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Inventions & Innovations of Ancient Persia

Inventions & Innovations of Ancient Persia

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Ancient Persian culture contributed many of the aspects of the modern world which people simply take for granted as having always existed. The designation “Persia” comes from the Greeks – primarily standardized by the historian Herodotus – but the people of the region of Persis (Pars, modern-day Fars) referred to themselves as Iranians (from Aryan, meaning “noble” or “free” and having nothing to do with race). While that is understood, any reference to ancient Iranian culture – in the West at least – continues to be called “Persian” as that is the legacy left by the Greek writers.

The Persians established an empire which stretched from modern-day Turkey to India, up through Syria and down through Egypt and, further, invented and maintained amenities, policies, practices, institutions, and aspects of religion which are well-known – but not often properly attributed – in the present day. Among these are:

  • First Declaration of Human Rights
  • Irrigation and Refrigeration
  • Landscaped Gardens and the Word 'Paradise'
  • Birthday Celebrations, Animation, the Guitar, and Dessert
  • Monotheism
  • Elite Military Units and Uniforms
  • Windmills and Air Conditioning
  • Postal System and the Highway
  • The Teaching Hospital
  • Heavily Armored Cavalry

While these contributions may be understood as commonplace in the present day, they were entirely novel in their time. Although there were gardens in other cultures, and monotheism had been suggested by the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten (r. 1353-1336 BCE)) centuries before, the Persians were the first to develop these concepts fully.

First Declaration of Human Rights

The Cyrus Cylinder is a clay canister-shaped artifact inscribed with cuneiform script issued by Cyrus II (the Great, r. c. 550-530 BCE) c. 539 BCE. It is an official document that tells of Cyrus the Great's conquest of the various regions which made up the Achaemenid Empire (c. 550-330 BCE) and how they had embraced his rule. He then speaks of how he elevated the lives of the people through the rights and liberties granted them. This document has long been (and continues to be) understood as royal propaganda establishing a monarch's grandeur but, since 1971 CE, it has been increasingly recognized as the first declaration of human rights in the world. The Achaemenid Empire granted its citizens freedom of religious thought and practice as well as many other liberties denied those of other cultures, including almost equal rights for women.

Irrigation & Refrigeration

The concepts of irrigation and refrigeration are also often attributed to Cyrus the Great but, actually, were invented by earlier Persian innovators and are attested during the time of the Assyrian king Sargon II (r. 722-705 BCE). The qanat system – by which a sloping channel is dug into the earth with vertical shafts at intervals drawing water up from underground aquafers – served to irrigate otherwise arid lands and turned them into lush landscapes. The qanat system watered farm fields and allowed for the cultivation of elaborate gardens. The yakhchal was a domed refrigeration unit made of clay which was used to store ice but, in time, was also utilized to keep food cold.

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Landscaped Gardens & the Word 'Paradise'

The qanat enabled the cultivation of landscaped gardens which became a regular feature of Persian architectural design. Cyrus the Great is said to have spent as much time in his gardens as possible before attending to the business of running his empire. These gardens were lush oases from daily life where one could relax and be alone with one's thoughts or enjoy the company of others and were known as pairi-daeza which gives English its word paradise.

Birthday Celebrations, Animation, the Guitar, and Dessert

The Persians were the first to develop the practice of lavish celebrations of one's birthday.

The Persians were also the first to develop the practice of lavish celebrations of one's birthday as well as the art of animation for entertainment and the custom of having dessert after a meal. Birthday celebrations originated (as they did in other cultures) with a festival honoring the monarch's birth but gradually spread to members of the nobility and then the lower classes. In ancient Persia, birthdays were celebrated with special foods the guest of honor would enjoy and a cake for dessert with candles. Entertainment might have included animation – as evidenced by artifacts such as a cup which, when rapidly turned, showed a goat leaping in the air to snatch leaves from a tree – and music featuring vocals accompanied by stringed instruments such as the cartar (also known as the tar) and the sestar, precursor of the modern-day guitar. The practice of serving dessert after a meal was not reserved only for birthdays but followed every day's evening meal.


Monotheism was first introduced in Egypt under the reign of Akhenaten, and some scholars and writers (among them Sigmund Freud) have advanced the claim that Moses was influenced by Akhenaten's religion or may even have been one of his priests. However that may be, the Persian monotheistic religion of Zoroastrianism was founded c. 1500-1000 BCE by the prophet Zoroaster and was fully developed by the time early Judaism began to take shape (6th century BCE - 70 CE). Zoroastrianism held there was only one supreme being, Ahura Mazda, and the purpose of one's life was to follow the will of the benevolent God through the principles of Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds. Zoroastrianism also was the first faith to fully develop the concepts of heaven, hell, and purgatory.

Elite Military Units & Uniforms

The Median king Cyaxares (r. 625-585 BCE) was the first in the region to divide his military into regiments and units (infantry, archers, cavalry) but Cyrus the Great, who conquered Media, reformed the earlier model, organizing the military on the decimal system where each unit was comprised of ten lesser units: 10 men = a company; 10 companies = a battalion; 10 battalions = a division; 10 divisions = a corps. Different units were identified by different colored uniforms (purple, yellow, blue). They also developed the concept of the elite military unit: the famous 10,000 Persian Immortals of the Achaemenid Empire and the Savaran Knights under the Sassanian Empire (224-651 CE).

Windmills & Air Conditioning

The Persians invented the windmill c. 500 CE, although, it should be noted, this is the first recorded mention and the devices were probably in use earlier. Windmills were used in pumping water and grinding grain. They were made of reeds woven together into paddles which were then fixed to a central axis. The concept was almost certainly suggested by the use of the sail on ships, but the Persians were already making use of wind on land through the ventilation system known as the windcatcher (wind tower), a structure attached to the top of a building which drew cool air down, pushing warmer air up and out. Scholars continue to debate whether the Persians or the Egyptians were the first to develop the windcatcher, but the evidence seems to favor the Persians, pre-dating the Achaemenid Period.

Postal System & the Highway

The unofficial motto of the United States Postal Service comes from Herodotus' description of the Persian messenger system.

The postal system and concept of the highway were also developed by the Persians. Darius I (the Great, r. 522-486 BCE) instituted the Persian network of roads for speed of travel and contact between his capital cities (Babylon, Ecbatana, Persepolis, and Susa). The highways were then used to send messages between these cities as well as others, thus creating the postal system. The unofficial motto of the United States Postal Service – Neither snow, nor rain, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds – inscribed on the New York City Post Office in 1914 CE (now known as the James A. Farley Building) comes from Herodotus' description of the Persian messenger system: “Whatever the conditions – it may be snowing, raining, blazing hot, or dark – they never fail to complete their assigned journey in the fastest possible time” (Histories, VIII.98). This highway system and postal service would continue to be used by the Seleucid Empire (312-63 BCE), the Parthian Empire (247 BCE-224 CE), the Sassanians, and the Muslim Arabs.

The Teaching Hospital

Under the reign of Shapur I (240-270 CE), the Academy of Gundeshapur was founded, quickly becoming the major intellectual and cultural center of the region. It is now thought its founding was inspired by Shapur I's principal wife, Azadokht Shahbanu, who first brought Greek physicians to the Imperial Court at Ctesiphon to establish a hospital. Under the later monarch Kosrau I (r. 531-579 CE), Gundeshapur flourished as the first teaching hospital in the world where young doctors-in-training worked under the supervision of more experienced physicians.

Heavily Armored Cavalry

The Parthians were the first to develop the concept of heavily armored cavalry in response to the arms and armor of their Greek and Roman adversaries. The Parthian cataphract wore a steel helmet and chain mail tunic which covered them from their necks to past their knees and down their arms and their horses were equally protected. Cataphracts carried composite bows, swords, daggers, and lances. This concept was further developed by the Sassanians to create their elite force of armored cavalry, the Savaran Knights, among the greatest fighting forces of the ancient world.


The Persians are responsible for many more inventions, innovations, and customs than only these, of course, including the Persian rug, the banquet, and popularizing tea as a daily drink. Cyrus the Great was the first to reform the tax system so that taxes were paid to the empire's treasury, not to the monarch, and were then used to pay for public works. Darius I dug the precursor to the Suez Canal, and his successor, Xerxes I (r. 486-465 BCE), created the longest “pontoon bridge” across the Hellespont for his 480 BCE invasion of Greece.

Herodotus notes that “the Persians adopt more foreign customs than anyone else” (I.135) and this is exemplified in the Persian talent for embracing new ideas and concepts and making them their own. Hospitals were already established in ancient Egypt during the time of the Old Kingdom (c. 2613-2181 BCE) but the Sassanians – whose empire is famous for their innovations on past models – took that concept further in the form of the teaching hospital which was also a library and center for learning. The Persian polymath Avicenna (l. 980-1037 CE) developed earlier medical knowledge to a much higher level, the poet Ferdowsi (l. 940-1020 CE) expanded the concept of the literary epic, and the mathematician Al-Khwarizmi (l. 780 - c. 850 CE) took earlier mathematical principles and invented algebra.

Many of the most recognizable concepts, customs, and inventions in the modern-day – if their origins are considered at all – are incorrectly attributed to the Greeks who wrote about them or later Muslim Arabs who did the same. Actually, however, all of the above – and more – came from the Persian capacity for imagination; to see what was and envision how it could be better.

List of inventions in the medieval Islamic world

The following is a list of inventions made in the medieval Islamic world, especially during the Islamic Golden Age, [1] [2] [3] [4] as well as in later states of the Age of the Islamic Gunpowders such as the Ottoman and Mughal empires.

The Islamic Golden Age was a period of cultural, economic and scientific flourishing in the history of Islam, traditionally dated from the eighth century to the fourteenth century, with several contemporary scholars [ who? ] dating the end of the era to the fifteenth or sixteenth century. [3] [4] [5] This period is traditionally understood to have begun during the reign of the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid (786 to 809) with the inauguration of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, where scholars from various parts of the world with different cultural backgrounds were mandated to gather and translate all of the world's classical knowledge into the Arabic language and subsequently development in various fields of sciences began. Science and technology in the Islamic world adopted and preserved knowledge and technologies from contemporary and earlier civilizations, including Persia, Egypt, India, China, and Greco-Roman antiquity, while making numerous improvements, innovations and inventions.

10. The Wheel 5,000 BC

The wheel likely began in Ancient Sumer (present day Iraq) in the 5th millennium BC, originally in the function of potter’s wheels. The wheel reached India and Pakistan with the Indus Valley Civilization in the 3rd millennium BCE. Close to the northern side of the Caucasus a few graves were found, in which since 3700 BC individuals had been buried on wagons or carts (both types).

The earliest depiction of what may be a wheeled vehicle (here a wagon—four wheels, two axles), is on the Bronocice pot, an around 3500 BC clay pot excavated in southern Poland.

What is especially interesting about the wheel, is that wheels only occur in nature in the microscopic Form, so man’s use of the wheel couldn’t have been in mimicry of nature.

It is worth noting, in any case, that the rolling motion of the wheel is found in specific creatures that control their bodies into the shape of a ball and roll. The wheel reached Europe and India (the Indus Valley civilization ) in the 4th millennium BC. In China, the wheel is certainly present with the adoption of the chariot in ca. 1200 BC.


Beginning in ancient times Persia has been a center of scientific achievement and was often the conduit of knowledge from China and India in the East to Greece and Rome in the West. Persian-speaking scholars have been active in furthering knowledge in fields of science and technology, such as astronomy, chemistry, anatomy, biology, botany, cosmology, mathematics, engineering, and architecture. [5] Science in Persia evolved in two main phases separated by the arrival and widespread adoption of Islam in the region.

References to scientific subjects such as natural science and mathematics occur in books written in the Pahlavi languages.

Ancient technology in Iran Edit

The Qanat (a water management system used for irrigation) originated in pre-Achaemenid Iran. The oldest and largest known qanat is in the Iranian city of Gonabad, which, after 2,700 years, still provides drinking and agricultural water to nearly 40,000 people. [6]

Iranian philosophers and inventors may have created the first batteries (sometimes known as the Baghdad Battery) in the Parthian or Sassanid eras. Some have suggested that the batteries may have been used medicinally. Other scientists believe the batteries were used for electroplating—transferring a thin layer of metal to another metal surface—a technique still used today and the focus of a common classroom experiment. [7]

Windwheels were developed by the Babylonians ca. 1700 BC to pump water for irrigation. In the 7th century, Iranians engineers in Greater Iran developed a more advanced wind-power machine, the windmill, building upon the basic model developed by the Babylonians. [8] [9]

Mathematics Edit

The 9th century mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi created the logarithm table, developed algebra and expanded upon Persian and Indian arithmetic systems. His writings were translated into Latin by Gerard of Cremona under the title: De jebra et almucabola. Robert of Chester also translated it under the title Liber algebras et almucabala. The works of Kharazmi "exercised a profound influence on the development of mathematical thought in the medieval West". [10]

The Banū Mūsā brothers ("Sons of Moses"), namely Abū Jaʿfar, Muḥammad ibn Mūsā ibn Shākir (before 803 – February 873), Abū al‐Qāsim, Aḥmad ibn Mūsā ibn Shākir (d. 9th century) and Al-Ḥasan ibn Mūsā ibn Shākir (d. 9th century), were three 9th-century Persian [11] [12] scholars who lived and worked in Baghdad. They are known for their Book of Ingenious Devices on automata and mechanical devices and their Book on the Measurement of Plane and Spherical Figures. [13]

Other Iranian scientists included Abu Abbas Fazl Hatam, Farahani, Omar Ibn Farakhan, Abu Zeid Ahmad Ibn Soheil Balkhi (9th century AD), Abul Vafa Bouzjani, Abu Jaafar Khan, Bijan Ibn Rostam Kouhi, Ahmad Ibn Abdul Jalil Qomi, Bu Nasr Araghi, Abu Reyhan Birooni, the noted Iranian poet Hakim Omar Khayyam Neishaburi, Qatan Marvazi, Massoudi Ghaznavi (13th century AD), Khajeh Nassireddin Tusi, and Ghiasseddin Jamshidi Kashani.

Medicine Edit

The practice and study of medicine in Iran has a long and prolific history. Situated at the crossroads of the East and West, Persia was often involved in developments in ancient Greek and Indian medicine pre- and post-Islamic Iran have been involved in medicine as well. The study of medicinal plants and their effects on humans has been an age-old tradition in Persian-speaking lands. [14] This publication, written by two commanding officers in the Muhammadzai Pashtun tribal confederacy during the Barakzai period (1826–1973), is a lithographic printing of a pharmacology. [15]

For example, the first teaching hospital where medical students methodically practiced on patients under the supervision of physicians was the Academy of Gundishapur in the Persian Empire. Some experts go so far as to claim that: "to a very large extent, the credit for the whole hospital system must be given to Persia". [16]

The idea of xenotransplantation dates to the days of Achaemenidae (the Achaemenian dynasty), as evidenced by engravings of many mythologic chimeras still present in Persepolis. [17]

Several documents still exist from which the definitions and treatments of the headache in medieval Persia can be ascertained. These documents give detailed and precise clinical information on the different types of headaches. The medieval physicians listed various signs and symptoms, apparent causes, and hygienic and dietary rules for prevention of headaches. The medieval writings are both accurate and vivid, and they provide long lists of substances used in the treatment of headaches. Many of the approaches of physicians in medieval Persia are accepted today however, still more of them could be of use to modern medicine. [18]

In the 10th century work of Shahnameh, Ferdowsi describes a Caesarean section performed on Rudabeh, during which a special wine agent was prepared by a Zoroastrian priest and used to produce unconsciousness for the operation. [19] Although largely mythical in content, the passage illustrates working knowledge of anesthesia in ancient Persia.

Later in the 10th century, Abu Bakr Muhammad Bin Zakaria Razi is considered the founder of practical physics and the inventor of the special or net weight of matter. His student, Abu Bakr Joveini, wrote the first comprehensive medical book in the Persian language.

After the Islamic conquest of Iran, medicine continued to flourish with the rise of notables such as Rhazes and Haly Abbas, albeit Baghdad was the new cosmopolitan inheritor of Sassanid Jundishapur's medical academy.

An idea of the number of medical works composed in Persian alone may be gathered from Adolf Fonahn's Zur Quellenkunde der Persischen Medizin, published in Leipzig in 1910. The author enumerates over 400 works in the Persian language on medicine, excluding authors such as Avicenna, who wrote in Arabic. Author-historians Meyerhof, Casey Wood, and Hirschberg also have recorded the names of at least 80 oculists who contributed treatises on subjects related to ophthalmology from the beginning of 800 AD to the full flowering of Muslim medical literature in 1300 AD.

What is known as Avestan or Zoroastrian medicine, the essence of which has been gleaned from the extant religious texts, is an extension of the ancient Aryan World View in which prevention of mental and physical illness was of paramount importance and was achieved through religious observance of moral purity and physical hygiene. These important tasks were supervised by the religious high cast Mobeds and Magi priests and in case of illness the reading of religious mantras and prescription of herbal medications were administered by the same Magi healers. [20]

There were strict admonitions against pollution of flowing water and the air was to be kept purified by burning of wild Rue and Frankincense. The soil was to be cultivated with food crops and fruit trees and kept free of putrefying matter and fire, a symbol of purity of the Deity, kept in eternal flames and free from contamination. [20]

There was however a major leap in Iranian medicine during the Sassanian era from the 3rd to the 7th centuries C.E., when the most famous centre of medical learning in Iran was the Gondeshapur Hospital. Again a dearth of primary written sources regarding the medical activities in this centre makes definitive statements difficult. [20]

Aside from the aforementioned, two other medical works attracted great attention in medieval Europe, namely Abu Mansur Muwaffaq's Materia Medica, written around 950 AD, and the illustrated Anatomy of Mansur ibn Muhammad, written in 1396 AD.

Modern academic medicine began in Iran when Joseph Cochran established a medical college in Urmia in 1878. Cochran is often credited for founding Iran's "first contemporary medical college". [21] The website of Urmia University credits Cochran for "lowering the infant mortality rate in the region" [22] and for founding one of Iran's first modern hospitals (Westminster Hospital) in Urmia.

Iran started contributing to modern medical research late in 20th century. Most publications were from pharmacology and pharmacy labs located at a few top universities, most notably Tehran University of Medical Sciences. Ahmad Reza Dehpour and Abbas Shafiee were among the most prolific scientists in that era. Research programs in immunology, parasitology, pathology, medical genetics, and public health were also established in late 20th century. In 21st century, we witnessed a huge surge in the number of publications in medical journals by Iranian scientists on nearly all areas in basic and clinical medicine. Interdisciplinary research were introduced during 2000s and dual degree programs including Medicine/Science, Medicine/Engineering and Medicine/Public health programs were founded. Alireza Mashaghi was one of the main figures behind the development of interdisciplinary research and education in Iran.

Astronomy Edit

In 1000 AD, Biruni wrote an astronomical encyclopaedia that discussed the possibility that the earth might rotate around the sun. This was before Tycho Brahe drew the first maps of the sky, using stylized animals to depict the constellations.

In the tenth century, the Persian astronomer Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi cast his eyes upwards to the awning of stars overhead and was the first to record a galaxy outside our own. Gazing at the Andromeda galaxy he called it a "little cloud" – an apt description of the slightly wispy appearance of our galactic neighbour. [23]

Biology Edit

Chemistry Edit

The authors of the alchemical texts (c. 850−950) attributed to Jabir ibn Hayyan pioneered the chemical use of vegetable and animal substances, which at the time represented an innovative shift towards organic chemistry. [24] One of the innovations in Jabirian alchemy was the addition of sal ammoniac (ammonium chloride) to the category of chemical substances known as 'spirits' (i.e., strongly volatile substances). This included both naturally occurring sal ammoniac and synthetic ammonium chloride as produced from organic substances, and so the addition of sal ammoniac to the list of 'spirits' is likely a product of the new focus on organic chemistry. Since the word for sal ammoniac used in the Jabirian corpus (nūshādhir) is Iranian in origin, it has been suggested that the direct precursors of Jabirian alchemy may have been active in the Hellenizing and Syriacizing schools of the Sassanid Empire. [25]

The Persian alchemist and physician Abu Bakr al-Razi (854–925) conducted experiments with the heating of sal ammoniac, vitriol, and other salts, which would eventually lead to the discovery of mineral acids by thirteenth century Latin alchemists such as pseudo-Geber. [26]

Physics Edit

Biruni was the first scientist to formally propose that the speed of light is finite, before Galileo tried to experimentally prove this.

Kamal al-Din Al-Farisi (1267–1318) born in Tabriz, Iran, is known for giving the first mathematically satisfactory explanation of the rainbow, and an explication of the nature of colours that reformed the theory of Ibn al-Haytham. Al-Farisi also "proposed a model where the ray of light from the sun was refracted twice by a water droplet, one or more reflections occurring between the two refractions." [ citation needed ] He verified this through extensive experimentation using a transparent sphere filled with water and a camera obscura.

The little Parthian jar found in ancient Western Iranian territories of the Greater Iran (nowadays Iraq), suggests that Volta didn't invent the battery, but rather reinvented it. [27]

The jar was first described by German archaeologist Wilhelm Konig in 1938. The jar was found in Khujut Rabu just outside modern Baghdad and is composed of a clay jar with a stopper made of asphalt. Sticking through the asphalt is an iron rod surrounded by a copper cylinder. When filled with vinegar - orany other electrolytic solution - the jar produces about 1.5 to 2.0 volts. [27]

The jars are believed to be about 2000 years old from the Parthian dynastic period and consists of an earthenware shell, with a stopper composed of asphalt. Sticking through the top of the stopper is an iron rod. Inside the jar the rod is surrounded by a cylinder of copper. Konig thought these things looked like electric batteries and published a paper on the subject in 1940. [27]

The government first set its sights on moving from a resource-based economy to one based on knowledge in its 20-year development plan, Vision 2025, adopted in 2005. This transition became a priority after international sanctions were progressively hardened from 2006 onwards and the oil embargo tightened its grip. In February 2014, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei introduced what he called the 'economy of resistance', an economic plan advocating innovation and a lesser dependence on imports that reasserted key provisions of Vision 2025. [28]

Vision 2025 challenged policy-makers to look beyond extractive industries to the country's human capital for wealth creation. This led to the adoption of incentive measures to raise the number of university students and academics, on the one hand, and to stimulate problem-solving and industrial research, on the other. [28]

Iran's successive five-year plans aim to realize collectively the goals of Vision 2025. For instance, in order to ensure that 50% of academic research was oriented towards socio-economic needs and problem-solving, the Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2010–2015) tied promotion to the orientation of research projects. It also made provision for research and technology centres to be set up on campus and for universities to develop linkages with industry. The Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan had two main thrusts relative to science policy. The first was the "islamization of universities', a notion that is open to broad interpretation. According to Article 15 of the Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan, university programmes in the humanities were to teach the virtues of critical thinking, theorization and multidisciplinary studies. A number of research centres were also to be developed in the humanities. The plan's second thrust was to make Iran the second-biggest player in science and technology by 2015, behind Turkey. To this end, the government pledged to raise domestic research spending to 3% of GDP by 2015. [28] Yet, R&D's share in the GNP is at 0.06% in 2015 (where it should be at least 2.5% of GDP) [29] [30] and industry-driven R&D is almost non‑existent. [31]

Vision 2025 fixed a number of targets, including that of raising domestic expenditure on research and development to 4% of GDP by 2025. In 2012, spending stood at 0.33% of GDP. [28]

In 2009, the government adopted a National Master Plan for Science and Education to 2025 which reiterates the goals of Vision 2025. It lays particular stress on developing university research and fostering university–industry ties to promote the commercialization of research results. [28] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36]

In early 2018, the Science and Technology Department of the Iranian President's Office released a book to review Iran's achievements in various fields of science and technology during 2017. The book, entitled "Science and Technology in Iran: A Brief Review", provides the readers with an overview of the country's 2017 achievements in 13 different fields of science and technology. [37]

Human resources Edit

In line with the goals of Vision 2025, policy-makers have made a concerted effort to increase the number of students and academic researchers. To this end, the government raised its commitment to higher education to 1% of GDP in 2006. After peaking at this level, higher education spending stood at 0.86% of GDP in 2015. Higher education spending has resisted better than public expenditure on education overall. The latter peaked at 4.7% of GDP in 2007 before slipping to 2.9% of GDP in 2015. Vision 2025 fixed a target of raising public expenditure on education to 7% of GDP by 2025. [28]

Student enrollment trends Edit

The result of greater spending on higher education has been a steep rise in tertiary enrollment. Between 2007 and 2013, student rolls swelled from 2.8 million to 4.4 million in the country's public and private universities. Some 45% of students were enrolled in private universities in 2011. There were more women studying than men in 2007, a proportion that has since dropped back slightly to 48%. [28]

Enrollment has progressed in most fields. The most popular in 2013 were social sciences (1.9 million students, of which 1.1 million women) and engineering (1.5 million, of which 373 415 women). Women also made up two-thirds of medical students. One in eight bachelor's students go on to enroll in a master's/PhD programme. This is comparable to the ratio in the Republic of Korea and Thailand (one in seven) and Japan (one in ten). [28]

The number of PhD graduates has progressed at a similar pace as university enrollment overall. Natural sciences and engineering have proved increasingly popular among both sexes, even if engineering remains a male-dominated field. In 2012, women made up one-third of PhD graduates, being drawn primarily to health (40% of PhD students), natural sciences (39%), agriculture (33%) and humanities and arts (31%). According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 38% of master's and PhD students were studying science and engineering fields in 2011. [28]

There has been an interesting evolution in the gender balance among PhD students. Whereas the share of female PhD graduates in health remained stable at 38–39% between 2007 and 2012, it rose in all three other broad fields. Most spectacular was the leap in female PhD graduates in agricultural sciences from 4% to 33% but there was also a marked progression in science (from 28% to 39%) and engineering (from 8% to 16% of PhD students). Although data are not readily available on the number of PhD graduates choosing to stay on as faculty, the relatively modest level of domestic research spending would suggest that academic research suffers from inadequate funding. [28]

The Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2010–2015) fixed the target of attracting 25 000 foreign students to Iran by 2015. By 2013, there were about 14 000 foreign students attending Iranian universities, most of whom came from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and Turkey. In a speech delivered at the University of Tehran in October 2014, President Rouhani recommended greater interaction with the outside world. He said that

scientific evolution will be achieved by criticism [. ] and the expression of different ideas. [. ] Scientific progress is achieved, if we are related to the world. [. ] We have to have a relationship with the world, not only in foreign policy but also with regard to the economy, science and technology. [. ] I think it is necessary to invite foreign professors to come to Iran and our professors to go abroad and even to create an English university to be able to attract foreign students.' [28]

One in four Iranian PhD students were studying abroad in 2012 (25.7%). The top destinations were Malaysia, the US, Canada, Australia, UK, France, Sweden and Italy. In 2012, one in seven international students in Malaysia was of Iranian origin. There is a lot of scope for the development of twinning between universities for teaching and research, as well as for student exchanges. [28]

Trends in researchers Edit

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the number of (full-time equivalent) researchers rose from 711 to 736 per million inhabitants between 2009 and 2010. This corresponds to an increase of more than 2 000 researchers, from 52 256 to 54 813. The world average is 1 083 per million inhabitants. One in four (26%) Iranian researchers is a woman, which is close to the world average (28%). In 2008, half of researchers were employed in academia (51.5%), one-third in the government sector (33.6%) and just under one in seven in the business sector (15.0%). Within the business sector, 22% of researchers were women in 2013, the same proportion as in Ireland, Israel, Italy and Norway. The number of firms declaring research activities more than doubled between 2006 and 2011, from 30 935 to 64 642. The increasingly tough sanctions regime oriented the Iranian economy towards the domestic market and, by erecting barriers to foreign imports, encouraged knowledge-based enterprises to localize production. [28]

Research expenditure Edit

Iran's national science budget was about $900 million in 2005 and it had not been subject to any significant increase for the previous 15 years. [38] In 2001, Iran devoted 0.50% of GDP to research and development. Expenditure peaked at 0.67% of GDP in 2008 before receding to 0.33% of GDP in 2012, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. [39] The world average in 2013 was 1.7% of GDP. Iran's government has devoted much of its budget to research on high technologies such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, stem cell research and information technology (2008). [40] In 2006, the Iranian government wiped out the financial debts of all universities in a bid to relieve their budget constraints. [41] According to the UNESCO science report 2010, most research in Iran is government-funded with the Iranian government providing almost 75% of all research funding. [42] Domestic expenditure on research stood at 0.7% of GDP in 2008 and 0.3% of GDP in 2012. Iranian businesses contributed about 11% of the total in 2008. The government's limited budget is being directed towards supporting small innovative businesses, business incubators and science and technology parks, the type of enterprises which employ university graduates. [28]

The share of private businesses in total national R&D funding according to the same report is very low, being just 14%, as compared with Turkey's 48%. The rest of approximately 11% of funding comes from higher education sector and non-profit organizations. [43] A limited number of large enterprises (such as IDRO, NIOC, NIPC, DIO, Iran Aviation Industries Organization, Iranian Space Agency, Iran Electronics Industries or Iran Khodro) have their own in-house R&D capabilities. [44]

Funding the transition to a knowledge economy Edit

Vision 2025 foresaw an investment of US$3.7 trillion by 2025 to finance the transition to a knowledge economy. It was intended for one-third of this amount to come from abroad but, so far, FDI has remained elusive. It has contributed less than 1% of GDP since 2006 and just 0.5% of GDP in 2014. Within the country's Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2010–2015), a National Development Fund has been established to finance efforts to diversify the economy. By 2013, the fund was receiving 26% of oil and gas revenue. [28]

Much of the US$3.7 trillion earmarked in Vision 2025 is to go towards supporting investment in research and development by knowledge-based firms and the commercialization of research results. A law passed in 2010 provides an appropriate mechanism, the Innovation and Prosperity Fund. According to the fund's president, Behzad Soltani, 4600 billion Iranian rials (circa US$171.4 million) had been allocated to 100 knowledge-based companies by late 2014. Public and private universities wishing to set up private firms may also apply to the fund. [28]

Some 37 industries trade shares on the Tehran Stock Exchange. These industries include the petrochemical, automotive, mining, steel, iron, copper, agriculture and telecommunications industries, 'a unique situation in the Middle East'. Most of the companies developing high technologies remain state-owned, including in the automotive and pharmaceutical industries, despite plans to privatize 80% of state-owned companies by 2014. It was estimated in 2014 that the private sector accounted for about 30% of the Iranian pharmaceutical market. [28]

The Industrial Development and Renovation Organization (IDRO) controls about 290 state-owned companies. IDRO has set up special purpose companies in each high-tech sector to coordinate investment and business development. These entities are the Life Science Development Company, Information Technology Development Centre, Iran InfoTech Development Company and the Emad Semiconductor Company. In 2010, IDRO set up a capital fund to finance the intermediary stages of product- and technology-based business development within these companies. [28]

As of 2012, Iran had officially 31 science and technology parks nationwide. [45] Furthermore, as of 2014, 36 science and technology parks hosting more than 3,650 companies were operating in Iran. [46] These firms have directly employed more than 24,000 people. [46] According to the Iran Entrepreneurship Association, there are ninety-nine (99) parks of science and technology, in totality, which operate without official permits. Twenty-one of those parks are located in Tehran and affiliated with University Jihad, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran University, Ministry of Energy (Iran), Ministry of Health and Medical Education, and Amir Kabir University among others. Fars Province, with 8 parks and Razavi Khorasan Province, with 7 parks, are ranked second and third after Tehran respectively. [47]

Park's name Focus area Location
Guilan Science and Technology Park Agro-Food, Biotechnology, Chemistry, Electronics, Environment, ICT, Tourism. [48] Guilan
Pardis Technology Park Advanced Engineering (mechanics and automation), Biotechnology, Chemistry, Electronics, ICT, Nano-technology. [48] 25 km North-East of Tehran
Tehran Software and Information Technology Park (planned) [49] ICT [50] Tehran
Tehran University and Science Technology Park [51] Tehran
Khorasan Science and Technology Park (Ministry of Science, Research and Technology) Advanced Engineering, Agro-Food, Chemistry, Electronics, ICT, Services. [48] Khorasan
Sheikh Bahai Technology Park (Aka "Isfahan Science and Technology Town") Materials and Metallurgy, Information and Communications Technology, Design & Manufacturing, Automation, Biotechnology, Services. [48] Isfahan
Semnan Province Technology Park Semnan
East Azerbaijan Province Technology Park East Azerbaijan
Yazd Province Technology Park Yazd
Mazandaran Science and Technology Park Mazandaran
Markazi Province Technology Park Arak
"Kahkeshan" (Galaxy) Technology Park [52] Aerospace Tehran
Pars Aero Technology Park [53] Aerospace & Aviation Tehran
Energy Technology Park (planned) [54] Energy N/A

As of 2004, Iran's national innovation system (NIS) had not experienced a serious entrance to the technology creation phase and mainly exploited the technologies developed by other countries (e.g. in the petrochemicals industry). [55]

In 2016, Iran ranked second in the percentage of graduates in science and engineering in the Global Innovation Index. Iran also ranked fourth in tertiary education, 26 in knowledge creation, 31 in gross percentage of tertiary enrollment, 41 in general infrastructure, 48 in human capital as well as research and 51 in innovation efficiency ratio. [56]

In recent years several drugmakers in Iran are gradually developing the ability to innovate, away from generic drugs production itself. [57]

According to the State Registration Organization of Deeds and Properties, a total of 9,570 national inventions were registered in Iran during 2008. Compared with the previous year, there was a 38-percent increase in the number of inventions registered by the organization. [58]

Iran has several funds to support entrepreneurship and innovation: [47]

    of the Directorate of Science and Technology of the Presidential Office
  • National Researchers and Industrialists Support Fund
  • Nokhbegan Technology Development Institute
  • Sharif Export Development Research and Technology Fund
  • Support Fund of Researchers and Technologists
  • Payambar Azam (the great prophet) Scientific and Technological Award
  • Student Entrepreneurs Support Fund
  • +6,000 private interest-free funds & 3 venture capital funds (Shenasa, Simorgh and Sarava Pars). See also: Banking in Iran.

In 2020, Iran ranked 26th for its share of high-tech industries in the production in the Global Innovation Index report. [59]

The 5th Development Plan (2010–15) requires the private sector to communicate research needs to universities so that universities would coordinate research projects in line with these needs, with sharing of expenses by both sides. [54]

Because of its weakness or absence, the support industry makes little contribution to the innovation/technology development activities. Supporting the development of small and medium enterprises in Iran will strengthen greatly the supplier network. [44]

As of 2014, Iran had 930 industrial parks and zones, of which 731 are ready to be ceded to the private sector. [60] The government of Iran has plans for the establishment of 50–60 new industrial parks by the end of the fifth Five-Year Socioeconomic Development Plan (2015). [61]

As of 2016, Iran had nearly 3,000 knowledge-based companies. [62]

A 2003-report by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization regarding small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) [63] identified the following impediments to industrial development:

  • Lack of monitoring institutions
  • Inefficient banking system
  • Insufficient research & development
  • Shortage of managerial skills
  • Socio-cultural apprehensions
  • Absence of social learning loops
  • Shortcomings in international market awareness necessary for global competition
  • Cumbersome bureaucratic procedures
  • Shortage of skilled labor
  • Lack of intellectual property protection
  • Inadequate social capital, social responsibility and socio-cultural values.

The economic complexity ranking of Iran has increased by 1 places over the past 50 years from 66th in 1964 to 65th in 2014. [64] According to UNCTAD in 2016, private companies in Iran need better marketing strategies with emphasis on innovation. [65] [62]

Despite these problems, Iran has progressed in various scientific and technological fields, including petrochemical, pharmaceutical, aerospace, defense, and heavy industry. Even in the face of economic sanctions, Iran is emerging as an industrialized country. [66]

Parallel to academic research, several companies have been founded in Iran during last few decades. For example, CinnaGen, established in 1992, is one of the pioneering biotechnology companies in the region. CinnaGen won Biotechnology Asia 2005 Innovation Awards due to its achievements and innovation in biotechnology research. In 2006, Parsé Semiconductor Co. announced it had designed and produced a 32-bit computer microprocessor inside the country for the first time. [67] Software companies are growing rapidly. In CeBIT 2006, ten Iranian software companies introduced their products. [68] [69] Iran's National Foundation for Computer Games unveiled the country's first online video game in 2010, capable of supporting up to 5,000 users at the same time. [70]

In FY 2019, around 5,000 Iranian knowledge-based companies sold $28 billion worth of products or services including pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, polymer and chemical products, and industrial machinery. Among them, 250 companies exported $400 million to Central Asia and all of Iran's direct neighbours. [71]

Theoretical and computational sciences are highly developed in Iran. [72] Despite the limitations in funds, facilities, and international collaborations, Iranian scientists have been very productive in several experimental fields such as pharmacology, pharmaceutical chemistry, and organic and polymer chemistry. Iranian biophysicists, especially molecular biophysicists, have gained international reputations since the 1990s [ citation needed ] . High field nuclear magnetic resonance facility, microcalorimetry, circular dichroism, and instruments for single protein channel studies have been provided in Iran during the past two decades. Tissue engineering and research on biomaterials have just started to emerge in biophysics departments.

Considering the country's brain drain and its poor political relationship with the United States and some other Western countries, Iran's scientific community remains productive, even while economic sanctions make it difficult for universities to buy equipment or to send people to the United States to attend scientific meetings. [73] Furthermore, Iran considers scientific backwardness, as one of the root causes of political and military bullying by developed countries over developing states. [74] [75] After the Iranian Revolution, there have been efforts by the religious scholars to assimilate Islam with modern science and this is seen by some as the reason behind the recent successes of Iran to augment its scientific output. [76] Currently Iran aims for a national goal of self-sustainment in all scientific arenas. [77] [78] Many individual Iranian scientists, along with the Iranian Academy of Medical Sciences and Academy of Sciences of Iran, are involved in this revival. The Comprehensive Scientific Plan has been devised based on about 51,000 pages of documents and includes 224 scientific projects that must be implemented by the year 2025. [79] [80]

Medical sciences Edit

With over 400 medical research facilities and 76 medical magazine indexes available in the country, Iran is the 19th country in medical research and is set to become the 10th within 10 years (2012). [81] [82] Clinical sciences are invested in highly in Iran. In areas such as rheumatology, hematology, and bone marrow trasplantation, Iranian medical scientists publish regularly. [83] The Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation Research Center (HORC) of Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Shariati Hospital was established in 1991. Internationally, this center is one of the largest bone marrow transplantation centers and has carried out a large number of successful transplantations. [84] According to a study conducted in 2005, associated specialized pediatric hematology and oncology (PHO) services exist in almost all major cities throughout the country, where 43 board-certified or eligible pediatric hematologist–oncologists are giving care to children suffering from cancer or hematological disorders. Three children's medical centers at universities have approved PHO fellowship programs. [85] Besides hematology, gastroenterology has recently attracted many talented medical students. The gasteroenterology research center based at Tehran University of Medical Sciences has produced increasing numbers of scientific publications since its establishment.

Modern organ transplantation in Iran dates to 1935, when the first cornea transplant in Iran was performed by Professor Mohammad-Qoli Shams at Farabi Eye Hospital in Tehran, Iran. The Shiraz Nemazi transplant center, also one of the pioneering transplant units of Iran, performed the first Iranian kidney transplant in 1967 and the first Iranian liver transplant in 1995. The first heart transplant in Iran was performed in 1993 in Tabriz. The first lung transplant was performed in 2001, and the first heart and lung transplants were performed in 2002, both at Tehran University of Medical Sciences. [86] Iran developed the first artificial lung in 2009 to join five other countries in the world that possess such technology. [87] Currently, renal, liver, and heart transplantations are routinely performed in Iran. Iran ranks fifth in the world in kidney transplants. [88] The Iranian Tissue Bank, commencing in 1994, was the first multi-facility tissue bank in country. In June 2000, the Organ Transplantation Brain Death Act was approved by the Parliament, followed by the establishment of the Iranian Network for Transplantation Organ Procurement. This act helped to expand heart, lung, and liver transplantation programs. By 2003, Iran had performed 131 liver, 77 heart, 7 lung, 211 bone marrow, 20,581 cornea, and 16,859 renal transplantations. 82 percent of these were donated by living and unrelated donors 10 percent by cadavers and 8 percent came from living-related donors. The 3-year renal transplant patient survival rate was 92.9%, and the 40-month graft survival rate was 85.9%. [86]

Neuroscience is also emerging in Iran. [89] A few PhD programs in cognitive and computational neuroscience have been established in the country during recent decades. [90] Iran ranks first in Mideast and region in ophthalmology. [91] [92]

Iranian surgeons treating wounded Iranian veterans during the Iran–Iraq War invented a new neurosurgical treatment for brain injured patients that laid to rest the previously prevalent technique developed by US Army surgeon Dr Ralph Munslow. This new surgical procedure helped devise new guidelines that have decreased death rates for comatosed patients with penetrating brain injuries from 55% of 1980 to 20% of 2010. It has been said that these new treatment guidelines benefited US congresswoman Gabby Giffords who had been shot in the head. [93] [94] [95]

Biotechnology Edit

Planning and attention to biotechnology in Iran started in 1996 with the formation of the Supreme Council for Biotechnology. The Biotech National Document targeted to develop the technology in the country in 2004 was approved by the government.

In 1999, with the aim of developing and synergies, particularly with regard to the importance of new technologies and strategic location of biotechnology, the Biotechnology Development Council was established under the vice presidency of science and technology and all activities of the former Supreme Council were held at the headquarters. According to the Supreme Leader, emphasis on special attention to the development of biotechnology and biotech presenting to emphasize the development of a five-year program of economic, social and cultural, Biotech Development Council according to Act 705 dated 27/10/1390 Session Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution as The main reference of Policy, planning, strategy implementation, coordination and monitoring in the field of biotechnology was determined. Iran has a biotechnology sector that is one of the most advanced in the developing world. [96] [97] The Razi Institute for Serums and Vaccines and the Pasteur Institute of Iran are leading regional facilities in the development and manufacture of vaccines. In January 1997, the Iranian Biotechnology Society (IBS) was created to oversee biotechnology research in Iran. [96]

Agricultural research has been successful in releasing high-yielding varieties with higher stability as well as tolerance to harsh weather conditions. The agriculture researchers are working jointly with international Institutes to find the best procedures and genotypes to overcome produce failure and to increase yield. In 2005, Iran's first genetically modified (GM) rice was approved by national authorities and is being grown commercially for human consumption. In addition to GM rice, Iran has produced several GM plants in the laboratory, such as insect-resistant maize cotton potatoes and sugar beets herbicide-resistant canola salinity- and drought-tolerant wheat and blight-resistant maize and wheat. [98] The Royan Institute engineered Iran's first cloned animal the sheep was born on 2 August 2006 and passed the critical first two months of his life. [99] [100]

In the last months of 2006, Iranian biotechnologists announced that they, as the third manufacturer in the world, have sent CinnoVex (a recombinant type of Interferon b1a) to the market. [101] According to a study by David Morrison and Ali Khademhosseini (Harvard-MIT and Cambridge), stem cell research in Iran is amongst the top 10 in the world. [102] Iran planned to invest 2.5 billion dollars in the country's stem cell research in the years 2008–2013. [103] Iran ranks second in the world in transplantation of stem cells. [104]

In 2010, Iran began mass-producing ocular bio-implants named SAMT. [105] Iran began investing in biotechnological projects in 1992, and this is the tenth facility in Iran. "Lifepatch" is the fourth bio-implant mass-produced by Iran after bone, heart valve, and tendon bio-implants. [105] Iran is one of twelve countries in the world producing bio-tech drugs. [81] According to Scopus, Iran ranked 21st in biotechnology by producing nearly 4,000 related-scientific articles in 2014. [106]

In 2010, AryoGen Biopharma established the biggest and most modern knowledge-based facility for production of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies in the region. As at 2012, Iran produced 15 types of monoclonal/anti-body drugs. These anti-cancer drugs are now produced by only two to three western companies. [108]

In 2015, Noargen [109] company was established as the first officially registered CRO and CMO in Iran. Noargen uses the concept of CMO and CRO servicing to the biopharma sector of Iran as its main activity to fill the gap and promote developing biotech ideas/products toward commercialization.

Physics and materials Edit

Iran had some significant successes in nuclear technology during recent decades, especially in nuclear medicine. However, little connection exists between Iran's scientific society and that of the nuclear program of Iran. Iran is the 7th country in production of uranium hexafluoride (or UF6). [110] Iran now controls the entire cycle for producing nuclear fuel. [111] Iran is among the 14 countries in possession of nuclear [energy] technology. [112] In 2009, Iran was developing its first domestic Linear particle accelerator (LINAC). [113]

It is among the few countries in the world that has the technology to produce zirconium alloys. [114] [115] Iran produces a wide range of lasers in demand within the country in medical and industrial fields. [107] In 2011, Iranian scientists at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) have designed and built a nuclear fusion device, named IR-IECF. [116] Iran is the 6th country with such technology. [116] In 2018, Iran inaugurated the first laboratory for quantum entanglement in the National Laser Center. [117]

Computer science, electronics and robotics Edit

The Center of Excellence in Design, Robotics, and Automation was established in 2001 to promote educational and research activities in the fields of design, robotics, and automation. Besides these professional groups, several robotics groups work in Iranian high schools. [118] "Sorena 2" Robot, which was designed by engineers at University of Tehran, was unveiled in 2010. The robot can be used for handling sensitive tasks without the need for cooperating with human beings. The robot is taking slow steps similar to human beings, harmonious movements of hands and feet and other movements similar to humans. [119] [120] [121] Next the researchers plan to develop speech and vision capabilities and greater intelligence for this robot. [122] the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has placed the name of Surena among the five prominent robots of the world after analyzing its performance. [123] In 2010, Iranian researchers have, for the first time in the country, developed ten robots for the nation's automotive industry using domestic know how. [124]

Ultra Fast Microprocessors Research Center in Tehran's Amirkabir University of Technology successfully built a supercomputer in 2007. [125] Maximum processing capacity of the supercomputer is 860 billion operations per second. Iran's first supercomputer launched in 2001 was also fabricated by Amirkabir University of Technology. [126] In 2009, a SUSE Linux-based HPC system made by the Aerospace Research Institute of Iran (ARI) was launched with 32 cores and now runs 96 cores. Its performance was pegged at 192 GFLOPS. [127] Iran's National Super Computer made by Iran Info-Tech Development Company (a subsidiary of IDRO) was built from 216 AMD processors. The Linux-cluster machine has a reported "theoretical peak performance of 860 gig-flops". [128] The Routerlab team at the University of Tehran successfully designed and implemented an access-router (RAHYAB-300) and a 40Gbit/s high capacity switch fabric (UTS). [129] In 2011 Amirkabir University of Technology and Isfahan University of Technology produced 2 new supercomputers with processing capacity of 34,000 billion operations per second. [130] The supercomputer at Amirkabir University of Technology is expected to be among the 500 most powerful computers in the world. [130] From 1997 until 2017, Iran submitted 34,028 articles about Artificial Intelligence and its usage, ranking it at the 14th place in the world in the area of artificial intelligence (it is the 8th country in the world in AI based on high impact and high citation articles). [131]

Chemistry and nanotechnology Edit

Iran is ranked 12th in the field of chemistry (2018). [132] In 2007, Iranian scientists at the Medical Sciences and Technology Center succeeded in mass-producing an advanced scanning microscope—the Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM). [133] By 2017, Iran ranked 4th in ISI indexed nano-articles. [134] [135] [136] [137] [138] Iran has designed and mass-produced more than 35 kinds of advanced nanotechnology devices. These include laboratory equipment, antibacterial strings, power station filters and construction related equipment and materials. [139]

Research in nanotechnology has taken off in Iran since the Nanotechnology Initiative Council (NIC) was founded in 2002. The council determines the general policies for the development of nanotechnology and co-ordinates their implementation. It provides facilities, creates markets and helps the private sector to develop relevant R&D activities. In the past decade, 143 nanotech companies have been established in eight industries. More than one-quarter of these are found in the health care industry, compared to just 3% in the automotive industry. [28]

Today, five research centres specialize in nanotechnology, including the Nanotechnology Research Centre at Sharif University, which established Iran's first doctoral programme in nanoscience and nanotechnology a decade ago. Iran also hosts the International Centre on Nanotechnology for Water Purification, established in collaboration with UNIDO in 2012. In 2008, NIC established an Econano network to promote the scientific and industrial development of nanotechnology among fellow members of the Economic Cooperation Organization, namely Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. [28]

Iran recorded strong growth in the number of articles on nanotechnology between 2009 and 2013, according to Thomson Reuters' Web of Science. By 2013, Iran ranked seventh for this indicator. The number of articles per million population has tripled to 59, overtaking Japan in the process. Few patents are being granted to Iranian inventors in nanotechnology, as yet, however. The ratio of nanotechnology patents to articles was 0.41 per 100 articles for Iran in 2015. [28]

Aviation and space Edit

On 17 August 2008, The Iranian Space Agency proceeded with the second test launch of a three stages Safir SLV from a site south of Semnan in the northern part of the Dasht-e-Kavir desert. The Safir (Ambassador) satellite carrier successfully launched the Omid satellite into orbit in February 2009. [140] [141] [142] Iran is the 9th country to put a domestically-built satellite into orbit since the Soviet Union launched the first in 1957. [143] Iran is among a handful of countries in the world capable of developing satellite-related technologies, including satellite navigation systems. [144] Iran's first astronaut will be sent into space on board an Iranian shuttle by 2019. [145] [146] Iran is also the sixth country to send animals in space. Iran is one of the few countries capable of producing 20-25 ton sea patrol aircraft. [147] In 2013, Iran constructed its first hypersonic wind tunnel for testing missiles and doing aerospace research. [148] Iran is the 8th country capable of manufacturing jet engines. [149]

Astronomy Edit

The Iranian government has committed 150 billion rials (roughly 16 million US dollars) [150] for a telescope, an observatory, and a training program, all part of a plan to build up the country's astronomy base. Iran wants to collaborate internationally and become internationally competitive in astronomy, says the University of Michigan's Carl Akerlof, an adviser to the Iranian project. "For a government that is usually characterized as wary of foreigners, that's an important development". [151] In July 2010, Iran unveiled its largest domestically-manufactured telescope dubbed "Tara". [152] in 2016, Iran unveiled its new optical telescope for observing celestial objects as part of APSCO. It will be used to understand and predict the physical location of natural and man-made objects in orbit around the Earth. [153]

Energy Edit

Iran is ranked 12th in the field of energy (2018). [154] Iran has achieved the technical expertise to set up hydroelectric, gas and combined cycle power plants. [155] [156] Iran is among the four world countries that are capable of manufacturing advanced V94.2 gas turbines. [157] Iran is able to produce all the parts needed for its gas refineries [158] and is now the third country in the world to have developed Gas to liquids (GTL) technology. [159] [160] Iran produces 70% of its industrial equipment domestically including various turbines, pumps, catalysts, refineries, oil tankers, oil rigs, offshore platforms and exploration instruments. [161] [162] [163] [164] [165] [166] Iran is among the few countries that has reached the technology and "know-how" for drilling in the deep waters. [167] Iran's indigenously designed Darkhovin Nuclear Power Plant is scheduled to come online in 2016. [168]

Armaments Edit

Iran possesses the technology to launch superfast anti-submarine rockets that can travel at the speed of 100 meters per second under water, making the country second only to Russia in possessing the technology. [169] [170] Iran is among the five countries in the world to have developed ammunitions with laser targeting technology. [171] Iran is among the few countries that possess the technological know-how of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) fitted with scanning and reconnaissance systems. [172] Iran is among the 12 countries with missile technology and advanced mobile air defense systems. [112] Over the past years, Iran has made important breakthroughs in its defense sector and attained self-sufficiency in producing important military equipment and systems. [173] Since 1992, it also has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, sophisticated radars, guided missiles, a submarine, and fighter planes. [174]

Iran annually hosts international science festivals. The International Kharazmi Festival in Basic Science and The Annual Razi Medical Sciences Research Festival promote original research in science, technology, and medicine in Iran. There is also an ongoing R&D collaboration between large state-owned companies and the universities in Iran.

Iranians welcome scientists from all over the world to Iran for a visit and participation in seminars or collaborations. Many Nobel laureates and influential scientists such as Bruce Alberts, F. Sherwood Rowland, Kurt Wüthrich, Stephen Hawking, and Pierre-Gilles de Gennes visited Iran after the Iranian revolution. Some universities also hosted American and European scientists as guest lecturers during recent decades.

Although sanctions have caused a shift in Iran's trading partners from West to East, scientific collaboration has remained largely oriented towards the West. Between 2008 and 2014, Iran's top partners for scientific collaboration were the US, Canada, the UK and Germany, in that order. Iranian scientists co-authored almost twice as many articles with their counterparts in the USA (6 377) as with their next-closest collaborators in Canada (3 433) and the UK (3 318). [28] Iranian and U.S. scientists have collaborated on a number of projects. [175]

Malaysia is Iran's fifth-closest collaborator in science and India ranks tenth, after Australia, France, Italy and Japan. One-quarter of Iranian articles had a foreign co-author in 2014, a stable proportion since 2002. Scientists have been encouraged to publish in international journals in recent years, a policy that is in line with Vision 2025. [28]

The volume of scientific articles authored by Iranians in international journals has augmented considerably since 2005, according to Thomson Reuters' Web of Science (Science Citation Index Expanded). Iranian scientists now publish widely in international journals in engineering and chemistry, as well as in life sciences and physics. Women contribute about 13% of articles, with a focus on chemistry, medical sciences and social sciences. Contributing to this trend is the fact that PhD programmes in Iran now require students to have publications in the Web of Science.

Iran has submitted a formal request to participate in a project which is building an International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in France by 2018. This megaproject is developing nuclear fusion technology to lay the groundwork for tomorrow's nuclear fusion power plants. The project involves the European Union, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation and USA. A team from ITER visited Iran in November 2016 to deepen its understanding of Iran's fusion-related programmes. [28] [176]

Iran hosts several international research centres, including the following established between 2010 and 2014 under the auspices of the United Nations: the Regional Center for Science Park and Technology Incubator Development (UNESCO, est. 2010), the International Center on Nanotechnology (UNIDO, est. 2012) and the Regional Educational and Research Center for Oceanography for Western Asia (UNESCO, est. 2014). [28]

Iran is stepping up its scientific collaboration with developing countries. In 2008, Iran's Nanotechnology Initiative Council established an Econano network to promote the scientific and industrial development of nanotechnology among fellow members of the Economic Cooperation Organization, namely Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The Regional Centre for Science Park and Technology Incubator Development is also initially targeting these same countries. It is offering them policy advice on how to develop their own science parks and technology incubators. [28]

Iran is an active member of COMSTECH and collaborates on its international projects. The coordinator general of COMSTECH, Dr. Atta ur Rahman has said that Iran is the leader in science and technology among Muslim countries and hoped for greater cooperation with Iran in different international technological and industrialization projects. [177] Iranian scientists are also helping to construct the Compact Muon Solenoid, a detector for the Large Hadron Collider of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) that is due to come online in 2008 [ citation needed ] . Iranian engineers are involved in the design and construction of the first regional particle accelerator of the Middle East in Jordan, called SESAME. [178]

Since the lifting of international sanctions, Iran has been developing scientific and educational links with Kuwait, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, China and Russia. [179] [180] [181] [182] [183]

Scientists with an Iranian background have made significant contributions to the international scientific community with Sunnis making upto 35% of the contribitoons according to IranPolls. [184] In 1960, Ali Javan invented first gas laser. In 1973, the fuzzy set theory was developed by Lotfi Zadeh. Iranian cardiologist Tofy Mussivand invented the first artificial heart and afterwards developed it further. HbA1c was discovered by Samuel Rahbar and introduced to the medical community. The Vafa-Witten theorem was proposed by Cumrun Vafa, an Iranian string theorist, and his co-worker Edward Witten. Nima Arkani-Hamed, is a noted theoretical physicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton who is known for large extra dimensions and scattering amplitudes. The Kardar-Parisi-Zhang (KPZ) equation has been named after Mehran Kardar, notable Iranian physicist. Other examples of notable discoveries and innovations by Iranian scientists and engineers (or of Iranian origin) include:

    and Vahid Tarokh: invention of space–time block code : reported the first case of plasma cell granuloma of the lung. , inventor of "invisibility shield" (plasmonic cover) and research leader of the year 2006, Scientific American magazine, [185] and winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1999) for "Fractional paradigm of classical electrodynamics" : invention of a self-organized replicating molecular system, for which he received 1998 Feynman prize
  • Maysam Ghovanloo: inventor of Tongue-Drive Wheelchair. [186] : made the first single-molecule observation of cellular protein folding, for which he was named the Discoverer of the Year in 2017. [187][188] : discovery of spermatagonial stem cells
  • Afsaneh Rabiei: inventor [189] of an ultra-strong and lightweight material, known as Composite metal foam|Composite Metal Foam (CMF). [190] , invention of dendrosome [191]
  • Ali Safaeinili: co-inventor of Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS) [192] : invention of shear force microscopy : inventor of the cable modem

Many Iranian scientist received internationally recognised awards. Examples are:

    : In August 2014, Mirzakhani became the first-ever woman, as well as the first-ever Iranian, to receive the Fields Medal, the highest prize in mathematics for her contributions to topology. [193] , 2017 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics [194] , 2012 Fundamental Physcis Prize winner
  • Shekoufeh Nikfar: The awardee of the top women scientists by TWAS-TWOWS-Scopus in the field of Medicine in 2009. [195][196] : In August 2014, Ramin Golestanian won the Holweck Prize for his research work in physics. [197]
  • Shirin Dehghan: 2006 Women in Technology Award [198]
  • Mohammad Abdollahi: The Laureate of IAS-COMSTECH 2005 Prize in the field of Pharmacology and Toxicology and an IAS Fellow. MA is ranked as an International Top 1% outstanding Scientists of the World in the field of Pharmacology & Toxicology according to Essential Science Indicator from USA Thompson Reuters ISI. [199] MA is also known as one of outstanding leading scientists of OIC member countries. [200]
  • According to Scopus, Iran ranked 17th in terms of science production in the world in 2012 with the production of 34,155 articles above Switzerland and Turkey. [201]
  • According to the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), Iran increased its academic publishing output nearly tenfold from 1996 to 2004, and has been ranked first globally in terms of output growth rate (followed by China with a 3 fold increase). [202][203] In comparison, the only G8 countries in top 20 ranking with fastest performance improvement are Italy at tenth and Canada at 13th globally. [202][203][204] Iran, China, India and Brazil are the only developing countries among 31 nations with 97.5% of the world's total scientific productivity. The remaining 162 developing countries contribute less than 2.5% of the world's scientific output. [205] Despite the massive improvement from 0.0003% of the global scientific output in 1970 to 0.29% in 2003, still Iran's total share in the world's total output remained small. [206][207] According to Thomson Reuters, Iran has demonstrated a remarkable growth in science and technology over the past one decade, increasing its science and technology output fivefold from 2000 to 2008. Most of this growth has been in engineering and chemistry producing 1.4% of the world's total output in the period 2004–2008. By year 2008, Iranian science and technology output accounted for 1.02% of the world's total output (That is

According to the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), Iranian researchers and scientists have published a total of 60,979 scientific studies in major international journals in the last 19 years (1990–2008). [254] [255] Iran science production growth (as measured by the number of publications in science journals) is reportedly the "fastest in the world", followed by Russia and China respectively (2017/18). [256]

  • Acta Medica Iranica
  • Applied Entomology and PhytoPathology
  • Archives of Iranian Medicine
  • DARU Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Iranian Biomedical Journal
  • Iranian Journal of BioTechnology
  • Iranian Journal of Chemistry & Chemical Engineering
  • Iranian Journal of Fisheries Sciences-English
  • Iranian Journal of Plant Pathology
  • Iranian Journal of Science and Technology
  • Iranian Polymer Journal
  • Iranian Journal of Public Health
  • Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research
  • Iranian Journal of Reproductive Medicine
  • Iranian Journal of Veterinary Medicine
  • Iranian Journal of Fuzzy Systems
  • Journal of Entomological Society of Iran
  • Plant Pests & Diseases Research Institute Insect Taxonomy Research Department Publication
  • The Journal of the Iranian Chemical Society
  • Rostaniha (Botanical Journal of Iran)

General Edit

Prominent organizations Edit

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16. Tea Production (2737 BC)

Tea was discovered in ancient China by the Chinese emperor Shennong in 2737 BC. Shennong liked to drink hot water. One day during a march he and his army stopped to rest and his servant prepared some boiling water for him. A brown leaf fell into the water and the water turned brown. The servant presented it to the emperor, he drank it and found it refreshing.

During the Han dynasty, tea was used as a medicine, and it was used as a drink on social occasions from the Tang dynasty (618–907 AD). Tea was prepared differently in ancient China than it is today. Tea leaves were processed and compressed into cake form. The dried teacake known as brick tea was ground in a stone mortar. The powder from the teacake was then boiled in a kettle, or hot water was added to it. It was then served as a hot beverage. White tea (compressed tea) was produced during the Tang dynasty, and it was harvested in the early spring when the tea leaves were still silver needles.


The very first battery is another Ancient Persian invention. This original battery was quite simply designed and had a charge of around a couple of volts. Even though this was a very meager charge, it led to many other great inventions. This Persian battery was comprised of three (3) main elements a pot and two rods. The idea was a very simple one as they put an electrolyte in a pot along with a rod that served as a cell. From this point forward, future civilizations improved upon this initial design.

At the 2003 dental conference in Vienna, dentists sampled a replication of ancient Egyptian toothpaste. Its ingredients included powdered of ox hooves, ashes, burnt eggshells and pumice. Another toothpaste recipe and a how-to-brush guide was written on a papyrus from the fourth century AD describes how to mix precise amounts of rock salt, mint, dried iris flower and grains of pepper, to form a “powder for white and perfect teeth.”

The Egyptians were so expert at preserving the bodies of the dead that after thousands of years we know of the diseases they suffered such as arthritis, tuberculosis of the bone, gout, tooth decay, bladder stones, and gallstones there is evidence, too, of the disease bilharziasis (schistosomiasis), caused by small, parasitic flatworms, which still exists in Egypt today. There seems to have been no syphilis or rickets.

10 Top innovations in the history of sailing

Visual depictions of sailing boats have been dated as far back as 5500 BCE, discovered on painted discs from ancient Mesopotamia found in modern day Kuwait. These sailing boats, used on the Nile River, were simple, square-rigged reed ships with a single square papyrus sail attached to a mast. Ancient civilisations including the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all used sailing boats, and many cultures and practitioners have contributed to advancements in the science and practice of sailing over the millennia.

Polynesians sailed dugout outrigger canoes to colonise islands, using sticks to create navigational charts of wave patterns and currents that experienced pilots would commit to memory. Arab, Chinese and Indian cultures all had prehistoric sailing traditions. Although Norse Viking ships supplemented sail power with oars but managed to do that cross between the Atlantic’s northern islands, and as far as North America, mostly under sail. And European societies took up the mantle of innovating sailing technologies and techniques during the so-called Age of Discovery.

Steering oars and rudders:

As sailing and navigation increased in importance, ancient cultures began to innovate and improve sailing technology. One crucial technological advancement was the steering oar — an innovation that predated more modern stern-mounted rudders and allowed for the construction of larger boats.

A steering oar was a basic lever – typically an oversized oar or board – attached amidship on the starboard (an etymological derivation of the original ‘steerboard’) side of the vessel or at the stern. The innovation allowed a helmsman to pilot the craft more accurately.

Viking ships exclusively used steering oars. Smaller boats, for example punts on English waterways, still use a basic version of the steering oar.

The invention of the stern-mounted rudder is credited to the Chinese, who came up with the idea of affixing a manoeuvrable steering apparatus to the back of a ship’s hull during or before the first century AD during the Han Dynasty. It took Western civilisations another thousand years to affix a stern-mounted rudder to ships.

Celestial navigation by the stars:

The prospect of navigating through a featureless landscape – like the sea at night – is still a daunting one for the uninitiated, and the fact that ancient cultures were able to achieve it is a testament to human ingenuity.

Celestial navigation is the method by which ancient mariners piloted in darkness or when out of sight of land. The method requires angular measurements taken between heavenly bodies and the horizon as well as accurate time keeping to keep a ship on course.

Written records of the practice go back to the mythical text of Homer’s Odyssey written nearly 3,000 years ago. In the story, the nymph Calypso tells the hero Ulysses to keep the constellation of stars known as the Bear, Ursa Major and The Big Dipper, on his left hand side while observing the position of several other constellations to aid in his position.

A structural beam that runs from a ship’s bow to its stern and sits lower than the rest of the hull, the keel was first invented by those intrepid Norse sailing men known as Vikings. Because their sailing ships were square-rigged, they were prone to making a lot of leeway when tacking close to the wind. The addition of a keel prevented this lateral movement, increased speed and made Viking ships more stable.

Initially, keels were small and didn’t increase boats’ draughts a great deal. Modern fixed keels can be quite deep and restrict yachts from sailing in shallow waters, but the innovation of fixed keels has also made designing for stability in modern boats much easier.

Many keels add ballast to boats and lower the centre of gravity, helping to keep them from capsizing. On racing yachts, for instance a canting keel provides righting momentum to keep the yachts upright.

The lateen (triangular) sail:

One of the biggest jumps in the history of sailing technology was the invention of the lateen or latin-rig sail. The lateen is a triangular sail mounted at an angle and running in a fore-and-aft direction. With a manoeuvre called ‘tacking,’ the sail allows boats to make way to windward in a zig-zagging fashion.

Though its exact origin is unknown, the lateen sail is the earliest-known fore-and-aft rigged sail and was in use in Greece in the first century BC. It is believed to have been introduced to the Mediterranean region by Arabic or Persian sailors. Polynesians also invented a mastless lateen-rigged sail that is very different in construction from that used in the Mediterranean.

The lateen sail effectively allowed for the advent of the Age of Discovery.

The carrack and the first circumnavigation of the earth:

It was a carrack ship that completed the first full circumnavigation of the world. It took the Spanish expedition two captains and nearly four years to make the voyage. Portuguese captain Ferdinand Magellan, who initially led the expedition, set off from Spain in 1519 and died in the Philippines in 1521. Juan Sebastian Elcano brought the carrack ship Victoria – the only one of five ships that started the expedition to survive the trip – back to Spain in 1522.

Carracks were three- to four-masted sailing ships developed by Genoan sailors in the 15th century for use in commerce. Their spacious cargo holds made them good for long-distance exploration and they were important in advancing European colonial expansion leading up to the Age of Discovery. Ocean-going ships that were large enough to be stable in heavy seas, carracks were square-rigged on the fore and main masts and lateen-rigged on the mizzenmast.

Marine engines:

The carrack was by no means the final word in ship design, and faster ships – like the clippers – succeeded it and shortened the duration of trips to transport goods and people around the world. But the next major advancement in marine technology was the engine.

The first marine engines were steam powered and were adapted for ships nearly a century after Thomas Newcomen created the first commercially successful steam engine in 1712.

Scottish engineer William Symington built the world’s “first practical steamboat,” the Charlotte Dundas, in 1802. The first transatlantic trip by steamboat happened 17 years later in 1819 when another ship named Savannah sailed from Savannah, Georgia, in the US to Liverpool, England. Innovation of the technology continued throughout the 19th century and was eventually overtaken by diesel-powered engines. The obvious impact of the technology was to enable ships to sail at consistent speeds even when winds or sailing conditions were unfavourable.

The advent of Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) has made sailing a much safer endeavour.

EIPRBs are tracking transmitters that communicate with the Cospas-Sarsat service, an international satellite system used for search and rescue (SAR) operations.

Although they can be manually activated, EPIRBs provide an additional measure of safety in catastrophic situations by the fact that they are automatically activated when, for example, a boat capsizes. The beacons send out a distress signal monitored by a worldwide system of satellites that aid rescue efforts to find survivors.

According to the Cospas-Sarsat service, since its beginnings in 1979, distress radio beacons have assisted in the rescue of tens of thousands of people in distress situations.

GPS navigation:

With the rather complex history of navigational techniques we’ve noted – from celestial to stick charts – a reliable way to find the position of your boat on the open ocean is of crucial importance.

The latest leap forward in navigation came when boats began to be equipped with GPS units. Operating in fundamentally the same way as the Sat Nav that guides you while you drive, Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers have made marine navigation less dependent on paper charts and more dependent on electronic ones.

GPS receivers are part of a space-based navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather conditions, anywhere on Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites.

We’ve come a long way since the days of sailing by the stars. Now we’re sailing with the aid of heavenly bodies that are man made.

Internet on board:

Yes, believe it or not, it’s possible to logon and login while sitting on a boat in the middle of the ocean. But it’s not cheap.

The democratisation of information has hit the high seas with satellite internet options available far away from land and high-speed wi-fi from on-shore hotspots or personal hotspots transmitted via mobile phone.

The problem, however, is that the price is not very democratic. Depending on your desire for data, you can spend thousands on keeping connected.

According to service and hardware provider Global Marine Networks, the hardware setup for satellite internet can cost anywhere from $3,000 to over $15,000. And monthly tariffs run from $50 for email and weather data or into the thousands if you’re a heavy user.

Of course, costs will decrease as technology improves, and the fact that it’s even possible to stay connected to loved ones or even stream a movie while at sea is another sign that we’re living in a world only predicted by science fiction.

Achaemenid Empire

Cyrus II overthrew Astyages of Media c. 550 BCE and began a systematic campaign to bring other principalities under his control. He conquered the wealthy kingdom of Lydia in 546 BCE, Elam (Susiana) in 540 BCE, and Babylon in 539 BCE. By the end of his reign, Cyrus II had established an empire which stretched from the modern-day region of Syria down through Turkey and across to the borders of India. This was the Achaemenid Empire, named for Cyrus II’s ancestor Achaemenes.

Cyrus II is unique among ancient conquerors for his humanitarian vision and policies as well as encouraging technological innovations. Much of the land he conquered suffered from a lack of adequate water supply and so he had his engineers revive an older means of tapping underground aquafers known as a qanat, a sloping channel dug into the earth with vertical shafts at intervals down to the channel which would bring the water up to ground level. Although Cyrus II is often credited with inventing the qanat system, it is attested to earlier by of Sargon II of Assyria (r. 722-705 BCE) in the inscription describing his 714 BCE Urartu campaign. Sargon II notes qanats in use around the city of Ulhu in Western Iran which created fertile fields far from any river. Cyrus II, it seems, developed the qanat across a much greater area but it was an earlier Persian invention as was the yakhchal – great domed coolers which created and preserved ice, the first refrigerators – whose use he also encouraged.

Map of the Persian Achaemenid Empire at its greatest extent under the reigns of Darius the Great and Xerxes. / Fabienkhan, Wikimedia Commons

Cyrus II’s humanitarian efforts are well-known through the Cyrus Cylinder, a record of his policies and proclamation of his vision that everyone under his reign should be free to live as they wished as long as they did so in peaceful accord with others. After he conquered Babylon, he allowed the Jews – who had been taken from their homeland by King Nebuchadnezzar (r. 605-562 BCE) in the so-called Babylonian Captivity – to return to Judah and even provided them with funds to rebuild their temple. The Lydians continued to worship their goddess Cybele, and other ethnicities their own deities as well. All Cyrus II asked was that citizens of his empire live peacefully with each other, serve in his armies, and pay their taxes.

In order to maintain a stable environment, he instituted a governmental hierarchy with himself at the top surrounded by advisors who relayed his decrees to secretaries who then passed these on to regional governors (satraps) in each province (satrapy). These governors only had authority over bureaucratic-administrative matters while a military commander in the same region oversaw military/police matters. By dividing the responsibilities of government in each satrapy, Cyrus II lessened the chance of any official amassing enough money and power to attempt a coup.

The decrees of Cyrus II – and any other news – traveled along a network of roads linking major cities. The most famous of these would become the Royal Road (later established by Darius I) running from Susa to Sardis. Messengers would leave one city and find a watchtower and rest-station within two days where he would be given food, drink, a bed, and be provided with a new horse to travel on to the next. The Persian postal system was considered by Herodotus a marvel of his day and became the model for later similar systems.

This clay tablet dates back to the reign of the Achaemenid king Cyrus the Great, who ruled Iran between 550-530 BCE. The cylinder describes the king’s peaceful capture of the city of Babylon in the year 539 BCE and he how built the main temple there. The text claims that Cyrus restored temples in the neighboring cities and returned deported people to their homes. With reference to his just and peaceful rule, this cylinder has been referred to as an early charter of human rights. From Babylon, Mesopotamia, Iraq. Mid-6th century BCE. (The British Museum, London) / Photo by Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin, Creative Commons

Cyrus founded a new city as capital, Pasargadae, but moved between three other cities which also served as administrative hubs: Babylon, Ecbatana, and Susa. The Royal Road connected these cities as well as others so that the king was constantly informed of the affairs of state. Cyrus was fond of gardening and made use of the qanat system to create elaborate gardens known as pairi-daeza (which gives English its word, and concept of, paradise). He is said to have spent as much time as possible in his gardens daily while also managing, and expanding on, his empire.

Cyrus died in 530 BCE, possibly in battle, and was succeeded by his son Cambyses II (r. 530-522 BCE) who extended Persian rule into Egypt. Scholars continue to debate the identity of his successor as it could either be his brother Bardiya or a Median usurper named Gautama who took control of the empire in 522 BCE. Cambyses II is said to have assassinated his brother and Gautama to have assumed Bardiya’s identity while Cambyses II was campaigning in Egypt. Either way, a distant cousin of the brothers assassinated this ruler in 522 BCE and took the regnal name of Darius I (also known as Darius the Great, r. 522-486 BCE). Darius the Great would extend the empire even further and initiate some of its most famous building projects, such as the great city of Persepolis which became one of the empire’s capitals.

Even though Darius I continued Cyrus II’s policy of tolerance and humanitarian legislation, unrest broke out during his reign. This was not uncommon as it was standard for provinces to rebel after the death of a monarch going back to the Akkadian Empire of Sargon the Great in Mesopotamia (r. 2334-2279 BCE). The Ionian Greek colonies of Asia Minor were among these and, since their efforts were backed by Athens, Darius launched an invasion of Greece which was halted at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE.

After Darius I’s death, he was succeeded by his son Xerxes I (r. 485-465 BCE) who is said to have raised the largest army in history up to that point for his unsuccessful invasion of Greece in 480 BCE. Afterwards, Xerxes I occupied himself with building projects – notably adding to Persepolis – and his successors did the same. The Achaemenid Empire remained stable under later rulers until it was conquered by Alexander the Great during the reign of Darius III (336-330 BCE). Darius III was assassinated by his confidante and bodyguard Bessus who then proclaimed himself Artaxerxes V (r. 330-329 BCE) but was shortly after executed by Alexander who styled himself Darius’ successor and is often referred to as the last monarch of the Achaemenid Empire.

History KS2 / KS3: Invention & Innovation in Baghdad 900AD

Harun Al-Rashid, Fatima, Usma and Al-Buruni form the panel of steely potential investors with dinar to present to Muslim inventors, if they can impress the panel with their products.

The products are real Muslim innovations circa AD900.

They include innovations in jewellery:

Al-Khwārizmī, the Persian mathematician, astronomer, geographer and scholar in the House of Wisdom in Baghdad with his a decimal counting system set to influence world mathematics.

Al-Rāzī, a Persian polymath, physician, alchemist, philosopher, and important figure in the history of medical science, who presents his ground-breaking surgical ideas including early anaesthesia.

Contrasts are made with British civilisation at the time.

This short film is from the BBC series, History of Early Civilisations - Islam. Through parodies of reality TV shows, this series introduces different aspects of life in the Islamic Golden Age, circa AD900.

Teacher Notes

Research a range of early Islamic inventions. Compare to innovations, for example in agriculture, in Britain in the same era. The short film gives the example of a fork.

Compile a class glossary of Islamic terms and create a crossword with definitions.

Create own models for museum display, with captions.

Plan own Lions’ Lair programme and critique other areas of early Islamic life seen in these clips about fashion, buildings, etc.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching history at Key Stages 2 and 3 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Second and Third Level in Scotland.

Watch the video: Inventions and Innovations in Ancient Mesopotamia (July 2022).


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