From Oxus to Euphrates: Sasanian Empire Symposium
From Oxus to Euphrates: Sasanian Empire Symposium


>>From the Library of
Congress in Washington, D.C.>>Mary-Jane Deneb: It’s lovely
to hear this buzz in the room and the — feel the excitement. So, good morning. Good morning everybody. And thank you all for coming
to this first ever symposium on the Sasanian Empire, here
at the Library of Congress. Thank you Congressmen
Raskin for taking the time from your very busy
schedule to be with us. I’m Mary-Jane Deeb, Chief of the
African and Middle East Division. This division has organized
this conference here in the Thomas Jefferson
building of the Library. And this symposium is
part of an annual series that this division holds on
the ancient civilizations of the Middle East that go
back many thousands of years. But let me first start by
introducing Mark Sweeney, the Associate Librarian of Library
Services who will welcome you to the Library of Congress. Mark Sweeney begin his career at
the Library of Congress in 1987 in the Serial and Government
Publications Division. He then rose through the ranks
becoming unit supervisor, reference librarian, and reference
specialist, and eventually served as head of the newspaper section. In July 2002, Mark began
coordinating the libraries work the Unites States Newspaper Program,
a cooperative national effort to locate, catalogue, and preserve
microfilm newspapers published in the United States from the
18th Century to the present. So, you can imagine
how many millions of pages were preserved that way. The following year, he
was selected to be chief of the Library’s Preservation
and Reformatting Division. He then became Chief
of the Humanities and Social Science Division. And in 2012 he became
Director of Preservation. Three years later in 2015, he
was appointed by the Librarian of Congress as Associate
Librarian of Library Services. Mark Sweeney earned a Bachelor of
Arts degree from McGill University on Montreal, Canada and a
Master’s Degree in Library Science from Catholic University. Mark Sweeney. [ Applause ]>>Mark Sweeney: Good
morning, Congressman Raskin, distinguished guests, ladies
and gentlemen, I’m Mark Sweeney, Associate Librarian
for Library Services. It’s my pleasure, on
behalf of Dr. Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress,
to welcome you to the Library on the occasion of today’s symposium on the ligancy of the
Sasanian Empire. This symposium of the first one
ever held on the Sasanian Empire, the last of the major ancient
pre-Islamic Persian empires. The Sasanian Empire extended
from the near east to central and south Asian over a span
of more than 400 years. Furthermore, the empire
left a rich cultural legacy that shaped the region and defined
elements of Iranian identity that remain conspicuous
up to the present day. The holdings of the Library of Congress include the world’s
largest collection of books, monographs, serials, maps,
and many other materials about the Sasanian period. Today you will find a selection
of these items from the collection on display in the African and
Middle Eastern conference room here in the Thomas Jefferson
building through those doors. For their support of this symposium, I wish to thank the Iranian American
Alumni of the Alborz High School and their distinguished
representative, Mr. Yousef Javadi, and Mrs. Saghi MoJabal
who have worked with us to develop the program
for this event. I also want to acknowledge the help
of the Persian Studies Department at Princeton University and the
University of California Irvine, which have assisted our section with
the organization of the conference. Thank you all for coming. I hope today’s consideration
of the contours and the impact of the Sasanian Empire will
be thoroughly provocative and enlightening. Now it’s my pleasure to introduce
the United States Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland’s 8th
Congressional District. Congressman. [ Applause ]>>Jamie Raskin: Good
morning everybody. I just wanted to come by to
extend my greetings to all of the renowned [inaudible] and
historians and experts who have come to assemble for this conference. And on the way over I had a call from my friend Sarusha Habi [assumed
spelling] — who I see here — who told me about these terrible
terror attacks that took place in Tehran that we’re just learning
about with many people killed. And so, I didn’t want the moment
to pass without expressing sympathy and solidarity with
the people of Tehran. But also, to say that the work
that you’re engaged in today, and the work that many of you do with your professional career is
the very opposite of terrorism, which is the destruction
of the past, and the present, and the future. And you guys are engaged in the
work of recovering what is great, and what is meaningful, and what
is salvable from the past in order to make our lives clearer
today and in order to make the future a better one. Always loved something I read from
William Faulkner who said that, “The past isn’t dead,
it isn’t even past.” I think it was Cicero who said that, “Not to know what happened
before you were born is always to remain a child.” And so, the work that you’re engaged
in of excavating, and rescuing, and resurrecting the greatness of the Sasanian Empire is
actually essential work. And so, I salute you for it. I also need to apologize. One, because I have
absolutely nothing to contribute to your proceedings, and two because
I really should be here learning. But three, I can’t stay because I — a meeting has been
called across the street and I’ve got to go back to it. But I didn’t want the moment to
pass by without welcoming you all to Washington and thanking you
for doing what you’re doing. [ Applause ]>>Mary-Jane Deeb: Thank
you Congregant Raskin. And now let me introduce Yousef
Javadi and also his wife, Saghi MoJabal, two people
who have been an inspiration to us all here in this division. It was thanks to their
enthusiasm for this project and their initiative to bring
together the Alborz U.S. alumni to support this project, and thanks
to their own very generous support that this event was made possible. Saghi MoJabal was also the person
who worked tirelessly to raise funds for our Persian book
exhibit,A Thousand Yearsof the Persian Book,
which we’ll never forget. But Yousef Javadi is a
co-founder of LTN Global and its President and CEO. He’s an accomplished
entrepreneur and executive leader in both telecom services
and IP technology. Yousef Javadi brings over 25 years
of experience in starting, growing, and running global businesses. So, you see, we do not
deal only with the past, but also dealing with the future. He has been President of
Nextone Communications, a privately held provider
of software products, as well as President of Sprint
International where he ran all of Sprint’s businesses, alliances,
and relationships outside of the U.S. Under Mr.
Javadi’s leadership and direction Sprint built its next
generation global internet backbone. Prior to that he has held other
important global executive positions including head of the billion
dollar North American operations of Primus Telecom, President
of a wireless messaging unit at GE Capital, and Vice-President of
Global Sales and Marketing at OTI, a startup satellite company
that was sold to MCI. Mr. Javadi holds a BSC, a Bachelor
in Science, a Master’s in Science and Engineering from MIT, and an
MBA from Harvard Business School. So, he will now make some remarks. Mr. Javadi. [ Applause ]>>Yousef Javadi: Good morning. I have the privilege to welcoming
you to this wonderful symposium on behalf of the Labors High
School alumni in the United States. When the Library presented the
idea of this symposium to my wife and I some months ago we
were extremely excited. We were excited because of
how strongly this institution and this topic resonates
with us and our core values. Values that were developed
and embedded in us through our maturing
years and especially, through our educational
upbringing in Iran. It reminded us of what we
were taught at school in Iran and my alma mater, Alborz High
School, as a great example of that. And because of this
strong correlation, we felt that sponsoring
this event under the banner of Alborz High School would
be particularly appropriate. We presented the idea to
Alborz alumni here in the U.S. who were quick to embrace it
and stepped up to support it. My alma mater, Alborz High School,
was founded nearly 144 years ago in Tehran and is known as
one of the most prestigious and rigorous high schools
is Iran and beyond. The goal of this school
was to produce graduates who have the skills and education
to contribute to the betterment of their communities and the
world in which they lived. Alborz’s graduates include some of the world’s most renowned
thought leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists, and academics. Many of these graduates of my
generation reside in the U.S. today. However, the school is
continuing its work and tradition in its place of founding. The events that the Library hosts
and in particular this symposium, embody core values
that all Alborz’s — and I feel mostly Iranian
Americans — share deeply. We want to encourage and support
educational programs which draw on leading scholars
for the benefit of all. Two underlying themes of
today’s gathering are fundamental to all Alborz’s. First, is the value of
education and higher learning. We feel the critical task of any
society and government is to focus on and promote excellence
in education. Science and technology, and knowledge in general
are essential components of advancement and innovation. As a result of our education,
we grew up to believe that facts and knowledge rule supreme
and should be the key drivers of how we live and work in society. Within this context, the
value and status of educators and the educated is enormous. And the recognition they deserve
cannot be sufficiently underscored. We all owe a great
debt to our educators. Secondly, we have a deep
respect and appreciation for our ancient culture and history. As you know, Persian culture is
one of the oldest in the world, spanning over 2500 years. It is a culture that
has survived and thrived over centuries despite many
challenges and disruptions. This culture is recognized for its
contribution to world literature and art, sciences, religion,
and advanced thinking. We are proud of the Persian identity
and relish to hear and learn from the experts gathered
here today to discuss and reflect on this ancient culture. So, with that, I would like to
recognize my fellow Alborezes who came together to
sponsor this event. Friends, thank you for keeping
our community alive and strong. This alum I group stands
ready to engage in support similar
worthy undertakings. I would also like to recognize and thank Congressman Jamie
Raskin for coming this morning. As an educator and an academic
Congressman Raskin understands the value of education in
society’s advancement. We’re fortunate to have a
thoughtful representative like him in The House. Thank you Congressman. I think he left already, but
I want to especially recognize and thank the Library of Congress. Particularly, the African and
Eastern Division for their vision and the effort in promoting
a better understanding of world cultures and literature. Thank you Mary-Jane. Thank you Jirat [assumed spelling]. Jirat is here somewhere. In case you don’t know, the Library
is home to an amazing collection of thousands of Persian
books, dating centuries old. The Library has been very
generous in exhibiting some of this collection including
the other treasures they own, and I would encourage everyone
to take the time view and benefit from this marvelous
historical artifacts. And finally, I want to thank the
scholars who have gathered here to share their knowledge with us. It is exceptional to see such
a scholarly group in one place and be able to learn and cultivate
our understanding and knowledge of a history we all hold so dear. I thank them for being here. Welcome to everyone
and enjoy the day. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Mary-Jane Deeb:
Before we start I would like to recognize the dynamic
force behind this project, our own Hirad Dinavari. The Persian World reference
specialist in the African and Middle Eastern Division. It was his vision,
his determination, and his work for the
past seven months that turned an idea, a
dream, into a reality. His close collaboration with
professor Touraj Daryaee, the Maseeh Chair in Persian
Studies and the Director of the Dr. Samuel M. Jordan Center
for Persian Studies and Culture at University of California Irvine,
and Professor Khodadad Rezakhani, Associate Research
Scholar at the Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-RahmanI Center
for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies, who are the co-conveners
of this conference. This collaboration enabled
us to bring together for one day only these
world-renowned scholars. They’re here from all over the
U.S., Canada, and France to share with us their knowledge and
their research on a civilization that goes back more than
a millennium and a half. Khodadad also consulted on topics
and scholars, the powerhouse husband and wife team Professor Fatimeh
Keshavarz, Director of the School of Languages, Literatures,
and Cultures and Professor [inaudible] Director of the Roshan Institute
for Persian Studies. Both of the University of Maryland. And lest you should think that a
conference such as this is easy to organize and requires
but little effort, just consider how many people
and divisions Hirad has worked with to make this program happen. Headquarters of course, the
African and Middle East Division, where Joan Weeks [assumed spelling],
the head of the Nori Section and I as well as others including
Paul Zaney [assumed spelling] and Anne Brenner [assumed spelling]
provided support and guidance, technical and otherwise, and Angie
Ho [assumed spelling] advertised the program on our social
media and Facebook. Hirad also worked closely with
Claire Dickley [assumed spelling] in the Preservation Division to organize the beautiful display
you will see in our conference room. Thanks to his excellent relations
with colleagues around the Library, John Lore [assumed spelling]
in the Asian Division, and Ken Sigment [assumed spelling]
in the Law Library pulled out books from their own collection
to add to the display. As did staff from the Music
Division and the Motion Picture and Recorded Sound Division. Michael Shiat [assumed spelling] in
Cataloguing found the latest book from Iran and it just arrived,
and he immediately catalogued it so that it could part of the Sasanian display
that we have out there. We have [inaudible] who’s
the Georgian specialist and he brought a book from
his own collection at home so that it could be
added to the display. The Geography and Map Division found
this map here, which is out there, on the Sasanian Empire
and pulled it. Found it among five million maps. One of the largest — well
the largest collection of maps in the world. But they found one on the
Sasanian’s and they pulled it out, they scanned it, they framed
it, and they gave it to us. Which is just wonderful. And we have to thank Cynthia
Smith [assumed spelling] and Diane [inaudible] for that. Of course, there is the wonderful
Wanda Cartwright [assumed spelling] in Special Events who worked
on budgets and caterers and police security, and all
got you all in here eventually. And then there’s the Communications
Office who worked with Hirad on the press release
to let the media know that this event was
taking place in here. And then our web casting team
— and you have them there. They’re with us the whole day. They come to all our programs. They film us and then eventually
make our programs available online for the whole world to see. So what you’re going to hear
today is then going to be webcast and made available for people
all over the world to see. And I assure you, people
do watch our programs. So, thank you Dominique
Pickett [assumed spelling], Jeanette Porter [assumed spelling],
Natasha Ballard [assumed spelling], George Force [assumed spelling] —
who are all there in the back — for all the work they have done. And certainly, last but not least, our own John Regan [assumed
spelling] and his wife who record the programs, ensure that
you can all hear what we’re saying, and that the PowerPoints work. So, thank you all, and I
want to give them a big clap for all the work they have done. [ Applause ] And now, I’m going to invite the
first panel to come to the table and we will start with
the first panel. So, Professor Touraj
Daryaee, Professor Rapp, and Professor Khodadad Rezakhani
please come to the table. [ Applause ] Okay. So now we embark on a very
exciting journey back to the past, to a very glorious
and beautiful past. So, as they say, hold onto your
seats it’s going to be a bumpy road. Well it’s going to be exciting road. So, I’m going to moderate this panel
and the way it’s going to be — I know we all have the programs,
but we will introduce every speaker and read from the bios here
because we’re being webcast. And people who are abroad, around
the country, different parts of the world, and who
would want to know who the speakers are will
only have the webcast. So, bear with us as we proceed. So we are going to — I will start
with Professor Touraj Daryaee who will be talking about the
Sasanian King Transhar [assumed spelling] and all of his gardens. And as we had mentioned he is one of
the co-conveners of this conference. He’s a historian of Ancient Iran,
specializing on the Sasanian Empire. He’s the author of
a number of books. Some of which are in our
display in the next room. IncludingSasanian Persia: The
Rise and Fall of an Empire
, which was published in 2009. AndThe Oxford Handbook of Iranian
History
, published in 2012. He has also translated Middle
Persian texts on history of the games of chess and
backgammon from the Sasanian period. And the rule of [inaudible]
in the 6th Century. The only surviving
geographical text on Ancient Iran. Most recently he has
edited thePartheonand Early Sasanian Empire’s:
Adaptation and Expansion
, published by Oxbow Books in 2016. Dr. Daryaee’s presentation,
the Sasanian King, Iranshahr and the Walls of His Garden will
discuss the idea of Iranshahr as created by the Sasanian’s. I’m not going to say anymore
because we want to hear him talk. So please Professor [inaudible].>>Touraj Daryaee: Good
morning ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for being here. I would like to just briefly
thank the Library of Congress, all those who have been involved. Mary-Jane and Hirad who has
sent us probably 200 emails and gotten as many. As the alumni of the Alborz
High School, Mr. Javadi and your wonderful wife
for making this possible. Particularly happy on behalf of
the Dr. Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies at UC Irvine, who Dr. Jordan established
the Alborz High School which was then known as the American
College if I’m not mistaken. So, we have these very
interesting connections. I have not prepared a
lecture to read from, but rather in the 20
minutes that I’m allotted to really tell you
what this paper will be and I’m hoping these papers will
be published together in a volume. And I think this is quite pertinent with what has happened
this morning — or yesterday in Tehran
with the bombings. Which I just talked to my mother and
father to make sure they’re okay — and is this idea of the Iranians, regardless of its political
situation here today in the 21st Century or in the 6th
Century, we imagine this place as this imaginary garden where
everything is beautiful regardless of its political situation. And what happens when
these walls come down? Either it’s mental or
it’s physical wall. But I have of course not coordinated
in any way, but that is what seems to be quite pertinent today. And so, the Sasanian
King, Iranshahr, and the walls of his garden. I am just going to
be quite audacious with having [inaudible] here. No I can see from back here. I’ll be just fine. I’m not going to read [inaudible]. But I actually like to start
actually with Yasna Feradeine, one of these important hints of
Veratustra where there is a word at work here called Frasha, which
means the act of ferresokarti, to make this world wonderful. And if you just read
the first passage, and so we maybe will be those
who make this world perfect. Now, the sense of this is Veratustra
is speaking of an end of time when the world will become perfect. It’s much more in its
spiritual sense than a real physical
sense you might say. The key men in Persia
who ruled in the 6th to the 4th Century B.C. also
used this term in a different way in rather than this world. In the corporal real world. And they use it in
describing these gardens, buildings that they construct
throughout the empire where the word Frasha is again used
in its Old Persian terminology. Now, we know that in old Persian
and Median the term for paradox — a walled garden — where according to Herodotus they were
everything that you could imagine. A — all the trees, plants,
animals, running water. And this is the sense of paradise
that we get in the Christian sense. In Old Persian, it’s Paradida. It’s median form Paradaiza,
which gives us this Paradeisos and paradise into English. And I would suggest
just as others have, this sense of a paradise does
transfer for this Iranian world into the Christian world. And within this garden
also Greek sources tell us that these Persian
kings liked to garden. I do gardening as well. I just heard that it’s
really good for your health. That’s the only exercise I do. And so, the king as a
Gardner of course is not — perhaps doesn’t start with the
Persians, but indeed we know that Cyrus apparently
liked to do gardening as well as other Persian kings. So, Cyrus of Pasargadae may be one
of these ideal places of paradises that we may imagine, and the
image that you’re seeing is sort of an early couple
centuries ago drawings of this Pasargadae
in a walled place. In a walled garden. Now, Darius is describing a
Susa and perhaps the garden that he has created states that
by the grace of Ahuramazda, great perfection — frasa
— was planned at Susa. Great perfection — Frasa
again — was built by him. This is what I mean by sort
of physicality as opposed to the mental idea of
perfection in the future. And this sense of perfection in a
garden is very much with us already in the 6th Century B.C. Professor
Bruce Lincoln at University of Chicago has already — really, I think brilliantly discussed
these matters in relation to their Achaemenid one
in his bookHappinessfor Mankindthat came out in 2012. And so, for the key minutes we are
well documented and knowledgeable. I would like to take this
discussion a bit forward and bring it to the Sasanian Empire. Because things just don’t
end in the 4th Century. Ideas and sort of mentalities
and beliefs continue. The idea of walled gardens. Of course, we first will look
at the hunting grounds — what we get in Middle
Persian as Paliz or Pahriz. Which is a continuation of
this Paradida or Paradiza. It is aptly discussed — not discussed but actually
seen for example on the reliefs here in [inaudible]. You’re seeing the king [inaudible],
the second in his hunting ground. And again, a place where
there’s lots of animals, there’s music going on,
and — oops sorry — and the king is hunting plenty. So that idea still
continues with us. Now, what I would like
to contend is Iranshahr. The realm of the Iranians, which
is an idea created in terms of a physical space by the
Sasanians for the first time. The land of Iranians
in the 3rd Century. Again, it is a conceptual
idea of an enclosed space. It has definite boundaries. It’s just not an idea that
you find in the best — the homeland of the Iranians. And this enclosed space, this
Iranshahr is imagined as a garden. And the king acts very
much as it’s gardner. And this will bring us just
briefly to the idea of the theory that are discussed today, a
gardening state where the king — or the gardener is very cognoscente
of his garden and what’s in it and what should be taken out,
and what should be around it. And that is quite pertinent to
this idea of the king gardener. Now, just to give you some sense
of this really ideas of space — enclosed space — let me briefly
and rapidly go through some of the epic mythological and
really sort of historical documents on the boundaries of this
Iranshahr in the Sasanian Empire. I first start with this
Middle Persian text that I did when I was much younger. About 15 years ago. I was audacious and
probably full of mistakes. Professor Azarnouche would probably
point those out to us later on. But the text discusses the
Eastern boundary of the Iranshahr. In the brilliant [inaudible] he
set the miraculous [inaudible] fire there and he struck his lands there,
and he sent a message to a series of nomadic lords, probably
Turkic lords in the East. I don’t name them. WE don’t need to go over all of the [inaudible], the
various [inaudible]. And he tells them, behold my lands. Whoever beholds the
movement of these lands is like they have rushed
into Iranshahr. So, this at least seems to be one of these demarcation boundaries
telling your opponent outside, please do not even look
at this land shaking, and that means you
already come there. Now, other traditions — if you’re
Iranian or part of the Iranian or the Persian world, you know
about the Iranshahr Arish. When the [inaudible], he comes out
as an Arasha who later on thanks to [inaudible] we have
this beautiful story of demarcating the boundary between
Iran and what is called Turin. And then agreement is set and
Arash is going to let out an arrow and wherever it hits,
that is the boundary. and you know he tells us God’s
commands of the winds bear the arrow as far as — as the
region of Khorasan, and it actually hits a place
close to the river Balkh. What is really the upmost or the Eastern boundary
of Afghanistan today? Now, more interestingly
in the recent discoveries in Afghanistan among the
Bactrian Documents [inaudible] with Professor Learner [assumed
spelling] has published we have an ostandar of Kadagestan. And that is really the area
— I don’t know if this works, but it’s all the way to the Eastern
side of the map if you can see. Really again by the Oxus River. So, the Oxus and Balkh seem to have
been really the Eastern boundary of this world that Eastern
most Sasanian rock relief, which was again discovered in
Afghanistan by Frantz Grenet, is close to where is the
Shapur Kabeye Zardosht. Inscription tells us that these are
really the Eastern most boundary. Now, on the Western side it seems
that Euphrates was the other river that seems to have been
boundary of Iranshahr. In terms of Sasanian
activity visa vie the Romans, we know that the Romans had built
a series of forts on the Euphrates and in fact there were
wars going on. But if you just take the
words of Fergus Millar, one of the imminent
Roman historians, the idea that the Persians
were never really interesting in establishing themselves beyond
the Euphrates is quite clear. They were predatory until the
war activities on both sides, but Euphrates seems to have
been that Western boundary of a mental image and sort of
a boundary for the Sasanian’s. If you look at Sasanian Mints, again all the Western mints do
not really go beyond Euphrates. And here’s our image of all of
these cities with possible mints. And again, it’s the
west is the Euphrates and that should also tell
us something in terms of this Western mentality
of the Sasanian’s. This idea is I think beautifully
captured in the preface to the old Shahname, what is known
as a Shahname of Abu Mansuri. Where it says the boundaries
of Iranshahr — this is 10th Century by the way —
of Iranshahr is from Amu Darya — Oxus to Forat — Euphrates river and
these other regions are around it. And from these seven regions
Iranshahr is the greatest. This is of course part of the sort of imperial [inaudible]
propaganda of we’re the best. Which the Romans did
and the Chinese did. And anyone who had an empire
late antiquity tried to do. So, this is this idea of the
two rivers acting as a boundary. Now, Sasanians as gardeners,
they had to reclaim this land and the way they renamed cities gave
significance to each of the regions, provinces, and the cities. And of course, they
built walls around it. And this is what gardeners do. They till the land,
they reorganize it. And if you look at the province — for example, I’ve given you
