‘Emārat-e Kosrow on the High Road

Moradi, Yousef. 2023. ‘Emārat-e Kosrow on the High Road: Recent Archaeological Excavations. Ancient Near Eastern Studies 60: 93-147.

The question of how Perso-Sasanian traditions of palatial architecture developed over time, and to what degree these ideas and traditions influenced the Islamic conceptualisation of a royal space, remains a hotly contested topic. Part of the problem in answering these questions lies with the fragmented and often erroneous corpus of available data. European scholarship going back to the Victorian era has been laced with orientalist assumptions and strained reconstructions, and this bias has been allowed to continue to inform analyses up until this day. Another great problem has been the dissemination of results from archaeological work conducted by Iranian scholars, which has not attained the platform necessary to be widely read and used (perhaps, in part, due to language). This article endeavours to begin remedying these long-standing problems by providing the most comprehensive reassessment to date of the monumental late Sasanian complex known as the ‘Emārat-e Kosrow. The article challenges the established tropes by juxtaposing the extant scholarship with the comprehensive dataset produced by completely new archaeological investigations at the site. It is the author’s aim that the data provided by these excavations and the analysis of their results presented here will allow us to reconceptualise not only how this iconic Sasanian palace was actually constructed, but also to use this reconceptualisation as an empirical basis for rethinking the influence of Sasanian kingship theatres of power on those of the leadership of the early umma, and on the protocol carried out in them.