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The Cambridge History of Iran
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    Sadeghi, Zahra Akaberi, Maryam Sobhkhizi, Alireza Sahebkar, Amirhossein and Emami, Seyed Ahmad 2018. Evaluation the ethno-pharmacological studies in Iran during 2004-2016: A systematic review. Journal of Cellular Physiology, Vol. 233, Issue. 2, p. 914.

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    Amanat, Abbas 2016. Environment and Culture: An Introduction. Iranian Studies, Vol. 49, Issue. 6, p. 925.

    Mortazavi, Mehdi 2011. From Ancient to Modern Urbanization: Intermediary Function of an Urban Society. International Journal of Historical Archaeology, Vol. 15, Issue. 1, p. 126.

    POUYANI, E. RASTEGAR POUYANI, N. RASTEGAR NOUREINI, S. KAZEMI JOGER, U. and WINK, M. 2010. Molecular phylogeny of the Eremias persica complex of the Iranian plateau (Reptilia: Lacertidae), based on mtDNA sequences. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, Vol. 158, Issue. 3, p. 641.

    Jomehpour, Mahmoud 2009. Qanat irrigation systems as important and ingenious agricultural heritage: case study of the qanats of Kashan, Iran. International Journal of Environmental Studies, Vol. 66, Issue. 3, p. 297.

    Potter, Lawrence G. 2009. The Persian Gulf in History. p. 1.

    Kirk, R. L. Keats, Bronya Blake, N. M. McDermid, E. M. Ala, F. Karimi, M. Nickbin, B. Shabazi, H. and Kmet, J. 1977. Genes and people in the caspian littoral: A population genetic study in northern Iran. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Vol. 46, Issue. 3, p. 377.

    Gulick, John and Gulick, Margaret E. 1973. VARIETIES OF DOMESTIC SOCIAL ORGANIZATION IN THE IRANIAN CITY OF ISFAHAN. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 220, Issue. 6 City and Peas, p. 441.

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The Cambridge History of Iran is an eight-volume survey of Iranian history and culture, and its contribution to the civilisation of the world. All aspect of the religious, philosophical, political, economic, scientific and artistic elements in Iranian civilisation are studies, with some emphasis on geographical and ecological factors which have contributed to that civilisation's special character. The aim is to provide a collection of readable essays rather than a catalogue of information. The volumes offer scope for the publication of new ideas as well as providing summaries of established facts. They should act as a stimulus to specialists, but are primarily concerned to answer the sort of questions about the past and present of Iran that are asked by the non-specialist. Volume I sets the physical stage for the human events which follow. In a sense it is a companion volume to the rest of the series. The whole volume is devoted to geography, geology, anthropology, economic life, and flora and fauna. The physical environment of Iran is seen not as an unmoving backcloth against which the human drama is played; rather it is seen as a natural element which shapes in distinct and recognisable ways the whole course of human activity in the country. Iran offers a picture of sharp identity as a geographical unit. In spite of highly varies and often harsh natural conditions at local level, a consistent and recognisable pattern of physiographical and climatic features emerges at the national level. Because of these features the Iranians as a people suffered many vicissitudes. The complex character of the relationship between terrain and people is the major theme of this volume.

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Page 1 of 2

    pp 1-110
  • View abstract
    Physically, Iran consists of a complex of mountain chains enclosing a series of interior basins that lie at altitudes of 1,000 to 4,000 feet above sea-level. In terms of physical geography, Iran comprises the western and larger portion of a more extensive mountain zone that extends from eastern Asia Minor and the Caucasus as far as the plains of the Punjab. There are four major divisions of the country: the Zagros system, including small outer plains (chiefly the Khūzistān region), which are part of the Mesopotamian and Persian Gulf lowlands; the Alburz and Tālish systems and associated Caspian plain; the eastern and south-eastern upland rim; and the interior central desert basins. Within this broad framework more local and subregional contrasts can be drawn. Whilst in a few instances precise demarcation between the major units is far from straightforward, for the most part the scheme allows easy breakdown into units of distinct geographical significance.
  • 2 - GEOLOGY
    pp 111-185
  • View abstract
    This chapter deals with the geology of Iran, the information of which is somewhat uneven. The stratigraphical column in Iran contains samples of all the systems, from Pre-Cambrian to Quaternary; and from the beginning of the Palaeozoic onwards, diagnostic fossils are sometimes abundant. An introduction to the geomorphology of the country can be made by journeying across it from south-west to north-east. Starting then from the Shaṭṭ al-ʿArab near Ābādān and crossing an occasionally flooded alluvial plain for seventy miles, never far from the meanders of the Karun river, one comes to a series of low isolated ridges of brown sandstone, the Ahvāz hills. The Zagros range skirts its south-western side for 800 miles and beyond the Zagros are the plains of Iraq or Mesopotamia, the growing delta of the Euphrates and Tigris, and the Persian Gulf. These elements forming the west of the region have features of structural history in common.
    pp 186-194
  • View abstract
    The variety and nature of morphological forms in the upland mass that forms Iran are closely determined by the prevailing climate. The massif of Iran rises generally within the Alpine orogenic zone of Eurasia. As regards geomorphology, the watersheds are significant first because of their course, and also because of the specific effects they produce within the general pattern of relief. The inner plateau of Iran may be regarded as divided hydrographically into two parts, by the southerly prolongation of the Caspian drainage system. Effects produced by shrinkage of the Caspian Sea itself are apparent as geomorphological features in the east, particularly in the Atrak valley. The rivers of the Zagros area that have the greatest elaboration of course and volume of water are located in the rainier north-west and west. The sump or kavīr structures are unique in that they possess no exact counterparts in any other region of the world.
    pp 195-211
  • View abstract
    While the westward-flowing streams of the Zagros mountains provide some of the world's most impressive canyon scenery, they also present an extremely perplexing problem of drainage genesis. Seldom are drainage anomalies as pronounced as they are among the great petrified waves of the Zagros. The disharmony between the drainage and the deformational pattern in the Zagros is manifested in the profound gorges, or tangs, which breach range after range in the youngest portion of the mountain system. The vast majority of the drainage anomalies and the most spectacular tangs in the Zagros are found in the zone of powerful but simple folding along the south-western (outer) margin of the highland. The drainage anomaly in the central Zagros may be resolved into two distinct problems: the courses of the trunk streams, and the behaviour of their tributaries, large and small. Each of these appears to be an independent development.
  • 5 - CLIMATE
    pp 212-249
  • View abstract
    Iran is unfortunate in having recorded no long-term climatic observations. Hence, a great deal of attention was focused on Iran's agricultural potentialities, the assessment of which required adequate knowledge of climatic conditions. The climate of Iran is influenced by many centres of high pressure as well as a number of low pressure centres. In a country like Iran having extensive flat deserts, highly complex mountain systems, topography is a major modifying factor and surface winds are greatly influenced by local topographical features. The country has five temperature zones, namely, the Caspian zone, Persian Gulf zone, Zagros zone, Alburz zone, and the interior zone. Over Iran, it can be said that precipitation decreases from north to south and from west to east, except where relief of the land upsets the regularity in this arrangement. The mean annual precipitation for the entire country is 400 mm.
  • 6 - SOILS
    pp 250-263
  • View abstract
    From the point of view of soil-study, Iran can be divided into the following main geological units, from south to north: the platform of Arabia; folded zone; Iranides; central plain; Alburz ranges; and Caspian littoral. This chapter gives a description of the several mapping units, one of which is the soil of the plains and valleys, which includes sand dunes, which are common in most of the arid regions of Iran. Solonchaks and solonetz soils are the saline and alkaline soils of the arid, semi-arid and dry subhumid regions of Iran. A great part of Iran is a plateau about 3,000 ft or more above mean sea-level, containing several types of plateau soils such as grey and red desert soils, Sierozem soil. Palygorskite has been found in the foothills near Dar-i-Khazīneh, in the Kārūn delta in Khūzistān, and in Kirmān.
    pp 264-279
  • View abstract
    Iran's hydrographic problems are compounded by scanty and highly seasonal precipitation, and a surface configuration which tends to concentrate moisture on the periphery of the country. The water surplus of 15 to 70 in. in the highland rim of Iran is seasonal, pertaining only to the winter months. Iran is a desert country with no great rivers. Thus, the discharges of Iranian streams are small, not only as a consequence of seasonal aridity, but also because individual drainage basins nowhere attain great size. Only the Kārūn is navigable for any significant distance. The best-watered regions of Iran, outside of the highlands themselves, are the Caspian coastal plain and Khūzistān. The heart of Iran is a series of enclosed depressions, each having near its centre a large salt flat or salt marsh. The exterior slopes of Iran on the north and east also drain into endoreic basins, so that only one fourth of the entire country sends runoff to the sea.
    pp 280-293
    • By H. Bobek, Geography, University of Vienna
  • View abstract
    Vegetal conditions in Iran were at their optimum during the third and second millennia BC. The regional changes in distribution and character of the country's natural vegetation cover stem from four factors: climatic situation; hytogeographical region; pronounced and varied topography of the plateau; and impact of human activity upon the vegetation. Many modes of interference have given rise to many forms of semi-natural vegetation, which may represent stages either in a process of destruction or of regeneration. All the relevant types of vegetation can be arranged according to their dependence: first, on atmospheric humidity (precipitation) or ground moisture; and second, on temperature as expressed in elevation or exposure. In the western part of the Iranian plateau there is only one area of a truly humid forest. The chapter also presents a discussion of the azonal vegetation types.
  • 9 - MAMMALS
    pp 294-304
    • By X. de Misonne, Institut Royaldes Sciences Naturelles de Belgique, Brussels
  • View abstract
    About 129 species of mammals are found in Iran. Iranian fauna is classified as Palearctic species, Endemic species, Indian species, Africa species, and mixed species. Iranian mammals have responded in different ways to the physiological difficulties caused by a dry climate and variations in temperature. Insectivora have not acclimatized well; with the exception of hedgehogs, they are limited in number and variety. Of the domestic animals, Iranian saddle-horses are famous. There are numerous donkeys, and it is claimed that the special breed called "bandari" results from a cross with onagers. The cattle of the Caspian coast are of small stature; bulls (but not cows) have a hump like that of the zebu; Although, Iran is not threatened with the imminent extinction of all her larger fauna, certain species such as the Caspian tiger, are already in the course of disappearing.
    pp 305-371
  • View abstract
    The zoogeography of any region can be viewed from three perspectives, all of which are closely interrelated: descriptive, ecological, and historical. This chapter is based upon a comprehensive study of the systematics of the lizards of Iran. Southwest Asia has two major distributional components in its lizard fauna, one of which is the Iranian Plateau. The chapter first focuses on the distribution of species within the various physiographic regions of Iran including the Central Plateau, Sistan basin, Türkmen steppe, Zagors mountains. So little is known about the Iranian lizards in nature, and information about the physical environment so lacking in detail, that the chapter presents only general remarks can be made relative to the immediate factors determining present distributions. The significance of endemic species (or subspecies) from the standpoint of historical zoogeography is threefold, one of which is a narrowly restricted form may be relictual, occupying the remaining habitable area of a once much broader distribution.
    pp 372-392
  • View abstract
    The avifauna of Iran is similar to that of Europe and a large number of the species found in the latter area also occur in Iran. Before examining the avifauna of Iran in detail, this chapter traces the history of its general ornithology and considers what literature is available on the subject. An attempt is also made to describe in broad outline the various groups of birds in Iran, commenting in particular on those members of each family which do not occur in Europe. Some idea on their status and habitat is also provided. Of the truly pelagic birds, there are representatives in Iran of only three families, the Skuas, Petrels and Shearwaters. Herons abound in Iran where, on the Caspian, the Grey Heron can be found breeding in a colony of tree-nesting Cormorants. Iran is a paradise for wild-fowl, the two great areas of concentration are the Caspian provinces and Sīstān.
    pp 393-408
  • View abstract
    There is no fossil evidence from the Middle East as a whole, let alone Iran, for anything but the most limited traces of very early human occupations. Even this limited evidence is sufficient to prove that Palaeolithic man lived in many parts of Iran, ranging from Lake Rezāʾiyeh (Urumiyeh) in the north-west to Shiraz in the south-west, to the south-eastern littoral of the Caspian and eastward into southern Khurāsān. The cave of Bīsitūn, located some thirty miles east of Kirmānshāh, has provided evidence of one ulna fragment and one human incisor tooth, in association with a highly developed Mousterian industry. The skull discovered in a cave in Teshik Tash distinctly resembles that of a western Neanderthaler, though it is morphologically more modern than those of most, if not all, the western Neanderthalers, particularly because it has a higher cranial vault.
    pp 409-467
  • View abstract
    Any classification of the types of human settlement in Iran must be made on a scrupulously genetic basis; and care should be taken to distinguish among the various forms arising at different periods. Several types of rural habitats were prevalent in Iran including ancient village settlements, rural habitat in heavy rainfall-areas on Caspian Sea shores, and rural habitat in the open plains. The qal'eh village is the product of a pastoral civilization that was fraught with insecurity; it reflects the settled people's need to defend themselves, and their cattle, against the repeated incursions of the nomads. A map of the urban network as it is today shows the fundamentally asymmetrical disposition of the towns within Iran, and their relationship both with natural conditions and with the density of the rural population. Cities and towns are numerous in all those regions where rainfall is sufficient for agricultural purposes. They are located in the centre, the east, and the south-east of Iran.
    pp 468-486
    • By J. Behnam, Social Research Institute, Tebrān
  • View abstract
    According to the census taken in 1956, the total population of Iran was 18,944,821; it has increased since then at the rate of 2.4 to 2.5 per cent a year. The centre of the country is largely empty and life has been driven either towards the exterior or towards the interior of the mountains, to the points where there is an adequate water-supply. There are extraordinary variations in density: in the neighbourhood of Tehran, 44 inhabitants per sq km; on the shores of the Caspian, from 20 to 30. According to the 1956 census, the urban population constitutes 30.1 per cent of the total population, and the rural population (including seminomads) 69.9 per cent. In Iran, the marriage rate is generally higher among women than among men. Consanguinity in marriage is on the decline, as demonstrated in part by the growing number of marriages between Iranians and foreigners.
  • 15 - MINERALS
    pp 487-516
  • View abstract
    Old mine-workings have long been known in many provinces of Iran. Traces of gold in alluvium or quartz veins have been recorded, and minerals yielding silver, lead, zinc, and copper are widely but sparingly distributed. This chapter presents a description of several minerals and metals along with their mine-locations in Iran such as coal, iron, copper, lead-zinc, chromite, bauxite, molybdenum, arsenic, antimony, fluorspar. Coal is an obvious alternative to charcoal, and for a considerable time coal has been dug in the mountains north of Tehrān. Iron ore deposits have been observed in many parts of the country, most of them between the southern slopes of the Alburz system and the Volcanic belt, especially somewhat north-east of the limits of the Volcanic belt. References to fluorspar are made in the record of some of the lead-zinc workings, such as the one at Mīkhās near Qazvin where quartz, calcite and fluor are vein minerals.
    pp 517-551
  • View abstract
    Exploitation of resources, especially petroleum, dominates the Iranian industrial economy. Today, Ᾱbādān is the world's largest refinery, with a capacity of 5 00,000 b/d. Other mining and processing activities are far less important in the economy of Iran than the petroleum industry. This could in some limited degree be the result of the available geological surveys. One of the major obstacles to Iran's economic development has been the shortage of cheap electric power. As on 1961, demand was twice of the generating and distributing capacity. The next modern industry to develop after petroleum was the processing of food and other agricultural products. By 1959, sugar production exceeded 83,000 tons. Following the growth of industries based upon, and located on or near, mineral and agricultural resources, there have developed other industries, whose location is determined primarily by the availability of local markets. Traditional arts and crafts were no longer significant in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
    pp 552-564
  • View abstract
    Modern transport in Iran was first established on a navigable river. During the last decades of the nineteenth century, as British interests gradually pushed the construction of a road towards Shīrāz and Iṣfahān, Bushire was increasingly used as a port for southern Iran, and thus it became a major trading centre. The most outstanding Russian project was the construction in the first years of this century of a road about 200 miles long, from Rasht, near the Caspian Sea, to Tehrān. Rapid communication by telegraph had been available for some time before World War I. A major line, the Indo-European telephone and telegraph system, crossed western and southern Iran. British occupation during World War II, together with the presence of American transport experts, again proved to be beneficial to Iranian transport, the retail trade, and services. There was virtually no war damage, and despite heavy use both railways and roads were improved.
    pp 565-598
  • View abstract
    In spite of being the sixth largest petroleum producer in the world Iran still derives between 23 and 30 per cent of her gross national income from agricultural farming. However, the resources used and usable for agriculture are severely limited. The areal extent of land available for agricultural production cannot be increased by any significant amount although the regional balance may well be altered. Indeed the present cultivated area is largely the product of an extensive approach to land use. Rice, grown on some 330,000 hectares, is the only staple food product of which there is an exportable surplus. Added to paucity of land resources and rural poverty there is also ignorance; some 85 per cent of the total population is illiterate. Climatic, ecological and hydrological conditions in the regions of seasonal water surplus impose stringent controls on the use of such water in the deficit zones.
    pp 599-610
  • View abstract
    In Iran, particularly to the south of the Alburz mountains, water is indeed the most precious of commodities. This chapter examines in some detail conditions of water supply and irrigation in one small area of Iran: the rural zone surrounding Mashhad. Here, water is sourced from wells, and from qanāts, and direct from rivers and streams. The qanāt irrigation systems at Bīldār and Kāshif could be held to be generally characteristic of conditions elsewhere in the region, and probably for Iran as a whole. In an effort to minimize costs, the use of electrical power for irrigation pumps is becoming more widely used, since electricity can in certain localities prove cheaper than oil fuel. In the village of Murghānān, water for irrigation is brought direct from the Kāshaf Rūd which lies at a short distance to the south of the village.
    pp 611-683
  • View abstract
    Iran shares with so many others a rapid sequence of social changes and hence has to cope with the passing of traditional society, and the creation of a new society. In view of the ecological conditions existing in much of the country, the nomadic-pastoral way of life is an admirable human response over extensive areas, and that there can be in these parts no other equally satisfactory economic activity, and associated tribal social organization. With the introduction of a costly irrigation scheme, pastoralism must give way to a regular and continuous form of land utilization such as agriculture or intensive animal husbandry. A significant element of the social scene in Iran today is the urban group. New urban dwellers just arrived from the countryside provide many heterogeneous elements for urban society, and it is often reported that a certain uneasiness, symptomatic of difficulties of adjustment, exists among the newcomers.
    pp 684-714
  • View abstract
    Within the period of 1962-4, the Shāh government promulgated a series of decrees aimed at fundamental reform called as the "Six-point Reform". The most significant measures in this reform programme are those concerned with agriculture and the system of land holding. The Land Reform Law of 9 January 1962 contains a total of nine chapters dealing with a multitude of aspects of the reform, from transfer of ownership to the provision of agricultural services. The Law lays down that the maximum land area to be held in absolute ownership by one person is to be one village of six dang. The redistribution of land purchased under the regulations is also governed by the provisions of the law. The apparent success of the early implementation of the Reform Law gave rise to a more far-reaching plan for land reform embodied in the Additional Articles to the Land Reform Law which became generally known as Phase Two.
    pp 715-740
  • View abstract
    Iranian society occupies a unique situation within the Middle East. The country fulfils the criteria of a recognizable human unit with a culture that has been distinctive for many centuries. Iran has a pronounced physiography. Human settlement in Iran is concentrated on the interior piedmont slopes of the north and west, and it extends through the outer Alburz piedmont to include the southern Caspian coastlands. Climatically, it is fundamentally part of the general Middle Eastern regime, as Iran has wider extremes than are experienced in many other countries of that region. Besides the settled communities there are important groups of nomads and semi-nomads in Iran. In recent times cupidity aroused by Iran's richness in petroleum made this richness a political liability rather than an asset. If we seek to define Iran's function as a state and as a human grouping in terms of a personality, then the country can be said to generate, to receive and transmogrify, and to re-transmit.

Page 1 of 2

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