Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS University of London
Russell Square WC1H 0XG
Taq Kasra: Wonder of Architecture is the first-ever documentary film on the world’s largest brickwork vault. The palace was the symbol of the Persian Empire in the Sasanian era (224-651 AD), when a major part of Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) was part of Persia. Taq Kasra was in serious danger of ISIS attacks in 2015-2016 and this was the main motivation for documentary maker Pejman Akbarzadeh, based in Holland, to travel to Iraq twice and film the arch before it was potentially destroyed. (Read more)
The documentary is produced by the Persian Dutch Network, in association with Toos Foundation, and partially funded by the Soudavar Memorial Foundation.
Following the screening, a Q&A session will be held with the presence of the documentary director Pejman Akbarzadeh and Vesta Sarkhosh-Curis of the British Museum, a scholar of Persian art in Sasanian and Parthian eras.
The aim of the present paper is to illustrate as a case study, the linguistic and stylistic peculiarities characterizing the third book of the Dēnkard, one of the most authoritative texts in Zoroastrian Pahlavi literature (9th-10th CE). The analysis will consider these features as part of a coherent system, styled to serve the dialectic strategies pursued by the Zoroastrian high priests in response to the pressures their own community was facing in the early Islamic period. In order to provide a more comprehensive overview on DkIII language distinctiveness, the research will underline the outward/inward dynamics, addressing both the relation of this theological dialectic with the surrounding socio-cultural environment and the leadingrole claims of a group within a politically subordinated community.
Zoroastrian theology clearly insisted on the assumption that historical time was limited and that in its borders ‘evil’ should be destroyed. Practically, ‘time’ and ‘space’ were a sort of weapon used by Ohrmazd in order to entrap Ahreman and his demonic army. In this spatio-temporal frame – work, the end of historical time involved also the end of Ahreman himself, so that one of the actions enacted by the ‘Antagonist Spirit’ would be that of trying to delay and stop its regular course. Recent studies on the Manichaean Coptic Kephalaia of Dublin confirm the importance of this Mazdean doctrine and present a direct witness of this theological dogma, which was presented in a way conveniently fitting for the Gnostic religion professed by Mani.
The Dēnkard is the most exhaustive Pahlavi work ever produced in Zoroastrianism. Due to the large amount of information included in it, this body of work has often been referred to within the field of Iranian Studies as a ‘Zoroastrian Encyclopedia’. This article discusses two main points. First, it holds that it was not the intention of the Dēnkard’s authors and editors to compose a Zoroastrian encyclopedia in the 9th and 10th centuries. By contrast, the independent texts which serve as the basis of this compilation deal with other religions or present a Zoroastrian apologetic. It also claims that the Dēnkard has not been perceived as an encyclopedia in later Zoroastrianism. Second, the article scrutinizes the editorial process that led to this book. It furthermore argues that the Dēnkard, in its current form, has been structured to resemble the Zoroastrian world history comprising nine millennia. This article aims, moreover, to show that the last three books of the Dēnkard aim to depict Zoroastrians as belonging to the People of the Book. The article finally argues that the Dēnkard should be considered entirely a theological apologetic within an inter-religious context, which was mainly carried by Muslim theologians.
Lieu, Samuel N. C. (ed.). 2017. Manichaeism east and west (Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum. Analecta Manichaica 1). Turnhout: Brepols.
This new volume brings the research on many aspects of the texts published in the Corpus up to date and signals new texts to appear in the Corpus. It includes important studies on the scientific dating of the Medinet Madi, codices as well as the newly discovered Manichaean texts in Chinese and Parthian from Xiapu in South China.
Table of Contents:
Dilâ Baran Tekin: “Mani and his teachings according to Islamic sources: An introductory study”
Jason Beduhn and Greg Hodgins: “The date of the Manichaean codices from Medinet Madi, and its significance”
Adam Benkato: “Incipits and Explicits in Iranian Manichaean texts”
Fernando Bermejo Rubio: “Violence and Myth: Some reflections on an aspect of the Manichaean Protology and Eschatology”
Iris Colditz: “On the names of ‘Donors’ in Middle Iranian Manichaean texts”
Jean-Daniel Dubois: “The Coptic Manichaean Psalm to Jesus (N° 245)”
Majella Franzmann: “The Elect Cosmic Body and Manichaeism as an exclusive religion”
Iain Gardner, Leyla Rasouli-Narimani: “Patīg and Pattikios in the Manichaean sources”
Matthew Goff: “Wild Cannibals or Repentant Sinners? The value of the Manichaean Book of Giants for understanding the Qumran Book of Giants”
Zsuzsanna Gulácsi: “Exploring the relic function of Mani’s Seal Stone in the Bibliothèque nationale de France”
Gábor Kósa: “Adamas of Light in the Cosmology Painting”
Claudia Leurini: “The Messiah in Iranian Manichaean Texts”
Samuel Lieu: “Manichaeism East and West”
Rea Matsangou: “Real and Imagined Manichaeans in Greek Patristic anti-Manichaica (4th-6th centuries)”
Enrico Morano: “Manichaean Sogdian poems”
Nils Arne Pedersen: “Observations on the Book of the Giants from Coptic and Syriac Sources”
Flavia Ruani. “John of Dara on Mani: Manichaean Interpretations of Genesis 2:17 in Syriac”
Jonathan Smith: “Persia, Sun, Fire, Execution, and Mercy: Jean Baudrillard’s postmodern reception of Charles Allberry’s A Manichaean Psalm-Book, Part II (1938)”
Christos Theodorou: “Heavenly Garment and Christology in Western Manichaean Sources”
Satoshi Toda: “Some Observations on Greek Words in Coptic Manichaean Texts”
Yutaka Yoshida: “Middle Iranian Terms in the Xiapu Chinese texts: Four aspects of the Father of Greatness in Parthian”
Arabs and Iranians in the Islamic Conquest Narrative analyzes how early Muslim historians merged the pre-Islamic histories of the Arab and Iranian peoples into a didactic narrative culminating with the Arab conquest of Iran.
