The course offers a survey of the Arab conquest of Iran and Central Asia in the 7-8 centuries CE. We shall get acquainted with the cultures that existed in Iran and Central Asia before Islam, and shall discuss the transformation of the Iranian world following the Arab conquest.
We shall learn about the unique way of life of nomadic pastoralists in Eurasia in antiquity. We shall get acquainted with diverse cultures of Iranian and Turkic nomads that existed in the Eurasian steppes in the pre-Islamic period.
We shall learn about the network of economic and cultural contacts that developed between China and Cental Asia in the 4th-8th centuries CE and is known as the "Silk Road". We shall discuss the culture of the Sogdians who managed this network. We shall also discuss the complex relations between the sedentary Sogdians and the nomadic Turkic tribes, and focus on the Sogdian colonies in China and the phenomenon of Sino-Sogdian art.
The course will focus on the perceptions of kingship and royal court in pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia. We shall discuss written and material sources for the ancient Iranian kingship, such as architecture, inscriptions, rock reliefs etc. In addition we shall discuss the question of royal deification and ruler cult in Iran.
The course is an introduction to the history of Zoroastrianism – one of the most significant religious traditions in Antiquity, from its origins until its decline as the principal religion in Sasanian Iran following the Arab conquest. On the basis of the Zoroastrian literature, the historical sources and the material culture, we shall discuss the central concepts in Zoroastrianism and its place in the context of other ancient Iranian religions.
The seminar will focus on the unique Sogdian culture that existed in Central Asia (modern Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) between the fourth century CE and the Muslim conquest of the area in the eighth century. We shall discuss the written and material sources for the Sogdian civilization and treat important milestones of Sogdian history. Special emphasis will be placed on the wall paintings, which are the primary source for the Sogdian culture and religion. Read more about Masters of the “Silk Road” – the Rise and Fall of the Sogdian Culture
The course offers an introduction to the civilization of Iran and Central Asia from the emergence of the Iranian tribes until the Muslim conquest. We shall focus on chosen topics in history, religion, and art of the pre-Islamic Iranian world and discuss its central place as a cross-cultural bridge between cultures and civilizations in Eurasia.
The course will focus on selected topics in social, religious and cultural history of Iran in the Sasanian period (third-seventh centuries CE). The Sasanian Empire was the summit of the pre-Islamic Iranian civilization and a place of special importance is reserved for its legacy in Iranian history and culture even today. We shall focus mostly on the primary sources and the material culture. We shall discuss the urban planning, the architecture, the Sasanian royal inscriptions and rock reliefs, iconography of coins and seals.