Christopher I. Beckwith: Empires of the Silk Road

Readers are introduced to Professor Christopher I. Beckwith’s text: “Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Asia from the Bronze Age to the Present” (available on Amazon.com):

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  • Author: Christopher I. Beckwith
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Date: Reprinted in 2011
  • ISBN-10: 0691150346; ISBN-13: 978-0691150345

This book is recommended reading for Kaveh Farrokh’s Fall 2014 course “The Silk Route Origins and History“. Readers interested in the history of the Silk Route are also referred to the “Soghdian-Turkish Relations Symposium” (21-23 November, 2014) being held in Istanbul, Turkey (for brochure of conference, list of participants, etc., kindly click on images below to enlarge): Sogut_Program

Sogut_Program2

Christopher I. Beckwith’s text provides a comprehensive history of Central Eurasia from antiquity to the current era. This is an excellent text that provides a critical analysis of the Empires of the Silk Road by analyzing the true origins and history of this critical region of Eurasia.

ForeignerWithWineskin-Earthenware-TangDynasty-ROM-May8-08

Statue of a foreigner holding a wineskin, Tang Dynasty (618-907) (Photo source: Public Domain).

Beckwith examines the history of the great and forgotten Central Eurasian empires, notably those of the Iranic peoples such as the Scythians, the Hsiang-Nou peoples (e.g. Attila the Hun, Turks, Mongols, etc.) and their interaction with China, Tibet and Persia.

Pamir_Mountains,_Tajikistan,_06-04-2008

One of the critical land bridges of the Silk Route: the Pamir Mountains which as a 2-way gigantic connector between the civilizations of the east and West (Photo source: Public Domain).

Beckwith outlines the scientific, artistic and economic impacts of Central Asia upon world civilization. Beckwith also tabulates the history of the Indo-European migrations out of Central Eurasia, and their admixture with several settled peoples, resulting in the great (Indo-European) civilizations of India, Persia, Greece and Rome. The impact of these peoples upon China is also examined.

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Italian pottery of the 1450s influenced by Chinese ceramic arts; housed at the Louvre Museum, Paris (Photo source: Public Domain).

This is a book that has been long overdue: Empires of the Silk Road places Central Eurasia within the major framework of world history and civilization. It is perhaps this quote by Beckwith which demonstrates his acumen on the subject:

The dynamic, restless Proto-Indo-Europeans whose culture was born there [Eurasia] migrated across and discovered the Old World, mixing with the local peoples and founding the Classical civilizations of the Greeks and Romans, Iranians, Indians, and ChineseCentral Eurasians – not the Egyptians, Sumerians, and so on– are our ancestors. Central Eurasia is our homeland, the place where our civilization started” (2009, p.319).

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Second century CE Kushan ceramic vase from Begram with a “Western” motif: a Greco-Roman gladiator (Photo source: Public Domain). The Silk Route challenges the fallacy of a so-called “Clash of Civilizations” – to the contrary, East and West have had extensive adaptive contacts since the dawn of history.

Photos of Old Tehran: 1920s-1940s (Part I)

This posting is a continuation of a previous posting entitled “Maps and Photos of Old Tehran” (click Image below for details):

02b-Tehran-Map-1848

Below are photos of Old Tehran in the time span of the 1920s to the 1940s.

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Commercial Areas

tehran-drugstoreTehran drugstore, circa early 1920s.

Sepahsalar Mosque

sepahsalar-mosque-ealry-1920sSepahsalar Mosque, circa early 1920s.

Sports Stadiums

amjadiyeh-sports-stadium-circa-1936Soccer match at Amjadiyeh Sports Stadium, circa 1935-1936.

Laleh-Zar Street

cafe-pars-lalelhzar-1920sCafe Pars Laleh-Zar, 1920s.

laleh-zar-1circa-1940sLaleh-Zar street circa 1930s.

laleh-zar-street-circa-1940sLaleh-Zar street circa 1940s.

laleh-zar-19471Another view of Laleh-Zar street circa 1940s.

lalehzar Avenue 1946Laleh-Zar street in 1946.

Other Tehran Locales

south-end-of-naderi-intersection-at-south-end-of-british-embassySouth end of Naderi intersection and south end of the British embassy, circa late 1930s.

Shahabad 1949Shahabad in 1949.

old-tajrishTajrish as it appeared in Tehran circa 1940s.

Cafe naderi 1947The Cafe Naderi in 1946, famous for its deserts, coffee, teas, etc. and its jovial atmosphere.

Maps and Photos of Old Tehran 1826-1900

Below are maps and photos of Old Tehran, kavehfarrokh.com is indebted to contributions by numerous history enthusiasts, including Fathali Ghahremani who contributed the old maps seen on this page.

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[Click to Enlarge] Map of Tehran dated to 1826.

Theran-NasseredinShah-era

This photo is from (circa) 1871, during the Nasser e Din Shah era – it is the oldest known photo of Tehran. The name of the street today is Mirdamad. -نام کنونی این محل بلوار میرداماد میباشد-طهران در دوران حکومت ناصرالدين شاه قاجار-سال ۱۲۵۰ خورشیدی-

02b-Tehran-Map-1848

[Click to Enlarge] Map of Tehran dated to 1848.

Old-Tehran-gate-Qajar-era

One of Tehran’s gates during the Qajar era -یکی از دروازه های قدیمی تهران زمان قاجار-

Oldest Map of Tehran

[Click to Enlarge] Map of Tehran dated to 1858 [NOTE: this is very high resolution image which may take a little time to load].

Tea-Coffee-House-Tehran-Qajar-era

[Click to Enlarge] A Tea and Coffee house in Tehran in the late Qajar era-قهوه خانه در بازار تهران –

9-Tehran-Meydan-Mashq-Qajar-era

میدان مشق در تهران زمان قاجار– Tehran’s Meydan Mashq during the Qajar era; note the paintings on the structure.

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[Click to Enlarge] Tehran Bazaar in the late Qajar era -بازار تهران-

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[Click to Enlarge] Interesting map of Tehran in 1890 – note legend markers.

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[Click to Enlarge]Bread bakery (Sangak bread) in late qajar era –نانوائی اواخر دوره قاجار

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[Click to Enlarge]Map of Tehran dated to 1900.

New Book: Iranian-Russian Encounters Empires and Revolutions since 1800

There is new book  on the history of Iranian-Russian relations:

 Routledge text

  • Title :Iranian-Russian Encounters: Empires and Revolutions since 1800
  • Publisher: Iranian Studies Series, Routledge.
  • Date: December, 2012.
  • Description & Ordering: Hardback: 978–0–415–62433–6: $160.00 – £95.00; 20% off with code: GDC72 from Routledge.com – for more information to order from Routledge click here.

This important book has been made possible as a result of the efforts of Soudavar Memorial Foundatio and the Iran Heritage Fund who were the funders of an important conference entitled:

Empires and Revolutions: Iranian-Russian Encounters since 1800 (Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, London, 12-13 June 2009)

The material and academic information presented at that conference gave rise to the book.

The book has been edited by Professor Stephanie Cronin.

 Stephanie-Cronin

Professor Stephanie Cronin is the editor of this textbook. She is a lecturer in Iranian History at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford, and a member of St Antony’s College. She is the author of Shahs, Soldiers and Subalterns (2010); Tribal Politics in Iran (Routledge, 2006); and The Army and the Creation of the Pahlavi State in Iran, 1910–1926 (1997); and editor of Subalterns and Social Protest (Routledge, 2007); Reformers and Revolutionaries in Modern Iran (Routledge, 2004); and The Making of Modern Iran (Routledge, 2003). She is currently working on a comparative history of state–building in the Middle East. For on Professor Cronin, please see Iranian Studies Directory.

Kindly note that the pictures inserted below do not appear in the book.

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Book Summary:

Over the past two hundred years, encounters between Iran and Russia have been both rich and complex. This book explores the myriad dimensions of the Iranian-Russian encounter during a dramatic period which saw both Iran and Russia subject to revolutionary upheavals and transformed from multinational dynastic empires typical of the nineteenth century to modernizing, authoritarian states typical of the twentieth.

 1-Hermitage-Battle-Caucasus

Painting in the Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg depicting a victory of Abbas Mirza`s army over the Russians in the Caucasus. The above painting is of interest as it shows the Shir o Khorshid (Lion and Sun) emblem of the Iranians versus the Double-headed Romanov eagle of the Russians. Though defeated in the Russo-Iranian wars of 1804-1813 and 1826-1828, Abbas Mirza fought well despite the more advanced weaponry and modern tactics of his opponents (Picture Source: Iranian.com)

The collection provides a fresh perspective on traditional preoccupations of international relations: wars and diplomacy, the hostility of opposing nationalisms, the Russian imperial menace in the nineteenth century and the Soviet threat in the twentieth. Going beyond the traditional, this book examines subaltern as well as elite relations and combines a cultural, social and intellectual dimension with the political and diplomatic. In doing so the book seeks to construct a new discourse which contests the notion of an implacable enmity between Iran and Russia.

2-Farrokh-Family-Photo-Reza-Shah-Coronation-1926

A photo taken in 1926 of a military assembly in Tehran (book cover for Iran at War: 1500-1988). This was the Iranian Army headquarters at the time and is today the Iranian University of the Arts (محوطه ساختمانی که قبلا ستاد ارتش بوده و الان دانشکده هنر است ). The troops are about to pose for a military review. Note the diverse nature of the Iranian troops – reminiscent of the armies of Iran since antiquity: one can see Kurds, Azaris, Lurs, Baluchis, Qashqais, Persians, etc. partaking in the assembly.  Gendarme Colonel Haji Khan Pirbastami (standing at far left) died just a year later when fighting as a colonel with the Iranian army against Bolshevik/Communist and Russian troops attempting to overrun northern Iran after World War One.

Bringing together leading scholars in the field, this book demonstrates extensive use of family archives, Iranian, Russian and Caucasian travelogues and memoirs, and newly available archives in both Iran and the countries of the former Soviet Union. Providing essential background to current international tensions, this book will be of particular use to students and scholars with an interest in the Middle East and Russia.

3-Foxbat-Tomcat

(Left) Soviet Mig-25 Foxbat (Right) Iranian Air Force Grumman F-14A Tomcat. The Tomcat remains the most modern aircraft in the Iranian Air Force inventory, past and present. The Tomcat “persuaded” the Russians to halt their Mig-25 Foxbat over-flights into Iranian airspace in the late 1970s. The Mig-25 was destined to meet the Tomcat again in combat during the Iraq-Iran war (1980-1988). Tomcats shot down large numbers of Iraqi jets during the war, including Russian piloted Foxbats. The London-based Air Power Journal reported in 1999 that “…the presence of one or two Tomcats was usually enough to send the Iraqi jets scurrying away…” (See pp. 32 in “IRIAF: 75th Anniversary review”, World Air Power Journal, Volume 39 Winter 1999 issue, pp.28-37). (Picture Sources: Left Photo from World Blue Airways and Right photo from IIAF.net).

Below are the Table of Contents of the book.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Empires and Revolutions: Iranian–Russian Encounters since 1800 – Stephanie Cronin
  •  The Impact of Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union on Qajar and Pahlavi Iran: Notes toward a Revisionist Historiography – Afshin Matin–asghari
  • The early Qajars and the Russian Wars – Maziar Behrooz
  • Khosrow Mirza’s mission to Saint Petersburg in 1829 – Firuza Abdullaeva
  • Russian Land Acquisition in Iran: 1828 to 1911 – Morteza Nourai and Vanessa Martin
  • How Russia hosted the entrepreneur who gave them indigestion: New revelations on Hajj Kazem Malek al–Tujjar – Fatema Soudavar
  • Deserters, Converts, Cossacks and Revolutionaries : Russians in Iranian Military Service 1800–1920 –  Stephanie Cronin
  • The Question of the Iranian Ijtima‘iyun–e ‘Amiyun Party – Sohrab Yazdani
  • Georgian Sources on the Iranian Constitutional Revolution (1905–1911): Sergo Gamdlishvili’s Memoirs of the Gilan Resistance – Iago Gocheleishvili
  • Constitutionalists and Cossacks: the Constitutional Movement and Russian Intervention in Tabriz, 1907–1911 – James Clark
  • Duping the British and outwitting the Russians? Iran’s foreign policy, the ‘Bolshevik threat’, and the genesis of the Soviet–Iranian Treaty of 1921 – Oliver Bast
  • The Comintern, the Soviet Union and Working Class Militancy in Interwar Iran Touraj Atabaki
  • An Iranian–Russian Cinematic Encounter – Emily Jane O’Dell
  • The Impact of Soviet Contact on Iranian Theatre: Abdolhossein Nushin and the Tudeh Party. Saeed Talajooy
  • Iran, Russia and Tajikistan’s Civil War – Muriel Atkin
  • Iran and Russia: a Tactical Entente – Clément Therme

Tehran’s Armenian Church of Saints Teddy and Bartholomew

Below are a number pictures sent to Kavehfarrokh.com by Professor George Nercessian of the church of Saints Teddy and Bartholomew in Tehran. This is the oldest church of Tehran which was built at the turn of the 19th century, during the Qajar era.

CSTB-Tehran

[Click to Enlarge] Various views of the Church of Saints Teddy and Bartholomew (Courtesy: George Nercession).

The Church is located deep inside the Bazaar, near Mowlavi street which used to be located outside the walls of the city on the way to Shah-abd-ul-Azim.

 CSTB-Tehran-Tombstones-British

[Click to Enlarge] Tombstones of British citizens: (A) a very interesting tombstone dated to October 28, 1841, belonging to Charles Scott, son of Sir Walter Scott who was a member of the British Legation in Tehran. (B)resting place of the Revered Glen who is described as the “Translator of the Persian Bible” on his tombstone (C) Tombstone of British Ambassador Charles Alison. Known as a recluse and eccentric, Alison dressed like local Tehranis at the time. He was fluent in Persian, Arabic and Turkish. As Armenians were the only persons with churches in Tehran, Christian foreigners or “Farangis”, would be interned in the Armenian churches at the time (Courtesy: George Nercession).

The builders of the church are also buried inside the church. Note that Prince Alexander of Georgia (Eskandar Mirza) who fought alongside Iran to fight against the Russian invasion of Georgia and the Caucasus, is buried at the churchyard.

CSTB-Tehran-Interior-a

[Click to Enlarge] Views from the interior of the church. The ornamental painting on the wall of the niche has been recently discovered as this had been whitewashed for over a century. The painter was Hovhannes Khan Naqqash (Courtesy: George Nercession). Note that the Persian term “Naqqash” mean painter.

Sadly, few people visit this historic but little known, church. On a more positive note, the Prelacy has organised a tour of this church. Every last Sunday of each month a bus leaves the prelacy for a visit of this church. The environment of the church is serene and is said to be an ideal place for meditation.

 5-CSTB-Tehran

[Click to Enlarge] Plaque in Persian, Armenian and English describing the history of the Church of Saints Teddy’s and Bartholomew in Tehran (Courtesy: George Nercession).