This book provides an in-depth examination of Islamic historical accounts of the encounters between representatives of these two peoples that took place in the centuries prior to the coming of Islam. By doing this, it uncovers anachronistic projections of dynamic identity and political discourses within the contemporaneous Islamic world. It shows how the formulaic placement of such embellishment within the context of the narrative served to justify the Arabs’ rise to power, whilst also explaining the fall of the Iranian Sasanian empire. The objective of this book is not simply to mine Islamic historical chronicles for the factual data they contain about the pre-Islamic period, but rather to understand how the authors of these works thought about this era.
By investigating the intersection between early Islamic memory, identity construction, and power discourses, this book will benefit researchers and students of Islamic history and literature and Middle Eastern Studies.
Table of Contents
2. Shifting Patterns of Identity and Early Islamic Historiography in Context
3. The Opening of the Drama: Shāpūr and the Sheikh
4. Bahrām V Gūr, the Lakhmids, and the Hephthalite Disaster
5. The Twilight of Sasanian Power: Khusraw I Anūshirvān and the Saga of Ḥimyar
6. The Buildup to the Confrontation: Khusraw II Parvīz and the Rise of the Arabs
7. The Climax: The Islamic Victory over the Sasanians
Scott Savran obtained his PhD from the University of Wisconsin in 2011. His research focuses on identity-based discourses in early Islamic historiography.
From the end of 19th century, when the Roman Mithras cult was first studied, a discussion about the cult’s links to the Mithra cult in the Iranian religion has been on-going. Positions regarding the links between the Mithras cult and the Mithra cult can be divided into three groups: 1 the Roman Mithras cult is identical to the Iranian Mithra cult and thus the Mithras cult is an import from the Iranian cultural space; 2 the Roman Mithras cult is new and developed during the time of the Roman Empire and also integrated certain elements of Iranian religious heritage; 3 radical standpoint that views the Mithras cult as a cult that developed during the era of the new empire, but denies any associations between the Mithras cult and the Iranian Mithra cult, except the name of the god. The author of this article is convinced that both the first and third positions have weak justifications. The author thus demonstrates, by relying on sources from Iranian and Roman culture, that the personality of Mithras in the Roman cult is very strongly associated with the personality of Mithra in Iranian religious heritage, which allows one to draw the conclusion that the Iranian Mithra served as the main prototype for the Roman Mithras.
Dadabhai Naoroji (1825–1917) is today best known as an economic thinker and an early leader in the Indian nationalist movement. Between the 1860s and 1890s, however, he was also recognized as a scholar of Zoroastrianism, sharing his ideas on Parsi religious reform and ‘authentic’ Zoroastrian belief and practice. Aside from corresponding with some of the leading European Orientalists of his day, Naoroji authored papers on Parsi religious belief and religious reform that were widely distributed and cited in Europe and North America. Over time, he began to function as an interlocutor between European Orientalists and the Parsis in India, disseminating European scholarship amongst his co-religionists while also facilitating scholars’ patronage of the wealthy Parsi community. Naoroji’s correspondence with the Oxford philologist Lawrence H. Mills, in particular, demonstrates this dynamic at work. These activities point to the oftentimes complex and collaborative relationships that existed between non-Europeans and European Orientalists, illustrating the degree to which European scholars could be dependent on the intellectual, financial, and logistical assistance of their objects of study.
Dinyar Patel is a scholar of Modern Indian history and the Indian nationalist movement at the Department of History, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA.
The Achaemenid dynasty (559-331 B.C.) ruled the biggest empire the ancient world had ever seen. Commanding lands from India to Ethiopia and Libya to Afghanistan, the Great Kings of Persia demanded loyalty and tribute from the conquered peoples who made up their vast realm, and the walls of their ceremonial capital at Persepolis in the heart of Iran abound with images of foreign delegations carrying tribute to their monarch. Amidst the gold, silver, textiles and precious stones brought to the ruler is a rich abundance of exotic wildlife: Asiatic lions, Bactrian camels, zebu, wild asses, and Arabian horses. Textual evidence alerts us to the presence of parrots, peacocks, and wild jungle fowl at the Iranian court as well as the probability that the Achaemenid Persians were familiar with rhinoceroses, tigers, and even okapi. The exotic fauna were living offerings from the four quarters of the empire, breathing symbols of the Great King’s power and his control of his vast dominions. By examining a variety of Near Eastern and Greek sources, this paper explores the rich variety of exotic species imported into Persia to satisfy the monarch’s pleasure and his public image; it explores evidence for royal menageries in the Near East, as well as offering some cross-temporal comparisons with the Chinese Ming Dynasty, in order to question how the ancient Iranians interacted with exotic animals and to question how they were displayed and treated by their human captors and owners.
Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones is a professor in Ancient History at the School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff University.
The Middle Persian (Pahlavi) literature from the early Islamic centuries frequently deals with practical theological issues faced by the Zoroastrian communities under foreign domination. Here, we present a number of questions regarding a Zoroas- trian’s conversion to Islam and his subsequent repentance and desire to return to Zoroastrianism and answers given by ninth- and tenth-century Zoroastrian priestly authorities. It is shown how the priests cite ancient traditions found in the Pahlavi versions of Avestan texts to justify their answers, and then apply them to the contemporary social reality.