History and Heritage

Thursday, September 22, 2005

New Exhibition In British Museum

Revisiting Ancient Persian Empire

What urged John Curtis, Keeper of the Ancient Near East department at the British Museum to prepare the exhibition of "Forgotten Empire" was the release of the movie "Alexander" by Oliver Stone in which Iranians were portrayed as Berbers who only found the true meaning of freedom after the assault of Alexander.

"We have tried to provide a real image of ancient Persia. According to historical documents, Persians were pacifist and showed a great tolerance in their encounter with foreign beliefs and religions," says Curtis, adding that the main theme of the exhibition has been peace, tranquility, peaceful co-existence, self-respect, and respect for different religions.

The movie Alexander is a symbol of lack of education on Ancient Persian Empire in Europe. European still see and ancient history as history of Ancient Greece. Such an exhibition made Greece Lovers unhappy and they criticized the exhibition. The organizers of the exhibition , of cource expected more critics and complains: http://www.chn.ir/news/?Section=2&id=25112

The publication of an article in Guardian encouraged letters by Shahrokh Razmjou, head of the Centre for Achaemenid Studies, National Museum of Iran, and by Abbas Alizadeh, Iranian archaeologist from Chicago University.

The critic titled "The Evil Empire" was publishid in Guardian. It calls Persia's kings history's great villains. The writer, Jonathan Jones asks: Does the British Museum's show do them justice? Here is his article (--Siamak D. Ahi):

The title of this exhibition is a bit misleading. Forgotten Empire, the British Museum calls its spectacular resurrection of ancient Persia. Yet the Persians are as notorious in their way as Darth Vader, the Sheriff of Nottingham, General Custer, or any other embodiment of evil empire you care to mention. They are history's original villains.

In its day, which lasted from the middle of the 500s BC until the defeat of Darius III by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, the Persian empire ruled a vast portion of the then-known world from the Nile to the Indus. It connected the Mediterranean with modern Afghanistan. Rich beyond dreams, powerful beyond dispute, the great kings ruled from their mighty palaces at Susa and Persepolis, tolerating the religions and cultures of subject peoples and harvesting the creativity of near eastern civilisation that had already, before they came along, invented writing and urban life. It should have been enough to earn them historical immortality.

Yet, of course, the leader whose name resonates down the ages is Alexander the Great. The Persian kings, from their lofty thrones, perceived the turbulent islands on the western fringe of the empire as a marginal irritant, and yet the Greeks were their nemesis. For the Persians had the misfortune to be the others, the enemies - in short, the Orientals - against whom the first European civilisation defined itself.

The Middle East invented writing, but ancient Greece invented history. Herodotus, "the father of history", takes as his epic theme the struggle of the Greek city states against the vast Persian empire - and sees it as a war of liberation. The idea of democracy was born in the fight against Persian despotism: that is how Herodotus tells it. The Persian king Xerxes is the supreme overlord of all baddies, turning his eye on the plucky little Greek cities who, unexpectedly, fight back. Now you remember the Persians: the guys with the strange beards whom the Athenians beat at Marathon. Until Marathon, says Herodotus, "no Greek could even hear the word Persian without terror". In finding the courage to fight Persia, the Greeks discovered their own identity as citizens.... http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/features/story/0,,1564733,00.html

Persia was not an Evil Empire

"We should not judge a civilisation solely on the words of its enemies", says Shahrokh Razmjou who wrote an answer to Guardian with the title "Persia was not an evil empire". He writes:

I was very disappointed by the article by Jonathan Jones (
Evil empire, September 8). Jones claimed that Persia's kings are history's great villains and the Persian empire was as grandiose, luxurious and despotic as Herodotus said it was.

It is always dangerous to view history from one point of view, and it is surely not right that the Persian civilisation is compared to Darth Vader and its achievements regarded as evil.

The article took a strongly propagandist and Hellenocentric view and exaggerated the idea of a clash between Persian and Greek civilisation which, in my view, is a modern fabrication.

Evil Empire or Evil Intentions

Abbas Alizadeh, Iranian archaeologist from Chicago University, responds to Guardian article. He questions the knowledge of writer and his "political agenda". He writes:

Reading Mr. Jonathan Jones’ article, “The evil empire,” in your reputable newspaper (Guardian - 9/10/05) one is left with the feeling that Mr. Jones knows very little, if any, about history, art history, and archaeology. In fact, on a par with the title of the article, he immediately reveals his political agenda in his first paragraph and continues his political ramble in a thinly wrapped critique of the British Museum’s ongoing exhibition of Persian Achaemenid “Forgotten Empire.” Lest readers may be ambiguous about Persia, he duly reminds them that it is the same as Iran.

