May 9, 2017 (REVISED May 18, 2017) Ancient Sasanian Empire Subject of June Symposium

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Public Contact: Hirad Dinavari (202) 707-4518
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The African and Middle Eastern Division at the Library of Congress (AMED), in cooperation with the Iranian-American Alumni of the Alborz High School will present a symposium on the legacy of the ancient Persian Sasanian empire (224–651 AD). The event is part of an annual series of symposia on the ancient civilizations of the Near East organized by AMED at the Library of Congress.

"From Oxus to Euphrates: The Sasanian Empire,"  a free symposium open to the public, will be held from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 7th, in the Northeast Pavillion of the Thomas Jefferson Building, located at 10 First Street S.E., Washington D.C. Tickets are not required.

The Sasanians ruled a large empire in Central and Western Asia, stretching from the Oxus River to the Euphrates and from the Hindukush to Eastern Arabia, for over 400 years (224-651 CE). Known as Iranshahr (the Domain of Iran), it was a powerful empire that engendered much of what came to be known as the Iranian culture in the medieval and modern periods.

The African and Middle Eastern Division has worked closely with two top experts on the Sasanian period: Touraj Daryaee, Maseeh chair in Persian Studies and Culture, director of the Dr. Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture at the University of California at Irvine and Khodadad Rezakhani, associate research scholar at the Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at Princeton. Professors Fatemeh Keshavarz and Ahmet Karamustafa of the University of Maryland were also consulted.

During their long rule, the Sasanian world emerged as the cradle of significant cultural and artistic innovation, from impressive architecture and metalwork to Middle Persian literature. It was also home to numerous languages and religions including Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Eastern Christianity, Judaism, and a number of gnostic beliefs. Perhaps the most lasting contribution of the Sasanians was their implementation of Iranshahr from a mythical concept to a geographical one. As a result, the integrity of their empire as the Domain of Iran became the building block of the socio-cultural concept of Iran in later periods and has remained as their legacy to the present day.

“This multidisciplinary symposium will represent various fields of study and draw upon ancient and classical history, Persian and Central Asian Studies and Near-Eastern religious and confessional traditions,” said Hirad Dinavari, Library of Congress Iranic world reference specialist, who will moderate one of the three panels along with Mary-Jane Deeb, chief of the African and Middle Eastern Division and Fatemeh Keshavarz, director of the University of Maryland School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. There will also be a display of books in various languages on Sasanian history, culture, music and archaeology.

Panel One will focus on the history of Iranshahr, with presentations by Prof. Daryaee, University of California, Irvine; Stephen H. Rapp Jr.,  Sam Houston State University; and  Khodadad Rezakhani,  Princeton University.  

Panel Two will be on Peoples and Religions of the Sasanian Realm, and will include presentations by Professors Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina, University of Toronto; Scott McDonough, William Paterson University; and Simcha Gross, University of California, Irvine.

Panel Three will focus on the art and culture in the Sasanian period and beyond and will include presentations by Samra Elodie Azarnouche, L’École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE); Judith A. Lerner, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW); Ida Meftahi, Roshan Institute for Persian Studies, University of Maryland.

Alborz High School is a preparatory high school located in Tehran, Iran. Founded as an elementary school in 1873 by American missionaries, it is named after the Alborz mountain range that covers northwestern Iran. From its inception, Alborz High School has played a very significant role in the shaping of Iran's intellectual and cultural elites over the last century.

The Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division is the center for the study of 78 countries and regions from Southern Africa to the Maghreb and from the Middle East and the Caucasus to Central Asia. For more information, visit

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PR 17-071
ISSN 0731-3527