four — of Media up north. Azerbaijan, northwest. Fars in southwest and
Sistan in the southeast. All of these regions begin to have significance
historically and religiously. Zoroaster’s career in Sistan
he was born up North in Media. In Azerbaijan there’s in
memorial fire at Shiz and so on. At Persepolis of course becomes
half the Jamshid Yima’s throne. So, all of these places within this
boundary is given significance. Now as I mentioned,
you build a wall. And in fact, the Sasanians
build several walls. The most important one and I
think majestic one is the Barrier of Alexander, [inaudible]
otherwise known as [inaudible], but
also other walls. The last one is called [inaudible]
which means the Wall of the Arabs. And these walls were built to keep
people from the north and the south to keep people from
the North and the South or regulate their movement
you might say, in a way. And I had to put a picture
of myself, you know, this is narcissism to some extent. But this is actually the
late I raja [inaudible] who I like to remember took me on
this trip to see the walls. he said, where do you want to go? [Inaudible]. I said, I want to see the walls. Okay, let’s get on the Jeep and go. And we found — and as you can
see the remnants of Saddi Iskandar where the midevil Arabic text
[inaudible] also tells us it was during the time of Postrave and
[inaudible] in the 6th Century that this wall was built as an
obsticle against the Nomads. Now I may use the Turks
at that time, but could have been
the Huns much earlier. And this wall of Iskandar — Sadd-i
Iskandar or the Wall of Gorgan is — goes from the Caspian
through the mountains. It’s about 195 kilometers
long with 33 forts. It is indeed the longest
ancient wall in antiquity. We usually know about the Roman
walls and the Chinese walls. But in fact, the longest continuous
wall in antiquity is this Wall of Gorgan, which was
meant to keep people — and these are probably nomadic
people coming from the north which have been recently
published by Nakedness, Sauer, and several other scholars. On the west side of the Caspian
we have [inaudible], Darband Wall, which was also 40 kilometers long
and it had seven gates and we find so far there have been 35 middle
Persian inscriptions that need to be reread again, but mostly —
or 31 of them rather than 25 seem to have maybe belong to
the Aburbadagan amargar. The Accountant of Azerbaijan
who was visiting the wall to make sure the wall was kept
up and the [inaudible] are paid. The IRS of the Sasanian
Empire was at work and you know you do
not kid with them. Again, we have lots of textual
sources for these walls. Again, all pointing to the time
of Hosrove I in the 6th Century. [Inaudible]. So, the Empire as a Garden. So, you built this wall, you
have this sort of physical space. So, who dwells in it? Who should? And who should stay
out of this paradise? And I think the Persian tiles from
much later on and the carpet itself. The Persian carpets really sort of
bring forth this idea of a paradise. This garden. And that is part of
this part of this sort of Persian heritage
of a Persian garden. Mimicking it. Even when the king sits on
a carpet within a garden. That again is part
of that tradition. Now, just to point out that
the Sasanians were interested in gardening very early on,
there’s a Manichaean text from the 3rd Century that
I would like to mention. If anybody took Parthenon Manichaean
I think you would have had to read Mary Boyce Reader
where this section Mihr-Shah, who is the brother of kind of Shapur
the 1st and the 4th Century is with Mani, and he’s an unbeliever
going to Manichaean text. And King Mihr-Shah says to Mani,
in the paradise of which you speak, is there a garden such as mine? Again, the Persian king is boasting
as a gardener in the 3rd Century. And then Mani showed him the
Paradise of Light, a garden. With all kinds of things, and
other desirable sights there. Almost like the Herodotus
description of actually a paradise in the [inaudible] period. And within this garden, in fact
it is imagined in textual sources as a paradise, in a
paradisiacal state. And this should also remind us of
the investa and the story of Yima in [inaudible] to where he creates
this beautiful sort of enclosure where all the animals, all the
living beings, all that is good. Is enclosed there. And the Sasanians created this
idea of Erih, Iranianness, and they gave values to it and
discussed it in the literature. And they said within this
Iranshahr there is order — the order of the king
— and there is beauty. And of course it’s the King’s
Justice that keeps this idea going. And that is a theme that we find
in Middle Eastern Literature. The idea of sort of a just
state and the Circle of Justice. Which has a much more ancient
tradition but certainly in the early Islamic period it
borrows from the Sasanian times. Now, if there is this
beauty, justice, and order, what happens with the “weeds”? If you want to say that. And that brings us
I think to Mazdak. If you know about Iranian history,
Mazdak is one of these priests — Zorastrin priests in the late-5th, 6th Century who makes certain
adjustments to Zoroastrian law, which doesn’t sit well with the
rest of the priestly I think group, and the king uses him for
to make certain changes and when Joseon comes
in eradicates him. And Shahnameh has this very
beautiful I think almost sort of real image of what is going on when the Mazdakites
are put to death. It’s part of the Shahnameh
draft taken from Dick Davis’s [assumed
spelling] translation. This is Kasra of Joseon I. In Jiro’s palace, there
was a garden. Again, a garden — we can’t
get away from this garden — with the high walls around it. Pariesus. Again, we’re
still with that image. It was dug up from the end to end and Mazdak’s followers
were planted there head down with their feet
in the air like trees. So, you can see what the
gardener has done this time. He rather sorts of took the
weeds and put them in backwards. And the story goes that
he invites Mazdak — he says, come and see
what you have planted. So again, this idea of
the king as the gardener. And you can see the
image from the Shahnameh where the followers are sort of put
down is again, very much with us. Now, if you organize
inside, what about outside? Well, the propaganda that is
given here is that the outside where the nomads reside, the Huns,
the Bedouins, the Hephthalites, and the Turks are seen in
certain Middle Persian texts. Certainly apocalyptic texts as sort of the demonic fishers [inaudible]
use for their coming [inaudible] or to rush as demonic
nature but also as they describe these
two legged wolves and so on that we find in [inaudible]. He’s very much given
specific sort of images of these people who dwell outside. And this barrier, these
walls is supposed to keep these people
from out — from inside. Where outside there’s disorder,
injustice, and it’s quite barren. So, I’ve just taken an image of
the other side of the [inaudible] or the Sasanian wall where it is the
devilish space in a sense as opposed to the order, the beautiful sort
of Zoroastrian orderly inside. And this again is part of the
Old Iranian Zoroastrian tradition where we find in the
Avesta the Story of Jamshid where he has built this
primordial paradise. And Yima built a Vara — which is
[inaudible] the word wall in fact, where placing everything
that is good in it. And of course, outside is cold,
it’s sort of full of death and evil. So again, this inside/outside
is very much with us. I would content that Khusro
I, the great Sicilian ruler in the 6th Century created
this paradise imagery based on this Avestan narrative as well. Whereas, Jamshid builds the
vary, Khusro builds the walls. As Jamshid keeps the good people
inside and cold and death outside, Khusro keeps all that is good
inside and evil is rooted out and there’s a wall around it. That what a garden — in a
gardening sense state really works. And to really conclude I
would just like Mr. Khusro or King Khusro [inaudible]
at least from the Shanname, tell us what he really thinks
of this odd Iranshahr as one of his sort of speeches
left after — before his death cited in
Khaleghi-Motlagh’s edition. I hope I can read it from here. This is his speech. “Iran is like a lush spring
garden where roses ever bloom. The army and weapons
are the garden’s walls and the lances its wall of thorns. If the garden’s walls” — again, I want you to see this devar
being continuously repeated — “are pulled down, then there
would be no difference between it and the wilderness beyond. Take care not to destroy its walls, and not to dishearten
or weaken Iranians. If you do, then raiding
and pillaging will follow and also the battle cries of
the riders and the din of war. Risk not the safety of the
Iranians wives, children, and lands by bad policies
and plans.” I think that’s something that
we could all sort of understand. Thank you very much. [ Applause ]>>Mary-Jane Deep: What
a perfect presentation for springtime and gardens. So, our next speaker
is Stephen Rapp, who will talk about
Caucasian late antiquity between the Byzantine
and Iranian world. Dr. Stephen Rapp is Professor
of Eurasian and World History at Sam Houston State University. He received his PhD from
the University of Michigan in Byzantine History with a focus on
Late Antiquity and Midevil Caucasia. His research investigates
cross-cultural and cosmopolitan fabric of Caucasia
as well as the regions membership and the overlapping
Romano Byzantine, Islamic, and especially Iranian worlds. His latest monograph, theSasanian
World Through Georgian Eyes:
Caucasia and the Byzantine
Commonwealth
in Late Antique Georgian Literature
was published by Ashgate in 2014. Dr. Rapp has conducted
archival and field work in all three publics of
post-soviet Caucasia. Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia,
as well as the Russian Federation and in Turkey, Jordan,
Egypt, Ethiopia, and Yemen. Among his research fellowships are
awards from Fullbright [inaudible], and the Social Science
Research Council. So now, Dr. Rapp. [ Applause ]>>Stephen Rapp: First of all, I
would like to thank the organizers and sponsors of this splendid event. Thank you all for coming. The caucuses is the
stuff of legends. Jews, Christians, and Muslims
imagined its towering spires as the resting place of Noah’s
Ark after the great deluge. Humanity repopulated the
earth from this second Eden. The Ancient Greeks regarded Caucasia as an exotic nearly inaccessible
land at the edge of the world. Jason and the Argonauts
peruse the Golden Fleece here. And Prometheus had
been chained to a rock in the foreboding Caucuses
mountains as punishment for stealing fire from Mt. Olympus. Caucasia’s association with fire
is an old one thanks in part to the petroleum deposits literally
seeping to the ground in Azerbaijan. Some scholars have even
proposed Azerbaijan as the primordial homeland
of Zoroastrianism. The isthmus between the Black and Caspian seas is
simultaneously been regarded as an exotic and hazardous place. Pre-Islamic Iranians envisioned
Caucasia as the habitat of demons on the edge of the garden
we just heard about. The menacing north. The great monotheisms of North
Afro-Eurasia perpetuated this northern dread in the apocalyptic
prophesy of Gog and Magog. Fierce uncivilized peoples whom at
the end of time Satan would unleash from their confinement behind
the great wall of rock, that is the Caucasus Mountains. The raising of this wall
was subsequently credited to the world conquer
Alexander the Great. Today, the Caucasus remains
the stuff of legends. In our part of the world it is a
region inspiring boundless wonder and horrific peril. It is conveniently far away from
the centers of Western Europe, yet in a globalizing world
it is not so distant at all. From this tension proceeds one of the most durable
modern images of Caucasia. It’s location at the juncture
between East and West. This binary notion of ordering the
world with its undue privileging of the Euro-American experience
has been massively critiqued. As demonstrated by Edward
Said and numerous others, East and west are the living residue of Europe’s global
imperial colonial projects of the 19th and 20th Centuries. While convenient, such
met geographical concepts like East and West are slippery. They’re saturated in
ideology and ethnocentrism and they are inherently
a-historical. Nevertheless, Caucasia is said to routinely occupy a space
between East and West. This morning I would like
to illustrate the fallacy of this stubborn projection
through written sources produced in the three kingdoms of
Late Antique Caucasia. Armenia Major, the Eastern Georgian
Realm of Chartley calledHiberiain Greco Roman Sources
, and Caucasian Albania. If we accept Late Antique Caucasia’s
position in the interstitial space between East and West then
it would have been located between the Greco Roman
Mediterranean on the one end and
Iran on the other. But this is problematic in two ways. First, as a growing body of
scholarship is demonstrating — some of which was produced
by the scholars sitting in this very room today
— the Greco Roman and Iranian worlds were
far more than imperial and civilizational competitors. And they were not isolated by definite static and
obvious boundaries. Instead, the two imperial
enterprises were tightly interwoven into a transcontinental
social, cultural, political, and economic web. What Peter Brown termed The
World of Late Antiquity. Such ties even encompass
models of imperial power. A second problem was seen as
Caucasia as space between worlds is that the isthmus has
been an enduring crucible across cultural encounter
throughout its lengthy history. When investigated from a
cross-cultural vantage, Caucasia emerges not as a
dangerous exotic periphery, but as one of Afro-Eurasia’s
most dynamic centers alongside Central Asia. Approached as deploying a stringent
East/West divide undercut the cross-cultural interplay that is
the propellant of Late Antiquity. There are two main assumptions
underpinning Caucasia’s affiliation with the West. Around the year 1800 the German
scholar Johann Blumenbach singled out skulls from Caucasia
and Georgia in particular as representing humanities
most important race. Ever since the Europeans
identification as principle modern members of the so-called Caucasian race
has lessened the mental distance between Europe and Caucasia. The second assumption proceeds
from the early Christianization of Southern Caucasia, archelogy
established Christianity’s genuine presence in Caucasia no
later than the 3rd Century. In the 4th Century
the Dynastic monarchs of Caucasia’s principle
realms Armenia Major, Carley in Eastern Georgia, and Albania all converted
to Christianity. By the 5th Century various strands
of Christianity were dominant across the Caucasian isthmus. But at no point — certainly
not in Late Antiquity — were Christianity and Europe
perfectly coterminous. Nevertheless, Caucasia’s early
Christianization has been widely interpreted as an immutable bade
of Caucasia’s connection to Europe. Both assumptions had been
retrojected to remote times. And when I mean remote,
I mean a long time ago. The extraordinary discovery at
the Mona see in Southern Georgia of the oldest examples of Homo
erectus discovered outside of Africa are frequently
identified as the earliest Georgians and as the very first Europeans. But words like Georgian and European
had absolutely no historical meaning 1.8 million years ago. But let us return to Late Antiquity. There is no historical basis
to treat Christian and European as synonyms in Late
Antiquity from about the 2nd through the 8th Centuries
A.D. Furthermore, Christianization did not
necessarily entail integration to the Romano/Byzantine universe. What is frequently called
the Byzantine Commonwealth. In the case of Caucasia, Christianization certainly
enabled more robust bonds with Constantinople and
the Byzantine world. But Caucasia’s existing
sociocultural fabric — one that had been woven
back in the Iron Age — remained fundamentally unaltered
as a result of Christianization. And this social fabric belonged
principally to the Iranian world. Thus, as Caucasia’s indigenous
Zoroastrianism’s were displaced across the 5th and 6th
Centuries, many other Iranian and Irenic were — or if you
prefer Persianate aspects of Caucasian society
remained intact. And did so throughout
the premodern era. So, Caucasia was not so much
a space between the Iranian and Romano Byzantine
worlds, an exotic frontier between civilizations, nor was
it chiefly a passive bridge spanning them. Instead, starting under the Acumens
and through the early modern era, Caucasia was an integral component
of the Iranian cultural world. The broadest meaning of Iranshahr. This was a very big garden. It was very diverse and had
a lot of lovely flowers. Caucasia was a dynamic
and contributing member of the cross-cultural Iranian
commonwealth stretching from Central Eurasia —
Central Asia to Anatolia, and south to the Horn of Africa. Across the breadth of Late Antiquity
even after Christianization, Caucasia’s peoples
were firmly embedded in the diverse Iranian commonwealth. In Late Antiquity, the Iranian
and especially Irenic features of Caucasian society
account for regional cohesion at least as much As Christianity. In any case, from its inception
Christianity fit itself to an assortment of
sociocultural frameworks but not just the Greco Roman. In Caucasia, this framework
was the Iranian world. Now so as to better
illustrate these points, let’s turn to some
contemporary voices. I shall make reference this morning to the following histiographical
narratives used in Late Antique Caucasia. First, the Armenian narrative
of King Khosrov’s conversion, the source attributed to the 5th
Century writer called Agat’angelos. Another Armenian text, the 5th CenturyBuzandaran pat
mutiwnk
orThe Epic Histories. The composite history of the land
of Albania written in Armenian and credited to Movses Dasxuranc’i. And two anonymous Georgian
histories;The Life of the KingsandThe
Life of Vaxtang Gorgasali
. The received forms of both
of these text are based on a lost Georgian source
from the 6th Century. Now according to all of
these Caucasian sources, the social landscape of Late
Antique Caucasia was characterized by an Irenic pattern dominated
by Dynastic aristocratic houses and a super aristocratic family
laying claim to royal status and the possession of the Farat. Royal glory. Significantly in Caucasia,
Bishops — Christian Bishops, fit their ecclesiastical authority
not to Roman or Roman like provinces and capitals — which
did not exist here, but to the prevailing
noble and royal estates. Early Bishops in Caucasia held their
post by hereditary right in harmony with the social practice
of the Iranian world and certainly not according
to Roman practice. Thus, in Armenia the family
of Gregory the Illuminator, the holy man who ensured
King Khosrov’s baptism in the 4th Century,
monopolized the position of Chief Prelate of Armenia Major. The integration of
early Caucasian bishops within Iranshahr was manifest
in numerous other ways. These Christian leaders were clothed in the heroic vocabulary
of the Iranian epic. A tradition enjoying tremendous
popularity throughout Caucasia. The epic history thusly describes
mid-Century Yusik the first, grandson of Gregory the Illuminator. And I quote, “Yusik
followed the apostolic ways of his father Vrt’anes, and was a
son like unto his father’s measure. Altogether, in all things and in all
ways, he showed his angelic traits, and accomplished everything
in accordance with the grace granted
to him by God. He pastured the rational
Christian folk and admonished it with evangelical precepts. For he was young in years — manure
— victorious, tall in stature, with a face of wondrous beauty
and grace, so that no other like him could be found
anywhere on earth. Pure and resplendent in spirit,
he in no way concerned himself with things here below, but
from the days of his youth, like a valiant armored soldier of
Christ, like a heroic champion — nahadog, he defied and threatened
with victory the invisible foe. He had no knowledge of partiality
or of the respect of persons, but bore the world of the Holy
Spirit like a sword at his side. Yusik’s Iranian presentation
is no aberration.” In the ArmenianEpic Histories,
such imagery reaches a crescendo in the panegyric of
[inaudible] the first. Narses was the great-great-grandson
of Gregory the Illuminator and the son of the Armenia
[inaudible] princess Bando Shin. An obvious transcription of the
Middle Raining word for Queen. Bishops like Yusik
and Narses were deemed to be epic heroes of
the Iranian kind. What’s more, Narses
represents the biological fusion of the powerful ecclesiastical
dynastic elite — the Gregorites, and the
political rulers, the Arshakuni or the Armenia Arsichids
in a Christianizing, yet profoundly Irenic society. As we would expect, Iranian and Irenic heroic imagery is
also applied to Caucasian kings and their champion warriors
called [inaudible] in Armenian and [inaudible] in Georgian. Christianization did
not reverse this trend. Indeed, precisely as
result of Christianization, the Irenic epic tradition was
reinvigorated in Caucasia. Not only in Armenia, a
subject extensively studied by Nina Garsyona [assumed spelling]. Here let us consider the
history of Agat’angelos which describes the conversion
of King Khosrov to Christianity. Agat’angelos Armenia text commences
with the Sasanian overthrow of the parteon [inaudible]. At the time [inaudible]
Hosrove II ruled in Armenia. He was the scion of the Aermenia
Arsicad or Arshakuni House and was the father of
the future King Terdod. The Armenian Hosrove was
determined to exact vengeance for the Sasanian [inaudible]
in Iran. According to Agat’angelos, the
time of the Parthian kingdom came to an end when sovereignty was taken
away from Artawan son of Vatars on his murder by Artasir
son of Sasan. The latter was a prince from the
Province of Stahr who had come and united the forces of the
Persians; then they abandoned, rejected, and disdained the
sovereignty of the Parthians and happily chose the sovereignty
of Artasir son of Sasan. Now the sad news — and this
is what is called sad news of the Parthians plight reached
the Aremenia [inaudible] king and at the start of the
next year King Hosrove began to raise forces and
assemble an army. He gathered the armies of the
Albanians and the Georgians, opened the Gates of the Alans
and the [inaudible] of Cor, and brought through the
army of the Huns in order to attack Persian territory
and invade Asorestan as far as the gates of Ctesiphon. He ravaged the whole country, ruining the populous
cities and prosperous towns. He attempted to eradicate,
destroy completely, extirpate and overthrow Persian
— that is Sasanian — kingdom, and aimed at
abolishing its institutions. At the same time, he made an oath
to seek vengeance with great rancor for their loss of sovereignty. So as to emphasize the uncompromised
legitimacy of the Parthians and the blatant theft of the
authority by the upstart Sasanians, some variants of Agat’angelos
incorporate the Parthian romance of Arthavan and Arthashir. In Late Antiquity, the obsession
with dynastic honor and vengeance is as much a hallmark of the Iranian
as it is of Caucasian society. Throughout Caucasia this was
bolstered by the prevalence of royal families having
strong Parthian roots. A circumstance persisting long after
the ascendency of the Sasanians. Significantly dynasties descended
from Parthian [inaudible] and [inaudible] monopolized all
three throes of Caucasia at the time of their Christianization
in the 4th Century. Earlier Armenian histiography
highlights the unqualified royal legitimacy of the Armenian
Arshakuni’s even when specific individuals
fell short in their duties. All the while, it cast
Arshakuni kingship in the familiar terms
of the Iranian world. Following an Armenia led victory of the Romans the [inaudible] II
reportedly acclaimed the Armenian [inaudible] in this manner. “The king of Armenia with his
own might has been our champion and he has performed a
deed of such valor — [inaudible] that no one else
by any means may perform it. However, relations with
[inaudible], were soured and [inaudible] invaded Armenia. In this tense atmosphere, the ArmeniaEpic Histories
repeatedly established Arshakuni validity through the
supposed actions and words of the Sasanian’s themselves. Arshakuni burial sites
were especially targeted by Sasanian generals. Now the sad thing of such sites
would have immortalized the Armenians, but in its
account of the Iranian defeat in the central district of Ararat, theEpic Histories
reveals another objective. And the Armenians put all of them
to the sword, and they took away from them the bones
of their own kings that the Persians were carrying away
into captivity to the Persian realm. For they said, according to their
heathen beliefs: “This is the reason that we are taking the bones of
the Armenian kings to our realm: that the glory of the kings
and the fortune and valor of this realm might go from
here with the bones of the kings and entire into our realm.” Needless to say, these supernatural
attributes, P’ark, baxt, k’ajut iwn — glory,
fortune, and valor are pillars of kingship not just in
Armenia, but throughout Caucasia and the entire Iranian world. Georgian sources apply
equivalent Irenic imagery to both Zoroastrian
and Christian monarchs. The most striking Christian example
is Vakhtang I Gorgasali who ruled at the turn of the
5th and 6th Centuries. The narrative anchor of
the text known asThe Lifeof [inaudible]is a series of
single combats waged by Vakhtang. This Christian hero king worsted
in turn a Hazar named Tarkan, an Alan named Bakatar, a Christian
Byzantine Logotheit named Poly Carpos and an unnamed
king of Sendia. Although always taking pains
to credit his royal legitimacy and physical prowess
to the Christian god, Vakhtang is never made to
enter into single combat against Zoroastrian Iranians. However, under Vakhtang’s command,
were many loyal Iranian champions. The Irenic imagery enshrouding the
Christian Vakhtang is particularly evident in a squirmish with Bakatar. A titian hailing from
Northern Caucasia, the region known as Alania. And this passage was
worth quoting in full. So, you get a sense of
this Iranian type imagery. “Baqat’ar was a giant, a goliat
I, and since the time he had begun to engage in combat no one had
been able to resist him in battle, and he had killed all
of his adversaries. This Baqat’ar stood on the bank of
a river and shouted in a loud voice, ” Oh King Vaxtang, do not be
proud of your killing of Tarq’an. He was not one of the giants and
therefore he was slain by a youth.” Then King Vaxtang replied
to Baqat’ar saying, “No only through my own
strength did I overcome T’arq’an, but through the strength
of my Creator. For the power of Christ is with me, and his honorable cross
is my armor.” He mounted his horse, which
was covered with chain armor, he took up his shield of tiger-skin,
which a sword could not cut. Baqat’ar crossed the river
and began to shoot arrows. By the sharpness of his eyes,
the keenness of his mind, and the agility of his horse
Vaxtang avoided the arrows. On both sides, the
sounds of trumpets and drums rose from the troops. Baqat’ar was not able to
shoot more than two arrows at Vaxtang’s shield,
and he did not hit it. Then he shot another arrow at
Vaxtang’s horse which penetrated. While his horse was falling
Vaxtang rushed on Baqat’ar, brought his sword down
on his shoulders and penetrated to his heart. At that moment Vaxtang’s horse fell. He quickly put out his hand
and grasped Baqat’ar’s horse. First, he fell to the
ground, worshipped God, and blessed him even
more than before. Although we don’t have
time to explore it today, the potent Irenic imagery found in Caucasian text has abundant
visual parallels as well. Most notably is in
the spread wings motif that has been specially
studied by Matteo Compareti. Now, as a conclusion, I would like
to offer a few words about tensions between Parthian’s and Sasanian’s. It goes without saying
that the Sasanian regime in many ways depended upon
Parthian elements in Iran. In Caucasia, where Caucasia
Parthian royalty remained in place, heavy-handed Sasanian tactics
operated alongside measures fostering mutual confidence
and corporative governance. The history of Albania reports
that Shapur II made an effort to identify subject peoples who
should be honored in his court. The status of the Armenians
had come into doubt and the [inaudible] presented
