Saturday, February 23, 2008

A thousand years older than the great wall of China


Excavations reveal The Red Snake (for pictures)

Science Daily (hyperlinks are mine)
The 'Great Wall of Gorgan'in north-eastern Iran, a barrier of awesome scale and sophistication, including over 30 military forts, an aqueduct, and water channels along its route, is being explored by an international team of archaeologists from Iran and the Universities of Edinburgh and Durham. This vast Wall-also known as the 'Red Snake'-is more than 1000 years older than the Great Wall of China, and longer than Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall put together.

Until recently, nobody knew who had built the Wall. Theories ranged from Alexander the Great, in the 4th century BC, to the Persian king Khusrau I in the 6th century AD. Most scholars favoured a 2nd or 1st century BC construction. Scientific dating has now shown that the Wall was built in the 5th, or possibly, 6th century AD, by the Sasanian Persians. This Persian dynasty has created one of the most powerful empires in the ancient world, centred on Iran, and stretching from modern Iraq to southern Russia, Central Asia and Pakistan.

Modern survey techniques and satellite images have revealed that the forts were densely occupied with military style barrack blocks. Numerous finds discovered during the latest excavations indicate that the frontier bustled with life. Researchers estimate that some 30,000 soldiers could have been stationed at this Wall alone. It is thought that the 'Red Snake'was a defence system against the White Huns, who lived in Central Asia.

Eberhard Sauer, of the University of Edinburgh's School of History, Classics and Archaeology, said: “Our project challenges the traditional Euro-centric world view. At the time, when the Western Roman Empire was collapsing and even the Eastern Roman Empire was under great external pressure, the Sasanian Persian Empire mustered the manpower to build and garrison a monument of greater scale than anything comparable in the west. The Persians seem to match, or more than match, their late Roman rivals in army strength, organisational skills, engineering and water management.”

The research is published in the new edition of Current World Archaeology and the periodical Iran, Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies 45.

18 comments:

an average patriot said...

naj
You're an education. Never heard of them so UI had to look it up.
The White Huns - The Hephthalites

The Origin of Hephthalites
The paucity of record in Hephthalites or Ephthalites provides us fragmentary picture of their civilization and empire. Their background is uncertain. They probably stemmed from a combination of the Tarim basin peoples and the Yueh-chih. There is a striking resemblance in the deformed heads of the early Yueh-chih and Hephthalite kings on their coinage. According to Procopius's History of the Wars, written in the mid 6th century - the Hephthalites

"are of the stock of the Huns in fact as well as in name: however they do not mingle with any of the Huns known to us. They are the only ones among the Huns who have white bodies...."

Ephthalites was the name given by Byzantine historians and Hayathelaites by the Persian historian Mirkhond, and sometimes Ye-tai or Hua by Chinese historians. They are also known as the White Huns, different from the Hun who led by Attila invading the Roman Empire. They are described as a kindred steppe people originally occupied the pasture-lands in the Altai mountain of southwestern Mongolia.

Toward the middle of the 5th century, they expanded westward probably because of the pressure from the Juan-juan, a powerful nomadic tribe in Mongolia. Within decades, they became a great power in the Oxus basin and the most serious enemy of the Persian empire. those are your men right
I'm going to have to read more about he wall and the white Huns. Amazing how much history we have forgotten.

an average patriot said...

Very interesting naj
Never heard of the wall or the people so I had to look it up. Are these your men?
The White Huns - The Hephthalites

The Origin of Hephthalites
The paucity of record in Hephthalites or Ephthalites provides us fragmentary picture of their civilization and empire. Their background is uncertain. They probably stemmed from a combination of the Tarim basin peoples and the Yueh-chih. There is a striking resemblance in the deformed heads of the early Yueh-chih and Hephthalite kings on their coinage. According to Procopius's History of the Wars, written in the mid 6th century - the Hephthalites

"are of the stock of the Huns in fact as well as in name: however they do not mingle with any of the Huns known to us. They are the only ones among the Huns who have white bodies...."

Ephthalites was the name given by Byzantine historians and Hayathelaites by the Persian historian Mirkhond, and sometimes Ye-tai or Hua by Chinese historians. They are also known as the White Huns, different from the Hun who led by Attila invading the Roman Empire. They are described as a kindred steppe people originally occupied the pasture-lands in the Altai mountain of southwestern Mongolia.

Toward the middle of the 5th century, they expanded westward probably because of the pressure from the Juan-juan, a powerful nomadic tribe in Mongolia. Within decades, they became a great power in the Oxus basin and the most serious enemy of the Persian empire.

The Westward Expansion and War with Sassanian Empire
http://www.silk-road.com/artl/heph.shtml
I am going to have to larn more about the wall and the white Huns. Isn't it amazing the valuable history we have forgotten.

Brother Tim said...

Very impressive!

Naj said...

Hi Jim,

The White Huns ... didn't pay attention to that. The only Hun I know is Attila! But no, huns are not persian (is that what you meant by are these our men??); and the wall was intended to keep them out of Persia.

I wish the Sassanid kings had built one to the west to keep the bedouin Arabs out too!

But anyways, when an empirical civilization falls, it's a good indication that it has rotten from inside. So I have no one but the Sassanid high priests to blame for handing Persia over to Arabs! (at about one century after the red wall was constructed)

Hi Tim,

Impressive, you mean the archeologic expedition? yes it is.

an average patriot said...

naj
No, I was asking if those were the people the wall was built to keep out. I never heard of them or the wall so had to look it up!

Naj said...

Hi Jim,

I see, sorry for confusion. Yes as far as I know, there are only one group of Huns who troubled Romans, Persians and even Goths, so some extent.

Sophia said...

Naj,
WE are planning a three week travel (we don't know where yet) for our 25th wedding anniversary. We thought about Iran but the current situation and the fact that the country is huge are actually against the project right now. But I would love to extensively visit Iran.

A. N. Iraqi said...

So I have no one but the Sassanid high priests to blame for handing Persia over to Arabs! >>

They didn't hand it over, they were defeated.

Naj said...

A. N. Iraqi,

They were defeated because people were FED UP with them!

It is corrupt governments that are easiest defeated; that is just a lesson of history; forgotten too foten for humanity's sake.

===========================

Sophia,

Situation in Iran is not visitor unfriendly ... actually ... let me email you privately :)

Naj said...

Pen Name,

I do not allow comments that label an entire "people" as "stupid".

I see that you are not still cured of your fundamentalism!

Anonymous said...

چو بشنوي سخن اهل دل مگو كه خطاست

سخن شناس نه‌اي جان من خطا اين جاست

And an entire people do not buy into your pre-Muslim Iran project & ideology.

No wonder the Iranian people have been so disappointed of their so-called "monawer al-fikr".

Anonymous said...

A. N. Iraqi:

Naj here does not speak for all of the Iranian people. She wants to build a fantasy Iran and not the real Iran.

We are proud to be be Muslims.

We are happy to have learnt poetry from Arabic.

We welcome intercourse with other people of the Faith.

Wa al-salam aleikom
wa rahmat-ul-Allah-e
wa barakat-e

Naj said...

Pen Name,

You may at least try to be rude!

You jump over with a comment that has no RELATION to my post.
You call Arabs stupid!
And then make your grand announcement that Naj doesn't speak for all of YOU!

I suppose YOU think you speak for all Iranians?!!

But anyways, you are just a mullah! I have no quarrel with Irans Pre/post Islamic history. It is history, it is past and YES it has left traces in what I call contemporary culture.

Had (the savage) Arabs of THAT ANCIENT TIME not conquered Persia, perhaps there would have remained more from the Sassanid history! Had the Arabs not burnt the libraris, claiming that "if there is anything useful in these books, it is in Koran, and if it is not in Koran it is not worth keeping", then we would have known more about it!

Anyways, I don't feel that engaging in conversation with you is interesting or informative at this point. so go ahead and act like zionist trolls, anonymous and in desparate need to EDIFY, so they claim!!! Ideologues are all alike, and they all sicken me equally!

A.N. Iraqi said...

Sorry, I did not intend to take this topic off the rails, I was merely questioning the assertion that the Sassanids handed Persia over to the Arabs. Of course, they didn't, they resisted in many battles, and they were defeated for a number of reasons. Partly, it was the fact that the Arabs had some brilliant generals like Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqas and Khalid ibn Walid, who - low character aside - proved remarkably skilled in commanding Omer's troops, both against the Persians and Romans. It must have been shocking to see this, because the Arabs had never exhibited this kind of imperialistic, expansionist, state-driven campaign before, they were previously only seen as uncivilised bedu worthy of little attention.
Also, as Naj says the masses became disillusioned with the upper echelons. I can't imagine it did much for morale to know that Yezdigird - a man who died on the run instead of fighting - would be the largest beneficiary of your patriotic martyrdom.

From a historical point of view, it was a turning point in that region which is why I find it interesting. I'm Shia but I don't have a political/religious agenda, I really don't care what religion people follow (or don't follow).

However, my belief is that these campaigns were as much driven by materialistic, imperialist motivations as religious motivations(or more so, even). Book burning aside, initially there was little proselytisation from the Muslims. The Arabs in the garrisons were told not to mix with the locals, and not to bother convertng them to Islam.

In that respect, while I agree that the Arabs were savages, were they much different to the Persians and Romans? It just seems like they got in on the empire-building game a little later than their two neighbours. So now the Arabs regard it as a great era, some Persians regard it as a tragedy, and Romans have, by and large, forgotten what the fuss was about.

saggezard said...

Nice posts, I am glad to stumble across your blog.

Gorgan's wall is one thousand year older than Great wall of China? Wow. Iran has an amazing history, everywhere you dig you will hit some sort of historic site or relic. Hopefully the Islamic Republic is not going to cut it into pieces and ship it to Italy and France.

Naj said...

Pen Name,

once you learn to communicate politely, without passing judgement on others and not assuming yourself morally superior to others, your comments will be published.

You may express YOUR ideas without insulting me, making presumptions, and insulting others.

I hope this is clear!
==================================

A.N. Iraqi:

I agree with you. Truth is, it is always the "savages" who conquere the empires who have reached theor expiry date: Romans were savages compared to Greeks, Germans were savages compared to Romans, Huns were savages compared to Germans.

and yes, "savages", when attempt to obtain power and become civilized (i.e. imperialistic) they attack the old empires. The Arabs did not conquer Persia because they cared about moral well-being of Persians under Yazdgerd. As you correctly note, they did so to access wealth! They were not unique in their adventures, nor unprecedented.

I find people like Pen Name (Anonymous) to be utterly disillusioned to think today's reality of Iran/Islam has much to do with whatever happened 13 centuries ago.

But I think religious people have their divine hangovers :)

Good to see you again.

saggezard
================================
Welcome to neoresistance.
As for IRI shipping things to Italy and etc. No IRI will not do, but the MAFIOSO who are closely associated and beneficiary of IRI ... one can never put anything past those people!

Larry said...

Thanks for the info Naj, this was educational for me as well.

Anonymous said...

The appearance of Islam at the gate of Iran was neither as dramatic nor as sudden as some historians would have us believe. Ctesiphon and the Arabian tribes had been in contact for a long time and a special Bureau of Arab Affairs had been established at the Sassanian capital. By the time of the invasion, Yemen, in the south of the Arabian peninsula, and Hira to the north, had been clients of the Sassanians for some time. What took the Iranians by surprise, if they were surprised at all, was the rapidity with which the Prophet Muhammad rallied the disparate tribes and the dexterity with which he focused their energy on a single cause: the promotion of the will of Allah.
Iran and Islam to AD 1400

by

Iraj Bashiri
University of Minnesota
January 1996