Welcome to my website. I am a postdoctoral fellow and a member of staff at the Institute of Iranian Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, where I currently teach the courses ‘Themen aus der Geschichte Irans’ and ‘Politik, Kultur und Identität im zeitgenössischen Iran’. My doctoral dissertation, obtained at SOAS, contains at its core an edition of the Middle Persian translation (zand) of the Yasna Haptaŋhāiti, a liturgical text composed in the Old Iranian language of Avestan and commonly dated to the middle of the second millennium BCE. Jointly with Agnès Lenepveu-Hot, this dissertation received the 2015 SIE award for a European Ph.D. thesis in Iranian Studies.

My Research

My main research topics are pre-Islamic Iranian religions, history and society:

  • Zoroastrianism from antiquity through to early-islamic times
  • History of Iran from antiquity to the modern era
  • Old and Middle Iranian languages and literatures
  • Old and Middle Iranian epigraphy
  • Exegesis of the Avesta in antiquity and late antiquity
  • Pahlavi documents
  • Aspects of Digital Humanities

I have previously encoded D. MacKenzie’s ‘Concise Pahlavi Dictionary’ according to the guidelines of the ‘Text Encoding Initiative’ (TEI) and have recently developed and applied an encoding scheme for the encoding of a sample passage of the Avestan Yasna according to TEI for a pilot project at SOAS. These samples now appear on the TEI website.

For my “Habilitation” I will examine how the Middle Persian literature, broadly speaking, reflects the exegesis and understanding of the Avesta as a ritual text.

My dissertation contained at its core an edition of the Middle Persian (MP) translation, or the zand, of the Yasna Haptaŋhāiti (YH), a liturgical text composed in the Old Iranian language of Avestan and commonly dated to the middle of the second millennium BCE. Contrary to commonly accepted editorial practices in Iranian Studies, I made no attempts to critically reconstruct one version of the text based on variant readings. Much like a diplomatic or a non-eclectic edition the text of the present edition is based for the first time on one manuscript, namely Pt4, while the apparatus records variants as in a variorum edition. The edition is extended by introductory chapters and commentaries, challenging the view that considers the study of the MP translations an auxiliary science to Avestan Studies, framing the text instead within the exegetical and historical context from which it emerged. In the treatment of the zand of the YH as a text in its own right the so-called glosses are considered for the first time as an integral part of the text. In a broad investigation of the MP literature I argue that Zoroastrian exegesis shares the common traits of Cabezón’s decontextualized scholasticism, a cross-cultural category abstracted from the Medieval European scholasticism. It is also proposed that the ritual fire’s development in Zoroastrian texts from their oldest layers through to the MP literature exemplifies correlative structures, which often emerge in manuscript traditions.


2014 – Editor at DABIR Online Journal
2014 – Assistant Editor at De Gruyter Open in Theology and Religious Studies (profile)
2009 – Association for Iranian Studies (AIS, formerly International Society for Iranian Studies)

My Publications

In recent years academia.edu has received increasingly more negative attention. So, for instance, from Guy Geltner in Upon Leaving Academia.edu, published in Mittelalter. Interdisziplinäre Forschung und Rezeptionsgeschichte, 7. After academia.edu’s recent move towards a more commercial business model, I decided to move my publication list to my own site. A copy is available on my profile page at the website of the Institut für Iranistik.
See also my  ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0002-3020-2776 profile.


  • Zeini, Arash. 2018. The king in the mirror of the Zand: Secrecy in Sasanian Iran. In Touraj Daryaee (ed.), Sasanian Iran in the context of late antiquity: The Bahari lecture series at the University of Oxford (Ancient Iran Series 6), 149–162. Jordan Center for Persian Studies.
  • Zeini, Arash. 2018. Various entries. In Oliver Nicholson (ed.), The Oxford dictionary of late antiquity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    (Adurbad-i Mahraspand, Arday Wiraz Namag, Bundahishn, Letter of Tansar, Matigan-i Hazar Datastan, Vendidad, Xwaday Namag, Andarzbad, Astodan, Bahram VI, Beth, Bozorgmihr, Hazarbad, Hormizd II, Hormizd IV, Marzban, Peroz, Qobad II, Spahbad)
  • Zeini, Arash. 2018. Middle Persian papyri, ostraca and parchments: An introduction. Sasanika Papyrological Studies , No. 1.
  • Zeini, Arash. 2016. A Unique Pahlavi Papyrus from Vienna (P.Pehl. 562). With an introductory note by Dieter Weber. Studia Iranica 45(1). 39–52.
  • Zeini, Arash. 2015. Preliminary Remarks on Middle Persian <nc> in the Pahlavi Documents. In Anna Krasnowolska & Renata Rusek-Kowalska (eds.), Studies on the Iranian World I: Before Islam, 67–73. Kraków: Jagiellonian University Press.
  • Zeini, Arash. 2015. Preliminary observations on word order correspondence in the Zand. DABIR 1(1). 31–35.
  • Zeini, Arash. 2013. ‘The Everlasting Zoroastrian Flame’: An interview with Dr Sarah Stewart. Published at IranWire.com.
  • Zeini, Arash (ed.). 2012. The Avestan Manuscript Pt4_400 (Iranian Pahlavi Yasna) of the Bodleian Library (Avestan Digital Archive Series 39). Digital Publication.
  • Zeini, Arash. 2010. Review of Hinnells, John & Alan Williams (eds.): Parsis in India and the Diaspora. Numen 57(2). 258–263.
  • Zeini, Arash. 2008. Review of Alberto Cantera: Studien zur Pahlavi-Übersetzung des Avesta. Bibliotheca Orientalis 65(5–6). 785–790.

