Persia: Legacy of the Flames

Persia: Legacy of the Flames

2013, History  -   20 Comments
Ratings: 7.44/10 from 108 users.

Dominating a territory spanning from northern Africa to central Asia, Persia once reigned as the world's first universal empire. Its archaeological treasures are rich and continue to expose secrets of a history obscured since the overtaking of Persia by Alexander the Great in 330 BC. The documentary Persian Legacy of the Flames attempts to unravel some of those secrets through its thoughtful portrayals of two legendary archaeologists who operated many decades ago, and whose work continues to inspire the modern day efforts of a research team from the University of Sydney in Australia.

German archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld and his assistant Friedrich Krefter were determined to unearth these buried secretes when they traveled to southern Persia in 1929. The climate in which they arrived was a delicate one, however. The French maintained a monopoly on all excavation activities in Iran and foreigners were not looked kindly upon in the region, particularly if they were of German descent. The film details his attempts to woo members of the Iranian government, and the political intrigue which followed. With great persuasion, the pair were granted permission to assist in the excavation of one of the most mysterious and ill-understood areas of archaeological study in the region - Persepolis, the mythical capital of the Persian Empire.

Their discoveries provided a stark contrast to the common perception of the empire. To their amazement, the archaeologists concluded an alternate history based on their findings; a history characterized by a much more empathetic and welcoming ruling philosophy than the harsh and tyrannical one that had previously been embraced.

Drawing upon careful examination of the diaries kept by Herzfeld at the time, and dramatized through a series of lavishly produced re-enactments, Persian Legacy of the Flames succeeds in humanizing both of these important figures, and lending a sense of urgency and tragedy to their struggles and exploits. The filmmakers balance this portrait with the efforts of current archeologic researchers who continue their work under similarly strained circumstances. To these dedicated diggers, the mission to unlock the mysteries of the past far exceeds the physical dangers and political unrest that continue to grip the region.

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5 years ago

Was hoping for more history and insight on the Persian empire as opposed to the archaeologists researching it. Though the stiry was interesting, I still found this disappointing and the title misleading given the focus of the documentary.

Mark Gaboury
6 years ago

Good film. Very well done. Nothing was overdone. Notice the wings on certain animal depictions. In the ancient world, knowledge of what angelic beings look like was commonly transferred to artistic representations of animals and persons. Persia was not the first world empire, though. It was preceded by at least three others: Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt.

6 years ago

greeks have always been wrong in everthing........ even today the world suffer from their misconception... they were only copiers of real civilized peoples...

7 years ago

I'm interested in seeing the Oriental Institute's documentary, which parts of are shown a little after the 25 minute mark. Unfortunately, the title is not mentioned in the documentary or credits. Can anyone track this down?

Lon W.
7 years ago

Awesome. A library. Will follow up.

7 years ago

Really glad this came out on Thanksgiving.

7 years ago

LOL Bran you are living proof of how de-education is working on a global scale! You can watch a million documentaries and I will guarantee that your intellect will not rise by even a % due to your unbelievable arrogance driven by ignorance!

Good day!

7 years ago

Persian empire is just a hoax and made up 'facts', like today's fake Iran which all for show. There is nothing inside but misery, corruption and fanaticism. The so call Jewish liberator nation can't even tolerate a single opposition today!

7 years ago

my question is, why put a nonsense music during talks. It's just super annoying.

7 years ago

terrible doc. speaks practically nothing os persia itself, focusing mostly on scavations and the histories of archaelogists in persian sites, rather than about persia

Mahmoud BouRaad
7 years ago

Values mater. So does freedom.
That's the remains of the Persian Empires but wonder if history may repeat itself.

Steven Apell
7 years ago

I thought the Mongols were the first to have an empire spanning three continents

Iraj from Tehran
7 years ago

This is a documentary and it basically should be documented to the places, dates, people, languages, and any signs comes through the history to be as documents. 9:36 minute of the film, narrator says, Heltz fere from Germany tried to contact to the TamurTash one of Iranian authorized people to discuss about the Press Police ( but the background shows a man who smokes and speaks Arabic but Not Persian.why ? is he Tamurtash? if yes. why he speaks Arabic? why???????????????

7 years ago

Seems to be more about the discoverors than the discoveries.

jim cornehls
7 years ago

This may help our understanding of Syria and the Middle East. Persia, the largest empire in the history of the world.

Martha Jane Hill
7 years ago

Very entertaining and informative. Bringing a new dimension to documenting history and I love it ! I was never bored or felt that the narrorator spoke over my head either. It also shows how consulting with people who share the same passion for archeology but who have studied fields such as architecture can make a huge difference in the direction of the dig. Truth and treasure, unburied.

7 years ago

Listening to Gore Vidal in 70s he claimed, not trusting Herodotus he did his own investigation and prompted to right Creation. Thanks for a well made documentary .

7 years ago

this Doc on Persia is deeply appreciated, I visited Iran in the early '70s, and felt right at home in Persepolis, loved it there so much, and wished I had known more of its true history, then and now. Thank you.

Bob Smith
7 years ago

Really glad this came out on Thanksgiving. Finally some holiday relevant documentaries for us to watch. Thanks top documentary films! America is thankful!