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Iranian cosmopolitanism: World religions at the Sasanian court

Payne, Richard. 2016. Iranian cosmopolitanism: World religions at the Sasanian court, in Myles Lavan, Richard Payne & John Weisweiler (eds.), Cosmopolitanism and empire: Universal rulers, local elites, and cultural integration in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean, 209–230. Oxford University Press.

Payne examines how the Iranian empire developed cosmopolitan techniques through which to overcome the religious contradictions of its elite. The imperial elite of Iranians cohered through Zoroastrian institutions that provided its shared self-conception and normative framework, while the local elites they subordinated frequently practiced other religions- notably Christianity whose cosmologies were incompatible with the ruling religion. Imagining their mythical-historical lineage as the source of all human knowledge, however, the Iranians considered themselves capable of integrating-by means of subordination – even potentially contradictory cultures. The late Sasanian court adopted the cosmopolitan practice of the dialectical disputation from the Roman empire to manage difference, showcasing the banal commonalities of all religious and philosophical traditions without jeopardizing the superior position of Zoroastrianism. In acting as the authorities in intra-Christian disputations, the Iranians even became the arbiters for competing Christian claims to doctrinal truths. Iranian cosmopolitanism thus reveals the subordinating mode in action, as Christian sub-elites acknowledged their superiors as the source of their cultural legitimacy and authority as well as of imperial perquisites
and privileges.

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Sasanian and Islamic Exports to Japan

Priestman, Seth. 2016. “The Silk Road or the Sea? Sasanian and Islamic Exports to Japan“, Journal of Islamic Archaeology, 3(1).

This article considers the movement of commodities manufactured in southern Iraq during the Sasanian and Early Islamic periods to the furthest eastern extremity of the Old World: to the archipelago of Japan. In particular the focus is on two categories of non-perishable finds that survive within the archaeological record: glass vessels and turquoise blue alkaline glazed ceramic jars. We begin by providing an outline of the definition and dating of what is a commonplace and widely distributed ceramic product within the Middle East and western Indian Ocean area. It is then possible to place these finds within a broader context by reviewing the evidence for the earliest West Asian exports to Japan and what these might tell us about the mechanisms of their transmission and circulation and the role of such imports within an East Asian context. Specifically these include glass vessels dated to the Sasanian period followed some time later by ceramic vessels manufactured at the time of the Abbasid Caliphate. The continued arrival of Islamic glass into this later period is not a subject that will be covered specifically as it does not contribute directly to the main arguments that are developed below. Finally the finds are used to shed light on the broader debate surrounding the development of the Indian Ocean economy and to what extent Japan itself may have been commercially integrated within a wider commodity exchange
network.

Seth Priestman is a research assistant at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on processes of long-term socio-economic change, commodity exchange networks and craft production within the Middle East and the wider Afro-Eurasian area during the Sasanian (Late Antique) and Islamic periods.

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The making of Turan

Payne, Richard. 2016. The making of Turan: The fall and transformation of the Iranian east in late antiquity. Journal of Late Antiquity 9(1). 4–41.

Contemporaneously with the fall and transformation of the Roman West, the Iranian Empire yielded its East to Hun—and later Turk—conquerors. This article traces the development of post-Iranian regimes through the dynamic interplay of nomadic and sedentary political institutions in the fourth through early seventh centuries. The conquerors adopted Iranian institutions, integrated the Iranian aristocracy, and presented themselves as the legitimate heirs of the kings of kings in a manner reminiscent of post-Roman rulers. At the same time, however, the Huns and the Turks retained the superior military resources of nomadic imperialism, included the Ira-nian East in trans-Eurasian networks, and distinguished themselves as rul-ing ethno-classes tied to the steppe. The resulting hybrid political culture came to be known as Turan.

The article is also available from the authors’s academia.edu page here.

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The Pahlav-Mehrān family faithful allies of Xusrō I Anōšīrvān

Maksymiuk, Katarzyna. 2015. The Pahlav-Mehrān family faithful allies of Xusrō I AnōšīrvānМетаморфозы истории 6, 163-179.

The article describes the role of the members of the Parthian Mehrān played from the second half of the 5th century on Sasanian courts. It must be assumed that the Sasanian kings ruled their coun-try with the help of Parthian aristocracy. The reforms of the 6th cen-tury could not be directed against the status of the Parthian noblemen in Iran, because neither Kawād nor Xusrō could carry them without the assistance of Parthian wuzurgān.

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Zoroastrians and Christians in Sasanian Iran

Gignoux, Philippe. 2014. Mazdéens et chrétiens en terre d’Iran à l’époque sassanide. (Ed.) Matteo De Chiara & Enrico G. Raffaelli. (Serie orientale Roma 3). Roma: Scienze e Lettere.
The volume edited by M.D. Chiara and E.G. Raffaelli brings together forty-two articles by Philippe Gignoux on Zoroastrianism and Christianity in Sasanian Iran. The collection represents the Gignoux’s most important  contributions on those subject, written over a period of more than 40 years.
The papers are divided in three cathegories: 1. Epigraphy, Onomastics Toponymy, 2. Comparative history of Zoroastrianism and 3. Syriac Christianity, each include articles with different subjects.
This volume is a valuable collection of articles for the scholars of Zoroastrianism and Chistianity in Sasanian Era.
Table of Contents:
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Husraw I: Reconstruction of a Reign. Sources and Documents

Jullien, Christelle (ed). 2015. Husraw Ier: Reconstruction d’un règne. Sources et documents (Cahiers de Studia Iranica 53). Paris. Peeters.

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.

For more information, see the Table of Contents of this volume.

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Anti-sasanian movements

Sárközy, Miklós. 2015. Anti-sasanian movements in 6th century Persia – the case of Wistaxm and Windoē. In Csabai Zoltán, Szabó Ernő, Vilmos László & Vitári-Wéber Adrienn (eds.), Európé égisze alatt: Ünnepi tanulmányok Fekete Mária hatvanötödik születésnapjára kollégáitól, barátaitól és tanítványaitól Pécs, 281–296.

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Encounters by the rivers of Babylon

Gabbay, Uri & Shai Secunda (eds.). 2015. Encounters by the rivers of Babylon: Scholarly conversations between Jews, Iranians and Babylonians in antiquity (Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 160). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.

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.