The Origin of Persians

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Iranians before Iran

History of Iran, Chapter 2: Iranians before Iran

Indo-Europeans and Indo-Iranians

A long standing, and still unchallenged, belief of historians is that the people of Europe, Iran, and India, with the exception of Hungarians and the Finns, have their ancestry in common. Based on historical evidence and supports from archaeology, historians propose the existence of a pre-historic tribal confederation, called theoretically "Indo-Europeans", who eventually spread out from their original homeland to cover the mass of land in western Eurasia. Their language, costumes, and cultural characteristics survived in one way or another to the historical time, and it is based on comparative studies of various Indo-European languages and cultures that the idea of a common ancestry first came to existence (see J.P. Mallory for a detailed discussion of Indo-European theory).

A considerable amount of criticism has been bestowed upon the idea of Indo-European ancestry. It has been called a racist idea, it has been challenged by those who felt "left-out" of it, and it has been linked to colonialism and the idea of European superiority. Probably the worst use of this theory has been the Nazi ideology of a pure "Aryan" race. Nevertheless, our purpose here is purely historical, and for the sake of the narrative, we assume that the idea of a common Indo-European ancestry, first and foremost in linguistic and mythological terms rather than biological, is valid and at least supportable.

One of the most serious problems for all adherents to the common ancestry theory is the location of the original homeland of Indo-Europeans. Nineteenth century historians proposed an Eastern European homeland (lately revitalised by new archaeology), others saw Northern Europe more plausible, and in the Twentieth century, steppes of Southern Russia have won the most favour. Archaeology in the steppes shows the coexistence of many tribes during the proposed time of the start of Indo-European migrations (ca. 3000 BCE). These cultures show varied anatomies, and strengthen the idea that a common biological ancestry might not have been the case. Since no written evidence is available from this era, our only points of reference are their pottery, tool use, and burial habits, based on which they have been called the "Kurgan" people (from Russian word for grave). Their graves were built in a mount shape, and the body was buried in chambers, along with personal belongings and animals such as horses (in case of more prosperous members of the society). It is generally accepted now that Indo-Europeans as a historical reality were most likely a collection of tribes spread from Central Asia to Eastern Europe, and they all migrated in different time periods due to climactic and demographic reasons.

An eastern branch of these tribes, theoretically called proto-Indo-Iranians, lived probably in Central Asia and belonged to a branch of Kurgan people called the "Andronovo Culture" by archaeologists. These people, who called themselves Aryans (Indo-Iranian for noble, wellborn), migrated towards south into present day Afghanistan and Eastern Iran sometimes around 2000 BCE. There, they seem to have been split into two branches, the eastern one called Indo-Aryans by historians, and the other one proto-Iranians. Based on their later literature, we might assume an inter tribal war or ideological disagreement might have initiated the split. In any case, their languages, or what has been preserved of their oldest forms (Vedic Sanskrit and "Avestan" respectively), show remarkable similarities in linguistic and mythical tradition terms. These people were supposedly nomadic, they had domesticated horses, probably as early as their time in Central Asia, and had a complex pantheon of gods and natural forces. It has been suggested that prior to the first phase of their migration, Indo-Iranians have had a communal social system, but by the time of their split, they had formed into a patriarchal class system society. These changes, along with their complex belief system, leads some to believe that the proto-Indo-Iranian society was not as simplistic and nomadic based as currently assumed. Furthermore, archaeological evidence such as excavations in the Bactro-Margian Archaelogical Complex (BMAC), point out to a very early formation of settlements and commercial centres in Central Asia. Artifacts from BMAC show pottery very similar to the ones found in Mohenjudaro/Harrapan culture of Indus Valley, and Uruk culture of Sumer. Although the BMAC excavations show more influence from Dravidians of Indus Valley than Indo-Iranians, they also show an early contact of proto-Indo-Iranians with civilisation, and thus a much earlier formation of class society and complexity believed up to now. Also, the discovery of some pottery with what seems to be an early form of writing might challenge the accepted theories of the development of civilisations and cultural formation.

