Why is Iran not called Persia anymore?
Persia is a historical region and a former country located in the southwest of Asia that was later renamed Iran. The term Persia is a Latin word that has been used by Westerners for centuries by mistakenly naming a region on the southern part of Iran as the empire’s name.
The name Persia was mistakenly used when ancient Rome named their neighboring country the same way they named their homeland, and the name was used by ancient Greeks and other foreigners to refer to the entire land of Iran.
Origin of Persia
The name Persia is an exonym for Iran. It was given by ancient Westerners to refer to the entire plateau of Iran. The term “Persia” was derived from “Pers,” a European term of “Pars.” The entire empire was referred to by Latins as Persia. In history, Iranians never called their empire Persia, for Iranians called their empire Iran or Iranshahr.
The Persian Empire
During the 6th century BC, the ancient kingdom of Persia has been dominated by the Achaemenid dynasty. When Cyrus the Great ruled Persia, it has become a powerful empire and was later ruled by the Sassanids. The succession of imperial dynasties has begun in the 6th century BC and lasted in the 2Oth century AD, which was referred to as the Persian Empire.
Iran was mistakenly named Persia for a thousand years. During the rise and fall of the Persian Empire, the land is called “Aryanam” by the ancient Iranians. In the language of Iranian, the term “Aryanam” is translated to Iran.
The term related to Iran, Airan, Eran, Aryana, was found in the rock inscription on 226 to 651 ACE when the Sassanids King ruled the empire. The inscriptions also stated that King Ardeshir I, the ruler of the empire from 226 to 241 ACE, is the king of kings of Eran. When the Sassanids ruled the empire, the entire land was called Eran, which means the “land of the Aryans’.
The term “Aryan” is an English word that was derived from the Sanskrit word “??rya”, which has different meanings but commonly means “a noble one.” The Aryan word is defined as anyone who speaks any Indo-European language, which includes the Iranians. The earliest Aryan race has been known to live in ancient Iran.
However, in the year 1930’s Adolf Hitler created the Aryanism ideology referring to “Aryan” as the “Master Race.” The Aryan race was considered the “white race’ which is superior to all the other races. The association of Aryans to Nazis has resulted in race discrimination and violent race crimes. With the Nazi ideology created by Hitler, Aryan has been viewed negatively by today’s world.
Persia renamed Iran
To correct the thousand-year-old mistake of naming Iran as Persia, Reza Shah Pahlavi requested the international community to refer to the land as “Iran” and not “Persia” in 1935. He also went to the League of Nations to request them to start calling the nation he is ruling Iran. Shah hopes that by changing the nation named to Iran, Iranians will become more unified.
Though the intention of Shah was for the good of his Nation, United Kingdom strongly disagrees with the change of name requested by Shah. During that time, an Anglo-Iranian oil company is starting to grow successfully. The change of name will result in instability that the United Kingdom is not in favor of.
In year 1970s, the term Iran has been accepted and used in diplomatic dictionaries by various countries. With the persistent goal of renaming Persia to Iran, Reza Shah Pahlavi led the 1979 Iranian Revolution to overthrow the ancient monarchy to completely cut the link of the ancient empire Persia and replace the government with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
- Damirchi, (2020), Why did Persians choose Iran instead of the historical name ‘Persia’ for their country, Quora
- Aneculaesei, (2019), When Did Persia Become Iran?, History of Yesterday
- Renaming-Persia, Persians are not Arabs
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Also read: Here’s Where You Should Holiday In The Middle East.