Discover the Middle East, Asia, and Africa with Archival on Demand

“IN 1979, THE CHOICE WAS CLEAR. NO TO THE EAST , i.e. THE SOVIET UNION, NO TO THE WEST, i.e. THE UNITED STATES, AND LET’S CHOOSE THIS THIRD PATH.“

Alex Vatanka
Middle East Institute, Washington, DC

To understand the incredible events unfolding in the news about Iran and the west today, this series takes you back in time through the history of Persia as an empire of the ancient world in a time before Islam, the country's transformation into one of the region's first Islamic states, and its captivating emergence into the modern industrial age as one of Asia's and Middle East's first democratic states. Featuring leading historians from around the world and inspiring voices from the Iranian community, this documentary moves past the political landscape of the present to the culture and history of what shaped the Persian people and the current events gripping international audiences today.

Customer Review

The journalism seems to be on point and very objective. A very fresh perspective on a history that is never taught inside or outside of the US or even in Iran. Highly recommended!

Season 1 Episode 1 | Sunrise of Justice

DocumentaryHistory Release Date: April 3, 2018 Runtime: 55 min Produced by Archival Institute

At the turn of the 20th century in the Middle East and parts of Asia, three powerful social movements were dominating the region. One, the Modern Education Movement, brought modern western style education to countries such as Japan, China, the Ottoman Empire, and Iran, and another, the PanIslamic Movement, sought to industrialize these regions with western technology but resist western culture and religious influence viewed locally by some as a foreign threat. These new directions helped produce the Constitutional Movement which tried to restrict the powers of the monarchies in these regions with constitutional law for the first time.

Our story begins in with the Constitutional Revolution and Civil War in Iran during the early 1900s as powerful factions were pulled in from countries close by including the Ottoman Empire, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Caucasus to take on the strength of Iran's monarchy backed by the Imperial Russian Empire. This episodes introduces Iran's powerful tribal confederacies that controlled vast expanses of land and traditionally defended the country's borders; Iran's landed aristocracy whose leverage included wealth, arms strength, and political might; the merchant classes that were made up of different ethnic and religious groups that amassed financial muscle and political will; and the Islamic clergy which operated large land and capital holdings as religious endowments, a range of schools and medical practices, and whose teachings directly guided much of the majority Shia Muslims inside Iran and minority Shia Muslims internationally. As these powerful forces divide into revolutionaries vs royalists embattled in armed struggle, the country and region transforms in unimaginable ways.

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A documentary so informative its helping to educate students at universities in the US, Europe, and beyond.

“AS FOR THE DOCUMENTARY, I MUST SAY I WAS IMPRESSED. THE PRODUCTION QUALITY IS EXCELLENT AND THE SCHOLARSHIP IS SOLID. THE ARCHIVE FOOTAGE IS ALSO GREAT, MANY PARTS OF WHICH I HADN’T SEEN BEFORE. OVERALL, ITS A SUPERB DOCUMENTARY, AND I’M EAGERLY AWAITING THE UPCOMING EPISODES.”

Mohammad Ashkanani, Kuwait

Watch Extras

Persian Voices

Explore the voices of Iranian historical figures.

Watch the Title Sequence

with 3D animation

What's happening in Iran now?

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