Iran: Axis of Culture, History, and Geopolitics

From Neutopia:Iran2_1

When I first viewed the breathtaking images of the detailed rock carvings at the tomb of Xerxes near the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis, along with the Zoroastrian fire temple, I wondered how many in the US had any idea about this part of the rich and complex narrative of a civilization that in ancient times reached a cultural level comparable to that of Greece, Rome or Egypt. Within the psychological landscape of most Americans, Iran is a distant place filled with strident Khomeini worshippers and women in chadors, remembered most for a frenzied band of zealots who held the US embassy staff hostage over some little understood animosity towards the shah—a man that the US media, throughout most of his brutal reign, depicted with warmth.

The ancient Persian civilization reached its peak under the leadership of Cyrus the Great who united the various tribes and ethnicities stretching from the Indus Valley to Egypt, and chose Persepolis as his capital in the 5th century B.C.. (6). Cyrus understood that humane rule was the simplest way to maintain loyalty. He preferred persuasion and negotiation over force, never humiliated the vanquished, and allowed his subjects freedom of worship. Cyrus also had genuine respect for the amalgamation of Aryan and Sumerian-derived influences that was Persian culture.

More here.