This is unfortunate because at this critical time when the polarization of the world is increasingly becoming nasty, ugly, and dangerous, Mr. Jones’ article would simply serve as fodder to the attitude that in part has been responsible for today’s geopolitical quagmire we are witnessing now.... http://www.chn.ir/en/news/?id=5660&section=2

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Says He's
Site of
Legendery Atlantis
Near Cyprus

From: Alex Efty, Canadian Press, Saturday, August 06, 2005

There are numerous works and websites dedicated to Atlantis, the historical facts are being discussed, the maps are being drawn and paintings are providing the possible views of Atlantis. The works and theory of Mr. Robert Sarmest is opening a new page on this global search… --Siamak D. Ahi

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) - An Iranian-American architect who claims to have discovered the site of Atlantis says he now has additional evidence that the legendary city sank beneath the waves between Cyprus and Syria.

Robert Sarmast, who first said he had found Atlantis in November, told reporters that enhanced side-scan sonar images of the east Mediterranean seabed showed the "unmistakable remains of man-made structures at a depth of 1.5 kilometres, 80 kilometres from the southeastern corner of Cyprus."

Sarmast showed a news conference Thursday colour slides of what he said were the ruins of the Atlantis acropolis, surrounded by the remains of a defensive wall that runs for three kilometres before turning a right angle and continuing for an equal distance.

"The new images will silence any remaining skepticism that modern Cyprus is what remains of a much larger and now partly sunken land mass, a land mass that fits Plato's description of Atlantis perfectly," said Sarmast, referring to the ancient Greek philosopher.

"There is not one scientist in the world who can explain these formations as natural ones," said Sarmast, who is based in Los Angeles.

Sarmast said he based his search for Atlantis on the writings of Plato. Plato had referred to other ancient writers who claimed Atlantis, a fabulously rich city-state, was swallowed by the sea after a huge earthquake about 9,000 BCE.

Sarmast said he planned a more detailed expedition next year in which a $5 million US documentary film would be produced in association with the Total Media Group of Los Angeles.

He said he was announcing his discovery in Cyprus because he is backed by the government's Tourist Organization.

"I am dedicated to making the discovery part of something that will benefit Cyprus for decades," he said.

Theories about Atlantis have placed the city in various parts of the world ranging from the Atlantic Ocean, to the Greek island of Santorini - which was partly submerged in an earthquake thousands of years ago, and even as far as the South China Sea.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Two New Theories:
Aryans were not Immigrants
Achaemenians Reached Central America
These two new theories on two exciting topics are independent from each other. But both, the result of a few decades of researches, are being discussed on papers, websites and ....
Here I am going to introduce both: Dr. Jahanshah Derakhshani and Dr. Jahangir Mazhare.
-Siamak D. Ahi

Dr. Derakhshani’s research, The Aryans in the Near Eastern Sources from 4th to 2nd Millennium BC, found recognition in the community of experts, as you can read the comments on his work.
http://www.int-pub-iran.com/ipis05_Briefe.htm He has been invited by scientific institutions to present his new theory.

Based on Dr. Drakhshani's theory, "Iran" newspaper is suggesting the review and rewriting of history of middle east:

I became familiar with his theory through Indian internet comunities. There is also a posting on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aratti_theory . His work is published by International Publication of Iranian Studies: http://www.int-pub-iran.com/index.html

In an interview with Shargh newspaper http://www.int-pub-iran.com/Farsi/Shargh%20Newspaper.htm Dr. Derakhshani talks about himself and his work:

Aryans Were Not Immigrants
An Interview With Dr. Derakhshani

Sharq, Daily Newspaper, No. 221, Jun. 22nd, 2004, :

Amir Hossein Rasael

The history is going ahead and being registered. The mankind cannot change the course of the history or adjust its transition speed. But certain theories may emerge about ancient clans. The history of Aryans is an example. Historians take as granted that Aryans lived two millennia Before Christ but Iranian professor Jahanshah Derakhshani has proof that the history of Aryans date back to three millennia BC. The veteran historian has carried out research for nearly 15 years to prove that Aryans were born in the Persian land and they were not migrants.

Dr Derakhshani Born in Tehran in 1944, He got his master degree in architecture and urban planning from Germany. He has been involved in historical research and linguistics in Germany for more than 20 years. He got his PhD in history from Yerevan University. His books and articles about ancient Iranian history enjoy international reputation. His latest works about Aryans were published in German some five years ago.

Q: Iranians are not familiar with the topic of your research. Can you explain about it?
A: The book reviews the history of ancient tribes who lived in Persia. Historians are not familiar with that period because non-Persian clans lived at those periods. My book studies ethnic Aryans who lived up to the second millennia BC.

Q: How come you found a vacuum in Iran's chronology and where does your research stem from?
A: There is no background about this research. Historians are of the view that Iranians did not live here at that time and they attribute the lives to migrants. That is why the tribes who lived at that time are obscure. That is the case while traces of Persian civilization date back to the sixth millennia BC. No serious work has been done about the history of ancient Persians. The history of Iran starts from the time Assyrian historians wrote about Mad, Pars and Achaemenians. I have carried out the first research about those who inhabited in Iran Plateau.

