Book Binding in Persia

The article below “Bookbinding” written by Duncan Haldane was originally published in the Encyclopedia Iranica on December 15, 1989 and last Updated on December 15, 1989. This article is also available in print (Vol. IV, Fasc. 4, pp. 363-365). Kindly note that the images and accompanying descriptions below do not appear in the original Encyclopedia Iranica posting.

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Bookbinding (tajlīd, ṣaḥḥāfī) in Iran at first followed the pattern of previous Near Eastern book covers, but subsequently Persian craftsmen developed new types reflecting the luxury and refinement of courtly life. The edges of traditional bookbindings from the Islamic world are even with the text block, and the spine is always flat, without raised bands. A flap (lesān) attached to the rear cover folds over the text block to protect its edge and is tucked under the front cover. In Iran the leather most commonly used was goatskin, which had traditionally been tanned by means of immersion in a solution of ground-up plant materials. One of several technical innovations credited to Persian craftsmen, however, is mineral tanning, which involved soaking the skins in a solution of potash alum at a temperature between 20Xᵛ and 30Xᵛ C. Leather pro­duced by this method is very soft and white. Designs were applied by means of blind tooling, in which simple tools were used to mark on slightly dampened leather.

Very few Persian bookbindings survive from the 8th/14th century or earlier. Among them is the binding of the Manāfeʿ al-ḥayawān (M. 500) in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, which was produced at Marāḡa at the end of the 7th/13th century (Ettinghausen); a fragmentary book cover said to have been found in the congregational mosque at Nāʾīn may also be of the 7th/13th century (Gratzl, 1938, p. 1976, pl. 951A). At this early stage in Persian bookbinding, the arts of the book were at their peak in Egypt and the Arabic-speaking world, and their influence was much in evidence in Persia. It was not long, however, before Persian binders began to develop their own individual styles. At the beginning of the 15th century, when artistic leadership of the Islamic world moved eastward to Persia, new methods were introduced. At Herat in about 1420 Prince Bāysonḡor Mīrzā, minister at the court of his father, Šāhroḵ Mīrzā (807-50/1405-47), and a great bibliophile, founded an academy and library that were to have a significant impact on subsequent Persian bookbinding. At the academy, which lasted for just over one hundred years, craftsmen were trained in all the arts of the book. During this period there was considerable interchange among the major Persian cultural centers. For instance, at Herat a calligrapher called Jaʿfar Tabrīzī prepared reports for Bāysonḡor, in one of which (now in the Topkapı Sarayı in Istanbul), there are four references to the art of bookbinding (Aslanapa, 1979, p. 59). Some extraordinary technical advances were made during the Timurid period. More sophisticated stamping and elaborate forms of tooling with gold began to supersede blind tooling.

The Khamsa or Quintet of Nizami (Ilyas Abu Muhammad Nizam al-Din of Ganja, lived c. 1141–1217) currently housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Source:Fateme Toorani in Pinterest). This was most likely bound in Shiraz, Iran sometime in 1509-1510.

There is a Persian binding dated 838/1434-35, now in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin (CBL 5282), which has been estimated to have required 550,000 blind stamps and 43,000 gold stamps and to have taken about two years to complete (estimates first published by Martin, p. 29, and subsequently repeated many times, e.g., Gratzl, 1938, p. 1978; see pls. 954, 955A). Undoubtedly the number of stamps has been greatly overestimated, but there is no denying the extraordinary degree of workmanship, and technical skill involved in the manufacture of this binding. Another major development was a cut­work technique (monabbatkārī, as it was called by Dūst-­Moḥammad, who wrote in 951/1544), in which intricate filigree patterns were cut out of leather. There is no technical evidence for how craftsmen were able to cut and paste such finely wrought patterns. The major characteristics of later Persian bookbinding became established during the Timurid period. The front and back covers were normally decorated with matching designs, but the interior faces were usually more elaborately decorated than the exterior faces. In the Timurid period the normal pattern for both faces was a central scalloped medallion in the center, echoed by four medallion segments in the corners. The medallions were frequently cut out of the leather and filled in either with paper or with leather filigree patterns. Although stamps of ovoid shape (toronja “citrus-shaped”) had been known before, they became especially popular among Timurid craftsmen, who developed them considerably. In addition to this basic style of binding, which endured throughout the Safavid period and even lingered on into the Qajar period, bookbinders at Herat introduced figural decoration as well. These designs usually consist of landscapes containing real and mythical animals, often of Far Eastern inspiration, reflecting the strong artistic connections that existed between China and theTimurid capital.

Book binding from 16th century CE Iran (Source: Jacques Safavi in Pinterest and Fateme Toorani in Pinterest).

With the establishment of the Safavid dynasty in the 10th/16th century, there was a cultural and political shift from Herat in the east of Tabrīz in the northwest and Shiraz in the south. One of the major changes in bookbinding technique involved the widespread application of a method of embossing that had been introduced at the end of the Timurid period. Whole designs were engraved on single metal plates, which were then pressed onto the leather; symmetrical designs, which were most often floral, were engraved on dies half the size of the binding surface. They were then impressed twice to form the complete design, often leaving a noticeable join across the middle of the cover. This kind of embossing was often combined with gilding; the dampened leather was covered with gold leaf before the hot metal plate was hammered or screwed down, thus simultaneously impressing and gilding the design. These embossed designs, which could be repeated on a large number of book covers, mark something of a decline in the craft of bookbinding. Hand craftsmanship became a rarity. In addition, instead of cutting filigree designs out of leather, craftsmen began to use paper, which was both cheaper and easier to handle, pasting it onto painted paper or sometimes silk or other material.

Persian book binding from Isfahan from the 17th century (Source: Jacques Safavi in Pinterest and Fateme Toorani in Pinterest).

In the 11th/17th century the art of binding in Persia declined still further, both technically and in design. Sometimes designs were painted directly onto the leather, rather than stamped, and fine filigree additions became rarer. Despite the general decline in Safavid book art, however, one major technique already known under the late Timurids (Aslanapa, pp. 63-64) was perfected by the craftsmen of the period. The earliest bindings of this sort were of leather, heavily chalked and primed for illumination; designs were then painted on and finished with several coats of protective varnish. As the paint flaked off the leather rather easily, papier-mâché boards became the material most commonly used. The surface was fixed with gypsum or chalk and polished, then given a layer of colorless varnish before the design was painted in water-based paints. When dry the painting was covered with several coats of transpar­ent varnish to fix and protect the design. Opinions have differed as to whether these final coats were in fact varnish or lacquer of the kind known to have been used by the Chinese. The technique attained great popularity in the 10th/16th and 11/17th centuries in centers like Tabrīz and Isfahan (the Safavid capital after 1006/1598) and continued to play a significant part in the cultural life of the Qajar period. It was emulated by Ottoman and Indian craftsmen as well. It is not known whether this so-called “lacquer work” had been introduced by Chinese craftsmen or by Persian visitors to China who had returned with knowledge of it; it is clear from such bindings, however, that illuminators and miniature painters played as important a part as the binders. By the 11th/17th century, binding designs had become rather stiff and wooden compositions. During the Qajar period, particularly the reign of Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah (1212-50/1797-1834), European influences and somewhat harsher colors came to predominate. Although some very fine bindings continued to be produced, they do not compare in quality with those of the 9th/15th and 10th/16th centuries.

Persian lacquered book binding from 1878 (Source: Jacques Safavi in Pinterest and Fateme Toorani in Pinterest).

As a general rule Persian bookbinders worked anony­mously. In the Timurid period, however, the names of several binders are documented in Dūst-Moḥammad’sḤālāt-e honarvarān, a Persian account of calligraphers and book craftsmen of the 9th/15th and 10th/16th centuries (“Dūst Muhammad’s Account,” p. 185). This work includes a reference to Ostād Qewām-al-Dīn Tabrīzī, to whom the invention of cut-pattern, or filigree, work is ascribed. In a discussion of Shah Ṭahmāsb’s royal library, Dūst-Moḥammad refers to two 10th/16th-century binders, Kamāl-al-Dīn ʿAbd-al-Wahhāb (Ḵᵛāja Kākā) and Moḥsen. References to other names can be found in the work by C. Huart.

Bibliography

O. Aslanapa, “The Art of Bookbinding,” in B. Gray, ed., The Arts of the Book in Central Asia, Paris and London, 1979, pp. 58-91.

