Archive for the ‘News’ Category

English translation of the book Azerbaijan and Aran (Caucasian Albania)

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

An important and seminal history book “Azerbaijan and Aran (Caucasian Albania)”, written by the late Professor Enayatollah Reza (1920-2010) was originally published in Persian in 1980, and so far has gone through eight reprints and editions. The book deals in depth with the problems of naming the newly established country of Azerbaijan with a name borrowed from its southern neighbour, the Iranian Province of Azerbaijan in 1918, including the conflicts and problems that this action has created. One of the major issues at present is the official re-writing of history that has been taking place within the Baku establishment as documented in the video below (originally announced in Iranian.com by Dr. Mohammad Ala, recipient of the 2013 Grand Prix Film Italia Award):

The above video (also available in Russian, Turkish, and Persian) documents the process of historical revisionism that has been taking place with the Baku establishment of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Note that the latter was named as “Azerbaijan” in May 1918; prior to that date this south Caucasian region was known as the Caucasian Khanates (i.e. Ganja, Sheki, Shirvan, Darband, Mughan, Kuba, Baku, etc.) and/or Arran. The historical Azerbaijan or Azarbaijan was located (according to cartographic and primary sources) below the Araxes River in Iran. The video has been well-researched and documented.

The book has been translated into English by Dr Ara Ghazarian of the Armenian Cultural Foundation of Arlington Massachusetts. it must be noted however that this project was initiated and finally made possible through the hard work and dedication of Rouben Galichian, an accomplished scholar in his own right.

FrontCover_2014“Azerbaijan and Aran (Caucasian Albania)” Published by Bennett & Bloom, London, 2014, 174pp with 12 colour plates. Price $25 or £20.

The book has so far been translated into Armenian and Russian, but until now there had not been an English translation of this extremely valuable work. This gap had to be filled and Galichian decided to act upon it. In 2008 he spoke to Professor Reza asking his permission to translate the book to English, to which he graciously consented. Galichian began the hard work of the translation but due to other urgent projects and commitments the partially completed work had to be abandoned.

YSU-4-Prof Galichian-2Rouben Galichian at the opening seminars in November 1, 2013, at (بخش ایران شناسی دانشگاه دولتی ایروان) the University of Yerevan Iranian Studies Department  entitled “Shirvan, Arran, and Azerbaijan: A Historical-Cultural Retrospective” conference (kindly click here for more information on all conference participants and their topics). Galichian has written numerous books outlining the history and cartography of the Caucasus. He is also the author of a number of cartographic articles published in various magazines and has lectured extensively in Europe, the USA, Iran and Armenia. For his services to Armenian historical cartography, Rouben was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia in November of 2008. In 2009 he was the recipient of “Vazgen I” cultural achievements medal. He is married and shares his time between London and Yerevan. Kaveh Farrokh wrote a review of Galichian’s recent text “The Clash of Histories in the South Caucasus” for the prestigious IranNameh Persian language journal.

Then, in 2011, Galichian heard from his friend and scholar Dr Ara Ghazarians of the Armenian Cultural Foundation of Arlington Mass., that he has started the translation of Dr. Reza’s work. Galichian encouraged him and promised to locate suitable maps for the book. Afterwards, Galichian assisted in getting the financial backing and the publication for the English translation of the book. This has resulted in Dr. Ghazarians’ excellently translated and beautifully produced book, to which he has added important explanatory footnotes and complementary information.

Dr Ara GhazarianDr. Ara Ghazarian, curator of the Armenian Cultural Foundation in Arlington, Massachusetts. Ghazarian holds a PhD in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. Editorial assistant and manager of the Armenian Review (1987-91) and Director for Resources and Archives of the Zoryan Institute (1989-90), he has been on the faculty of the Emerson College (1984-1998) and translated and edited nine books, among them Heinrich Vierbücher’s Armenia 1915 (2006) and Murad of Sepastia by Mikayel Varandian (2006), Jakob Künzler’s In the Land of Blood and Tears (2007), The Widening Circle and Other Early Short Stories by prolific Armenian writer and journalist Hakob Karapents (2007), and The Astrologer of Karabagh by the nineteenth century Russian novelist Platon P. Zubov (2013).

