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WZO Seminar on Zoroastrian Religion, History and Culture – Sunday 5th June, 2016

Held in Association with the World Zarathushtrian Trust Fund
Venue: Gulbenkian Room at the International Students House
229 Gt. Portland Street, London WIW 5PN

Speaker 1: Alexandra Eleni Laura Buhler
Impact of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution on the Zoroastrian community

Mr Darayus Motivala, introduced and chaired Alexandra Buhler’s speech.

Alexandra Buhler is in the final year of her PhD at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), University of London.

After graduating from Oxford University where she completed a BA in Theology, Alexandra obtained an MA at SOAS in the Study of Religions.

During her MA Alexandra’s interest in Zoroastrianism developed and it became the focus of her studies.

In this talk Alexandra drew on some of the findings of her doctoral research which concerned the impact of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution, 1906 -1911, on the Zoroastrian community.

The Constitutional Revolution was significant for Zoroastrians in Iran as it resulted in the political representation of the community in the Iranian Parliament.

In addition to highlighting some key points relating to the changing position of Zoroastrians in Iran at this time, Alexandra also discussed the importance of the links between Zoroastrian communities in India, Iran and Great Britain during this period.

Alexandra’s speech can be viewed in the following video

Speaker 2: Professor Dr Maria Macuch
The Zoroastrian Background of Sasanian Law

Professor Dr Macuch was up to her retirement in 2015 Professor of Iranian Studies and head of the Institut fuer Iranistik (Institute of Iranian Studies) of the Freie Universitaet Berlin.

She was President of the main association of European Iranologists, Societas Iranologica Europaea, from 2003-2007, is member of the Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum since 2007 and editor of the Series Iranica since 1993.

Main areas of research: Pre-Islamic Iran; Zoroastrian and Sasanian law and its impact on other legal cultures, especially Christian, Rabbinic and Islamic law; Pahlavi literature and classical Persian literature. Maria Macuch’s talk was about:

The Zoroastrian Background of Sasanian Law

Iranian law was based theoretically on Zoroastrianism up to the  conquest of Iran in the 7th century.

As in other pre-modern religious legal systems, such as Talmudic and Islamic law, the fields of theology and jurisprudence remained intertwined to a very large degree.

Zoroastrian norms comprised in an early historical period two main areas dealing with moral, ritual and purity rules on the one hand, and civil and criminal law, on the other.

Although jurisprudence gradually developed into an individual discipline by the Sasanian period (3rd-7th centuries) religion remained its theoretical foundation and a large number of important legal institutions were founded on Zoroastrian norms.

In this talk chaired by WZO Chairman Mr Shahpur Captain, Dr Macuch gave an overview of the historical development of Zoroastrian law and discussed how basic tenets were integrated into the legal system of the Sasanian state.

Dr Macuch’s speech can be viewed in the following video

Speaker 3 : Professor Simon James
Of Mithras and Magi, Cataphracts and Crowns: the forgotten influence of Sasanian Iran on the Roman World

Professor Simon JamesProfessor Simon James read archaeology at the London Institute of Archaeology, where he also took his PhD, by which time the Institute had become part of University College, London. He moved to the British Museum, first as an archaeological illustrator and then as a museum educator, responsible for programmes relating to the later prehistoric and Roman collections.

After a decade at the British Museum, he decided to seek a career in research and teaching. Having held a Leverhulme Special Research Fellowship at the University of Durham, he joined the School in January 2000, was promoted Senior Lecturer in 2002, and Reader in 2005. In April 2012 he was awarded a personal chair.

A major theme in his research has been the military archaeology of the ancient city of Dura-Europos on the Syrian Euphrates. This became a Roman military garrison, which was besieged and destroyed by a Sasanian army c.AD256. He has published the remarkable finds of arms and armour from the site, mostly belonging to the Roman defenders, but also including rare and very important early Sasanian remains. Further related research into the siege which led to burial of these artefacts led to identification of probable use of ‘chemical warfare’ by the Sasanians during the fighting. The evidence from Dura has led him to examine more widely Roman interactions with the Partho-Sasanian world, in both war and peace.

Professor Simon James speech was chaired by Ms Shahin Bekhradnia

Professor James’s speech can be viewed in the following video

WZO Seminar’s Panel – 5th June 2016

There was a question answer session after all the three speakers spoke on their respective subjects.

WZO Chairman, Mr Shahpur Captain kindly invited the speakers for a panel discussion and requested the audience to ask questions to the speakers.

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Follow this link to watch the WZO Seminar on Zoroastrian Religion, History and Culture – Sunday 7th June, 2015