Craftsmanship and engineering

History of engineering and craftsmanship

The history of engineering and craftsmanship began when the early man used the materials around him to survive and live better. In the course of time, he understood the characteristics of materials and managed to dominate the surrounding nature through inventions, discoveries and constructions. The history of engineering is essentially the history of the success of the man in getting access to materials, knowing their features and using them. The early man lived like animals but in the course of his evolution, he gradually learned that how he could make use of his assets such as the materials and forces existing in the nature to survive and to live better. It took a long time to understand the nature and materials in the nature and to make use of them. The struggle of the man to compensate for his failures, gain experiences and get engaged in construction activities was continuously pursued

In some cases, the man was blessed with the generosity of the nature and learned some lessons from the animals and creatures living in the surrounding nature. Being able to transmit his experiences across generations, the man built up on his knowledge and craftsmanship. Accordingly, the story of human engineering demonstrating the continuous efforts of the man for his survival began and continued

The material and mental goals of the man initially included understanding the nature and making use of it for meeting the vital needs and making efforts to meet the psychological needs. As the extension of these efforts, the modern sciences, crafts and arts have closely been intertwined since the ancient time as it would sometimes become impossible to demark their borders. Seeing the animals and plants, the early man drew some images of them in his shelters. Such a creation and drawing not only reflected a sign of his mental development but also met his artistic needs and desires. It is claimed that the primitive man believed that by drawing images of animals hunted by him using spears, he could realize his goal in the real life, too. Additionally, he believed that by drawing the image of strong and powerful animals he could transfer their power and stamina to himself. Gradually, these images were given the symbolic values, found their ways into the metaphysical beliefs of people and formed the foundations of beliefs in many religions. Sciences and crafts have always been closely connected and have occasionally borrowed some motifs and ideas from each other

Through construction and developments, the ancient people attained knowledge and understanding. Concurrently, the scientific information was used in the engineering operations and assisted them. Arts and crafts have always enjoyed an inseparable relationship from the ancient time as the artist should visualize the material existence for his artistic creation and then embark on its creation. Pottery making and drawing images on potteries taking root in the ancient Persia are among the oldest professions and crafts of the mankind that denotes the close relationship between arts and crafts


Advent of civilization in Iran

Archeological researches have shown that the ancient Persia was one of the first cradles of the human civilization. The history of craftsmanship and engineering in many disciplines has taken roots in Persia and has continued its development and evolution paths there or other territories. The geographical location of Iran, the existence of surrounding mountains contributing to the creation of civilizations, immigrations, political developments and historical events have always played a prominent role in the evolutionary path of the history of Iranian engineering. The mountain ranges surrounding Iran have not completely been impermeable and there have been some passes. For instance, there were some passes in the Zagros mountains to the west of Iran that connected Persian Najd territories to the Mesopotamian Plain. These passes were the linking points between the Iranian civilization during the heyday of the Median civilization and other regional civilizations. The city of Hamedan was located on the way of one of these passes. To the east of the ancient Iranian civilization, Khybar Pass was located that connected Persian Najd to Indus and Ganges river valleys and was regarded as a pass to move through the high Hindu Kush mountains. There were some other passes in the mountainous wall surrounding the country to the northwest of Iran in Azerbaijan.   To the east, there were other passes that connected Persian Najd to the flat plains and territories

Geographically-speaking, Iran is located between Caspian Sea in the north and Persian Gulf and Oman Sea in the south. There are some natural passes in the mountains surrounding the country. Traditionally, Iran has been the only dry land between Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, China and India. Industries, engineering, sciences, arts and other manifestations of the civilization have passed through this juncture and have taken roots and footholds in Iran and other countries



The first civilization of Iran dates back to the first human civilization during the Paleolithic (Old Sone Age). Traces of the civilization of this epoch dating back to some 100,000 years ago have been found in the stone tools. In the caves located to the south of Gonbad-e Kavos in Golestan province, some traces of the man have been found which date back to 60 to 40 thousand years ago. In Ganji Cave some traces of the human have been found that date back to 40 to 35 thousand years ago. These men lived in the gaps of caves and lead their lives by collecting food stuffs and the occasional hunting.  In Bistun Cave some traces of the man of the Pleistocene (Ice Age) have been found that refer to Neanderthals together with some semi-baked potteries as well as stone and bone tools. Kamarband and Hootoo Caves (close to the city of Behshar) were the habitats of homo sapiens in the later years of the Paleolithic and early years of the Mesolithic. During the Neolithic (New Stone Age) at around 9000 to 6700 B.C., the lifestyles of the man changed and collecting the food was accompanied with its production, i.e. agriculture. At this period, domestication of animals began and the first residential houses were built

Archeological excavations and surveys have provided some estimations in terms of the beginning of the material civilization and the history of the technical knowledge in Iran. Relics discovered in excavations in Alikesh mound in the southwest of Iran as well as Hajji Firuz Tepe in the north of Iran indicate that the agricultural civilization had been established in these areas during the Neolithic Age and some tools were made by hands. The approximate date of this civilization dates back to some 6,000 years B.C. Some relics have been discovered in Chogha Mish in the south of Iran and Hajji Firuz Tepe in the north of Iran whose age is some 5,000 years B.C. bearing some traces of the early paintings on the potteries. Archeological surveys in areas around Pestooli Tepe in the north of the country (near Hasanloo) as well as Yahya Tepe to the south of the country indicate existence of the primary metalwork civilizations around 4,000 B.C. Some copper tools and colorful potteries with the age of 4,000 B.C. have been discovered in Susa and Tall-i Bakun (close to Persepolis). Some potter wheels with the age of 3,500 B.C. have been discovered in Susa, Tepe Sialk in Kashan and Tepe Hesar in Damghan

Some tablets from the 3,300 B.C. have been found in Yahya Tepe to the south of the country. In Susa, some traces of urbanization as well as wheeled chariots with the age of 3,000 B.C. have been discovered

In addition to historical mounds referred to above, archeological surveys in numerous other ancient mounds have been undertaken that have resulted in some understanding about the early material civilization in this territory

The race of the men living in the ancient territory of Persia in 4,000 B.C. has called as Asian by some scholars. They have been called as Caucasians, Khazars and Japhetites by other researchers. The first tribes residing in an ancient Persia were categorized into three main groups. The first category included the Kassites and the Hittites. The second group included people of the Etruscan civilization. The Iberians comprised the third category. Since the third millennium B.C., the migrating tribes gradually moved to Iran. Most them immigrated to this territory from Central Europe. The passes of Caucasia and Transoxiana (Farā-rūd) formed the immigration routes. Concurrently, the Elamite civilization was established in Susa and played an effective role in the cultural developments of that period. Immigrations continued during the second and the first millennia B.C. like the previous period. The Aryan race began its immigration to Persian Najd for the first time in the third millennium B.C.

Great cultural developments transpired in Iran in 3,000 B.C. Additionally, some major socio-political events occurred over that period with great impacts on the history of technology in this territory leading to some transformations and developments in the historical route of engineering and craftsmanship in Iran. However, some noticeable technological transformations occurred in Iran after this period

Emergence of the civilization and its routes in Iran have been reflected very well in Iranian myths and literature. The great Iranian poet, Ferdowsi, has composed some beautiful verses in his masterpiece, Shahnameh, where has eloquently described the beginning of civilization and craftsmanship in this territory