Q: Your studies dismiss the common view that Aryans had migrated to the Iranian Tableland. How do you justify your standpoints?
A: Aryans are believed to have lived in Iran Plateau in the second millennium BC. But the reasons for such view lack any scientific standing. There is enough evidence to prove that even Mad and Pars tribes lived in Iran in the third millenium BC. The idea of migration originates from European Fascism which emerged in the late 19th century. The Europeans believe that a blond race migrated to Iran and India but they do not offer any evidence for this migration. Their latest surveys have even attributed the original land of Aryans to Central Asia, Russia, the Smaller Asia and even the Mesopotamia. But I have found that the Aryans emerged from Iran Plateau.

Q: Your study says Aryans did not migrate from the now Europe to Iran. Did they move from somewhere else or they were born in Persian land?
A: A variety of evidences should be taken into account. A sole linguistic or archeological evidence cannot respond to our question. My study is based on paleontology, meteorology, mineralogy and linguistics. I have concluded that Aryans lived in Iran some 10,000 years BC. It was very cold at that time and the Aryans had to move to higher regions and they finally reached Iran Plateau. Finally, Aryans moved up to north of Europe. This idea has scientific and historical bases. The ancient language of Aryans is originated in north of Europe.

Q: Can you yell us of the Aryan Diaspora?
A: The biggest expansion of Aryans takes place in the middle of fifth millennium BC. Aryan tribes move to Europe, Palestine and Syria at the same time. They even leave trails of civilization in Egypt. The second wave of immigration transpires in the early second millennium BC. Aryans go to Greece and India.

Q: What is the reason behind the immigration? Are geographical reasons like warming or other issues related to agriculture and cattle breeding behind the migrations?
A: We have access to scientific surveys about meteorological conditions. The weather had started to warm and Aryans had to seek water resources. They mainly moved towards Tigris, Euphrates, Nile and Sindh rivers. Therefore, hot weather was the main reason behind migration of Aryans.

Q: Your research is pervasive. How come you decided to carry out such extensive research?
A: In recent decades, linguists and archeologists have been divided in their interpretation of ancient tribes. I have resorted to a combination of different branches of science notably paleontology and meteorology to reach correct results. Pictures depicting Aryans are found even in host nations like Egypt or Mesopotamia. Such phenomena bear proof to the fact that Aryans were determined to broaden their tribal and cultural relations with the world. if we review Iranian legends we will find relations between Aryans and Europeans.

Q: What other tribes lived in Iran before Aryans?
A: My research proves that fact that before Aryans, other tribes lived in Iran Plateau. Aryans who moved to Greece borrowed 40 percent of non-Aryan terms. 25 percent of Sanskrit terms are non-Aryans. But that is not the case for ancient Persian and it proves that non-Aryans never lived in Iran Plateau. Khuzestan was home to Elamites who do not speak Aryan.

Q: Where did Aryans live before coming to Iran?
A: First of all I ask you if the Aryans should have come from another region to Persia. Not necessarily! The fact is that it was very cold and Aryans could not live for a period of time. But the Persian Gulf was good for living. Iranian and European legends also prove that Aryans lived in southern regions. After thousands of years, Persian Gulf is replete with water and Aryans had to move. Afterwards, they had to move northward to build houses.

Q: Is there any other proof than linguistic signs to demonstrate inhabitation?
A: The Persian Gulf bed has not yet undergone archeological discoveries. But we know that a big valley was created at the confluence of Karoun, Tigris and Euphrates. A wide river was flowing to Oman Sea through the Strait of Hormuz.

Q: Now we go to the time that Aryans resided in Iran Plateau and boost cultural ties with the neighbors. How could ancient Aryans make relations?
A: Historical surveys have focused on the relations between native Iranians and residents of Syria, Palestine and Egypt. They have rarely reviewed relations between Iran and China or Korea.

Q: What about religions? Did Aryans believe in multiple gods before Zoroaster?
A: Aryans had diverse gods. Unlike other civilizations that worshipped idols, Aryans never bowed to idols and no traces have been found. Ahuramazda was the only divine god for Aryans.

Q: Were Aryans dominated by kings?
A: Iran Plateau was independent and there was no central government. But Achamenians established a central government.

Q: You have stemmed Aryan history in other languages and civilizations. Is there any manuscript?
A: The oldest trace of Aryan language in Iran is the language of Avesta which dates back to the second millennium BC. The more common manuscript was found after revelation of Islam.

