What did the Persians ever give us?
I have included this page recently as a result of a discussion I had with a German friend, it is worth while knowing some some facts about the origins of some things in life as they correlate with our daily life now. in a way they change the way we look at things on daily bases.
Some of the items here are bound to surprise you, I have offered no evidence simply because in our brave new world of googles and wikipedias anyone can research any subject they wish, so for that reason I decides not riddle this article with external links.
The Items here are in no particular order of importance, neither are they chronologicaly sequenced, I just wrote them as they came into my mind and for some I have employed help from other websites, Wiki and google.
(1700 BC) – The windmill.
A model of a Persian windmill. Vertical-axis windmills were developed before 500 – 900 AD (some place their invention much earlier) to raise water and mill corn and were still in use in the 1970′s in the Zahedan region of Iran.
Of course these were in no way similar to the windmills of Europe, they were vertically constructed with circular walls around them to channel the wind through.
The earliest fully developed true chariots known are from the chariot burials of the Andronovo (Timber-Grave) sites of the Sintashta-Petrovka Proto-Indo-Iranian culture in modern Russia and Kazakhstan from around 2000 BC.
The first credible claim for the development of a real postal system comes from Ancient Persia, but the point of invention remains in question. The best documented claim (Xenophon) attributes the invention to the Persian King Cyrus the Great (550 BC), while other writers credit his successor Darius I of Persia (521 BC).
The postal stations were also out posts of the government which attributed to the first ever centralised governing system in any culture or civilisation.
Karvansaray (Caravan House) کاروانسرای
Kaar-vaan (caravan) is the persian word for convoy, Karvansaray were houses where travellers especially merchants from East even as far back as 200 AD, had the possiblity to stop for the night and rest and replenish their horses before moving on the next day, If you like the first notion of guest houses, motels or hotels.
As far back as (400 BC) Cambyses (I) started to pave most travel routs in his empire, a trend Cyrus the Great his son followed until the day of his death.
Qanats/Kahhriz & Yakhchals
A qanāt Arabic: قناة, in Persian: کاریز kariz) is a water management system used to provide a reliable supply of water for human settlements and irrigation in hot, arid and semi-arid climates. Qanats are also called kārīz (or kārēz from Persian: كاريز) (Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, derived from Persian: كاهریز), kahan (from Persian: کهن), khettara (Morocco); galería (Spain); falaj (United Arab Emirates and Oman); Kahn (Baloch) or foggara/fughara (North Africa). Alternative terms for qanats in Asia and North Africa are kakuriz, chin-avulz, and mayun. Common variants of qanat in English include kanat, khanat, kunut, kona, konait, ghanat, ghundat.
Yakhchāl (Persian: یخچال ice pit; yakh meaning ice and chāl meaning pit) is an ancient type of evaporative cooler. Above ground, the structure had a domed shape, but had a subterranean storage space; it was often used to store ice, but sometimes was used to store food as well. The subterranean space coupled with the thick heat-resistant construction material insulated the storage space year round. These structures were mainly built and used in Persia. Many that were built hundreds of years ago remain standing.
in todays language of Parsi Yakhchal means a refrigerator set.
(864 AD-930 AD) – First systematic use of alcohol in Medicine by Dr Zakaria Razi
Muhammad ibn Zakariyā Rāzī)(Persian:محمد زکریای رازی Mohammad-e Zakariā-ye Rāzi), known as Rhazes or Rasis after medieval Latinists (August 26, 865 – 925), was a Persia polymath, a prominent figure in Islamic Golden Age physician, alchemist and chemist, philosopher, and scholar.
Numerous “firsts” in medical research, clinical care, and chemistry are attributed to him, including being the first to differentiate smallpox from measles, and the discovery of numerous compounds and chemicals including kerosene, among others.Edward Granville Browne considers him as “probably the greatest and most original of all the physicians, and one of the most prolific as an author”.
