Table of Contents


    Claus V. Pedersen

    (INSTITUT FOR IRANSK FILOLOGI), University of Copenhagen. i. Forerunners. ii. History. Although the Institute was founded only in 1961, it has a long prehistory, since it is the natural culmination of about 200 years of Iranian studies in the Kingdom of Denmark.


    Paul E. Walker

    founded in 1977 by H. H. Prince Karim Aga Khan, a gathering point for the Ismaili community’s interest in its own history and in its relationship with the larger world of Islamic scholarship and contemporary thought.


    Kazem Izadi

    (MOʾASSESA-YE MOṬĀLEʿĀT WA TAḤQIQĀT-E EJTEMĀʿI), an academic body established in 1958 at the University of Tehran for research, counseling, education, and publication.





    Susan Whitfield

    (IDP), founded in 1994, a collaboration among libraries, museums, and research institutes worldwide to conserve, catalogue, digitize and research archeological artifacts, manuscripts, and archives relating to the archeological sites of Central Asia during the period of the ‘Silk Road.’ 

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    Steven C. Anderson

    IN IRAN, AFGHANISTAN, AND NEIGHBORING CENTRAL ASIA. This category includes all animals without a vertebral column. Thus it is a term of convenience that, though widely used, has little biological meaning.


    Maria Brosius, Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis, Jenny Rose

    the ceremonies and symbolic actions used to assert the assumption of rulership and to elicit affirmation of it. i. The Achaemenid period. ii. The Parthian period. iii. The Sasanian period.

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    E. Badian

    the unsuccessful uprising of the Greek cities of Asia Minor against Achaemenid control, 499-493 BCE. The main and almost the only source for the Revolt is Herodotus of Halicarnassus. The revolt of the Ionians and of some Aeolians joining them had clearly not been a spontaneous rising. Dislike of Persian rule does seem, at this time, to have been universal among the western subjects.

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  • IQĀʿ

    Gen'ichi Tsuge

    (pl. iqāʿāt), an Arabic term used in texts on music to denote rhythmic mode (or cycle) or rhythmic pattern.

  • IQĀN




    Annemarie Schimmel

    spiritual father of Pakistan and leading Persian and Urdu poet of India in the first half of the 20th century (1877-1938). He was well versed in the various fields of European philosophy and thought. He was equally well read in the Eastern tradition, and special mention should be made of his analysis of Persian thought in his thesis of 1907.

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  • IRAJ

    A. Shapur Shahbazi

    the youngest son of Ferēdun and the eponymous hero of the Iranians in their traditional history.


    Behrooz Mahmoodi-Bakhtiari

    , JALĀL-AL-MAMĀLEK, a major Persian poet and satirist of the early 20th century and one of the most popular poets of the late Qajar period (1874-1926). His intimate, idiomatic mode of expression and almost conversational tone initiated an entirely new trend in Persian poetry, which some critics have referred to as “the journalistic style.”

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  • IRAN

    Multiple Authors

    The following sub-entries will provide an overview of the unifying factors which constitute Iran through time and across space, while also showing the complexity and heterogeneity of the components of Iranian culture.


    Xavier de Planhol

    This article intends to examine the relationship between Iranian culture and its natural environment.

  • IRAN ii. IRANIAN HISTORY (1) Pre-Islamic Times

    Ehsan Yarshater

    This section provides a concise introduction to the history of Iran from its beginnings to modern times. The generally recognized periods of the country’s history are reviewed, and some of the major motifs or themes in the politics or culture of the various periods are discussed.

  • IRAN ii. IRANIAN HISTORY (2) Islamic period (page 1)

    Ehsan Yarshater

    Iran in the Islamic Period (651-1980s). This section of Persian history begins with the conquest by Muslim Arabs and the introduction of Islam to Persia, the gradual conversion of the Persians to the faith of the conquerors, and some 200 years of Arab rule.

  • IRAN ii. IRANIAN HISTORY (2) Islamic period (page 2)

    Ehsan Yarshater

    Formation of local dynasties. The Taherids (821-73). The first of these dynasties came into being when Ṭāher b. Ḥosayn was appointed the governor of Khorasan with full power.

  • IRAN ii. IRANIAN HISTORY (2) Islamic period (page 3)

    Ehsan Yarshater

    The Saljuqids (1040-1194). The plains of Central Asia, northwestern China, and western Siberia were breeding grounds for nomadic people, who kept multiplying and searching for new pastures.

  • IRAN ii. IRANIAN HISTORY (2) Islamic period (page 4)

    Ehsan Yarshater

    The Safavids (1501-1722). The advent of the Safavids constitutes one of the major turning points in Persian history.

  • IRAN ii. IRANIAN HISTORY (2) Islamic period (page 5)

    Ehsan Yarshater

    The Qajar dynasty (1779-1924). The Qajar were a Turkmen tribe who first settled during the Mongol period in the vicinity of Armenia and were among the seven Qezelbāš tribes that supported the Safavids.

  • IRAN ii. IRANIAN HISTORY (2) Islamic period (page 6)

    Ehsan Yarshater

    Moḥammad Reza Shah (1941-79). The long history of Russian and British interventions in Persian affairs had fostered widespread resentment against the two great powers.

  • IRAN ii. IRANIAN HISTORY (3) Chronological Table

    Ehsan Yarshater

    A chronological table of events. This records major happenings of Iranian pre-history and history from the most ancient times to 2005.

  • IRAN ii. IRANIAN HISTORY (4) Index of Proper Names

    Ehsan Yarshater

    Index of proper names that occur in the chronological table.


    Ehsan Yarshater

    Before assimilating the results of European research on Persian history, the Iranians were in possession of a historical tradition that combined a mixture of myth, legend, and factual history.


    John R. Hinnells

    In the study of religion, myths are seen as narratives which encapsulate fundamental truths about the nature of existence, god(s), God(s), the universe. They explain the origin of the world or of a tribe or of a ritual.

  • IRAN v. PEOPLES OF IRAN (1) A General Survey

    R. N. Frye

    The term “Iranian” may be understood in two ways. It is, first of all, a linguistic classification, intended to designate any society which inherited or adopted, and transmitted, an Iranian language.

  • IRAN v. PEOPLES OF IRAN (2) Pre-Islamic

    C. J. Brunner

    This survey focuses on the early phase of the Iranian-speaking peoples’ presence on the plateau, during the early state-building phase.

  • IRAN v. PEOPLES OF IRAN (3). Islamic Period


    See Supplement.


    Prods Oktor Skjærvø

    The term “Iranian language” is applied to any language which is descended from a proto-Iranian parent language (unattested by texts) spoken, presumably, in Central Asia in the late 3rd to early 2nd millennium BCE.

  • IRAN vi. IRANIAN LANGUAGES AND SCRIPTS (1) Earliest Evidence

    Prods Oktor Skjærvø

    The Indo-Aryan and Iranian tribes separated about 2000 BCE., but attempts to correlate the proto-Indo-Iranians with archeological sites are all problematic.


    Prods Oktor Skjærvø

    Iranian languages are known from roughly three periods, commonly termed Old, Middle, and New (Modern).


    Prods Oktor Skjærvø

    Writing systems for Iranian languages include cuneiform (Old Persian); scripts descended from “imperial” Aramaic, two Syriac scripts, Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, Cyrillic, Georgian, and Latin.

  • IRAN vii. NON-IRANIAN LANGUAGES (1) Overview

    Gernot Windfuhr

    This entry will discuss the non-Iranian languages spoken in Iran in the course of its history as the result of various peoples settling in parts of Iran and interacting with Iranian-speaking peoples who began to migrate to Iranian territories at the beginning of second millennium BCE. The entry includes linguistic sketches of languages or dialects.

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  • IRAN vii. NON-IRANIAN LANGUAGES (2) In Pre-Islamic Iran

    Gernot Windfuhr

    Of the three known pre-Islamic languages (Urartian, Kassite, and Elamite), only Urartian and Elamite are fairly well known.


