Persian Language Summer and Winter Courses offered by the ASPIRANTUM Language School

Every year Armenian School of Languages and Cultures – ASPIRANTUM organizes summer and winter schools of Persian language in Yerevan, Armenia.

These Persian language courses are primarily targeting students and researchers engaged in Iranian Studies, Islamic Studies, Middle Eastern Studies and other relevant fields. The courses are structured in a way, that BA, MA, PhD students, professors and researchers representing a variety of fields in the humanities and social sciences could benefit from the classes as much as possible.

Students at the ASPIRANTUM academy – for testimonials of previous students of ASPIRANTUM click here …

ASPIRANTUM has started it’s language courses from 2014 offering Armenian language classes. In 2018 it organized the first Persian language summer school in Yerevan as well as a winter school of Persian language in December 2018. In summer 2019 around 15 international students participated in the second Persian language summer school in Yerevan. It is planned to have Persian language summer and winter schools also in Tbilisi or a combined summer school of Persian in Tbilisi and Yerevan.

All summer and winter schools of ASPIRANTUM also include a huge portion of cultural trips to the most intriguing and interesting historical sites of Armenia. The summer and winter schools of Persian start with a trip to a pagan temple of Garni, built in 1st century CE as a temple to the god Mithra. Other trips during the summer schools include Geghard Monastery, Sevan lake and the monasteries around Sevan lake, Amberd fortress and one of the most Iranian related places in Armenia the mausoleum of Arsacid kings in Aghdzk village.

The Temple of Garni in Armenia. An example of Classical Armenian architecture bearing a Hellenic inspiration, this Temple was first ordered to be built in dedication to Mithras by Tiridates I in approximately 66 CE. The god Mithras in time became merged with the Sol Invictus (Unconquered Sun) of the Roman Empire (Picture Source: Skyscraper City).

During summers ASPIRANTUM offers 3 and 6 weeks Persian language courses and during winters only 3 weeks. Every day students receive 4 hours of Persian language instruction – divided into classes to strengthen vocabulary, speaking, listening, reading and grammar.

Dr. Khachik Gevorgyan, Director of ASPIRANTUM – Armenian School of Languages and Cultures (Tel: +37491557978; e-mail: khachik@aspirantum.com.

ASPIRANTUM currently does not offer beginner and advanced level courses of Persian, so anyone with upper elementary to intermediate level of Persian language are welcome to apply.

Besides Persian, ASPIRANTUM also offers Armenian and Russian language courses in Yerevan and Tbilisi.

Establishment of a Permanent Exhibition of Sassanian Inscriptions at the Suleimaniyah Museum

The information provided in this article with respect to the establishment of the permanent exhibition of Sassanian inscriptions in Iraq’s Suleimaniyah Museum was first and originally reported in Persian by Shapour Suren-Pahlav in Facebook on June 11, 2019 in the following post: برپایی نمایشگاه دائمی سنگنبشته های پایکولی در موزه سلیمانیه. 

Kavehfarrokh.com also thanks Mojtaba Doroodi (in consultation with Soheil Delshad) for his time and efforts and the support of Dr. Mohammad Ala for providing their expertise in the provision of translations and context of the Pahlavi text of the Sassanian inscriptions at Pāikūlī.

=======================================================================================

Archaeology Dr. Carlo Giovanni Cereti of Sapienza University in Rome, as part of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Iraqi Kurdistan (MAIKI), has set up a permanent exhibition of Sassanian inscriptions from the site of Pāikūlī in Iraq’s Suleimaniyah’s Museum. Dr. Cereti has been the curator and primary organizer of this initiative.

Pāikūlī is actually a stone monument structure much like the monument known today as the Ka’ba-ye Zartosht (Kaaba of Zarathustra) in the site of Nagshe Rustam in southwest Iran’s Fars province. Pāikūlī however lacks the stepped foundations and stairway seen at the Ka’ba-ye Zartosht. The site of Pāikūlī is located in modern-day Iraqi Kurdistan’s Suleimaniyah region, which has been a part of the Iranian realms since antiquity, notably during the Sassanian era. This region was formally separated from Iran in favor of the Ottoman Empire as a result of the Second Treaty of Erzerum signed on May 31, 1847. The region was to be inherited by the newly created nation-state of Iraq after the First World War (1914-1918) in the aftermath of the partition of the Ottoman Empire (c. 1299-1922).

