The Hamaam E-mail

By Daud Saba

Archeological evidence shows that the tradition of cleansing the body is a very ancient element of civilizations-- especially in the ancient cultures of the Mediterranean and Babylonian. The cleansing ceremonies in ancient Afghanistan dates back to the pre-Zoroastrian era where Sun worshipers cleansed and washed themselves for up to three days and nights in pre-determined intervals in order to be allowed to participate in worshipping ceremonies.

In the Zoroastrian tradition, early in the morning, all believers washed their faces, hands up to elbows three times, and feet before they worshipped. If a person touched a dead body, they had to cleanse themselves by washing their whole body.

During the Roman Empire, the followers of Mitra built a few hamams (bath houses) in their territories, but in the East, the presence of hamams in today’s sense did not come into existence until the coming of Islam.

Archaeological researches in the Middle East and Afghanistan show different styles of hamams built during the Achminids period. From the beginning of the seventh century and the emergence of Islam, the art and architecture and the style of governments in the Islamic lands dramatically changed. The cleansing of body was given dire attention.

A brief History of Balkh (Bactria) E-mail
By: Ramin Javid-Moshref

The Old Iranian name of Paktra, which the classical writers named it Bactria and their language was known as Bactrian, and after invasion of Iran by Arabs in 7th century CE it has come to be called Balkh; A northern province of Turkistan in modern Afghanistan, which boarders to the north, the river Oxus and the former USSR.

Not much has been known about this empire, only some coins and a little bit of writing and occasional archaeological artifacts. Much of the work on excavations of Bactrian artifacts has been done by French Archaeologists. Historians find remote references in other people's records about the kingdom.

It was from Bactria that came prophet Zarathushtra (Zartosht/Zardosht). Another source of spiritual home that made Bactria sacred was a great temple of the ancient Iranian goddess, Anahit (in Pahlavi or Middle-Persian) and Anahita (Ânâhitâ) in the Avesta hymns.

The temple was so rich that often it attracted the needy Syrian kings who sat out to plunder it. In her name and honor, in Armenia, girls prostituted themselves. Anaitis was a Scythian goddess, but she is identified also as Assyrian Mylitta, the Arabian Alytta and the Greek Venus Urania. Artaxerxes Mnemon, one of the emperors of Achaemenid dynasty was among her devotees. She is also associated with the Persian Mithra. Her association with Zoroaster adds to her popularity.
Amazons E-mail
The name Αmazon is probably derived from an Iranian ethnonym, *ha-mazan-, originally meaning "warriors".

In a recent excavation of Sarmatian sites by Dr. Jeannine Davis-Kimball, a tomb was found wherein female warriors were buried, thus lending some credence to the myths about the Amazons. Following the excavation in 2003 by Dr. Davis-Kimball, she and Dr. Joachim Burger compared the genetic evidence from the site with the nomadic Kazakhs, and have found a striking genetic link — verified later by the University of Cambridge

Before modern archaeology uncovered some of the Scythian burials of warrior-maidens entombed under kurgans in the region of Altay Mountains, giving concrete form at last to the Greek tales of mounted Amazons, the origin of the story of the Amazons has been the subject of speculation among classics scholars. In the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica speculation ranged along the following lines.
Military History of Greater Iran E-mail
Parthian Army
By: Professor A. Sh. Shahbazi

The Greco-Persian wars and Alexander's victories proved that light-armed troops could not stop heavy, well-trained, and brilliantly led infantry of the type of hoplites or phalanx. These could only be encountered with heavily armed and highly professional cavalry causing disorder in the massed ranks and then attacking them on vulnerable points with bowshots capable of piercing armour and lances effective against shields. This lesson went home with the Parthians who in ousting the Seleucids from Iran had ample opportunity to experience the effect of heavily armed professional infantry led by Macedonian kings, and soon came to learn about the armament, tactics, and strategy of the Roman empire as well. So they formed their armies on sound bases, taking into consideration what was needed and what was available to them.

In extent, the Parthian empire was smaller than that of the Achaemenids; it was also far less centralized. It lacked, for instance, a standing army. There were of course the garrisons of towns and forts as well as armed retinues of tribal chiefs, feudal lords, and of the King of Kings himself, but these were limited and disunited. The military concerns were conditioned by the feudal system: when the need arose, the Great King appealed to his subordinate kings (there were 18 of them at one time), regional, and tribal lords and garrison commanders to muster what they could and bring them to an appointed place at a given time. The feudal lords and officials brought the mustering levies (hamspah), and sometimes supplemented them with foreign mercenaries. The backbone of the army (Parth. spad) and the chief power of controlling the empire consisted of the Iranians themselves. Accustomed from an early age to the art of horsemanship and skilled in archery, the Parthian dynasty secured a reputation that is still echoed in the Persian term pahlevan (< Pahlav < Parθava) while Parthian tactic and shooting are examplary in military histories.
The Islamic Conquest of Iran E-mail
The beduin Arabs who toppled the Sassanid Empire were propelled not only by a desire for conquest but also by a new religion, Islam. The Prophet Mohammad, a member of the Hashimite clan of the powerful tribe of Quraysh, proclaimed his prophetic mission in Arabia in 612 and eventually won over the city of his birth, Mecca, to the new faith. Within one year of Muhammad's death in 632, Arabia itself was secure enough to allow his secular successor, Abu Bakr, the first caliph, to begin the campaign against the Byzantine and Sassanid Empires.

Abu Bakr defeated the Byzantine army at Damascus in 635 and then began his conquest of Iran. In 637 the Arab forces occupied the Sassanid capital of Ctesiphon (which they renamed Madain), and in 641-42 they defeated the Sassanid army at Nahavand. After that, Iran lay open to the invaders. The Islamic conquest was aided by the material and social bankruptcy of the Sassanids; the native populations had little to lose by cooperating with the conquering power. Moreover, the Muslims offered relative religious tolerance and fair treatment to populations that accepted Islamic rule without resistance. It was not until around 650, however, that resistance in Iran was quelled. Conversion to Islam, which offered certain advantages, was fairly rapid among the urban population but slower among the peasantry and the dihqans [farmers]. The majority of Iranians did not become Muslim until the ninth century.
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