When was Persia renamed “Iran”…and Why?

The Iran Tour with Far Horizons will demonstrate that Iran (also known historically as Persia) is a world both ancient and contemporary, linking the heartland of Asia and the cradle of Western civilization, a bridge between East and West.

The name Persia is actually derived from the Greek form of Parsa, the name of the region in southwestern Iran which was the homeland of the Ancient Persians. That area is now known as Fars province. ‘Persia’ was used mainly by Westerners from the time of Herodotus onwards to describe the whole kingdom, which was roughly equivalent to that of present day Iran.

The Ancient Persians themselves referred to Iranian-speaking peoples in the realm as ‘Airyan,’ a self-designated term of reference, which the Vedic Indian peoples also used, in the form ‘Aryan.’ The oldest Iranian (Zoroastrian) texts refer to the original homeland of the Iranians as ‘Airyana vaeja’ – the ‘Aryan/Iranian expanse.’

19th century European linguists thought, mistakenly, that all Indo-European speakers thought of themselves as ‘Aryan,’ and put forward the notion that the Indo-European ‘Aryans’ originated in northern Europe. It was this misconception that gave rise to the Nazi racial use of the word.

On the day of the Persian New Year, March 21 1935, Reza Shah Pahlavi, requested foreign delegates to use the term Iran, instead of Persia, in a conscious reference to the ancient ancestry of the Iranians.

Waves of invaders throughout the country’s long history – the Greeks accompanying Alexander, Arab Muslim armies, the Turkish tribes from Central Asia and Anatolia, and finally the Mongols – all left their mark upon the people of Iran, creating a vibrant tapestry with an Iranian cultural core.

Iran’s history remains visible in the country’s many intriguing and notable archaeological sites, its ancient monuments, and its cities, which possess some of the world’s most magnificent examples of art and architecture.

Join Dr. Jenny Rose on Iran: Empires of Everlasting Fire, April 12 – 28, 2018.

“This was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken! Great on every level. And by far the friendliest people I’ve ever travelled among. Iran, as viewed in the US media and by US politicians, bears no resemblance whatsoever to the real Iran.‘ – Professor Michael Coe of Maya fame



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