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Exilarchal Propaganda and Zoroastrians in Tenth- to Eleventh-Century Baghdad

Gross, Simcha. 2021. The Curious Case of the Jewish Sasanian Queen Šīšīnduxt: Exilarchal Propaganda and Zoroastrians in Tenth- to Eleventh-Century Baghdad. Journal of the American Oriental Society 141(2). 365–380.

The Provincial Capitals of Ērānšahr, a medieval Zoroastrian Middle Persian text, recounts how the daughter of the Jewish exilarch married the Sasanian king Yazdgird I and gave birth to Wahrām Gōr, his successor. While the historicity of the text has been largely undermined, scant attention has been given to its authorship and purpose. This article proposes that the story’s creators were members of the exilarch’s household in the tenth through eleventh century who internalized the broader concern with (invented) Sasanian pedigree during the period known as the Iranian intermezzo in an effort to appeal to Iranian Jews and other elites alike. Studying this text and its origins provides evidence of contact between Jews and Zoroastrians during this period and offers a new suggestion about the cultural context of the Zoroastrians who produced The Provincial Capitals.