Iran: the Historical Cradle of Civilization, the Origin of Human Diversity, and the Bastion of Humanistic ToleranceDecember 1, 2017 1:34 am Leave your thoughts
Ever since as early as a hundred thousand years ago, when our Homo sapiens ancestors were preceded by Homo helderbergenis along with our cousins the Neanderthals and Denisovans who had crossed the horn of Africa , the southwestern Asian’s temperate Iranian plateau sandwiched between the Caspian Sea and the Himalayan Mountain ranges to the north and the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman to the south has remained the optimal cradle of human civilization. It is exactly this Iranian plateau, including its central Asian and Caucasian highlands, from which further foragers and hunter-gatherers traversed throughout and settled into south/east Asia first, and later onto the European continent between 30,000 – 10,000 years ago.
In fact, from the original Iranian nomadic tribes ( Persians , Medians and Partians) arose the Albanians, Bulgarians, Croatians, Scythians , Urals , Sakas , Western Ukrainians , Ossetians, Minoans , Ionians and the Irish , followed by Bactrians, Kashmiri and Parsi Zoroastrians of India, the Uighurs of China’s Xinjian province, and the 80 plus million people inside today’s Iran as well as the five million Iranians in the diaspora. All these descend from the ancient peoples of Iran . This had preceded the initial movement of our common human ancestors, who settled at the southwestern slopes of the Zagros Mountains to construct spears before they moved further into the northern Iranian plateau 35,000 years ago. A growing number of etymological revisionists have reexamined the term Indo-European tossed around as early as the 17thcentury, presumably by the colonial presence of the English in India. It is becoming gradually recognized that it is more appropriate to change the term to Irano-European , since there are 313 languages belonging to the Iranian family of languages in contrast to a mere 130 Hindi derived languages, many of which have remained in India and converged with old Pahlavi Avestan Persian. Simply put, proto-Iranian languages such as Gathas, Avesta and early proto-Persian Pahlavi tongues preceded the Rigveda and Hindu languages and vernaculars. Although modern Persian is spoken and understood by most inhabitants across the Persian world, including India, today 250 million people speak one or more of the dozens of Persian dialects and vernaculars. Etymologically speaking however, there are nearly 1,000 Persian words comprehensible to any Persian speaking native used in the English language today; the same number of Persian words, if not more, exist in other European languages.
Our other closely related hominid species the Neanderthals took the migration route from the African savannah along the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea straight into Europe a few hundred thousand years ago and some later interbred with Homo sapiens before they became extinct as late as 20-25 thousand years ago, presumably for the lack of an evolved brain, language and tool making. Another group of Homo sapiens of original Iranian pedigree settled between the Zagros Mountains of Iran and the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, an area later referred to as Mesopotamia (Sommer, Akkad, Canaan, Babel, Assur, Aleppo, Damascus, Kaldeh, Phoenicia, and Jewish Kingdoms in Ur). Consequently, the Iranian plateau that in essence stretched into Asia Minor has remained as the most fertile ground for sustaining the earliest human settlements that led to the first socio-economic and later religio-political establishments, especially within the past 10 to 20 thousand years. In fact, there exists archeological evidence for human settlements (Sialk of Kashan, Shahr Sukhteh Zabol, Marlik , Hasanlu and Susa mounds just to name a few) to corroborate this ancient period of human activity that ultimately led to the first world Empire – the Achaemenes, founded by Cyrus the Great whose democratic empowering and just rule spanned across three continents nearly three millennia ago. This period was in fact preceded by at least 3,000 years of Elamites .
The area, ruled by the Achaemenian Just King Cyrus the Great (circa 539 BCE) and the major Parthian and Sassanid Empires that followed, is currently comprised of nearly forty plus sovereign nations, from which 44% of the current world’s population originate. In fact, today’s Iran, with its current territorial borders that define the smallest size of the country since its inception nearly three thousand years ago, is the only country in the region with naturally marked borders (e.g., rivers, lakes, Caspian Sea, Persian Gulf, and high mountains).