Q: Is there any trace of confrontation between Iranian and non-Iranian culture of that time?
A: Yes. Aryan geographical terms were used in Near Eastern countries like Egypt, Syria, Palestine and Mesopotamia. Many of these countries switched to Arabic when Islam was revealed. But the current Arab language contains ancient Persian words. The names of Syria, Egypt and Palestine have no Arabic root.

Q: Does the same go for European mountains and rivers?
A: Yes, Aryans transferred their words to Europe. The names of European rivers originate from Aryan terms.

Q: Which tribe have you mainly focused on?
A: All tribes who lived in Iran. Diverse tribes were scattered in Iranian Plateau.

Q: Were they all Aryans?
A: Yes, they lived in different spots but they left traces. My book contains 360 pictures of these tribes.

Q: You have compared the skulls of Aryan and Egyptian people. Are they from different races?
A: We better use "culture" instead of "race". If we turn back to many years ago we would realize that other races had joined Aryans. Today, we recognize as Aryans anyone who believes in Aryan culture. Many blacks who live in the United States or Europe are of Indian origin but they speak English or French and so they have American or European culture.

Q: When did Aryans start to scatter?
A: We can respond to this question through the language they spoke. From a linguistic standpoint, Aryan language has influenced the entire world and Korean language contains around 200 Aryan words. You must know that Koreans are totally different from Japanese and Chinese. We may find tall Koreans with blue eyes but we rarely find such cases in Japan or China. Therefore, Aryans have even affected the Korean culture. Ancient Persian terms are also used in West and North Europe -- Finland and Hungary. If we follow up the roots we will find that Aryans had not started to scatter even in the fifth millenium BC.

Q: What is your assessment of Aryan economy?
A: Aryans did not enjoy from the same economy. They were involved in metallurgy, pottery, making chariots, horse breeding, agriculture, exports and other commercial affairs. Iranians produced copper ingots at that time. Archeological discoveries prove that Persians took cooper ingots to Egyptian Pharaohs. They had also unearthed tin, bronze, iron and precious stones like emerald and precious metals like gold and silver.

Q: What about astronomical and medical progress?
A: Iranians exported herbs and it proves that they were familiar with medicine. Zoroastrian books prove proof to astronomy. Persian culture had influenced the Greek culture before the Achaemenians.

Q: Can you tell us about the idea of democracy in ancient Persia?
A: Cambysis was killed or committed suicide in his military campaign against Egypt. Darius the Great gathered the Iranian governors to debate formation of a new government. They raised democracy which came against Cambysis autocracy.

Q: Do other nations hold any memory of Aryans?
A: Legends have all referred to Persian culture. Thoara, Avesta and other fables say three rivers had joined to form a bigger river -- that is now the Persian Gulf. They have exactly described the surrounding regions of the Persian Gulf.

Q: Did non-Aryans live in Iran?
A: The only tribe was Elamites who lived in Khuzestan region.

Q: How long did it take you to conduct your research?
A: Fourteen years. I spent four to five years on gathering reliable sources. All my references were in German and I used no translation.

Q: So you found your resources in libraries?
A: I have relies on foreign books and microfilms.

Q: Your book was published in German five years ago. How has it been reflected in the scientific and academic circles?
A: My book was printed in 1998. I also wrote other articles for scientific magazines. As you know new ideas face scientific deductions. My book managed to win the world endorsement because of reliable sources. A number of conferences were held and I was invited to deliver my speech.

Q: What are you planning to do in future?
A: The two volumes of the book which is now under translation proves the presence of Iranian tribes in Iranian Plateau since the outset of civilization. I introduce the tribes in summary. In my next works, I am determined to go through details and touch on other aspects of lives.

A talk with Dr. Jahangir Mazhari is all I found on his work. He is educated in Iran and France. Sociology and literature is what he studied and worked with well known French masters.

Achaemenians Reached Central America

Based on Dr. Mazhari's theory, after defeat of Dariush the III in 330BC, some Iranian emigrated from Iran on the ships and some ended up in Centeal America and.....

Dr. Mazhari went to Iran after 25 years for publishing this work. He doesn't expect much attention to this work in the west, because of questioning the discovery of America. He is also sensitive about Persian Gulf and ....