Relief bust of Sassanian King Narseh (r. 293-302 CE)  from the original structure at Pāikūlī (Image Source: Shapour Suren-Pahlav) – see sketches of the original Pāikūlī structure below. 

Sketches of the original Pāikūlī structure (Source: Shapour Suren-Pahlav). Note the image of king Narseh in the walls of the structure.

Inscription in Pahlavi from Pāikūlī (Image Source: Shapour Suren-Pahlav). The above Pāikūlī block appears as D3 in the academic publication by Dr. Helmut Humbach and Dr. Prods O. Skjaervo (The Sassanian Inscription of Paikuli: Restored text and Translation. Reichert Verlag, 1983 – discussed further below). Note that five of the above lines are intact with the sixth line damaged.

The inscription above has been coded and translated in context by Mojtaba Doroodi in consultation with Soheil Delshad – five of the lines have been thus examined (the sixth line is too damaged for proper analysis):

The full translation in context of the five lines is provided in New Persian below followed by the English version:

As noted by Dr. Gholamreza Karamian, the inscription examined here was first translated by the late German Iranologist Ernst Herzfeld (1879-1948) (see in Encyclopedia Iranica). Readers are referred to the most recent and most comprehensive translations in English of the Pāikūlī inscriptions made by Dr. Helmut Humbach and Dr. Prods O. Skjaervo:

Humbach, H. & Skjaervo, P.O. (1983). The Sassanian Inscription of Paikuli: Restored text and Translation. Reichert Verlag.

The environs of the Pāikūlī site in 2019 (Image Source: Shapour Suren-Pahlav).

Fall 2019 Iranian Studies Initiative Lectures at the University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia’s Persian and Iranian Studies Initiative of the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia will be providing a series of lectures by prominent Iranian Studies scholars in the Fall of 2019. All of these lectures will be Free and open to the general public. As seen further below, the lecturers shall be Mahsa Rad, Dominic P. Brookshaw, Shahzad Bashir, Farzan Kermani, Morteza Asadi and Kaveh Farrokh.

The planned lectures and specific dates for these are as follows:

Mahsa Rad, Ph.D. Candidate in Psychology, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran; Visiting International Research Student at UBC: Loneliness and  Struggle: Self-Narratives of Iranian Trans People’s Livesروایت  زندگی ترنس های ایرانی (in Persian)[13 Sept. 2019, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., lecture hall to be announced]

Dominic P. Brookshaw, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Persian Literature at The Oriental Institute, Oxford Semi-Annual Lecture in Persian/Iranian Studies: One Poet Among Many: Hafez and the Transregional Literary Networks of 14th-Century Iran (in English) – [Sept. 27, 2019, lecture hall to be announced]

Shahzad Bashir, Ph.D., Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Humanities, Professor of Religious Studies, Brown University: Imagining Time in India: Persian Chroniclers and their Interpreters (in English) – [11 Oct. 2019, 6-7:30 p.m., lecture hall to be announced]

Farzan Kermani, Ph.D. in Design, IIT Bombay: Iranian Art After Islam: With a Look at Some Renowned Iranian Calligraphersهنر ایران پس از اسلام: با نگاهی به سرگذشت چند خوشنویس بلندآوازه – (in Persian) – [25 Oct. 2019, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., lecture hall to be announced]

Morteza Asadi, Ph.D., Visiting Scholar at the School of International Studies, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC; former Assistant Professor of Economy at Kharazmi University, Tehran: Political Economy of Oil Curse: The Case of Post-Revolutionary Iran (in English) – [8 Nov. 2019, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., lecture hall to be announced]