G. Bosch and J. Carswell, Islamic Bindings and Book­making, Chicago, 1981.

“Dūst Muhammad’s Account of Past and Present Painters,” in L. Binyon, J. V. S. Wilkinson, and B. Gray, Persian Miniature Painting, Oxford, 1933, repr. New York, 1971, pp. 183-91.

R. Ettinghausen, “The Covers of the Morgan Manafi Manuscript and Other Early Persian Book Bind­ings,” in Studies in Art and Literature for Belle da Costa Greene, ed. D. Miner, Princeton, 1954, pp. 459-­73.

F. R. Martin, A History of Oriental Carpets Before 1800 I, Vienna, 1906.

E. Gratzl, “Book Covers,” in Survey of Persian Art, pp. 1975-94.

Idem, Islamische Bucheinbände des 14 bis 19 Jahrhunderts, Leipzig, 1924.

D. Haldane, Islamic Bookbinding, London, 1983.

T. Harrison, “A Persian Binding of the Fifteenth Century,” The Burlington Magazine 34, 1924, pp. 31-32.

C. Huart, Les calligraphes et les miniaturistes de l’Orient musulman, Paris, 1908.

A. Sakisian, “La reliure persane au XVe siècle sous les Timourides,” Revue de l’art ancien et moderne 66, 1934, pp. 145-68.

F. Sarre, Islamische Bucheinbände, Berlin, 1923.

W. Watson, ed., Lacquerwork in Asia and Beyond, Colloquies on Art and Archaeology in Asia 11, London, 1982.

The “Panjagan” of the Sassanian Army: A Chinese Connection?

The article further below “The Panjagan” is by Masis Reuben Panos. Kindly note that a number of images and captions printed below do not appear in Panos’ original article. The article has also been significantly edited from its original version.

Before reading the article, readers are advised that there is an entire chapter dedicated to the discussion of Sassanian archery, including a detailed discussion of various forms of propelled hand-held ballistae and archery-related equipment in Kaveh Farrokh’s upcoming textbook on the Sassanian army (to be released in mid-Nov. 2017). Kaveh Farrokh provided a presentation at the 10th annual ASMEA (Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa) conference (October 19-21, 2017)  in Washington, D.C., in panel 21 [“Strategies and Armies of Sasanian Persia and Rome“] entitled:

A Synopsis of Sassanian Military Organization and Combat Units

The Armies of Ancient Persia: The Sassanians (2017; Pen & Sword Publications)

The presentation at ASMEA discussed the following topics with respect to the Sassanian army (Spah) of 224-651 CE:

  • Organization, Titles, Numerical Factors, and Military Reforms
  • The Savaran or Aswaran (elite Sassanian cavalry forces) as well as select prestige units (e.g. Jyanavspar, Pustighban, Javidan, etc.)
  • Sassanian infantry or Paighan
  • Sassanian military equipment (helmets, swords, archery equipment, etc.)
  • Elephant corps
  • Auxiliary units (e.g slingers, javeliners, light cavalry, etc.)

The Library of Social Science (LSS) Book Exhibits was also  present during the ASMEA Conference in order to present the latest academic textbooks for the purpose of promoting these to academic researchers and experts as well as for university coursework, diplomatic delegations, etc.

Upcoming textbook on the Sassanian Army on display (upright at right) by the LSS at the ASMEA Conference on October 19-21, 2017. To the right of the Sassanians text is Dr. Ilkka Syanne’s new textbook, Military History of Late Rome (284-361). Dr. Syvanne (Affiliated Professor of the University of Haifa; Finnish Society for Byzantine Studies) was the discussant in ASMEA’s panel 21 [“Strategies and Armies of Sasanian Persia and Rome”] who also presented the topic “Nation and Empire Building the Iranian Way: The Case of the Sasanian Empire in the Third Century“. Another critical presentation was made by Dr. Conor Whately (Department of Classics, University of Winnipeg, Canada) entitled “Procopius, Soldiers, and Strategy on the Southeastern Frontier in the Age of Justinian“.

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The Panjagan (Panj [Middle Persian] = Five) is generally described as a weapon capable of firing five arrows simultaneously.

This was used to devastating effect by the Spah (Sasanian army) against the Gok (Celestial/Blue) Turks and their Hephthalite vassals in 619 CE. Thinking how a regular bow could fire 5 arrows simultaneously to any effect is baffling. The technology of this weapon is fully discussed in Kaveh Farrokh’s text on the Sassanian Army, but to summarize, current scholars on the topic believe that this was some type of “multiple crossbow” or arbalist type weapon.

