Tag Archives: Pre-Islamic Iran

Between Zoroastrianism and Islam

Photo © Gianroberto Scarcia
Marijan Molé (1924-1963). Photo © Gianroberto Scarcia

Between Zoroastrianism and Islam
International conference on the work of Marijan Molé

Friday, June 24, 2016, École française d’Extrême-Orient – 22, avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris.

Organized by Samra Azarnouche (EPHE).

The works of Marijan Molé (1924-1963) has left a distinctive and lasting imprint on the field of Iranian Studies. His careful and insightful studies on the Avestan and Middle Persian literature, the Islamic mystical treatises as well as the Persian epics play an important role in our understanding of Iranian history, culture and religions. This conference focuses on one of the peculiarities of Molé’s research, namely the scholarly attempt at bridging the gap between pre-Islamic and Islamic Iranian Studies, between the different strata of religious and literary traditions, and between the great mythical and prophetic figures. The (recent) discovery of his Nachlass (IRHT and BULAC) gives us the opportunity to make an inventory of his legacy, which highlights the originality of his approach in the study of religions.

Program (PDF):


  • Jean Kellens: “le printemps des études gâtiques”
  • Philippe Swennen: “Marijan Molé à l’aube du nouveau comparatisme indo-iranien”


  • Anna Krasnowolska: “Molé’s Early Works and his Study of Persian Epics”
  • Michel Tardieu: “Vies de Zoroastre, Vies de Mani, Vies de Muhammad :un apport de M. Molé à l’histoire des religions”


  • Antonio Panaino: “Le gētīg dans le mēnōg et le système chiliadique mazdéen” selon la réflexion de Marijan Molé
  • Shaul Shaked: “Immortality and Eschatology”
  • Pierre Lory: “Marijan Molé, ‘Aziz Nasafî et l’Homme Parfait”


  • Jaleh Amouzegar: “Marijan Molé en Iran”
  • Alexey Khismatulin: “He was years ahead of his time: Destiny of the Unpublished Works by Molé on the Naqshbandiya”
  • Conclusions: Frantz Grenet



The comprehensive history of Iran

Mousavi-Bojnourdi, Kazem (General Editor). 2015. The comprehensive history of Iran. 20. Vols. Tehran: The Centre for the Great Islamic Encyclopaedia.

The Comprehensive History of Iran, a multi-volume survey of Iranian history in Persian language is published by The Centre for the Great Islamic Encyclopaedia (CGIE). The twenty volumes cover the history and historical geography, politic, culture and arts of the greater Iran, including all territories inhabited by or staying under the cultural influence of peoples of Iranian descent , from prehistoric times up to the Qajar dynasty. Many aspects of the religious, philosophical, economic, scientific, and artistic elements in Iranian civilization are studied in this series.

For more information, see the official website and the list of the contributors and the detailed Table of Contents (all in Persian).

The series consists of 20 volumes: Continue reading The comprehensive history of Iran

Space, territory, and ideology in the Seleucid Empire

Kosmin, Paul J. 2014. The land of the elephant Kings: Space, territory, and ideology in the Seleucid Empire. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

The Seleucid Empire (311–64 BCE) was unlike anything the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern worlds had seen. Stretching from present-day Bulgaria to Tajikistan—the bulk of Alexander the Great’s Asian conquests—the kingdom encompassed a territory of remarkable ethnic, religious, and linguistic diversity; yet it did not include Macedonia, the ancestral homeland of the dynasty. The Land of the Elephant Kings investigates how the Seleucid kings, ruling over lands to which they had no historic claim, attempted to transform this territory into a coherent and meaningful space.

Based on recent archaeological evidence and ancient primary sources, Paul J. Kosmin’s multidisciplinary approach treats the Seleucid Empire not as a mosaic of regions but as a land unified in imperial ideology and articulated by spatial practices. Kosmin uncovers how Seleucid geographers and ethnographers worked to naturalize the kingdom’s borders with India and Central Asia in ways that shaped Roman and later medieval understandings of “the East.” In the West, Seleucid rulers turned their backs on Macedonia, shifting their sense of homeland to Syria. By mapping the Seleucid kings’ travels and studying the cities they founded—an ambitious colonial policy that has influenced the Near East to this day—Kosmin shows how the empire’s territorial identity was constructed on the ground. In the empire’s final century, with enemies pressing harder and central power disintegrating, we see that the very modes by which Seleucid territory had been formed determined the way in which it fell apart.

Continue reading Space, territory, and ideology in the Seleucid Empire

Wine culture in Iran and neighbouring countries

Fragner, Bert G., Ralph Kauz & Florian Schwarz (eds.). 2014. Wine culture in Iran and beyond (Sitzungsberichte der phil.-hist. Klasse. Veröffentlichungen zur Iranistik 75). Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.
Starting from important new archaeological findings and insights that have led to a rethinking of the history of viticulture in Iran and its wider Asian context, this volume explores various aspects of the cultural, social and political significance of grape wine in the Iranian cultural sphere. It assembles specialized studies and interpretative essays ranging from the question of the origins of viticulture and winemaking and the trade of wine between the Iranian plateau and China to viticulture and wine consumption in 20th-century Kafiristan, from the place of intoxicating beverages in hadith to the nature and function of wine in classical Persian poetry and Iranian architecture, from the ambiguities of alcohol in pre-modern Persia to the challenges of modernity and colonial encounters.
Table of Contents (ToC):
Continue reading Wine culture in Iran and neighbouring countries