Subject of the book

Historic defeats of the late Qajar period resulted in loss of territories for Iran to its north and east. In the early decades of the twentieth century, a group of political leaders in the historic Aran (Caucasian Albania), to the north of the Araxes River, which, during the 17-19th centuries was known as Shirvan, renamed their country Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan.

2-Ottoman Map-1893Ottoman map [Click to Enlarge] outlining Western Iran and the Caucasus in 1893.  Note that Azarbaijan is clearly shown to be the land below or to the south of Aras (Araxes) river – the territories corresponding to the present Republic of Azarbaijan were not known as “Azarbaijan”, but variously as the Caucasian khantes (i.e. Baku, Sheki, Nakhchevan, etc.) or as “Albania” or “Arran”.

Prominent Iranian scholar and historian, Professor Enayatollah Reza (1920-2010), based on extensive research of historical geography of Iran and the Caucasus, provides a picture of the boundaries and the two territories of Azerbaijan to the south and Aran to the north of the Araxes River, respectively, and the advent of the Turks on the world stage, their movement and penetration into Azerbaijan, the Caucasus and Anatolia. A chapter in this book discusses the cultural character of these lands at the time of the arrival of the Turks, followed by a response to the claims of the Pan-Turkist historians in Turkey and Azerbaijan, who claim that the Turkish racial element had been present in these territories before others. Other topics in the book include a discussion of the arrival and incorporation of the Turkish language in Azerbaijan and the Aryan roots of the people of Azerbaijan upon whom the Turkish language has been imposed.

Post-Soviet Propaganda Map

A post-Soviet era propaganda map produced in Baku. The above map (click on the above map to see the video) promotes the false notion that a “Greater Azerbaijan” was divided in two by Russia and Iran in 1828. Historically false claims such as these were first promoted by the pan-Turkists of the early 20th century which were then propagated by the former Soviet Union and the Communists, notably Joseph Stalin and Mirjaafar Baguirov. Unfortunately the legacy of historical amnesia has continued to persist at the official level in the Caucasian state.

The book consists of the following main chapters.

1. The names of Azerbaijan and Aran (Caucasian Albania) in ancient times
2. Changes over history in the names for Caucasian Albania
3. Geographical boundaries of Caucasian Albania and Azerbaijan
4. Views of Pan-Turkists concerning the Turks
5. Ethnicity and language of the people of Caucasian Albania
6. Ethnicity and language of the people of Azerbaijan
7. Migration of the Turks and spread of the Turkish language in Azerbaijan
8. How Aran came to be named Azerbaijan

 

Archaeologists uncover Zoroastrian Links in Northwest China

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

The article below entitled “Excavation ‘very likely’ to redefine the Zoroastrianism’s origin” was published on August 12, 2014 by China’s CCTV network.

Three important notes the CCTV article fails to mention that:

  1. Iranian-speaking Persians, Medes, Saggarthians, Parthians, etc. themselves came onto the Iranian plateau from the Central Asian steppes, areas adjacent to the Pamir and northwest China regions. Those regions themselves were inhabited with Iranian speaking and fellow Indo-European Tocharian (or possibly proto-Celtic) peoples. These peoples were to be largely displaced by the later arrival of proto-Turkic and Hunnic peoples.
  2. It has been speculated for decades that proto-Zoroastrianism may have originated in the Central Asian regions and then bought to the Iranian plateau by Iranian speakers over 2500 years ago. Thus the title of the report “Excavation ‘very likely’ to redefine the Zoroastrianism’s origin” is somewhat sensationalist (if not misleading) as ancient Persia was itself part of a larger Iranic-civilization connected to Central Asia and much of Eastern Europe (through the Iranic-speaking Scythians and later Sarmatians).
  3. Several well-preserved mummies bearing Caucasoid features have been uncovered in northwest China (see pictures below) dated to the timelines of 2500 years past and older. The mummies bear clothing, headgear consistent with the dress of the ancient Medes, Persians, Parthians and Scythians-Saka (of Central Asia and ancient Russia-Ukraine).

