Professor Ilber Ortayli Highlights Links between Turkic and Iranian Civilizations

The article below is derived from a BBC Persian interview with Turkish History Professor Ilber Ortayli of Galatasaray Universitry in Istanbul Turkey who outlines the long-standing cultural and historical ties between the Turkic and Iranian peoples since pre-Islamic times. Below is the BBC-Persian interview with Professor Ortayli:

Readers are invited to consult Professor Ortayli’s textbook in

1-Ortayli-TextFor Persian readers, an article on the Professor’s interview has been reproduced which was originally posted on the Ahura News website.


 History Professor Ilber Ortayli of Galatasaray University in Istanbul Turkey. For the full BBC Persian interview and report on Professor Ortayli’s interview, kindly click on the above picture.

Below are some excerpts from that interview:

The influence of Iran upon the Turks is like the influence of ancient Greece upon the entirety of Europe

This is a very astute observation, one that has been long overdue in academia. The Turkic and Iranian peoples share a profound, rich, complex and long-standing cultural tradition known as the Turco-Iranian or Persianate civilization. The professor then expands on the above observation by expostulating that:

We [the Turks] adopted much of our bureaucratic and governance methods from the Iranians during the Ottoman dynasty. We have been influenced by Iranian civilization since ancient pre-Islamic times. The only difference between us [the Turks] and them [the Iranians] is in our language groups…Persian is an Aryan language.”

Professor Ortayli is cognizant of an important fact: the members of Persianate or Turco-Iranian civilzation are distinct from (and pre-date) the Islamic era.  To this family may be added the cultures and civilizations of the Caucasus (Arran or modern Republic of Azerbaijan, Armenia, the Lezgians, Georgia, etc.) as well as Central Asia.

The Yulduz Turdieva Musical Ensemble of Uzbekistan. The above video displays Uzbek singer Yulduz Turdieva singing in Persian accompanied by Uzbek musicians composing Classical Persian music. Western historians and writers often refer to the non-Arabian civilizations of the Near East, Central Asia, Iran, etc. as “Islamic” or “MIddle Eastern” . What is often not acknowledged is that there is a powerful and very unique culture shared by Iranian and Turkic peoples known as the Persianate or Turco-Iranian civilzation.

Professor Ortayli also draws upon the influence of ancient Iran, especially Zoroastrianism upon the Turks:

Our worship of nature and creed of Shamanism has been heavily influenced by Zoroastrianism. And in the days of Islam, all of our learned men/teachers who taught us were all Iranians. Even our alphabet is derived from the Iranians…because of our history with the Ottomans we continue to share a special bond with the Iranians”.

 A detail of the painting “School of Athens” by Raphael 1509 CE (Source: Zoroastrian Astrology Blogspot). Raphael has provided his artistic impression of Zoroaster (with beard-holding a celestial sphere) conversing with Ptolemy (c. 90-168 CE) (with his back to viewer) and holding a sphere of the earth. Note that contrary to Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” paradigm, the “East” represented by Zoroaster, is in dialogue with the “West”, represented by Ptolemy.  Prior to the rise of Eurocentricism in the 19th century (especially after the 1850s), ancient Persia was viewed positively by the Europeans. For more see Ken R. Vincent: Zoroaster-the First Universalist

Ortayli also notes of European views of Iranians, past and present:

When I was a young man, the people of Europe had a different view of the people of Iran, seeing them as gentlemanly and noble…today the Europeans know the Iranians as a people endowed with culture, knowledge and a strong work ethic.”

The professor then made the following observation:

There are two million Iranians outside of their country and the majority are successful and educated …the fact that they preserve their culture is a miracle…they have made remarkable scientific advances…they work very hard to understand cultures and people’s of the world…

Professor Orkayli emphasized the importance of the poetry of Molavi (known as Mevlana in Turkey) as the medium in which the Turks can become familiarized with the Persian language.

 Mevlana_KonyaThe tomb of Jalal-e-Din Rumi, known as Mevlana by the Turks. Rumi is a highly respected and revered figure in Turkey. The literary links between the Turks and the Iranians remain strong to this day.

The Turks have in fact done a remarkable job in preserving this site and are also credited for their efforts in preserving ancient Hellenic sites in Western Turkey, one example being ancient Ephesus. Recognition of links transcending political borders and “nationalistic” sentiments”, led the WAALM Academy to a uniquely successful initiative to foster Turkish-Iranian dialogue.