Razi made fundamental and enduring contributions to the fields of medicine, alchemy, music, and philosophy, recorded in over 200 books and articles in various fields of science. He was well-versed in Ancient Persian, Greek and Ancient Indian medical knowledge and made numerous advances in medicine through own observations and discoveries.
Educated in music, mathematics, philosophy, and metaphysics, he chose medicine as his professional field. As a physician, he was an early proponent of experimental medicine and has been described as the father of pediatrics. He was also a pioneer of ophthalmology. He was among the first to use Humoralism to distinguish one contagious disease from another. In particular, Razi was the first physician to distinguish smallpox and measles through his clinical characterization of the two diseases. He became chief physician of Rey and Baghdad hospitals.
As an alchemist, Razi is known for his study of sulfuric acid.
He traveled extensively, mostly in Persia. As a teacher in medicine, he attracted students of all disciplines and was said to be compassionate and devoted to the service of his patients, whether rich or poor.
(5000 BC) – Invention of Tar, first ever string oriented musical instrument.
Persian wine, also called Mey and Badeh (in the Persian language), is a cultural symbol and tradition in Persia, and had a significant presence in Persian mythology, Persian poetry and Persian miniature.
Recent archaeological research has pushed back the date of the known origin of wine making in Persia far beyond that which writers earlier in the 20th century had envisaged. Excavations at the Godin Tepe site in the Zagros mountains (Badler, 1995; McGovern and Michel, 1995; McGovern, 2003), for example, have revealed pottery vessels dating from c. 3100–2900 BC which contained tartaric acid, almost certainly indicating the former presence of wine. Even earlier evidence for the existence of wine has been found at the site of Hajji Firuz Tepe, also in the Zagros mountains. Here, McGovern et al. (1996) used chemical analyses of the residue of a Neolithic jar dating from as early as 5400–5000 BC to indicate high levels of tartaric acid, again suggesting that the fluid contained therein had been made from grapes.To the surprise of many, it is of note that wine’s discovery in old Persia predates French wine as the earliest evidence in France only goes back to 500 BC, according to French archeologists.
Legends and myths
According to Iranian legend, wine was discovered by a Persian girl despondent over her rejection by the king. The girl decided to commit suicide by drinking the spoiled residue left by rotting table grapes. Instead of poisoning the girl, the fermented must caused her to pass out to awaken the next morning with the realization that life was worth living. She reported back to the king her discovery of the intoxicating qualities of the spoiled grape juice and was rewarded for her find.
Today the Shiraz red wine no matter made in France, Australia, Bulgaria or California is made from the seeds of vines taken from the Pars region in Iran which its capital city is Shiraz, though it is one of the most excellent vines for producing red wine the perfect conditions for its maturity is still near the city of Shiraz.
Polo (Persian: چوگان, chowgan, Polo: North Pakistani dialect) is a team sport played on horseback in which the objective is to score goals against an opposing team. Sometimes called “The Sport of Kings”, it was started by Persians, and was popular in Iran until 1979, after which its popularity there declined sharply due to the Iranian Revolution. In the former South East Asian kingdom Kangleipak (now Manipur in India), a similar game called Sagol Kangjei was played since ancient times. Players score by driving a small white plastic or wooden ball into the opposing team’s goal using a long-handled mallet. The traditional sport of polo is played at speed on a large grass field up to 300 yards long by 160 yards wide, and each polo team consists of four riders and their mounts. Field polo is played with a solid plastic ball, which has replaced the wooden ball in much of the sport. In arena polo, only three players are required per team and the game usually involves more maneuvering and shorter plays at lower speeds due to space limitations of the arena. Arena polo is played with a small air-filled ball, similar to a small soccer ball. The modern game lasts roughly two hours and is divided into periods called chukkas (occasionally rendered as “chukkers”). Polo is played professionally in 16 countries. It was formerly, but is not currently, an Olympic sport.