Kindly note:

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Zoroastrianism was the state religion of the ancient Persian Empire. Its founder, Zoroaster, or Zarathustra, is thought to have been born in what is now Northeast Iran or Southwest Afghanistan. A 2004 survey by the Zoroastrian Associations of North America put the estimated number of believers worldwide at between 124,000 and 190,000.

UBC-Migrations-1Basic diagram outlining arrival of Iranian speaking peoples (Medes, Persians, Saggarthians) onto the Iranian plateau before the formation of the first Medo-Persian or Achaemenid Empire in 550-330 BCE. The red elliptical markings provide approximate areas where Iranian speaking peoples were located thousands of years ago. The diagram does not show the arrival of several other Iranian peoples such as the Parthians and other Saka peoples from Central Asia or the subsequent arrival of the Alans into northwest Iran in 75 CE (Source: Kaveh Farrokh’s lectures at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division – this was also presented at Stanford University’s WAIS 2006 Critical World Problems Conference Presentations on July 30-31, 2006, the annual Tirgan event at Toronto (June, 2013) and at Yerevan State University’s Iranian Studies Department (November, 2013) – Diagram is Copyright of University of British Columbia and Kaveh Farrokh).

Now, archaeologists in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have discovered major Zoroastrian tombs, dated to over 2,500 years ago. This unravelling is leading to startling controversial speculation about the religion’s origin.

On China’s sparsely populated Pamir Plateau, ancient people lived and battled, and created a marvelous civilization. These massive tombs, now being excavated, are the world’s earliest traces of the religion of Zoroastrianism found so far.

Zoroastrianism took form even before the rise of Persian Empire, which later adopted it as the state religion. The sun and fire are central to the religion, and the signs are found everywhere in the tombs.

Zarathustra-Tomb-China-2Archaeologists in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have discovered major Zoroastrian tombs, dated to over 2,500 years ago. (Caption and Photo Source: Chinanews.com). As noted in the China News report: “This is a typical wooden brazier found in the tombs. Zoroastrians would bury a burning brazier with the dead to show their worship of fire. The culture is unique to Zoroastrianism…This polished stoneware found in the tombs is an eyebrow pencil used by ordinary ladies. It does not just show the sophistication of craftsmanship here over 2,500 years ago, but also demonstrates the ancestors’ pursuit of beauty, creativity and better life, not just survival. It shows this place used to be highly civilized”.

Today, most of the ancient glories lie in ruins. But the dig now offers a glimpse of what life here looked like over 25 centuries ago.

UBC-2-MigrationsMummies bearing Caucasoid features uncovered in modern northwest China; these were either Iranic-speaking or fellow Indo-European Tocharian (proto-Celtic?). Archaeologists have found burials with similar Caucasoid peoples in ancient Eastern Europe. Much of the colors and clothing of the above mummies bear striking resemblance to the ancient dress of pre-Islamic Persia/Iran and modern-day Iranian speaking tribal and nomadic peoples seen among Kurds, Lurs, Persians, etc.  (Source: Kaveh Farrokh’s lectures at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division – this was also presented at Stanford University’s WAIS 2006 Critical World Problems Conference Presentations on July 30-31, 2006, the annual Tirgan event at Toronto (June, 2013) and at Yerevan State University’s Iranian Studies Department (November, 2013) – Diagram is Copyright of University of British Columbia and Kaveh Farrokh).

This is the biggest excavation of the tombs of Zoroastrianism here in Xinjiang’s history. Some archaeologists say the excavation is likely to prove that this religion is originated from the Pamir Plateau, right here beneath of our feet.

Zarathustra-Tomb-China-1Archaeologists in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have discovered major Zoroastrian tombs, dated to over 2,500 years ago. (Caption and Photo Source: Chinanews.com). As noted in the China News report: All the evidence leads to one conclusion: Zoroastrianism originated in the east on China’s Pamir Plateau. To this day, archaeologists are still arguing over where the religion originated, but here, we have found the earliest and the largest scale of Zoroastrian ruins, with all the typical symbols of this religion. Of course, there’s the possibility that there are other undiscovered ruins elsewhere in the world. But at this moment, it’s a logical conclusion that the origin of the religion is here, not in Persia.” said Wu Xinhua, Xinjiang Director, Archaeological Inst., Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Logical, perhaps. Startling and controversial, certainly. And as the excavation continues, the Pamir Plateau is bound to yield more amazing discoveries.