گفت وگو با دكتر جهانگير مظهرى

هخامنشيان كاشف قاره آمريكا

دكتر جهانگير مظهرى پس از سال ها تحقيق و مطالعه مدعى است كه به كشفى نائل شده كه هنوز از تمامى آن پرده بر نداشته است.او كه پس از ۲۵ سال دورى از ايران، براى چند روزى بازگشته مى گويد: «تا كتابم كه در آن شرح كشف خود را شواهد كافى آورده ام، چاپ نشود، نمى توانم چيزى اعلام كنم.»
او مدعى است كه در جست وجو هايش نشانه ها و شواهدى يافته كه ثابت مى كند درست بعد از شكست داريوش سوم از اسكندر و فروپاشى امپراتورى هخامنشى در سال ۳۳۰ پيش از ميلاد، بسيارى از ايرانيان پراكنده شدند و آنها كه به آمريكاى مركزى راه يافتند امپراتورى هاى ديگرى بنيان نهادند و در واقع، آنان قبل از كريستف كلمب اين قاره را كشف كرده اند!
او واكنش دنياى غرب را نسبت به اين ادعا مى داند. هرچند كه مى گويد برايش اصلاً اهميتى ندارد. سپس با عصبانيت به اهداى يك اطلس جغرافيايى در همين اواخر به ملكه انگلستان اشاره مى كند كه در آن كلمه فارس را از خليج فارس پاك كرده و فقط به كلمه خليج اكتفا كرده اند و مى گويد: «انتظار تشويق و تكريم ندارم چون چيزى در كشف من به نفع آنها نيست شايد دوست داشته باشند دزدان دريايى تاجرنماى اسپانيولى- ايتاليايى كاشف قاره شان باشند تا دريانوردان غيور ايرانى.»
دامنه صحبت هاى او بسيار گسترده است. از تاريخ آغاز مى كند، به جغرافيا كه مى رسد ما را در احاطه نقشه هايش كه به ديوار نصب كرده قرار مى دهد و در زبان شناسى و مردم شناسى حل مى شود. جمع وجور كردن گفته هاى او كارى دشوار است.
جهانگير مظهرى متولد سال ۱۳۱۱ در تهران، تحصيلات دانشگاهى را در ايران و پاريس در رشته هاى جامعه
شناسى و ادبيات چند فرهنگى در محضر اساتيدى چون ژرژگوريچ، ريمون آرون، هانرى ماسه و... به پايان رساند و از آن پس ضمن تدريس و تحقيق در مورد ايران به سخنرانى هاى بسيار در كشور هاى مختلف پرداخته است.
«نقش انسان در آفرينش اهورايى»، «گناه آفتاب»، «جلوگيرى هاى نامرئى»، «بى دود و بدون خاكستر» و مقالات و ترجمه هايى به زبان هاى فرانسه، اسپانيولى، انگليسى و فارسى و سرانجام كتاب «آمريكايى پارسيان هخامنشى» از آثار اوست. متن زير مصاحبه اى است كه با ايشان صورت گرفته است.
•••• و اما درباره كشف شنيدنى شما آقاى دكتر...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Language Family Trees


and Iranian Languages

From: http://www.ethnologue.com/home.asp

How to define "language", zaban, is a never ending discussion among linguists. So is its relation to "dialect", lahjeh, which becomes the subjet of great disputes in study of Persian and Iranian languages. Independent from theoretical differences in naming the findings, the findings themselves are of a great value. The source I used here, is a great collection of findings for quick references. --Siamak D. Ahi

Indo-European (449), Indo-Iranian (308)

Iranian Languages

Eastern (14)

Northeastern (3)

Avestan [
ave] (Iran)
Osetin [
oss] (Georgia)
Yagnobi [
yai] (Tajikistan)

Southeastern (11)

Pamir (7)
Munji [
mnj] (Afghanistan)
Sanglechi-Ishkashimi [
sgl] (Afghanistan)
Shugni-Yazgulami (3)
Wakhi [
wbl] (Pakistan)
Yidgha [
ydg] (Pakistan)

Pashto (4)
Pashto, Southern [
pbt] (Pakistan)
Pashto, Northern [
pbu] (Pakistan)
Pashto, Central [
pst] (Pakistan)
Waneci [
wne] (Pakistan)

Unclassified (1)
Tangshewi [
tnf] (Afghanistan)

Western (72)

Northwestern (54)

Balochi (5)
Balochi, Southern [
bcc] (Pakistan)
Balochi, Western [
bgn] (Pakistan)
Balochi, Eastern [
bgp] (Pakistan)
Bashkardi [
bsg] (Iran)
Koroshi [
ktl] (Iran)

Caspian (3)
Gilaki [
glk] (Iran)
Mazanderani [
mzn] (Iran)
Shahmirzadi [
srz] (Iran)

Central Iran (12)
Ashtiani [
atn] (Iran)
Fars, Northwestern [
faz] (Iran)
Dari, Zoroastrian [
gbz] (Iran)
Gazi [
gzi] (Iran)
Khunsari [
kfm] (Iran)
Natanzi [
ntz] (Iran)
Nayini [
nyq] (Iran)
Parsi-Dari [
prd] (Iran)
Parsi [
prp] (India)
Sivandi [
siy] (Iran)
Soi [
soj] (Iran)
Vafsi [
vaf] (Iran)
Khalaj [
kjf] (Iran)

Kurdish (4)
Kurdish, Central [
ckb] (Iraq)
Kurdish, Northern [
kmr] (Turkey (Asia))
Laki [
lki] (Iran)
Kurdish, Southern [
sdh] (Iran)

