The Iranian people are intensely aware – and rightly proud of – their Persian heritage.
The archaeological legacy left by the civilisations of ancient and medieval Iran extend from the Mediterranean Sea to India and ranges across four millennia from the Bronze age (3rd millennium BC) to the glorious age of classical Islam and the magnificent medieval cities of Isfahan and Shiraz that thrived in the 9th-12th centuries AD, and beyond.
Some of the richest and most beautiful of the archaeological and historical heritage in Iran remains there.
This includes Parsgardae, the first Achaemenid dynastic capital where King Cyrus(c. 590-529BC) laid down the foundations of law and the first declaration of universal rights while ruling over a vast array of citizens and cultures.
Seleucid and Parthian Iran
With new cities, religions and cultures, this melting pot encouraged the rise of thriving connectivity that linked urban centres in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Syria (where many of the Hellenistic sites (such as Apamea) have been devastated in recent years by war and looting).
Hellenistic rulers gave way to Parthian kings in the 2nd century BC and the region was ruled by the Arsacid dynasty whose homeland, around Nisa, was the northern region of the Iranian world.
The Parthian Empire witnessed growing connectivity between east and west and increasing traffic along the silk routes.
Their control of this trade led to conflict with the Romans who reached east to grasp some of the resulting spoils.
The Sasanians were the final pre-Islamic dynasty of Iran. In the 7th century AD, the armies of the Rashidun caliphs conquered the Sasanian empire, bringing with them Islam and absorbing much of the culture and ideas of the ancient Iranian world.
This was a thriving period of scientific, artistic and literary output.
Rich with poetry that told of the ancient Iranian past in medieval courts where bards sang of great deeds.
These are stories that we now believe reached the far west of Europe in the early medieval period possibly through the crusades and can only emphasise the long reach of the cultures of ancient and medieval Iran.