Classical Civilizations 1Persia: the artist formerly known as Mesopotamia
Information is organized by theme Patterns and impacts of interaction between humans and the environment (demography and disease, migration, patterns of settlement, technology).1. Development and interaction of cultures (religions, belief systems, philosophies and ideologies, science and technology, the arts and architecture).2. State-building, expansion, and conflict (political structures and forms of governance, empires, nations and nationalism, revolts and revolutions, regional, trans-regional and global structures and organizations).3. Creation, expansion, and interaction of economic systems (agricultural and pastoral production, trade and commerce, labor systems, industrialization, capitalism and socialism).4. Development and transformation of social structures (gender roles and relations, family and kinship, racial and ethnic constructions, social and economic classes).
Theme 1-demography• Persia is settled by two competing groups of Indo-Europeans: Medes and Persians. • Guess who won?• Brought with them steppe traditions, horses and basic social structure.• Neighboring Mesopotamia provides inﬂuence. Until it is conquered.
Theme 3-Politics• The Persian Empire is established by Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Dynasty• Established his stronghold at Pasargadae, and by 548 BCE had brought all of Iran under his control.
Map of the Persian Empire
Achaemenids Keep Rolling• Cyrus dies in 530 BCE in battle with nomads. Rule passes to his sons, grandsons, etc.• Darius I (521-486) expands empire to reach its farthest extent. • Establishes 23 Satrapies; builds Persepolis, a capital city.
Darius dies (alas)• Succeeded by Xerxes who instigates a war with the Greeks • Yes, 300 happens now. Get over it.• Achaemenids enter decline, Alexander the Great ﬁnishes them off.• More on all that later.
Next Dynasties• After Alexander dies, three empires arise one after another • Selucid (Greeks left after ATG death) • Parthian (Tribe in eastern Iran) • Sasanid (claim to be Achaemenid related)• Sasanids undone by Arab empires in 600s CE
Parthians and Sasanids
Theme 4-Econ.• Early Persians: Agricultural and Pastoral economic system • barley, wheat, peas, lentils, mustard, garlic, onions, cucumbers, dates, apples, pomegranates, pears, apricots, beer, wine, horses • Surplus was regular, land was leased in exchange for produce
Trade• Long distance trade facilitated by road construction; 1,600 miles, paved with stone• India, Red Sea, Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea routes used. • spices, metals, minerals, textiles, ivory, mirrors, jewelry, other ﬁnished goods traded
Coins used• Darius I implements regular tax levy in place of irregular tribute payments. • Satrapies required to pay a set amount in silver annually in standardized coins
Theme 2-Lots here• Religion • early is focused on cults of sun, moon, water and ﬁre. • similar to ancient Aryans (all Indo-Euros) • Glorify strength, warfare, the goal is a comfortable existence in this world
ZOROASTRIANISM• Radical changes with Persian Empire• Zoroaster (a person of dubious historical validity) in the 6th Century BCE, founds the new faith.• Most everything about his teachings, life and philosophy has been lost.
Zoroastrianism• innovation 1) there is a soul• innovation 2) it needs saving• innovation 3) how you live impacts what happens when you die; judgement!• innovation 4) One main god, Ahura Mazda, to pay attention to.• innovation 5) cosmic balance between good/evil
Zoroastrianism• Priests are called magi, who are in charge of keeping Zoroaster’s teachings • Oral tradition at ﬁrst. • Hymns are called the Gathas
Zoroastrianism ﬁn• So essentially, people need to follow the moral teachings of Zoroaster (enjoy the world and its pleasures in moderation & with honesty toward others: good words, good thoughts, good deeds).• In 12,000 years, all souls will be judged by passage through ﬂame. Honest/good people go to paradise. Bad people burn forever.• A cosmic competition pitting Ahura Mazda vs Angra Mainyu (white vs. black/good vs evil)
Future of Zoroaster’s ideas• Zoroastrianism becomes the ofﬁcial religion of the Achaemenids• Zoroastrianism fades in the onslaught of Alexander the Great, who kills magi.• Parthians use it to rally people vs. Selucids• Sasanids promote it.• Islam kills it.
Theme 2-science, tech, arts, architecture• Persians were builders. • Engineering an Empire.• Qanats, Persepolis, Pasargadae, indoor plumbing!• Art is bas-relief carvings (pg 165) • Post ATG, statues (pg 167)
Theme 5-social stuff• Social classes are stratiﬁed based on roles• Family/clan important• Patriarchal leadership--emperor as head of all the clans, followed by military leaders• Educated bureaucrats come in--scribes, administrators, tax collectors, record keepers.• They don’t pass military in hierarchy!
Social structure continued• Free workers make up the bulk of the population. • includes artisans, craftsmen, merchants priests. • textiles/weaving was the women’s area, some were also priestesses • Then free peasants who owned or rented land • They could move and marry at will, and advance through military service.
Slavery• Two paths to slavery: • 1) Prisoner of War/civilians who rebel • 2) Debts grow too large, sell your children, spouse or self into slavery to satisfy payments• Total loss of individual freedom, cannot move or marry at will• Not limited to menial work; use talents.