At left is Radio Istanbul with their distinguished guest, the young and rising star, Ersin Faikzade and at right is the legendary Iranian singer Sattar being cited by the Turkish press. Iranian-Turkish cultural ties predate and transcend the oft-used term “Middle East”, a construct of 20th century Western origin.

 Cultural ties between the Iranian and Turkic peoples remain profound and deep-rooted.

Jahel-Morteza-Aghili-Homayoun-as-JahelIranian actors Homayoun and Morteza Aghili depicting street-toughs known in Persian as “Jahel” in the movie “Topoli” (the Chubby one). Interestingly, the almost exact type of street-toughs can be seen in Turkey – similar attire (hat, shirt, jacket, shoes), gestures, conversing, codes of conduct and even the minutiae of drinking tea, coffee or alcohol are strikingly parallel! 



The parallels in culture can be seen in recent history when Reza Shah visited Mustafa Kemal Attaturk in Turkey. Below is the first video in which Reza Shah of Iran converses in Turkish with Mustafa Kamal Ataturk of Turkey. The clip below was filmed in 1934 and accidentally discovered after 76 years in a fruit shop in Istanbul.

Reza Shah of Iran conversing in Turkish with Turkey’s Mustafa Kemal Attaturk. This historic meeting serves as yet another highlight of the long-term historical relations between the Iranians and the Turks which has resulted in the phenomenon known as the Turco-Persian or Persianate civilization.

There appears to be a resurgence of interest in the Persian language in Turkey, as seen in the video below:

An interview with Professor Ortayli in Turkish TV’s Haber Turk where he discusses the Persian epic Shahname.  Iranians and Turks in fact share many common traits, notably in culture, music, foods, etc. While considerably downplayed by Western writers and “nationalists” on all sides, the reality is that Iranians and Turks are (at the very least) cultural cousins.

New Course: Forgotten Gifts of Persia

Kaveh Farrokh, an instructor at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division is offering a new course entitled:

The Forgotten Gifts of Persia

Below is the official course description:

Learn about the forgotten contributions of Persia to world civilization in the realm of technology and architecture. Topics include the world’s first movies, the artificial eye, the battery, aqueducts, refrigeration and air-conditioning systems, windmills, pontoon bridges and the world’s first hospital and medical university, as well as examples of the influence of Persian architecture in China, India, Rome, Western Europe, and throughout the Middle East.


[Click to enlarge] An 18th century Persian Astrolabe  housed in Cambridge Museum’s History of Sciences section Picture source:

For details consult The Forgotten Gifts of Persia | UBC Continuing Studies (pdf):

  • Format: In Class
  • Code: UP723 W13 A
  • Start: Weds Mar 13, 2013
  • Schedule: Weds  1pm – 3pm
  • Location: Tapestry at Wesbrook Village (University of British Columbia Point Grey campus)


[Click to Enlarge] (RIGHT) Iranian researcher examining the artificial eye found at Shahr e Sookhteh – further tests are being conducted in Iran to determine the exact chemical composition of the prosthetic (LEFT) A curious feature of the “eye” are parallel lines that have been drawn around the pupil to form a diamond shape …READ MORE

There is also a determined drive from the Asian Studies department of the University of British Columbia to establish a full-time Iranian Studies program.

Professor Harjot S. Oberoi of the UBC Asian Studies program introduces “An Evening with Dr. Kaveh Farrokh – Sassanian Architecture” (Monday March 12, 2011). This talk was given as part of the overall drive to promote support for the University of British Columbia’s Iranian Studies and Persian language initiative.


Short Video of Iranian Roots of Azarbaijan

Below is a short video of Iranian Azarbaijan highlighting its seminal role in the historical and cultural development of Iran. The video was sent to by Professor David Rahni.

