Support Professor Talattof’s drive to promote Iranian Studies


In an effort to stimulate lecture and colloquia with topics focused on Persian and Iranian Studies, Professor Kamran Talattof recently provided seed money for a lecture series. The money will be used for travel expenses, lodging and honoraria to bring outstanding scholars to The University of Arizona and the Iranian American community in Tucson to speak on various aspects of Persian studies.

The goal of the lecture series is to promote and celebrate the remarkable culture of Iran in its many facets and manifestations. Such activities are particularly important because the UA program in Persian and Iranian studies has been growing, and many graduate students come to Arizona to receive their education under the guidance of some the best known scholars in the humanities and social sciences. In 2007 the Department was cited by a study in the Chronicle of Higher Education as
one of the two top producing programs in the nation. We need to maintain this level of excellence and provide our students with the best education possible.

In order to continue, the lecture series needs to rely on contributions from members of the community and the friends of Persian and Iranian studies. We appreciate receiving your tax-deductible check payable to the University of Arizona Foundation, mailed to the address below. Per
IRS guidelines, your gift is fully tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Donors will receive a brochure of our Persian Studies program and an invitation to upcoming lectures. Please provide your email if you prefer email notification.

No matter the size, we appreciate your contribution.
Cultural Partner     Copper Sponsor     Silver Sponsor     Gold Sponsor
$500     $1,000     $3,000     $5,000

Donations can be made:

     * By check through U.S. mail,
     * Online using your credit card, or
     * By using the fillable form at the bottom of this page

Mail Checks To:
Persian Lecture Series, NES
Marshall Bldg Rm 440, 845 N Park Av
University of Arizona
Tucson AZ  85721-0158

Credit Card: You may use a credit card to donate online at: Be sure
to designate: Persian Lecture Series for your contribution.

Online Form: Complete the Form (coming soon!) and we will mail you an
invoice with a postage-paid envelope in which to mail your contribution.

For questions, or to obtain more information contact:

Professor Kamran Talattof,, (520) 621-2330; or
Beth Marlatt, Business Manager,, (520) 621-8012

1952 Map of the Persian Gulf by Saudi Arabia


Below is map of the Persian Gulf which was published bt the government of Saudi Arabia in 1952.


Saudi Arabian Map of 1952 displaying the correct name for the Persian Gulf.

The Saudi Arabian map is noteworthy as it was published at the time of the coup d’etat of pan-Arab nationalist Gamal Abdul Nasser who had siezed power in Egypt. At the time Nasser consistently applied the correct term to the body of water (Persian Gulf) but this changed by the late 1950s.

Gamal Abdul Basser (1918-1970). Known for his honesy and integrity of character, Nasser was a tragic victim of the ideology of pan-Arabism by his advocacy of changing the historical name of the  Persian Gulf. Some have speculated that Nasser may have been partly motivated to do so due to his dislike of the late Shah of Iran.

The first person to apply the historically inaccurate term “Arab Gulf” to the Persian Gulf was a non-Arab by the name of Roderick Owen a British agent who had also worked for the British petroleum Company (originally the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company) in the 1950s. Owen wrote a book entitled “The Golden Bubble of the Arabian Gulf: A Documentary“. His thesis for changing the name of the Persian Gulf was that the name of Persian Gulf was “unfair” due to Arabs inhabiting regions such as Kuwait, Arabia, etc. Despite the weak logical and historical foundation of Owen’s argument, pan-Arabists have been working consistently to rewrite not only the name of the Persian Gulf but also its entire history.

A tragic case of this can be found in the museum of Dubai where an ancient map of the Persian Gulf has been displayed with the name “Persian” literally erased off that map (see below).

Map of the Persian Gulf in the Dubai Museum. Note how the word “Persian” has been blotted out. This questions the impartiality of the museum as well as its adherance to honest historiography.

Comparison of the above map with the Saudia Arabian 1952 publication clearly demonstrates how ideology (in this case pan-Arabism) is able to overide impartial historiography, thanks to decades of irredentist propaganda. Despite the efforts of venues such as the Dubai Museum, pan-Arabism (like any other racialist ideology) cannot “erase” the history of the Persian Gulf as the primary references to the domain are simply far too numerous across thousands of years.

Professor Omidsalar: Newly Discovered Manuscript of the Shahnameh

Below is a message by Professor Mahmood Omidsalar:


Sent: Friday, February 13, 2009 8:44 AM
To: undisclosed- recipients
Subject: An Newly Discovered Manuscript of the Shahnameh

Dear Friends,

A new and fine manuscript of the Shahnameh was discovered by Professor Moosavi (Tehran University) who was doing research in a library in Beirut. Professors Khaleghi, Afshar, Shafii-Kadkani, and myself have examined the digital pictures of a few pages of that manuscript, and we unanimously agree that it is a very important discovery. Although it is not illustrated and also lacks a colophon, we all agree that its codicological features indicate that it dates from no later than the mid thirteenth century AD (7th century hejri).  Khaleghi and Moosavi have already published two essays aimed at describing it (Nāmeh-ye Bahārestān, in press).  

Professor Afshar and I have decided to publish a facsimile edition of it in the series of facsimile editions of Persian manuscripts, which we have been editing with the generous help of the Iranian community of Indianapolis, Indiana. You might remember that we did the same for the London manuscript of the Shahnameh a few years ago.

Please inform your friends in the Iranian community that those who are interested in making a tax deductable contribution towards the publication of this important manuscript may go the website of the Foundation For the Preservation of Rare Manuscripts (FRM) at:

(http://www.frmpub. com ) click on Enter, then click on Donations, which will take them to our list of donors and instructions on how to make a tax deductible donation towards the publication of this manuscript.

I cannot adequately stress how important this manuscript is, and how urgent is it to produce a photographic reproduction of it. The fact that the codex belongs to a library in Beirut, Lebanon–and we all know how vulnerable Beirut has been to military attacks– speaks volumes about the urgency of reproducing this important manuscript in some form. We hope that by so doing we will ensure the survival of the contents of the codex even if it is ever destroyed in war.

Please pass this information to all who share an interest in the Shahnameh.


M. Omidsalar


Dr. Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani receives World Prize of Book of the Year for Iranian Studies


Every few decades witnesses the arrival of a select few books on Iranian Studies that set the standard of academic excellent. The book, Arms & Armor from Iran: The Bronze Age to the End of the Qajar Period, by Dr. Manouchehr Mostagh Khorasani is not only in the tradition of the previous great scholars of Iranian Studies such as Roman Roman Ghirshman’s “Iran: Parthians and Sassanians” (1962), but also specifically sets the standard in the studies pertaining to the military history of Iran.

Every year, books published in countries other than Iran in various languages are reviewed and special plaques of Commemoration for Iranian Studies are awarded to the authors. The 16th Round of the World Prize for the Book of the Year of Iran was a lengthy and meticulous process. After the first selection of close to 2000 books in the different domains of Iranian and Islamic studies, 252 titles (78 titles in the field of Iranian Studies and 174 titles in the field of Islamic Studies) were selected for the second and final round of evaluations. The second round of evaluations was conducted by a panel of scholars from different universities in Iran and abroad. 

The evaluation of works in two fields was conducted on the basis of preliminary appraisal of the works on the basis of published lists of books, discussions with academics, research and publication centers as well as information dissemination centers, participation in the most reputable international book exhibitions and counseling with instructors and distinguished experts in the fields of the Iranian Studies and Islamic studies both in Iran and abroad.

This resulted in the final selection of 13 winners for the World Prize of the Book of the Year of Iran. Dr. Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani was one of these distinguished awardees.

Some of the other distinguished world-class scholars who were awarded the prize were Dr. Nicholas Sims-Williams (SOAS), Dr. Elena E. Kuz`mina (Moscow State University). Dr. Christine van Ruymbeke (University of Cambridge), Dr. John Curtis and Dr. Nigel Tallis (The British Museum), Dr. Juan Martos Quesada (Universidad Compultense de Madrid) and Seyed Ahmad Khezri (Iranian cultural attaché in Madrid), Dr. Mohsen Zakeri (Universität Frankfurt), Dr. István Nyitral (Budapest University), Dr. Peter Avery (University of Cambridge), Dr. Beate Dignas (Sommerville College) and Dr. Engelbert Winter (Westfälische Wilhems-Universität Münster), Dr. Walli Ahmadi (University of California, Berkeley), Dr. Asad Abdolhadi Ghandil (University of Cairo), Dr. Benjamin Jokisch (Albert-Ludwig-Universität Freiburg), and Dr. Robert Gleave (University of Exeter).

Having taken more than 10 years of meticulous research and field studies to complete, Dr. Khorasani’s book produces information never seen in western historiography and references. The book contains 2500 color photos of weapons never before seen in western or international museums or academic venues. At the very least, the book will help dispel a number of misconceptions with respect to ancient Iranian militaria.

The book however is as much about the evolution of Iranian metallurgy and art history as it is about militaria. Khorasani’s book carefully analyzes the development of Iranian metalwork technology and related developments with respect to arms and armor dating from the Bronze Age to the Qajar era. Khorasani expostulates upon the symbiotic nature of the technological relationship between regions such as Lursitan and Marlik.


Spearhead from ancient Amarlu. Note the resilience of the metalwork after thousands of years; especially the “swirls” applied at the shaft (Copyright 2006).


Khorasanis’ text is indeed a breakthrough in terms of the history of the metallic arts of Iran; one example being Zoroastrian (and pre-Zoroastrian) mythological motifs. It was during the early Iranic arrivals and the Mede era where much of the basis of the “Persepolis Arts” was first laid. These were ancient Iranian mythological motifs and were impressed upon the metal works of ancient locales such as Luristan. Examples include bird-beasts appearing on metal works such as daggers and swords.


Quiver Plaque from ancient Luristan. Many of the motifs seen (i.e. king seated on throne) were to appear in various forms in later Medo-Achaemenid arts, especially at Persepolis (Copyright 2006).


These motifs were to exert a profound influence on later European and Far eastern arts, especially due to the Scythian/Saka contacts in Central Asia, the Caucasus and Europe. The motif of the Akenakes dagger for example could be seen in later Alanic warriors migrated into Western Europe by the 4th century AD.



Achaemenid Achenakes. Note the lion and ram motifs, both symbols of ancient Iran (Copyright 2006).


The technological developments in Persia continued to proceed even after the fall of Achaemenid Persia to Alexander the Great. Khorasani outlines the continuation of Iranian technological developments in the framework of blade weapons (swords and daggers), archery equipment, lances, spears, javelins, helmets and armor. These are in tandem with the development of the metallic arts of Iran. This is significant as Khorasani is perhaps the first researcher to comprehensively examine such developments in the domain of military technology.



Portion of the sheath of a late Sassanian sword (late 6th to early 7th century AD) (Copyright 2006).


Iranian metalwork technology continued to evolve during the post-Islamic period, and experienced a powerful renaissance during the Safavid era (1501-1736).


Sword sheath attributed to Shah Abbas (r. 1588 – 1629). Note the fine craftsmanship on the sheath (Copyright 2006) 


The pre-Islamic “Spangenhelm” helmets of riveted construction metallic plates, reached a very high level of sophistication during the Sassanian era. Metallurgy, helmet design and corresponding arts were to evolve into more advanced designs that were to appear during the post-Islamic Iran.



Helmet of the Safavid era (1501-1722). Among the motifs are grape patterns also seen in the national arts of Georgia (Copyright 2006).  


Other never seen items are articles from the Afsharid (r. 1736-1747) and Zand (1750-1794) periods.


Sword of Nader Shah (1688-1747) (Copyright 2006).



 Bazu-band from the Zand era (Copyright 2006).


Khorasani also demonstrates that some of the highest quality metal works (notably in swords and shields) were constructed during the Qajar period (1781-1925). This information is virtually unknown in western historiography which remains primarily focused on the defeats of the Qajars at the hands of imperial Russian forces who invaded Iranian territory in the Caucasus and Central Asia during the 18th and 19th centuries.



Khanjar from the Qajar era. Note the application of color motifs not unlike those seen in the Sassanian era (Copyright 2006).



Shield attributed to Nasser e Din Shah (1831-1896). Note the flowing artistry techniques which can be traced as far back as the pre-Islamic Sassanian era (Copyright 2006).


Dr. Kaveh Farrokh