Ancient Mythologies Block: Persia

Leaving the fog-like, dreamy consciousness of India, we have moved westward into Persia. We studied the sharp lines of duality associated with the Persian culture through weather patterns, religious belief and myths. These polarities took the forms of light vs. dark, good vs. evil, farming vs. hunting. In order to capture these themes visually, I dedicated a literal black and white, double-page spread in Vincent’s main lesson book to them. Vincent painted a piece of paper with black acrylic paint that provided great coverage and a good writing surface. We listed the words and concepts associated with Ahura Mazda on the white side, and the opposing words and concepts associated with Ahriman on the black side. My struggle in teaching this was not bringing in a modern consciousness and inserting any sense of nuance into this particular part of the block. I kept reminding myself I was not teaching Vincent personal morality here, but merely presenting a way of thinking associated with the ancient Persian culture.

I did not give any historical information during this block, but just kept to the stories themselves. Throughout the entire Ancient Mythologies block, I am stressing a trajectory of thought that will ultimately end with the Greeks in the spring. Seeing these stories presented as a philosophical continuum is really beautiful. Does it give all the facts? No. Is it historically accurate in a strict chronological sense? No. And I’m not presenting it as a linear, logical narrative. In order to balance this and give an introductory historical narrative to what are studying this year, I am planning on reading the first few chapters of A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich in May. By then Vincent will be 11 1/2 years old and ready, I think, to begin to grapple with ancient peoples and cultures in an actual historical context. Until then, we will focus on the stories – just the stories.

Story Resources:

  • Ancient Mythologies, Charles Kovacs
  • Ancient Mythology: India, Persia, Babylon, Egypt, Donna Simmons


  • Wet-on-wet watercolor painting of a golden star (Zarathustra)

  • Beeswax modeling of Ahura Mazda’s sword of light

  • A yummy Persian dinner that we ate sitting cross-legged on the floor.

Additional Resources:

  • The Multicultural Cookbook for Students, Carole Lisa Albyn and Lois Sinaiko Webb
  • Holidays of the World Cookbook for Students, Lois Sinaiko Webb
  • A Journey Through Time in Verse and Rhyme, Heather Thomas (There are wonderful poems for all the ancient cultures in this book.)

Featured Recipes:

Date Nut Bread This is one of those handwritten recipes that has absolutely no reference as to where it came from. It has been in my collection for a long time, and resurrects itself every couple of years. It is especially good with cream cheese.

  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped dates
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped toasted nuts (walnuts, pecans or almonds are good)

Pour boiling water over dates and butter. Let sit until lukewarm. Puree about 1/2 of this mixture. Combine both pureed and non-pureed dates and add sugar, molasses and eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into greased loaf pan and bake at 350 for about 1 hour or until tester comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before turning loaf onto cooling rack.

Simple Strawberry Syrup We mixed this with club soda during our Persian dinner. It was fine, but this morning I put some on my pancakes – bliss!!

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh or frozen (thawed) strawberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water over medium heat until thickened – about 5 minutes. Add strawberries and vanilla. Bring back to a boil and mix continuously until syrup thickens again, about 5 to 10 minutes. Store in the refrigerator.


Similar Posts from the archives:
Ancient Mythologies: India

7 thoughts on “Ancient Mythologies Block: Persia

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