Centuries earlier a repeating crossbow had already been invented in China around the year 200 CE. The inventor of this weapon was  Zhuge Liang (181-234), a chancellor of the Shu Han dynasty. The Chinese had already built earlier versions of this weapon, however it was Zhuge who improved the weapon’s design and (rapid) rate of fire.

[Left] Portrait of Zhuge Liang in the Sancai Tuhui (a Ming imprint of 1609) (Source: Public Domain); [Right] Chinese movie portrayal of Zhuge Liang (Source: Cfensi), a Chinese chancellor who was also a master military strategist. Liang’s design of the repeating cross-bow may have been bought by Chinese immigrants into Sassanian Persia.

So what about the Panjagan of the Sassanians? This may have been derived from the weapon Zhuge had originally designed. But how did Chinese end up in Persia? In 263 CE The Shu Han lost to the Wei dynasty and many citizens of all classes fled the capital city Chengdu and other regions towards the west, along the old Silk Route, to reach Sassanian Persia.

The Chinese repeating cross-bow (Source: Understanding Our Past). Chinese migrants may have bought prototypes and/or designs of this type of weapon with them to Sassanian Persia.

The Chinese arrivals were welcomed by the Sassanians, who themselves were a new dynasty, having overthrown the previous Parthian dynasty just 39 years before. The Sassanians, locked in war with the powerful Roman Empire, found the new immigrants from the sophisticated civilization of China of great value: they were highly educated, and especially knowledgeable in the latest military technologies.

The Sassanians however were not just facing the Romans (later Romano-Byzantines) on their western frontiers. To the northeast they faced the dangerous warriors of Central Asia. The Hephthalites had already become a menace by the early 480s CE, to be eventually superseded and dominated by the Gok (Celestial/Blue) Turks in the 6th century CE.

The Savaran counterattack against the Turco-Hephthalite invasion of 618-619 CE (Source: Farrokh, Plate C -اسواران ساسانی- Elite Sassanian cavalry, 2005); note that the fully armored knight in the middle is deploying a Panjagan (conjectural reconstruction) seen firing five arrows.

The Panjagan, and no doubt the well drilled Savaran cavalry of the Sassanian army (Spah), kept the Turkic invaders at bay until the fall of the Sasanian Empire in 651 CE.

The Windmill and the Contribution of Persia

The article below is based on an excerpt from Kaveh Farrokh’s second text “Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War” (2007, Chapter 19: The Legacy of Persia after the Islamic Conquests, pages 280-281). For more on these topics, readers may consult the following link: Learning, Science, Knowledge, technology and Medicine

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The first water pumps and grain mills powered by wind-sails originated in modern northwest Iran in (circa) 6th -7th centuries CE during the late Sassanian era.

Model of an Iranian windmill housed in the German Museum in Munich (Source: Saupreiß in Allaboutlean.com).

The origins of the first wind-powered machine concept is attributed to Heron (10-70 CE), a Greek inventor who first built this device in his workshop in Roman-ruled Egypt. Heron’s design of the shaft and rotating blades were placed at the horizontal position.

Portrait of Heron as he appears in a 1688 German book translation of Heron’s “Pneumatics” (Source: Public Domain).

The Heron machine however never advanced beyond the prototype he had designed, as the Romans never exploited this for generating power or for agriculture. The Iranians however knew of this technology, thanks in part to the Sassanian Empire’s efforts to protect and preserve Greek scholarship and knowledge (see Jundishapur University)

Short video of an ancient windmill in Iran that remains operational to this day (Source: Youtube).

By the late Sassanian era the first true windmill had appeared in the northeastern regions of the Sassanian Empire (modern Khorasan and west Afghanistan). Modern scholarship is in agreement that Iranian engineers had completely re-designed Heron’s original machine for applied purposes. They had achieved this by inverting the shaft that held the blades, toward an upright position. The re-designed shaft and rotating blades were installed inside a mud-brick encased tower. This structure in turn had “air ducts” allowing for the air to enter and rotate the blades housed inside of it. The “sails” or “blades” were built of a very strong fabric – there were up to twelve of these inside each of these “towers” or structures. This new technology had been initially designed as a corn-mill.