them with an ultimatum. Demonstrate through “an ancient
book Armenian noble status, lest it tells us prized cushions be
conferred upon Audian aristocrats.” The Armenian thereafter
presented Sapur with a manuscript of Agat’angelos’ history, which
the King of Kings “Commanded to be translated into the Persian
language and script when he learned that it commenced with Artasir, his
own forefather, he rejoiced greatly, and moved to tears he praised the
book and held it before his eyes.” Finding therein the figure
of seventeen cushions, he began to arrange
accordingly the seats of everyone at the royal table. Now should this reflect a genuine
event we can only conjecture about the version of Agat’angelos’
presented to the Sasanian empower, the surviving Armenian
variant mentions Articshir only in connection with the
subjugation of Parthian and Parthius fall is
openly lamented here. The Greek version of
Agat’angelos’ uniquely preserves the aforementioned Parthian romance
expounding upon the last Parthian [inaudible] Artivan and the
rise to power of Articshir. But it can hardly be termed
as a pro-Sasanian tract. In light of the considerable
reworking of Agat’angelos’ cycle across Late Antiquity it would
not however been difficult for Armenian [inaudible]
to modify the narrative so as to win Shapur’s favor. And so, if one looks beyond
the triumph of Christianity, much of the surviving Agat’angelos’
tradition would have resonated with the Sasanian’s and other
Iranians for that matter. For it repeated political
and social modes that circulated throughout
the Iranian world, including the heartland
of Iran itself. And this I think is the ultimate
image of Late Antique Caucasia. Not as some hinge between
the mythical East and West, but as a Christianizing Irenic
society firmly implanted in the Iranian commonwealth. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Mary-Jane Deeb: Thank you
very much, Professor Rapp. And now to the third panelist,
Dr. Khodadad Rezakhani, who’s a historian of late
antiquity and global history. He earned his PhD from UCLA in 2010
and is current a research associate at Princeton University researching
the economic history of Central and Western Asia in the
6th and 7th Centuries. He’s the author ofReorienting
the Sasanian’s: East Iran
and Late Antiquity
that’s published by Edenborough University
Press this year. As well as a number of articles
relating to the late antique period. His translation commentary
was [inaudible] of the Anonymous Lake Chronicle
known asThe Chronicleof Kozikstan, was
recently published in Tehran. So, Dr. Khodadad Rezakhani
[inaudible] join us. [ Applause ]>>Khodadad Rezakhani:
Thank you very much. While it’s particularly hard
following Stephen Rapp I’m in awe of anybody who knows Georgian
even if they are Georgian, let alone not being there. And I don’t have as much
interesting stuff as you do. Thank you very much again sir. Thank you very much also for
everybody who accepted the offer — invitation to show up to this
event and including the audience, and particularly to Hirad
[inaudible] for going through so much trouble
in organizing this as well as the Alborz alumni
for supporting it. Thank you very much. As it happens when people work on
a rather limited geographical area, things start being very close. So, both of the previous speakers
said things that are related to what I’m going to present. I’m going to actually talk about
those Barbarians, the early ones that Touraj mentioned,
and one of my proposals is like what Stephen mentioned, that these peripheral people
are not that peripheral. And we are always thinking of them
as peripheral because we are looking at from a particularly
hegemonic point of view. And my idea is generally
that they are not. That second point I
don’t necessarily get to, but I did get to the Barbarians. This is how I go forward
and backwards. So I start a narrative here, and
the point is that narrative itself. As you can see there’s
a dearth of maps. So, I have found a German one. It doesn’t matter, same empire. The areas that I’m talking about
are the areas that on this map are in a rather generous way are shown by the off-orange color
on the peripheries. And what happens to them at
the end of the Sasanian period. And particularly what
happens on the area that is facing the Arabian
region, the Arabian Desert. And specifically, the events
of the — I would say the — about the middle of the 7th
Century, which we all knows as the Arab/Islamic
invasions which we now put at the end of the Ancient Iran. Although that is — seems to be
a very modern division that is of little use to historical inquiry. But that is the watershed
that everybody refers to. So, what happens that we
get to this from that? Particularly from — to this map of
the Islamic Caliphate and the world that gets — the same world
that gets — takes over — gets taken over by the new system? Well, I’m going to give you the
only text slide that I have today. This is sort of a calendar
of key events as I call it, of what is going on and the
things that I want to talk about. The events I’m obviously
talking about are down the list. So I’m talking about things such
as 636, the Battle of Qadisiyya and Yarmuk at the same years,
642, the Battle of Nahavand, which is called the
Conquest of all Conquests. And of course 652, the death
of Yazdgird III, which is taken as the effective end
of the Sasanian Empire, although we should probably consider
it about 30 years earlier than that. And how do we end up there? And my narrative starts
at the top of the slide. The 484 with the Death of Peroz
the Sasanian king in a battle against the Hephthalites. One of the Barbarians
mentioned over there, which are not in their own opinion that Barbarian nor are
they outside the boundaries of Iranshahr as Touraj mentioned. Oxus to Euphrates is a
very useful way of thinking about the Sasanian
Empire or the Arianshir from their own particularly
ideological point of view, but as I have mostly argued
in the book and I will try to touch upon today, the
people over there do not think of themselves necessarily
as outside that boundary. My basic argumentation for
that, which I channeled to dwell on too much today, is the fact that
they call themselves [inaudible] of the king calling
himself [inaudible]. The Kind of [inaudible]. This [inaudible] is not the province
that you’re thinking of today in East Iran, nor is
the Islamic [inaudible]. It is actually a Middle Persian
translation of the [inaudible] which means where the sun comes out. The East. The King of the East. Of course there is a lot east of what this people
consider themselves. [Inaudible] desert. And China, and well Japan, and if you just go East
enough you get to California. So they are not the
East of anywhere. But they are the East of this Iranshahr they’re
imagining themselves to be. And that is one of the
main arguments they have, that beyond the Oxus and
beyond things that we think of as the boundaries of Iranshahr
people did consider themselves part of this greater entity. And as we see, it is beyond Oxus in
the early Islamic period where a lot of this culture that we
recognize as a Persian culture or what we recognize as even the
Persian language actually gets — matures up. So just think of the
fact that the first poets of Persian language
lived beyond Oxus through [inaudible] for example. So these are the people
who are actually between the Juxoraties
and the Euphrates. So the people around and beyond
these boundaries actually end up being the best caretakers of the
culture that we are thinking about. Now, this whole event
starts here in this period. I can’t point to it, but as
you can see, the big blue blob in the middle is called
the Hephthalites Empire. And the Hephthalites come to
existence a little before 484. That king [inaudible] Touraj was
mentioning establishes his lands is probably a Sasanian reiteration
or maybe reinterpretation of what is actually
happening during the time of the famous Sasanian
King Baphomet IV. Or Bahome [inaudible] the
one who hunts [inaudible], who really establishes a
tower at the border and says that the other side is
your empire, your kingdom, whatever you want to call it. The Hephthalites. And this side is my kingdom. So these Hephthalites however
are not very fond of that and neither is the Sasanian king. A series of squirmishes from
the 470’s on finally results in a disaster for the Sasanians, which is the death of
[inaudible] in 484. In a very carefully planned line
of defense by the Hephthalites. These Hephthalites are
the latest wave of what in German the great
[inaudible] the Iranian Huns. I rather use the German one
because when you get to English, to Huns, you think of Attila. I want people to not
think of Attila. So the Hephthalites
are of this group and they have formed
a Kingdome over there. And in 484 when they managed to
kill [inaudible] they really become for a good 20 years the people who call the shots on
the Sasanian Empire. We have them in the
later Islamic sources as, oh the Sasanian King comes and
he gets removed by his nobles and the other one comes,
and then the new one comes. But they all end up in
the Hephthalites court. Including [inaudible] son
Kevat [assumed spelling], who he gets removed
supposedly and the accusation of promoting masochism he
goes to the Hephthalites court and then gets reinstalled. Not by saying that he was
wrong about the masochism — if any of it existed — but by
help of the Hephthalites army. In 498 he actually
takes his crown back. And other than their political
allegiance Sasanians pay Hephthalites a lot of money. Bob Schoff [assumed spelling]
should like these pictures. So the Hephthalites are actually
getting the coins of Peroz on top and making their own version of it. As you can see, they don’t really
care about inscriptions that much. They just copy the coins. So, there’s a lot of money going
from Iran, going from this Iranshahr to the Hephthalites territories and
well they are very happy about it. I think what happens here is that this peripheral
power centrality ends up forcing the Sasanians to
finally have their eyes on the West. Now, this might sound
strange to many of you. We usually know of the
Sasanians from Western sources. We know of Sasanians through
Roman, and later Islamic sources. All of whom talk about the West
inside of the Sasanian Empire. And it seems like the Sasanians
are a very Western oriented power. In reality, when you
look at the sources, Sasanians are quite
an Eastern power. Most of the preoccupation of
the Sasanians in the first half of their rule is their
Eastern borders. The biggest campaigns
are in the East. I’m not necessarily going to
stress the point too much, but I think the fact that
they put their capital on the very West means
that’s the place that they felt the safest about. They felt the unsafest in the East. That is my suggestion
of the whole thing. But starting in the
restoration of Kavat in 498 this Western attention
becomes a major point for the Sasanians. They have to take on the
Western borders more seriously and by the way, extract any
resources from it they can. Because they owe Hephthalites
a lot of money and they have already
paid quite a bit of it. So, from 502 you have the
start of a series of wars. It starts from a war
in 502 to 504 known in Roman sources as
the Anestasian Wars. And these are all of the wars. You can see the different lines
and they all continue until 628. So it’s not a continuous war,
but on and off for the rest of the Sasanian reign you have a
series of wars between Sasanians and Byzantines, often
at a standstill. Sometimes with upper hand for
the Sasanians and less often for the Byzantines until
the Arabs/Muslims come. And these wars continue and they
seem to generate a good amount of money, but also a
good amount of impetus for reorganization of the empire. This reorganization is
known as the Reforms. Attributed popularly to
Hosrove I, but less popularly and probably more accurately
to Kavat, which results in a complete
revamping of the taxation system. As you say IRS is always
at the forefront of every change that we have. So the Sasanians change their
taxation system as well. There is a complete redoing of the
military system and less studied and still underway, a complete
redoing of their social and known structure of the
Sasanian nobility particularly. These things as I said,
are usually attributed to the gentleman here, Shapur I. Obviously one of them is a coin. The other one is a famous relief
on the wall of the House of Justice or the Hall of Justice in Tehran. [Inaudible] as I’m
sure most of you know, is known as the [inaudible]
or then The Just. And is the example of justice
in the Sasanian period. And he is also continues all of
these wars and goes on to take over most of the areas that had been
controlled by the Sasanians prior to the start of the wars,
and slowly expands East. So going back to that map. In the West he runs a
series of conquests. he is rather successful
gains the Byzantines. Not necessarily all the time, but he does establish his Western
borders, including trade towns. And further in the East he finally
in about 670 — is mean 570 — we don’t really have the date,
he with the help of the Western or the [inaudible] manages
to destroy the Hephthalites. So those Hephthalites for — who about 80 years ago
had determined the fate of the Sasanian Empire
are now broken down and their territory is incorporated into the territories
of the Sasanians. How effective that is and who takes over what is a matter
of controversy. But we do know that at least as sort of the central power
Hephthalites don’t exist anymore. They might exist in smaller
Hephthalites entities up to the coming of
the Muslim armies. In this — oops, so
after this event, the Sasanian Empire has formed
itself as an expanding power. It has secured its Western borders. It has now defeated its greatest
enemy in the West — in the East. And has created this empire
divided into four military divisions of [inaudible] in the East,
[inaudible] in the West, Naruz’s in the South, and
usually called [inaudible] or [inaudible] in the North. It has established a
good taxation system and it doesn’t necessarily
seem to be very happy with the state of affairs. It still wants to expand. Particularly in the West. And that happens with
the succession — troublesome succession
of Hosrove II. I didn’t mention one of the kings
[inaudible], but it’s pointless to go through his reign
at this time. Hosrove II in 590 becomes the king. He’s almost immediately
removed by one of his generals, the famous [inaudible]
who initially has him flee to the Byzantine Empire. The various and mostly
Roman and later Islamic — Midevil Islamic sources say
that he goes to Constantinople and he marries the daughter
of the Roman empower. Probably mythological. he does go to Syria
though and he does get help from Morris [assumed
spelling] the Roman emperor. Comes back — this is the scene
from a midevil Persian manuscript of [inaudible] on the left side of
the river fighting Hosrove’s troops. So [inaudible] for a year rules. 591 Hosrove comes back and
starts establishing himself. And shortly after that he seems
to find the perfect excuse to go on with his expansionist ideas. And his expansionist ideas
as I said, are the West. So from 602 he starts his
campaigns in the West. Now, the main motivation is that in
602 his Roman Patron Emperor Morris, the one who helped him
succeed, has been killed by one of his own nobles called
Focus [assumed spelling]. And this gives enough
reason to Hosrove to want to take revenge for Morris’ death. So then from 602 he starts
conquering in the West. As you can see from the map, he
takes over very quickly the area of Anatolia, most of Syria. he goes down towards
Palestine and in a second phase after 613 he starts
taking over Egypt as well. Now, why is this important? Well other than the fact that it’s
a very cool event, it is the fact that he is taking over most of the
areas to the North of the lands where Islam initially
comes to existence. Notice, time is 613 to 628;
621 is the date of Hedgra. So, when Mohamed is moving
from Mecca to Medina, when the Islamic states
— the first version of it in Medina is forming — Sasanians
have taken over the passage that the Arabs have to the rest
of the world from the North. They are in Syria and they are
surrounding the Arabs on the North and even on the Northwest in Egypt. Now, this scene is the scene of
the defeat of Hosrove at the hand of Heraclius in [inaudible]. And he gets in one of the
most interesting regicides in world history. He gets removed —
he’s also put on trial. There is an official complaint
about him from the court. He answers it. He — we have it in [inaudible], we have it in [inaudible],
we have it everywhere. And his defense is not
accepted and he sort of is executed/someone
is allowed to kill him. So they send someone to kill him. So in 628 Hosrove II is killed,
the Sasanian Empire falls into a terrible state of
disarray and I would suggest that this is the end
of the Sasanian Empire. This is the end of the
Sasanian Dynasty for sure. What happens after this is really of
little significance and what comes up after it is really an
internal dynastic fight. The empire is done for. The empire is — the lands —
Iranshahr is going its own way. And culturally and politically,
economically it is already on the way to becoming what we
recognize as in the midevil period as the land of the [inaudible],
the land of the forced, the land of the Persians. And — but before we get there
we have to notice that the power that comes to replace that — as I said, the interestingly
yellow/beige area — as I said in the North is surrounded
by the Sasanians in Syria. But even earlier than that,
something I didn’t mention — because I wanted it for dramatic
effect, is that the South side of it is also surrounded
by the Sasanians. So Sasanians in the middle of the
6th Century had already managed to take over the [inaudible]
in the South of Arabia. So again, notice the
world in which the — in which Islamic state and
religion of Islam is coming to existence is surrounded on all
sides pretty much by the Sasanians. It is a completely Sasanian context. And that is one of the
arguments I’m having — and I’m hoping to sort of drive
home is that in this context, the Arab/Islamic conquest
is not a foreign invasion. It’s sort of an internal upheaval of within an empire they don’t
necessarily directly control [inaudible] although there
are signs that they are trying to control [inaudible]
particularly on the coast. The Sasanians. But the rest of the context of
Islam is within a Sasanian context. They are there where in every
side they look there is a Sasanian government. And they do actually. They look to their East,
the first place they go in modern day Oman, and
there are Sasanians. In the North there are Sasanians. In the West there are Sasanians. In the South there are Sasanians. This is what actually
is how Islam comes to exist in a Sasanian context. So peripheries of this empire —
as I mentioned at the beginning, the peripheries of this
empire are now taking it over. First of all, the Hephthalites helps
bring it to its particular shape as a Western empire and now a
Western/Southwestern power is finally taking it over and
managing to sort of destroy it. I’m not going to go any further
than that by just stopping there in the sense of the arguments
that I’m trying to make. This is the core of
the Islamic conquest. I’m mentioning several
things quickly. One is that notice that the first
centers of Islam end up being in the Sasanian territories. The first time that the Islamic
system moves out of Arabia, it moves to Koufa, just
outside the walls of Hera which is a Sasanian
dependencies ruling over the Arab tribes of Southwest. Right? And when they move in
they move into Central Asia which is their last real
major conquest is 728, the Conquest of Boharah. That is where it really stops. Those territories of the
Barbarians of the East who initially contributed to the
destruction of the Sasanian is where also that the
peripheries of the South stop. So these peripheries finally
end up taking over the center and becoming really the center. So the power comes
from the Southwest. The power comes from the Arab side. And as I mentioned at the beginning,
the culture ends up coming from the Northeast from beyond Oxus. And I just put this beautiful coin because I always find
it amazingly interesting that this is a Sasanian style
coin with the crown of Hosrove II. Outside of it obviously has the
word [inaudible] written in Arabic, but notice in front of the king’s
face is a Middle Persian inscription in the style of Sasanians
and instead of the Sasanian kings
name it says [inaudible]. The thing that I want
to leave you with is that he’s not writing
[inaudible] in Arabic. He’s writing [inaudible]. He’s translating his name. He’s not calling himself
Yusif Ahangar. He’s calling himself Joseph Smith. He has translated his
name into Middle Persian. He is within this Iranshahr
context even from the beginning. Thank you very much. [ Applause ]>>Mary-Jane Deeb:
So he has left you — Professor Rezakhani has
left you with a challenge and we have time unfortunately
for only two questions, after which we will take a break
and then resume with a second panel. So two questions. Please identify yourself
and ask one of the speakers. Okay, be brief and to the point. Yes?>>Yes [inaudible].>>Mary-Jane Deeb: Okay.>>Harry Haedgar [assumed spelling],
research and now retired government. Many of the experts have looked
at Sasanian coins over, you know, many many years and they still have
trouble deciphering the language supposedly on their
numismatic items. And I wondered if you
had any comments on that. Also, the standard — the
Parthian standard was like a touch of [inaudible] and their sort
of thick smaller coins whereas, Sasanian coinage is a
large flan and a thin coin. Any comments on that? It’s an introduction of a new style
of coinage and the successor regimes with the Dirhams, the Arabs
Dirhams follow a similar pattern. At least in shape and size. Is there any special
significance to this development?>>Mary-Jane Deeb: Thank you.>>Khodadad Rezakhani: Can I admit that I didn’t quite
understand the question because of the echo in the room?>>Mary-Jane Deeb: Yes.>>Khodadad Rezakhani: Could
I refer any specific — in the interest of time — specific
numismatic question first of all to afterwards and then to Bob
Schoff who’s better equipped to answer those questions than me. About the language, the language
seems to be quite certain. The Middle Persian written in front
of the face of the king so written in the generally well understood
[inaudible] writing tradition which includes a lot
of Aramaic logograms. So we can read it. And then the other one is Arabic. I don’t think there’s any
doubt about the language and I have not heard anybody
really doubting the language. It is doubtful how
you read [inaudible], but I think that’s how a
couple of us have jobs.>>Mary-Jane Deeb:
Okay, one more question. I think over there Hirad. There. Yes?>>Question to Steve. It’s loud. In some of the early more
self-consciously Christian sources in Georgian would you say some of
the reaching to the west is trying to get themselves away from Iran? You can talk about
[inaudible] or Gorgasali or any of those sorts of things. I know we’ve — a disclaimer —
we’ve published things together. And we’ve talked about how
[inaudible] the conversion of Cartley has — was partly
written against the Armenians who had not accepted the
council of Chalcedon, but could also the entrance
of Constantine and Helena into that source and interrelated
sources be a start of trying to shade over the Iranian elements?>>Mary-Jane Deeb: Okay, thank you.>>Khodadad Rezakhani: By the way, this is Paul Crego
[assumed spelling] our Armenian/Georgian cataloguer. I owe him quite a bit of gratitude
for materials he’s gotten for us. Go ahead.>>Stephen Rapp: All right,
to give a short answer to that really interesting set of
questions, I think one of the things that you’re saying
is an important point that I really should have said
something about in my paper. If Late Antique Caucasia
is so [inaudible] part of the Iranian world, why
do these places Christianize in the 4th Century at all? Why don’t they stay Zoroastrian? And in part, there are
certainly non-Iranian elements in the caucuses. Certainly the royal families
have deep Parthian roots, all Christianized in
the 4th Century. And I think that Christianization
is in part a way that they were setting themselves
apart from the Sasanians. It was in part a political
decision to warm up to the Romans who were pretty distant
geographically. They had to deal more
with the Iranians. They were much closer just to the
South, but by choosing the route of Christianity one, monotheism gave
them some powerful political tools in their arsenal. Also opened up problems of hearsay
within the faith in the 4th, and 5th, and 6th Centuries. But certainly it’s a way to
distinguish themselves even more from the Sasanians to the South. And yes, the literatures that
develop in the caucuses all develop after the conversion
to Christianity. The script for Armenian,
Georgian, and Caucasian Albanian — which has just recently
been deciphered — all were invented around
the year 400 and all were connected
with Christianization. There are certainly some religious
text early on that really — the religious writers in
the caucuses are trying to deliberately remove
themselves from an Iranian context and put themselves more deliberately
in a Roman or Byzantine context. And we get that. But part of the problem is
most of the text that we have in the caucuses are rewrites
of rewrites of rewrites. They’re highly edited,
just like in, you know, the same problem we have in Iran. We have — putting
inscriptions aside, but the literary tradition we
have there’s a lot of editing, and reediting, and deep
manuscript traditions. Many of which are lost. Same thing in the caucuses. So what those earliest
Christian text actually look like is a matter of some debate. Although in some of my recent
publications I’ve been arguing that there was a lost Georgian
history, an epic history that looked a lot like
the [inaudible]. What eventually grew
into the Shanama in Iranian and Islamic world. In Georgia that then became the base of the surviving hypsographical
tradition.>>Mary-Jane Deeb: Okay,
I’m going to take — I’m going to make an exception. One more question, but
to Professor Daryaee. So that we — [ Inaudible Speaker ] Exactly. So is it a question
for Professor Daryaee? [ Inaudible Speaker ]>>Touraj Daryaee: You
can ask me so I feel good.>>Mary-Jane Deeb: Good. So everybody has a –>>Thank you. My name is Isan [assumed spelling]. My question is, do we
have any idea about — I think both gentlemen talked
about the reforming the tax system. Do we have any idea about the volume of the government revenues during
[inaudible], especially compared to the Byzantines and [inaudible].>>Touraj Daryaee: We have
reports of redacted reports of redacted reports of
how much money was brought in from [inaudible]. We get — Nahordadbe and
so on give us reports. Now how reliable they are
it’s tricky but I think at least we know how much in the
early Islamic period they’re taxing and [inaudible] writing it he’s
giving some relevance visa vie how much taxation is coming
in the Sasanian Empire. So that’s what we have to go by. Of after the reforms, how
much was [inaudible] sort of receiving after the reforms? So we do have again, reports
or redacted reports as he said.>>Mary-Jane Deeb: Okay,
so let’s give them a hand. [ Applause ]>>Fatemeh Keshavarz:
Very happy to be here. I’m Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor of
Persian and Director of the School of Languages, Literatures and
Cultures at University of Maryland. And my collaboration — or our
collaboration with the Library of Congress goes back
for many years now, and it’s really a tremendous
privilege for us to have this connection
with Mary-Jane, with Hirad, with the whole team here. It has been really wonderful. So thank you for this privilege
of chairing the panel today. We’ve had some wonderful
presentations reminding us that some ideas of periphery
and walls and keeping people out is not so new after all. And I’m sure that there will be some
interesting conversations also going on in the light of the current
panel, which is focusing on peoples and religions of the Sasanian realm. Our first speaker today is Dr.
Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina who’s currently a [inaudible]
Assistant Professor of Avestin and Palative languages in the
Department of Near Eastern — or Near and Middle
Eastern Civilizations at the University of
Toronto in Canada. Professor Vevaina earned his
PhD in 2007 from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and
Civilizations at Harvard University. And soon after that in the year 2010
he was actually a national endowment — a Fellow of the National
Endowment for the Humanities. He has taught courses
related to ancient and the late antique
[inaudible] both on the undergraduate
and graduate level. Also related to Zoroastrianism. And he’s completing currently a book on Zoroastrian scriptural
interpretations in late antiquity. So, with that in mind and his book
length project on Zoroastrian coming out very soon we hope I’m
inviting Professor Vevaina to speak to us today about Zoroastrianism
and Manekism in the Sasanian world and beyond. Please welcome Professor Vevaina. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina:
So, before I begin I would like to express my great honor
at being asked to speak here at the Library of Congress. All thanks to Touraj
Daryaee, Khodadad Rezakhani. I would also like to express
my gratitude to Hirad Dinavari, his technical staff, and the Alborz
High School alumni for allowing us to gather here today
and showcase the value of scholarly work on
pre-modern Iran. The killing of the Prophet
Mani, the eponymous founder of the Manichaeism religion
in the 3rd Century was one of the most discussed
events in late antiquity. From being labeled a heretic,
lunatic, seducer, maniac, pseudo prophet, and
my personal favorite, a nimble-fingered thief do amene
[inaudible] sensitive treatment of Mani in his novel
The Gardens of Light
. Mani’s fascinating life and
gruesome death have long captured our imaginations. As you can see the number one
on the projector, Ibn al-Nadim, the great Muslim scholar
of the 10th Century stated, Mani was put to death during
the reign of Bahram b. Sabur. After he executed him he
suspended him in two pieces, one half over a certain gate and
the other half over a different gate of the city of Junday sabur. These two places received the
designations ‘the upper part of the Lord’ and ‘the
lower part of the Lord’. It is said that he has been
previously imprisoned by Sabur, but after Sabur died
Bahram feed him. It is also said that he
died while in prison, but there is no uncertainty
regarding his crucifixion. This highly evocative description of Mani’s ultimate demise
beautifully captures the dilemmas we scholars face while
studying the Sasanians. Since all of our narrative
historical sources for Iranian religious
history were either written by the much later Muslim scholars
writing Arabic and Persian or we have to be content with the
histories and chronicles written by their traditional enemies,
the Romans and Byzantines. Or Christian communities composed
of former Zoroastrians writing in Syriac and of course the
underappreciated sources Armenia and Georgia. I might have left out
the Jewish sources. Apologies. What we do have in the way
of securely datable sources from the actual Sasanian period
are royal inscriptions and reliefs, coins, seals, bullae, and papyri. All of which reflect forms of a rich and varied Zoroastrian
political theology. But that typically do not formally
explicate their own symbolism in a self-reflective manner. What I would like to do today is
to show you how the hermeneutical or interpretive traditions
in Zoroastrian Middle Persia or Palative literature are redacted
in the early Islamic period has much to contribute to a
richer understanding of Sasanian historiography. I will do so by showcasing how the
Manicheans writing in Parthian, the Zoroastrians producing
hermeneutical legal and polemical texts in
Palatian [inaudible], and the Islamic heraseyographers
writing in Arabic all made meaning of the death of Mani at
the hands of Behram I. In my opinion, no figure better
embodied the cosmopolitanism of the Sasanian world than Mani. As the founder of the world’s first
truly universalizing religion, Mani claimed to be inheritor of
prophets like Jesus, the Buddha, and Zarathustra, all the while
joined from traditions associated with biblical patriarchs
such Seth, Noah, and Enoch. And apostles like Paul, upon
whom Mani modeled his church. Echoing the title of my talk, let us begin by looking beyond
the Sasanian realm to the East. As you can see in slide number
two in lines one through four, in a Manichaean/Parthian text on the
death of Mani from the Turfan oasis in Western China, we find references
to his [inaudible] or par nirvana. A Buddhist term signifying
a blessed state of death in which the deceased is freed from
the cycle of birth and rebirth. And I quote, “And he Mani
was unconscious and died. Such was the parinirvana of our
father, as this is written.” The religious and cultural
cosmopolitanism of this text is once again
showcased in lines seven through ten when the Manichaean’s — sorry — when the Manichaean’s referred
to their Lord and Messiah as [inaudible] or crucifixion. And I quote, “When as we all know
as for when Jesus to the Messiah of us all, the Lord was crucified.” Here in the text we find the
Manichaean’s also drawing upon their inherited Christian symbolism. Thus equating Mani’s death at the
hands of the Sasanians with that of a prophetic forerunner,
namely Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice. East truly meets West. In Sasanian studies, Mani’s death is
discussed most often in conjunction with the Zorastrin imperial response
to ethnoreligious diversity found in the contemporaneous
3rd Century reliefs of the Zorastrin high
priest Caridier. Who unabashedly states, “And Jews,
Buddhists, Hindus, Nazarenes, Christians, Baptists,
and Manichaean’s/zandig within the realm were struck
down idols were destroyed, dwellings of the demons
were ruined and turned into thrones and seats
for the gods.” This passage has been
discussed ad naseum, especially since it is right here that we have the first
attestation of the term zandig. Later used by Muslims
for the Manichaean’s. What is far less well-known however
is the explicitly isogenic act of reading the death of Mani into
the gothos or forms of Zarathustra in the hermeneutical tradition
in [inaudible] literature. The text in question is the
9th book of the Denkard, the largest extent Palative text,
estimated at some 170,000 words. Denkard book nine purports
to be a [inaudible] resume of a lost Palavey translation,
commentary or zand of a putative [inaudible] commentary
or mask on the old evestan gothos. Basically, we have stage one
from mid-second millennium BCE. An stage four from the early 11th
Century C.E. some 2,500 years later. While the myriad issues
of textual transmission and interpretive fidelity
are beyond our scope today, what should interest us is not
just the fact that the gothos from two millennia earlier were
read as having something to say about a major sociopolitical event, rather it is the isogenical
technique of reading into the gothos here which
is particularly fascinating. And the passage in Denkard 9 states,
and about the sign of Mani crippled by the lie and the wicked
hearers — niyosag — of his, and the beating which
came upon him from the Lord of the Land — presumably Behram I. And this too, he is wicked who
gives my world to the vengeful one, Ahrimen, he will have raised
up the wound demon himself. That is, he will have been
set in motion for the death of the world of the Righteous. The text then goes on to
quote Mani as having boasted, “I am better suited for the — ” “I am better suited
for the office of Rad and the office of the Dastwar. With the Denkard text consequently
critiquing Mani by stating, but that is not the
way Zarduxst did it. He — Mani — makes
men devour mutrisn.” Something like filth. And he says to them, eternal life. That is, there is eternal
life from it for those who were made to devour mutrisn. Then they think, the
sacrifice the demons is best. Besides the rather opaque
traditional inter-significations used by the Zoroastrian
priests as weapons of polemic, how and why is Mani found in the gothic commentary
in the first place? What line, formula, word, or concept in the original sacred scriptures
motivates this isogenical textual practice? The second millennia BCE,
gothic [inaudible] base text that triggers this radical
interpretation appears to be Yasna 46.7, which is part
of Zartrush [inaudible] complaint as he was facing persecution
and a lack of social acceptance. And I quote, “But whom do you
appoint as guardian for one such as me, O Mazda, when
the deceitful one tries to seize me in order to injure me.” And Zarathustra then adds in Yasna
46.8, if someone who places my herds through sin, may destruction not
reach me through his actions. May it, in response, come upon him
for that hostility onto his body. The gothic text here in line with
its epidictic genre of praise and blame poetry, that is
praise God and score evil, suggests that the poet priest — presumably Zarathustra and
his priestly followers — will not be held liable for the
misdeeds of the wicked ones. The late antique [inaudible]
to translation come commentary of these ancient Avestan
scriptures renders this as he — presumably Mani — who gives my
world to that vengeful one — [inaudible] — he gives
away property to the authority of the heretics. here, the world or [inaudible], that
is modern [inaudible] is glossed by the concept of property or
[inaudible] and it is given away through the authority or power
of the heretics of ahlomoyan, understood in Denkard book nine to
be none other than the Manichaean’s who were notorious for their
renunciations of philosophy. And a little later in Pahlavi of
Yasna 46.8, we find it stated, to the bodies of the
heretics and the man — presumable Mani, the ruler comes. That is, he takes retribution
on them. What we have here is
truly fascinating. Bronze Age references to moveable
property or herds and the lack of social acceptance of an archaic
priestly poet sacrificer are allegorically re-tasked in the late
antique and early Islamic contexts, and subsequently understood as a
scriptural proof or justification for two actual historical events
in the early Sasanian period. One, the renunciation of
property by the Manichaeans, and the subsequent seizure of
their property by the Sasanians. And two, the killing of Mani by
Bahram I in 274 C.E. For the seizure of Manichaean property, we can
once again look beyond the Sasanian world, this time to the West, to
legislation issued in 381 C.E. by the Roman Emperor Theodosius
in order to limit the philanthropy of Mani’s hearers or auditories in
the — for the benefit of the elect or electing of his church. “If any Manichaean man or woman from
the day of the law enacted long ago, and originally by our parents,
has transmitted his own property to any person whatsoever, by
having made a will or under title of any liberality whatsoever,
or by form of donation, or if anyone of these persons
has been enriched by grant of an inheritance entered
through any form whatsoever, since immediately from
the said persons under branded infamy’s perpetual
stigma, we withdraw all capability of making a will and of
living under Roman law. And since we do not permit them to
have the power either of leaving or taking any inheritance, the
whole by an immediate investigation on the part of our treasury,
should be joined to its resources.” Just as we see in the West, we
can look within the Sasanian world for confirmation of these property
seizures by turning our gaze back to the [inaudible] resources, namely
the “Madayan I Hazar Dadestan,” or “Book of a Thousand Judgments,”
a Sasarnian era law code. It explicitly discusses the seizure
of property due to heresy, zandigih, a term most often associated with
the Manichaeans, as we saw earlier in [inaudible] inscription. The “Madayan” states, “The property
of the sorcerer, jadug xwastag, such as he has, when they firmly
establish his being a sorcerer, shall be held by the Rad,” that
is the supreme priestly authority. In isolation, the passage I have
just cited is not absolutely probative, but the
“Madayan” then adds, “Heresy is sorcery,”
zandigih jadugih. And finally, it declaims, “Due
to practicing heresy,” zandigih, “and following the
beliefs of the heretic, one’s property is seized
for the treasury.” So what do we have here in
terms of the relationship between Sasanian jurisprudence
administered largely by priests and the Zoroastrian
hermeneutical tradition, also produced by the
priesthood, in a different sector of the knowledge economy? From the perspectives of
the emic, or traditional, interpreters of a religious
tradition, in this case the [speaking
in foreign language], their only obligation was to
make meaning, produce theology, by grappling with the profound
hermeneutical challenge of constantly enlivening their
received past of archaic myth and ritual from the
[inaudible] world. I would argue that they
did so assiduously, using tradition-constituted
forms of allegoresis, what I colloquially call
Zoroastrian thought, to speak to their contemporary
social realities by expanding, not delimiting, the
spiritual and semantic range of scriptural understanding. For them, just as it was
for the rabbis, scripture, in this case the “Avesta,” spoke
for an already-encoded all forms of lived human experience
within human history and cosmic temporality,
including all future religious and political events. The Manichaean challenge of an aggressively
inter-confessional nature was so threatening to the
Zoroastrian priesthood precisely because of Mani’s promiscuous
borrowing form the theological terms, concepts, and deities
from the native Iranian that is Zoroastrian tradition,
as when Mani says, “Fourth, this revelation of the
two principles/origins, and my living books/scriptures,
wisdom, and knowledge, are more and better than those of the
religions of the ancients.” The “Skand-gumanig Wizar,” a tenth
century polemic on the sorcery, jadugih, of Manichaean
doctrine, written in Pazand — that is, Middle Persian
written in the Avestan alphabet, with glosses added from
its Sanskrit version — states, “I have completely
escaped the doubt, and errors, and deceptions, and evil of the
false doctrines, and especially from the greatest deceiver,
the worst teacher, the airhead Mani whose
false doctrine is sorcery, and whose religion, din, is
deceit, and whose teaching is evil, and whose custom is
spread in secret.” One person’s esotericism is
another person’s occultism. Al-Mas udi, living in tenth
century Baghdad, the precise place where the [inaudible] was written
some 60 years later, tells us, “We report that Mani, the son
of Yazid, disciple of Qardun, came to Bahram and presented
to him the dualist doctrines. He cunningly accepted them until
he had gathered his missionaries, who were dispersed across the
lands, those of his disciples who preached the dualist
doctrines to the people. Then he,” that’s Bahram,
“killed him, and he killed the leaders
of his disciples. The word zindiqa was
created in the days of Mani, with whom the zanadiqa
are associated. And regarding this, when Zaradusht
the son of Asbiman, spitaman, whose genealogy we
have already mentioned, brought to the Persians a book
called the “Bista,” that’s “Avesta,” “in the first language of the
Persians, he gave it a commentary, tafsir, called the “Zand.” And he gave this commentary
a gloss called “Bazand”, Pazand, as we have said before. The “Zand” was an explanation for the esoteric/allegorical
interpretation, ta wil, of the ancient revelation. Whoever there was in their religion
who adduced anything in opposition to the revelation,
that is the “Bista,” and who turned toward the
esoteric/allegorical interpretation, that is the “Zand,” they would
say, “He is a zandi,” referring to the name of the interpretation,
which shows that he had moved from the exoteric meanings
of the revelation to the esoteric interpretation. And this is in contradiction
to the revelation. When the Arabs came, they took
this term from the Persians, and they pronounced it
zindiq and Arabized it.” While many of us have read this
passage and others like it as part of the Manichaean/Zandi question
connected to Islamic heresiography, I believe al-Mas udi is also
giving us an eyewitness proof, through Islamic eyes, no doubt,
of the very contested process of allegoresis within
the Zoroastrian tradition that I have been discussing today. We have largely ignored the
knowledge production of the quote, unquote Zoroastrian Zindiqs
because we, the philologists, as root etymological fetishizers, continue to perceive their
allegorical textual practices to be bad philology. I would contend that allegoresis —
that is the expansion of meaning — as knowledge from the [speaking in
foreign language] religion, or Den, was used as a defense
of the idealized view of the Sasanian status
quo and can best be seen in another [inaudible] passage
on heresy in “Denkard Book III” in a chapter entitled, “The
Protection of the Knowledge of the Religion, Den, from the
Destruction of the Heretics.” “And one is the discernment by
the enumerators and teachers of the religion from which comes the
protection of the proper knowledge of the religion from the
destruction of the heretics. In a truthful manner,
through good authority, there will be the going
forth of the religion,” Den, “and through the arrangement
of kingship, xwadayih, there will be the management
of the world.” Here we see the deployment of
a Sasanian theological trope and [inaudible] much better known
from [speaking in foreign language], an Islamic political theory, from
none other than al-Mas uri himself and others, who commonly site
the founder of the Sasanians, Ardashir I, as saying,
“Religion, Den, and kingship, mulk, are two brothers, and neither
can dispense with the other. Religion is the foundation
of kingship, and kingship protects religion. For whatever lacks a
foundation must perish, and whatever lacks a
protector disappears.” Mani and his followers’
cosmopolitanism threatened its highly idealized view of the
relationship between priestly and royal power in Sasanian Iran, so much so that the Sasanian
kings felt compelled to kill Mani, while the Zoroastrian priestly
counterparts felt equally compelled to mock and reject Mani’s claims
to being a latter-day Zarathustra. And in doing so, ironically
enough, they immortalized him as a persecuted prophet, and read
his ultimate device into the Gathas. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Fatemeh Keshavarz: Thank
you very much, Dr. Vevaina, for that beautifully crafted
discussion of interpretations and allegorical readings of texts, which again has very modern
echoes for all of us today. And the more we listen today, we
see how the borders we created between past and present are really
more imaginary than they exist. Also, thank you so much to Al
Borzean High School people here for brining — can you imagine that
a high school established in Iran so long ago is bringing such
learned echoes to the Library of Congress and to all of us? That’s wonderful. Thank you. [ Applause ] Thank you, and our next
distinguished speaker, Professor Scott McDonough, is an
Associate Professor of History at William Patterson
University in New Jersey. His research interests lie
in the social, institutional, and religious history of
late Ancient West Asia, especially pre-Islamic
Iran and Caucasia. He’s currently working on a
monograph, the title of which is “Sasanian Iran, Power,
Patronage, and Piety.” And the book is going
to appear in 2018. The title of Professor McDonough’s
presentation today is “Queen Shirin and the Churches of the East,
Christianity in Sasanian Iran.” Sounds to be very, very
interesting to listen to. Thank you, please welcome. [ Applause ]>>Scott McDonough: First, I, too,
would like to thank the organizers for inviting me here, to
all the presenters so far for their very stimulating talks,
and what I am sure will be a set of even more stimulating
papers in the afternoon. And in addition, I’d like to
thank all of you for coming out. Okay, let me see if I
know how to use this. Okay, shortly after his
restoration to the throne in 591, the Sasanian King Khosrow
II presented two remarkable benefactions to the shrine of
the Christian Saint Surgius in Byzantine Sergiopolis. For the first, Khosrow restored
to the shrine a cross taken in an earlier period of estrangement
between Byzantium and Iran and provided a second cross
inscribed with the king’s thanks to the saint for aiding
in his removal of the usurper Bahram Chobin. The second gift contained
a number of things — a number of varied gifts and a
plate inscribed, “Not for the sight of men,” giving the
king’s thanks to the saint for helping his Christian
wife Shirin conceive a child. Kho row’s devotion to the shrine of St. Sergius displays the complex
interconnections of faith, power, and legitimacy in the
late ancient world. Khosrow came to power in a coup
against his father, Hormizd IV, orchestrated by his uncles
from the aristocratic house of the Ispahbudhan. Khosrow was then in turn deposed
by the Chief General of his empire, Bahram Chobin, scion of another
of the empire’s great families. Forced to flee to the protection
of the Byzantine Emperor Maurice, Khosrow’s restoration to
the throne was supported by a foreign Christian ruler,
and more significantly, by his own Christian subjects. Khosrow’s thank offerings to a
Christian military saint popular in both Byzantine and Sasanian lands
emphasized the harmonious relations between Khosrow and the
Christians of the Sasanian East, and the prominent role of
his wife in shaping them. Shirin, paramount Queen of Khosrow, is one of the best documented
figures of the late Sasanian period, appearing in numerous accounts of
Greek — in Greek, Armenian, Syriac, Arabic, Persian, and
other languages. Her central role in the poetry
of later Persian authors such as Ferdowsi and
Nizami testifies to her continuing importance
in the mythologizing of the pre-Islamic
kings of Iranshahr. Yet as a Christian,
she appears especially in early historical accounts written within the empire’s diverse
Christian communities, the East Syrian Church
of the East, West Syrian and Armenian miaphysite
Christian churches, Caucasian Albanian,
and Chalcedonian. Well, it can be difficult
to sort the myth from the late Sasanian
reality of Shirin. Here status as queen, courtier,
and Christian provides us with a fascinating window
into the complex place of Christians in the Sasanian East. As a subordinate minority
population, as vital supporters of Sasanian dynastic power, and as
a rapidly-expanding religious — set of religious communities
locked in complex intra- and inter-confessional competition. The Sasanian world was home to
significant Christian populations at least as far back
as the third century. From the start, the
Christian communities of the Sasanian Empire were diverse,
originating in distinct episodes of proselytization and sometimes
deportation, of culturally, geographically, and linguistically
disparate populations. One of the more significant cultural
divides among Christians was the organization of churches
around urban communities in greater Mesopotamia
and Khuzestan, and around aristocratic families
and inherited priestly offices in the Armenian high lands, and
perhaps the Iranian Plateau. We’ve already heard about
that from Steve’s talk. Thus, one might make an argument for
the existence of distinct lowland and highland churches
in Sasanian lands, the former serving largely
Aramean and Greek audiences, the latter encompassing
Iranians, Armenians, Iberians, and Caucasian Albanians, often lumped together
conceptually as Arians. The growth of the Sasanian Empire’s
Christian communities did not go unnoticed by the Sasanian kings and the Zoroastrian
elites of their empire. The third and fourth century saw
several episodes of persecutions by Zoroastrian priests and
supporters of the Sasanian dynasty. However, these generally arose in
periods of conflict between Iran and Christian Byzantium when
Sasanian Christians were seen as a sort of fifth column
for the empire to the west. However, as Zoroastrians tended
to view their faith as a marker of ethnicity, a characteristic
specifically of Arian peoples, the fiercest opposition to
Christianity arose from instances of Arian apostasy, particularly
in the kingdoms of Caucasia and among the aristocrats
of the Iranian Plateau. Nevertheless, efforts
to stem the spread of Christianity among Sasanian
subjects were piecemeal and ultimately futile,
for reasons which are kind of outside the scope of this paper. By the time of Shirin in the sixth
and seventh century, our sources, admittedly mostly Christian
and anecdotal, suggest that Christians made up an
absolute majority of the population of the empire’s western
regions, Greater Caucasia, Greater Mesopotamia, and Shirin’s
probable homeland, Khuzestan. By the early seventh century, the East Syrian Synotacon Orientali
[assumed spelling] documents an extensive network of
episcopacies stretching across the Sasanian
realm into Central Asia. Christian churches,
martyria, monasteries, and other holy sites came to
dot the Sasanian countryside. While few Sasanian Christian
sites have seen systematic modern excavation, circuitous collection
of artifacts supports the impression of an intensive Christianization
of the late Sasanian landscape. It is perhaps not surprising, then,
that the Sasanian kings sought to assert their authority over the
Christian’s spiritual landscape of their empire. Earlier kings had been
somewhat uncomfortable with the direct support
of Christian shrines. Indeed, in the fifth century
Yazdegerd I even allowed the Byzantine bishop Marutha of
Maipherqat to remove all the relics of Christians martyred in Sasanian
lands to his [inaudible] back home in the Byzantine Empire, which Marutha then
renamed Martyropolis, the city of the martyrs. Yet with his Christian Queen Shirin, Khosrow became an enthusiastic
patron of Christian holy sites, churches, and monasteries. The Syriac “Life of the
Catholicos [inaudible]” notes that Shirin induced her husband
to build a monastery in Ctesiphon, while other sources describe the
construction and provisioning of the church and monastery
associated with the massive Sasanian
royal complex of Qasr-e Shirin. Oops, this one there. This presents a number
of interesting questions. Was Shirin truly the inspiration for
royal patronage of Christian sites? Was Shirin a convenient front for
the king to support Christians without alienating
Zoroastrian nobles and priests? Do our Christian writers
intentionally overstate the influence of Shirin and
Christian power during the reign of Khosrow II? Whatever the specific
answers here, royal patronage of Christian holy sites served to
raise the profile of these places, strengthen the bonds
between Christian subjects and Sasanian king, and
assert royal authority over the Christian holy sites. Christian writers were, however, eager to emphasize the
limits of royal power. Take, for example, the account
in the Armenian [speaking in foreign language] in which
he describes Shirin’s efforts to thwart Khosrow’s transfer of
the bones of the prophet Daniel, portrayed in this image
as an Iranian aristocrat and also probably a eunuch,
from Shush to Khuzestan — Shush in Khuzestan into the
hands of the Byzantine emperor. The queen asked the people
of Shush to pray to Christ to thwart her husband’s
efforts, and was rewarded with miraculous intervention when the prophet’s bones
left the city gate, all of the city’s springs dried up and the mules pulling the litter
refused to abandon the city. When Daniel returned to his
home, its springs gushed forth and the King of Kings and the
Byzantine emperor alike were forced to bow to the will of God. Curiously, though, in making
its point about the limits of royal power, the story
presents Shirin as a champion of a uniquely Sasanian
Christianity, opposed to foreigners who might steal divine
grace from Iranshahr, like Marutha who I’ve already
mentioned in the fifth century. Indeed, Sasanian kings and
their Christian subjects came to collaborate openly and directly
from the fifth century onward. Christians, being outside the
empire’s traditional political elites, were potentially more
reliable supporters of the dynasty than the fiercely independent
great families of Iran. After convening a Christian
senate at Ctesiphon in 410, the kings allowed Christians to
worship openly, and the Church of the East — the Syrian Church of
the East was officially recognized as temporal authority
of the King of Kings. In return for tolerance,
Christian clerics, especially those of this East Syrian Church, offered
their prayers for the king and acted as mediators between the King of
Kings and the Christian subjects. After this settlement, it
was increasingly common to see Christians in service to the
Sasanian dynasty, with the clergy of the Church of the
East even acting overtly, and sometimes covertly,
as agents as the king. While the Sasanian kings
remained resolutely Zoroastrian, Sasanian Christians increasingly
saw Iranshahr and its kings as instruments of God’s will,
and also saw the submission of Zoroastrian elites and the king
to the Christian God and savior as only a matter of
time, inevitable. Khosrow’s marriage to a
Christian and Shirin’s prominence at court fed this popular
perception of Christian triumph. We may see this in the
seventh century Armenian vision of the nativity where the
magi are clearly portrayed as Sasanian aristocrats
offering their submission to Christ and the virgin. Shirin, the queen of queens, served
as the pole star for constellations of Christian notables
at Khosrow II’s court. Christian physicians like the
queen’s favorite, Gabriel of Sinjar, attended to the king and his family. And many of the top financial and military officials
serving the dynasty, like the finance minister Yazdin and the Armenian General Sinbad
Digortuni [assumed spelling], were Christians. These Christian grandees advanced at
court with the enthusiastic support of the queen and rewarded the
king with their loyal service. Christian clergy and holy men
also found places at court under Shirin’s sponsorship. For some, the queen
provided protection. The Armenian Catholicos
Viroi [assumed spelling], implicated in a revolt,
fled to the queen at court and was spared execution
as a present from the king. Viroi remained an honored prisoner
at court for the next 25 years, learning Persian, which we I think
would all agree is probably a much better fate than the
death, mutilation, or banishment suffered
by his other rebels. Shirin’s favor at court could
establish a clergyman’s power and status in both church and state. East Syrian sources describe how
Shirin introduced the Ascetic Bishop Sabrisho of Lashom to the
king, providing miraculous aid to the king during his civil
wars and acting as go-between with the Byzantine emperor. Sabrisho became Shirin and Khosrow’s
clear choice for Catholicos of the Church of the East. After securing his
election, Sabrisho served as the queen’s confessor and an
important advisor to the king. Indeed, Sabrisho died on campaign, with Khosrow having helped
suppress a revolt in Nisibis. Notably, though, the East
Syrian-Khuzestan Chronicle condemned Shirin for her role in elevating
Sabrisho’s successor, her favorite, Gregory of Phrat, in place of her husband’s preferred
candidate Gregory of Kashgar, the Bishop of Nisibis. According to the story, she
tricked the assembled bishops because they both were named
Gregory, so she implied that her husband preferred
one Gregory over the other, and it was not. Apparently, Khosrow furiously
thereafter ordered the newly-elected catholicos to ransom a bunch of
Christian books and pay him a sort of one-time payment to
get out of the doghouse. Well, this story is a bit ludicrous. It’s a little hard to imagine that
either bishops or king would be so easily swayed by the simple
fact of a coincidence of names. Khosrow did refuse
to allow the election of a new catholicos
after Gregory’s death. And this brings us to a
sort of final point — or final section of the paper. While our sources attest to
Shirin’s power in the empire and its churches, her actions
