Distributed for Reaktion Books
The authors examine the unique features of Persian life and trace their influence throughout the centuries. They examine the environmental difficulties the early Persians encountered and how, in overcoming them, they were able to develop a unique culture that would culminate in the massive, first empire, the Achaemenid Empire. Extending their influence into the maritime west, they fought the Greeks for mastery of the eastern Mediterranean—one of the most significant geopolitical contests of the ancient world. And the authors paint vivid portraits of Persian cities and their spectacular achievements: intricate and far-reaching roadways, an astonishing irrigation system that created desert paradises, and, above all, an extraordinary reflection of the diverse peoples that inhabited them. Informed and original, this is a history of an incomparable culture whose influence can still be seen, millennia later, in modern-day Iran and the wider Middle East.
Preface: lost and found
Origins: the land and the people
The achaemenid dynasty
The achievements of the achaemenids
Cyrus the Great in history and legend
Persepolis: city, throne and power
Thus Spake Zarathustra: religion and empire
Alexander of Macedon and the Hellenistic interlude
Empire revived: the Sasanids
Islamic Persia and Persian Islam
From Persepolis to Samarkand: the Persian legacy in central Asia
Paradise if Bliss: the Persian Legacy in India from the Timurids to the Mughals
Cyrus with Golden Caviar: the Last dynasty salutes the first
From Shahyad to Azadi: the Islamic Republic and the Ancient Legacy
Lost in Translation?
The first superpower?
Conclusion: power and paradise