Iranian Roots of Azarbaijan / Azerbaijan Azərbaycan آذربایجان 

Readers interested in academic topics and papers pertaining to the above short video may wish to consult the following links:

Shah Ismail Persareum Rex

[Click to Enlarge] Shah Ismail (r. 1501-1524) as depicted by a European painter – the painting is now housed in the Uffizi Gallery in Italy. Note the Latin terms “Rex Persareum” [Monarch of Persia] which makes clear that Shah Ismail was the king of Safavid Persia or Iran. Despite being hopelessly outmatched by the Ottoman armies in manpower and firerams, Ismail stood his ground in Chaldiran on August 23, 1514. Despite their victory, the Ottoman Turks, who had also sufferred heavy losses, failed to conquer Iran. For more Click Here

Ferdowsi’s Shahname refers to Azarbaijan by its original name: آذرابادگان. There are exactly 5 instances of the word آذرابادگان in four chapters of the Shahnameh (click on this link for more information)

سپاهی گزین کرد زآزادگان بیام سوی آذرابادگان           بیام سوی آذرابادگان

  وزین بهره بود آذرابادگان       که بخشش نهادند آزادگان

               همی رفت تا آذرابادگان     ابا او بزرگان و آزادگان

Exhibition of Persian Manuscripts in Bulgaria

“Iran and its History in the Collections of the Bulgarian National Library Sts. Cyril and Methodius”

On 10 January 2013 the Bulgarian National Library Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Sofia opened an exhibition of Persian manuscripts, early printed books and archival documents to mark the 115th anniversary of the establishment of official diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Iran. The exhibition presented some of the most valuable documents related to the history of Iran in the collections of the National Library and aims to attract the attention of scholars, researchers and anyone interested in Iranian culture and history. The exhibition is part of the programme “Days of Iranian Culture in Bulgaria – 2012/2013” coordinated by the National Library, the Cultural Representative Office at the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran  in Sofia and other institutions. Note that the event was also organized with the help of prominent Iranologist Professor Yuri Stoyanov (member of the Department of the Near and Middle East, Faculty of Languages and Cultures in the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the University of London).


[Click to Enlarge] The Bahjat al Tavarikh (Courtesy of Professor Yuri Stoyanov).

The web site of the National Library has a page dedicated to the event, however this particular page is not available in English version – click here…


[Click to Enlarge] The Borhan-i Qati or Borhan-e Qate (Courtesy of Professor Yuri Stoyanov).

The Bulgarian National Library manuscript collection of Near Eastern manuscripts of the Ottoman/Safavid/Afsharid/Zand/Qajar periods is reputedly second in significance only to that housed currently in Cairo. This is mainly due to the fact that in the early post-Ottoman Kemalist period (1920s-1930s), a large quantity of Ottoman-era materials were sent from Istanbul to Bulgaria.


[Click to Enlarge] Bustan or Bostan (Courtesy of Professor Yuri Stoyanov).

Following the arrival of the manuscripts to their country, local Bulgarian authorities then placed these in the Bulgarian National Library depots). However, due to the Western isolation of Bulgaria as a result of the Cold War, these culturally rich resources have yet to be studied and observed by scholars and laypeople alike.


[Click to Enlarge] The Gulistan or Golestan (Courtesy of Professor Yuri Stoyanov).

By all accounts the Bulgarian exhibition of the Persian collection has been received.


[Click to Enlarge] Mantiq al-Tayr (Courtesy of Professor Yuri Stoyanov).

Thanks to the exhibition, many rare manuscripts have been exposed to the wider layperson and academic venues.


[Click to Enlarge] Mavahib-e-Aliyya (Courtesy of Professor Yuri Stoyanov).


[Click to Enlarge] Qisas_al-Anbiya (Courtesy of Professor Yuri Stoyanov).


[Click to Enlarge] Timur Nameh (Courtesy of Professor Yuri Stoyanov).


[Click to Enlarge] Uluq beg astronomical tables (Courtesy of Professor Yuri Stoyanov).

Professor Stoyanov will be arranging a presentation of the collection of the Persian manuscript collection of the Bulgarian National Library at the forthcoming Convention of the Association for the Study of Persianate Societies (ASPS) in Sarajevo on September 2-6, 2013.


The exhibition of Persian Manuscripts in Bulgaria was well attended and received.

New Book: Anahita-Ancient Persian Goddess & Zoroastrian Yazata has announced the publication of a new book entitled “Anahita: Ancient Persian Goddess & Zoroastrian Yazata”. See also the news release of this new book by the CAIS venue.


This new  book is the most comprehensive study of the Goddess Anahita  in recent years. The text is unique as it contains research findings that had never before been published.  This book is a seminal resource for all those interested in not only the history and mythology of Anahita but the wider arena of ancient Iran, her mythology and the broader spectrum of such topics in civilization.

