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Carvings of two Persian soldiers in the palace of Darius the Great. One of them is brunette and the other one is blonde with blue eyes.

The Persians (or the Persian Speakers) were an Aryan ethnic group who spoke the Persian language and share a common culture and history.


The original name for Iran was "Iran", the Persian word for "Aryan". The ancient Greeks believed that Perseus, the son of Zeus, married Cassiopeia, the daughter of Andromeda, and their children are the Persians. "Iran" is a cognate term, i.e. it has the same root as "Aryan", which refers to the "land of the Aryans". Interestingly, the root is the same as that of "Ireland" (or "Eire", in Gaelic).

The Persian language is also spoken elsewhere, notably in areas formerly ruled by the Persian Empires. The name Persia derives from Parsa, the name of an Indo-European nomadic people who migrated into what is now southern Iran about 1000 BC (then called Persis), and who later created the Achaemenid Empire, also known as the First Persian Empire. As the Parsa expanded their sphere of political influence, the entire Iranian plateau became known as Persia, with its various peoples designated collectively as Persians. The Iranian plateau has been conquered several times from various directions by various groups and there may also have been mixing with groups such as slaves. Thus, the modern Persians are not synonymous with the Indo-European Parsa.

The term "Persia" was adopted by all western languages through the Greeks and was used as an official name for Iran by the West until 1935. Due to that label, all Iranians were considered Persian. Consequently, current labeling regards many non-Persian Iranians (Those of non-ethnic European heritage) as Persians distinguishing only CIVIL 'nationality', not necessarily the Persian ethnic group. Considerable migrations and miscegenation with coloured races in the middle east has lead to a Semitic mixture in modern times.

The first known written record about the Persians is from an Assyrian inscription of the 834 BC, which mentions both Parsua (Persians) and Muddai (Medes).[1][2] The term used by Assyrians 'Parsua' was a general designation to refer to southwestern Iranian tribes (who referred to themselves as Aryans). Greeks rendered this word as 'Persis' which is where the word Persian in English comes from. In Arabic as there is no letter "P", they referred to Persia and Persians as 'Fars' ('Faras') and 'Farsis'.

In its modern definition, the term “Persians” refers to the people speaking the Western dialect of Persian language and living in the modern country of Iran, as well as the descendants of the people who emigrated from the territory of modern-day Iran to neighboring countries, such as the UAE, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, and more recently, to the West (notably USA, Turkey, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada…).

External links



  1. Abdolhossein Zarinkoob "Ruzgaran : tarikh-e Iran az aghaz ta soqut-e saltnat-e Pahlevi" pp. 37
  2. Bahman Firuzmandi "Mad, Hakhamaneshi, Ashkani, Sasani" pp. 155