Ormuri-Parachi (2)
Ormuri [
oru] (Pakistan)
Parachi [
prc] (Afghanistan)

Semnani (4)
Lasgerdi [
lsa] (Iran)
Sangisari [
sgr] (Iran)
Semnani [
smy] (Iran)
Sorkhei [
sqo] (Iran)

Talysh (16)
Alviri-Vidari [
avd] (Iran)
Eshtehardi [
esh] (Iran)
Gozarkhani [
goz] (Iran)
Harzani [
hrz] (Iran)
Karingani [
kgn] (Iran)
Koresh-e Rostam [
okh] (Iran)
Razajerdi [
rat] (Iran)
Rudbari [
rdb] (Iran)
Shahrudi [
shm] (Iran)
Takestani [
tks] (Iran)
Talysh [
tly] (Azerbaijan)
Taromi, Upper [
tov] (Iran)
Maraghei [
vmh] (Iran)
Kho'ini [
xkc] (Iran)
Kajali [
xkj] (Iran)
Kabatei [
xkp] (Iran)

Unclassified (1)
Dezfuli [
def] (Iran)

Zaza-Gorani (6)
Bajelani [
bjm] (Iraq)
Dimli [
diq] (Turkey (Asia))
Gurani [
hac] (Iraq)
Kirmanjki [
kiu] (Turkey (Asia))
Shabak [
sdb] (Iraq)
Sarli [
sdf] (Iraq)

Southwestern (18)

Fars (2)
Fars, Southwestern [
fay] (Iran)
Lari [
lrl] (Iran)

Luri (4)
Bakhtiari [
bqi] (Iran)
Luri, Northern [
lrc] (Iran)
Luri, Southern [
luz] (Iran)
Kumzari [
zum] (Oman)

Persian (10)
Aimaq [
aiq] (Afghanistan)
Bukharic [
bhh] (Israel)
Dehwari [
deh] (Pakistan)
Darwazi [
drw] (Afghanistan)
Hazaragi [
haz] (Afghanistan)
Dzhidi [
jpr] (Israel)
Farsi, Western [
pes] (Iran)
Pahlavani [
phv] (Afghanistan)
Farsi, Eastern [
prs] (Afghanistan)
Tajiki [
tgk] (Tajikistan)

Tat (2)
Judeo-Tat [
jdt] (Israel)
Tat, Muslim [
ttt] (Azerbaijan)

Language Family Index

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

(The Final Expansions)
after Cyril Babaev

650 BCE Scythian expansion into Europe

As with any other ethnogenesis, it is always hard to tell what was the exact ethnic origin of the Central Asian steppes or European peoples, but one thing sure, these people were to play a very important role in the creation of European identity thus laying down the founding stone of European civilisation. Unfortunately, the picture however defined, gets more blurry as the time periods overlap.

This because of a process of contacts and assimilation which inevitably led to a mixing of peoples to the point that it makes it difficult to trace the language of this or that ethnic group. Such groups, recorded in the European history as Huns, Sarmatians, Scythians, Cymmerians, Avars, Alans, were in fact not single nations, but groupings of several peoples, frequently with different ethnic and language origins. That is, other Nostrasic groups came under the frame work of the aryanic tripartite structuralising process.

This is why, certain linguists identify Scythians with Iranians, while some others, confuse them with the Turkish group, or even of some other group. Scythians, in fact, were Indo-Europeans with Turkish, Uralic or Slavic captives, thus synthesising, at the basic level, non-Indo-European heterogeneous cultures as it was the case with other ethnic groups.

The Scythians criss-crossed the steppes from east to west and back many times. They went north to the Black Sea, rarely venturing into the forest regions north, and penetrated the Northern Balkans. There is abundant toponymic material from modern South Russia, Ukraine, Romania showing traces of the Scythians in place names of rivers and hills. This shows an occupation of the region by Scythian tribes from up to the 3rd century CE. This was before the area was overwhelmed by Huns from Asia. The Scythian language belonged to the Iranian group although showing strong influences from Slavic and Thracian. On the other hand, Slavic borrowed heavily from Scythian. This shows that both languages belonged to the same bilingual zone. Phonetic features of modern South Russian dialects and Ukrainian language betray an Iranian substratum. The names of the rivers Don, Dnepr and Dnestr are all Iranian in origin, from dn- the stem.

600 BCE Lydians push Greeks out of Asia

The century between 650 and 550 BCE was Lydia's Golden Age. Phrygia was overran by Cymmerians. In turn, Scythians took on the Cymmerians and then left Asia Minor. There were no countries around Lydia to contain it and prevent its development. Lydia, and its capital Sardis, was the important centre of Euro-Asian trade, in which the country found its prosperity.