This book will be available after February 23, 2013 from local bookshops as well as Amazon. It can be pre-ordered directly from the publishers: Avalon Books.

One of the academic contributors to the book is Kaveh Farrokh who wrote the following topic:

Exploring the Possibility of Relationships between the Iranian Goddess Anahita and the Dame du Lac of the Arthurian Legends (Persian translation will appear in the Marlik (مارلیک) journal in the summer of 2013)

Farrokh has offered a course entitled “Persia’s Silent Legacy in Christianity & European Culture” at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division, where Anahita and the Iranian pantheon’s cultural connections with Europe were examined.

Anahita and Bahram Chobin

[Click to Enlarge] Recreation of the facade of a Sassanian palace and Bahram Chobin receiving a diadem (possibly representing the Farr  or “Divine Glory”) from a priestess of the Anahita temple (Source: Kaveh Farrokh, Elite Sassanian Cavalry, 2005 –اسواران ساسانی).

The editor of the book is Payam Nabarz who is the editor of the journal Mithras Reader An academic and religious journal of Greek, Roman, and Persian Studies, Volume 1 (2006), Volume 2 (2008), and Volume 3 (2010). He is also the author of number of related books, for further info visit Amazon.

Below is the content breakdown of the topics of the new book as described in

Part 1 Academic Papers

Dr. Israel Campos Méndez is Assistant Professor in Ancient History at the University of Las Palmas of Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain). His lines of research are related to the History of Religion, and in particular to the Cult of Mithra in Ancient Iran and the Roman Empire. His PhD thesis was entitled: The God Mithra: Analysis of the processes of adjustment of his worship from the social, political and religious frame of the Ancient Iran to that of the Roman Empire. He has written two books in Spanish about the cult of Mithra in Ancient Persia, and many others papers and articles about the Zoroastrian Religion and the Mithraic Mysteries.

Kaveh Farrokh (PhD) is at University of British Columbia -Continuing StudiesHistory Lecturer, & Reader Head of Department of Traditions & Cultural History – WAALM School of Cultural Diplomacy (nominated for Nobel Peace Prize 2011). He is a Member of Stanford University’s WAIS (World Association of International Studies) and Member of Iranian Studies for Hellenic-Iranian Studies.

Dr. Matteo Compareti studied oriental languages in the University of Venice and after graduation he obtained his PhD from the University of Naples, L’Orientale. He specializes in the art history of Iran and Central Asia. His latest publications are Samaracanda Centro del Mondo – Proposte di Lettura del Ciclo Pittorico di Afrasiyab, Minesis, (2010), and Iranians on the Silk Road: Merchants, Kingdoms and Religions by Touraj Daryaee, Khodadad Rezakhani, and Matteo Compareti, Publisher: Afshar Publishing, Beverly Hills, California (2010). He is an independent scholar not affiliated to any institution, Italian or foreign.

Sheda Vasseghi has a Masters in Ancient History – Persia and a Masters in Business Administration.  Ms. Vasseghi focuses on Iranian national identity.  Her special interest encompasses Iranian philosophy as it applies to modern day social, political and religious issues.  She believes history provides the answers to current problems, and lack of knowledge in the field leads to poor decision-making by citizens and policymakers.  Ms. Vasseghi is a regular contributor to political and history publications on Iran’s affairs.  She is an adjunct Professor of History at the Northern Virginia Community College.  Ms. Vasseghi is also on the Board of the Azadegan Foundation and a member of

D.M. Murdock is an independent scholar of comparative religion and mythology, specializing in nature worship, solar mythology and astrotheology. An alumna of Franklin & Marshall College and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece, Murdock is the author of several controversial books about the origins and relationship of religious ideas dating back thousands of years to the earliest known evidence. Her work can be found at and

Sam Kerr is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine (London) and of several Colleges of Surgery. A Zoroastrian by birth, he migrated to Australia in 1968. He was Surgeon/Lecturer at the University of New South Wales and its College Hospitals, Sydney, Australia from 1968 to 2003. He is now Emeritus Surgeon at the University and its College Hospitals.

Rahele Koulabadi, has an MA in Archaeology, and is based at the University of Sistan and Baluchestan, Iran.