are often denigrated in some of our sources, most notably Syrian
ones like the Khuzestan Chronicle. While some of this was rooted
in contemporary opposition to female authority over matters
political and theological, it also reflects the intra- and inter-communal debates among the
Christians of the Sasanian realm. From the 410 senate of Ctesiphon
to the time of Khosrow II, the East Syrian Church of the
East had served as something akin to an official state church. As we’ve seen, East Syrian
clergy proved willing to accommodate themselves
to royal power. However, their prominence
was increasingly challenged by a new Christian movement
within the empire who Shirin came to become the champion of. Matters of theology
became increasingly central in defining Christian communities
by the sixth and seventh century. In a politically-wise move, Sasanian
Christians largely rejected the two-nature Christology adopted
at the 451 counsel of Chalcedon as a Greek innovation imposed
by the Byzantine emperors. The most significant churches of late Sasanian Iranshahr adopted
either a distinct anti-king, two-natures Christology — I
won’t get into the details of this because it’s horrifically
complicated — or an Alexandrian single-nature
Christology, which would be the sort of miaphysite West Syrian
and Armenian churches. In the sixth century, the sort of
up-and-coming miaphysite preachers, some of them who had been driven
out of the Byzantine Empire, made significant inroads
in Sasanian territories. Sasanian Christians — sorry, Armenian Christians taking
an anti-Chalcedonian stance at the Councils of [inaudible],
endorsed a miaphysite creed, while the enormously-influential
Assyrian fathers of Iberia, now seen as paragons of Chalcedonian
orthodoxy in modern Georgia, probably spread miaphysite
teachings, too. The Syriac theological
school in the politically- and strategically-vital city
of Nisibis became a flash point for debate and conflict between
duaphysite and miaphysite teachers. Indeed, the breakup of that
school around the beginning of the seventh century must be seen
against this doctrinal conflict, as well as court politics. Indeed, miaphysites seem to
have had growing influence in the Sasanian court going
into the early seventh century. The Armenian church won
particular favor with Khosrow as Armenian generals and troops
supported him in his restoration to the throne, and his wars
with his rebellious uncles, and conflicts with the Turks on
the empire’s eastern frontier. Culturally, the miaphysite Armenian
church’s aristocratic orientation was also a somewhat more comfortable
fit with the social dynamics of the Sasanian aristocracy. However, for many East Syrian
authors, the triumph of heresy at court was due entirely to Shirin and to her silver-tongued
serpent Gabriel of Sinjar. The physician Gabriel was a
particular favorite of Shirin’s for helping the queen bear a
son, and was intensely involved in the politics of the
Church of the East. However, following his
excommunication from that church for bigamy, Gabriel
became a vocal advocate for the miaphysite
position at church. Gabriel’s failed attempts to
promote a miaphysite to catholicos at the East Syrian
Church contributed to the office remaining
vacant for almost two decades. Gabriel and the miaphysite theology
he endorsed enjoyed the queen’s increasingly enthusiastic support. However, miaphysitism
really got its biggest boost from the Sasanian conquest of much
of the Byzantine East where a number of disgruntled miaphysites lived,
and where Khosrow was happy to accommodate them by
appointing miaphysite bishops. This all comes together ultimately
at an instant that’s described in a number of sources, sometimes
called the Senate of the Persians, which appears to have
been held sometime in the second decade
of the seventh century. At this senate there seems to
have been some sort of attempt to establish a state version
of Christianity centered around miaphysitism,
or at least to try and reconcile the various
doctrinal differences between the Christian factions. The Armenian [inaudible] describes
this senate as the Persians in some detail as a dispute between
the orthodox, for him miaphysites, which included the
queen, Gabriel of Sinjar, and other various West
Syrian and Armenian bishops. The East Syrian, Iran Catholicos
and his supporters on another side, and various Greek supporters of the
Chalcedonian creed, along with Viroi who was hanging out at court. In [inaudible] telling,
Khosrow ordered the — also ordered the Jewish Chief
Rabbi, who showed up uninvited, unceremoniously expelled and
beaten from the conference for denying the divinity of Christ. But nevertheless, what seems
to be happening here is — you know, at least
across our sources, is that Khosrow was not entirely
prepared to sever his kind of traditional alliance with the
Church of the East, but was hoping to sort of harmonize the
Church of the East with a sort of growing miaphysite community who
were of vital strategic importance in the frontier regions
of the empire. Khosrow’s capture of Jerusalem
and the true cross in 614, and the seeming inevitability
of his final victory over the Chalcedonian
emperors in Constantinople, made Khosrow a leading
candidate for — as legitimate earthly
king of all Christians. In this role, the king sought a
place above the fray, supporting and controlling Christian
institutions even-handedly while his wife and Christian court
officials concerned themselves with the messy business
of engaging with and managing the Christian minority. In the end, though, Khosrow’s
dreams of universal dominion failed. Although his Christian subjects had
proved among his most loyal allies, even in a conflict with
a Christian emperor, his highest courtiers abandoned
him when the tide of war turned. Making common-cause with
his disinherited son, the nobles in the empire
deposed and killed the king. And then the — Khosrow’s son then
executed all the other male members of the dynasty, including
the sons of Shirin. As for Shirin, we have
two counts of her fate. One has — a Syrian source in Arabic
has her avenge the death of her son by poisoning Kavadh, the new king. In the “Shahnameh,” she commits
suicide upon Khosrow’s grave rather than being forced to marry his son. But despite her fate, Shirin gives a
fascinating glimpse into the heights to which a Christian woman might
ascend in the Sasanian Empire, the manner in which
Christians and their — or Sasanians and their
Christian subjects were united and bound together by ties
of patronage and patriotism, and the centrality of Christians in the late Sasanian world
in all their diversity. The enduring Churches of
the East would serve as one of the great legacies
of Sasanian Iranshahr. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Fatemeh Keshavarz: Thank you
very much, Professor McDonough, for that fascinating account
of exchanges and interactions. Of course, being a scholar
of Persian literature, all the way through I was
thinking of the Shirin that [inaudible] introduced to
us, conveniently, of course, converted to Islam, even
though her Armenian origins are repeatedly explained. But the most fascinating part for
me is that as he ends that story, he tells us that this is
about nobody but Shirin. [ Speaking in Foreign Language ] And then he takes that even one
step further and connects Shirin with his own wife, Ahfah
[assumed spelling]. [ Speaking in Foreign Language ] So Shirin is alive and well. And for those who don’t speak
Persian, [inaudible] basically says that this whole story is about
Shirin, and that lived a short life, and my wife reminded me
of that, and so I built that story on Shirin for you. So with that we look forward to the
last presentation of this panel, which will bring hopefully
for us more of a Jewish interaction
into the picture. And the presenter is
Professor Simcha Gross who is an Assistant Professor
of History of Late Antiquity or Antique Judaism at the
University of California, Irvine. So we have so far had
two illustrious speakers from that university. Dr. Gross got his PhD at Yale University Department
of Religious Studies. And his work is very much focused on creating and/or providing
an integrative account of the three elements of
Jews, serial Christians, and the larger Sasanian
Islamic Empire. So it’s a very integrative reading
of that, which we will look forward to the presentation of
Dr. Gross’s talk today. The title of it is “Kings or
Slaves, Babylonian Jewish Claims of Royal Genealogy in
Their Sasanian Context.” Please welcome Professor Gross. [ Applause ]>>Simcha Gross: I’m in the
uncomfortable position of standing between Fatemeh’s Persian
Poetry and lunch, so I’ll try to get to the point. I want to thank the
organizers, sponsors, and all of you for attending. Am I up? As long as there
were Persian empires, there were Jews living in them. From the Achaemenids, through
the Sasanians, through the Shah, to the present day, Jews
have always been a fixture of Persian imperial rule. Yet of all the Persian empires,
arguably the most important for Jewish history was
the Sasanian Empire. The Jews who lived under
the Sasanian Empire, primarily in Sasanian Iraq —
so that’s on the right-hand side of the map — produced
the Babylonian Talmud, the crowning literary achievement of Jewish Antiquity whose
production essentially coincided with nearly the entire
Sasanian period. The texts, rituals, and stories
that this community produced became and continue to be
normative for most Jews around the world to this day. And yet only recently have
scholars turned their attention to the Sasanian context
of these Jews. These scholars have mostly shown
that Babylonian Jews were consumers of the rich range of
literatures, mythologies, stories, and even legal discussions
of the various groups that inhabited the Sasanian
Empire, including Zoroastrians, Syriac Christians,
Manichaeans, Mandaeans, and more. The richest example of this cross-cultural
exchange may be the hundreds of incantation bowls produced by these various groups
in Late Antiquity. As you can see from the image above,
we have bowls inscribed in Mandaic, Syriac, and Jewish Babylonian
Aramaic, and even Middle Persian. These incantation bowls were
not only similar in form, they were oftentimes nearly
identical in their formula as well. These bowls show how the borders between these various
groups were far more porous than their texts would
often have us believe. Thus, a bowl written in Jewish
Babylonian Aramaic invokes Zoroastrian, Babylonian,
Christian, and Jewish mythology, as well as what appears to
be early Yazidi mythology. Together, the scholarly
textual studies as well as the increased publication of these incantation
bowls make it quite clear that Babylonian Jews had access to
other groups and their traditions. These studies have enriched
our understanding of the ways in which the various groups that
inhabited the same empire were at times in conversation
with one another. They have also shown that these
groups can only be fully appreciated within their larger context. Today I want to move beyond these
moments of contact between groups and ask a broader question. In what ways were Babylonian
Jews Persianized or Sasanianized? In what ways did Babylonian
Jews interact with the Sasanian Empire
and its administration? In what ways did they accept,
reject, subvert, manipulate, and otherwise negotiate the
norms and practices supported by their imperial context? A number of studies have
revealed the tip of the iceberg. For instance, Judith
Lerner, who’s here today — sorry for calling you out — has shown how Jews and
Christians both used and subverted the imagery
on Sasanian seals. We’ve actually seen a number
of coins today that do this. And so in this example on the left
you have the Zoroastrian fire priest — or priest, rather,
with the fire alter. And on the right you seem to
have the binding of Isaac, even with the ram stuck
in the brush on the side. Other scholars have shown how
Sasanian imperial propaganda in the forms of inscriptions and
stories were known to and used by Jews and Syriac Christians in
their own literary productions. I want to offer a broader profile of what a single Jewish
household aspiring to a position as a Persian elite may have looked
like in the Sasanian Empire. We have the most evidence for one very important
Babylonian Jewish household that adopted elite Persian norms. The head of this family was known
as the Exilarch, the rosh galut in Hebrew, or reysh
galuta in Aramaic. And this title was
hereditary, passed on to one of his children upon
the Exilarch’s death. The members of this family,
the children, sons-in-law, and their [inaudible] were all part
of the household of the Exilarch. Thankfully, the Exilarchy has
recently received a comprehensive study by Geoffrey Herman, to
which I am deeply indebted. Given that nearly all of our
surviving sources about Jews living in the Sasanian Empire during this
period are from texts composed by rabbis now embedded
in the Babylonian Talmud, we only get a glimpse of the
Exilarch through the rabbis’ eyes. The rabbis did not always have a
particularly flattering perspective of the Exilarch, but their
criticisms are quite revealing, precisely because they were
bothered by the Persianization of the Exilarch and his household. Moreover, alongside the Exilarch, they critique the other
similar elite Jewish households, revealing that the Exilarch was
not the only Jewish household to adopt elite Persian norms. To be sure, the bias of the
rabbis against the Exilarch and other Jewish families means we
have to be cautious when reading and evaluating their remarks. However, there is also a benefit
to the polemical character of their remarks, as
the [inaudible] position to the Exilarch reflects
the rabbi’s own relationship to the Persian elite norms. The contrast between these
groups will give us insight into the different attitudes Jews
may have had toward Sasanian elite norms and provide us with
a more granular perspective of different Jewish
strata in Sasanian society. The rabbis have a sustained
critique of a member of the Exilarch’s household, Rav
Nahman, in a single location. This critique is not unique,
but rather representative of larger themes concerning
the Exilarch found throughout rabbinic literature. In this story, a rabbi named Rav
Yehuda appears before the member of the household of the Exilarch
named, again, Rav Nahman. In their initial discussion, Rev Yehuda continuously critiques
Rav Nahman’s grandiloquence. I’m going to be reading
from this now. “Said Rav Nahman of the Exilarch’s
household to Rave Yehuda, “Sit down on a karpita,””
which is some sort of a seat. “Rave Yehuda asked, “Is not safsal
as used by the Rabbis, or iztaba, as commonly used, good enough?””
Meaning why are you using that word? There are so many other words
that we rabbis or common Jews use. “Rav Nahman continued, “Will
you partake of etronga,”” which seems to be a citron. “Rav Yehuda replied,
“Thus did Samuel say, “He who says etronga is a
third puffed up with arrogance. Either Etrog, as it is
called by the rabbis, or etroga as it is
popularly called.” “Will you drink anbaga,”
he asked him. “Are you then dissatisfied
with isparagus, as it is called by the rabbis, or anpak, as
it is popularly pronounced,” he reproved him.” In each of these cases, Rav
Yehuda critiques Rav Nahman for using an arrogant or
haughty vocabulary word. If we pay attention, two of these
three words are Middle Persian, etronga and anbaga, and one
is Greek or Latin, karpita. According to this passage,
the member of — the members of the Exilarch’s
household use different vocabulary than did the rabbis or common folk, and these words tended
to be Middle Persian. I only brought three examples
here, but there are a few others in the story used by Rav Nahman
that are also Middle Persian, and we’ll see a few
of them as we go on. So for the moment it seems that
Rav Yehuda critiques Rav Nahman for using a highfalutin vocabulary
dominated by Middle Persian Words. The story continues by mocking
Rav Nahman’s more liberal attitude toward women. “”Let my daughter Donag come and
serve drink,” Rav Nahman proposed. “Thus said Samuel,”
Rav Yehuda replied, “One must not make use of a woman.” “But she is only a child,”
answered Rav Nahman. “Samuel distinctly said, “One must
make no use at all of a woman, whether adult or child,””
responded Rav Yehuda. “Will you send a greeting to my
wife Yalta,” Rav Nahman suggested. “Thus said Samuel,”
Rav Yehuda replied, “to listen to a woman’s
voice is indecent.” “Is it possible through a
messenger,” asked Rav Nahman. “Thus said Samuel, ” Rave Yehuda
retorted, “One must not inquire after a woman’s welfare.” “Then by her husband,”
said Rav Nahman. “Thus said Samuel,” said Rav
Yehuda, “One must not inquire after a woman’s welfare at
all.”” As you’ll notice, Samuel can basically be made to
say whatever Rav Yehuda wants. In round two of their exchange,
Rav Yehuda now critiques Rav Nahman for what he continues — what he considers to be Rav
Nahman’s liberal approach to women. Rav Yehuda essentially expects women to remain entirely out
of the sight of men. Rav Nahman’s approach, however,
is once again in keeping with what we can tell about Persian
attitudes toward women at this time. In laws found in the approximately
seventh century [inaudible] of “Book of a Thousand Judgments,” “Madayan
I Hazar I Dadestan,” for example, women have the right to reject
marriages arranged by their father and are given other rights of
property and responsibility. The Sasanian attitude toward women
may also be gleaned from the fact that the goddess Anahid
was a central figure in the Sasanian pantheon. Moreover, as noted by Yaakov Elman,
Rav Nahman’s daughter’s name, Donag, is in fact better pronounced
as Danog, the name of the wife and queen of the first king
of the Sasanian Empire. In fact, this name is itself
Persian and probably means follower of the Den, the Zoroastrian
way of life, a striking name for a Jewish woman. The Exilarch’s household was thus
known for its more liberal treatment of women, treatment that
conforms more closely to Persian than rabbinic norms. The Exilarch and his household also
adopted other trappings of nobility. To give one example, the Exilarch and his household were
often depicted as traveling while
borne on golden thrones. Elsewhere in the Babylonian
Talmud, the Rav Nahman of our story appears again,
this time on a golden throne. That’s the story on the slide. In the Middle Persian source “Arda
Wiraz-namag,” Arda Wiraz travels to the afterlife, in which
he sees, among other things, nobles seated on golden thrones. In fact, the Babylonian Talmud once
again uses a Middle Persian word to describe the throne,
the same word used in “Arda Wiraz-namag,” which is gah. This is just one example
of the elite regalia that the Exilarch seems
to have adopted. I would like to suggest
one more major way in which the Exilarch adopted
certain aspects of Persian nobility. The most famous detail about the
Exilarch’s household is its claim of genealogical descent
from King David. For instance, there’s a rabbinic
discussion in which it is determined that when the Torah
scroll is brought into public everyone
should follow behind it, thereby embodying the
figurative idea of following the Torah’s
instructions. In response to this, a rabbi notes that in Babylonia the Torah is
actually brought to the Exilarch. He doesn’t follow behind it. It is brought to him. And I’m quoting, “Everywhere
you say that one goes after the Torah scroll, but behold, there in Babylonia they bring
the Torah before the Exilarch! Rav Yose be-Rav Bun said, “In
that instance, since the seed of David is embedded there, they act
for him accordance with the custom of his fathers.”” The
equation of the Exilarch with King David is rather strong,
as the idea that the Torah comes to the Exilarch rather than
vice versa is based on laws about passing the Torah scroll to
the Jewish king when one exists. Overall, the rabbis did not
seem to particularly object to this genealogical claim. However, they did object to a
similar claim made by another family of Babylonian Jewish elites. These Jews claimed descent
not from King David, but from the Hasmonean kings. Thus in the very same
passage in which Rav Yehuda and Rav Nahman sparred, we
find the following exchange. “A certain man from Nehardea entered
a butcher’s shop in Pumbeditha and demanded, “Give me meat.” “Wait until Rav Yehuda’s attendant
takes his,” was the reply, “and then we will serve you.” “Who is Rav Yehuda,” he exclaimed,
“to take precedence over me and be served before me?”” You’re
all probably feeling the same way about lunch now. “When they went and told Rav Yehuda,
he pronounced the ban against him. Said they to him, “He” — meaning the guy who
claims Hasmonean descent — “is wont to call people slaves.” Whereupon Rav Yehuda had him
proclaimed a slave, for Samuel said, “With his own blemish he
stigmatizes others as unfit.” At this stage his opponent said to
Rav Yehuda, “You call me a slave, I who am descended from the
royal house of the Hasmoneans?” “Thus said Samuel,” Rav Yehuda
retorted, “Whoever says, “I am descended from the house of
the Hasmoneans is a slave.”” A man with a particular high estimation of himself approaches a
butcher and demands meat. The butcher, however,
refuses to sell the man meat until Rav Yehuda’s attendant comes
and takes the first choice of meats, as a sign of respect for Rav Yehuda. The elite man questions how
Rav Yehuda could possibly take precedence over him. Over the course of the
conversation it is revealed that the man claims descent
from the Hasmoneans and, like a good patrician, goes around
calling other people slaves. Rav Yehuda declares instead that,
in fact, the man is a slave. We thus find two different
claims of royal descent by two clearly elite-posturing
figures, one from King David and one from the Hasmoneans. The evidence we have seen until
now suggests that we should — we had best look to the
Persian elite context to explain this phenomenon. And indeed, during the Sasanian
period, royal lineage was, in fact, a marker of elite status. Throughout this period, many of
the most important elite families, as well as kings in Armenia
and Georgia, claimed descent from the Arsacids, or
Pahlavi, or Parthian dynasty, the dynasty that ruled
before the Sasanians. And that’s one text that claims it,
and that’s a seal from someone — an elite who claimed this descent. Alongside these were other —
were the other great families, some of whom may also have
gone back to the Parthians, while others claim
different hoary ancestors. The Sasanians themselves
claimed royal descent, though the precise history
of this lineage is unclear. But by the beginning of the fifth
century, the Sasanians, too, adopted a number of strategies
to claim a hoary royal past, presumably in part due to
the importance of such claims in the Persian world more broadly. In this context, then,
it is hardly surprising that aspiring Jewish elites
would make parallel claims to royal descent. Whereas the Exilarch’s claim
of genealogical descent from King David makes sense given
King David’s generally-revered status in the Jewish tradition, the claim of the Hasmonean descent
is somewhat puzzling, as many Jews, and especially the rabbis, were at the very least
ambivalent about Hasmonean rule. What motivated the man and
his family to claim descent from the Hasmoneans
in the first place? The answer may lie in the
fact that at the very end of the Hasmonean period,
the last king allied himself with the Parthians. Indeed, this was the
last Hasmonean king, because despite Parthian assistance,
the Romans and their proxy, King Herod, ultimately won, bringing
an end to the Hasmonean dynasty. I would, therefore, suggest that
some aspiring Jews opted for claims of descent from Jewish
kings who had a history of allying themselves
with Persian rulers. Moreover, in this context, the
habit of the Hasmonean descendent to call others slaves
makes more sense. A slave in Sasanian law
was the opposite of someone with untainted royal
genealogical descent. Slaves could be married off
at the whim of the owner, and the children were
then his slaves as well. Indeed, we find a striking source that discusses precisely how some
Iranians claiming Parthian descent were reduced to slaves. That’s the source over there. Thus, the Exilarch, and presumably
other elite Jewish families like the Jew who claimed Hasmonean
descent, adopted a wide range of trappings of Persian nobility. They used specialized
Persian language, adopted Persian mores
regarding women, and like their elite Sasanian peers, maintained royal genealogical
claims. Did it work? Were at least some of these
Jews successful in integrating into the Sasanian elite class? In the case of the Exilarch, the
answer seems to be a definitive yes, as seen from the only non-rabbinic
source to mention the Exilarch, which was edited and translated
by our own Touraj Daryaee. And I’m reading here, “The city
of Susa and Sustar were built by Sisinduxt, the wife of
Yazdigird, the sun of Sabuhr, since she was the daughter of the
Exilarch, the King of the Jews, and also was the mother
of Wahram Gor.” According to this source, the Sasanian king Yazdgird I married
the daughter of the Jewish Exilarch. Like Danog, the daughter
of Rav Nahman, the daughter of the Exilarch
here receives a nice Persian name of Daughter of Susa. What’s especially important here is that the Exilarch is identified
as the King of the Jews. This is not a mere expression, as
every other figure in this text who is called a shah refers to
a historical or mythical king. I would suggest that this claim —
that the claim of Davidic descent by the Exilarch was accepted by
the Sasanian royal household. This would also explain
how the daughter of the Exilarch was found
worthy to marry the king, as Sasanian kings only married
daughters of kings or noblemen. An example would be Shirin, as
Scott’s presentation just showed. I end with the rabbis. What do we make of rabbinic
disapproval of at least some aspects of these elite Jewish families? Some have suggested that this
shows a resistance by some rabbis to Persian norms in general. However, I think this is incorrect. Instead, I would argue that the
rabbis’ disapproved of the Exilarch and the purported Hasmonean
descendent because the latter strove to be part of elite Persian
society, whereas the rabbis strove to be elites in their
own local Jewish society. Thus, if we return to the story
of Rav Yehuda and Rav Nahman where Rav Yehuda critiqued Rav
Nahman for using Middle Persian and Greek words, we see that
the words Rav Yehuda preferred, the words he attributed to
the rabbis or common-folk, are themselves often
Persian and Greek words. And these are all the
highlighted words. However, there is an important
difference between these words. Rav Nahman’s vocabulary
included terms that were relatively new
to the Sasanian period. Thus, they are either
Middle Persian words or Greek words never
attested before. By contrast, the words of
the rabbis or the words of the common-folk were
either Parthian or Greek words that were introduced into Jewish
Aramaic in an earlier period. In linguistic parlance, this
is — they were retentions. In other words, the rabbis are not
opposed to Persian or Greek, per se. They are opposed to new
words and terminology which they considered haughty,
apparently signs of Persian elitism. But this isn’t opposition to
elite Persian norms as such. In fact, the Babylonian rabbis seem
to have modeled their own academies after royal or elite Persian courts. For example, the Babylonian
academies were seated in rows just like the royal Persian court. And in the first section here
you see how a rabbi is demoted or promoted up the seven rows based
on how clever his questions are. And the bottom, another rabbi who
he’s asking questions to is promoted and demoted with cushions, depending
on how good his answers are. So for example, the Babylonian
academies were seated in rows, just like the royal Persian court. Indeed, sitting in rows
seems to have been central to Persian imperial
culture for centuries, as Ancient Greek authors report
that Cyrus’ court sat in rows, and the Arsacids adopted this aspect of imperial Persian
culture themselves. Similarly, the prestigious
leading members of the academy sat on a number of cushions
that delineated their rank, also like the royal Persian court. Both the tows and the
cushions are standard aspects of Persian noble culture. In fact, if one thinks
about Rav Yehuda’s encounter with the Hasmonean descendent,
their dispute did not simply arise because the Hasmonean
man acted as an elite, but precisely because the
Hasmonean man claimed superiority to Rav Yehuda’s own privileged
position to choose his meats first. Rav Yehuda may have been less
opposed to elitism as such than to elitism that infringed
on his own privileges. Indeed, Rav Yehuda
calls the man a slave because the man called
others slaves, but by declaring the Hasmonean
descendent to be a slave, wouldn’t Rav Yehuda be
committing the same offense? Jews of all stripes were Persianized
and adopted the trappings of Persian culture and status. This is true of Jews throughout the
various Persian periods, as seen, for instance, by comparing
the architecture of Jewish and Muslim [inaudible]
shrines from the 18th century. But what exactly did
Persianization look like? And how exactly different Jews
adopt, reject, contest, co-op, and even contribute to Persian
culture and society changes with time, as does the
significance of Persianization. In the Sasanian period some
Jews, like the Exilarch, strove to join elite Persian society
while others, like the rabbis, imagined their own academies
as elite courts and themselves as worthy of elite privileges. Persianization was not simply
something external to Jews, a set of cultural practices
they at times adopted and at other times rejected. Persianization inevitably affected
Jews living in the Sasanian period, their self-understanding,
aspirations, and more. It is my hope that future research
will help us appreciate how crucial the Sasanian period was for these
Jews in particular and, as a result, for Jewish history more broadly. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Fatemeh Keshavarz:
Thank you all very much for these three wonderfully complex
and colorful depictions of a society in which we see more and more
interaction and complexity. And thanks to the discipline
of all the speakers, we have a little time
for some questions. And I would encourage you to
please introduce yourselves and keep the questions as
short as you are able to so that we can reach more
people, please. There’s one there.>>I’m Baron Bistakia
[assumed spelling] from the Zoroastrian community. On the west coast of India in [inaudible] we have
seen Christian crosses with [inaudible] writing,
and there is a group of Syrian Christians
who have settled there. And I’m wondering what led to that
migration of Syrian Christians to the west coast of
India from ancient times?>>Scott McDonough: Well, so there’s
certainly the claims that are made by those communities of
Christians that, you know, they’re apostolic in origin. That, you know, they — that one
of the apostles actually traveled to India and sort of
proselytized there, and that they date back to that. That’s probably apocryphal. There have been some
thought about, you know, trade networks bringing
people there. And certainly the Church of
the East was very aggressive and proselytizing in
places quite far away from and outside of the Sasanian Empire. You know, there is a bishop
in Tibet in the eighth century and a couple other places like that.>>Simcha Gross: And
an archive in China.>>Scott McDonough:
Yeah, yeah, certainly, and a number of monuments in China. So you know, certainly there’s trade
— movement along trade routes. The Sasanians had political
interests in India from the time of Bahram [inaudible],
at least — or earlier. And you know, then also with
the sort of conquest period, I’m certain that just as Zoroastrian
communities came to settle in India as well, probably, you know, Iranian Christian communities
came alongside them. But that’s just sort of
off the top of my head. I can probably make a
more [inaudible] comment if you want to chat.>>Hirad Dinavari: Anyone else