New Book by Cam Rea on Parthian Military History

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Cam Rea (author of “The Rise of Parthia in the East: From the Seleucid Empire to the Arrival of Rome“) has recently published “Leviathan vs. Behemoth: The Roman-Parthian Wars 66 BC-217 AD”:

Rea-Leviathan

  • Paperback: 450 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 8, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 150042403X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1500424039
  • Available at Amazon

Cam rea-PortraitCam Rea has a BA and MA in Military History. He is a regular contributor to Classical Wisdom Weekly. In addition, he is an ancient history enthusiast and a Teaching Assistant at the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

The Roman-Parthian Wars were clashes between eastern and western titans over hegemony, territory and political power. Parthia  was perhaps one of Rome’s greatest military rivals on the battlefield. As Rome pushed militarily and diplomatically eastward during the 90’s BCE, they eventually arrived near the Upper Euphrates to discover that many of the mini-kingdoms were in fact Parthian client states, especially Armenia.

Once Rome officially discovered and understood the sphere of influence Parthia had over its western neighbors, Rome gradually took that model and began to court the eastern kingdoms subject to Parthian influence. However, before they can accomplish this, they must first meet their equals. Around 92 BCE, their first diplomatic meeting took place.

34-Map of Parthian Empire 44 BC to 138 AD[Click to Enlarge] Map of the Parthian Empire in 44 BCE to 138 CE (Picture source: Farrokh, page 155, Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War-Персы: Армия великих царей-سایه‌های صحرا-). 

The relationship between both empires started peacefully. As time went on, tensions began to grow over the control of the Near East. While Parthia’s sphere of influence dominated the region, Rome’s political push at Parthia’s client states slowly caused a rift between the two powers that eventually led to war when Crassus invaded Parthia and was obliterated with his Roman forces at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BCE. After Carrhae, their relations would never be the same, as both sides would continue a tug of war with the kingdoms between their borders, at times directly engaging each other.

Roman generals, like Mark Antony, and many of the emperors, who attempted to conquer Parthia underestimated the enemy multiple times, all in hopes that they could imitate their hero Alexander the Great, only to gain incremental victories and nothing more. The various generals and emperors sought glory and riches but remained ignorant of the people they sought to subjugate. So what was Rome’s overall grand strategy when dealing with Parthia? The answer is, there was none.

Parth-Savar1 Parthian armored knight (Picture source: Peter Wilcox & Angus McBride, Osprey Publishing).

There was no Roman strategy in how to subjugate the Parthians, and if there was, those emperors who led campaigns had not the means nor the ability to implement their goals fully, as far as totally subjugating Parthia. Another way to look at it is that the Romans had a grand strategy when it came to conquest, but had none for governing after conquest, at least with Parthia.

However, even this became problematic for the Roman emperors. While they had the ability to trample Mesopotamia under, they could not go further than their ability allowed. Unrest in the newly conquered region is one of many reasons why Rome could not hold the region effectively, plague was another, not to mention that overstretched legions and insufficient resources, along with the cost of war limited their ability to penetrate Parthia farther. Roman emperors were smart enough to know that they could not afford to use their legions on a grand scale, for they could not afford to lose them. In this sense, from the campaigns discussed in this book, the Romans, while not as limited as the Parthians, were in many ways just as limited when it came to military campaigning like the Parthians. The only difference is that Rome could go on a bit longer.

marcantony2Marc Antony (83-30 BC) Roman statesman and military leader. His expedition into ancient Praaspa (near modern Tabriz) ended in disaster in 36 BC mainly at the hands of Iranian Parthian armored knights and horse-archers (Shiva-tir). In one of the engagements, the Mede infantry destroyed 10,000 Roman legionnaires. Marc Antony and his surviving troops fled into Syria and from there to Egypt where Ptolemid Queen Cleopatra provided them sanctuary and shelter  (For more details consult Farrokh, 2007, p.144-146).

The same goes for the Parthian kings. Even though the Euphrates represented the border between the two powers in theory, it was just an illusion. Parthian kings, especially during the 50-30’s BCE, took advantage of this and expanded their influence to the south in Judea and to the west into Anatolia before retreating into their dominion. They, unlike Rome, were not centralized and had no standing army.

The Parthian grand strategy was defensive. Unlike Rome, where the best defense is an offense, Parthia had no such ability, at least over the long term. As mentioned, Parthia had no standing army, but a militia, and relied primarily on the satraps to raise forces when in need. Parthia, unlike Rome, was not a centralized state, and if they committed the bulk of their forces to the west, they ran the risk of rebellions rising within Parthia or foreign invasion. Furthermore, they did not have the means to supply the men day in and day out. The militia had homes and families to attend. Therefore, military service was temporary and protracted military campaigns were out of the question.

Horse Arhers at CarrhaeParthian Shiva-tir horse archers attack Roman formations at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BCE (Picture source: Antony Karasulas & Angus McBride, Osprey Publishing).

In the end, with Parthia gone, Rome’s war in the east continued. A new power would emerge due to the vacuum Rome created. This power, unlike Parthia, was a centralized, leviathanic reflection of Rome. They were the Sassanids.

Fezana Journal article on Ancient Iranian Women

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

The Fezana Journal has published an article by Kaveh Farrokh on the ancient women of Iran:

Farrokh, K. (2014). Gender Equality in Ancient Iran (Persia). Fezana Journal (Publication of the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America), Vol. 28, No.1, March/Spring, pp. 105-107.

female-scythian-warriorA reconstruction by Cernenko and Gorelik of the north-Iranian Saka or Scythians in battle (Cernenko & Gorelik, 1989, Plate F). The ancient Iranians (those in ancient Persia and the ones in ancient Eastern Europe) often had women warriors and chieftains, a practice not unlike those of the contemporary ancient Celts in ancient Central and Western Europe. What is also notable is the costume of the Iranian female warrior – this type of dress continues to appear in parts of Luristan in Western Iran. 

As noted in the beginning of the article: “One topic that has received little attention in academia is ancient Iranian warrior women. There are in fact numerous references to ancient Iranian female warriors, from classical sources to post-Islamic Iranian literature.”

Amazon-3-AchaemenidsA reconstruction of a female Achaemenid cavalry unit by Shapur Suren-Pahlav.

It is further averred in the article that: “The rights of women in Achaemenid Persia were remarkably “modern” by today’s standards: women worked in many “male” professions (e.g. carpentry, masonry, treasury clerks, artisans, winery working), enjoyed payment equity with men, attained high-level management positions supervising male and female teams, owned and controlled property, were eligible for “maternity leave,” and received equitable treatment relative to men in inheritance“.

Gun-totting Iranian women-MalayerIranian women from Malayer (near Hamedan in the northwest) engaged in target practice in the Malayer city limits in the late 1950s.  The association between weapons and women is nothing new in Iran; Roman references for example note of Iranian women armed as regular troops in the armies of the Sassanians (224-651 AD).

The legacy of the status of the women of Iran is emphasized in the article as thus: “To this day, women in Iran’s tribal regions continue to be seen wielding their weapons“.

Amazon-7-FereydanshahrIranian tribal woman in shooting competition on horseback at the 2011 Fereydanshahr Olympiad in Iran.

Achaemenid style Persian (or Persian-influenced) Ivory comb

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

The information below on the Persian (or Persian-influenced) ivory comb was passed to Kavehfarrokh.com by Professor Yuri Stoyanov. The below image and caption is from a text from the Biblical Archaeological Review: “Ashkelon Discovered“, L. Stager, 1991, page 30. As noted by Professor Stoyanov:

The text…naturally downplays the Achaemenid cultural impact on the “Holy Land“.

Professor Stoyanov is currently engaged in research on the Fatemid period at Ashkelon. Note that his works on the exhibition of Persian manuscripts in Bulgaria have been of major importance in Iranian Studies.

Persian_Cultural_Influence_Ashkelon