Insurance in Ancient Iran
By : Mohammad Sadegh Nazmi Afshar
One of the measures taking place in the time of world Achaemenian government was establishing a law known today as insurance. Achaemenian monarchs were the first insured their people and made it official by registering the insuring process in governmental notary offices. The insurance tradition was performed each year in Norouz (beginning of the Iranian New Year); the heads of different ethnic groups as well as others willing to take part, presented gifts to the monarch.
Achaemenians are one of the Iranian dynasties used to rule in the whole world known in their times between the 6th and 3rd centuries BC. Cyrus the Great, one of the monarchs of this dynasty, could establish the first world government in the 6th century BC after conquering the governments of Babylon, Assyria, Medes, India, and other small governments of his era.
After Cyrus, his son Cambodia succeeded to join the Egyptian government to this union. So, for the first and last time in the history, all the governments of the world were ruled under the same colors; the Greek governments were under the political supremacy of Iran since the time of Achaemenian Ardeshir, and other points of the world lacked any population then, and there was no other known country in these regions.
Formation of such government in the world presented the man many new positive approaches. Of all the changes, it can be mentioned that standards of' weigh, money, and distance became global, and the architecture of different nations of the world were compiled in Achaemenian constructions.
Takht-e Jamshid, one of the Persian capitals, was built by the architects and artists from Iran, Egypt, India, Lebanon, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, etc. Hence, the art of all these nations could be found in this great monument.
Another measures taking place in the time of world Achaemenian government was establishing a law known today as insurance. Achaemenian monarchs were the first insured their people and made it official by registering the insuring process in governmental notary offices. The insurance tradition was performed each year in Norouz (beginning of the Iranian New Year); the heads of different ethnic groups as well as others willing to take part, presented gifts to the monarch. The most important gift was presented during a special ceremony and when a gift was worth more than 10,000 Derrik (Achaemenian gold coin weighing 8.35-8.42) the issue was registered in a special office. This was advantageous to those presented such special gifts. For others, the presents were fairly assessed by the confidants of the court. Then the assessment was registered in special offices.
The aim of registering was that whenever the one who presented the gift registered by the court was in trouble, the monarch and the court would help him or her. Jahez, a historian and writer, writes in one of his books on ancient Iran: "... and whenever the owner of the present is in trouble or wants to construct a building, set up a feast, have his children married, etc. the one in charge of this in the court would check the registration. If the registered amount exceeded 10,000 Derrik, he or she would receive an amount of twice as much."
Even if a person did not offer money as the gift or the amount of his gift was insignificant, the measure would register and whenever the person faced a problem, the attendants were obliged to report the issue to the monarch.
Jahez writes: "And the monarch should help him. So, when the monarch was informed that the man has something, an apple for instance, in the court, he ordered to send an apple full of gold coins to him."
The insurance rule for the one who had presented a spear was that whenever he was in trouble, they took the offered spear with his name on it and installed it somewhere. Then they put the kingdom dresses beside it right as high as the spear.
It is worth noting that such dresses were so precious and the man could solve his problem by selling the dresses. Basically, in ancient Iran, the monarchs donated their dresses when the season changed. As written in the history, Ardeshir, son of Babak (the first Sassanid monarch - 2nd century), Bahrain Gour, Anoushirvan, and other Sassanid monarchs had ordered to take out all their dresses from the dress treasury in Norouz and Mehregan ceremonies, the beginning of spring and autumn respectively, and give them to the attendants, special people of the court, and then other people regarding their social levels.
The philosophy of such a measure was that the Iranian monarchs believed that they did not need any summer dresses in winter and vice versa and it is not the habit of monarchs to hide such dresses in the treasuries. It was noted in the law that whenever the one who has offered some presents in Mehregan or Norouz ceremonies to the court is in trouble, he should go to the court and remind the monarch of his problem and compensation regulations if he has not received any. He should not neglect the rule otherwise, in case he knowingly ignores and may not inform the court of his reward, he would be deprived of his stipend. Then his opponents, if any, may be paid instead of him as he has behaved in a way unpleasant for the monarch disgracing the country.
It would be concluded that the Persian monarchs supported their peoples lawfully. It can also be claimed that Iranian executed the insurance regulation for the first time.