FROM BYZANTIUM TO SAMARKAND
SOURCES AND DOCUMENTS
ON THE REIGN OF KHUSRO I
Abstracts of the conferences
I. Official sources on the reign of Khusro I
CNRS – Université de Lyon
MONUMENTS AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES
FROM THE “LONG 6TH CENTURY” IN IRAN
Owing to imprecise dating for archaeological data from the Sasanian empire, the period under consideration here extends well beyond Husraw I’s reign. Material evidence from excavation sites sheds little light on the founding or re-founding of cities. Buildings known to have been constructed or reconstructed during the “long 6th century” were not royal works, with the exception of Tāq-e Kesrā and probably Qasr-e Šīrēn. The function of several buildings is difficult to ascertain, particularly those whose main area is a long, more decorated room with two rows of pillars. The hypothesis of a ceremonial room, rather than a stateroom in a princely residence, is currently under debate. In contrast, the defence of borders by sovereigns has been well established for the 6th century, but also for the 5th. Recent archaeological digs have shown that settlement in rural areas grew considerably during the Sasanian era. In particular, temples were built in western Iran and Fārs, as were forts and a significant number of new villages in the latter region. This increased settlement must still, however, be more precisely dated within the Sasanian period.
Keywords: Iran ; Sasanian empire; Husraw I; cities; palaces; temples; frontiers’ defence; settlement pattern.
Università di Bologna
THE GREAT “RESTORATION” OF HUSRAW I
The author, in the light of the long historiographical debate that characterizes this subject, analyzes the famous economic and fiscal reform carried out by Husraw I. The reforms, which were necessary after the violent suppression of the Mazdakite movement, contributed to modify the rural landscape of the Sasanian empire with the instauration of a new taxation system, based on yearly average rates set on different kind of crops: wheat, barley, rice, grapes, trefoil and date palms or olive trees according to their number. The king also ordered to count the heads of those being liable for the poll tax, except for people from noble families, warriors, secretaries and Zoroastrian priests; the poll tax was not assessed on those below twenty or above fifty years of age. In order to prevent any abuse or injustice perpetrated by tax collectors, accurate fiscal registrations and close inspections in the villages were periodically done, through a complex mechanism of cross-checks. This tax reform actually brought much money in the royal treasuries. But since sources concerning such reforms are almost pertinent to the later Arab tradition, which absorbed the official Sasanian propaganda, one could reasonably doubt about their real truthfulness.
Keywords: Sasanian empire; Husraw I; fiscal reform; poll tax; economy; official propaganda.
Rika GYSELEN & Christelle JULLIEN
CNRS, Laboratoire « Mondes iranien et indien » (UMR 7528)
SAKASTĀN UNDER THE REIGN OF HUSRAW I. COMBINED APPROACHES
Sakastān was a strategic place for the Sasanian dynasty and the gateway to India. In the time of Husraw I, numismatic and sigillographic data have many informations about several southeast Empire provinces. Likewise, in Syriac literary sources, especially the acts of the Synods, an ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Sakastān is attested at that time, probably based on Sasanian administrative divisions. The combination of contemporary sources from different disciplines sheds new light on administrative practices within the Sasanian Empire in the sixth century.
Keywords: Sakastān; Sasanian empire; Husraw I; Syriac literature; numismatics; sigillography; administration.
Arbeitsgruppe numismatik – Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften
THE MINT SYSTEM UNDER HUSRAW I:
SOME PRELIMINARY REMARKS
The present contribution deals with the coinage of Husraw I, especially focussing on the mints. Based on an overview of all mint/year combinations safely attested so far, the developments within the various regions of the Sasanian Empire which housed mints are discussed. For the first time, an up-to-date overview of the entire drachm coinage of this king is provided.
Keywords: Iran; Sasanians; Husraw I; coinage; Sasanian mints; administrative geography.
II. Authority in debate
François DE BLOIS
University College London
MAZDAK THE ANCIENT AND MAZDAK THE LAST
FURTHER REMARKS ON THE HISTORY AND RELIGIOUS TYPOLOGY OF MAZDAKISM
The sources concerning the history of Mazdak and the Mazdakites (in Arabic, Syriac and Middle-Persian) present many difficulties and contradictions. There is presented here a new interpretation of certain data: the identity of “Mazdak the Ancient” and “Mazdak the Last”, the chronology of the life of Mazdak and of the Mazdakite movement, and the religious content of Mazdakism.
Keywords: Mazdak; Zardušt ī Xwaragān.
Freie Universität Berlin
LEGAL IMPLICATIONS OF MAZDAKITE TEACHING ACCORDING TO THE DĒNKARD
The 9th century Pahlavi text of the Dēnkard has transmitted several passages containing severe accusations against the Mazdakite movement of the sixth century from the perspective of orthodox Zoroastrianism (Dk III.5.1-2 and VII.7.22-25). The importance of these very concise texts, which have not yet been examined adequately, lies in their use of precise legal terminology with a large range of exact juridical connotations well known to jurists of the Sasanian age. The meticulous use of technical language might even be due to an older Middle Persian Vorlage from the Sasanian period itself. A new reading of the most interesting sections is proposed and the content elucidated within the framework of Sasanian law.
Keywords: Dēnkard III and VII; Hōm Yašt; Mazdakite doctrine; Husraw I; Sasanian jurisprudence; family law; law of property; inheritance; procedural law.
