Arms and Armor from Iran: The Bronze Age to the End of the Qajar Period

The book also emphasizes the importance of neyze (the spear) in Iranian history.  Many bronze spearheads excavated from Marlik and Luristan sites show that spears played an important role as far back as the Bronze Age.  The role of spears in the
Achaemenian, Parthian and Sassanian periods is also thoroughly examined in the
book.  Many examples of spears and zubin (javellin), dating from after the Muslim conquest of Iran, are also shown.  Different types of gorz (mace), such as globular, pear-shaped and truncheon-shaped maces, knobbed and flanged maces, and animal or human-headed maces are included, as well.  classified.

The research shows that the "gorz-e gavsar" (bull-headed mace) was already in use during the Bronze Age.  Later on, this prestigeous weapon was also mentioned in the epic Shahname, and drawn in many miniatures.  During the Qajar period, many bull-headed maces were made as well. The interesting point is that bull-headed maces were used not only as weapons but also as ritual objects in Zoroastrian ceremonies.  A discussion of the Tabar (axe) makes up another chapter of the book.  Different types of bronze axes from Luristan are shown.  Additionally, other archeologicalexamples of axes from different eras in Iran are also presented and discussed.  Another chapter deals with the construction of shields; different types of hide shields and steel shields are presented and

One important part of this book is an analysis of the different types of armor used in the various historical eras in Iran.  The differences between scale armor, mail and plate are discussed.  The present book also deals with a detailed analysis of the many different components of Iranian armors, including: joshan and zereh (mail), chahr ayne (four mirrors), bazuband (arm guar), kolah khud (helmet), gariban (standard), zanuband (knee protector), and sagband (shin protector). 

One chapter of the book contains a detailed description and analysis of the different shapes and types of bows which were used during centuries in Iran.  This includes a section of the text dedicated to the making of composite bows, which consisted of wood, horn and sinew.  Based on ancient manuals, different types of arrowheads and their related terminology are also discussed in the book.

One important element of this work is a historical-cultural analysis of the meaning of the emblem of the lion and the sun and also the meaning of the emblem of a lion fighting a bull.  Different theoretical approaches and interpretations of the meaning of these emblems are given, each accompanied by a detailed historical background. Another important chapter of the book deals with the Iranian warrior tradition. As will be discussed in the book, Iranian warriors followed the rules of javanmardi, which described the rules of conduct and behavior for warriors.  The book also describes the history of ayyaran and explains that the roots of ayyaran go back as far as the Sassanian era.

The training of warriors is also discussed in the book, such as wrestling, practice tools of varzesh bastani, archery training, handling of the sword, throwing the javelin, horse riding, polo, stickfighting, and playing at the mall.  There is also one chapter dealing with different orders of dervishes who carried different weapons, especially axes, during their ceremonies; the significance of these axes are discussed in detail.  An analysis of arms and armor used in naggali (traditional recitation of Shahname) and tazieh (a Shiite passion play) also make up an interesting component of this book.

This book is the result of years of research in the field of Iranian arms and armor, illustrating for the first time a selected array of Iranian arms and armor from ten Iranian museums: the Military Museum Tehran, the Military Museum Shiraz, the Military Museum Bandar Anzali, the National Museum of Iran in Tehran, the Museum Reza Abbasi in Tehran, the Niavaran Palace in Tehran, the Melat Museum in Tehran, the Sabz Museum in Tehran, the Pars Museum in Shiraz, and the Naderi Museum in Mashad. One of the important features of these artifacts is that many bronze items come from controlled excavations, yet some are items confiscated from smugglers on illegal excavations.

In addition, much of the swords, arms and armor have been handed down from one generation to the next and thus are in excellent condition. The book also contains some selected items from private collections in Europe and the USA. Each artifact is meticulously studied and cross referenced with other existing pieces. The basic tenet of the research is to examine the weapons within their cultural settings. The reader is introduced to the topic with a general overview of Iranian history with particular emphasis on Iranian military history.

The research has been extensive with over 500 sources consulted. The sources are not only based on international publications on the development of arms and armor in Iran but also the research of Iranian scholars in the field of military history and arms and armor. Many secondary Iranian sources on art, history, and military history are also included as well as the primary period sources. Included is an overview of the development of copper and bronze weapons from northern, western, and southwestern parts of Iran, featuring pieces from Marlik, Amarlu, and Meshkinshahr. In addition to the pictures, many line drawings accompany the text, giving a comprehensive overview of the development of bronze weapons in Iran. After the intrusion of Aryan tribes into Iran, new types of weapons were introduced into the country. The book presents a number of archeological examples of weapons used by the Achaemenians, Parthians, and Sassanians. The archeological examples are compared to swords depicted on corresponding rock reliefs.