Amélie Kuhrt to deliver the Harold Bailey Lecture 2015

Friday 11th December, 5.30pm at FAMES, Cambridge
Professor Amélie Kuhrt, FBA – The King Speaks: The Persians and their Empire
The Achaemenid empire was created in the space of less than thirty years and dominated, with considerable success, a region stretching from Central Asia to the Aegean for around 200 years. How did the Persian kings and ruling elite visualise their immense power? How was that vision expressed? In this talk, Amélie Kuhrt, Professor Emeritus at University College London, aims to present an outline of the Persian image of their domain, concentrating on monuments and inscriptions from the royal centres and leaving aside the stories of outsiders, such as Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Jews.
The lecture will begin promptly at 5.30pm, followed by a reception.
Admission free. Booking not required.
Venue: Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DA
Tel. 01223 356841

Rewriting Kalila wa-Dimna in Timurid Herat

“Depiction of a Timurid rug with a medallion design in a manuscript of Nizami, Herat, 1445-1446, Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, (from V. Berinstain et al., Great Carpets of the World, fig. 94)”. Image source:

Christine van Ruymbeke (Cambridge) will speak on 

Kashefi’s Anvar-e Sohayli: Rewriting Kalila wa-Dimna in Timurid Herat
5.30pm.  Refreshments from 5pm.  All welcome.
Ancient India & Iran Trust 
23 Brooklands Avenue, Cambridge CB2 8BG
Tel: +44 (0)1223 356841
I have just completed a monograph on the fifteenth century re-writing in Persian prose of the ubiquitous collection of Persian animal fables, the Kalila wa Dimna tales (Kashefi’s Anvar-e Sohayli. Rewriting Kalila-Dimna in Timurid Herat – forthcoming). My fifteenth-century work, named Anvar-i Suhayli, has suffered virulent criticism both in Iran and in the West and was virtually put in the dustbin of Persian studies. I am thus – how exciting ! – reviving and studying what is tantamount to a forgotten text. It is a Mirror for Princes, containing advice for youths (aged from 7 to 77) at Court.  I have also worked on a series of essays related to this research (“Dimna’s Apologia. The Place of Morality in the Trial of a Rhetorical Genius”).
Christine van Ruymbeke

Sasanian royalist ideology

Sasanian royalist ideology and Zoroastrian millennialism

Lecture by François de Blois, University College London, at the Ancient India and Iran Trust, Cambridge, Friday 06March, 5.30pm.

François de Blois has published widely on Semitic and Iranian languages and on the history of religions in the Near East in pre-modern times. Notably, he contributed to the multi-volume work Persian Literature, which had been initiated by C.A. Storey and published by the Royal Asiatic Society. He served as Professor of Iranian Studies at Hamburg University from 2002 to 2003. Currently he is a research fellow at University College London where he is engaged in a major project on al-Biruni’s Chronology and other Arabic texts on non-Islamic calendars. He is also a teaching fellow for Aramaic and Middle Iranian languages at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He has been a frequent contributor to the Encyclopaedia of Islam.

All welcome. Refreshments from 5pm.

Ancient India & Iran Trust
23 Brooklands Avenue, Cambridge CB2 8BG

Procopius’ Persian tales

Procopius’ Persian Tales: entertainment, history or morality fable?

Geoffrey Greatrex (Ottawa) will consider the opening chapters of the Byzantine historian Procopius of Caesarea’s Persian Wars, in which he introduces his theme, the wars fought between the Romans and Sasanian Persians in the sixth century A.D. He recounts a series of intriguing stories about the Persian court and Persian history in the fifth and early sixth centuries. The puzzle remains as to how seriously these tales should be taken…

Date & time: 25 April 2014; 17:30
Location: AIIT, Cambridge

The Sasanian Empire as a garden

The Sasanian empire as a garden: The walls and rivers of the Sasanian Empire

This lecture by Touraj Daryaee (UCI) looks at the physical and ideological boundaries which the Sasanians created for the idea of Iranshahr. In this late antique construct, inside the empire, protected by walls and rivers was imagined as a garden where order and beauty was in existence. Outside of the walls and the rivers it was seen as place of wilderness and disorder. This binary division was at the centre of Sasanian ideology which projected peace and power inside, while danger for its people lay outside of its boundaries.

Speaker: Touraj Daryaee (UCI)
Where: AIIT, Cambridge
When: 23 May 2014, 17:30.

Go east, young man!

Go east, young man! A personal journey

In this informal talk the Chair of the Ancient India and Iran Trust, Nicholas Sims-Williams, will describe his research on the Sogdian language and literature, in particular on the Christian texts from the Turfan oasis in Western China, and will try to answer a question which he is often asked: What led you to study such an obscure subject?

Speaker: Nicholas Sims-Williams (SOAS)
Where: AIIT, Cambridge
When: 16 May 2014

Introduction to TEI and oXygen

As part of our group’s ongoing engagement with the Yasna, I will be leading a one day workshop on TEI and oXygen. This is an internal meeting with the aim of introducing the participants of the Yasna project to the ideas behind encoding texts and exploring features offered by the oXygen XML editor.

This is the first session in a series of meetings to be held at the Ancient India and Iran Trust, Cambridge.

Date & time: Saturday 25 Jan 2014; 14:00–18:00
Location: AIIT, Cambridge