want to answer that on the panel? Simcha? No? All right, any other questions? Anything on Zoroastrianism? On the Syriac Armenian churches? On Judaism?>>Quick question.>>Hirad Dinavari: Okay.>>Is there a Middle –>>Fatemeh Keshavarz: Yes. The question was is
there a Middle –>>I’m asking the philologist, the Middle Persian [speaking
in foreign language]?>>Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina:
It’s in Pazand, it’s like –>>Pazand?>>Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina: — it’s like [speaking in foreign
language], something like that.>>Oh, skull, so something
actually without — oh, okay.>>Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw
Vevaina: Like –>>Numbskull?>>Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina:
Numbskull, feather-head, something. Yeah.>>Yeah, okay.>>Fatemeh Keshavarz: Yeah.>>It’s numbskull.>>Fatemeh Keshavarz: All right, if there are no more
questions, there is lunch. But I — oh, there is question. There is question, great, so here.>>I’m [inaudible], lately retired
from the Library of Congress. Question for Dr. Vevaina, what
accounts for the great study and influence of Mani,
despite his being, you know, killed by the Sasanians
as a heretic? His influence went far
and wide to Central Asia, and China, and even to the West. And there is present-day
scholarship on him as well. So what would you say is the
reason for this great influence?>>Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw
Vevaina: Well, I think — so Mani does something
somewhat unprecedented. I mean, he really is
the first person to make a truly universalizing
claim about religion. And he says this in one of
the texts that I cited — I had in the PowerPoint there. Essentially, mine is not
one religion for one people or one ethnicity, it’s
for all peoples, and it’s in all these languages. And so you see Manichaean
materials produced both East and West, all over the place. The thing that made
Manichaeism both brilliant and efficient also was the seeds of
its destruction, which is that — and I mean this with no
pejorative — it is a sort of a — it has a sort of parasitic aspect
in that in every environment where it goes, it takes on the
guise of the local vocabulary, the traditions, the ideas. So it would be super-efficient
in the sense that everyone feels that they get to see themselves
in their own prior identities. They don’t actually feel like
they’re necessarily switching to something else, as getting
a more refined message. But therein lies the problem,
because from the imperial and religious elites everywhere,
East and West, this will look like a highly virulent sort of
heresy and things like that. And it’s really interesting that — I mean, except for the
[inaudible] Turks, I mean, everywhere else they were persecuted
and never became a state religion. And the way that the vocabulary —
Manichaeism is a strange phenomenon because what we have is
examples in Coptic, in Greek, in Latin, [inaudible], Parthian. Interesting thing is that even the
Middle Persian and the Parthian, which could be — which
should be pretty close, don’t always have the
same Zoroastrian deities in the same slots in the system. It was really tailor-made for the environment, if
that makes any sense.>>Simcha Gross: So and just
to add to what Yuhan said, which is 100% correct, is Muhammed in some ways adopted the
same strategy but went about it a little bit differently. And so he also integrates Jewish
prophets, Christian prophets. It’s — well, he treats
them as Jewish prophets, Christian prophets — into
his system, but I guess the — it never veered too far away
from the original message. Whereas, Mani explicitly makes — he is going after Iranian
traditions, Christian traditions. He’s integrating pretty consciously. And so later followers end up
integrating more, and more, and more, and it kind
of fizzles out.>>Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina:
And he did extremely well in the early years
under the Sasanians, and he had royal patronage. I mean, there’s also
the interesting question of why did the Sasanians
turn on him? And you know, it’s —
probably the simple answer is that the Zoroastrian priests were
like, “This is getting out of hand.”>>Fatemeh Keshavarz: I wonder if there is any real academic
discussion of all the attribution of all the artistic
size of his religion, and his paintings, and all that?>>Simcha Gross: His
pain book, you mean? He had — he basically also –>>Fatemeh Keshavarz: Yes.>>Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw
Vevaina: Painter.>>Simcha Gross: — he created a — he was the first person
to put out comic books. So he put out comic books
to promote his religion. And in some ways, the
medium may have — we have similar images that
exist throughout the world. So we don’t actually have the
original, but it seems to be that there’s some sort
of consistent tradition about what these pictures would
have looked like, ranging really from the — I shouldn’t say
West and East anymore — from the Roman Empire through Asia. And so that definitely would have — may have contributed to his initial
success and burst onto the scene.>>Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina:
And if I could just add a small –>>Fatemeh Keshavarz: Sure.>>Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina: One
of the interesting things it that, you know, Mani as part of
his prophetic biography says that he goes as a healer
and a doctor to India, and things like that. And for those of you from
South Asia, you have this — you hear these stories of Jesus
went to India, and his tomb was in Kashmir, and all of these things. And –>>Simcha Gross: And Thomas.>>Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina: — many of these stories I personally
think are actually the Manichaean biography re-tasked for Jesus, because he’s a latter-day
Jesus anyway. Makes perfect sense.>>Fatemeh Keshavarz:
Yeah, also in Augustine’s “Confessions” there is a lot of
reference to this fascination with Manichaeism in the early
stages, and then going back. But sorry — other? Oh, yes. I’m sorry, go ahead.>>Scott McDonough: I was wondering
about what evidence we have for the status of the
Exilarch under the Parthians, particularly with the sort of
Parthian/Early Sasanian system of kind of subordinate
kings that kind of the Sasanians phase
out over time. I was just wondering if
you could comment on that?>>Simcha Gross: Yeah, so
this is a problem in general with Babylonian Judaism
that we — our first — let’s call it indigenous
source of Babylonian Jews, or any real extended source by Babylonian Jews is
the Babylonian Talmud. Now just like we were talking about
with Middle Persian and Arabic texts that are kind of very late and
we have to figure out what — which one of these later texts
can we trust about earlier events? The Babylonian Talmud is
a let’s call it sixth, seventh century text —
probably sixth century, which includes lots of sources. It makes up sources. So as was saw, Samuel did
not say any of the things that Rav Yehuda attributed to him in
my lecture, but you can kind of — it was — they were very malleable. In terms of — so we have no — we
don’t have anything to actually talk about the Parthian period —
Jews in the Parthian period. Best thing we have is Josephus who
basically has two or three anecdotes about Jews in the East, and
then he kind of loses interest. Geoffrey Herman, who I
mentioned in the presentation, has recently argued that the
Exilarch comes into existence around the beginning
of the third century. So he kind of thinks
that it coincides with the rise of the Sasanians. Even if that’s the case, I still
think that the Parthian context that you’re talking about would
have to have played a role, because the Sasanians
didn’t come on the stage and reform the administration
overnight. As we saw, it, you know, took until
the fifth, sixth century for things to really start changing. So I definitely think of them just
from a Parthian kind of context, even if it emerged slightly after
the Parthians went off the stage.>>Scott McDonough: I mean,
it’s fascinating the parallel with Steve’s talk, you know,
this kind of, you know, bring us a book that
shows who you are. We’ll, we’re, you know,
descended from David. Here’s our book. Promote us to our proper
status as kings.>>Simcha Gross: That’s
exactly right, yeah.>>Scott McDonough: That — it’s
interesting to see that kind of correspondence with what
we’re seeing in Caucasia as well, that literature.>>Fatemeh Keshavarz: All right,
let me take one more question, because I saw a hand up back there. Yes, please. Here, that lady over there. Thank you.>>Thank you. My question is for Simcha
Gross, I know from later history that the Babylonian Jewish
community also heavily Arabized. And I was wondering, during
the Sasanian time it seems like you made the claim that they
were starting to take on a lot of Persian and Sasanian traditions. Once the process of
Arabization started to happen, did they still retain that
sort of Persian identity? Or did they entirely integrate
into the Arab society, if you know?>>Simcha Gross: That’s
a great question. In general — and Khodadad was
talking about this a little bit. In general, the way eighth, ninth,
tenth century Arabic sources, and then the way we as
historians the last 200 years, maybe even longer, talk about the
Arab conquest is as a watershed. And so Arabs showed up, and
then everything changed. It — Arabs were also Islamic. They were Muslim over
— you know, right away. This was a coherent
body of tradition, and then they came around, and all
of the minorities kind of said, “Okay, I guess we’ll have to
either kind of hide in our corners or do what you’re doing,
which is Islam.” When, in fact, we now
know that economics, administrative infrastructures,
and confessional groups kind of were unharmed, more or
less, didn’t suffer some sort of serious change for at least
until the seventh century when you start seeing this kind of
conscious use of Islamic sources and Arabic as imperial propaganda. SO Jews certainly would not
have been affected, I think, in the seventh century
let’s call it. And afterward they start — in
general, Jewish texts are — most of the ones that
survive for historic — for the reasons that the rabbis are
— still the community that are kind of followed are rabbinic sources. And as we saw, they kind of don’t
like to admit foreign elements. So they’ll do their best
to conceal their context, which is why it’s very fun
and also very hard to kind of tease out that context. So you do see Islamic influence
and Arabic influence in form. So you know, very prominent ninth,
tenth century Jewish sources, I argue, are actually
clearly Jewishized — I guess is my new word
— Arabic sources. So they’re kind of writing
like an Arabic historian write, but in totally Jewish parlance,
Jewish language, Jewish history. And so if you did not read
through Arabic historiography, it would be very hard
for you to identify this. But once you do, it’s kind of
like, “Oh, this is obviously that.” Right, we’ve never seen
anything like this before, we see it in the ninth
century by Jews, obviously because Arabic
historiographers are doing this at this time. So the answer is absolutely you
see this kind of interaction, and you do see the kind of
influence, but you have to tease it out because oftentimes
it’s kind of concealed.>>Fatemeh Keshavarz: Thank you. I’m sure there are other thoughts, and the speakers will be available
— sorry for volunteering you — to interact with all of you. So I would invite you to
join lunch after, of course, thanking this very complex and
stimulating panel [applause]. Also, I would like to remind you
that there will be a film shown. And [inaudible] would you like
to announce the place and the –>>Hirad Dinavari: I could
gladly tell you that. Thank you very much Fatemeh
[inaudible] for announcing. The film will be playing
while you get your food. It will start in about five
minutes, and it features out wonderful speaker
Touraj Daryaee himself. He will be talking
about the Sasanians. And the book display is there. I just ask please do not
take food to the display room after you’ve enjoyed your meal. You can look at the
display afterward, or after the third panel ends you
have a period in which you can go and look at the book
display as well. Last but not least, we have
fabulous Lebanese food for lunch, wonderful Middle Eastern cuisine. Enjoy, thank you.>>Fatemeh Keshavarz: All
right, and the afternoon panel, of course, on art and culture. So we look forward to that. Thank you all.>>Hirad Dinavari: All
right, so I am going to start on the third panel, and hopefully in the next few minutes
Ida will also join us. First, though, I want to echo
exactly without repeating in detail all the names that
Mary-Jane announced earlier. Thank everyone that’s worked
with me hand-in-glove. I was able to receive the blessings
of people in the Asian Division, in the Law Division, Music Division,
as well as MBRS for the film that you saw earlier, the
Motion Picture Division. They all gave us materials
that we could put on display. Geography and Maps gave us atlases and this wonderful map
that you see behind you. The catalogers Paul Crego and
Michael Cheyet [assumed spelling], who helped us process
materials and get it ready. And most of all, our two conveners, Touraj Daryaee and
Khodadad Rezakhani. Going back to November at MESA
when I first approached Khodadad and I asked if a conference
or a symposium on the Sasanians would be something
that he would be interested in, he showed immediate
interest, and within a day or two we had already
talked to Touraj, and Touraj also was very happy. And then the issue of
funding came about. Now I was fortunate enough that my boss Mary-Jane had
given me the approval to look into a conference on the
Ancient Persian history. And once we had reached out
the [inaudible] and Mr. Javadi, as always, just as they supported
us with the Persian book exhibit, they were kind enough to
immediately embrace the idea. And on top of that, bring
in the Al Borz, you know, high school alumni as well. So again, I want to thank
all of you who are here. I want to thank every division that has taken part
in making this happen. And I want to thank my own division. And Mary-Jane Deeb, of course. And of course, Joan Weeks as well as
other colleagues like Ann Brenner. And I really want to point out here
that nothing that gets happened as a bureaucrat happens without
the guidance, and the help, and the approval of management. Nothing that has happened here
would be possible without Mary-Jane. Mary-Jane Deeb, our Chief,
who you see right here, is the person who has
mentored, and helped me, and walked me through the process. She is a perfect person to
follow in her footsteps. She’s done three of these
amazing programs prior to this, one on the ancient city of Tyre, on the legacy of the
Assyrian civilization. We had a wonderful program on
the Afghan Media Resource Center. Now this one I was able to do,
but I couldn’t have done any of it without the help, the
backing, and the support, and mentorship of Mary-Jane. So if it’s possible, I would
really appreciate a round of applause [applause]. Thank you. Thank you. And I also wanted to thank
University of Maryland, Dr. Keshavarz and Ahmet Karamustafa
for being there with us all along with the Persian book exhibit,
the lecture series, and helping us with this lecture — I
mean, seminar as well. They’ve always been
there as mentors. I’ve always been able to talk
to them and get their advice. In the D.C. area they are the
Persian Studies Department to go to. So thank you very much. Thanks to everyone that’s here. With that, I am going to start
with reading the bios of all of the wonderful speakers. I have the honor of
having an all-woman panel. And the gender balance [applause]
— gender balance is very important, because we were having a lot of
male speakers in the previous two, essentially, panels
who were fantastic. So I am delighted that
everything has gone so well. And we had eloquent moderators,
Mary-Jane as well as Fatemeh, who did an amazing job as well. And last but not least, the
amazing Lebanese food you enjoyed, we have to thank the
caterers Occasions as well. I think that was quite befitting
of this gathering [applause]. Our first speaker has come the
farthest, all the way from Paris. Dr. Samra Azarnouche
is Associate Professor at the Ecole Pratique des
Hautes Etudes in Paris where she teaches the
history of Zoroastrianism. Her research focuses on Late
Antiquity, Sasanian culture and religion, Iranian
mythology, and Persian literature. Among her publications are an
edition of Middle Persian texts on Sasanian reali “Khosrow
fils de Kawad et un page” 2013. How do you say that? Did I say it wrong? I’m sorry, French is
not my language. And several articles on
rituals, essentially — and various institutions, technical
vocabulary, and Zoroastrian myths. Long and short without
taking more time, I invite Dr. Azarnouche
to speak with you. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Samra Azarnouche: Ladies
and gentlemen, before I start, I would like to thank the African
and Middle Eastern Division of the Library of Congress
for this wonderful event. Thank you to Hirad Dinavari
and [inaudible] Touraj Daryaee, and also Khodadad Rezakhani
for their kind invitation. It is my great pleasure to be here. And I would say as an alumnae of the
Zoroastrian High School [inaudible], which is, as some of you
may know, historically and geographically connected
to the Al Borz High School, I would like to give a warm greeting and a sisterly greeting
to Al Borz College. In this presentation, I would
like to present some aspects of the cultural life, literary,
and mythical narrations that seem to have played an essential role
in the imperial construction of the Late Sasanian period. I think I don’t need to stress, especially after the illuminating
talks we had this morning, that the Sasanian society
experienced different ranges of the writing culture from
the memorial function of royal or aristocratic lapidary
inscriptions, up to the more practical, but
still specialized activities of the scribes in court and
provincial administrative networks. Besides, their vernacular
language, per se, equals as we say Middle
Persian or Pahlavi, seems to possess all the
features of a literary language. It has a simple morphology
but a remarkable flexibility and an internal dynamism that makes
word composition very productive. Despite this rich and indispensable
tool for expression, our information about books in the Sasanian
period is very limited. Of course, we have no reason
to doubt that the compilation and edition of the very famous
“Xwaday-Namag,” the “Book of Kings,” that we know only by its
title and some outlines, were directly supervised by
the king or his chancellery. We also know that different
aspects of the courtly customs, like protocol of audience
and banqueting, were confined in special volumes
like “Ewen-Namag” or “Gah-Namag,” of which we know very little. If Sasanian didn’t produce many
books, at least they liked them. They had, for instance, Indian
parables, Indian legends translated into Middle Persian as
the “Kalilag ud Dimnag” from the Sanskrit “Panchatantra.” Or their — the Sasanian
like to be offered ones. The prophet Mani wrote
“Shapuragan” for the King of Kings. And also Priscianus of Lydia,
one of the last Neoplatonists, who was forced to seek
asylum in the Sasanian court, offered his “Soluciones”
to Khosrow I. One field only seems to have
been reluctant for a while to the writing culture, probably
because it didn’t need it, or it found idols scriptures, or
the act of writing undeserving of its own status, or perhaps
it considered writing prone to alteration, and therefore, not suitable for a
long-lasting tradition. I am, of course, pointing
to the sacred knowledge of Zoroastrian priests who
considered their own memory as the only worthy keeper of
the holy words of the “Avesta.” Even if we agree with the
hypothesis that the translations and commentaries of the
“Avesta” could have been put down into writing before
the Sasanian period. For paleographical reasons
we are quite certain that it wasn’t the case
for the “Avesta” itself. Most scholars agree that after many
centuries of oral transmission, the “Avesta” was written for the
first time in the second half of the sixth century
A.D. at the time of the Sasanian King Khosrow
I even though it continued to be taught orally, memorized,
and recited by priests, especially by ones involved
in the ritual activities or in the educational activities. Writing down the “Avesta”
didn’t happen in one day. It needed a long process,
and priestly gatherings, priests who were experts
in the pronunciation of the liturgical hymns,
specialists of phonetics, and also of paleography because
they had to invent a new alphabet in order to write down the holy text
as precisely as possible and turn it into a holy book, as
Jews, Christians, Manichaeans possessed
one long before them. This radical innovation —
let’s say a revolution — in their religious tradition
was not well-welcomed — was not welcomed by all. But it probably stimulated and [inaudible] the status
of religious writing. The priestly class began
to have an easier access to scientific knowledge, astrology,
medicine, geometry, botany, zoology. And they sometimes
incorporated their material into their religious writings. The scholar priest seems
to have a remarkable skill to describe the word from the
very beginning of the creation to the fresh-geared order
renovation at the end of time. And scientific observation makes
their enumeration even more accurate and believable. By contacts with different
communities, for instance, in the milieu of the
Academy of Gondishapur, their writings were
surely influenced by the intellectual effervescence
of the late Sasanian period and beyond it in the court of the
Caliph of Baghdad, for instance, where the heads of the
Zoroastrian community were active up to the tenth century. Of this literary production,
only a restricted amount of text has been transmitted to us. That is what we call
the Pahlavi books, or Zoroastrian Middle Persian
text, that we know only from medieval manuscripts, the
oldest preserved one dated to 1322. Despite important efforts
of generational scholars and some colleagues
here in this room, this Middle Persian literature
remains incompletely edited or commented on. The question we may ask is to what extent does this corpus
inform us about the Sasanians? How a corpus postdated to
this period and written by Zoroastrian priests for
Zoroastrian priests may be relevant as a source of Sasanian time? On this last point, the French
Iranist Philippe Gignoux, who devoted many of his works
to the Middle Persian documents and Sasanian history,
claimed in the last ’70s that this text must be
seen as secondary sources, and because of their
chronology, they my less — they are less important
than coins and seals. More recently, another outstanding
historian, Albert de Jong, argued that we have no reliable
techniques and no methods to separate Sasanian material from post-Sasanian
material and Pahlavi books. And he also notes that the
authors of this text are, I quote, “remarkably free from nostalgia and
remarkably diffident in the memory of the Sasanians, who are by no
means generally seen as heroes of the religion,” end of quote. I think that some of this
assessment might need to be amended, though I myself admit and deplore
the lack of coherent methodology and reliable techniques used to — so far regarding the
chronology of this text. At this point I would like
to suggest not a technique — I have none — but
rather a new perspective to analyze some Middle
Persian narrations that could provide
essential elements not only to the understanding of
interconnection between narration and political propaganda
in the late Sasanian time, but also to re-evaluate the
place of the Sasanian king within the Zoroastrian
myth ideology. Let me begin with a case that I know
the best, as updated the edition of this narration in 2013. This is a dialogue between Khosrow
I [speaking in foreign language] and a page — a young aristocrat. This dialogical form involving
Khosrow I and a knowledgeable man, whoever he might be, was a very
common genre in this period. We have the Latin translation
of the Neoplatonist Christian and his answers to King Khosrow
that I mentioned earlier, or even a late Arabic
parallels it in [speaking in foreign language]
of the ninth century. Here is the frame story of the
“Husraw I Kawadan Ud Radag,” this Middle Persian text. The plot is extremely simple. I hope you can read the screen,
otherwise I can read it for you. “A young aristocrat has
been deprived from his rank and has lost his fortune. He requests a hearing, stands before
the king,” and this gesture imposed by the protocol, as we see in
this detail of a silver dish, where the king does not wear
the same crown as Khosrow I, but it is Khosrow anyway. And the page tried to gain the favor
and the protection of the king. For achieving that, he describes
in detail his education, which fits exactly the standards
of aristocratic Sasanian military and intellectual training,
including religious education, astrological knowledge,
and also training in games like chess and polo. Then beings the questioning. The king wants to know what
is the best of everything in the servant’s eye, including
food, wine, music, perfumes, women, horses, and so on. The answer gives rise to a long
enumeration of the realia of the — and the material culture of Sasanian
Iran and the courtier protocol. When some place names are
mentioned, as it is the case with the great varieties for the
most excellent wines, we can observe that these regions are, in
fact, included in the border of the Sasanian realm at
the time of Khosrow I. This detail shows that the
period of the composition of the text is very likely to
be the period of his reign. And this is — that is
— that it was not — the story was not attributed
to him retrospectively, as it was presumably assumed. But this is not the only result of
reliable techniques of observation. The king is satisfied by the
answer of the young page, and he bestows a high military
title of the marzban on him. Then the page finds
himself in situations where he has to prove his courage. He captures dangerous lions, and
he has to prove also his chastity. And when he passes these
ordeals, the king decides to keep him at the court. End of the story. Now what is the moral of the social
ascension of an anonymous servant? What could be significance for
the audience of the sixth century? It seems to be that behind this
naive court story hides a strong political propaganda. This Middle Persian Text only makes
sense if we consider the context of internal policy according
to which it was composed. Khosrow I, at the beginning of his
reign, had to face the consequences of a socioeconomic
crisis that started in the time of his father Kavadh. Khodadad mentioned the
story this morning. Kavadh actually supported a
religious leader called Mazdak because he found Mazdakism
a useful instrument for undermining the
power of the clergy. The Mazdak movement might have
attracted the lower classes of the society. I don’t have time to go into details
about the social and moral doctrine, but from the Zoroastrian point
of view it was seen not only as a dangerous heresy, but
also as an economic disaster that would explain why
the story of the — in this story, the page
has lost his fortune and turns to the court for help. Here as well as in other stories,
Khosrow I took the occasion of presenting himself as the
champion of anti-Mazdakism. In fact, Khosrow I is very
well-known for his reforms. He actually continued to
[inaudible] economic reforms that his father initiated,
and a better control over the agricultural production,
and a taxes levy required to rebalance the social forces. The power of the great noble
houses needed to be reduced, and instead the king favored
the small land-holding gentry. It is clear to me that the depiction
of the politically-correct figure of the young page in this story
echoes the increased confidence of the king toward the lesser
nobility, here presented as a victim of Mazdak economic project,
or its alleged communism. And this story is,
therefore, better understood in the social reconstruction context
of the post-Mazdakite crisis. Allow me now to present another
brief example of the depiction of the Sasanian king as
a hero of the religion, as I don’t find Middle Persian
Zoroastrian literature particularly diffident to the memory
of the kings. Quite on the contrary,
it keeps telling us that the Zoroastrian
tradition has been transmitted from immemorial times
along with Iranian kings, and especially thanks
to the Sasanian kings. Not all of them, of course,
but at least three or four of the most important ones. I don’t want to bother you
with the details of the text, and this sketch will surely be
enough to illustrate the case. This is what we find — this
chart is what we find in — or we can reconstruct after
many Middle Persian texts, especially the “Denkard
IV,” an Arabic text based on earlier Middle Persian texts. The genealogical table
of the Iranian royalty in which the Sasanians
present themselves as the heirs of the legendary Kayanid dynasty,
here represented by Wishtasp. This legacy is not a mere
historical resonance, nor an intellectual construct. It has to be sustained by
tangible elements and facts. This transmission process
could apply to many things, the empire itself might be
handed down through generations, or the [speaking in foreign
language], the royal glory. But I choose to show you the myth of the transmission of
the holy scriptures. As you can see here, if you live
in the sixth century and you want to write a good story,
before you post it on the sixth century
Facebook, which is, of course, the network of the
mythical narrations that were spread throughout
the priestly schools, or the festive gatherings,
or whatever. But your story has to
meet established criteria of the Zoroastrian mythology to
be considered as a good story. Here is some of this criteria. The story has to fit the general
picture of the mythical chronology, the scheme of the succession of
millennia with different periods, dynasties, and reigns, and so on. The second criteria is the presence
of three characters, the hero — here a king — the sage or the
wise man, most of the time a magus, and a common enemy [inaudible]
tied to Iran and its religion. You also need something that links
the generation one to the other. According to this version of the
myth, the transmitted element from the Kayanid to
Sasanian was the “Avesta,” not as the liturgical recitation nor
as the vague notion named the Den, but as a real object,
as a book handed down, after self-vicissitudes,
of course — Alexandre was there —
to the Sasanian kings. And each of them has contributed
to its edition, copying, reassembling, and completing. When you want to legitimize
the existence of something, basically you only need to
say that it was here before. “My ancestors gave it to me, so there is no reason
to doubt about it.” This raises another question, why
does the author of this text need to legitimize the existence
of the “Avesta” as a book? The answer is clear, it
wasn’t a book before it. It seems to me that this narration
is only meant to place Khosrow I at the end of this line as
the legitimate depository and heroic savior of the holy book, which has accumulated all
the knowledge of the time and has become the epitome
of the scions of the Iranian and non-Iranian world, and that it
has a distinctive shape of a codex or a book, [speaking in foreign
language] in Middle Persian. This holistic and cosmic
aspect of the “Avesta” truly reminds the holistic and cosmic aspect of
the king himself. I hope these two tiny examples
were enough to demonstrate that the Middle Persian literature
has not yet said its last word about the Sasanian kings,
and that it is not surprising that profound historical and social
transformations have left a trace into the highly-conservative and
faithfully-transmitted tradition, if we are inclined of using new
techniques to look for them. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Hirad Dinavari: Thank you, Dr.
