Persian Legacy of the Flames

2013 ,    »  -   19 Comments
Ratings: 7.46/10 from 96 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.

19 Comments / User Reviews

    Bob Smith
  1. Bob Smith

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

  2. Linnet
  3. Linnet

    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.

  4. Behzad
  5. Behzad

    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 .

  6. Martha Jane Hill
  7. Martha Jane Hill

    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.

  8. jim cornehls
  9. jim cornehls

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

  10. Styler
  11. Styler

    Seems to be more about the discoverors than the discoveries.

  12. Iraj from Tehran
  13. Iraj from Tehran

    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???????????????

  14. Steven Apell
  15. Steven Apell

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

  16. Mahmoud BouRaad
  17. Mahmoud BouRaad

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

  18. anna
  19. anna

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

  20. MMM
  21. MMM

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

  22. Bran
  23. Bran

    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!

  24. Shiboo
  25. Shiboo

    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!

  26. Zafar
  27. Zafar

    Really glad this came out on Thanksgiving.

  28. Lon W.
  29. Lon W.

    Awesome. A library. Will follow up.

  30. Hiyathere
  31. Hiyathere

    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?

  32. matt
  33. matt

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

  34. Mark Gaboury
  35. Mark Gaboury

    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.

  36. Geo
  37. Geo

    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.

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