In any case, the branching of proto-Indo-Iranians to Indo-Aryans and proto-Iranians happened at the dawn of history, ca. 2000-1800 BC. Indo-Aryans apparently moved to the Indus Valley region, with which they might have been familiar by their contacts with BMAC traders. There they faced the challenge of an established civilisation. The traditional story would tell us that the superior military power of Indo-Aryans, especially their use of horses, left no chance for the local Dravidians, who were conquered, massacred, absorbed into the Aryans society as "untouchables" or driven to the south of the Indian peninsula. However, new studies whose scope is out of the capacity of the present paper, suggest that the conquest of the Harrapan culture and the establishment of an Indo-Aryan lead society did not happen as easily and took more time and included a higher degree of influence from the Dravidians on conquering Aryans.

We have less evidence of such sudden conflict in the Iranian case. Proto-Iranians seem to have been split into branches early in their history, forming the nomadic Saka/Scythian tribes, and the settled populations that inhabited the Iranian plateau and eventually came to be known under the massive and inaccurate names of Parthains, Persians, and Medians. How early this split happened, and how the Iranians came to overpower the established civilisations of the Mitanni, the Kassites, and civilisations of eastern Iran, is not known. Only their final pressure in replacing the prosperous civilisation of Elam has survived into history. For earlier events, we only have scattered reports from the Assyrian and Babylonian chronicles, and rarely in Elamite reports.

The idea of a simple split of proto-Iranians from Indo-Aryans and especially their origin in Central Asia poses some problems. In dates supposedly prior to their migration, we have evidence of their existence in Western Iran. Terms relating to horse breeding that are from an obvious Indo-Iranian source exist in Mitanni, Kassite, and even Babylonian documents. We know that horses were taken by Kassites to Babylon, and they most likely learned of horse taming from proto-Iranians who lived to their east and north. Also, the names of Indo-Aryan deities like Indra and the Nassaties exist among the names of Mitanni deities in a treaty with the Hittites, while these deities don't exist among the Iranian pantheon. Also, some Mitanni names have obvious Indo-Iranian and even purely Iranian overtones, while an Egyptian pharaoh married a girl from "east of Sumer" ca. 2200 BCE who has an Iranian name. As we can see, the route and time of Indo-Iranian migrations is not certain and provable, and some even deny any migration in a sensible term, and instead propose the gradual push of Indo-Iranians from the northern Caspian regions, via both Caucasus and Central Asia, in a much earlier (e.g. 3000 BCE) date.

Nevertheless, by 1200 BCE, we have a remarkable and undeniable Iranian presence in the plateau, and their overwhelming military force seems to have gradually overpowered the local people and formed early kingdoms which posed threats to the established civilisations of Assyria, Babylonia, and Elam. These petty kingdoms seem to have established confederacies of all the tribes, Aryan and non Aryan, and spread their early influence in the areas east of Elam. The earliest of these confederacies to form a coherent kingdom of which we have historical evidence was the kingdom of the Medes. We shall see the development of this kingdom in further chapters.

Iranian Mythology and Social System

Traditionally, Iranian tribes, prior to their settlement in the Iranian plateau, are considered pastural nomads. Their formation of agricultural system is usually dated to their contacts with the established civilisation of the Iranian plateau. However, their mythology and social system, and their parallels in the Indian tradition, might point us to another direction. Fertility goddesses, deities concerned with climactic changes, and their class based social system could be indication of an early agricultural culture, abandoned in face of climactic changes in Central Asia, and only retaken after their second settlement in the Iranian plateau. Some further archaeological excavations east of BMAC, shows early evidence of farming and seed growing. These tribes might have well been early agriculturalists who only resorted to occasional movements in face sheer demographic pressure.

The early mythology of Iranians includes a complex set of deities, divided into two groups, one with celestial and the other with terrestrial concerns. In time, these two groups, Ahuras and Daevas, seem to have developed good and evil characteristic respectively, and thus form a distinctly "Iranian" ideology (Indo-Aryans had Asuras as evil and Daevas as the good set of gods). Some of the gods seem to have transcended the secondary characteristics and either changed their positions or have become incorporated into new roles; among these is Indra the Dragon Slayer, a Daeva, who enters the Ahura group in Iran under the his nickname of Vrathraghna/Vahran.