Dr. Seyyed Rasool Mousavi Haji was born on December 30, 1967, in Savadkouh, Iran. He received his PhD in Archaeology in 2003 from Tarbiat Modarres University of Iran. He is teaching as an Associate Professor in the Archaeology Department in the University of Sistan and Baluchestan. He also is the Dean of the Faculty of Art and Architecture. He has published four books and several articles about the archaeology of the Sassanian and Islamic periods. His main fieldworks are: Archaeological survey in Sistan plain in 2007 and 2008, archaeological survey in Zahedane Kohne (capital of Sistan during 5 to 9 A. H.) in 2002 and excavation to estimate size of the Zahedane Kohne in 2007.

Morteza Ataie has an M.A. in Archaeology, and is based at the University of Sistan and Baluchestan, Iran.

Seyyed Mehdi Mousavi Kouhpar is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Archaeology at Tarbiat Modares University.

Seyed Sadrudin Mosavi Jashni is an Assistant Professor in the Research Institute of Imam Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution.

Farhang Khademi Nadooshan is an Associate Professor in the Dept of Archaeology, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran.

Hassan Nia is an academic member of the Islamic Azad University Savad Koh unit, Iran.

Masoud Sabzali is a Post graduate student, in the Dept of Archaeology, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran.

Dr. Masato Tōjō Born in Niigata City, Japan in 1957. Earned his PhD in Information Technology from the Dept. of Information Technology (now Information Science), Graduate School of Engineering, University of Tokyo in 1985. Japanese committee member of ISO/IEC JTC1 SC18 WG9 from 1992 to 1996. Chairman of Mithraeum Japan (Founded in 1997). Author of books: Qewl – Holy Book of Mithra (MIIBOAT Books, 2006), Mithraic Theology (Kokushokankōkai, 1996), Dictionary of Gods of the World (Gakken, 2004), Esoteric Astrology of Mithraism (MIIBOAT Books, 1998), Let’s Read the Secret Doctrine (Shuppanshinsha, 2001), Encyclopedia of Tarot (Kokushokankōkai, 1994). Consult Dr. Masato Tōjō Official Site

Behzad Mahmoudi is a Post Graduate student, Islamic Azad University, Central Tehran Branch, Iran.

Amir Mansouri is a Post Graduate student, Islamic Azad University, Central Tehran Branch, Iran.

Dr Kamyar Abdi is an Iranian archaeologist.  He received his M.A. from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, University of Chicago, and his PhD in Archaeology/Anthropology from the University of Michigan.

Dr Gholamreza Karamian is an Associate Professor at Dept of Archaeology, Islamic Azad University, Central Tehran branch.

Saman Farzin M.A is based at Iranology Department of History, University of Shiraz, Iran.

Maryam Zour M.A. is based at Archaeology University of Sistan and Baluchistan Zahidan-Iran.

Babak Aryanpour M.A. is based at Iranology, University of Shiraz, Iran.

Reza MehrAfarin is an Associate Professor, University of Sistan & Baluchestan.

In Part 2 Arts.

Akashanath is a Ceremonial Magician with a background in Thelema and the Golden Dawn system. He is also a Sanyasin of the Adinath Sampradaya and a practitioner of English Rune Magick.

Shapour Suren-Pahlav Co-founded The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies (CAIS) in 1998, as an independent not-profit educational programme, with no affiliation to any political or religious group, dedicated to the research, protection, preservation of the pre-Islamic Iranian civilisation.

Ana C. Jones was born in Brazil, she is trained as a teacher and electrical engineer. In 1989 she came to live in England with husband and their three children. Her interest in Traditional Astrology led her to complete C. Warnock’s Renaissance Astrological magical course, plus two others of the same calibre. At the moment she is studying Alchemy from Adam McLean courses, Hermetic Magic with the OMS as well as Mithraism. She practices Traditional British Witchcraft and Stregoneria. She finds inspiration among her studies and practices to express herself through her drawings, paintings and sculptures.

In Part 3 Religious Articles, Poetry, Stories.

Katherine Sutherland is a poet and author, her collection Underworld, a reworking of the Persephone myth, was recently published (Web of Wyrd Press, 2010). She has papers published in the following anthologies: Both Sides of Heaven: Essays on Angels, Fallen Angels and Demons(Avalonia, 2009), From a Drop of Water (Avalonia, 2009), Hekate: Her Sacred Fires (Avalonia, 2010).