Sunday, July 13, 2003

Ganjnameh ( Treasure Inventory)

The Ganjnameh Or (Jangnameh) is located in Abbas Abad Valley, 5 km. west of Hamedan, the ancient Ecbatana or Hecmatane, which served as the capital of the Medes and Achaemenids. The site contains scripts which have been carved in to the gigantic rocks of Alvand mountain and describe the conquests of two Achaemeniad Kings namely, Darius and his son Xerxes, (khashayar) who call Ahuramazda for help. However,the later generations who could not read the cuniform alphabets of the ancient Persian, Elamite and Babilian scripts, thought it was the guide to an uncovered treasury. The two tablets are set in stones as protection from the elements and written in 3 languages in cuniform writing. The tablet on the right side embracing the name of Xerxes and the one on the left embracing the name of Darius the Great. The translation of the text of the right side plate attributed to Xerxes is as follows:
"The mighty lord is Ahuramazda, the god of gods, who created this land, the sky and the people, the same god who brought people happiness, who appointed Xerxes as king, the unique king of kings, the unique ruler of the rulers, I am Xerxes, the great king, king of kings, king of multinational countries, king of this large land, the son of Darius the Achaemenid."
This translation corresponds with part of the inscription attributed to Xerxes at the main entrance of Persepolis and the other plate inscription of Ganj Nameh attributed to Darius the first, the father of Xerxes, had the same sentences with the difference that instead of Xerxes it has the name of Darius. These two plates too, similar to the majority of inscriptions by the Achaemenid kings include greetings to Ahuramazda and the fathers and forefathers of these kings.
Today two new carved tablets have been added in the parking lot of this site with modern Farsi and its English translation. One noticable element in visiting this site is the delight in nature and landscaping that the Persians take in presenting their culture. While you are at Hamedan also visit, Alisadr cave, tombs of Babataher (poet) and Abu alisina (the greatest Scientist of all time), Gombade Alavian (a beautiful building of carved bricks), Borje Gorban ( a tomb from 13th century) and Sange Shir (the only monument of the old Ecbatana).

Click below to see the two famous tablets:

Friday, July 11, 2003

The Customs of Ancient Persians

I participated in a political act a number of days ago, and in doing so I was confronted with an act that could only be taken as an unthoughtful affair, an action that was to be depicted as unity but didn't represent the aim under any circumstances. Consiquently, I conducted an small research in effect to learn something about how ancient Persians treated each other and what was considered right and what was shamed uponed. The result of my research reflected the fact that Pesians were always proud people and it's this excessive proudness and individualistic ideal that always disrupts their unity.
In ancient Greece, people lived a simple life and their many ceremonies which were held for their gods kept them united at all times. The stratification of their society contained 1.God 2.Heroes 3.Man, and the status of all men remained in one level and gods and heroes above them. Persians on the other hand, always lived in a stratified society. There was always an individual who believed that he was ranked higher than another man. As it is depicted in a document, when Persians saw each other in the street they performed different reactions depending on their social prestige. If they were of equal rank, instead of speaking, they kissed each other on the lips. In the case where one was inferior to the other, the kiss was given on the cheek; where the difference of rank was great, the inferior prostrates himself upon the ground. This prejudice wasn't restricted to individuals, they even treated their neighbour countries differently. They honoured most their nearest nighbours, whom they esteem next to themselves; those who live beyond these they honour in the second degree; and so with the remainder, the further they are removed, the less the esteem in which they are held.The reason is that they look upon themselves as very greatly superior in all respects to the rest of mankind, regarding others as approaching to excellence in proportion as they dwell nearer to them; hence it comes to pass that those who are the farthest off must be the most degraded of mankind. To be continues....