Trousers first enter recorded history in the 6th century BCE, with the appearance of horse-riding Iranian peoples in Greek ethnography. At this time, not only the Persians, but also allied Eastern and Central Asian peoples such as the Bactrians, Armenians, Tigraxauda Scythians and Xiongnu Hunnu, are known to have worn them. Trousers are believed to have been worn by both sexes among these early users. The ancient Greeks used the term “ἀναξυρίδες” (anaxyrides) for the trousers worn by Eastern nations[ and “σαράβαρα” (sarabara) for the loose trousers worn by the Scythians. However, they did not wear trousers since they thought them ridiculous, using the word “θύλακοι” (thulakoi), pl. of “θύλακος” (thulakos), “sack”, as a slang term for the loose trousers of Persians and other orientals. Shat Khashayar (xerxes) made Trousers the uniform of his solidiers during his reign.
(1400 BC) – The game of Backgammon appears in the east of Iran, It is still by far the favourite and the most popular game in Iran, unlike other places in Iran backgammon is played fast without allowance for thinking.
There are hand made tappestry backgammon sets in most houses, Iranians quite happily pay upto 300 USD for handcrafted backgammon sets, I have one myself.
The pistachio, Pistacia vera in the Anacardiaceae family, is a small tree originally from Greater Iran which now can also be found in regions of Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Tunisia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Italy (Sicily), Uzbekistan, Afghanistan (especially in the provinces of Samangan and Badghis), and the United States, specifically in California. The tree produces an important culinary nut.
Saffron was detailed in a 7th-century BC Persian botanical reference compiled under Ashurbanipal.Documentation of saffron’s use over the span of 4,000 years in the treatment of some 90 illnesses has been uncovered. Saffron-based pigments have indeed been found in 50,000 year-old depictions of prehistoric places in northwest Iran.
Saffron not only adds a unique colour to food it also has a very pleasant aroma, it is used in many Iranian dishes still today despite the fact it is amongst the most expensive spices known to man.
Spinat, Esfenaj- اسفناج
Spinach is thought to have originated in ancient Persia (modern Iran and neighboring countries). Arab traders carried spinach into India, and then the plant was introduced into ancient China, where it was known as “Persian vegetable” (bōsī cài; 波斯菜; present:菠菜). The earliest available record of the spinach plant was recorded in Chinese, stating it was introduced into China via Nepal (probably in 647 AD).
In AD 827, the Saracens introduced spinach to Sicily. The first written evidence of spinach in the Mediterranean was recorded in three 10th-century works: the medical work by al-Razi (known as Rhazes in the West) and in two agricultural treatises, one by Ibn Wahshiya and the other by Qustus al-Rumi. Spinach became a popular vegetable in the Arab Mediterranean and arrived in Spain by the latter part of the 12th century, where the great Arab agronomist Ibn al-‘Awwam called it the “captain of leafy greens”.
In the Persian Empire, people would pour grape-juice concentrate over snow, in a bowl, and eat this as a treat, especially when the weather was hot. Snow would either be saved in the cool-keeping underground chambers known as “yakhchal”, or taken from snowfall that remained at the top of mountains by the summer capital — Hagmatana, Ecbatana or Hamedan of today. In 400 BC, the Persians went further and invented a special chilled food, made of rose water and vermicelli, which was served to royalty during summers. The ice was mixed with saffron, fruits, and various other flavours garnished with Pistachios.