Lydia felt it could gain supremacy in the region after Assyria started to lose power in the Middle East. In 605 BCE king Aliatt faced the resistance of the Greek polises of Asia Minor. when he decided to increase the Lydian influence in the East Mediterranean. Miletus and Smirna, which had struggled long for independence, were the strongest Greek cities. It was only in 600 BCE that Aliatt managed to capture Smirna thus forcing the Greeks out of Asia.

However, this didn't stop the Greek colonisation of the region but just suspended it for a while. Therefore, Lydia developed independently by culture and language. History was to show that it had only five decades to enjoy the independence.

590 BCE Scythian Kingdom in Asia is occupied by Medians

According to Herodotus, half a century before Medians, Lydians and Babylonians called the Scythians from the Northern Caucasus to their aid against the Cymmerians and Assyrian Empire. The Cymmerian cavaliers' nomadic power was the most powerful striking force in the region. Ironically, after the Cymmerians were eliminated, and after Assyria slowly began its decline, Scythians became the new threat of the Middle Eastern kingdoms. Scythians then established their own kingdom in Northern Iran, raiding Median lands and pillaging neighbouring towns and lands. At that time after several wars, Media, the strongest kingdom in Iran, decisively won the victory over Scythians and made them retreat back into Central Asia. Because of the short period of the Scythian presence in Iran, made no significant impact on the languages and peoples of the country. That is, nothing that was detected by linguists and archaeologists.

550 BCE - 50 BCE Messapic and Venetic inscriptions

The history of Venetic, Illyrian, and Messapic tribes begins much earlier than the dates given here. In fact, it was around 1300 BCE that the Illyrians arrived in the Balkan peninsula. Later the Messapians crossed the Adriatic and appeared in Italy. Details about this early period of their history is gained only through archaeological material or by early Greek sources, since these peoples only started leaving inscriptions by the 6th century BCE. So, we are not sure when they started to exist and what role they played in the Indo-European scheme.

Venetic speakers are often confused with Italics, or Illyrians, but even though closely related to these groups, they evidently formed a family of their own. Venetic has closer ties with the Celtic, Germanic languages, and possibly, with Slavic. This is inferred because of the similarity of one tribal name. The Este (Ateste) culture, which was flourishing in northern Italy and Slovenia, left much epigraphic evidence (about 250 texts, mainly dedications and epitaph inscriptions). The texts were written in a local script, possibly a variety mixture of Etruscan and Greek writing, or in a modified Latin script. The Venetics were assimilated in the 1st century BCE by the Romans and took up Latin. On the Atlantic coast, Venetics were also assimilated to Celtic, to the point that when Caesar fought their navy in 56 BCE, they had totally merged with the Gauls.

The Illyrians left little written records of their existence, although Roman writers left many glosses.There is data of onomastics and toponymy as well.

As for Messapic, nearly 350 short inscriptions were found in south-eastern Italy. Being too short, they don't tell much about the grammar or syntax of the language. But then again, they are stated proof of the existence of Messapic and Illyrian.

450 BCE Celtic tribes move into Italy

The period covered by La Tène culture follows that of the Hallstatt culture and extends from about 450 BCE to the subjugation of Gaul by Julius Caesar in 58 BCE. This was at the peak of the Celtic civilisation.

La Tène culture was initially influenced by the Etruscan and Greek civilisations but developed regional variations through the centuries as the Celts spread through most of central and western Europe, over to Britain, north to Jutland, and elsewhere.

Some common features may be noted throughout, however, such as curvilinear ornamentation (S shapes and spirals) and animal art forms. Burials were by inhumation or by covering with cairns of stones. This was the period of the beginning of urbanisation, of new industries, and of new artistic traditions.

By this time, the Celts had crossed the Alps and passed into Northern Italy, where they soon spread over the Padus (Po) valley. In the Po, they met different nations with whom they mingled and dominated. These were the Ligurians, who are believed to have been Indo-Europeanised aborigines, Etruscans, Venetic and Italic peoples. True that the Italic and Celtic languages were still close enough to be understood by one another. From then on, the Italic languages (and namely Latin) were acquiring many Celtic words and terms. The Celts themselves borrowed many features from the neighbouring languages. Gradually the Celtic of the Southern Alps region, originally a primitive Gaulish, became different from that of contemporary Gaulish Celtic into a language now called Lepontic.

In 390 BCE the Celts resume their expansion over Europe by invading Central Italy, where in 387 BCE, allied with Etruscans, they destroy the Roman army, capture and plunder Rome. Surprisingly, this incursion had very little influence on the politics and culture of Italy. Satisfied with receiving a huge tribute from Rome, the Celts retreat back to the north.

