Like all religions, Zoroastrianism evolved, and its rich textual record provides us with the material to trace some of its developments across the centuries. This article attempts to reconstruct an ancient Iranian myth preserved in Zoroastrian tradition about the dangerous powers of the gaze of menstruating women, and traces its development as it grows out of the Avesta and interacts with Western philosophical traditions in the Middle Persian writings of late antiquity and the early middle ages.
I found Prof. Macuch’s lecture at the FAMES, entitled Kinship Ties and Fictive Alliances in Sasanian Law, very engaging. The lecture was in two parts. First, she gave an overview of the Sasanian interpretation of kinship and discussed wealth, property management and inheritance. In the clearly structured introduction she defined the various models of matrimony such as fully qualified marriage, proxy, temporary and fictive marriages and their purposes. In the shorter second part she interpreted the social purpose of these legal institutions. She argued that the complex Sasanian legal system was carried by the Zoroastrian clergy and served to protect the elites’ wealth, preventing it from passing to commoners. In her view, the protection of wealth in this manner resulted in a two class society with a severe imbalance of wealth. She closed her lecture with the suggestion that this imbalance of wealth may have contributed to the collapse of the Sasanian Empire in the wake of the Islamic conquests.
The study of Zoroastrianism is nothing new to the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. A number of formative figures in Iranian Studies have taught at SOAS: W. Henning, M. Boyce, D. N. MacKenzie, J. Hinnells, N. Sims-Williams, F. de Blois. And it houses the only endowed chair in Zoroastrian studies (A. Hintze). The Brunei Gallery at SOAS has been the home of ‘The Everlasting Flame‘ for the past three months, which is even by the standards of SOAS a unique event. See my interview with Sarah Stewart.