Disability in Ancient Persia

Coloru, Omar. 2017. Ancient Persia and silent disability. In Christian Laes (ed.), Disability in antiquity, 61–74. London: Routledge.

Did disability ever exist in ancient Persia? This provocative question is justified by the scarcity of the documentary evidence the historians face when dealing with the pre-Islamic societies of the Iranian world. As a matter of fact, the tradition of theses populations have always been pre-eminently oral. The rock inscription of Darius I at Behistun, which represents the first text written in the Old Persian language, was only composed in the 6th century BCE, when the nearby Mesopotamian world could boast a diverse textual tradition dating back three millennia. […] Given the nature of the evidence, it is easy to feel discouraged about the possibility of having a clear and definite picture of the condition of the disabled in the Persian world. Nevertheless, we can try to explore the issue by surveying the available documents and comparing and contrasting them with external evidence from the classical world.

Omar Coloru, is an associate member of the laboratory ArScAN HAROC (Nanterre). His main research interests include Hellenistic history, history of Iran and pre-Islamic Central Asia, and the relations between the Greco-Roman and the Iranian worlds.