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Persian Immortals

سپاه جاودان ، گارد جاویدان،انوشیا


Achaemenid_Elite_Immortals.jpg
Immortality is an essential concept in Iranian history. It's the foundation of Iran's cultural heritage according to which a Martyr never dies. On the contrary, every drop of his blood nurtures the ideals leading the path to independence, freedom, and higher collective interests. The "Immortals", sometimes "Ten Thousand Immortals" or "Persian Immortals" was the name given by Herodotus to an elite force of soldiers under the Achaemenid Empire. This force performed the dual roles of both Imperial Guard and standing army during the Persian Empire's expansion and during the Greco-Persian Wars. Its Persian name may have been Anushiya.Herodotus describes the 'Immortals' as being heavy infantry led by Hydarnes that were kept constantly at strength of exactly 10,000 men. He claimed that the unit's name stemmed from the custom that every killed, seriously wounded or sick member was immediately replaced with a new one, maintaining the cohesion of the unit.This elite corps is only called the 'Immortals' in sources based on Herodotus. Whilst there is evidence for them from Persia, this does not mention this name for them. The 'Immortals' played an important role in Cyrus the Great conquest of the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 547 BC, Cambyses' campaign against Egypt in 525 BC and Dariush the Great invasion of India's smaller western frontier kingdoms (western Punjabh and Sindh) and Scythia in 520 BC and 513 BC. Immortals participated in the Battle of Thermopylae 480 BC and were amongst the Persian occupation troops in Greece in 479 BC under Mardonius.Herodotus describes their armament as follows: wicker shields, short spears, swords or large daggers, bow and arrow. Underneath their robes they wore scale armor coats. The spear counterbalances of the common soldiery were of silver; to differentiate commanding ranks, the officers' spear butt-spikes were golden. The regiment was followed by a caravan of covered carriages, camels, and mules that transported their supplies, along with concubines and attendants to serve them; this supply train carried special food that was reserved only for their consumption.The headdress worn by the Immortals is believed to have been the Persian tiara. Its actual form is uncertain, but some sources describe it as a cloth or felt cap which could be pulled over the face to keep out wind and dust in the arid Persian plains. Surviving Achaemenid colored glazed bricks and carved reliefs represent the Immortals as wearing elaborate robes and gold jewelry, though these garments and accessories were most likely worn only for ceremonial occasions.The title of "Immortals" was first revived under the Sassanid army. The most famous of the Savaran units were the Javedan (Immortals) and numbered 10,000 men, like the Achaemenid predecessors, with the difference that they were cavalry. Their task was mainly to secure any breakthroughs and to enter battles at crucial stages.The title of "Immortals" was again revived under the Byzantine Empire, under the Emperor Michael VII (1071–1081). His general Nikephoros reorganised the central field army ("Tagmata") of the Eastern Empire following the disastrous defeat of

Contents
  • 1 Herodotus
  • 2 History
  • 3 Equipment
  • 4 Legacy
    • 4.1 Sassanid Empire
    • 4.2 Byzantine Empire
    • 4.3 French Empire
    • 4.4 Imperial State of Iran
  • 5 In popular culture
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links

Herodotus

Herodotus describes the ''Immortals'' as being heavy infantry, led by Hydarnes, that were kept constantly at a strength of exactly 10,000 men. He claimed that the unit''s name stemmed from the custom that every killed, seriously wounded, or sick member was immediately replaced with a new one, maintaining the numbers and cohesion of the unit.

This elite corps is only called the ''Immortals'' in sources based on Herodotus. There is evidence of the existence of a permanent corps from Persian sources, which provided a backbone for the tribal levies who made up the bulk of the Achaemenid armies. These do not however record the name of "Immortals". "Probably, Herodotus'' informant has confused the name Anûšiya (''companions'') with Anauša (''Immortals'')."

History

The Immortals played an important role in Cyrus the Great''s conquest of Babylon in 539 BC, Cambyses II''s conquest of Egypt in 525 BC and Darius I''s invasion of India''s smaller western frontier kingdoms (western Punjab and Sindh, now in Pakistan) and Scythia in 520 BC and 513 BC. Immortals participated in the Battle of Thermopylae 480 BC and were amongst the Persian occupation troops in Greece in 479 BC under Mardonius.

EquipmentImmortals at war against Alexanders'' troops. Color reconstruction of the original reliefs on the Alexander Sarcophagus, in Istanbul

Herodotus describes their armament as follows: wicker shields, short spears, swords or large daggers, bow and arrow. Underneath their robes they wore scale armour coats. The spear counterbalances of the common soldiery were of silver; to differentiate commanding ranks, the officers'' spear buttspikes were golden. The regiment was followed by a caravan of covered carriages, camels, and mules that transported their supplies, along with concubines and attendants to serve them; this supply train carried special food that was reserved only for their consumption.

The headdress worn by the Immortals is believed to have been the Persian tiara. Its actual form is uncertain, but some sources describe it as a cloth or felt cap which could be pulled over the face to keep out wind and dust in the arid Persian plains. Surviving Achaemenid coloured glazed bricks and carved reliefs represent the Immortals as wearing elaborate robes, hoop earrings and gold jewelry, though these garments and accessories were most likely worn only for ceremonial occasions.

Legacy Sassanid Empire Main article: ZhayedanMedian (left) and Persian (right) soldiers, carvings at Persepolis.

The title of "Immortals" was first revived under the Sassanid army. The most famous of the Savaran units were the Zhayedan (Immortals) and numbered 10,000 men, like the Achaemenid predecessors, with the difference that they were cavalry. Their task was mainly to secure any breakthroughs and to enter battles at crucial stages.

Byzantine Empire Main article: Immortals (Byzantine Empire)

The designation "Immortal" to describe a military unit was used twice during the Byzantine Empire, first as an elite heavy cavalry unit under John I Tzimiskes (r. 969–976) and then later by Nikephoritzes, the chief minister of Emperor Michael VII (r. 1071–1081), as the core of a new central field army, following the disastrous defeat of Manzikert by the Seljuk Turks in 1071.

French Empire Main article: Imperial Guard (Napoleon I)

Many centuries later, during the Napoleonic Wars, French soldiers referred to Napoleon''s Imperial Guard as "the Immortals."

Imperial State of Iran Main article: Imperial Guard (Iran)

The Iranian Army under the last Shahanshah included an all volunteer Javidan Guard, also known as the "Immortals" after the ancient Persian royal guard. The "Immortals" were based in the Lavizan Barracks in Tehran. By 1978 this elite force comprised a brigade of 4,000–5,000 men, including a battalion of Chieftain tanks. Following the Iranian Revolution of 1979 the "Immortals" were disbanded.

In popular culture

Herodotus'' account of two warrior elites - the Spartan hoplites and the Immortals - facing each other in battle has inspired a set of rather colorful depictions of the battle, especially in regard of the Immortals:

  • In the 1962 film The 300 Spartans the Immortals carry a spear and wicker shields like the actual Immortals. However, they are mostly dressed in black and other dark colors, as opposed to historical depictions.
  • Frank Miller''s 1998 comic book 300, and the 2006 feature film adapted from it, present a heavily fictionalized version of the Immortals at the Battle of Thermopylae. These Immortals wear Mengu-style metal masks, appear to be inhuman or disfigured, and carry a pair of swords closely resembling Japanese wakizashis.
  • The History Channel documentary Last Stand of the 300 also features the Immortals as part of the reconstruction of the Thermopylae battle. In this version, the tiara the Immortals habitually wear is depicted here as a full-face black cloth mask transparent enough to see through.

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See All 2 items matching Persian Immortals in Media Gallery

Achaemenid Elite unit soldiers called Immortals.Their armament was wicker shields, short spears, swords or large daggers, bow and arrow. The regiment was followed by a caravan of covered carriages, camels, and mules that transported their supplies
Achaemenid Elite Immortals: Archers, spearman from Susa Palace. Such artifacts have been vandalised, destroyed and some of them smuggled out of Iran are in pretty good conditions like this one in Louvre Museum in Paris.
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