How Has Iranians’ Awareness of the Medes, Achaemenids, and Parthians Been Shaped?

Recorded: January 9, 2022
Event: Bilingual Lecture Series

by Ahmad Ashraf

 چگونگی آگاهی ایرانیان از سلسله های ماد و هخامنشی

Until the threshold of the Constitutional Revolution, Iranian historians were unaware of the Medes, Achaemenids, and even Parthian dynasties. There is, for example, no mention of the Medes, Achaemenids, and Seleucid kings in Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, a book that is often regarded to be the first written traditional history of pre-Islamic Iran. Even the Parthian dynasty, who ruled in Iran for nearly half a millennium, was mentioned in passing in Shahnameh. Mohammad Ali Foroughi was the first Iranian scholar who, after studying the works of Western scholars in French and English, introduced the existence of these dynasties to the Persian speaking world. He translated and compiled a book on the History of Iran from pre-Islamic times to the 1900 AD. Excavations by German archaeologist, Ernest Herzfeld, in Persepolis and Pasargadae, began at approximately the same time and continued to the Reza Shah period. Herzfeld was one of the main promoters of the Achaemenid nationalism in this period. Hassan Pirnia (Mushir al-Dowleh), author of the History of Ancient Iran in three volumes, was the third scholar to raise Iranians’ awareness about the Medes, Achaemenids, and Parthians.