Drawing of a Chinese windmill based on technology imported from Persia (Source: Carl von Canstein in GNU.org).

The Arabian conquests of the Sassanian Empire soon led the Caliphates to adopt the new windmill technology from the Iranians. By the 9th century CE, this technology had spread throughout the Caliphate’s realms and also eastwards into India, reaching China by the 13th century CE.

The Bidston windmill in Great Britain (Source: Fractal Angel in Geograph.org).

The Iranian windmill design appears to have reached Arab-ruled Spain as well, and later the British Isles by 1137 CE. It was the British (not the Dutch as is conventionally assumed), who effected significant changes to the original Iranian design. The British genius was in their combination of both the Greek (Heron) and Iranian (late Sassanian) technologies. The British post-mill had two axes of rotation:

(1) A vertical shaft for horizontal rotation allowing for the entire structure to be now rotated for harnessing the wind

(2) A horizontal shaft for vertical rotation of the sails (based on Heron’s original concept)

A Dutch windmill overlooking tulips (Source: win4000.com).

The British adaptation of the Iranian windmill soon spread across continental Europe all the way to Greece and the Aegean Sea. Europeans made other designs such as the smock mill and tower mill. The famous modern-day Dutch windmill can trace its ancestry to English, Iranian and Greek origins.

Ancient Dams at Pasargadae

The site of Pasargadae in Iran is host to the tomb of Cyrus the Great and is also the site of the ancient Persian Gardens known as Paridaeza (Paradise). The term “Paridaeza” (which roughly means “enclosed encampment” in ancient Median) has linguistic relations with the Indo-European term “Perimeter“.

There are reports of yet another interesting discovery near the site of Pasargadae dated to the Achaemenid dynasty (550-330 BC): the discovery of at least eight different dams at the Pasargadae locale (see report in CAIS).

achaemenid-dam-at-pasargadaePartial view of the dam excavated by a Franco-Iranian archaeological expedition in February-March 2008. The site is approximately 30 kilometers distant from Pasargadae.

These have been discovered by an archaeological team of Iranian, Belgian and French researchers. The team excavated the Achaemenid dams in the Morghab plain, in southern Iran.

The region of Pasargadae and its environs is one of Iran’s most ancient plateaus with archaeologists having already discovered artifacts dating to several millennia B.C. As noted by a French expert of the archaeological team:

Since recognizing the irrigation system of ancient people, especially those living under the reign of the Achaemenid Empire, is significant, we attempted at discovering archaeological structures with help of the past research projects and newly developed tools

The team discovered 8 ancient mud-brick dams. Aerial photography and other techniques have dated these to the Achaemenid era. Two of those dams were over 20 meters tall with the height of the remainder ranging between 8 to 10 meters. Another expert of the archaeological team stated that these irrigation dams featured stone floodgates.

Gertster-Qanat-1976Excellent aerial photogrpah taken in 1976 by Georg Gerster of an Qanat irrigation system. For more on Qanats consult article by Professor H.E. Wulff. (Picture source: Iranfacts). 

Interestingly, the French archaeologists have also been involved in the excavations of an Achaemenid palace (attributed to Cyrus the Great) in the Tang e Bolaghi Valley.

Iranian archaeologist Hamidreza Karami, who is a specialist of Pasargadae, reported on these findings on April 1, 2008. Karami noted that the team had actually discovered two dams dated to the Achaemenid era: (approximately 2500 years) at Tang-e Hanā (Hana Pass). It is believed that the dams had been constructed during the earlier days of the Achaemenids.

According to Karami the dams were most likely constructed to power some type of industrial projects. One possibility according to Karimi was that the dams were powering mills. This is possible as there were no agricultural works in the area that depended on irrigation 2500 years ago.

Karimi also added that one of the purposes of the dams may have been to prevent floods from the Sivand River from swamping the area. As noted by Karimi, the water channels of the second dam are lower than the first dam. Also, the reservoir that would have been formed by the second dam would have been larger than the first dam.

