30457 - Philology, Linguistics and Religious History of Iran

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

The student should acquire a basic knowledge of the cultural and religious history of Pre-Islamic Iran, with special attention for its linguistic, literary, religious and historico-political traditions, also throughout the direct analysis and critical comment of ancient sources, epigraphic documents, coins, etc. The student, at the end of the course, should be able to frame in a proper way the main lines of the Pre-Islamic history and present in a documented form some aspects of its traditions.

Course contents

The classes offer an introduction to religious history of Pre-Islamic Iran with a special focus on its linguistic and literary expressions, in oral or written form (manuscripts, sacred books, epigraphies, coins, etc.). Particular care will be put on the Mazdean, Manichaean and Christian traditions in Iran with close attention for the textual sources


I.M. Oranskij, Le lingue Iraniche, ed. it. a cura di A.V. Rossi, Napoli 1973.

N. Sims-Williams, "Le lingue iraniche", in Le lingue indeuropee, a cura di A. Giacalone Ramat e P. Ramat, Bologna 1993, pp. 151-179.

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

J. Wiesehofer, La Persia antica, Bologna 2003.

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.

A. Panaino, Zoroastrismo. Storia, Temi, Attualità, Brescia (Morcelliana) 2016.

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. 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.
Weak points in the preparation with an unfitting language, mistakes in the chronological determinations of the problems, incompetence in the bibliography, and uncritical references, will be considered as insufficient.
It is fundamental that the student pays attention to the technical terminology, the correct spelling of the Iranian terms, and that, in particular in the framework of the reconstruction of difficult historical and religious problems connected with linguistic details, he/she is in condition of describing the pertinent phenomena in a formal way that have been treated in the class and referred to in the bibliographical meterial offered to the students.

Teaching tools

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

Office hours

See the website of Antonio Clemente Domenico Panaino