This is in contrast to most other countries in the region whose borders were drawn with the use of a cartography ruler in Greenwich England after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. In the 19thcentury, the Russians unilaterally stole from Iran twice and annexed to their Tsarist imperialistic territories the size of the U.S., i.e., the entire Caucuses and central Asian regions currently comprised of 11 sovereign countries with still strong indigenous ethnic, racial, cultural, religious, literal and linguistic ties with Iran. After all, who are the true Iranians other than the so-called Caucasians or central Asians?
One fact well worth citing is that most, if not all, Iranian kings and queens throughout history never imposed their religions or cultures–as did the Greeks, Arabs and Mughals–by way of the sword. In fact, the broader Iran always enjoyed a degree of autonomous self-rule; this is self-evident in today’s Iran with its ethnic and cultural richness of Azari, Baluchi, Kurdish, Luri, Turkmen, Natanzi , Arab, Guilani, Mazandarani, as well as Persian groups. That said, however, western instigators such as Bernard Lewis’ ulterior motives to exploit this and pontificate for dismembering Iran or the region, is ludicrously absurd and without any basis whatsoever, in part, due to the common linguistic and cultural heritage of this vast region. The misguided notion of a “pure race” is ludicrously absurd with no scientific basis, especially in Iran; nonetheless, if anything, it is through cultural commonality and ancestral origin that people of the vast Iranian region would coalesce rather than become fragmented.
Aryanism is indeed derived from Iranian stock and is thus a rainbow of peoples with diverse general features from blond to dark skin that according to Herodotus, were noble, peaceful, and righteous horsemen and arrow and javelin throwers, whose way of life was anchored on adhering to good thought, good words and good deeds.
A PBS documentary on the earliest human settlements, based on the tracing of mitochondrial DNA, traced the earliest man who must have lived 40,000 years ago in southcentral Asia, just north of today’s Iran and the Afghan border. Although Iranians today trace back their ancestry to one of the three major Aryan tribes (Persians, Medians and Partians) descended from the same exact region three plus millennia ago, the genetic makeup of modern Iranians is far more diverse in that it has not only drawn from the indigenous peoples already on the plateau but also absorbed segments of Greek, Arab and Moghul DNA. Incidentally, Iranians never invaded any other region to impose their religion of hegemony, but their culture was spread out in their expanding spheres of influence. In a more recent series of BBC documentaries (click From Russia to Iran crossing Wild Frontiers ), the trekker Levison walks the Caucuses ridges – nearly 3,000 miles from southern Russia and the northern Caucuses down to Iran’s southern Caspian Sea region – to demonstrate that the inhabitants are all from the same Iranian [Caucasian] stock as evidenced by their genetic makeup, common language, culture, life rituals, music and festivals. Another illustration of Iranians and their rich culture can be viewed in this French journal . It is astounding how close the languages, cultural rituals, hymns, foods, calendars, festivals, music, and birth, wedding and burial rituals of peoples surrounding the Caspian Sea are. In fact, an ordinary Iranian can comfortably pass as a native in every country from northwestern China and India to central Asia and the Caucasian nations, Asia Minor, southern Europe and North Africa.
From the vast Iranian plateau arose many original faiths and religiosities as typified by Mithraism, Zoroastrianism, Mazdeism, Manicheism to name a few; they have been conceived or transmitted through ancient Iran and beyond as far back as at least 10,000 years ago. These early beliefs have gone on to partially provide the basis for Hinduism, Buddhism, and later Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In fact, Iran since antiquity has remained the bastion of pluralistic tolerance of diverse faiths and rainbow ethnicities. Although some Persian ultra-nationalists bogusly consider their pedigree to be of “pure” Aryan pedigree, and in fact most people in Iran have an Aryan (that of noble horseman and spear and javelin throwers) cultural heritage, nonetheless, their genetic makeup is heterogeneous [ Persian cat mutt ! ]. As a result, their cultural diversity has been enriched immensely over time through exchange with other neighboring peoples, some as the Greeks, Arabs or Altaics/Moghuls, Indians, Egyptians and Mesopotamians: many arrived as invaders and conquerors but stayed in Iran and assimilated.