For more information on engineering in ancient Persia, kindly click on the below item:

Italian AGON Journal article: Ties of Greco-Roman civilization with ancient Iran

The AGON academic Journal of Italy (Università degli Studi di Messina; chief editors: Professor Massimo Lagana & Professor Salvatore Albanese) has published an article by Kaveh Farrokh which examines historical ties between Greco-Roman civilization and ancient Iran. The article can be downloaded in full from Academia.edu below:

Farrokh, K. (2016). An Overview of the Artistic, Architectural, Engineering and Culinary exchanges between Ancient Iran and the Greco-Roman World. AGON: Rivista Internazionale di Studi Culturali, Linguistici e Letterari, No.7, pp.64-124.

The article in AGON (Rivista Internazionale di Studi Culturali) begins as thus:

Apharban, the Persian ambassador representing Sassanian king Narses (r. 293-302 CE) during negotiations with the Roman general Galerius1 in the aftermath of his victory over Sassanian forces in 291-293 CE stated the following to his Roman hosts:

It is clear to all mankind that the Roman and Persian empires are like two lights, and like (two) eyes, the brilliance of one should make the other more beautiful and not continuously rage for their mutual destruction” [Peter the Patrician, fragment 13; translation made by Canepa (2010, p. 133)].

The article examines the process and history of the long-standing relations between the Greco-Roman and ancient Iranian civilizations, notably during the during the Achaemenid (559 BCE-333 BCE), Parthian (250 BCE-224 CE) and Sassanian dynasties (224-651 CE). Works of researchers such as Professor Nik Spatari, whose works examining East-West ties in the context of ancient Calabria in southern Italy are also cited:

Spatari-Assitite

Professor Nik Sparati (Left) and his book “L’ enigma delle arti Asittite della Calabria Ultra-Mediterranea” (Published by: MuSaBa: Santa Barbera Art Foundation & Iiriti Editore, 2002). Note that the book jacket features the superimposed images of Darius the Great and Persephone (also known as Kore), the Mediterranean Goddess: Spatari has discovered Achaemenid-Persian artistic influences upon the Persephone (Kore) image. Among other ancient Iran-Italy ties, Spatari and his team have also discovered strong parallels between Sassanian architecture and the Basilica di Massenzio.

Architecture is one of the areas examined in detail from the time of the Achaemenids to the end of the Sassanian era. 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, 2007, p. 92).

Sarvistan-S-Paolo

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.

Sassanian Iran was to leave a profound legacy on Romano-Byzantine architecture during its tenure in 224-651 CE. As noted in the paper however, architectural influences from ancient Iran can be traced back to the earlier Parthian and Achaemenid eras.

Farrokh Lecture-UBC-Tirgan-YSU

A lecture slide used in instruction for 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) (Slide is Copyright of University of British Columbia and Kaveh Farrokh). The above slide discusses the parallels discovered by Professor Nik Spatari with respect to the “tri-chamber” design at Firuzabad and the Basilica di Massenzio. The floor plan of Ardashir’s palace and the “tri-chamber” (note yellow arrows) have been outlined by the Calabria research teams who noted of the parallels with the Basilica in Rome.

The ties of the Greco-Romans and ancient Iran are examined in a variety of other contexts besides architecture, notably the arts (Darius-Persephone motif, silverware, motifs such the Senmurv, etc.) and technology (communications, Qanat aqueducts, windmills, etc.).

Slide1

An example of technology exchanges: an old water wheel in Tehran (Image: Farda News) [at Left]; reconstructed water wheel based on the ancient Persian model from Cordoba, Spain (Image: Graham Beards in Public Domain). The Greco-Roman and ancient Iranian civilizations often engaged in the exchange of technologies in antiquity. The Persian water wheel spread from ancient Iran to Rome (which introduced this technology into Europe) as well as China in antiquity (Kurz, 1985, p.563)

The culinary arts (transmission of cooking styles, exchange of nuts, fruits, etc. ) are also examined. The pistachio plant for example, was first located in the Khorasan and Soghd regions; these were first cultivated in West Khorasan and were unknown by other peoples until the Achaemenid era.

Pistachio_macro_whitebackground_NS

The Achaemenids were the first to commercially grow the pistachio in ancient Iran and export this to neighboring countries more than 2500 years ago (Image: Public Domain). By the Sassanian Era the pistachio was considered a delicatessen (mostly used in baking and in cookies). Pahlavi texts dating to the Sassanian era mention the Gorgani pistachio as especially famous at the time. The Roman world not only adopted the pistachio (already known by Greco-Iranian contacts) and spread this to the European peoples.