Kaveh Farrokh, Ph.D., Professor of History & Academic Advisor for Analytica Iranica, Methodolgica Governance University, Paris, France: Civilizational Contacts between Ancient Iran and Europa during the Classical Era (in English) – [29 Nov. 2019, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., lecture hall to be announced]

Readers further interested in Kaveh Farrokh’s upcoming lecture are encouraged to download two of his peer-reviewed articles as well as the Dissertation of Sheda Vasseqhi below:

Farrokh, K. (2016). An Overview of the Artistic, Architectural, Engineering and Culinary exchanges between Ancient Iran and the Greco-Roman World. AGON: Rivista Internazionale di Studi Culturali, Linguistici e Letterari, No.7, pp.64-124.

Farrokh, K. (2009). The Winged Lion of Meskheti: a pre- or post-Islamic Iranian Legacy in Georgia? Scientific Paradigms. Studies in Honour of Professor Natela Vachnadze. St. Andrew the First-Called Georgian University of the Patriarchy of Georgia. Tbilisi, pp. 455-492.

PhD Dissertation by Sheda Vasseqhi (University of New England; academic supervision team Academic advising Team: Marylin Newell, Laura Bertonazzi, Kaveh Farrokh): Positioning Of Iran And Iranians In  the Origins Of Western Civilization.

See also:

A detail of the painting “School of Athens” by Raphael 1509 CE (Source: Zoroastrian Astrology Blogspot). Raphael has provided his artistic impression of Zoroaster (with beard-holding a celestial sphere) conversing with Ptolemy (c. 90-168 CE) (with his back to viewer) and holding a sphere of the earth. Note that contrary to Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” paradigm, the “East” represented by Zoroaster, is in dialogue with the “West”, represented by Ptolemy.  Prior to the rise of Eurocentricism in the 19th century (especially after the 1850s), ancient Persia was viewed positively by the Europeans.

Persepolis: A Comprehensive Photographic Overview

The highly informative article and comprehensive photo essay of Persepolis further below has been written and produced by Carole Raddato who has generously allowed her work to be reproduced in Kavehfarrokh.com (kindly see her message sent on June 4, 2019:

—–Original Message—–
From: Carole Raddato <xxxxxx>
To: Dr. Kaveh Farrokh <manuvera@aol.com>
Sent: Tue, Jun 4, 2019 12:00 am
Subject: RE: Seeking Your Permission to promote your excellent article “Persepolis”

Dear Dr. Kaveh Farrokh,

Thank you for your email. I would be very honoured to have my Persepolis post shared on your social media pages.

I have just returned from an archaeological trip to Iran and have so far blogged about Persepolis, Susa and Chogha Zanbil. There will be of course more sites covered on my blog. I have recently booked a trip to Alicante to see the Iran Cradle of Civilisation exhibition as nearly 200 objects from the National Museum of Iran on display there.

For your information, and also for your students, note that all my images are published under the Creative Common licence which means that they are all free to use. The best way to access them is via Flickr where they can be easily downloaded.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/carolemage/collections

Congratulations on your excellent work and your wonderful and richly illustrated Shadows in the Desert book!

Best regards,

Carole Raddato

Kindly note that the version printed below has been slightly edited from the original version.

=======================================================================================

The magnificent ruins of Persepolis, or Parsa, lie at the foot of the Kuh-i-Rahmat mountain, roughly 650 kilometres south of the capital city of Tehran, and 70 kilometres northeast of Shiraz in the Fars region of southwestern Iran. Founded around 518 BC by Darius I (the Great), the site served as the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire and was intended and designed to display the splendor and majesty of an empire that stretched from Greece to India. Sacked by Alexander in 333 BC, the site lay hidden, covered in sand until rediscovered in 1620. Persepolis was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979.

Coordinates: 29° 56′ 4″ N, 52° 53′ 29″ E

Persepolis, a Greek toponym meaning “city of the Persians”, was known to the Persians as Parsa. It was a monument complex of structures built to the commands of the great Achaemenid kings between about 518 and about 450 BC. An inscription carved on the southern façade of the Terrace wall of Persepolis and written in the three official languages of the Persian Empire – Old Persian, Elamite and Babylonian – proves that Darius the Great was the founder of Persepolis. Darius states that he built this fortress upon a place where no fortress had been before and that he made it secure and adequate.

