Engineering An Empire: The Persians

Pre Islamic Era (before 651 AD). 8000 years of Persian History, the oldest civilization in the world.

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Engineering An Empire: The Persians

Postby Amir » Sun Dec 03, 2006 8:57 pm

Don’t miss the History Channel’s show airing tomorrow, Monday, Dec 4th. “Engineering An Empire: The Persians.” The show usually focuses on the engineering achievements of many of the world's empires.

I only hope that they will present it in an unbiased and factual way, unlike the typical way that Persia’s history has been depicted by many Hellenophilic Westerners.

Either way, let’s watch.
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Postby Ahreeman X » Tue Dec 05, 2006 2:49 pm

Amir Arsalan:

Thanks for your e-mail and informing me.
How did you like it?

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Postby Amir » Tue Dec 05, 2006 10:50 pm

Overall I liked it.

The focus was on Iranian engineering marvels during the Achaemenid era. None of the information presented was new to me, but I did appreciate it because I’m sure it was new to many Persians and non-Persians alike. Since the HC is a relatively highly watched station, I am glad that the information was portrayed to so many on a relatively grand scale.

In summary, for those that missed the program, it hit on the following Persian engineering achievements:

1. The Qanat system – the first ever constructed water delivery system. This is a subterranean construction that channels water from an underground source to settlements, crops, etc. It is the underground equivalent of the Roman aqueduct system, but better because it minimizes water loss to evaporation – which is especially important in hot, dry climates. Note that this achievement was implemented about 500 years prior to the Romans’ aqueducts.

2. The Royal Road – the very first sturdy road of the world, connecting Susa in Southern Iran to Sardis in Western Turkey. No such road existed prior to its time, both in terms of length and usefulness. The road was constructed for 3 purposes (which the program did not explain, but may seem obvious to most). One: to expedite commerce, as this road was used extensively as a main trade route connecting east to west. Two: communication, so that the vast empire could remain administratively connected. Three: to dispatch armies quickly as needed to the poles of the empire.

3. Persepolis – the jewel of the Persian Empire. The magnificence of its architecture, its grandeur, and the perfection of its columns which are nothing less than a wonder.

4. The Mausoleum at Helicarnassus – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Mausoleum was built for Mausolus, a Persian satrap after whom the word mausoleum was named. A true architectural beauty of magnificent artistic detail.

5. The Persian forerunner to the Suez canal – the first time the Mediterranean and the Red Sea were connected was when Dariush the Great carved that canal. This was the first canal project of the world.

6. Military engineering – the first ever use of a pontoon bridge. First, under Dariush, to cross the Hellespont, and repeated again under Xerxes for the same purpose: to invade Greece. The massive Persian navy was laid side by side, then stabilized by cables, and a road built over them to allow such massive armies to cross one of the most turbulent and choppy waterways of the world.


Of course, these were not the only Persian engineering marvels, but they were the most significant ones. In that aspect, I think the HC did a good job of covering what it set out to cover.

Within the show a very positive attitude was portrayed regarding the Persian Empire. Its major kings (Kourosh, Dariush, and Xerxes) were incorporated within the timeline. All were rightly recognized for their great achievements; Cyrus especially. The general attitude of the Persians towards freedom, tolerance of ethnic groups and conquered cultures, and religious tolerance were explained. One historian mentioned that Cyrus is one of the very few in history that truly deserves the name “Great.”

All in all, the Persian Empire was portrayed in the true positive light that it deserves. This is not unusual for us Persians, but this is very new to non-Persians, considering the fact that until the very recent past every time the Persian Empire has been mentioned by Western historians it has been portrayed with an erroneous Greek bias, and painted simply as the villain that was the enemy of Greece. It’s good to see that a general trend is starting to be set away from such a false depiction.

What is most significant in my mind is that this is the first time that a show on the HC (or any other major station for that matter) has been prepared which was solely based on the Persian Empire. Many prior shows had accounts of the Persians, but always within the context of something or someone else; namely the Greeks. That “first” is in itself very exciting.
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Postby Aurioles » Mon Aug 13, 2007 1:53 pm

i liked the show, onli that they did not say that there are about 270000 km of qants stilñl in use, when only about 500 km of roman aqueducts build in all.

and that they consider the royal road only from susa to sardes, 2500 km, when it was in overall more than 6000km.

the persian migration map was a bit ad, but away from that, i liked the show.
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Postby PERSPOLIS » Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:54 am

PERSIAN EMPIRE the only Empire where the means of production was

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