Just finished rereading Herodotus. Lots about the establishment of the Persian Empire by Cyrus. Admittedly, Herodotus was an enemy, but he very obviously admired Cyrus even if he considered the Persians enemies.
There is not a trace in Herodotus of a long history of Persian magnificence prior to Cyrus. The idea you get is of a hard-living primitive more or less tribal people moving in on more effete civilizations and taking them over.
AFAIK, Cyrus, Darius and the other Achaemenids made no claim of ancient lineage, which they certainly would have had there been any way for them to do so.
For instance, in the Behistun Inscription (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_translation_of_the_Behistun_Inscription), Darius the Great (probably a successful usurper) did everything he could to portray his rule as legitimate. But he only claimed 9 generations of kingship, which was probably a lie in itself. If he could have done so with any credibility at all, no doubt he would have claimed great antiquity for his kingdom.
The recorded Persian documents in the Bible also make no claim of great antiquity. The Persians do not appear in the Bible till after the Babylonian Conquest, making it very unlikely, IMO, that they had been major players previously.
I'm no expert, but the surviving Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian records generally portray the area of what is now Iran as primitive and tribal, not the home of powerful contending empires. At this point we're getting back something like 5000 years, leaving little time for the great Persian empires of the Shahnameh to exist.
Herodotus is just one (Greek) source and his documentation while correct to some degree, is not complete. Therefore, his account has its limitations as well.
For example, he, along with other Greek historians, referred to Iran as Persis (referring only to one province of today’s Iran called Pars or Parsa in persian, hence Persia as we know it in English), to Takht_e Jamshid as Persepolis, and basically provided their own interpretations from a Greek (in another words a foreign point of view), about the Achaemenid Dynasty, not prior to that, as far as I know.
I’ve read Herodotus as well (not fully), but frankly I don’t think he was too familiar with history of Iran or should say Aryans before Cyrus - at least not intimately. Herodotus seems to be a fair bit confused about Aryan religions and in fact Zoroastrianism too. This is regardless of admiring Cyrus. I’ve read that Alexander the Macedonian was also a great admirer of Cyrus.
Also, Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians (the latter 2 were semitic tribes), mostly focus on Iraq (& Mesopotamia) and west of today’s of Iraq, not east. The Aryan land was to the east, and that’s where its history or prehistory began. From countries such as today’s Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan. The Aryans only settled in today’s Iran or the Iranian plateau later on. Tajikistan is particularly significant.
The name Iran (derivative of Airyan or Airyana) is very old & has always been known to most Iranians or Aryans. However, Ariyana refers to the Greater Iran, as it was at the time i.e. Land of Aryans.
The reason, I think, Aryan history or prehistory is not well recorded by “others” before Cyrus the Great, or the Median Empire, and before that the Proto-Elamite period, is because Cyrus through his conquests actually put the “Persian Empire” on the map, so to speak. His conquests west of Iran also brought “Aryan” and by extesion Median & Persian influences elsewhere, particularly post-Babylonian conquest, and when he freed the Jews from Babylonian captivity.
There is abundant linguistic evidence, including documents, archaeological (e.g. in Kermanshah & Hamadan in Iran), historical (especially for valorize traditional Iranian history), historical weather, and so on.. Shah-Nameh and the Avesta (incl. the Gathas) & other Zoroastrian scriptures are just a few main documents. Not sure why it isn’t mentioned in the Bible, but may be because the Avesta is much older than the Bible and deals *specifically* with the Aryan traditions & history.
I acknowledge that in parts that prehistory or history is mixed with some mythology. As previously mentioned, even Ferdowsi’s work stipulates that. Then again, one can argue that even Adam & Eve or Moses parting the red sea are closer to myth than strictly ‘history’.
The webpage in post #82 has numerous other links within the post, and I think explains matters quite well, together with relevant maps.
You’re quite right that King Solomon (aka Suleiman in the Quaran) has been mentioned a few times in the Quran. Then again the Quran and Islam were both very much influenced by Jewish and Hebrew traditions, and of course relatively speaking are newcomers. Eleutheria5 and I had a discussion about this in another thread recently. In Islamic tradition Solomon (or Suleiman) is very Islamicized. That’s how moslems accept him - http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2850322/posts?page=57#57