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216 × 138 × 20 mm
208 pages
51 illustrations, 41 in colour
01 Nov 2016
Lost Civilizations

The Persians Lost Civilizations Brenda Parker, Geoffrey Parker

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.

‘The second in the Lost Civilizations series, The Persians is also a compact, concise history of a whole civilisation – from its nomadic origins in the 1st and 2nd millennia BC to its new role as a tourist destination as modern-day Iran . . . Tellingly, the book’s useful chronology ends in 2001 with the destruction of the Twin Towers. Today, Iran’s power and influence is far from waning’ — Minerva Magazine

‘Anyone looking for a concise overview of Iranian history from pre-Islamic times to the present could do worse than consult this elegantly written volume’ — Choice

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Geoffrey Parker is Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham. His books include The Logic of Unity (1986), The Geopolitics of Domination from the Ottoman Empire to the Soviet Union (1988), Geopolitics: Past, Present and Future (1998), Sovereign City (2004) and Power in Stone (2014), both published by Reaktion.


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

Paradise gained

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




Photo acknowledgements