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The Cambridge History of Iran is an eight-volume survey of Iranian history and culture, and its contribution to the civilisation of the world. All aspect of the religious, philosophical, political, economic, scientific and artistic elements in Iranian civilisation are studies, with some emphasis on geographical and ecological factors which have contributed to that civilisation's special character. The aim is to provide a collection of readable essays rather than a catalogue of information. The volumes offer scope for the publication of new ideas as well as providing summaries of established facts. They should act as a stimulus to specialists, but are primarily concerned to answer the sort of questions about the past and present of Iran that are asked by the non-specialist. Volume I sets the physical stage for the human events which follow. In a sense it is a companion volume to the rest of the series. The whole volume is devoted to geography, geology, anthropology, economic life, and flora and fauna. The physical environment of Iran is seen not as an unmoving backcloth against which the human drama is played; rather it is seen as a natural element which shapes in distinct and recognisable ways the whole course of human activity in the country. Iran offers a picture of sharp identity as a geographical unit. In spite of highly varies and often harsh natural conditions at local level, a consistent and recognisable pattern of physiographical and climatic features emerges at the national level. Because of these features the Iranians as a people suffered many vicissitudes. The complex character of the relationship between terrain and people is the major theme of this volume.
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