350 BCE - 70 BCE Scythian Steppes Kingdom

In 512, the Persian king Darius was defeated by the Scythian army, after having crossed the Danube and venturing too far into the steppes. After this, the Scythians consolidated their state to the point that in 350 BCE, Scythia, next to Greek Black Sea colonies, became a true kingdom. It therefore could be said that the "King Scythians", developed one of Europe's first monarchies. The kingdom, under the rule of Ateus, began to expand in the region. King Ateus managed to unify the Scythian tribes into a powerful state. Ateus also vassalised many other nations in the Black Sea region, including Crimea's Cymmerians.

Under Ateus, the Scythians invaded and occupied part of Thrace. He then conquered the shores of modern Bulgaria, and the Greek city states on the coast were also forced into accepting Scythian protection. After Ateus' death, Philip of Macedonia, by the Danube, defeated the Scythian army, thus putting an end to the Scythian expansion.During the following two centuries, the Scythians took Crimea and assimilated Taurian tribes.The Scythians had also close contacts with Slavs and Baltic peoples who inhabited territories north of Scythia. To a point that today's Russian, Belorussian and Ukrainian languages bear the Scythic Indo-Iranian imprint, both in vocabulary and pronunciation.

320 BCE - 187 BCE Maurya Kingdom in India

In 324 BCE, not long after Alexander's death, in Greek dominated Western India, began the rebellion against the Macedonian rule. Rebels led by Chandragupta managed to gain victory over the Macedonian garrisons and drove them out of India. Chandragupta, an Indian kshatrya, first served Alexander during his struggle against the king of Magadha.

At the head of his rebel army, Chandragupta head for the Magadha capital, overthrew the king and founded his own dynasty.

Chandragupta's reign was one of a time of great expansion for India. He thus unified all of North India's states and principalities. Then, in other successful wars against the Greeks, he acquired the territories of what is now Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Better known are his successors Bindusar and Asoka, during whose reign the kingdom's expansion was directed at South India. Thus began the assimilation process of many non-Indo-European tribes. Asoka unified India as one nation giving it Buddhism, his religion.

During this rule, the Aryans moved to the Dravidian south; where the economy flourished and great constructions were undertaken throughout the country. With Asoka's death, this great unity was lost because India was still a mosaic of conflicting tribes with different cultural levels. The country was divided in 236 between his two successors. And in 187 BCE, the last heir of the Asokan dynasty was killed by one of his commanders.

280 BCE Celts move West to the Balkans and Asia Minor

Gallo-Celtic warlords lead their tribes into the Balkan peninsula.

Great numbers of warrior bands and their people descend the Danube and cross into Illyria, Thracia and on into Macedonia. All of Macedonia's forces are engaged into the conflict against the Celts.

Macedonia falls and the country is pillaged. In 279, the Celts move on to Greece, and destroy several cities. Sparta is captured for a short period, but the Celts are defeated near Delphi and are forced to retreat out of Greece. Following another minor defeat to the hands of Antioch I, the king of the Seleucid Kingdom, the Celts in their retreat South, cross the Bosphorus into Asia Minor, where in 278, they founded the Galatian kingdom. Anatolia, once before the centre of the Phrygian kingdom, had also been the homeland of their Cymmerian cousins. The Celts remembered that it had once been an ancestral possession. Through Classical sources, we have the names of the three main tribes of Asian Celts: the Tolistoages, Tectosages, and Trokmoi.

Galatia survived for a while under difficult conditions: wedged between the Seleucid Kingdom and Pergam, the power to the north; the Celtic district was left without access to the sea and with no possibility to develop sea trade. Weakened by its isolation, Galatia became in the 2nd century BCE, the protectorate of the Pontic kingdom, and by the next century, became a province of Rome.

The Celts of Galatia spoke a Gaulish dialect. Unfortunately, little records of their language were found, so we are left ignorant of its evolution. We can infer that they had Druid priests also because of toponomy. A place name called Drunemeton, "True or Firm Sanctuary" betrays their presence.

135 BCE Iranian, Tokharic, Turkish tribes plunder Bactria

At the time the Bactrian kingdom was losing in power and the integrity of its territory and cities became more and more threatened by nomadic tribes who moved in the Asian steppes at its border. Tribal alliances formed by Massagetian tribes from north of Bactria, were the state's main menace. The Kings of Bactria called for help to the Parthians and Seleucids, but none answered the call. Most of the surrounding states longed for the fall of Bactria. A great number of Tokharians are believed to have settled there in great numbers since later, Bactria was renamed Tokharistan, for land of the Tokhars. The main body of Tokhars settled on the northern banks of the Amudarya river where the high king's residence was situated.

The Tokharians, had come from the Tarim basin from the Northeast. The Tokharian languages belonged to the Centum Indo-European language group. Although distantly related to Iranian and Indic, they were closer related to the Celtic and Italic languages with with they form a branch of their own.These languages were once united at the Proto-Celtic level, that is, before Celtic.

The Tokharian state, that was very extensive, was divided into several independent principalities. The Chinese sources mention five, and the most powerful of these was the kingdom of Kuchanes.