Construction began about 518 BC, as soon as work on Susa was finished. However, according to inscribed tablets found in the Treasury of Persepolis, the tremendous task was not completed until about 100 years later by Artaxerxes I (r. 465–424 BC). Darius started to erect a massive terraced platform, covering an area of 125,000 square metres of the promontory. This platform supported four groups of structures: ceremonial palaces, residential quarters, a treasury, and fortifications. All these buildings were built of locally quarried stone, and architects and craftsmen from all over Persia’s empire contributed to their construction.

A general view of Persepolis (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

Darius planned Persepolis as a showcase of the empire, for it was here that ambassadors from all over the Persian world, from Ethiopia to Elam, would congregate each year to offer tribute to the king. The northern part of the Terrace represented the official section of the Persepolis complex, accessible to a restricted public with the Apadana, the Throne Hall, and the Gate of Xerxes (also known as the Gate of All Nations). The southern part held the Palaces of Darius and Xerxes, the Treasury, the Council Hall and the Harem. Darius constructed the platform, the monumental stairway, the Tripylon (or Council Hall), and his private palace. He also carried out the first two building periods of the Treasury and began the Apadana. Xerxes completed the Apadana, built the Gate of All Nations, his palace and his so-called Harem, and started the Throne Hall (also known as the Hall of 100 Columns). Artaxerxes I completed the Throne Hall and began work on an unfinished porch that precedes it.

Architectural Plan of Persepolis (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography – image displayed by the venue from Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, Vol. 2, Page 376).

The function of Persepolis remains somewhat unclear. Most archaeologists suggest that the site had a sacred connection to the god Mithra (Mehr) and that it was mainly used for celebrating Nowruz, the Persian New Year’s festival held at the spring equinox. More general readings see Persepolis as an important administrative and economic centre of the Persian empire.

Persepolis remained the centre of Persian power until the fall of the Persian Empire to Alexander. The Macedonian conqueror captured Persepolis in 330 BC, and some months later his troops destroyed much of the city. The great palace of Xerxes was set alight with the subsequent fire burning vast swathes of the city.

Engineering an Empire: The Persians (History Channel Broadcast posted in YouTube by Prince of Corsica).

The ruins were not excavated until the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago sponsored an archaeological expedition to Persepolis and its environs under the supervision of Professor Ernst Herzfeld from 1931 to 1934, and Erich F. Schmidt from 1934 to 1939.

Below is a portfolio of photos taken from the site of Persepolis.

Part of the monumental double staircase leading up to the terrace. Each flight has 111 steps, each 40 cm deep, 10 cm high, and nearly 7 cm wide. The stairs were carved from massive blocks of stone, but each step was shallow so that Persians in long elegant robes could ascend the 111 steps gracefully. The stairway was executed in the reign of Xerxes (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

The east side of the Gate of All Nations also known as the Gate of Xerxes which was was protected by two massive winged bulls with human heads called lamasssus (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

The Gate of All Nations was a structure which consisted of one spacious room whose roof was supported by four stone columns with bell-shaped bases. It had two large doors, probably made of wood, on the south and east of the spacious room, indicating that the gateway was designed to give access to both the Apadana and to the Throne Hall (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

The features of the four colossal figures were deliberately damaged by iconoclasts of the Islamic period to whom representation of living forms was anathema (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

The stone columns of the Gate of All Nations, they were 16 metres high and were topped with capitals in the form of a double bull (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

Double -griffin capital locally known as “Homa birds” probably from the Unfinished Gate (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

The Unfinished Gateway was began by Artaxerxes I and possibly never completed. From its southern doorway one entered a large court in front of the Throne Hall. It had a central chamber with four columns and long, narrow rooms on its eastern and western sides (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

The northern entrance to the Throne Hall. It had a portico with two rows of eight columns flanked by end walls, with figures of colossal bulls (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

The interior of the Throne Hall. The hall was 68m² and its foot was supported by ten rows of ten columns each which rose at a height of 8 metres (less than half the height of the Apadana columns) (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

The Throne Hall had eight stone doorways decorated on the south and north with reliefs of throne scenes and on the east and west with scenes depicting the king in combat with monsters (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

Throne scene relief on the southern doorway of the Hall of Hundred Columns (Throne Hall) depicting an enthroned king and attendant (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

Adjacent to the Throne Hall is the Treasury, part of which served as an armory and especially as a royal storehouse of the Achaemenian kings (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

The tremendous wealth stored in the Treasury came from the booty of conquered nations and from the annual tribute sent by the peoples of the Empire to the king on the occasion of the New Year’s feast (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

Two large stone reliefs were discovered in the Treasury that depict Darius I, seated on his throne, being approached by a high dignitary whose hand is raised to his mouth in a gesture of respectful greeting. One of the reliefs is now in the National Museum of Iran (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

The Apadana, the largest and most magnificent building of Persepolis located on the western side of the platform. It was begun by Darius and finished by Xerxes, and was used mainly for great receptions by the kings (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

Thirteen of the Apadana seventy-two columns which supported the roof still stand. On top of the columns were capitals, consisting of two heads of strong animals like bulls or lions. Between the two heads was the place where the wooden beams could rest (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

The monumental eastern stairway of the Apadana adorned with registers of relief sculpture that depicted representatives of the twenty-three subject nations of the Persian empire bringing valuable gifts as tribute to the king (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

Relief on the northern wall of the east stairway of the Apadana depicting a procession of dignitaries (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

Relief on the southern wall of the east stairway of the Apadana depicting Lydians who offer vases, cups and bracelets and a chariot drawn by horses (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography). Comment by Kavehfarrokh.com: The late Paul Kriwaczek (1937-2011) however had suggested that the above figures may in fact have been “… Hebrews from Babylon” (in “In Search of Zarathustra: The First prophet and the ideas that Changed the World”, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2002, description of top figure alongside page 117)

Relief on the southern wall of the east stairway of the Apadana depicting Syrians who offer two beautiful rams (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

 

Relief on the southern wall of the east stairway of the Apadana depicting an Armenian tribute bearer carrying a metal vessel with Homa (griffin) handles (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

Relief on the southern wall of the east stairway of the Apadana depicting Scythians, all armed and wearing the appropriate headgear, who offer a bracelet and folded coats and trousers (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

Relief on the southern wall of the east stairway of the Apadana  (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography). Comment by Kavehfarrokh.com: This is depicting Bactrian Tribute Bearers  accompanied by a two-humped Bactrian camel.

Relief on the southern wall of the east stairway of the Apadana depicting Ionian Greeks carrying what may be beehives and skeins of colored wool (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

A general view of Persepolis with the Hall of 100 Columns in the foreground and Apadana in the background (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

The ruins of the Tripylon (or Council Hall) which connected the Apadana and the Hall of Hundred Columns. The building consists of a central room and three gates that were decorated with reliefs (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

Doorjamb of the Tripylon depicting the king with attendants (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

Relief with the symbol of Ahuramazda on the on the southern end of the Tripylon (or Council Hall) (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

The Main staircase of the Tripylon (or Council Hall) in the National Museum of Iran in Tehran with reliefs depicting Persian soldiers as well as Persian and Median clergy bringing sacrifices and offerings (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

Persian soldiers depicted on the main staircase of the Tripylon (or Council Hall). National Museum of Iran (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

The palace of Xerxes (called Hadiš in Persian) was twice as large as the Palace of Darius and shows very similar decorative features on its stone door frames and windows (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography). A terrace connected the two royal mansions.

The badly ruined Palace of Xerxes who called it in one of its inscription, the Hadish, has traces of the Alexandrian fire which devastated the palace (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

The eastern staircase of the Palace of Xerxes (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

Relief of a Persian soldier (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

The western staircase of the Palace of Xerxes (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

Stone carved Faravahar (Fravahar) on the western staircase of the Palace of Xerxes (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

The Palace of Darius (also known as Tachara) (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography). The Palace was completed after his death in 486 BC by his son and successor Xerxes. Twelve columns supported the roof of the central hall from which three small stairways descend.

The palace of Darius has remained well-preserved (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography). This strongly suggests that it was one of the few structures that escaped destruction in the burning of the complex by Alexander the Great’s army.

The southern staircase of the Palace of Darius with reliefs depicting servants coming up the steps carrying animals and food in covered dishes to be served at the king’s tables (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

Relief on the southern staircase of the Palace of Darius depicting Persian soldiers (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

Relief on the southern staircase of the Palace of Darius depicting a line of attendants bearing food and drinks (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

 

Lion and bull relief on the southern staircase of the Palace of Darius (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

The west entrance of the Palace of Darius (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography). Measuring 1,160 square meters (12,500 square feet), it is the smallest of the palace buildings on the Terrace at Persepolis.

View of the Palace of Darius from the Apadana (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

A general view of Persepolis with the Treasury and other structures in the foreground and the palaces of Xerxes and Darius in the background (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

The Tomb of Artaxerxes II (r. 404-358) cut into the rock face of the Kuh-i Rahmat overlooking the Terrace (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).

Arsacid Chronology in Traditional History

The article below on the origins of the Parthians is authored by the late Shapur Shahbazi and was originally posted in the Encyclopedia Iranica. This article is also available in print: Encyclopedia Iranica, Vol. II, Fasc. 5, pp. 542-543.

Readers are also referred to the History of the Parthian army – click here …

=============================================================================

The Parthian rule lasted 474 years, longer than any dynastic period in Iranian history. Throughout this period, the Arsacid era and the Seleucid era which preceded it by 64 years, were both in use, and so it would have been easy to recall that the Ctesiphon accession of Ardašīr I occurred in the 538th year of the Seleucid era and in the 474th year of the Arsacid era. Yet post-Sasanian sources give various figures for the duration of the Arsacid rule, which may be divided into the following categories. 1: 200 ud and (200 odd) years (Great Iranian Bundahišn, Codex DH, p. 109 lines, 10-11 [Tehran, 1971], TD1, p. 207, lines 1-2 [Tehran, 1971], TD2 p. 240, lines 4-5; Ferdowsī: “sāl-i dovīst (some two hundred years)” (Šāh-nāma VII, p. 116); both may be for 203 years, see A. Sh. Shahbazi, “The “Traditional Date of Zoroaster” Explained,” BSOAS 40, 1977, p. 27 n. 19. 2: 266 years, with variants (Šāh-nāma-ye Abū Manṣūrī apud Bīrunī, The Chronology, p. 117; Ṭabarī, I, pp. 706 and 813; Masʿūdī, Tanbīh, p. 97; Baḷʿamī, Tārīḵ, p. 874; Moqaddasī, III, p. 155); this frequently recorded tradition was the official Sasanian reckoning, as Masʿūdī says (see below), and is found also in Agathias (270 years: History 4.24) who used Sasanian royal chroniclers (ibid., 4.30.2-5). 3: 284 years, with slight variants (Masʿūdī, Tanbīh, p. 96; Indian Bundahišn 34.9). 4: 400 years, with variants (Baḷʿamī, Tārīḵ, p. 874; Nāma-ye Tansar, ed. M. Mīnovī, Tehran, 1311 Š./1932, p. 43; Moǰmal al-tawārīḵ, p. 59 [411 years]; Moqaddasī, loc. cit.). 5: 523 years, with variants (Ṭabarī, I, 813, hence Baḷʿamī, Tārīḵ, p. 874; Abu’l-Faraǰ Zanǰānī apud Bīrūnī, The Chronology, p. 119).

Map of the Parthian Empire in 44 BCE to 138 CE (Picture source: Farrokh, page 155,Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War-Персы: Армия великих царей-سایه‌های صحرا).

The last category is of non-Iranian origin, as Ṭabarī specifies, being clearly based on Syrian sources using the Seleucid era: Alexander was usually claimed as the initiator of the Seleucid era (hence the era of Alexander), and was assigned a reign of 14 years (Shahbazi, op. cit., pp. 27ff.); since Ardašīr’s Ctesiphon coronation occurred “538 years after Alexander” (Agathias 4.24), one subtracted his reign from this number and obtained (537-14 = ) 523 years for his successors, the Petty Kings (Pahl.kadag-xwadāy, Ar.-NPers. molūk al-ṭawāʾef). The fourth category is a rough estimate by historians unconvinced of the authenticity of the official reckoning. The third group is a re-adjustment of the figure 266 in a scholastic version (Shahbazi, op. cit., p. 30). The first two categories are, however, based on sound historical—albeit unauthentic—traditions. Masʿūdī (Tanbīh, pp. 97f.) and Bīrūnī (cited by S. H. Taqizadeh, BSOS 9, 1937, p. 125) have noted the great difference of opinion between the Iranians and other nations concerning the post-Alexander chronology, and they have accused Ardašīr of having distorted the facts. “One of the state and religious secrets of the Iranians,” says Masʿūdī, is that Zoroaster foretold that his religion would be disturbed 300 years after him but the religion and empire would be stricken by a calamity at the end of his millennium. Now Ardašīr appeared when only two centuries of the millennium were left, and fearing the approach of the calamity, he “reduced almost by half the 500-year period separating him from Alexander, counting from the petty kings only some rulers with a total reign of 260 years and ignoring the rest. . . And so the chronology was thus officially fixed, and published” (Tanbīh, p. 98). H. Lewy (“The Genesis of the Faulty Persian Chronology,” JAOS 64, 1944, pp. 1977ff.), S. H. Taqizadeh (“The “Era of Zoroaster”,”JRAS, 1947, pp. 33ff.) and W. B. Henning (Zoroaster: Politician or Witch-doctor?, Oxford, 1951, pp. 37ff.) have explained this “secret” more convincingly: under the Sasanians the Seleucid era had come to be identified as the era of Zoroaster, and Alexander had been placed 258 years after Zoroaster; the appearance of Ardašīr in the 538th year of the Seleucid era was then re-interpreted as his rise in the 538th year of the millennium of Zoroaster; of these 538 years, 258 separated Zoroaster from Alexander and 14 belonged to the latter; so (538âŠδ258 + 14 = ) 266 years were left for the Parthian period. The Sasanian measure was taken, then, not because the Parthian period was to be reduced, but because the widely used Seleucid era had to be Zoroastrianized.

A detail of the painting “School of Athens” by Raphael 1509 CE (Source: Zoroastrian Astrology Blogspot). Raphael has provided his artistic impression of Zoroaster (with beard-holding a celestial sphere) conversing with Ptolemy (c. 90-168 CE) (with his back to viewer) and holding a sphere of the earth. Note that contrary to Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” paradigm, the “East” represented by Zoroaster, is in dialogue with the “West”, represented by Ptolemy.  Prior to the rise of Eurocentricism in the 19th century (especially after the 1850s), ancient Persia was viewed positively by the Europeans.

The first category—the importance of which is evidenced by its attestation in two major Iranian sources—has so far remained unexplained. But it is clearly based on the re-interpretation of the Arsacid era (q.v.) as the epochal year of the millennium of Zoroaster: Ardašīr’s Ctesiphon coronation was in the (247 + 227 = ) 474th year of the Arsacid era; allowing 258 years for the interval between Zoroaster and Alexander, and assigning 14 years to the latter, one obtained (474âŠδ258 + 14 =) 202 years for the Parthian period. This Zoroastrianization of the Arsacid era must have been the work of the Parthian families who resented the Sasanian re-interpretation of the Seleucid era as the “era of Zoroaster,” so they countered claiming that their era had been initiated by Zoroaster. In this way they sanctified their dynastic symbol at the expense of sharply reducing the period of their rule.

Readers are also directed to the three tables below provided in the Encyclopedia Iranica regarding the chronology of the Parthians: