Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

Basic introduction to the ethno-cultural and ethno-religious complexity of the Iranian area in its historical development. At the end of the course the students should be able to frame the main characters of the Iranian world since its beginning to nowadays, distinguishing the fundamental religious and political ideas of this cultural and strategic space.

Course contents

The course is dedicated to the history of Zoroastrianism in its controversial development. Particular attention will concern the study of the relations between Zoroastrianism and the Indo-Iranian ritual tradition, but also that of the Iranian Late Antiquity period in which Manichaean, Christian and Buddhist communities played an enormous influence on this part of the world.Particular cases concerning ethno-linguistic and ethno-religious minorities with special regard for the Iranian area will be discussed during the course. In particular the bulding of a royal ideology and the concept of sacred royalty will be developed during the lessons.


A. Panaino, "Zoroastrismo e religioni dell'Iran preislamico", in Dizionario del sapere storico-religioso del Novecento, a cura di A. Melloni, Bologna 2010, pp. 1752-1792.

Emmerick, Ronald E. and Macuch, Maria, (eds.), The Literature of Pre-Islamic Iran. Companion Volume I to A History of Persian Literature. London: Taurus.

A. Panaino, The baγān of the Fratarakas: gods or ‘divine’ kings?, in Reli­gious the­mes and texts of pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia. Stud­ies in honour of Pro­fes­­sor Gherardo Gnoli on the occasion of his 65th Birthday on 6th December 2002. Ed. by C. G. Cereti, M. Maggi and E. Provasi. (Beiträge zur Ira­ni­s­tik 24). Wiesbaden 2003, pp. 283–306.

A. Panaino, Astral Characters of Kingship in the Sasanian and Byzantine Worlds, in Conve­gno internazionale: La Persia e Bisanzio (Roma, 14 – 18 ottobre 2002). (ACL 201 Is.M.E.O.). Roma 2004, pp. 555–594.

A. Panaino, The King and the Gods in the Sasanian Royal Ideology, in Sources pour l’histoire et la géographie du monde iranien. Edité par R. Gyselen. (Res Orientales XVIII). Leuven 2009, pp. 209–256.

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons using textual material for students; discussions about the items also with the presence of other colleagues.

Assessment methods

The examination consists in a discussion of the main items presented during the lessons: political and religious history of Ancient Iran and problems of Iranian ethno-linguististics.

The acquisition of a solid vision of the subjects presented in the class and the knowledge of the related arguments with a precision in the terminology and an ability in the critical reference to the different aspects of the discipline, will be recognized with the highest votes, as excellence. A mnenomic knowledge with a correct language but not always consistent and critically argumented will be considered as worth of a discrete valutation.
Weal points in the preparation with an unfitting language, mistakes in the chronological determinations of the poblems, incompetence in the bibliographical items, and uncritical references, will be considered as insufficient.
It is fundamental that the student pays attention on the technical terminology, the correct spelling of the Iranian terms, and in particular in the framework of the linguistic problems, that he/she is in condition of expressing in a formal way the phenomena that have been treated in the class.

Teaching tools

Manuals, videos, manuscripts in facsimile, epigraphic sources, coins, etc.

Office hours

See the website of Antonio Clemente Domenico Panaino