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Ferdowsi and his Epic Shahnameh

Shahnameh, (the epic of Kings), was composed in the 10th century by Ferdowsi, a persian poet who is the crown jewel of the Persian literature and is cherished by all Iranians and Persian speaking societies. The Shahnameh is one of the definite classic literatures of the world in which Ferdowsi tells hero's tales of ancient Persia. It is the history of Iran's glorious past, preserved in all time in majestic verse.Though written about 1,000 years ago, this work is as intelligible to the average, modern Iranian as the King James version of the Bible is to a modern English-speaker. The contents and the poet's style in describing the events takes the reader back to the ancient times and makes them feel the events with every fiber in their bodies.
Master Abolghasem Mansour Ferdowsi Toosi (CE 940-1020), was born near Tus a province of Khorasan and grow to be called the Homer of Persia. He got married at the age of 28 and some 8 years later began his famous work which took 35 years to be completed. The poem contains 60,000 rhyming couplets, making it more than seven times the length of Homer's Iliad. Unlike Homer who was a poor blind man, Ferdowsi was a well-educated, intellectual member of a rather wealthy social class. Hence, his poetry was popular among those with higher education, and reading and understanding his book has never been an easy task for the ordinary people. Alike Homer though, Ferdowsi's epics are an icon to national identity.An important feature of Ferdowsi's work is that during the period that Arabic language was known as the main language of science and literature, he used only Persian, (Pahlavi), in his masterpiece and claimed that "Persian language is revived by this work".
Another famous work of Ferdowsi is Yousof and Zoleikha, an epic of 9000 couplets, which is an Arabic version of the bibilical story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife.
In his old age Ferdowsi retired to his native town near Tus, where, according to legend, he received Mahmoud's forgiveness just before his death. The Shahnameh is perhaps best known to English readers through Rostam and Sohrab, a poem by the English poet Matthew Arnold, which is based on the Persian epic.
Today there is a park named after him, "Bagh-e-Ferdowsi", which occupies about 30 hectares in the steep foothills of the Alborz mountains in Iran.
You can read the epics of Shahname in English at:
To see Ferdowsi's Tomb visit:
To see Ferdowsi's sculpture visit:

Friday, July 04, 2003

Cyrus the Great ( Koroushe Bozorg)

Cyrus (Kourosh in Persian; Kouros in Greek), is regarded as one of the most outstanding figures in history. He was the hero who united Persians under the leadership of Achaemenes Empire. He was the desendant of a long line of Persian kings and should be reffered to as Cyrus II, having been named after his grandfather. Cyrus the Great is important in relations to 3 dianamic actions that he took in the history of man kind.
1. Establishing a large Empire stretching from the Mediterranean in the West to Eastern Iran, and from the Black Sea in the North to Arabia. In the space of less than 20 years he had assembled the greatest empire the world had ever seen. All he lacked was Egypt.
2. Responsible for the writing of the first Charter of Human Rights
3. Freeing the Jews to move to their homeland, Jerusalem>."I resettled upon the command of Marduk, the great lord, all the gods of Kiengir and Akkade whom Nabonidus had brought into Babilani to the anger of the lord of the gods, unharmed, in their former temples, the places which make them happy. [1]" (Cyrus)
According to the writings of Herodotus, ( a great Greek historian), the last ruler of Medes, Astyages (585-550 B.C) was defeated and captured by Cyrus in 549 B.C. The Persian king overthrew the Median Empire and seized Ekbatana, (Palace of Assembly), which became his capital. He spared the defeated ruler and decided not to ingage in the mass killings as it was the rutin of the Assyrian victories. On the contrary he brought nobles and civilian officials, both Median and Persian, into the government of his kingdom. In 546 B.C. he gain series of victories over the Lydian King, Croesus in which regards he captured Sardis and continued towards Babylon and Greece. From this point on Cyrus was master of all Asia Miner.
In the history Cyrus is labeled as a genius, diplomate, manager, and the leader of man, the first great propagandist and able strategist. He was indeed worthy of the title he earned "Great".
Cyrus was killed in 530 BC during a campaign in the North-Eastern part of his Empire. At his death the Achaemenian Empire was well established. He had worked out the administration of the Empire, appointing a governor, or Satrap, to represent him in each province. He imposed an annual tax in the form of a tribute on all the races he conquered, to which the Achaemenian power owed much of its wealth and magnificence.
Cyrus's tomb is now in a new capital of his decendents in Pasargadae in the Fars province. ( During my visit I was mostly dissapointed since I could hear the voice of mules while visiting the Tomb of this great man of history. You can look at the pictures I took while I was visiting Pasargadea).
Darius I, two ganerations after Cyrus the Great is the Achaemenian who created 23 provinces and built the administrative and religious cities of Susa and Persepolis.
A base relief of Cyrus was made in October 1994 by an Australian artist, Lewis Batros and is now displayed in the Sydney's Bicentennial Park. Also a couple of months ago it was decided that a British producer named, Alex Jovy is going to retell the story of Cyrus in a big and expensive Movie production, ( I could only hope that he depicts Cyrus's true identity and not some molded version of him). The promotion of this Movie was announced at the Cannes festival and it said to be on the same level as the Legendary Movie's such as Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator.
Visit this link for further information:

The Pasargadae is still referred to as the "Holly Place" and alot of people visit it often. The security however is not uptight. Just recently illegal diggers have broken a staircase in front of the tomb in hope of finding treasure. The staircase is now being reconstructed by the Iranian officials.

Legend of the Birth of Cyrus
Herodotus, the Greek historian of the mid-fourth century BC, best describes the legend of Cyrus and the myths surrounding his birth. According to him, Astyages the king of Medes, was the maternal grandfather of Cyrus. He dreams that his doughter Mandane is going to give birth to a son who is going to overthrow him and become the king himself, so he orders one of his servents with the name of Harpagus to kill the baby bore from his doughter. Despite the Kings order, Harpagus desides not to kill the baby and instead adopts him. Cyrus soon developes into an outstanding young boy, overshadowing his friends and showing royal qualities of leadership. These actions amuses everyone and he is taken to the court of the King and there they meet for the first time and Astyages realizes that he is Cyrus, his grandson. In punishing Harpagus, the king serves him the cooked remains of his real son's body at a royal dinner. Mad from the action taken by the king, Harpagus encourages Cyrus to seize his grandfather's throne in which case Cyrus succsseds. As you can see the eldest Persian Myth is a lot like the Greek myths, and the Genesis.For one thing, prophecy playes an important part in all these myths and the outcome is somewhat the same. For example, the myth of the birth of Zeus, the greatest God in the Greek methology follows the same pattern as the birth of Cyrus. The king(also a God), Cronos dreams that one of his own childerns is going to dystroy him. Consiquently, he swallowes all his children at the moment of birth. But his wife,Rhea goes to Crete and gives birth to a son named, Zeus in a cave. He grows up and comes back to claim his rights and gains the kingship himself by overthrowing his father. The same story plot happened in the Genesis in which Moses was the heroe. So as you see the Persian myth of Cyrus was the origin of all later myth plots even the most basic fabric of Christianity.
In the Charter, after introducing himself and mentioning the names of his father, first, second, and third ancestors, Cyrus says that he is the monarch of Iran, Babylon, and the four continents:

I am Kourosh (Cyrus), King of the world, great king, mighty king, king of Babylon, king of the land of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters, son of Camboujiyah (Cambyases), great king, king of Anshân, grandson of Kourosh (Cyrus), great king, king of Anshân, descendant of Chaish-Pesh (Teispes), great king, king of Anshân, progeny of an unending royal line, whose rule Bel and Nabu cherish, whose kingship they desire for their hearts, pleasure. When I well -disposed, entered Babylon, I set up a seat of domination in the royal palace amidst jubilation and rejoicing. Marduk the great god, caused the big-hearted inhabitations of Babylon to .................. me, I sought daily to worship him.

Cyrus Cylinder, the first charter of human rights:

Pasargadae, the Tomb of Cyrus

Portrait of Herodotus