During the first and second millennia BC large numbers of nomadic people known as the Aryans migrated outwards into the Eurasian periphery from Central Asia. One particular branch of these Aryans moved south of the Caspian Sea and became known to history as the Persians or Iranians. Their first dwellings were in an unpromisingly arid area, but from there these early settlers would go on to form one of the most powerful empires in history.
The Persians tells the captivating story of this beguiling ancient civilization. Drawing on the region’s subsequent history, it traces the unique features of Persian life and unravels their influence throughout the centuries. The book describes the difficulties early Persians encountered and how these contributed to their unique character and the establishment of the Achaemenid Empire. It recounts the keenly fought conflicts with the Greeks for mastery of the Eastern Mediterranean, a contest which was to dominate the geopolitics of the ancient world, and it paints a vivid picture of the many great Persian cities and their spectacular achievements: an efficient road system that linked an empire together; respect for their subject peoples; and advances in irrigation techniques which created a ‘paradise’ envied by their neighbours.
Providing an entertaining insight into the influence, traditions and history of ancient Persia, the book shows how the uniqueness of modern Iran in the Islamic world owes much to its ancient civilization.
Geoffrey Parker was Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham. His books include Sovereign City (2004) and Power in Stone (2014), both published by Reaktion. Brenda Parker is a former Lecturer in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham.