Persian Empire as China Analogue

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Douglas, Nov 4, 2007.

  1. Douglas Restored

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    Stolen from a different thread, admittedly, but here is the question: could the Persian Empire of Cyrus and Darius have developed into a Western equivalent of China? One unified culture, one unified government lasting until the modern age, with various dynasties slowly succeeding each other every couple hundred of years?
     
  2. Ran Exilis Minister of Moral Corruption

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    One unified government lasting into the modern age?

    That's going to be rather tricky, because Persia was pretty sensitive to invasions from Central Asian nomads - even more so than China or India. (...which, of course, doesn't matter as long as the empire remains strong - but as soon as it becomes weakened for some reason -and every empire becomes weakened at some point- a nomad invasion can be very devastating...)


    One unified culture?

    As long as this Persia consists of the core Persian territories, then that's possible (not to mention OTL - the Persian language and culture have survived and still exist in some form or another).

    However, if you're talking about a Persian empire that includes Mesopotamia and (large parts of) the Caucasus as well, then I'm affraid that this is going to be very hard, if not impossible.
     
  3. Tocomocho My other car is a steam tank.

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    Isn't that what has really happened in OTL? China has suffered invasions of foreign peoples that sinified through the years, and Persia has suffered invasions of foreign peoples that persianized through the years. Both Persia and China are still around. Both Persia and China, even more, are governed by revolutionary parties after their last corrupt dynasties were overthrown in revolutions, and the two are raising powers.

    The paralelism could be bigger if Persia avoided the Islamic conquest and retained her old Zoroastrian religion the way China maintained Confucianism (both based on the teaches of an ancient philosopher, aren't them), but overall it is pretty fine to say that Persia/Iran is the "China of the Middle East".
     
  4. basileus Inflammable

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    That rules out mass conversion to Islam. The Arabs could be temporary masters, such as the Mongols in China, not making enough converts, such as in Spain (ops, al-Andalus), to be expelled after no more than a century - say, the Abassid revolution is a Zoroastrian one. Then the (heathen) Seljuks fragment the subsequent state and gain ascendacy, short of total domination, before heading further west (they do? if not, this would be a major problem). Khorezm could be a Persianate society gaining the upper hand throughout the Persosphere... till the Mongols come out of Hell and raze anything to the stone age as they did. Persianize the Mongols, and you'll have later a nativist Tamerlane, a ferocious enemy of the Persianized Ilkhans and of all settled civilization (oh my gosh...). Then, provided you find an equivalent of the Safavid revolution baesed on some Zoroastrian sect, you could find later Persia harassed by Hindu-heathen Afghans, and later reunited and brought to its maximum power by a Nadir Shah capable of unifying everything frm the Euphrates to Delhi, from the Aral Sea to Oman, from Sindh to the Caucasus. Another Cyrus, in other words. And then a decline with internecine wars, one or two dynasty changes, modernization, a superstate taking part in both world wars and later in painful "inner decolonization" conflicts from the Caucasus (Azeris, Armenians...) to Central Asia and Afghanistan, to the point of collapsing and shrinking dramatically.
     
  5. Strategos' Risk Oriental Orientalist

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    And they're both similar in that they're both religions that are very much tied to the culture and nation that spawened them. Confucianism does not evangelize, and I'm pretty Zoroastrianism doesn't, either.
     
  6. Flocculencio Fabian Socialist

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    Confucianism doesn't evangelise but that's because it isn't so much a religion as a way of life. You can be Confucian and Buddhist or Confucian and Taoist or Confucian and Christian, pretty much. Confucianism spread to Vietnam and Korea, for example, and is pretty much practiced in modern Singapore too regardless of the actual religion of the people following the Master's precepts.

    The religious aspects of it are only those tied to Taoism i.e. Chinese Folk Religion. IIRC Zoroastrianism is an exclusive religion so it wouldn't work the same way.
     
  7. Philip One L only

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    Pre-Islamic Zoroastrianism proselytized quite a bit.
     
  8. B_Munro Member

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    However, it wasn't very _good_ at it: IIRC, by the time Islam came along, it had become a rather elitist religion, and was losing ground to Christianity in Mesopotamia.

    Bruce
     
  9. Philip One L only

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    By what standard? Zoroastrianism stretched from Eastern Anatolia to the coast of the Yellow Sea. Of course, it was not dominant across that range, but certainly illustrates its ability to spread.

    Not sure what you mean by this. If you mean it was a religion controlled by the elites, then you are correct. If you mean it was a religion of the elites alone, then you are quite wrong.

    There were Nestorians (and some Monophysites) in Mesopotamia, but they were far from dominant. Can you provide ( a link to ) some statistics illustrating that Zoroastrianism was losing out to Christianity in Mesopotamia?
     
  10. Strategos' Risk Oriental Orientalist

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    Isn't Zoroastrianism very big on racial/ethnic lineages? I thought you had to be of Persian-descent to qualify for something.
     
  11. Thande Toujours Phrais

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    Even if Christianity supplanted Zoroastrianism, I suspect that Persia would find a way to embrace a particular creed/denomination unique and distinct to itself. Not unlike the whole Sunni/Shi'a thing in OTL.
     
  12. B_Munro Member

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    Wide spread is not in of itself evidence of skill at conversion: see, Jews. I'm fairly sure I've read that by the early Christian era Mesopotamia was still mostly following the old Polytheisms (plus Judaism), in spite of centuries as the agricultural heartland of the old Acheminid and later Parthian empires.


    Not online, alas, and tracking down where I read it might take a little time. You show me yours, I'll show you mine... :D


    Agreed, there. Hmm - if Alexander gets the chop, we might preserve the Achemenids for a while: although the Macedonians are probably going to grab Anatolia at least, Alexander or no Alexander, the horse nomads seemed to have been less kick-ass - perhaps due to the lack of stirrups - than they became later. So we might have at least an Iranian-Mesopotamian and perhaps south central Asian/Afghan core that sticks around long enough to develop more of a unified culture...

    Bruce