Tag Archives: Kingship

The Legacy of the Ancient Kings

The Legacy of the Ancient Kings. Ctesiphon and the Persian Sources of Islamic Art

15.11.2016 to 02.04.2017
Pergamonmuseum

How did Islamic cultures and Islamic art arise? Where do their roots lie? Like the Islamic religion itself, Islamic art also built on its predecessors in the Middle East. Focussing on Ctesiphon, a vast landscape of ruins south of Baghdad, this exhibition is devoted to the Persian legacy inherited by Islam.

Dominated by the monumental vaulted hall of the royal palace, the Taq-e Kesra, the city today is an emblem of the grandeur and downfall of the mighty Sassanid empire, a great power in ancient Persia about which little is known today. For centuries it competed with Rome and Byzantium. In the 7th century CE, however, the conquests by the Arab armies fundamentally changed the political balance of power. Culturally, too, a transformation took place – “Islamic art” was born. But had everything really changed?

Continue reading The Legacy of the Ancient Kings

Babylonian kingship in the Persian period

Waerzeggers, Caroline. 2015. Babylonian Kingship in the Persian Period: Performance and Reception. In J. Stökl & C. Waerzeggers (eds.), Exile and Return: The Babylonian Context, 181-222. Berlin: De Gruyter.

The Persian conquest of Babylon set in motion a chain of events that eventually led to the partial return of Judah’s exilic community and to the rebuilding of the temple of Jerusalem. Despite Cyrus’ prominent role in the biblical narrative  about these events – and despite the historical reality of Yehud’s place within the Persian Empire – the Hebrew Bible constructs the context of the return as a kingless arena which required a profound reworking and re-interpretation of the traditional alignments between the Davidic king and Yahweh.¹ In this paper, I will contextualize these reflections by asking how Babylonian audiences responded to their loss of indigenous kingship following the Persian conquest – for, even  though the institution of ‘King of Babylon’ with its rituals and symbols survived into the Persian period, there is evidence of profound change during the Empire’s two hundred years of existence. After an introduction, the first part of this paper deals with contemporary responses to Persian rule in Babylonia; the second part moves on to a discussion of the reception of Persian period kingship by later generations of Babylonians.

Review: The millennial sovereign

Truschke, Audrey. 2014. Review of Afzar Moin: The millennial sovereign: Sacred kingship and sainthood in Islam. New York: Columbia University Press. International Journal of Middle East Studies 46. 809–842.

The Millennial Sovereign recovers a shared world of sacred kingship that pervaded India, Iran, and Central Asia in early modernity. A. Azfar Moin argues that a Timurid-based social dispensation produced a particular type of sovereignty in which a ruler promoted his political claims largely through embodied spiritual practices.

Read the review here.

Of gods and kings

I found the work of Brisch inspiring and guiding, when I was researching the theme of ‘Iranian kingship’ in St Andrews.

Brisch, Nicole. 2013. Of gods and kings. Religion Compass 7(2). 37–46.

Read the article here.

Kingship in Ancient Iran

DSC02578_smallI want to express my gratitude to all who came to St Andrews for the workshop. Your presence, the excellent contributions and the stimulating discussions all made the workshop a wonderful success. Thank you.As we have seen, St Andrews is the right place for this type of workshop, and the Institute of Iranian Studies has proven this a number of times. Let’s hope we can keep up this work and turn it into a tradition. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the support of the Sattaripour Foundation, BIPS, School of History and School of Classics.

Kingship in Ancient Iran

This interdisciplinary workshop, organised by the Institute of Iranian Studies (University of St Andrews), seeks to investigate and re-examine intersections between religious ideology and sovereignty in pre-Islamic Iran.

Date: June 12–13, 2014
Convener: Arash Zeini
Sponsors: BIPS, IIS, SoH and SAIMS

For more information, see the workshop’s website.

Public lecture III

03_J2_YH353. The return of the Avesta

It has been argued that the adoption of the Zoroastrian religious world view by the Sasanians was instrumental in maintaining the nobility’s loyalty to the goals of the empire. Most arguments in favour of this view, however, derive from examinations of source material dating from the early Islamic era. This lecture will revisit the pertinent arguments and further discuss previously unexplored textual material.

Speaker: Arash Zeini
Where: University of St Andrews, School of Classics, Swallowgate, S11.
When: 14 May 2014, 17:30

Public lecture II

02_Ardashir_investiture2. The Sasanian Empire and religious authority: The case of Zoroastrianism

As one of the major political and economic powers in the region, the Sasanian Empire (224–651 CE) elevated Zoroastrianism to the dominant religious and cultural force within its polity, bringing to the foreground the question of the interaction between religion and sovereignty in the Sasanian era. By providing an historical overview this lecture highlights the dynamics between political and religious authority during the Sasanian era.

Speaker: Arash Zeini
Where: University of St Andrews, School of Classics, Swallowgate, S11.
When: 07 May 2014, 17:30

Public lecture I

Persepolis1. Mythical kings, empire and multiculturalism: The case of the Achaemenids

The Achaemenids (550–330 BCE) ruled over a vast and multicultural empire, encompassing numerous indigenous and conquered traditions. How did these various groups co-exist in the administration of the empire and influence Achaemenid ideals of kingship? This lecture will explore relevant Zoroastrian topoi and examine their afterlife in the Achaemenid era.

Speaker: Arash Zeini
Where: University of St Andrews, School of Classics, Swallowgate, S11.
When: 30 April 2014, 17:30.