Iranians also seem to have adopted local deities of the pre-Iranian population of the plateau, including Araduui Sura Anahita, the goddess of fertility and water, who is unmatched in the Indian pantheon and shows similar characteristics with the Mesopotamian Inana/Ishtar. Also, some deified mortals such as Yima/Yama seem to have existed in the time before the Indo-Iranian split, and have survived into the historical times for both people, as well as a minor Aryan group called the Kafirs (living in eastern Afghanistan, they are Aryan, but neither Indian nor Iranian). In many cases also deities or superhuman beings such as Azhidhahaka or Thria are anthropomorphized into historical and mortal characters, very evident especially in the Iranian case.

Zarathushtra's Religion and the New Social Order

Unlike the Indian case, the Iranian mythology seem to have undergone a very early, pre-historic change during which the polytheism was abandoned for duality or maybe an earlier version of monotheism. This revolution, credited to Zarathushtra, the greatest spiritual thinker of the Iranian tradition, set the path of both the Iranian social system and political thought apart from its Indian cousin. Gods and forces were abandoned, and some of the most prominent ones were reduced to levels of mortal, and often sinful, humans, or even labeled as evil. Zarathushtra's spiritual upturn and the opposition and resistance presented to it by the adherents to the old spiritual and social system, set the pace for many socio-political changes up to the advent of Islam.

We have no evidence of the time and origin of Zarathushtra. He has been dated as far back as 2000 BCE, living among the nomadic proto-Iranians, and as late as 500 BCE, living in the court of the Achaemenid kings. We can only trace him based on the influence of his ideas on early Iranian tribes and their ideology, and also based on the age of his compositions, the Gathas. These compositions, in the form of 16 poems, are universally accepted to be the oldest parts of the Zoroastrian cannon of laws, the Avsta, and almost all scholars attribute them to Zarathushtra himself. The language is a very rustic version of a northeastern old Iranian language, pointing us to a date of roughly 1300 BCE. The ideas of the poems are clearly against the worship of several gods and the belief in natural forces, and they include a very deep philosophical thought, emphasizing the originality of mind, the role of the individual decision and thought, and common movement towards righteousness.

Zarathushtra's social reform was met with resistance even during his life time, by the adherents to the traditional pantheon and social structure. They are refered to in later parts of the Avesta as Daeva-Yasna, "Adherents to the Daevs", a clear indication of Zarathushtra's declaration of war against the forces of evil. Apparently, one of these opposition members is even responsible for the death of Zarathushtra. However, it seems that after embracement of the Zoroastrian ideas by political forces who found Zarathushtra's uniting theories better suited to power than dispersed social structure of polytheism, the former opposition parties, among them the Mogh/Magus tribe of Medians, were entrusted with the safe keeping of the new religion. This religious classes, a presence in all Indo-Iranian social structures, became the defenders of the new faith, albeit making major changes to it, including a re-introduction of deities, this time in the form of lower deities and assistants to the supreme deity, Ahura Mazdah, "The Lord Reason". The hybrid Zoroastrian religion was eventually adopted by many Iranian dynasties, including the later Achaemenids, probably Arsacid, and certainly by the Sasanians who themselves came from a Persian religious class. This, however, did not mean a total abandonment of the old ideological and social system, especially those insisting on a revitalisation of the class-less, communal society that existed prior to Zarathushtra. These social movements raised throughout the Iranian history, well into the Islamic times, and are characterized best by Manichean, Mazdaki, and Khoram-din movements.

In short, the Zoroastrian reform in the social terms seems to have been an accompaniment o the social changes that were happening as a result of the Aryan settlement in Iran and the pressure of their neighbours to the west, powerful civilisations of Mesopotamia. In face of scarce agricultural land, constant military threat, and the need to organise and form coherent political systems, another need for a uniting idea was evident. So, Zoroastrianism, a belief system that is certainly uniting and also emphesises the duty of classes to obey their superiors, could be an indispensable tool in the hands of the new political rulers. The same process can be traced in India, where while not abandoning the polytheistic system, a caste system was formed that held each member of the society responsible for assigned duties. In Iran, since the integration of local inhabitants to the Aryan society seems to have happened in a longer period of time, and since this social system was well formed prior to the Aryan contact with the locals, the formation of a caste system did not become an issue. Instead, the situation, especially the existence of laws in the civilised societies of the plateau and different climactic and land endowments, pressured the Iranians to form a new and coherent socio-political system that would enable them to become a political power and replace their predecessors. So, the foundations of the Median and Achaemenid power were laid in the pre-historical formation of Aryan, and indeed "Iranian" (i.e. Aryan and non Aryan), social system.