« Laboratoire d’Études sur les Monothéismes » (UMR 8584)
CNRS, Laboratoire « Mondes iranien et indien » (UMR 7528)
CONTACT AND EXCHANGES BETWEEN MAZDEANS AND CHRISTIANS UNDER THE REIGN OF HUSRAW I: THE CONTRIBUTION OF CONTEMPORARY SYRIAC TEXTS
For the period of Husraw I’s reign, six contemporary texts concerning East- Syrian Christians are extant, most of them hitherto unpublished. As part of the international “Ctesiphon” project, three of these texts have been translated in a critical edition within the Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium collection. The selected examples highlight the importance of these texts to our understanding of the socio-cultural environment in the Middle East during the 6th century, beyond preconceived ideas and controversies. Details about specific Zoroastrian rituals and religious centres provide unique evidence of interactions between Christian communities and the dominant culture in the Persian Empire.
Keywords: Husraw I; Syriac texts; East-Syrian Christians; polemics; zoroastrianism; Sasanian empire.
III. Exchanges and influences beyond the frontiers
PSL Research University – EPHE, Paris
THE REIGN OF HUSRAW I
THROUGH THE EYES OF EARLY BYZANTINE HISTORIOGRAPHERS
A number of Early Byzantine historians, including in particular Procopius, Agathias, Menander the Guardsman and Theophylact Simocatta — with the exception of the last all contemporaries of the reign of Husraw I — paint a picture of this Sasanian king of the kings; they describe the Zoroastrian religion with its burial practices, and tell the story of diplomatic relations and Romano-Persian military confrontations of the era. Their account is certainly not neutral and their knowledge of the Middle Persian language at best rudimentary, but their reports often contain information for which they are our only source and which deserve at least a thorough review, to the extent possible.
Keywords: Sasanian empire; Husraw I; early Byzantine historiographers.
Université Paris-Sorbonne – Institut Universitaire de France
HUSRAW I AND THE ARMENIAN QUESTION
Literary evidence on relationship among the Armenians, Constantinople, and Sassanian Iran during the long reign of Husraw I is rather limited. However, the study of the main texts (Procopius’ Wars and Sebēos’ History) may highlight the role of Armenian Arsacids within the political and military relations between the Roman and the Sasanian empires.
Keywords: Armenia; Byzantium; Sassanian Iran; Procopius of Caesarea; Sebēos.
IV. The portrait of the king
École Pratique des Hautes Études V, Paris
THE ZOROASTRIAN GESTURE OF HUSRAW I IN THE MIDDLE PERSIAN LITERATURE
In the only literary corpus that has survived in the language of Husraw I, allusions to his political and social actions are particularly rare. This religious literature composed in Middle Persian focuses on portraying an idealized figure of a Zoroastrian sovereign through traditional motifs, by representing him as a proclaimer of Zoroastrianism, chairing a council of sages and vehemently condemning the heresy. The analysis of all occurrences of the name of the king reveals that throught the reappropriation of the historical reality, religious tradition has made him a legendary figure whose Mazdak is the enemy, a magus the ally, and the dēn the main concern of the struggle.
Keywords: Zoroastrianism; Middle Persian literature; Husraw I; royal character; Zoroastrian mythology.
Michael R. JACKSON BONNER
SASANIAN PROPAGANDA IN THE REIGN OF HUSRAW ĀNŪŠĪRVĀN
Much of what we think we know about Sasanian history is derived from doubtful sources. It is often claimed that historians such as Dīnawarī and Ṭabarī, and the poet Firdawsī derived their information from a lost court chronicle called the Xwadāy-nāmag. But examination shows that such sources are founded, largely but not exclusively, on Sasanian propaganda – not an official chronicle. This can be seen when later Arabic and Persian accounts of Sasanian history are compared to external sources which are contemporary with the events in question. Nowhere is this plainer than in the reign of Husraw I, for which foreign sources are comparatively more plentiful. After a discussion of the sources involved, the author analyses the phenomenon of mazdakism, the Roman war of 540, and the fall of the Hephthalites and rise of the Turcs. He shows that later sources are not to be trusted unless corroborated by notices in sources external to Iran, and that our image of Husraw I and his reign has been subject to great deformation and embellishment. The article ends with some observations on what this means for Sasanian historiography in general.
Keywords: Sasanian historiography; Xwadāy-nāmag; Husraw I; mazdakism; Hephtalites; Roman-Persian wars.
Université de Reims – Institut Universitaire de France
CHOSROES I AND PRISCIAN : DISCUSSIONS ABOUT PHYSICS AND METEOROLOGY
This article focuses on Solutiones ad Chosroem, written by the philosopher Priscian of Lydia. The scientific context in which the treatise was composed is re-examined, as well as its place in the literary production of the Neo-Platonists who found welcome at Chosroes I’s court. The article also explores the aim of the work as regards the king’s interest in physics and astronomy and shows how Priscian adapted his scholastic discourse to the reality of the Sasanian Empire.
Keywords: Priscian of Lydia; Solutiones ad Chosroem; Chosroes I; physics; meteorology; Sasanian empire.
Collège de France
SCIENTIFIC CURIOSITIES OF KINGS. CHOSROES I AND FREDERICK II
This paper discusses and compares the structure and way of the science of Chosroes I in the Solutiones of Priscianus Lydus and the deconstructing debate of Frederick II in the Sicilian Questions. Skeptical about the grounds on which knowledge rests, both argued that experiment, habit and observation are the imperfect sources of the knowledge of the sensitiv soul and the external world, claiming in the manner the necessary interruption of the adherence to the dogmatic discourses.
Keywords: Art of questioning; Chosroès I; dialectic; Frederick II of Hohenstaufen; History of medicine; History of science; neoplatonism; Priscian of Lydia; Sicilian Questions; Philosopher kings; skepticism; Solutiones ad Chosroem.