Original Articles

A Survey of Christian Arab Sources for the Study of Sasanian History

Sajad Amiri Bavanpour

This article in Persian reviews all the important Christian Arab sources for the study of Sasanian history. The author studies each of the Syriac and Arabic texts produced by the Christians from the third to the thirteenth century CE which provide important information on the Sasanian Empire.

Should Sasanian Iran be Included in Late Antiquity?

Michael G. Morony, University of California, Los Angeles

When Peter Brown published The World of Late Antiquity, AD 150-750 in 1971 he included the Sasanians. That seems to have been the first time that happened in English, although Franz Altheim and Ruth Stiehl had entitled their study of Sasanian taxation Finanzgeschichte der Spätantike in 1957. However the latter was only about Sasanian Iran and not a general treatment of finance in Late Antiquity that included the Sasanians.

The Financial Affairs of the Sasanian Empire Under Khusrow II Parvez

Zeev Rubin, Tel Aviv University

Al-Ṭabarī’s detailed account of a survey conducted in the royal treasury of the Sasanian kingdom under Khusrau II Parwēz (590-628), during the eighteenth year of his reign (607/8), consists of a list of data and figures which produces an aura of credibility. Confidence in its reliability is strengthened by the fact that the same data crop up in a report about the income from the royal taxation of the Sawād under Kavādh I (484-531), made by the 9th century geographer Abū l-Kāsim ‘Ubaydallah b. ‘Abdallah Ibn Khuradadhbeh and repeated by other geographers. In a slightly distorted form, they are repeated also in a fleeting statement at the end of the sixth part of a tractate about taxation by 10th century scholar, Qudāma Ibn Ja‘far.

Khosrow in Jerusalem: Sasanians, Romans, and the Removal of the True Cross

Sara Mashayekh, University of California, Irvine

The Roman-Persian War of the seventh century that lasted for almost three decades was very influential in shaping the future of the region and the two empires. In many ways, it was much more than just a conflict over territory and wealth, rather a religious war which is sometimes suggested to have been the First Crusade. Not only do the Roman sources constantly refer to their emperor as the “Beloved of Christ” and the Persian king as the “God-hated khusro” who has come to destroy their “Christian” Empire, but we can see that the Persian king himself is quite aware of the role of religion in the conflict. Among many of Khosrow’s actions which could have had a religious motivation, his removal of the True Cross from Jerusalem and transferring it to Iran is the most important and in many ways puzzling one.

The Romance of Artaban and Artašir in Agathangelos’ History

The Armenian History by Agathangelos written in the mid‐5th century and nar‐rating about
the conversion of Armenia to Christianity in the early fourth century was soon translated into Greek
and other languages: Arabic, Old Russian, and Georgian. There also exist shorter re¬cen¬sions
(known as The Life of St. Gregory) in Karshuni, Ethio‐pian, Coptic, Greek, Georgian, Latin, and
Arabic. The Greek version of the History is extant in nine manuscripts dating from the 8th‐12th cc.
Only one of them, kept in the Laurentian library of Florence, Plut. VII, cod. Gr. 25 (12th c.), contains
nine initial para‐graphs absent from the Armenian original and from the other recensions.

Sasanian Reflections in Armenian Sources

The deep impression of Iran upon all aspects of early mediaeval Armenia has long been recognized.
Although linguists may have taken the lead in tracing this influence, scholars in all disciplines,
particularly historians and theologians, have unearthed multiple parallels and connections between the
two cultures. The penetrating studies by Garsoïan and Russell over the past four decades have proved
to be particularly influential, to the extent that no scholar today would seriously contemplate studying
early mediaeval Armenia without acknowledging its Iranian heritage.1 Indeed such is the degree of
unanimity over the level of Iranian influence upon all aspects of Armenian society and culture that the
contention has begun to operate in the opposite direction. Armenian sources have been exploited to
shed light upon Iranian, and specifically Sasanian, history.

An Exceptional Gold Coin of Shapur I

Recently we have had a chance to see a unique gold coin of Shapur I. Unfortunately the
location of this coin today is unknown to us. At first sight, the coin looks like the usual issues of
Shapur I (particularly the iconography in obverse), but exploration of some details in reverse
give us cause to suppose that it was minted for a certain occasion.
Shapur I continued the regional policy of his predecessor, Artashir I, from the beginning of
his reign. A series of victories against the Roman Empire opened the way to conquer Armenia,
which was the main success of Sasanian Iran in the West. Shapur I represented his glorious
victories against Roman Empire in rock sculpture and took a new title, king of kings Iran and
non‐Iran, as a result of his successful policy.

Like Father, Like Daughter: Late Sasanian Imperial Ideology & the Rise of Bōrān to Power

Haleh Emrani, University of California, Irvine

The reign of Bōrān and, afterwards that of her sister Āzarmīgduxt, although short‐lived, were historically significant. No other woman ascended the Sasanian throne, in her own rights, before or after them. The significance is even greater in view of the social and cultural limitations placed on women in Sasanian Iran, as discussed in the studies presented by scholars such as Jamsheed K. Choksy, Albert De Jong, and Mansour Shaki. This paper investigates the factors that legitimized the rise of these women to the throne through the examination of the ideas of Iranian kingship in general and Sasanian imperial ideology in particular.

Historical Geography of Fars during the Sasanian Period

There are few studies in existence which explore the Sasanian historical geography. The pioneering work of Marquart on the historical geography of the Sasanian Empire in the book of Ps.- Moses of Chorene is one of the earliest studies of its kind. Later discoveries of numismatic and sigillographic finds, as well as publications on and editions of literary and material evidence, relevant to the historical geography and administrative organization of the Sasanian Empire did not change things dramatically, but did help to complete and in some cases correct early impressions. During the last decades R. Gyselen and Ph. Gignoux have significantly contributed to the field of Sasanian historical and administrative geography through their publications and scrutiny of the sigillographic, numismatic and written sources.