A number of the modern society’s most cherished ideas and objects that are used in our day to day lives go back several decades into the past! The Persian civilization in specific can be credited with many of the inventions that we simply cannot live without! Did you know that the refrigerator, battery, and even sulfuric acid are all Persian inventions that trace their origin to the erstwhile Persia and now Iran? Yes, the Persian civilization is undoubtedly one of the most understated and yet the most scientific civilizations of the ancient world. With no further ado, let us present to you a list of the top 13 Persian inventions that will certainly surprise you!
Table of Contents
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Chess is a much-loved game and played at an international level. This game for the brainy needs no introduction. But, did you know where Chess was invented? Yes, Persia! Though there are debates as to which country chess belongs and many can’t decide between India and Persia, literature hints its origin to Persia. Several historians claim that Persian literature speaks of Chess long before its mention in India. This is seconded by the fact that the oldest chess pieces have been found on Persian lands. Therefore, it can be ascertained that the game of chess play originated in Persia. This is undoubtedly one of the greatest Persian contributions to civilization.
2. Refrigerator – Yakhchal
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While you cannot exactly compare the Yakhchal with modern generation refrigerator, this ancient evaporation cooler was one of the many marvelous Persian inventions man has ever seen. Persia is a hot country and summer can be quite harsh. This led to the ancient men in Persia coming up with a rather unique way to store the ice made in winter to be used in summer. Yakhchal – which literally means ice pit was a huge dome shaped structure that had a large subterranean storage space that was insulated. The domes were made from sarooj – a water-resistant mortar containing ash, egg whites, sand, and clay. This could not turn water into ice, but could be used to keep foods cool. These structures were several feet high! As interesting as it sounds, it brings us to the question as to how such massive structures were made hundreds of years back. Well, that is how intelligent the Persians were!
3. Parthian Battery
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Now, that is how the ancient Persian battery looked like! And, yes, it did work like a charm. The picture you see is that of a Parthian battery made from a metal tube, ceramic pot, and a rod from a different metal. A worthy Persian technology, these batteries were perhaps used to power small utilities in the ancient times. The artifacts of these batteries that were found in Mahoze, left discoverers stunned. The scientists actually tried out these ancient batteries. They found that when the jar was filled with electrolytes like vinegar, it produced 1.5 to 2.0 volts. However, it is still not clear what exactly these were used for.
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Though animation is considered to be a modern advancement that has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few decades, it actually dates back to Persian history. A 5,200 years old earthenware goblet was discovered in Sistan and Baluchistan province’s Burnt City, where one can view a series of drawings of a goat, jumping towards a tree and eating leaves. Interestingly, sequences of this image are found in many other goblets all through medieval Islamic Persia. This piece of art was discovered by Italian archaeologists from a burial site in Persia. Though its relevance wasn’t immediately understood, the goblet found its way to top Persian inventions list.
Also Read: Top 21 Greatest Inventors in History
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A popular game loved by kids and adults alike, Backgammon provides hours of unlimited fun! It was in Iran around the 3000 BC that the game of backgammon was invented. Backgammon is among the oldest board games which is still thriving and surviving. This game is played with two players who move by rolling of the dice. When a player is able to remove all the pieces from the board, he is declared – The Winner. Excavations in Persia found a similar board game with 60 checkers and a dice. Our guess is, it was a popular game in the Persian Empire too!
6. Postal Service
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There is credible evidence to believe that first ever postal service of the world began in Persia – today known as Iran. Every Persian Empire inventions list today features this invention. Horse-drawn wagons were deployed to carry mail, mostly for government communication needs. If Greek historian Herodotus were to be believed, the regular postal service began in ancient Iran around the 6th century BC during the rule of King of Achaemenid. History suggests that the postal system back then was quite swift! And, men on horses toiled long hours to deliver mail without stopping for anything – not even snow, storms, or heat! In erstwhile Persia, mail messengers were called Chapaar and they carried the mails riding on horses. There were relay stations in Persia too.
7. Water Supply System – Qanat
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Back in the early days of the Persian civilization, a rather well-designed and managed water supply system used to exist. Known by the name qanat, it was an underground channel that was used to carry water from the water well to fields and houses. Its origins can be traced back to the first millennium BC. The tunnels were several kilometers long and were hand dug. There were vertical shafts that served the purpose for ventilation and repair needs.
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No matter how hard Quran comes down on the consumption of alcoholic beverages, Alcohol was after all among the top Persian Empire inventions! It was created by one Persian physician, Muhammad Ibn Zakariya al-Razi. However, it is not clear as to how and what it was used for in those days.
Also Read: Top 15 Ancient Greek Inventions
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Hookah, incredibly popular among smokers who want a touch of classiness and exotic is a small piped system meant for smoking and vaporizing. The hookah was actually invented using Persian technology in the ancient days. The monarchs are said to have used them extensively. Later its use was seen in other countries and the popularity of hookah increased with time.
10. Sulfuric Acid
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When it comes to Persian inventions, sulfuric acid deserves a special mention. The discoverer of this acid was Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Jakatra al-Razi. The man was a mathematician, an astronomer and a geographer at the same time. The discovery of sulfuric acid changed many things back then and even today is an integral part of chemical engineering study. This acid is used extensively in various fields – from commercial, industrial to domestic usage. It can be impossible to build a lot of things without sulfuric acid, making it one of the most important Persian inventions gifted to mankind.
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Music is heavenly and even in the ancient days various types of musical instruments were used. According to history, the Persians were very fond of music. One of the many Persian contributions to civilization includes the Guitar – one of the most popular and widely used musical instruments! The Persian type guitar was called Tar. It was made using wooden box and strings. It was invented at a time when musical instruments were quite rare. This is among the top Persian discoveries that was much loved by the monarchs of those days and has influenced Persian music greatly.
12. Human Rights Concept
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While many may not call this a scientific invention, the concept of human rights is rated among the top Persian inventions. It was created by an ancient Persian ruler known as Cyrus the Great. The Human rights concept is a Persian civilization innovation that is quite notable. It denoted major aspects pertaining to human rights. This declaration is deemed as the first ever charter of human rights in the world. It is now preserved in the British museum. It was discovered in the famous ruins of the Babylon. Its impact on the present day human rights movements and entities is profound.
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It is hard to find a person who does not go through algebra in his/her school syllabus. However, very few are aware of the fact that it is one of the Persian inventions. It was actually invented by Muhammad Ibn Musa al-Khwarazmi – a Muslim mathematician and scholar. He discovered several algebraic methods and they are still relevant. He taught algebra as a distinct science.
You will agree that all these Persian inventions not just rank high in utilitarian value, but also are very intellectual. These go to show that the Persian civilization was undoubtedly one of the most advanced civilization in the world. Many of the concepts and inventions the Persians left behind are still valued and studied!