During the Abbasid period (750-820), the vast territories beyond the Amu Darya river (the Mawara’annahr), conquered by the Umayyad generals in the first half of the eighth century, entered definitively into the cultural sphere of Islam. The comparative analysis of medieval Arabic, Persian, and Chinese sources, supplemented by materials from unpublished manuscripts, as well as the latest results yielded by archaeological excavations at Samarkand, have made it possible to establish a fine-grained chronology of this turning point in the history of Central Asia. Examined in this new light are complex and irreversible processes that resulted in a changed political and religious fabric, transformations of the Sogdian and Muslim elite, and the evolution of the state’s system of controlling territories on its borders, within a context of confrontations and diplomatic relations between the caliphate, the Tang empire in China, and the Turks.
The Short Chronicle is probably part of a Church History that is no longer extant, and it was written by an Ecclesiastic living in the north of Mesopotamia and belonging to the Church of the East. It is an eyewitness report on a crucial historical period, the mid-7th century that witnessed the demise of two contending world empires, the Sasanian and the Byzantine, and their replacement by Islam, thus signaling the end of Late Antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages. The Chronicle may be the earliest Syriac document which relies heavily on official Sasanian sources, includingKhwaday-namag, when it discusses secular history, and on church histories when dealing with ecclesiastical matters. It may also be the oldest Syriac chronicle which deals with the advent of Mu?ammad and the ensuing Arab conquest, and which mentions Arab cities for the first time ever, including Mosul, Kufa, and Basra.
The reign of Husraw I Anosirwan / Chosroes (531-579), the most remarkable one during the Sasanian dynasty, was pivotal in the history of Iran. During that period, far-reaching projects to restructure the state affected all strata of society, royal power was strengthened and the country experienced significant cultural development. No major scientific gathering was devoted to this subject, and here are published the proceedings of a symposium organized in Paris. Its aim was to bring together international scholars from various fields who work on often difficult-to-access or hitherto unpublished source material in several languages. The resulting interactions and intersecting perspectives help to piece together many facets of that reign, thus providing a rich contribution to the history of the East in the 6th century.
Manichaeism claimed to be a world religion. Thus, the problem of translating the Holy Scriptures was of paramount importance. The twelve studies in this volume examine the linguistic and cultural diversity and unique features of the translated texts of Eastern Manichaeism. This book will be of great interest to scholars of religious studies and to researchers in the fields of cultural history and language contact.
The reign of Khusro I (531-579) was a key-period for the history of the Sasanian Empire. Nevertheless, sporadic persecutions of Christians converted from Zoroastrianism are attested. Among these martyrs, there were famous people of civil society such as Grigor Piran-Gusnasp, general-in-chief of the king’s armies, Yazd-panah, a high dignitary and judge, and ‘Awira, a courtier. The most famous was the Catholicos Mar Abba (540-552), who reunified the Church of the East after nearly twenty-five years of schism; canonist and exegete, he also restored ecclesiastical discipline which had been significantly weakened since 484. He is known to have been involved in Mazdeo-Christian controversies and polemical debates with West-Syrian Christians. These narratives written by contemporaries to the events are the only East-Syrian hagiographies of that time in Syriac; they provide valuable informations regarding socio-religious and political situation of the sixth century Orient. A critical edition based on manuscripts from the London, Berlin and Vatican Libraries, including a translation in French with a commentary, is presented for the first time.
Sophist Kings: Persians as Other sets forth a reading of Herodotus’ Histories that highlights the consistency with which the Persians are depicted as sophists and Persian culture is infused with a sophistic ideology. The Persians as the Greek ‘other’ have a crucial role throughout Herodotus’ Histories, but their characterisation is far divorced from historical reality. Instead, from their first appearance at the beginning of the Histories, Herodotus presents the Persians as adept in the argumentation of Greek sophists active in mid-5th century Athens. Moreover, Herodotus’ construct of the Sophist King, in whom political reason serves human ambition, is used to explain the Achaemenid model of kingship whose rule is grounded in a theological knowledge of cosmic order and of divine justice as the political good. This original and in-depth study explores how the ideology which Herodotus ascribes to the Persians comes directly from fifth-century sophists whose arguments served to justify Athenian imperialism. The volume connects the ideological conflict between panhellenism and imperialism in Herodotus’ contemporary Greece to his representation of the past conflict between Greek freedom and Persian imperialism. Detecting a universal paradigm, Sophist Kings argues that Herodotus was suggesting the Athenians should regard their own empire as a betrayal of the common cause by which they led the Greeks to victory in the Persian wars.
About the author: Vernon L. Provencal is Professor of Classics at Acadia University, Canada.
This volume presents a group of articles that deal with connections between ancient Babylonian, Iranian and Jewish communities in Mesopotamia under Neo-Babylonian, Achaemenid, and Sasanian rule. The studies, written by leading scholars in the fields of Assyriology, Iranian studies and Jewish studies, examine various modes of cultural connections between these societies, such as historical, social, legal, and exegetical intersections. The various Mesopotamian connections, often neglected in the study of ancient Judaism, are the focus of this truly interdisciplinary collection.
This volume contains the text of the five “Ehsan and Latifeh Yarshater Distinguished Lectures on Iranian Studies”, organized by the Unité Mixte de Recherche 7528 “Mondes iranien et indien”, and delivered in 2014 at the College de France in Paris. The aim of this book is to take stock of the architectural and figurative culture of Sasanian Iran on the basis of a new comprehensive evaluation of the varied range of architectural and artistic evidence known to us, and in the light of the recent discoveries published in Iran over the last few years. Without any pretence of being exhaustive, the idea is to bring more light to bear on the utilisation of built-up areas, forms of expression and visual communication, and the mechanisms involved in artisanal production. Two chapters are dedicated to the architecture, a field in which we are far from having arrived at a general consensus, while another chapter deals with a category of artistic production closely linked to the architecture, namely stucco work. The other two chapters look into the technical-stylistic aspects of types of production so far studied mainly from the iconographic point of view: the rock reliefs and the seals.
The modern sense of “Greater Khorasan” today corresponds to a territory which not only comprises the region in the east of Iran but also, beyond Iranian frontiers, a part of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. In the past this entity was simply defined as Khorasan. In the Sassanid era Khorasan defined the “Eastern lands”. In the Islamic era this term was again taken up in the same sense it previously enjoyed. The Arab sources of the first centuries all mention the eastern regions under the same toponym, Khorasan. Khorasan was the gateway used by Alexander the Great to go into Bactria and India and, inversely, that through which the Seljuks and Mongols entered Iran. In a diachronic context Khorasan was a transit zone, a passage, a crossroads, which, above all in the medieval period, saw the creation of different commercial routes leading to the north, towards India, to the west and into China. In this framework, archaeological researches will be the guiding principle which will help us to take stock of a material culture which, as its history, is very diversified. They also offer valuable elements on commercial links between the principal towns of Khorasan. This book will provide the opportunity to better know the most recent elements of the principal constitutive sites of this geographical and political entity.