In Preparation / Press

  • Zeini, Arash. Scholasticism in Late Antique Iran: The Pahlavi Version of the Yasna Haptaŋhāiti. Edinburgh University Press.
  • Zeini, Arash. Religion in Ancient Iran and the Achaemenid Empire. In Tawny Holm (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Religions in the Ancient Near East. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Zeini, Arash. Review of Sarah Savant: The New Muslims of Post-Conquest Iran: Tradition, Memory, and Conversion. For DABIR.
  • Review of A.C.S. Peacock & D.G. Tor: Medieval Central Asia and the Persianate World: Iranian Tradition and Islamic Civilization. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.
  • Review of Juano Ferrer-Losilla: Final –y in Non-Manichaean Parthian and the Proto-Parthian ‘Rhythmic Law’. Journal of the American Oriental Society.
  • Entries for Encyclopædia Iranica: Niyāyišn, Saddar Nasr, Saddar Bondahešn
  • Review of Louise Marlow. 2016. Counsel for kings: Wisdom and politics in tenth-century Iran, vol. I & II. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.
  • Review of Reza Zia-Ebrahimi. 2016. The Emergence of Iranian Nationalism: Race and the Politics of Dislocation. DABIR.


  • 2019 “From Yasna to Yazišn: On the (in)significance of the ritual in late antique Zoroastrianism”, ECIS9, Freie Universität Berlin, 11 September 2019.
  • 2017 “Editing the Pahlavi Yasna”, Editing Avestan Texts in the 21st Centtury: Problems and Perspectives, Freie Universität Berlin, 24 March 2017.
  • 2016 “Capital and Yield: Sasanian Legal Terminology in Religious Context”, Freie Universität Berlin, 16 June 2016.
  • 2014 “Aspects of Zoroastrian Exegesis in the Late Antique Era”, WZO Seminar on Zoroastrian Religion, History and Culture, The World Zoroastrian Organisation, 8 June 2014.
  • 2014 “Secrecy and Canonisation in Sasanian Iran: A Scholastic Reading of the Zand”. Bahari Lecture Series: “Sasanian Iran in the Context of Late Antiquity”, Oxford Centre for Late Antiquity, University of Oxford, 20 May 2014.
  • 2014 Vortragsgsreihe: “Kingship in Ancient Iran”, School of Classics, School of History and Institute of Iranian Studies, University of St Andrews.
    • “The Return of the Avesta”. 14 May 2014.
    • “The Sasanian Empire and Religious Authority: The Case of Zoroastrianism”. 07 May 2014.
    • “Mythical Kings, Empire and Multiculturalism: The Case of the Achaemenids”. 30 April 2014.

Workshops Organised

  • 2014 “Kingship in Ancient Iran: An Interdisciplinary Workshop”. University of St Andrews, June 12–13, 2014.
  • 2014 “Introduction to TEI and oXygen”: An introductory workshop, discussing text encoding and the oXygen XML editor. The Ancient India and Iran Trust, Cambridge, 25 January 2014.

Relevant Experiences

  • 2015 TEI Simple workshop: Working with TEI Simple and its processing model. University of Oxford, 27 May, 2015.
  • 2015 Founded “Bibliographia Iranica”, a bibliographic blog.
  • 2014 Editor at DABIR Online Journal.
  • 2014 Assistant Editor at De Gruyter Open in Theology and Religious Studies.
  • 2012 Participated in the ‘Fourth Summer School on Pahlavi Papyrology. On the Threshold of Islam: Documents in the Pahlavi Cursive Script’. Freie Universität Berlin, Institut für Iranistik, September 24–28, 2012.
  • 2012 Conceptualised and collaborated on a pilot project (SOAS) to investigate the pathway from text encoding to the printing of a critical edition, May–June, 2012.
  • 2010 Participated in the ‘2nd Summer School on Pahlavi Papyrology’. Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente (IsIAO), Rome, September 06–09, 2010.
  • 2010 Participated in the Summer School ‘New Western Iranian and Early Judaeo-Persian Dialectology’. University of Hamburg, Department of Iranian Studies, August 16–27, 2010.
  • 2009 Participated in the first ‘International Summer School in Pahlavi Papyrology’. Austrian National Library, Vienna, September 20–26, 2009.