PLUS205

7,000 Years of Persian Engineering (55+)

Take a 7,000-year journey through the science, innovation and engineering of the Persian empire. Experience how a nation overcame the challenges of its environment through the ingenuity of its most brilliant minds and their systematic approach to problem-solving. Most importantly, observe how an ancient civilization made progress in harmony with nature, holding natural elements—water, earth, air and fire—as sacred above all.

We will consider Persia’s geography, its water resources and the raw materials the earth provided for Persian engineers. We’ll discover how these inventors harnessed the energy of the wind and the uses of fire, especially in metallurgy. We’ll also trace the evolution and impact of Persia’s scientific institutions throughout the nation’s history.

Note: Back by popular demand, from fall 2017.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

Campus Session(s) Instructor(s) Cost Seats available  
Vancouver 6 Amir Kamyab-Nejad $120.00 0 Join Waitlist

What will I learn?

Week 1: Engineering an empire

A brief introduction about Persia’s history, geography, culture and religion serves as a foundation to further discoveries about Persia. Susa, a city in Persia, is considered to be the origin of the “urban revolution”.  The urban revolution brought plough-agriculture, irrigation, the wheel, the ship, metallurgy of gold, silver and bronze, textiles and, most importantly, writing; the basic components of modern technology. These achievements were common by 3,200 BCE.

Week 2: Water

Most of the Iranian plateau is covered by rugged mountain ranges and vast, arid deserts.  Therefore, finding sources of water, and extracting and managing them has been a survival task that has inspired ingenious feats in Persia. Over 2,000 years ago, a system of underground water channels was developed that carried water up to 80km, and it is still in use today. We also discover various forms of dams, water purification systems and canals.

Week 3: Earth

For thousands of years, the soil of Persia has provided it with raw material for construction, pottery and tiles. Our journey takes us through magnificent buildings, palaces and cities that demonstrate the ingenuity of their designers and engineers.

Week 4: Air

Persia is situated in descending air and trade winds. The geography of Persia produces strong winds at certain areas that can last up to 120 days. The energy of this wind was harnessed for windmills over a thousand years ago. 

Week 5: Fire

Fire was a sacred part of the ancient Zoroastrian religion. The eternal flames were kept alight in special temples all year around. In addition to providing basic human needs of heat and light, fire was used for metallurgy. Archaeological evidence indicates that Persia is the oldest place in the world for metallurgical activities, dating back to the 5th millennium BCE.

Week 6: Scientific institutions in Persia

We examine how scientific institutions were developed and played a vital role in development of science and technology throughout the history of Persia.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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