    Gernot Windfuhr

    Elamite was spoken in the southern Zagros regions, which correspond to the ancient cultural-political entities of Elam and Anshan, and expanded into Akkadian-speaking Susiana.

  • IRAN vii. NON-IRANIAN LANGUAGES (4) Urartian

    Gernot Windfuhr

    Urartian was most likely the dominant vernacular around Lake Van and the upper Zab valley. It was written from the late ninth to seventh century BCE in the empire of Urartu.


    Gernot Windfuhr

    The Kassites, Akkadian Kaššu, were mountain tribes probably somewhere in the central Zagros who ruled Babylon from the sixteenth to the middle of the twelfth century BCE.

  • IRAN vii. NON-IRANIAN LANGUAGES (6) in Islamic Iran

    Gernot Windfuhr

    The non-Iranian languages spoken today in Iran include members of the following language families: (1) Altaic, (2) Afro-Asiatic Semitic, (3) Indo-European, (4) Caucasian (5) Dravidian.

  • IRAN vii. NON-IRANIAN LANGUAGES (7) Turkic Languages

    Gernot Windfuhr

    In Iran, there are two distinct branches of Turkic: Oghuz Turkic languages and dialects that represent the southwestern branch of Turkic, and Khalaj, which presents a tiny branch of its own.

  • IRAN vii. NON-IRANIAN LANGUAGES (8) Semitic Languages

    Gernot Windfuhr

     First Aramaic and then Arabic had considerable contact with Iranian languages. Their impact differs.


    Gernot Windfuhr

    Most extensive was the Arab settlement in eastern Iran and Greater Khorasan (including northwestern Afghanistan, and Central Asia, including Marv and Bukhara).

  • IRAN vii. NON-IRANIAN LANGUAGES (10). Aramaic

    Gernot Windfuhr

    Speakers of North-Eastern Aramaic have been in contact with Iranian languages in the western regions of the plateau and on the western side of the Zagros for some 3,000 years -- with Jewish settlement from Mesopotamia documented since the eighth century BCE, Christian emigration begun during the Parthian period, and the Mandaeans, settled in southeastern Mesopotamia and adjacent Khuzestan  by the 3rd century CE. 

  • IRAN viii. PERSIAN LITERATURE (1) Pre-Islamic

    Philip Huyse

    Iranian “literature” was for a long time essentially of oral nature as far as composition, performance, and transmission are concerned.

  • IRAN viii. PERSIAN LITERATURE (2) Classical


    We will pay special attention to the early formation and origins of different literary genres in Persian works, even though the very notion of literary genres is somewhat arbitrary and a subject of continuing debate.

  • IRAN viii. PERSIAN LITERATURE (3) Modern


    See FICTION.

  • IRAN ix. RELIGIONS IN IRAN (1) Pre-Islamic (1.1) Overview

    Philip G. Kreyenbroek

    From the 2nd millennium BCE until Islam became dominant in Iran, a remarkable number of religious traditions existed there.

  • IRAN ix. RELIGIONS IN IRAN (1) Pre-Islamic (1.2) Manicheism

    Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst and Philip G. Kreyenbroek

    Called after the founding prophet Mani (216-74 or 277), Manicheism was a syncretistic religion that, combining elements of the various religions current in Mesopotamia and the Iranian plateau at the time, claimed to be the ultimate religion.

  • IRAN ix. RELIGIONS IN IRAN (2) Islam in Iran (2.1) The Advent of Islam

    Hamid Algar

    Persian acquaintance with Islam began already in the time of the Prophet. Well known is the case of Salmān-e Fārsi, the Persian companion of the Prophet around whom many legends have been spun.

  • IRAN ix. RELIGIONS IN IRAN (2) Islam in Iran (2.2) Mongol and Timurid Periods

    Hamid Algar

    It is sometimes assumed that the general predominance of Sunnism in Persia was significantly weakened by the destruction of the ʿAbbasid caliphate by the Mongols in 1258.