Martijn van Mensvoort -  Hand Research

APRIL 13, 2009

The History of Fingerprinting - a perspective from Iran!
In the 14th century Persia various official government papers had fingerprints impressions: no two fingerprints are exactly alike. Fingerprint are considered as one of the powers of an individual.

Author: Manouchehr Saadat Noury

A fingerprinting detail.

Fingerprinting details studied on a computer.

Among many available biometric methods, fingerprint-based identification is the oldest technique which has been successfully used in numerous applications. Every person, male or female, is known to have unique, immutable or unchallengeable fingerprints. A fingerprint is made of a series of ridges (in Persian: Nok-ha, Labeh-ha) and furrows (in Persian: Shyyarha) on the surface of the finger.

The uniqueness of a fingerprint can be determined by the pattern of ridges and furrows as well as the minutiae points (in Persian: Jozyyaat). Minutiae points are local ridge characteristics that occur at either a ridge bifurcation (in Persian: Shaakheh, Ensheaab) or a ridge ending. In this article the methods of identification in early civilization, the early history of fingerprinting (in Persian: Angosht Negaari), and the first Iranian record on fingerprinting will be studied and discussed.

Methods of Identification in Early Civilizations:

In earlier civilizations, branding and even maiming (in Persian: Zakhm, Zarb-o-Jarh) were used to mark the criminal for what the person was. The Romans employed the tattoo needle to identify and prevent desertion of mercenary soldiers. In Arabic culture, the thief was deprived of the hand which committed the thievery. That method of identification is still carried out in some parts of the Muslim World.

The Early History of Fingerprinting:

Fingerprints have been found on ancient Babylonian clay tablets, seals, and pottery. They have also been found on the walls of Egyptian tombs and on Greek and Chinese pottery, as well as on bricks and tiles in Babylon and Rome.

Fingerprints were also used as substitutes for signatures. References from the era of the Babylonian king Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC) indicate that law officials fingerprinted people who had been arrested. Around 1900 BC, in Babylon in order to protect against forgery and falsification, parties to a legal contract impressed their fingerprints into the clay tablet on which the contract had been written. By 246 BC, Chinese officials impressed their fingerprints in clay seals, which were used to seal documents.

With the advent of silk and paper in China, parties to a legal contract impressed their handprints on the document. In China around 300 AD handprints were used as evidence in a trial for theft. In 650 AD, the Chinese historian Kia Kung-Yen remarked that fingerprints could be used as a means of authentication (in Persian: Gavaahi-e Sanad). By 702 AD., Japan had adopted the Chinese practice of sealing contracts with fingerprints.

The First Iranian Record on Fingerprinting:

In his research article on the History of Fingerprint, Ed German from the US Department of Defense wrote that, "In 14th century Persia, various official government papers had fingerprints (impressions), and one government official, a doctor, observed that no two fingerprints were exactly alike".

The names of those government officials who firstly used the technique of fingerprint identification in Iran are unknown. It should be noted, however, that 14th century Iran was ruled by Sultan Khodabandeh Oljeitu (1304-1316), and Sultan Saiid Bahador (1316-1335) from Ilkhanid Dynasty and by the various rulers of Muzaffarid Dynasty (1314-1393). The doctor who observed that no two fingerprints were exactly alike, and researcher Ed German referred to him was Khajeh Rashiduddin Fazlollah Hamadani (1247-1318). In his famous Farsi book of the Universal History (in Persian: Jaamehol-Tawarikh), Khajeh Rashiduddin Fazlollah Hamadani commented on the practice of identifying people by their fingerprints and wrote that, "Experience shows that no two individuals have fingers exactly alike". Khajeh Rashiduddin was an Iranian physician, a historian, a scholar author and a patriot politician. He served as a Minister (in Persian: Vazir) from 1298 until his death in 1318. In his article, historian Morris Rossabi noted that Khajeh Rashiduddin was the most distinguished figure in 14th century Iran.

On the basis of available evidences cited, Khajeh Rashiduddin Fazlollah Hamadani was most likely the first Iranian who was familiar with the biometric methods and he was the one who introduced the old scientific technique of fingerprint. Though more research works are needed to fully elucidate the role of Khajeh Rashiduddin in the introduction of the relative technique.

Fingerprint Reflect The Power of an Individual:

Fingerprint has been also considered as one of the powers of an individual. American musician and movie actor Jon Bon Jovi noted that, "Each one of you has something no one else has, or has ever had: your fingerprints, your brain, your heart. Be an individual. Be unique. Stand out. Make noise. Make someone notice. That is the power of individuals"!

Fingerprinting in Iran 2009: 'tit for tat'!

While only one year ago most Western visitors were able to pass the Iranian douane with a passport control only, in september 2008 the Iranian gouvernement announced: 'we need your fingerprints' - implicating: the fingerprinting visitors from the United States, Britain and France, listing three Western powers that are pressuring Tehran over its disputed nuclear programme.



Related sources:
Iran: 'We need your Fingerprints'
Czech Republic: We need your Fingerprints in 2009
UK: We need your Fingerprints in 2011
Heathrow airport first to Fingerprint
Japan detains 5 with new Fingerprint check
Fingerprints reveal more
Dermatoglyphics: a review
The hand: understanding our past
The History of Fingerprinting: a perspective from Iran



TIPS - Discover more: Modern Hand Reading Forum | Multi-Perspective Palm Reading | Hand Reflexology Charts

COPYRIGHT 2002-2013: Martijn van Mensvoort (Dutch version: Hand Analyse)