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Syllabus Kingship and Royal Court in Pre-Islamic Iran - 38477
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Last update 09-08-2017
HU Credits: 2

Degree/Cycle: 1st degree (Bachelor)

Responsible Department: islamic & middle east stud.

Semester: 1st Semester

Teaching Languages: Hebrew

Campus: Mt. Scopus

Course/Module Coordinator: Dr. Michael Shenkar

Coordinator Email:

Coordinator Office Hours: Tuesday 12:30-13:30

Teaching Staff:
Dr. Shenkar Michael

Course/Module description:
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.

Course/Module aims:
Acquaintance with representation and perceptions of royalty and kingship in the pre-Islamic Iranian world.

Learning outcomes - On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:
To be acquainted with the perceptions of kingship and court culture in various civilisations of pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia. Ability to deal with primary sources for the period.

Attendance requirements(%):

Teaching arrangement and method of instruction: The Lecturer's exposition of the subject followed by a discussion.

Course/Module Content:
1. Introduction: Notions and perceptions of kingship in the pre-Islamic Iranian world.

2. Teispid and Achaemenid kingship and its Mesopotamian prototypes.

3. At the court of the "King of Kings" – the Achaemenian kingship in its zenith.

4. “Scythian kings” – kingship and political culture of the Iranian nomads.

5. Alexander and the Hellenistic “Kings of Asia”.

6. Arsacids and the great noble houses of Parthia.

7. “Worthy of divine worship” – the Kushan kings in Bactria and India.

8. “In the form of Gods” – Creation of the Sasanian kingship

9. The glory of the Late Sasanian court.

10. “Iranian Huns” and the rise of the East.

11. Sogdian kingship and civic community in Sogdiana.

12. The Legacy of Iranian kingship – Muslim sovereigns and Turkish qaghans.

Required Reading:
See syllabus on Moodle.

Additional Reading Material:
Frye, R.N. (1984), The History of Ancient Iran, München.

Llewellyn-Jones, L. (2013), King and Court in Ancient Persia 559 to 331 BCE, Edinburgh

Wiesehöfer, J. (2001), Ancient Persia, 550 BC to 650 AD, London - New York.

Potts, D. (ed.), (2013), The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Iran, Oxford.

Encyclopædia Iranica Online Edition available at:

Course/Module evaluation:
End of year written/oral examination 90 %
Presentation 0 %
Participation in Tutorials 10 %
Project work 0 %
Assignments 0 %
Reports 0 %
Research project 0 %
Quizzes 0 %
Other 0 %

Additional information:
Students needing academic accommodations based on a disability should contact the Center for Diagnosis and Support of Students with Learning Disabilities, or the Office for Students with Disabilities, as early as possible, to discuss and coordinate accommodations, based on relevant documentation.
For further information, please visit the site of the Dean of Students Office.