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Persian Empire was the best

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2003 2:54 pm    Post subject: Persian Empire was the best Reply with quote

The First Declaration
of Human Rights

One of the significant events in ancient history is the conquest of Babylon by the Persian king, Cyrus the Great.

On October 4th, 539 BC, the Persian Army entered the city of Babylon, which was then the capital of the Babylonian state (in central Iraq). This was a bloodless campaign and no prisoners were taken. Later, on November 9th, King Cyrus of Persia visited the city. Babylonian history tells us that Cyrus was greeted by the people, who spread a pathway of green twigs before him as a sign of honor and peace (sulmu). Cyrus greeted all Babylonians in peace and brought peace to their city.

On this great event, Cyrus issued a declaration, inscribed on a clay barrel known as Cyrus's inscription cylinder. It was discovered in 1879 by Hormoz Rassam in Babylon and today is kept in the British Museum. Many historians have reviewed it as the first declaration of human rights.

The Babylonian annals, as well as the first section of the Cyrus' inscription, shed light on the religiopolitical plight that had angered the people of Babylon and why they invited Cyrus's military campaign. Evidently, the Babyloninan king, Nabonidus, eliminated the festival of the new year and Nebo (one of the gods) was not brought into the city, and Bel (another god) was not taken in the procession of the festival. Also, the worship of Marduk, the king of the gods, was changed to an abomination and Nabonidus tormented the inhabitants with unbelievable oppression and forced labor. The sanctuaries of all their settlements were in ruins and the inhabitants of Sumer and Akkad had become like the living dead. Marduk, the king of the gods, scanned and searched for a righteous ruler, finally coming upon Cyrus's good deeds and his upright mind and ordered him to march against the City of Babylon. The angry inhabitants of Akkad had revolted but were massacred by Nabonidus, who, upon his return to Babylon, was arrested, but nevertheless was treated with respect. When Nabonidus died in the year following, Cyrus participated in the national mourning time that was proclaimed for him. The gods of Akkad were then returned to their sacred cities. All the inhabitants of Sumer and Akkad, including princes and governors, greeted Cyrus as a master who brought them back from a living death. All who had been spared damage and disaster revered his very name.

Cyrus's Declaration:

I am Cyrus, the king of the world, great king, legitimate king (son of Cambyses) whose rule Bel and Nebo loved and whom they wanted as king to please their hearts.

When I entered Babylon as a friend and established the seat of government in the place of the ruler under jubilation and rejoicing, Marduk, the great lord (induced) the magnanimous inhabitants of Babylon (Din Tir) (to love me) and I daily endeavored to praise him. My numerous troops walked around in Babylon in peace, I did not allow anybody to terrorize (any of the people) of the country of Sumer and Akkad. I strove for peace in Babylon (Ka Dingir ra) and in all his (other) sacred cities. As to the inhabitants of Babylon (who) against the will of the gods (had/were I abolished) the corvee (yoke) which was against their (social standing). I brought relief to their dilapidated housing, putting an end to their main complaints. Marduk, the great lord, was well pleased with my deeds and sent friendly blessing to myself, Cyrus, the King, who reveres him, to Cambyses, my son, as well as to all my troops, and we all (praised) his great (name) joyously, standing before him in peace I returned to (these) sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris, the sanctuaries of which have been ruins for a long time, the images which (used) to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I (also) gathered all their (former) inhabitants and returned (to them) their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled upon the command of Marduk, the great lord, all the gods of Sumer and Akkad who Nabonidus has brought to Babylon (su sa na) to the anger of the lord of the gods unharmed in their chapels, the places which make them happy.

May all the gods whom I have resettled in their sacred cities ask Bel and Nebo daily for a long life (six lines destroyed) and always with good words remember my good deeds that Babylonians incessantly cherished me because I resettled them in comfortable habitations I endeavored to strengthen the fortification of Imgur-Enlil and the great fortification of the City of Babylon the side brick wall by the city's trench which the former king (had built and had not finished). This was finished around (the city), that none of the former kings, despite the labor of their yoked people, had not accomplished. I rebuilt and completed with tar and brick and installed large gates entrances were built by cedar wood covered with brass and copper pivot I strengthened all the gates I saw inscribed the name of my predecessor, King Ashurbanipal.

On this historical turning point, by order of Cyrus, all the captive nationalities held as slaves for generations in Babylon were freed and the return to their homeland was financed. Among the liberated captives were 50,000 Jews held in Babylon for three generations whose return toward the rebuilding of their temple in Palestine, a policy that was followed by Darius and his successors. Some of the liberated Jews were invited to and did settle in Persia. Because of such a generous act, Cyrus has been anointed in the Bible. He is the only gentile in the Bible, who has been titled Messiah, an is mentioned explicitly as the Lord's shepherd and his anointed (Messiah). Other references to Cyrus are attested in Isaiah 45:4 where Cyrus is called by name and given a title of honor; he is also called to rebuild the God's city and free His people (Is. 45:13) and is chosen, called and brought successful by God (Is. 48:14-15).

What took place after the victory in Babylon was contrary to the standard of the time. Based on the inscriptions of the neighboring countries (Assyrians, Babylonians), it was customary to destroy the vanquished cities, level houses and temples, massacre the people or enslave the population, replace them with snakes, wolves and even carry away the soil to make the land barren. But here, peace and liberty replaced the massacre and slavery, and construction substituted for destruction. After Cyrus, his son Cambyses ruled for eight years (530BC to 522 BC) and captured Egypt, and as a sign of respect toward their culture and religion, he prostrated himself before the goddess, Meith and paid homage to Apis, the Egyptian totem (Bull).

After Cambyses, Darius took over the throne and ruled form 522BC to 486BC. From 518BC to 515BC he established peace and tranquility in Egypt and also paid homage to their totem, Apis. Darius, in his inscriptions, expresses faith in the commands of Ahuramazda. He declares "Whoever worships Ahuramazda, shall receive happiness in life and after death." He calls Elamites faithless, and because they did not worship Ahuramazda, yet he does not pressure them to change faith. Darius exhorts his successors "thou shalt be king thereafter, protect yourself from the lies and punish the liar and deceitful."

He entreats God's grace for the protection of Persia against rancor, enemy, famine and the lie. At times he alludes to other gods that may either indicate the old Aryan gods who still had strong followings or the gods of other nations under his rule, for the display of reverence toward their religions.

A. Arfaee, The command of Cyrus the Great (in Persian), quoted the opinion of Sydney Smith.
Grayson, Assyrian and Babylonian chronicles, p110, dates the fall of Babylon on Oct. 12th and Cyrus's entry on Oct 29th.
J. B. Pritchard, The ancient Near East, Vol. 1, 1958, p203.
A fragment in the Yale's Babylon collection was identified in 1970 by P.R.Berger, the professor of Munster, Germany, as part of Cyrus's cylinder that was transferred to the British Museum and added to the cylinder, who wrote in the journal of Assyrology (Zeiserrift fir Assiriologie), July 25, Vol. 64. The remainder of the text is quoted from A. Arafaee, which was the missing portion kept in Yale University. Bible, 2 Chronicles 36:15-23
Bible, Ezra 1:1-11, Ezra 2:12-70
Bible, Ezra 7:8
Bible, Ezra 6:3-4-5
Bible, Ezra 7:15-25
Bible, Isaiah 44:28 and 45:1
Source: Dr. Darius Jahanian, Zoroastrianism and Biblical Connections

The Medes

Ancient Media consisted of Azarbaijan (Atropatene), Kordestan, the region around Hamedan, the areas of lake Hoz-e Soltan and the Salt Lake (Daryacha - ye Namak), the regions of the Qara - su and Qomrud Rivers, the northern part of the Kavir Plain, Isfahan (Paraitekene), Kermanshah and Lorestan. The vassal countries of the Median Empire included Pars, Armenia, a part of Assyria (Harran and northern Mesopotamia), Ilam, Drangiana (Sistan, Kerman, part of Makran and western Afghanistan as far as Qandahar), Parthia, Hyrkania ( Gorgan), Areia, possibly Khwarazm and probably Soghd.
In the year 647 - 3 B.C. the Medes, the Cimmerians and the Mannaeans revolted against Esarhaddon, the King of Assyria, under the leadership of Kashtaritu (Khshathrita). It is probable that Kashtaritu is the same
person whom Herodotus calls Phraortes, the son of Deioces (Dayukku). Kashtaritu ruled the year 652 B.C. From 652 until 625 the Medes were ruled by the Scythians or Sakas. In 615 the tribes of Media united under
the leadership of Cyxares (Huvakhshathra), attacked the Assyrian Empire and entered Kerkuk (Arrapkha). In the year 612 B.C. the Medes together with the Babylonians occupied Nineveh, and with the occupation of Hrran in 610 B.C. the Assyrian Empire fell. Cyxares then occupied the western part of Asia Minor, and Media came to possess a common border with Lydia. The ensuing war between these two powers continued several years until the occurrence of a solar eclipse in 585 B.C., which caused the two sides to cease fighting. A peace was concluded through the mediation of the kings of Babylonia and Cilicia according to which the Halys Rivers was determined as the border between Media and Lydia. After Cyxares his son Astyges (Arshtivaiga;
553 - 550 B.C.) becames king. Cyrus II, the Achaemenid, revolted against him and in 550 captured Ecbatana, thus bringing the Median Empire to an end.

The Achaemenids (559 - 330 B.C.)

The Achaemenid Empire included the following regions: Pars of Parsa, which probably included Kerman (Carmania or Karmana); Media; Lydia of Sardis (Sparda); Cappadocia (Katpatuka); Ionia (Yavna); the land of
<<the Scythians from the other side of the sea>> (Saka paradarya), located on the northern plains of the Black Sea; There (Skudra); the land of <<the Ionians wearing the Petasos cap>> (Yavna takabara), which was probably the region of Phrygia near the Dardanelles (the Hellespont); Caria (Karka); Armenia as far as the Black Sea; the lands of the Kushaya (Abyssinia); Lybia (Putaya); Egypt (Mudraya); Arabia (Arabaya); Babylonia (Babaitush); <<the Assyria on the other side of the river (the Euphrates)>>, which included Syria, Phoenicia, Palestine and Cyprus; the lands of the Saka homavrga (Amorges); the Indus valley (Hindush); the lands of <<the Sakas with the pointed hats (or helmets)>> (Tigrakhoda or Orthokoybantioi); Qandahar (Gandhara or Parvparaesenna: << the land on that side of the mountain>>); Sattagydia (Thatagush); Makran; Arachosia (Harahuvatish: the valley of the Helmand River as far as Qandahar): Drangyana (Zaranka);
Choresmia (Khvarazmish); Sogdiana; Bactria (Bakhtrish), which also included the area of Marv (Margu); Haraiva; Parthava; Hyrkania; the areas bordering on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea; and Ilam
(Huvaza or Huza = Khuzestan). Cyrus II the Achaemenid revolted against Astyges (Arshtivaiga) in 553 B.C. and in 550 B.C. took him prisoner. In 547 Cyrus occupied Sardis and captured Croesus, the King of Lydia, and then proceeded to occupy the other parts of Asia Minor. In 539 - 8 B.C. he conquered Babylonia and gave permission to the Jews to return to Palestine, their homeland. Then he turned to the conquest of the northern and eastern regions of Iran, and in 530 - 29 B.C. in a war with tribes to the east or northeast he was killed. In 525 Cambyses II conquered Egypt. In 519 B.C. Darius attacked the lands of the Sakas to the east and in 513 those of the European Sakas. In the year 331 B.C. Darius III was decisively defeated by Alexander the Great at the battle of Gaugamela, from whence he fled to Bactria. In 330 he was killed by Bessus, and thus the Achaemenid Empire was brought to an end.

The Seleucids (312 - 6 B.C.)

The Seleucid Empire at the time of its founder, Seleucus Nicator, included the greater part of both the Achaemenid Empire and the territories of Alexander. Seleucus ruled over all of Iran. Babylonia, Assyria, Syria, Phoenicia, Palestine, Asia Minor (with the exception of Armenia, Pontus, Paphlagnia and Bithynia) and Alexander's European territories. Atropatene (Azarbaijan) was independent, and Chandragopta, the King of India, had founded a kingdom to the east of the Indus River, the capital of which was Pataliputra (Patna). The different nationalities possessing a variety of cultures and traditions within this extensive Seleucid Empire made the continuation of its existence more difficult. For this reason the Seleucids continued Alexander's policy of Hellenizing the conquered territoties. Greek and Macedonian immigrants were settled in many of the cities of Iran, which were then given Greek names. Thus the city of Rhgae (Rey), for example, was called Europus, today's Nahavand was called Laodicea (the Arabic Ladhiqiyya), and Haraiara (Harat) was called Alexandria. Sometimes new cities were also built. These steps, however, did not produce the desired result and in the third century B.C. the Seleucid Empire was attacked from both within and without. In the year 255 B.C. Bactria achieved independence under the leadership of Diodotus, from the years 250 to 248 - 7 B.C. the province of Parthia gained its independence, and at the same time to the west the Seleucids lost the province of Cappadocia. Some of these lost territories were recaptured by Antiochus III; but he was forced to recognize officially the independence of Pergamum, Bactria and Parthia. As a result of the Treaty of Apamea in 188 B.C. all of Asia Minor north of the Taurus Mountains was lost by the Seleucids. In the year 145 B.C. Ptolemy VI captured Lebanon and Palestine from them and in 140 B.C. the Parthians occupied Babylonia and southern Mesopotamia. The last Seleucid kings ruled only in Syria and a part of Mesopotamia. The city of Seleucia on the Tigris River, founded in the year 312 B.C. by seleuces I, was for a time the capital was Antioch, located on the Orontes River.

The Parthians

In the first half of the third century B.C. a confederation of nomadic tribes called the Dahae lived in the northern plains of Hyrcania (Gorgan). One of these tribes, an Iranian people called the Parni, separated from the confederation under the leadership of two brothers, Arsaces and Tiridates, and set out for the valley of Tejend (Ochus). Diodotus, the Satrap of Bactria, blocked their path, and they were forced to head for Hyrcania - Parthia. The Satrap of this province, Andragora, was killed in a resulting war. Arsaces and Tiridates are considered the founders of the Parthian (or Arsacid) dynasty. The <<Arsacid Era>>, which began on April 1, 247 B.C., was apparently calculated from the coronation of the first of the Parthian kings.
The Parthians took advantage of the weakness of the Seleucids and gradually conquered the latter's territories as far as the Euphrates River. The Parthian Empire was made up of the following regions: Hyrcania, the capital of which was Zadrakarta; Astavene, whose capital was Asaak mear present - day Quchan; Parthyene whose capital was Mithradakert near today's Eshq Abad, the Nisa of the Islamic period;
Apavarcticene, or the Abivard of the Islamic period; Margiane, the Marv of the Islamic period; Aria, the Islamic period's Harat; Anauoa, along with the cities of Farah, Bust and Neh; Darangiane; Sakestan or Parctacene; Arachosia or the later Qandahar; Rhaga or Rey; Choarene or Khwar; Comisene, or the Qumes of the Islamic period, in which was located the city of Hecatompylis; Seleucia, located on the Tigris River, along with Ctesiphon, the later capital of the Parthians; Dura - Europus, on the Euphrates; al - Hazr or Hatra; Artemita; eastern, western and upper Media; Tapuria and Traziana; the country of the Mardians in the Alborz Mountains; and the southern and eastern shores of the Caspian Sea. Vassal states of the Parthians included the following: the kingdom of Mesene, located south of Babylonia and also known as Characene; the kingdom of the region of Elam, known as Elymais, which included Khuzestan and a portion of Lorestan, and the capital of which was near Izeh or Malmir; the kingdoms located in the provinces of Pars and Kerman; the kingdom of Osroene in northwestern Mesopotamia, whose capital was Edessa; the kingdom of Adiabene, or ancient Assyria, whose capital was Arbela on the Zab River; the kingdom of Gordyene of Cordyene,or the land of the Kardush, in south Armenia; the kingdom of Azarbaijan (Atropatene); the kingdom of Armenia; and the Indo - Parthian dynasty, which was located in the Indus valley and among the important cities of which was Taxila. The important centers of Parthian government during various periods were the cities of Dara, in the region of Abivard; Nisaye of Parthaunisa, where the first Parthian kings were buried; Hecatompylos, in Qumes between \~Damqan~\~Shahrud~.

The Sassanids (226 - 651 A.D.)

Ardashir I, the first of the Sassanids, was the son of Babak, the king of Estakhr. In the year 208 A.D. Ardashir succeeded his father and went on to occupy all of Persis (Fars) and Carnania (Kerman), afterwards taking Susiana (or Elymais), Mesene (or Characene) and Isfahan. In the year 224 a battle took place at Hormozdgan between Ardashir and Artabanus V, the Parthian King. As a result Artabanus was killed and Ardashir hence forth considered himself the legitimate heir to the Parthian Empire and the king of kings of Iran. According to Noldeke's calculation Ardashir was officially coronated in the year 226. In the following year he occupied Ecbatana (Hamedan), Atropatene (Azarbaijan), Hyrcania (Gorgan), Abrashahr (Khorasan) and
Margiana (Marv), and extended his territories to the neighborhood of Balkh and Khwarazm. In addition the kings of Kushanshahr and Turan (in present - day Baluchestan) acknowledged his sovereignty. Thus it was
that the Sassanid Empire, which was to last more than 400 years, took its initial form. According to the trilingual inscription of Shapur I at the Kabah of Zoroaster (Kaba - i Zartusht), which has been called by European scholars res gelase divi saporis (The Book of Deeds of the Emperor Shapur), Shapur's territories consisted of the following: Persis, Susiana, Mesene, Asuristan (Iraq), Adiabene (northern Mesopotamia: the present - day region of Erbil), Arabia, Armenia, Atropatene, Iberia (Georgia), Makhelomia, Albania, Balasagan (Barasajan, in the north of Iranian Azarbaijan), Patishkhwargar (the mountainous region of Mazandaran), Media (the Jebal of the Arab geographers), Hyrcania, Margiana, Harat, Abrashahr, Carmania, Sistan, Turan, Makuran (Makran), Paratan, Hind (the Indus River delta), Kushanshahr (as far as
Peshavar and Tashkand), Soghd (as far as Kashghar) and Mazun (the region of Oman). It is possible that the inclusion of some of these areas, especially Kushanshahr and Soghd, as being among Shahpur's territories is an exaggeration.
During the reign of Chosroes I Anusharvan, Sassanid territory was extended to the shores of the Black Sea, that is, Lazika (present - day Lazestan, the capital of which is Kutais). In addition the city of Antioch and southern Arabia (the Yemen) were taken by the Sassanids and the region of Bactria as far as the southern part of the Oxus River was also annexed to their empire. The conquests of Chosroes II Aparvez (590 - 628) in Syria and Asia Minor were of a temporary nature.

The Rise of Islam

Muhammad ibn Abdallah(PBUH), the prophet of Islam, was born in approximately 570 A.D. in the city of Mecca. Around the age of 40 he received the command from God to call men to the religion of Divine Unity and the precepts of Islam. After thirteen years of carrying out this mission the Prophet was forced by the stubborn opposition of the inhabitants of Mecca to emigrate to the city of Medina. The year of the emigration (in Arabic, hijra), 622 A.D., was afterwards designated as the first year of the Muslim era (year one of the hijra of Hegirah, 1A.H.). In the city of Medina the Prophet founded the first independent Muslim community and the first Muslim government, and during a period of ten years he was able to bring the entire Arabian peninsula under centralized control. The Prophet's successors, with their unparalleled competence and skill, were able to bring all of western Asia, and a large section of central Asia, North Africa, and a large part of Spain under Muslim domination.
In the first decades of the seventh century A.D. the Sassanid Empire had been severely weakened as the result of internal divisions and several long wars against the Byzantine Empire. The feeble, irresolute and skeptical Iranian forces were no match for the united and determined armies of Islam, firm in the new faith. In 12 A.H./633 A.D. Khalid ibn Walid, the Muslim general, was able to conquer the city of Hira with ease, a city which until this conquest had been the center of the Arab government ruling under Sassanid control. With the defeat of the Iranian army at Qadesiyya in 14/635 the way was completely opened for the Arab forces, and in the year 16/637, or according to some sources in 19/640, the city of Madaen or Ctesiphon, the capital of the Sassanid Empire, was taken. In the year 17/638 or 19/640 Khuzestan was conquered, and after the Iranian defeat at the battle of Nahavand in 21/642 the cities of Dinavar, Hamedan and Isfahan fell into muslim hands. Qazvin, Zanjan and Qumes were conquered in the year 22/643. By 25/646 Azarbaijan and Armenia and by 29/650 Fars were completely conquered. In 29/650 Tabarestan was invaded for the first time, by Said ibn As, the Arab general. Khorasan, Sistan and Kerman fell into Muslim hands in the year 31/651, and in the same year Yazdagird III, the last of the Sassanid kings, was killed by a miller in Marv on his way to Transoxania to seek help from the kings of Soghd, Torkestan and China. Thus the Sassanid Empire, which had lasted morethan four centuries, came to an end. During the caliphate of Ali ibn Abi Talib and part way into the Umayyad period the forward march of the Muslim
armies was delayed because of internal divisions within the Islamic community, but from the time of the caliph Walid ibn Abd al - Malik (86/705 - 96/715) the Muslims once again continued their advance to the east and to the west. In the year 90/709 Bokhara was conquered and from the years 90/709 to 93/712 Soghd, Samarqand and Khwarazm were taken by the Muslims. Tabarestan was finally conquered completely in 141/758-9 and Gilan and Deylamestan in 201/816-7.
When the caliph al - Mamun appointed Tahir ibn Husayn to rule over the eastern regions of Iran, the first domestically autonomous government within Iran during this period came into begin. During these 200 years
the Iranians embraced the religion of Islam, and Arabic became their religions and afterwards their scientific language. Although Iranian traditions and customs continued to survive among the village lords or dihqans, gradually these lost their vitality and power of resistance in the face of the new culture and civilization, which came to be known as the Islamic. However, ethnic sentiments and the desire for independence and freedom did not disappear from among the Iranian people. In contrast to other countries conquered by the Muslim
armies, such as Syria, Palestine, Egypt and North Africa, which lost all of their ethnic characteristics, even their language, and became <<Arab>>, the Iranians, with all of their belief in and revence for the religion of Islam and with all of their sacrifices made in the way of exalting it, did not remain at ease under Arab rule and took advantage of every opportunity to further their own independence and freedom. For example, they accepted the call of the Abbasids to overthrow the Umayyad caliphate and supported Abu Muslim of Khorasan , who was himself an Iranian; they penetrated into the political, administrative and military organization of the Abbasid caliphate; and they supported over al - Amin, who was supported by the Arabs and the Arab nobility, and overthrew al - Amin's caliphate. Finally, after two centuries of effort, having taken advantage of the particular conditions of the areas far from the center of government of the Arab caliphate, the Iranians were
able to establish independent and semi - independent governments such as those of the Tahirids, the Saffarids, the Samanids, the Buyids and the Ziyarids. While accepting the spiritual and titular leadership of the
Muslim caliphate they achieved political, economic and military independence. But at the same time they played a central role in establishing the grand and magnificent civilization of Islam, a role which more than all else took the form of the cooperation of great Iranian intellectual figures in all the areas of religion, philosophy, science and politics.

Historical Atlas of Iran, University of Tehran, Institute of Geography



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