Week 1: History I (6,000 BCE–651 CE)
We survey major historical events and empires, including the ancient Persian empires of the Elamites (3,300–539 BCE), the Medes (625–549 BCE), the Achaemenid (550–330 BCE), the Parthians (247 BCE–224 CE) and the Sassanians (224–651 CE), as well as major invasions of Alexander of Macedon (336–63 BCE) and nomadic Arabs (651–1219 CE).
Week 2: History II (651 CE–present)
We continue with defeat of the mighty Sassanian empire by nomadic Arabs (633–655 CE), a significant event that altered the course of Persian history and the world. We further explore invasions by Mongols (1219–1335), Timurids (1370–1507) and Qajars (1758–1925) as well as Persians' struggle to defend and re-establish their glorious identity through the Samanid, Safavid (1502–1722) and Pahlavi (1925–1979) eras. We will end with events and causes leading up to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and the struggle to assert independence up to present day.
Week 3: Science and religion
We explore the ancient Persian pursuit of science to adapt to environmental, geographical and ideological existential challenges, resulting in advances in mathematics, astronomy, medicine, underground water systems, metallurgy and architecture. Further, we discuss key mainstream religions that have prevailed and evolved over thousands of years and are a fundamental part of Persian culture and identity—such as Mithraism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam.
Week 4: Poetry, music and culture
In our final journey we experience how Persian poetry, music and culture have preserved Persian identity over thousands of years amid chaos, a volatile environment and near constant existential threats. We will read poetry of the masters, like Attar, Rumi, Saadi and Haafez, whose timeless wisdom is as relevant and applicable today as it was 700 years ago.