(c) 1996-2002

Aryan burial found in Russian city of Omsk

Aryan burial found in Russian city of Omsk - 06/28/2004 11:27

Burial of an Aryan was found in the Russian city of Omsk, reported archaeologist Albert Pelevedov to ?Interfax¦. Analyses indicated that the Aryan had lived 3 500 years ago.

One of the residents of the Beregovoy village (located on the outskirts of Omsk) discovered the burial. While fixing a water-pipe, the man stumbled upon a skull and immediately called the police. However, policemen denied criminal nature of the case and invited archaeologists to conduct some tests.

According to Polevodov, the burial belongs to the Andron culture (middle of the second millennium BC).

The archaeologist tells that the Aryan has been buried on his left side, facing south; his upper and lower limbs all drawn in. Archaeologists were able to determine the time of the burial after examining ceramic pieces found next to the skeleton. Some of the ceramic pieces depicted swastika turned the opposite direction.

Polevedov states, ?Andron people, European-like tribes, who spoke languages of Indo-Iranian language group, were in fact the exact same Aryans that used to be praised by fascists.¦

The find is of tremendous significance due to the fact that settlements of Andron tribes are quite rare for that particular region. Back in the days, they were forced out of there, stated the archaeologist.

According to specialists, the burial was not solitary in the area. It is also possible that a larger settlement of Andron people can be found by the river Irtysh.

Persian Populations from Prehistoric Times

This article is provided to show how Azeri Turk Iranians are falsifying DNA research

  1. Lors originate from Kurds. That is not true.
  2. Afshar and Shahsavand are turkish tribes. They are called Iranian Tribes
  3. Tehrani is regarded as an ethnic group. There is no Tehrani ethnic group.
  4. Shirazi and Isfahanis are mostly Azeri Turks and also Georgians. The report is silent about that.
  5. Qashqaiis are mostly Persians. They are called Turks. They are turkish speaking Persian tribes.
  6. Medes or Maads are not Persian tribes. They are natives of Iran.

The Human Genome Diversity Project of Iran

This Project (HGDPI) aims to collect biological samples from different population groups throughout Iran, with the aim of building up a representative database of human genetic diversity in Iranian populations. The HGDP was first conceived by the eminent geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza of Stanford University. For many years, he and other human geneticists and anthropologists have been visiting different ethnic groups around the world, collecting samples and trying to build up a picture of how different human populations are related to each other. The samples are seen as immensely valuable, but are in laboratories spread around the world. In 1991, Cavalli-Sforza and a number of colleagues wrote a letter to the scientific journal Genomics, pointing out the need for a systematic study of the whole range of human genetic diversity within the context of the Human Genome Project.

Cavalli-Sforza argues that the Human Genome Project has been Eurocentric, in that both the samples it has taken and the scientists who will assemble the sequence of the human genome are from people of European origin.

Scientists have remarked that when chromosomes are finally mapped and sequenced they will tell us everything there is to know about one French farmer or a lady from Philadelphia. Plans for the project started in 1991, although the collection of samples did not start at that time.) In 1993 it was formally brought under the auspices of the Human Genome Organization (HUGO), a consortium of scientists involved in the Human Genome Project. The project is looking for $25 million over five years to collect and store blood and tissue samples from population groups around the world and to create a central repository and database for study by scientists. Access to the database will essentially be free.

There seem to be two main scientific objectives to the project: a) to trace the evolution and migration of different human populations, with the hope of creating a definitive family tree of human populations; b) to identify genes which confer resistance and vulnerability to disease, and use these to develop medical treatments and tests.

The cells of every person alive today, regardless of where or how they live, contain the same 100000 or so genes. Collectively known as the human genome, these genes contain all the information that makes us appear and function as humans rather than as members of some other species. However, many human genes exist in more than one form and we do not all carry exactly the same forms of every variable gene. The genetic variation from one person to another reflects the evolution of our species.

The main goal of the HGD project lies in its enormous potential in illuminating our understanding of the origin, identity and history of populations living in Iran.

The resource created by the HGD project will also provides valuable information on the role played by genetic factors in the predisposition, linkage or resistance to disease.

Persian Populations from Prehistoric Times

Since ancient times, the people inhabiting the western regions of Central Asia and the Iranian upland played a key role in populating East European territories. It is suggested that one of the routes of the Homo Sapiens penetration to Europe passed though the Caspian regions. Later, during the Mesolitic period, the Caspian regions and shelters at the south of Eastern Europe were the starting points for the recolonization of European territories.

Apparently, Parsi tribes were highly involved in the first stages of Scythian ethnogeny. Later, Scythians spread over wide territories of Europe, central Asia and southern Siberia, accumulating many ethnic components. The Iranian substrate also took a momentous part in the formation of eastern Slavs, specifically Ukrainians and southern ethnic territorial groups of Russians.

According to anthropological data, in the early Middle Ages, Iranian-Slavic symbiosis (Chernyakhovaskaya culture) was a typical feature of the population of east European steppes. In view of this, it is likely that Iranians, or Iranianized tribes, could have been affiliated with eastern Slavs.

Origin of the Persian Population

Aryan or Indo-European is the general name given to the people thought to have originated from the steppes of central and southern Asia. Around 4000-3000 BC, these people started to immigrate to the warmer areas in the south or west. Most scientists think of this as the beginning of distinction between Indo-European tribes. Tribes who emigrated to the west became the ancestors of Germans, Slavs, Greeks, Latins, and probably Celts. People who chose the south as their destination came to be known as Indo-Iranian. There is also a rather small group of people who most likely chose not to participate in this great migration. These later entered the pages of the history as Scythians and Samarians, although they are also believed to be nomadic Indo-Iranians, since their language and customs are closely related to ancient Persians.

For a long time, scientific debates have been going on about whether this theory of the migration of Indo-Europeans is true or not, and about whether these people are in fact related. Reasons presented to support this theory are based on linguistic and cultural evidence. Linguistic studies suggest close similarities in the grammar and lexicon of ancient forms of modern Indo-European languages. Many words are still used in similar ways, and many others are changed forms of similar ancient ones. Cultural background also provides a basis for this theory. Horse breeding, similar agricultural methods, strong fighting abilities, similar religious beliefs and mythological superstitions seem to suggest that all this started from a common background, probably from a time when all these people were the same.

Today, the most widespread theory specifies that the people of Europe (with the exceptions of Estonians, Finns and Magyars), Iran and the Indian subcontinent belong to a common origin.

Indo-Iranians were later divided into two major sections, Indians and Iranians. Indians continued their way further into Dakan (North India), were stopped by local Dravidians, and settled there. They mixed up with the inhabitants, kept their own religion, and became present day Indians. Iranians, on the other hand, were in turn divided into three major tribes, each with its own sub-tribes. These tribes and their area of initiation in the Iranian plateau were:

Maad (Medians): central and north-western parts

Paars (Persians): south-western parts

Parthav (Parthians): north-eastern and eastern parts

Figure 1:Indo-Iranian Linguistic Chart

Iranian Tribes

Most of the tribes of central Iran are from pure Aryan stock, while other tribes such as the Arabs of Khuzistan, the Turks of Quchan, the Qashqais of Fars, the Shahsavans and Afshars of Azarbaijan, and the Turkmans are remnants of races that have passed through Iran during various periods of history. Today, there are over 100 different tribes, each with its own dialect, costumes and territory:

Afshars and Shahsavans:

During the summer season they live in planes on mount Sabalan at an altitude of 4,821 meters; winters they spend in the warmer planes of Moghan, near the Caspian coast.


They speak a genuine Persian dialect and are scattered over a vast area from the Pakistan border to Iranian deserts. They comprise many smaller tribes, all living on livestock and farming.


The Kurds of Iran inhabit broad lands from the most northern limits of Azarbaijan (northwest of Iran) to the hot plane of Khuzistan (south of Iran). They speak an old Persian dialect and comprise many tribes of which the major branches are: The northern Kurds of Maku and northwestern Azarbaijan; The Mahabad Kurds, occupying the area between Lake Orumya and the mountains of Kurdistan; The Kurds of Sanandaj, with subdivisions in Paveh and Saqqes; and the Kurds of Kermanshah, living between the Zagros Mountains and the Khuzistan Plane.


They dwell in the high lands of mount Zard Kuh extending to the south of Isfahan, and spend the winter on the Khuzistan plane. Men’s costume includes extraordinarily loose trousers, round hats and short tunics, and dates back to the Arsasid (Parhtian) period, 200 BC-280 AD.


These people are among the most original tribes of Iran, speaking a pure Persian dialect. They reside in the northwestern provinces of Iran. Their population is dwindling, but one can still see some descendents in the region of Talish.


They descend from the Mongols and are strongly built, with high cheekbones and slanting eyes. They settled in the extensive fields of Turkman-Sahra, a flat land between the eastern Caspian coast and the mountains of Khorasan, a few hundred years ago.


These Turkish-speaking tribes dwell in the high mountains of Fars. Their costume is quite colorful, almost the same as that of the Bakhtiari tribes, except for their hats. Amazingly, these hats resemble Napoleonic headgear.


These tribes are scattered along the coast of Persian Gulf and the hot plane of Khuzistan. A small population of Arab tribes, descendants of early emigrants, lives near Bojnurd in eastern Khorasan and also in some places in Fars.


They are probably the most intact tribes of Iran, retaining their robustness, virility, and tall stature. They are mostly farmers and shepherds and occupy the high lands of Loristan. The Lors are thought to be a division of ancient Kurds, both tribes being considered true descendants of Medes. The Mamasani Lors, dwelling in western mountains of Fars, are one of the principal clans.

Figure 2: People of Iran and Their Locations

Climate of Iran

Iran enjoys considerable climatic diversity, which is subjected to various seasons in different parts of the country, in a way that in some areas the cold of the winter and the heat of the summer can be seen simultaneously. That is why weather in Iran must be considered regionally.

The average annual temperature of Bandar Abbas in the south of Iran is 18.5 degrees Centigrade in January. The average annual rainfall is also highly varied in different parts of the country, the amplitude varying between 2,000 mm. in Gilan and less than 100 mm. in the central parts of Iran. The average annual precipitation in Iran is 275 mm.

In January and February, there are three climatic zones in Iran. The shores of the Caspian Sea have mild and relatively cold weather, central parts experience winter weather conditions and southern parts enjoy moderate and pleasant weather. The whole country enjoys pleasant weathers in spring, especially in May, but in southern parts it grows very hot unexpectedly. The climatic condition of the country becomes complicated in summer. Due to high humidity, the weather of the coastal parts of the Caspian Sea changes in summers. During the day it is hot, but it relatively cools down at night. In southern coastlines of Iran (Persian Golf), days are very hot and nights are relatively warm, with very high humidity, which is intolerable to non-natives.


The Iranian Plateau is amongst the oldest civilization centers of the ancient area in Asia, and has an important place in the science of archeology. The history of settlement in the Iranian Plateau, from the new Stone Age to the migration of Aryans, is not yet very clear. However, there is reliable evidence which indicates that Iran has been inhabited since a very long time ago.

Settlement centers have emerged close to water resources like springs and rivers, or totally close to the Alborz and Zagross Mountains. The most important centers of this kind are: Tappeh Sialk in Kashan, Tappeh Hesar in Damghan, Torang Tappeh in Gorgan, Tappeh Hasanloo in Azarbaijan, Marlik Tappeh in Roodbar and Susa (Shoosh) in Khuzistan. In archeological excavations in these civilization centers some vestiges have been discovered which date back to the 5th millennium BC.

Migration of Aryan clans to the Iranian plateau began in the 2nd millennium BC. Out of these tribes, Parthians dwelled in Khorasan, Medes in the west and Parsees in the south of Iran. The Median Empire rose in Hegmataneh (Ekbatan), present Hamedan. The Achaemenidae established the first great Iranian Empire after defeating the Medians and conquering their capital. During the reign of Dariush I (522-485 BC) the Achaemenian Empire extended from the planes of the river Sand in the east to the borders of Greece in the west. Passargad and Persepolis are the vestiges of this period and are amongst the most important historical places as well as the most significant tourist attractions of Iran. Thousands of tourists visit these places annually.

Emergence and influence of Islam in Iran happened in early 7th century AD, after the decline of the Sassanid Empire. A new era began in the history of Iran which caused severe fundamental evolution in the social, political, religious, governmental, and public conditions of the country. Iranians, who were very disappointed with the existing social and economic inequality in the time of the Sassanides, accepted Islam rapidly and tried to expand it and enrich its cultural magnanimity. In spite of accepting Islam, Iranians never concealed their opposition to the dominance of the Omavid and Abbasid Caliphs and their tyrannies, and founded many autonomous movements to confront them. On the other hand, the Caliphs, in order to neutralize and suppress these Iranian movements, which were based on the partisanship of the family of the Prophet of Islam and the establishment of a government based on imamate, tried to support non-Iranian forces. Due to these constant wars of attrition among local governors, their power was exhausted, and so grounds were prepared for the dominance of strange tribes of central Asia, like the Saljoogh Turks, the Mongols and the Taymoorians. In the Safavid era, the second great Iranian Empire was founded and Shiiism, the disciples of which had been severely restricted until then, became formal. The dynamic nature of Shiism and its political and social commitments firmly safeguarded the independence and the national identity of Iran against the Ottoman assaults. Iran, as a new political and religious power, could once again hoist the flag of resistance against a very powerful empire that was the claimant of supremacy in the Islamic world. With the decline of the Safavids, the Afshars and then the Zands took the throne. After the Zands, the era of the Qajar dynasty began, during which the influence of England and Russia in Iran’s internal affairs expanded.

Today the population of Iran is approximate 70 million, of which about 47 million live in urban areas, about 23 million in villages and in major cities like Tehran, Meshed, Isfahan, Tabriz, Shiraz, Qum, Ahwaz, Rasht, Orumyeh, and Kermanshah.

Iran is situated on the route to Central Asia and Turkey as well as western countries. Different ethnic groups live in Iran, among which Farsis, Kurds, Lors, Balooches, Bakhtiaris, Azari Turks, Taleshes, Turkamans, Qashqais and Arabs may be pointed out. Smaller ethnic groups also live in Iran. Turkamans, who live in Turkaman Sahara and north of Khorasan, are different from other Iranian ethnic groups in appearance, language, and culture. Qashqais, who are of Turkish origin, live in the central part of Iran. Arab clans mostly live in Khuzistan and are scattered along the coastlines of Persian Gulf.

Some groups of colored people, who are the descendants of slave trade with Zanzibar, are scattered in the southern provinces of Iran. The existing minority in the south of Iran also descends from Indian traders of past times.


Samples from individuals within each of these populations were collected (Table 1, Figure 2) and the DNA content was analyzed to produce data on the frequency of occurrence within the population of an agreed set of alleles or other genetic markers.

In order to establish a resource that would be available for many years and that would allow future scientists to study any polymorphism, and in order to provide a back-up source of original sequence DNA, all blood samples were used to develop cell lines (according to standard cell line preparation methods).

Table 1. Iranian Ethnic groups and sample size




Ethnic groups

Total samples















































Bandar Torkman















Tehrani Jew Ashoori


91 41 13
























Bandar Abbas


Bandari Negro












West Azarbaijan
































Scientific Team:

M. M. Banooi, DVM

Head of: Sampling and Cell Line Preparation

F. Beyrami jamal, Ph.D


Head of: Identification of Genetic Polymorphism of p53 , GST-P1, NQO1, CYP2C9 in different populations from Iran

P. Derekhshandeh, Ph.D

(Molecular Genetics)

Head of: Study of Genomic Diversity on Three Markers: SDF1-680IA, CCR5-AS9029G and CCR2-V641 in different Iranian ethnic groups.

M. Hashemzadeh, Ph.D

(Molecular Genetics)

Head of: Study of Genomic Diversity on Four VNTR loci (D1S80, D17S5, D19S20 and APOB) in different Iranian ethnic groups

M. Houshmand, Ph.D

(Molecular Genetics)

Head of: Investigation on Iranian Mitochondrial Haplogroups

A. Mesbah, Ph.D


F. Mirzajani, Ph.D


F. Mahjoubi


Heads of project: Y-chromosome STR Haplotype in the Iranian Population

Project Consuler: Prof. Dariush D. Farhud.

For more information please contact to head of project:



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I live in Los Angeles and I work with computer related jobs. I speak 4 languages. I am married to a Persian girl who is from a region where the Persian Empire was based.