Chess is believed to have originated in northwest India during the Gupta empire, where its early form in the 6th century was known as chaturaṅga (Sanskrit: four divisions [of the military] – infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariotry, represented by the pieces that would evolve into the modern pawn, knight, bishop, and rook, respectively). According to both Chess historians Gerhard Josten and Isaak Linder “the early beginnings” of chess can be traced back to the Kushan Empire in Ancient Afghanistan in Persia (G. Josten, Chess – a living fossil- The earliest evidence of chess is found in the neighboring Sassanid Persia around 600, where the game came to be known by the name chatrang. Chatrang is evoked in three epic romances written in Pahlavi (Middle Persian). Chatrang was taken up by the Muslim world after the Islamic conquest of Persia (633–644), where it was then named shatranj, what it today is called in Parsi, with the pieces largely retaining their Persian names. In Spanish “shatranj” was rendered as ajedrez (“al-shatranj“), in Portuguese as xadrez, and in Greek as ζατρίκιον (zatrikion, which comes directly from the Persian chatrang),but in the rest of Europe it was replaced by versions of the Persian shāh (“king”), which was familiar as an exclamation and became the English words “check” and “chess”.Murray theorized that Muslim traders came to European seaports with ornamental chess kings as curios before they brought the game of chess.
Rug / Carpet
The Persian carpet is a part of Persian (Iranian) art and culture. Carpet-weaving in Persia dates back to the Bronze Age.
The earliest surviving corpus of Persian carpets come from the Safavid dynasty (1501–1736) in the 16th century. However, painted depictions prove a longer history of production. There is much variety among classical Persian carpets of the 16th and 17th century. Common motifs include scrolling vine networks, arabesques, palmettes, cloud bands, medallions, and overlapping geometric compartments rather than animals and humans. This is because Islam, the dominant religion in that part of the world, forbids their depiction. Still, some show figures engaged either in the hunt or feasting scenes. The majority of these carpets are wool, but several silk examples produced in Kashan survive.
Iranian carpets are the finest in the world and their designs are copied by weavers from other countries as well. Iran is also the world’s largest producer and exporter of handmade carpets, producing three quarters of the world’s total output and having a share of 30% of world’s export markets.Iran is also the maker of the largest handmade carpet in history, measuring 60,546 square feet.
Bazar or market place
A bazaar (from Persian بازار (bāzār), meaning “market”; from Middle Persian بهاچار (bahā-chār), meaning “place of prices”) is a permanent enclosed merchandising area, marketplace, or street of shops where goods and services are exchanged or sold. (A souq, by contrast, is an open-air marketplace or commercial quarter.) The term is sometimes also used to refer to the “network of merchants, bankers and craftsmen” who work that area. Although the current meaning of the word is believed to have originated in Persia, its use has spread and now has been accepted into the vernacular in countries around the world. The rise of large bazaars and stock trading centers in the Muslim World allowed the creation of new capitals and eventually new empires. New and wealthy cities such as Isfahan, Golconda, Samarkand, Cairo, Baghdad, and Timbuktu were founded along trade routes and bazaars. over centuries even upto now in Iran the Bazaars of Tehran, Esfehan, Shiraz, Yazd, and many other cities are still vibrant places intact in their original form-
Gas laser(Neon Lights)
A gas laser is a laser in which an electric current is discharged through a gas to produce coherent light. The gas laser was the first continuous-light laser and the first laser to operate on the principle of converting electrical energy to a laser light output. The first gas laser, the Helium–neon laser (HeNe), was co-invented by Iranian physicist Ali Javan and American physicist William R. Bennett, Jr. in 1960. It produced a coherent light beam in the infrared region of the spectrum at 1.15 micrometres.
I know what you are thinking, Taj Mahal is in India, and you are right to be puzzled, but take a closer look at who actually built Taj mahal.
The Taj Mahal (often Hindi: ताज महल, from Persian/Urdu: تاج محل “crown of palaces”, pronounced [ˈt̪aːdʒ mɛˈɦɛl]; also “the Taj”) is a white marblemausoleum located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. It was built by Mughalemperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”,
Persian:شاه جهان) (January 5, 1592 – January 22, 1666) was emperor of the Mughal Empire in South Asia from Persian Desent from 1628 until 1658. The name Shah Jahan comes from Persian, meaning “Ruler of World”. He was the fifth Mughal emperor after Babur, Humayun, Akbar, and Jahangir. While young, he was the favourite of his legendary grandfather, Akbar the Great.