Azarnouche for a wonderful talk. I am now going to introduce our
second speaker, Dr. Judith Lerner who is an art historian specializing
in the history and visual culture of Iran and Central
Asia from the Achaemenid to the early Islamic periods. She is especially interested
in and has published widely on the glyptic art of Iran, Bactria
and Sogdiana; the art and culture of the Silk Road, specifically
that of the Sogdians and other Central Asians who
lived in China; and the artistic and political uses of Iran’s
pre-Islamic visual past in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A Research Associate at
the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, she is
a co-editor for the “Journal of Inner Asian Art and Archaeology.” She has a MA degree
from Columbia University and a PhD from Harvard University. Thank you very much. Let’s have Dr. Lerner
give us her talk. [ Applause ]>>Judith Lerner. Thank you very much, Hirad. And thank you all for coming. And thanks to all the people who have made this fascinating
gathering possible today. I am particularly grateful
for this opportunity to talk about an important aspect of the
art created under the Qajar dynasty that ruled Persia from the late
18th to the early 20th century. This is the art of
carving into living rock, that is a large boulder or, more
typically, a cliff or mountainside, of monumental images in high relief. This form of visual art is one of several artistic
innovations of the Qajar period. It seems to have been the brainchild
of — let’s see if this works — of Fath-Ali Shah, the
second Qajar ruler. Although, in his extensive
use of it, he was actually revisiting
an artistic medium that began in very ancient, pre-Islamic times. And I’m sure many of you are
familiar with the Qajars, and particularly Fath-Ali Shah. And this is a particularly
wonderful — he was rather vain, as you could probably
tell from his pose. He imitates Napoleon, in fact. But he has this long, luxurious
black beard that was described as very shiny and glistening. And he was quite a clothes horse. And you will — I will refer
to that briefly later on. The very earliest rock relief
carving we know of are four reliefs in Western Iran carved
around the beginning of the second millennium B.C.E.
by the rulers of Lullubi, a mountainous kingdom in the
region, in which they proclaim and show the victories
over their enemies. You are just — you’re looking
at one of them, Anubanini, and you see him trampling
on the body of his most important
defeated enemy. And facing him is the goddess
Ishtar, whom he acknowledges as helping him, being on his side so he could have his —
achieve this victory. This monumental means of glorifying
royal power inspired 25 centuries later the Achaemenid
Darius the Great to commemorate his
military victories on a mountainside not
too far away at Bisitun. Succeeding Elamitian,
Parthian, and Sasanian monarchs, continued this tradition of immortalizing their
kingship and military triumphs. Rock relief sculpture reached its
apogee under the Sasanian kings, especially those of the
third and fourth centuries, in particular Ardashir I,
and you see him in the — at the top receiving his
investiture, his right to rule, from Ahura Mazda; Shapur
I, the second one, that — who also receives his investiture from the great god Ahura
Mazda; and Shapurs II and III. I also show you two reliefs
made for the last important king of the dynasty, Khosrow II, in
the larger grotto at Taq-e Bustan in Kermanshah, the same province as
the reliefs of Anubanini and Darius. For the Sasanians, rock relief
was a major artistic medium in which they expressed imperial
ideas about divine investiture, legitimacy, royal succession,
and sheer military might. Rock reliefs attributable to the
Sasanian period total nearly 40, and 34 of them can be identified
with specific Sasanian kings. With the exception of one
relief in Afghanistan, which Touraj showed you earlier in
the morning, all are in Iran proper. Most date to the third
and fourth centuries. Significantly, almost all of them
are located in Fars province, which was the geographical
foundation of not only the Sasanian dynasty,
but that of the Achaemenid. With the fall of the
Sasanians, monumental sculpture from living rock was
all but abandoned, although successive Islamic
dynasties such as the Buyid, the Mongols, and the Safavids
left many inscriptions carved into living rock, none continued the
art of monumental relief sculpture. To be sure, the major pictorial,
and especially the figurative themes of pre-Islamic Iran, specifically
those that had been employed by the Sasanians, “Razm o
Basim,” Fighting and Feasting, along with the hunt and enthronement
scenes continued to be depicted in painting, metalwork, ceramics,
and textiles as you see here in examples from Islamic times. But it was only in the
reign of Fath-Ali Shah Qajar that figurative monumental
rock carving was again made. In this talk, I’ll survey
most of the Qajar reliefs, showing their debt to
those of the Sasanians. I’ll suggest why Fath-Ali
Shah revived this ancient art, and end by contrasting the use of
Sasanian models in the first part of the 19th century with the
change in the scale, iconography, and even medium of relief
carving that prevailed in the second part of the century. And I shall briefly
suggest a reason why. Of the eight reliefs known
from the Qajar period, seven can be attributed
to Fath-Ali Shah or to one of his numerous progeny. The eighth was ordered
in the late 19th century by Fath-Ali Shah’s great
grandson Nasr al-Din Shah. I’m showing you one of the
earlies of Fath-Ali Shah’s relief, which is found in Northern
Iran in the mountainous region of Firuzkuh northeast of
Teheran, and I’m sure many in this room have hiked up
there, maybe in their youth, and perhaps have seen the relief. These mountains, which separate
Firuzkuh from the Mazandaran plain, were the main summer
quarters of the Qajar tribe, providing rich hunting
grounds for the court. And Fath-Ali Shah had
a hunting lodge there. It was also there in 1808 or 1817, depending upon how the
accompanying inscription is read, that he commemorated his
exploits in this relief. Filling the frame are not only
just the Shah and his prey — I’m sorry — and his prey, but 18
of his many sons in attendance. I believe he had about 63 sons, and they never counted
all his daughters. The relief may commemorate
a particular hunt while also reproducing, on a grand scale,
paintings of hunting scenes that were popular with
the shah and his court. And you’re looking at
an example of a painting on lacquer showing
Fath-Ali Shah hunting. His — again, his black beard
just in the wind behind him. The subject matter harks back
to ancient Iranian images, in particular the density of the composition recalls
the monumental hunting reliefs in Khosrow II’s iwan at
Taq-e Bustan, as well as, as you can see above, this
late Sasanian hunting plate on which the king pursues
a number of different game. It was at Taq-e Bustan
sometime between 1821 and 1828 that a courtier had
carved this relief to memorialize Mohammad
Ali Mirza Dowlat-Shah, one of Fath-Ali Shah’s sons, and Governor of Kermanshah
who had died in 1821. And so in the upper left you
see him attended by his sons and chief eunuch, ensconced on
a high-back throne, his posture and physiognomy very much
like that of his father who in numerous paintings sits
on a similar chair throne. The relief was placed above the
gray panel showing Khosrow II’s boar hung. Its placement at the same height of
the figure of Khosrow on the rear of the grotto, on this rear wall,
has prompted Prudence Harper to observe that “The Sasanian King
of Kings is reduced to functioning as Mohammad Ali Mirza’s doorkeeper.” It’s a very nice conceit. Moving south to Shiraz, the
capital of Farz province, we find this imposing image
created between 1823 and 1825, when it was mentioned
by a British traveler as having recently been completed. Unfortunately, it is greatly
eroded over the years. It’s unprotected, and when I
last saw it about 10 years ago, it had been — people had
taken potshots at it — at the heads, as you can see. But I hope you can make out
the rigidly frontal figure of Fath-Ali Shah, flanked by two
standing also frontal figures. Set high in the Tangeh Allahu Akbar,
the traditional entry into Shiraz from the north, the relief lacks
an identifying inscription, but the enthroned monarch
is clearly Fath-Ali Shah, recognized by his luxuriant beard, which had been originally
painted black, but in fact, I should say that all the reliefs
were painted, Qajar reliefs, as well as Sasanian reliefs,
as well as Achaemenid reliefs, and quite garishly I must say,
very shocking to our eyes. We’re not used to this. Anyway, Fath-Ali Shah is
flanked by his heir apparent, Abbas Mirza to your
right, and to your left, Abbas Mirza’s son Mohammad Mirza who in 1834 succeeded Fath-Ali
Shah as Mohammad Shah Qajar. Fath-Ali Shad kneels
on the Takht-e Marmar, the famous marble throne
upon which he and successive monarchs
were crowned. Framing the scene are the
twisted marble columns that the first Qajar ruler,
Fath-Ali Shah’s uncle Agha Mohammad, carted off to Teheran from Karim
Khan Zand’s palace in Shiraz when he defeated the Zand dynasty
and gained the Persian throne. These furnishing indicate that
the scent takes place in Teheran. And as I’ve previously written about
the relief, I believe it was carved on the orders of Fath-Ali Shah
to demonstrate to the people of Farz the correct
succession to the throne. It became necessary to do this in
1822 after the Shah heard rumors that two of his other sons, Hassan
Ali Mirza, Governor of Khorasan, and Hossein Ali Mirza, Farman Farma, Governor of Shiraz,
were planning a revolt. Hassan Ali Mirza resigned
his governorship, but Hossein Ali Mirza did not
and continued to rule in Shiraz. The frontal hieratic pose of the
Shah, flanked by his intended heirs, recalls the enthronement relief
of the Sasanian ruler Bahram II at Sarab Bahram, which
is not far from Saharz and surely must have
served as an inspiration. I show you two more reliefs
dated to the early 1830s, Fath-Ali Shah’s last decade of rule. Both were carved at
Rayy, south of Teheran. And this one on a boulder
at Kuh-e Sorsorreh shows him with long beard flying as he spears
a lion, a more active portrayal than the usual static enthronement. It’s possible that this daring-do
was inspired by the Sasanian relief that had originally been
carved on the boulder, which probably depicted Shapur I. And you see it here
in this drawing made by Cerulean Usli [assumed
spelling] during his stay in Persia from 1811 to 1812. It’s likely that the
Qajar shah’s appropriation of this ancient relief added to the
power and prestige of his image. Fath-Ali Shah’s last relief
at Rayy is this enthronement at Cheshmeh Ali, carved three
years before his death in 1834. And again, for nostalgia’s
sake, in the upper left some of you might remember it was
a fine place to picnicking, and people washed their
carpets at the spring. It’s a very old slide. The relief reprises the central
portion of a much earlier well-known and much-copied life-sized
wall painting made by Abdullah Khan 20 years earlier for the Negaristan
palace outside of Teheran. Its subject is an imaginary New
Year reception at the Persian court. The enthroned shah is flanked by
his sons and retainers as well as by all the foreign envoys and ambassadors he had
received on different occasions. Its composition echoes the great
reliefs of Shapur and that of — I don’t think it moved — sorry. Yes, sorry, I have left
out a slide, but it’s okay. Anyway, it echoes the great reliefs
of Shapur I and the one of Shapur II at Bishapur, which display images
of and submission of subject peoples from all parts of the
Sasanian empire. In the Negaristan painting and
at Cheshmeh Ali, representatives of Britain, France, India, Arabia, and the Ottoman Empire pay their
respects to the Qajar Shah. But this is purely symbolic, as
they never all actually converged on the Qajar court at a single time. If the image of foreigners
coming to pay respect to the Persian shah reminds you of
the Great Procession at Persepolis to which — in which all the subject
nations bring gifts or tribute to the American King of Kings,
I’d give you an A for effort, but otherwise you would be wrong. And that’s because the
enthroned figure of Darius and his Crown Prince Xerxes
had occupied the center of the composition on the
northern and eastern staircases of the Apadana, but the
Qajars never saw them, as those panels had been
replaced by Darius’ son Xerxes with an inscriptional
panel flanked by guards. And you see that in the lower slide. And this, of course,
is what we see today. The — in the center is the
drawing of one of the two panels. And you will see them because they
were found during proper excavations of Persepolis in the
treasury building. So they had been removed by
the heir who really didn’t want to show himself as being
subservient to his father. At least that is what
we have accepted. So this is what we see today. However, the grandeur
of the entire procession on the eastern stairway became
visible only in the 1930s with the scientific
excavation of Persepolis. And this is really what
the Qajars would have seen, and even into the early 20th century
this is what Persepolis looked like. And what was exposed, which was the
northern staircase of the Apadana, was in a ruinous state
and had also been looted. Many reliefs that now
grace some of our museums around the world came from there. In short, Fath-Ali Shah and
his artists were not inspired by these Achaemenid reliefs. Rather, the image of the
enthroned ruler flanked by courtiers was a topos
of Persian painting. And as you’ve seen, one that
harks back to Sasanian rule. Before Fath-Ali Shah
assumed the Qajar throne, he had served Agha
Mohammad Shah as Governor of Farz province with
his seat in Shiraz. As you saw on the map at
the beginning of my talk, Farz is home to a trove
of Sasanian reliefs. Of the surviving 40, 28
are in Farz province, and most are not far from Shiraz. Truly their imposing scale and
courtly imagery of enthronement and jousting inspired the young Baba
Khan, as Fath-Ali Shah was known, while his uncle Agha
Mohammad ruled in Persia. As I hope I’ve demonstrated, rock relief carving flourished
during Fath-Ali Shah’s reign, and only with his reign. With his death in 1834, this
art form came to an end, except for a one-time revival
under Nasr al-Din Shah, which is what you’re looking at now. Bearing the date of 1878 is this
monumental relief commemorating the reconstruction of a road through the
Haraz River Valley in Mazandaran. That’s in the north. In the center you see the Shah on
horseback flanked by courtiers, one of which is his Minister
for Public Works, and another, the second from the right — I’m
sorry, I don’t have a pointer — is his favorite court photographer, Aga Riza Aqa Spash-e
[assumed spelling]. Please notice the extreme fidelity
in the rendering of the Shah, his courtiers, and his horse. This is due to a great
familiarity with photography, for Nasr al-Din Shah was himself an
avid and accomplished photographer and advanced the use of
this art throughout Persia. Also notable in this relief is how
the figures are organized in space and the use of different
heights of relief to crate depth. This helps to suggest a kind of
perspective that is alien to ancient and traditional Persian
art, but is characteristic of this late Qajar period. An increased interest in
and resulting influence of the West impacted
strongly on Qajar art, as did the so-called
realism of photography. Thus, in the relief
we see a new take on the hierarchic courtly
mode of the ruler enthroned. And it’s interesting to contrast
the two, the Sasanian Bahran II one and Fath-Ali Shah’s
enthronement scene in Shiraz. Interestingly, in this time of the
Haraz Road relief and Qajar interest in photography, a different kind of
relief sculpture was being developed in Iran, specifically
in Farz province. Beginning in the 1860s, a number of
grand houses in Shiraz were built and embellished with stone
relief sculptures as well as plaster carvings
and ceramic tiles that copy Achaemenid sculpture, specifically the reliefs
from Persepolis. There’s time to show you
examples from one of — only one of these houses. It is the Narengestan, built
sometime between 1879 and 1885. And no doubt some of you here have
visited it either because you lived in Shiraz or you visited Shiraz,
and maybe you grew up in Shiraz. I know that one person
in the audience here has. What prompted this
interest in Achaemenid, specifically Persepolitan imagery? Centuries of Persian Islamic art
had reverberated with faint echoes of the art developed
under Cyrus and Darius. And these reverberations had
been channeled through the filter of Sasanian artistic convention. I’ve already treated this
issue in several articles that focus on its various aspects. In the time remaining, suffice
it to say that knowledge of Persia’s pre-Islamic
past had virtually been lost to the Persians themselves. The epic national history,
the “Shahnameh,” treats only the major
Sasanian rulers, the events of their reign only
vaguely remembered or romanticized. The Achaemenid dynasty
was even more obscure. In fact, it was virtually unknown. The “Shahnameh” mentions only the
last Achaeminic king, Darius III, but only as a foil for the
conquering and heroic Iskandar, Alexander the Great, who
is the legitimate ruler. But an important event occurred
in 1846 with the publication by the military officer linguist and
diplomat, Henry Creswicke Rawlinson, of his reading of the
Old Persian text of Darius’ inscription at Behistun. This introduced to mid-19th
century Persians the voice of a great Persian ruler of
an actual and far more ancient and powerful Persia than
hitherto they had known. Through Darius’ own words which
were translated into modern Persian, almost immediately, Persians learned
about the first great Persian Empire that for its time,
rivaled that of any of the European powers
past or current. At a time when Persia had to
stave off Russian, British, and French attempts
to bring the country into their respective
spheres of influence, this knowledge became a source
of national pride and fed into the growing interest
on the part of many Persian intellectuals
in nation building. Thus interest turned to such
Achaemenid sites as Pasargadae and to the tombs of the
Achaemenid kings at Naqsh-e Rustam but most particular to Persepolis
or Parsa, hitherto known to Persians from early Islamic times as
Sad Stun, “Hundred Columns” — chihil minara “Forty Minarets” —
or as it is still called today, Takht-e Jamshid for
Throne of Jamshid. [Inaudible] must have been aware
of Persepolis but we have — he would have considered
it the creation of mythological or
supernatural beings. Its carvings unfamiliar and unidentifiable
and hence meaningless. In contrast, he would have
recognized in the reliefs of the [Inaudible] the traditional
privileges and duties of kingship, enthronement, homage,
fighting and the hunt, all produced on a monumental scale, worthy models for this
[inaudible] monarch. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Hirad Dinavari:
Thank you very much. And we do have someone
from Shiraz here, Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz
is from Shiraz. So one of our speakers, exactly. Last but not least from
University of Maryland, I would like to introduce
Dr. Ida Meftahi. She currently holds a Visiting
Assistantship Professorship in Contemporary Iranian Culture
and Society at the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies,
University of Maryland. She completed her doctoral
studies at the University of Toronto’s Department of Near
and Middle Eastern Civilizations and was the postdoctoral fellow
at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Pennsylvania
State University. Her first book,Gender
and Dance in Modern Iran,
Biopolitics on Stage
was released in May 2016. In addition to teaching
interdisciplinary courses on Modern Iran, she is the director
of Lalehzar Digital Project, a component of the Roshan
Initiative for Digital Humanities, as well as faculty
adviser for Roshangar, Roshan Undergraduate
Journal for Persian Studies. Thank you, Ida. It’s great to have you here again. She gave us a wonderful talk on her
book and now we have her talking about dance and Sasanian bringing
the Sasanian Realm to the present by taking it out of antiquity and
bringing it to the contemporary. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Ida Meftahi: Thank you. Greetings, everyone. In November 1921 on the
stage of the Grand Hotel on Tehran’s Lalehzar Street,
the historical musical Parichihr and Parizad was staged
twice for the benefit of the newspaper [Inaudible] —
newspapers [Inaudible] respectively. Advertised as a play that would
“inform the audience of the customs of Sasanian era” and written by
a young playwright Reza Kamal, who later took up the
pen name “Shahrzad”. The show drew several hundreds of
enthusiastic audiences comprised of both ticket payers
and trespassers. The significance of the play
is reflected in the debased — debates it instigated in the
periodicals in the following weeks about various aspects of performance
including the actors’ depiction of characters and the venue, all
of which provide us with insights into politics, perception,
and expectations pertaining to staging ancient Iranian
history in early 20th century. An audience member, in defense of
the play wrote the following letter to the playwright, “Mr. Reza
Kamal, I came to the show knowing that you brought a forgotten
part of Iranian history to life using historical
evidence — evidences. I was especially excited
that the play is about King Anurshirvan’s
famous dream, the one that many historians
have described. I couldn’t believe that a
young Iranian would be able to convert this country — his
country’s history into a play. You have selected to depict
the era of the just king that all Iranians are proud of and a beautiful episode
unique to this era.” Thus far, the letter tells us that
firstly, the notion of history in this context was
intertwined with nationalism and glory of ancient Iran. And secondly, literary imagination
counted as historical evidence as the most recognized to
Anurshirvan’s dream as far as those historic,
[inaudible] book of the kings. The letter then continued, “But
then the day after the show, I was surprised to see that [Inaudible] itself had
published a negative review about your play. I’m writing to asking not to get
discouraged by these criticisms. They have complained that
depicting Parichihr whose dead body on stage was not appropriate for the
20th century and that it was a sign of savagery, [inaudible]. You shouldn’t take these
interpretations seriously as such scenes are
prevalent and important phase around the world including
Salome and Othello. If you — if having a dead body on stage is savagery
then all these writers of the civilized world
must have been savages. You were also condemned for
having a fortune teller who speaks from the other world but of
course, you’re showing an era in which this idea was
very indeed widespread.” This part of the letter tells us — attest to the fact that when ancient
Iranian history was materialized on stage, it had to reflect the
values and rules of modern stage of 1920s and not of the Sasanian
era in which the plot was based. At the time, theatrical stage was
considered the site for display of modernity and a
school of morality and edification for its audience. Thus the backward signs of savagery and superstitious countered the
then modern Iranian notions. The letter then continued,
“A playwright has to depict the characters’
personalities and behaviors as much as their costumes. It would been ridiculous if you had
shown the [inaudible] dancing just as a young Belgian king
may dance with women or if you would have
depicted the courtiers of the 1st century
[inaudible] with ties or bowties of latest Parisian
fashion because some actors of Comedie Francaise may show
up [inaudible] on the stage.” As evidence, no matter how much the
theatrical media of the time drew up on European inspirations or
dialogued with European aesthetics, vernacular and gender perceptions,
they are expected to be reflected in the depiction of important
historical characters especially the kings. In this case, dancing was
not considered appropriate for a [inaudible] Iranian king. However, as other sources on this
play indicate, it was acceptable for the female protagonist
Parichihr to dance and sing. Indeed, one of the most
important novelties of this play was the employment
of the young Armenian dancer and singer, [Inaudible]
Aqabayov to enact the role of Parichihr upon her
arrival from Europe where she received her
opera and ballet training. Praised widely for her sole — for her role as Parichihr which
literally means, fairy face, Aqabayov adopted the stage name
of Pari and became the star of Iranian stage for a decade. While there are no existing
images of her performance, a farfetched interpretation
on my behalf, is to relate this balletic depiction
of the goddess Nahid on pointe shoes in the logo of the
periodical Nahid in 1920s to Madame Pari’s success
at the time. Not only was Aqabayov’s artistic
skillsets a novelty for that era but the public appearance
of female performers even on that modern stage was rare and
mostly limited to non-Muslims. In this era, most female
roles continued to be performed by
cross-dressed men. This was the case — oops — with another important historical
opera contemporaneous to Parichihr and Parizad which had been on the
stage of Grand Hotel since May 1921. This was the Resurrection of
Persian Kings in the Ruins of Mada’in written by the poet
and journalist Mirzah’i Eshghi. Writing the first historical opera
of its kind, Eshghi was inspired by his travel from Baghdad to Mosul where he encountered
the still glorious ruins of Sasanian [Inaudible]. The script revolves around the
poet’s own dream which unfolds against the backdrop of
this historical monument. There he witnesses some of the major
ancient Iranian kings including Cyrus, Darius, and [Inaudible] along
with Zoroaster, all of whom mourned for the condition of Iran in
1920 which was depicted as part of the continuum of a dark age
which began with the “Arab Invasion” that had put an end to the
Golden Age of Sasanian Era. A significant role belonged to — in this play, belonged to
a Sasanian princess enacted by a cross-dressed man who
mourned for the poor condition of Iranian women symbolizing
modern Iran or all women of Iran and ancient Iranian princess
became a prevalent character type in nationalist plays and
operettas of that era. Similar to Parichihr and Parizad, Resurrection of Persian
Kings instigated responses for the audiences who recommended
a more appropriate attire for certain kings on stage. A favorable comment from
audience member reads, “This play is the best medium
for moving the sensitive hearts who view Iranian kings [inaudible]
up in the ruins of Ctesiphon to pray for the progress of Iran. Accompanying them is Zoroaster
who begs for the bliss of Iran. How can not — how can one
not be moved by these things?” While later stagings of
the Resurrection in 1923, Madame Pari took over the
role of the Sasanian princess. Raztakhiz’s reference to Sasanian
history were indeed far more direct than Shahrzad’s Parichihr
and Parizad and perhaps its success
prompted the selling of Shahrzad’s play as
a Sasanian history. Visualizing the glorious
ancient Iranian history combined with nationalism and nostalgia as
well as binary characterization of us Iranians versus
them, the Arab invaders, was a recurring theme
even before these operas and it’s continued afterwards. A good later example is
[Inaudible] written in 1927. Some of these plays
combine the ancient history with classical literature
including those dealing with [inaudible] namely [Inaudible]
which drew on ancient history to assign historical personas
to literary characters. While others were based on
collaborations of historians, again, history in its early 20th
century sense with writers. These collaborations which
gradually became more conscious of archeological expeditions
and works of European Orientalist
scholars would lead to a more historically informed
detailing in the staging of plays. While Reza Shah’s state is
nationalism promoted similar lines of thinking, it’s important
to note that these authors that they’re not necessarily
pro-state. In fact, Mirzah’i Eshghi was
murdered by the Pahlavi regime and Shahrzad committed suicide. An example of a pro-state
play is Zoroaster’s Promise, [Inaudible] written in
1930 by [Inaudible]. In this play, in the manner
of Eshghi’s Resurrection of Iranian Kings, modern
Iran, Zoroaster, Darius I, [Inaudible] all visit the
playwright in his dream. The play culminates with all of these important figures praising
Reza Shah for his achievements. In the words of the theater scholar,
[Inaudible], the goal of this genre of historical drama in that era
was to evoke emotional response in the audience while embodying the
official, the grandiose language and larger than life behaviors
as well as idealistic love to sacrifice for the Motherland. Concurrently, the first Pahlavi’s
Women Emancipation Program in 1936 facilitated the
men’s presence on stage. However, public performance
and especially dancing for Muslim women continued
to have its predicaments. As I argue in my book, these early
combinations of music, dance, and acting with Iranian literature and nationalist themes
gave legitimacy to dance and revered asexual female
performers appeared on stage as angels and Persian princesses. Such depiction of women as angel
and Persian princesses combined with nationalist and
revivalist attitude for ancient Iranian tradition
is best depicted in productions of the Studio for Revival
of Iranian Classic Arts. Founded during World War II by
the American Nilla Cram Cook, the company sought not to only
visualize ancient Iranian history on stage but also use their range
of ancient motifs to reconstruct the “real Iranian dance” and bring
back its ancient religious and national status. Like Iranian — like her
Iranian predecessors of 1920s, Cook drew up on Persian literature, archaeological findings,
and Zoroastrian text. Here I turned to her
piece, Ardeshir Babakan which bore many resemblances
to earlier works. It employed the backdrop of
a dream to bring the founder of Sasanian Empire into a
conversation with Darius in the background of his tomb. But comparing to the earlier
works, she had explicit details and program notes regarding
the use of ancient motifs. For instance, excerpt from the
translation of an inscription of — from Persepolis and [Inaudible], they are used for the
dialogue between the two kings. Angels of earth, fire,
water, sun, and moon — they’re featured as characters
and their costuming was based on silver vessels of Sasanian era
held at the Museum of Ancient Iran. Providing the historical
introduction to Babakan’s era and his significance, the
program notes declared, “If you have chosen Ardeshir Babakan
as our first hero rather than Cyrus or Darius of the Golden Age, it’s because he aroused the
sleeping fate, found the sacred — secret of new life and dared to
attempt the rebuilding of the world that had fallen into ruins.” As the quote indicates,
Cook’s connection with ancient history was not of
the romantic, nostalgic nature of the earlier writers but was
hopeful, [inaudible], invigorating and to some extent universalist. While the image in the printed
program indicates poses rather movements, Cook wrote elsewhere
that she drew up on old coins, sacred Zoroastrian
rituals, Zurkhanah and sculpture processions
of Persepolis. Especially [Inaudible] as a source
for revival of [Inaudible] dances. While she also claimed that
there were many similarities between ancient’s Achaemenid
movements as well as those of the Greek. [Inaudible] — the
historian [Inaudible] in his widely circulated article
on dance and history of Iran, criticized Cook’s ideas on
this as baseless fantasy. It’s also important to note that
[inaudible] in his text referred to Achaemenid kings dancing while
emphasizing that the type of dance that they did was sacred and
not cheap and degenerate. And now one may ask — — I have to go back [laughter]. That is, the Iranian playwrights of
1920s had an emotional attachment to Iran’s glorious past
and used such nostalgia for the purpose of
regaining that glory. What was the American Nilla Cook’s
intention for traveling to Iran in 1942 to revive the
ancient Iranian arts? My answer is two-fold. As in the case of many
modernist artists of her era who turned eastward for
the authentic, the natural, and the universal material for arts, Iran and Persian language
attracted Cook. Furthermore, Nilla Cook’s
parents were among key figures, the key figures involved the
American [inaudible] Hellenist artistic movements in
1920s and the organizers of the important Delphic Festival in
Greece for the revival of Persian — of pure ancient Greek traditions. Growing up in Greece, Nilla not
only witnessed major American modern dancers including Isadora Duncan,
in search of natural dances in ruins of Athens but also was herself
involved in these dance activities. At the same time, like many
Orientalists of the wartime, she worked with the U.S. government. Showing up in the wartime of Iran
in 1942, she temporarily was hired by the American Embassy in Tehran as
a cultural relation representative. She later joined the Department
of Theaters of Iranian Ministry of Interior as director
meaning that she was the — she was in charge of
censorship of theater and cinema which at the time was very
much influenced by the Soviets. Meanwhile, she pursued both Iranian
and American resources ranging from the embassy to
Shah’s mother in order to create an Iranian National Opera. Inferring from archival
research at my archival research at National Archives, I
find that wartime atmosphere of American legation was
suitable for Cook’s venture. Firstly, competing with
England and United — and the Soviets, the United
States was pursuing an independent propaganda system that
distanced United States from the negative reputation of
the British and Soviets in Iran. Secondly, as quoted in the first
memorandum for propaganda activities in Iran, sent to State
Department in 1942, they had already found
Iranian soft spots. I’m quoting that document. “Iranian people are susceptible to
flattery especially in connection with Persia’s contribution
to the fields of art, poetry, and architecture.” Thus they recommended
flattery on these subjects as a medium for propaganda. I find that directly [inaudible]
this anecdote and the field trips of Arthur Pope to Iran
in preparation of his famous Survey
of Persian Arts. In fact, Arthur Pope
was very much present in all these documents
from 1930s to ’40s. Cook argued that — and Pope’s
book was also one of the sources that Nilla Cook used for
her artistic creations. Cook argued that the environment of Iranian theater was especially
dominated by the Russians and pushed for an American-based stage
project to counter the impact. At the same time, she added
another public diplomacy agenda for her project by using it to
“break the barrier of dancing for women of good families,”
an idea that was even quoted in Richard Arndt’s book on
American Cultural Diplomacy
in the 20th Centuryas a project
serving the diplomatic purpose of United States. Cook’s point on this
barrier proved to be right when her advertisements
brought hundred men to the audition but no women. It was with the help of the U.S.
Public Relation attache Kyler Young that would finally persuaded a
few ballet-trained Iranian girls of mixed backgrounds
to join the studio. Among them, Natasha [Inaudible], who later on wrote her
memoir and Haideh Ahmadzadeh. And Haideh Ahmadzadeh,
who after a decade, founded the Iranian National Ballet. In pursuit of this
goal, legitimizing dance through linking it with
glory of ancient Iran and Persian classical literature,
one of the earliest performances of Cook’s studio was at the
reception of Public Relation Attache at the Iranian Embassy
which was organized for “Iranian cultural leaders”. The event was held in October 1945
at the garden of American Embassy. According to Young, about 300
intellectuals, educational, and cultural leaders including
those from University of Tehran and Ministry of Education
were invited along with members of Royal Family. The event became the talk of the
town for several weeks particularly because it was the — as he
quotes, “It was the first time that reputable Iranian families
had permitted their daughters to dance publicly.” Nesta Ramazani’s reflection
on perform — on the performance further
completes Young’s description, “Our show was an instant success. Far from being labeled as dancing
girls, we were seen as heroines. By infusing ancient Zoroastrian
rituals and legends with magic and vitality of movement, Ms. Cook
had tapped into the Persian pride in their ancient roots
and cultural heritage.” Based on this success, Cook later
on held further public performances on Lalehzar Street and later
took the company to a tour for several years in Middle East
and Europe and this was still 1940s. So just a few words to conclude,
since the late [inaudible] era, experimentations with new approaches
to performing arts, Sasanian motifs and symbols — sorry, with new
approaches to performing arts, Sasanian motifs, symbols and themes
have been adapted to the stage for telling dramatic
stories of Iranian nation, of its [inaudible] success,
failures, and revival. Said to be presented as musicals,
operettas, play or a dance, these theatrical staging
usually went hand in hand with literary sources in visualizing
the kings, warriors, princesses and goddesses of pre-Islamic Iran. These dramatic ventures, they’re
not only concerned with the glory of ancient Iran, but
they’re informed by scholarship produced at the time. In the meantime, depicting dancing
women as angels and princesses against the aura of ancient Iranian
glory legitimized dance for women that was otherwise considered
only a sexual display of the body. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Hirad Dinavari: Thank you, folks. We have time for maybe two questions and after the questions,
I’m going to put it out. Right now, I would like to have
Mary-Jane and Fatemeh to come up. The moderators as well, I will
invite everyone who has spoken, all of the panelists, Touraj,
Khodadad and then of course, all the speakers to also
come for a group picture. And I want to give
Khodadad and Touraj a chance to also say some things since
they were co-conveners as well. And — okay, so who
has the microphone? Do I get the microphone from you? All right. Could you — all right,
if you have any questions for the wonderful last panel, John
will bring you the microphone. Thank you.>>All right. Fatemeh Keshavarz, my question is
when you read Persian literature from [inaudible] onwards
in modern Persian, there are constant references to
these earlier kings and heroes — [inaudible] and so forth. Obviously, they’re not
accurate historical discussions but they show a level of
awareness that seems to be far from being totally forgotten and then rediscovered
in the 20th century. I wonder if anybody would
like to comment on that. Thank you.>>Hirad Dinavari: Go ahead, Ida? Any comments, any responses?>>Ida Meftahi: Well, I’m
thinking how to respond. I mean, I don’t know if
you were referring to –>>I’m actually more referring to Judith’s paper and,
you know, the others. I mean, you’re most
welcome to address this. But I got the impression that
there’s generally a thought that this past is kind of forgotten and then totally rediscovered
in the 20th century. And I do understand that there
is some of that but there seems to be a far more continued
awareness of that earlier history, if you read Persian literature,
you see constant references to all these heroes and
kings and things like that. So I’m just wondering if
that may not be an indication that there’s not a total
rupture in that history.>>Judith Lerner: I will
try to speak to that. That’s a big topic. I think there’s a difference
between a past, let’s call it a legendary
past and a historical past. And we do know that the Persians in
the first part of the 19th century and earlier, I mean, ever since
— I mean, even if you read the — and the historians here can correct
me — but even the Arab historians, we don’t know about the Achaemenids. They did not know. That’s why Cyrus’ tomb was the
mosque of the mother of Solomon. [Inaudible], they really
didn’t know. However, the past was
known in the west because people read the Herodotus. They read [Inaudible]. They knew about Alexander. They knew and but that really wasn’t
available or it doesn’t seem to be. It could have been available but
it’s not part of the culture.>>But that doesn’t
[inaudible] all these — I mean, I’m wondering why is — there’s a huge [speaking in foreign
language] which is based on that and then you get references in
[speaking in foreign language]. And so you go on referring
to these past. I understand that that’s
not historical before.>>Judith Lerner: It’s a
different past, the recent past.>>With research, in fact,
there is an awareness of this old ancient history. Thank you.>>Judith Lerner: Right, but
it’s a very different past.>>Samra Azarnouche: Does it work?>>Judith Lerner: Yes.>>Samra Azarnouche: May I — I
had a comment about the memory of historical or mythical kings. So that’s correct that in classical
literature, we have no trace of Achaemenides, only
Darius III, for instance. And because it is confronted
to Alexander, otherwise, we had no trace of him as well. So the Book of Kings and other
epic cycles are not history. But we have a source in which
we have a very accurate memory of ancient kings. And this source is Baroni. And Baroni has a list of
chronology of ancient people and he has a very accurate list
of the — of Iranian kings. So all the Achaemenid kings
are here but they are mixed with [Inaudible] mythical kings. So both names are present
in the list. So it tells us that at one time
before Baroni, maybe at the time of the Sasanians, this mixture
has been made in the text sources. So Achaemenid doesn’t
appear in literary because they have nothing
to do with it. I mean, they were erased from this
history long before Sasanian time, long before [Inaudible]
so there’s no surprise that they aren’t in our literature.>>Judith Lerner: And that
we also know that apparently in the early Sasanian period,
there still was a memory. There still was the ability to read
— or I should say, in the earliest, not just the early
Islamic period, excuse me. There was an ability
to read Middle Persian or I should — no, I’m sorry. I’m — forget what I just said. I’m a bit tired. The actual — the Achaemenid kings and the Old Persian
could not be read. That had been forgotten. And so things came down. There is — there are
certain formulae that the early Sasanian
kings used that parallel some of the Achaemenid formulae. And so there is a memory. But by the late Sasanian
times, for whatever reason, there was really a
forgetting of this past. And so, in fact, the being able to
read what was up there in Behistun and this was an ancient king
speaking in his own words, who was in a sense,
a world conqueror, was absolutely extraordinary. And when Rawlinson, you know,
he’s not the only one who read or even read it properly
but he gave his translation to Mohammad Shah Qajar who was
absolutely ecstatic with it and gave orders to carve a
translation below Behistun in Modern Persian. It never happened. But he was so taken with this because this really showed the
antiquity and also the reach. Again, if you put it
into the context of 19 — early 19th century history and how Persia was
threatened on so many sides. They had lost territory. The country was verging
on bankruptcy and then practically
did become bankrupt. This was an amazing thing
to learn about for Persians.>>Hirad Dinavari:
One more question? Go ahead. Or two more, okay.>>Thank you. I’m Laurel Gray, George
Washington University. I wanted to ask about those
magnificent Sassanid silver and gilt ewers that have
depictions of women dancing. I know every generation
sees things from the past through their own filter. And often you would say
that the inscription when someone is describing
let’s say, dancing girls. But what is that current
attitude of scholarship because those are very precious
items and there’s expense and craft in creating them. Are they dancing girls? Are they queens? Are they goddesses? I know that in a way for
later Islamic period, they would be shocking because
they were wearing jewelry and just jewelry in some cases
with some sheer veils and things. But when as someone trying
to reconstruct dance, we don’t have a lot to go on. Usually it’s very flat,
one-dimensional items or two-dimensional items. But that’s a really important
key to try to understand that. What — instead of just
dismissing it as a dancing girl, what can we look differently
— more deeply? What is the status
of those items now?>>Hirad Dinavari: By the way, if you do not recognize the young
lady who’s asking the question, she has been a firestorm
of dance in this DC area. She is the lady who has been
doing the Silk Road Dance Company that brings to the entire region,
Central Asian, Persian, Afghan, Turkic and also Arabic dancing. So she’s asking questions based
on real love and interest.>>Judith Lerner: I understand. That’s a very good
question [laughter]. And one could do a whole
series of talks about it because people have different ideas. I think they’re certainly dancing. They’re women. And they’re scantily
dressed, if at all. And they are dancing. And it probably does reproduce
some kind of dances with scarves and which are still done today. But there are various
theories of what they represent such as Sasanian silver was
greatly influenced by the silver from the west — Roman silver. And there’s a whole —
the seasons, for example. You notice there are
four of them usually and they carry different attributes. And so one theory is
it has to do with that. Another theory is that it has to do
with the bacchanal and wine drinking and these ewers, of course,
were very special objects. They’re not votive objects. They were used. Wine was kept in them. And for probably for
courtly banquets. So a lot of these themes
feed into each other. But for purposes of trying
to understand, you know, did they have dances like that? I would — I would think yes. And that’s why they’re —
that’s not why they’re depicted. But certainly, that’s part of
the feasting and the fun is to have these dancing girls.>>Hirad Dinavari: Okay, we have
— I have one more question. I’m sorry. We’re running out of time. Go ahead. You go ahead and ask
your question and then I’m going to ask our wonderful conveners
and others to join us. Go ahead. He’s bringing it
and dancing around [laughter]. Speaking of dance [laughter].>>I know that many modern day
Zoroastrians believe in most of these post-Sasanian documents
and books which this panel and the previous panels
are referred to. And also many scholars
of Zoroastrianism and Iranian history also
rely on them because probably of the facility of translating
the language of those books. But they were all written
in the post-Sasanian period under the very repressive
Umayyad Dynasty and which tried to persuade people in the
Sasanian Empire to embrace Islam. And followed by the Abbasid one
where they tried to cajole many of the people in the Iranian empires
[inaudible] to accept Zoroastrian or to accept Islam thereby keeping
the habits and the practices of the Sasanian court and
offering them prime ministerships, governorships and so
on and so forth. They were also written and therefore
in a period where the [Inaudible] who wrote some of these books
were influenced either by Islam or they felt that their own
security was going to be compromised if they wrote anything
which was not Islamic. In these circumstances –>>Hirad Dinavari: Your
question, if you could –>>The question therefore
is that in this background, what is the authenticity of relying on interpreting both Zoroastrian
theology as well as Iranian history as many of the speakers
seem to have done?>>Samra Azarnouche: Well, I
guess the question is for me. Well, as I have tried
to demonstrate, for some very specific elements, we can say that it belonged
to the Sasanian period. But only when we can
point to a historical fact or to a geographical references,
or to a geographic reference, or to something that could have
a meaning only in Sasanian times. For all the rest, all the
theological knowledge, all the dogmatic literature,
we don’t know. It could have been written
before or after Sasanian period. We have no clue. So and also I have to add
that this literature is — has very different genres. And we cannot treat apocalyptic
context like theological one like Zend text which
is the translation and commentary of the Avesta. They all have to be addressed
and commented differently. So basically, you are right. We don’t know. But for instance, in the apocalyptic
literature, it’s very interesting because it’s the genre in which
you can depict the present time but we’re projecting
into the future. You say, “They will come. They will kill us.” Or they’re very destructive
and so on. But actually, you are referring
to the Abbasids, for instance, which are living at your time. So you see, there are also these
chronological problems inside each text because the authors
play with this, when it comes to, with
history actually. This is what I can say for
the Middle Persian that I know but I guess maybe other has
answers for other corpora.>>Hirad Dinavari: Dr.
Azarnouche, would it be fair to say that this notion — would it
be fair to say that this notion that somehow, everything ceases
with the coming of Islam is nonsense because it obviously seems to
continue for centuries after. So there is the blurring of
line is because the culture and tradition they continue
in the Islamic period.>>Samra Azarnouche: This is not
only true for religious writings. Sorry but there’s a noise on –>>Hirad Dinavari: Yeah, guys.>>Samra Azarnouche:
And but it is also true for administrative documents. For instance, when you read Arabic
chronics, they tell us that well, the Persian continued to use their
language in a caliphate chancellery within the Muslim administration. So it is — okay, we had no
information before reading this. I mean, we have only this
information by the chronic. But now we know that it was true because we have found
these documents written in Middle Persian dating
from the 7th, 8th century. There is a very large archive, the
Pahlavi Archive kept in the Bank of Library of — I’ve shown
you one example earlier. This — there are hundreds
of documents. They have been written
during the Islamic times but are in Middle Persian. They refer to Sasanian
administration. There is no Muslim. No — absolutely not
Arabic or maybe one or two Arabic words
actually but not more. The same happens, we guess that
our archives is from Central Iran, the region of [inaudible]. Another archive in Middle
Persian is from the 8th century. It comes from [Inaudible]. When you read this text, it’s
like nothing had happened. No trace of Islam. No trace of any political change. So these two documents,
these two examples show us that what’s the chronicle, what’s the [Inaudible]
says is totally true. The administrative and
some other institutions in Sasanian institution has
continued during the Islamic times without any change. So it is true for — this kind of
institution, it’s probably true for religious text and other
structures of the society.>>Hirad Dinavari: Okay,
thank you very much. I know you have questions but
the lovely speakers will be here. But we need to take care of
some administrative things. First of all, if you have
not seen the book display, it’s back in the conference room. Please, after this, go there. We need to vacate this
room by 4:00 and get ready. But what I would like to do
is ask Touraj and Khodadad since they were co-conveners
to please come up. We would like to hear
something from you. And then I’m going to ask all of the
moderators and all of the speakers to also join us for
a group photograph. Fatemeh, John, Mary-Jane, all of
the other speakers, please come up. And if you need to ask
questions, the speakers are here. You’re more than welcome to
approach them afterwards. Thank you.>>All right.>>Hirad Dinavari:
Please, please, please. Yes, absolutely. So Khodadad and Touraj, if you
have something to say, please.>>Touraj Daryaee: Yes, first actually is professor
Azarnouche said, having gone to [Inaudible],
I also was on the vicinity. I went to [Inaudible] next door. It was a Zoroastrian
school on the grade school so we were relatively close to our
boards, but just on the borders. Yes, I think this was very good. I wish we had a little
bit more of the reception. At first, we weren’t sure how to
think of this because there were so many people and we had to,
you know, make it interesting. I think, [Inaudible], this
was really interesting with Ida Meftahi’s paper. You know, that really sort
of brought interest, I think, for people who are interested
in the past but also now as well as [Inaudible] work on
the, again, this reception. So we’re hoping to
publish the volume. And it should be something
like the Sasanian world and its reception, I think. And we need more reception,
I think, as far as that goes. And Hirad, again, thank you
for all that you’ve done.>>Hirad Dinavari: My pleasure. Again, thank you. Khodadad, the work you’ve been doing
recently, I would like to plug this in as a Persian specialist here. Judith, definitely the work you’re
doing, we’ve looked this time on the Sasanians and there’s a
lot of work that have been done on [Inaudible] Achaemenid. Work on the eastern Iran, the
realm that you are working with, [Inaudible] — what
is now Afghanistan, what is now Central
Asia, the Kushan. And the work that Judith
is doing right now with the [Inaudible] really maybe in
a few years, we could potentially go and speak to folks and see if we
could have a talk that focuses on the eastern realm which
is really not worked on. The Central Asian, Afghan,
and the eastern side of Iran, the eastern [Inaudible]. So I think of building on these
and let’s maybe we can all talk. The other request I have is you
saw the books I have on display. I was only able to pool
a small number of them. But a number of you wonderful
scholars, we do not have your works. Please work with me if we
can search the catalogue. If there are items of yours
that have been published that we don’t have, we would love to get your material
for the collections. All right and that’s it on my end. I’m going to ask Mary-Jane and
Fatemeh, and John to please come up. And then all the speakers
also, please come up. Thank you. [Applause] Khodadad, if you would
want to say something, go ahead.>>Khodadad Rezakhani: I was — I wanted to just to be known that
the point of this whole thing as we talked originally
with Hirad was to show a bit of the
work in progress. And I think the selection of
the speakers that honored us by showing up, very much showed that
people who are working on subjects that are being developed. So and things such as east Iranian
subjects are a natural continuation of these works in progress and I
thank everybody for their support and hope that this can continue. Thank you, [inaudible].>>This has been a presentation
of the Library of Congress. Visit us loc.gov.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *