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf states for political expediancy, then the following facts must be highlighted.

 The term “Ar..Gulf” has no historical basis. There are simply no Greco-Roman references to the Persian Gulf by any other name. But even more importantly, Islamic and Arab historical sources also refer to the Persian Gulf by its proper name.

Below is a map of the Persian Gulf which was published bt the government of Saudi Arabia in 1955.


Saudi Arabian map of 1955 which displays the correct name of the Persian Gulf. Attempts to revise the name of the Persian Gulf are based on political motives.

The only reference to “Ar.. Gulf” is found with respect to the Red Sea of antiquity (e.g  see Herodotus’ “Histories”). Despite politicized attempts at re-writing history, the United Nations has twice recognized the legality of the term “Persian Gulf” (UNAD 311/March 5, 1971 and UNLA 45.8.2 (c) on August 10, 1984). It is significant that all Arab countries (including Iraq, Egypt and Abu Dhabi) have signed both of these documents.

The reasoning of the United Nations is simple: current political issues cannot be mobilized to re-write history. Such methods are reminscent of the historical revisionism of the Communists of the former Soviet Union who often revised history books and terminology to service short-term economic and political goals.

It is here where I would like to share with you my correspondence with the Honorable Russ Germain of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in 2002. I had humbly noted to him of the correct historical designation and legality of the term Persian Gulf. I have attached the image of that e-mail for your reference below:

Note the following excerpt from the above message from Russ Germain of the CBC:

“Often our wire services including Reuters, Associated Press and Canadian Press will use the term Ar…n Gulf…this does not necessarily make the name correct…but serves in large part to show the broad acceptance of a successful public relations campaign undertaken in the name of geopolitical interests.”

Another item of interest is the Medal issued by the US Navy for its servicemen and servicewomen in 1992 – this clearly identifies the name Persian Gulf:

Medal issued by the US navy in 1992 – note the term “Persian Gulf” is clearly displayed. This was first reported by the Talkhnegar Blogspot.

The decision of your US Navy Office to resort to historical revisionism suggests the implication of political and economic motives. I am however fully confident that your distinguished service will steer tiself away from what Russ Germain describes as “”geopolitical interests“. On these important notes, I humbly invite you to adhere to the guidelines established by the United Nations and the international community.

Your attention to this matter is indeed appreciated.

Yours Truly & Sincerely,

 Kaveh Farrokh (PhD)