M. Rahim Shayegan

A photo of M. Rahim Shayegan
E-mail: shayegan@humnet.ucla.edu Phone: 310-825-4877 Office: 358 Royce Hall

M. Rahim Shayegan is professor of Iranian and the Ancient Near East, the Jahangir and Eleanor Amuzegar Chair of Iranian, the founding director of the Pourdavoud Institute for the Study of the Iranian World (established 2017), and the founder and chair of the governance board of the Global Antiquity institute (established 2020) at UCLA.

Professor Shayegan received his PhD from Harvard University, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and was a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows before joining the NELC faculty at UCLA.

He has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (2013–14), is a Foreign Member of the Academia Europaea, Section of Classics and Oriental Studies (2019–present); a Corresponding Member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) (2021–present), and the invited Yarshater conférencier in November 2022 delivering five lectures at INALCO/Collège de France.

Professor Shayegan has authored and edited several books, among them: Arsacids and Sasanians: Political Ideology in Post-Hellenistic and Late Antique Persia (Cambridge UP, 2011); Aspects of History and Epic in Ancient Iran (Harvard UP, 2012); and Cyrus the Great: Life and Lore (Harvard UP, 2019). He is currently working on a number of volumes on the Achaemenid and Sasanian empires, among them Achéménides et Sassanides : Continuités et ruptures, which is the text of the cinq conférences delivered at INALCO/Collège de France; History of the Sasanian Empire (Cambridge University Press); and Ancient Iran and the West (Getty Publishers).

He is currently working on a number of volumes on the Achaemenid and Sasanian empires, among them Achéménides et Sassanides : Continuités et ruptures, the text of cinq conférences at INALCO/Collège de France; The World of Ancient Iran and the West (Getty Publishers), and Companion to the Sasanian Empire (Wiley-Blackwell). He is editor of a number of newly established series, among them Iran and the Ancient World with University of California Press (UCP).



  • PhD, Iranian Philology and Ancient History, Harvard University
  • PhD Candidate, Iranian Philology, Seminar für Iranistik, Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen, Germany
  • MA, Iranian Philology and Ancient History, Institut des Études Iraniennes, Université de la Sorbonne, Paris, France
  • BA, Philosophy, Comparative Philology, History, Philosophisches Seminar, Albertus-Magnus-Universität zu Köln, Cologne, Germany


  • Old and Middle Iranian philology and epigraphy
  • Iranian epigraphy
  • Achaemenid, Arsacid, Seleucid, and Sasanian history with special attention to interactions between Mesopotamia and Iran; as well as Greco-Roman and Iranian cultural and ideological exchanges
  • Ancient Iranian and Near Eastern religions
  • Greek historiography; Hellenistic and Late Antique worlds
  • Epic and oral traditions


Edited Volumes


Articles, Essays and Book Chapters by M. Rahim Shayegan

  • “Kingship iii: Sasanian Iran,” Encyclopædia Iranica, vol. xvii, 2023, 235–248.
  • “The End of the Parthian Arsacid Empire.” In The End of Empires. Decline, Erosion and Implosion. Edited by Robert Rollinger and Michael Gehler, 2022, 213–247.
  • “Contesting the Empire: Dareios III and Alexander of Macedon.” In The World of Alexander in Perspective: Contextualizing Arrian. Edited by Julian Degen and Robert Rollinger, 2022, 285–313.
  • “The Sasanian Empire.” In Persia: Ancient Iran and the Classical World. Edited by Jeffrey Spier, Timothy Potts, and Sara Cole. Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2021, 259–270.
  • “The Cameo of Warahrān II,” Bulletin of the Asia Institute 30, 2020/2021, 1–20.
  • “Le Roi et son interlocuteur : Remarques sur les stratégies discursives des inscriptions royales Achéménides et Sassanides.” Res Orientales (Leuven) 28, 2020 : 137–138.
  • “Persianism: Or Achaemenid Reminiscences in the Iranian and Iranicate World(s) of Antiquity.” In Persianism in Antiquity. Edited by Rolf Strootman and Miguel Jon Versluys. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2017: 401–557.
  • “Old Iranian Motifs in Vīs o Rāmīn.” In Essays in Islamic Philology, History, and Philosophy. Edited by Alireza Korangi, Wheeler M. Thakston, Roy P. Mottahedeh, William Granara. Studies in the History and Culture of the Middle East, volume 31. Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter, 2016: 29–50.
  • “The Arsacids and the Commagene.” In The Parthian and Early Sasanian Empires: Adaptation and Expansion: Proceedings of a Conference held in Vienna, 14−15 June 2012. Edited by Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis, Elizabeth J. Pendelton, Michael Alram, and Touraj Daryaee. BIPS Archaeological Monograph Series V. Oxford and Philadelphia: Oxbow, 2016: 8–22.
  • “Sasanian Royal Ideology.” In The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Iran. Edited by D. T. Potts. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013: 805–813.
  • “Prosopographical Notes: The Iranian Nobility during and after the Macedonian Conquest.” Bulletin of the Asia Institute 21, 2007 [2012]: 97–126.
  • “Bardiya and Gaumāta: An Achaemenid Enigma Reconsidered.” Bulletin of the Asia Institute 20, 2006 [2010]: 65–76.
  • “Nugae Epigraphicae.” In Festschrift for Prods Oktor Skjærvø. Edited by Nicholas and Ursula Sims-Williams. Bulletin of the Asia Institute 19. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Bulletin of the Asia Institute, 2005 [2009]: 169–179.
  • “On the Rationale behind the Roman Wars of Šābuhr II the Great.” Bulletin of the Asia Institute 18, 2004 [2008]: 111–133.
  • “Philostratus’s Heroikos and the Ideation of Late Severan Policy toward Arsacid and Sasanian Iran” In Philostratus’s Heroikos: Religion and Cultural Identity in the Third Century CE. Edited by Ellen Bradshaw Aitken and Jennifer K. Berenson Maclean. Writings of the Greco-Roman World, Number 6, ser. ed. John T. Fitzgerald. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2004, 285–315.
  • “On Demetrius II Nicator’s Arsacid Captivity and Second Rule.” Bulletin of the Asia Institute 17, 2003 [2007]: 83–103.
  • “Approaches to the Study of Sasanian History.” In Paitimāna: Essays in Iranian, Indo-European, and Indian Studies in Honor of Hanns-Peter Schmidt. Edited by S. Adhami. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers, 2003, 363–384.
  • “On the Function of the (h)argbed in Sasanian Iran.” In Ahmad Tafazzoli: A Commemorative. Iran Nameh: A Persian Journal of Iranian Studies. Vol. 17:2. Bethesda, MD: Foundation for Iranian Studies, 1999, 287–290.
  • “The Evolution of the Concept of xwadāy in Middle Persian. Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 51, no. 1–2 (1998): 31–54.

Edited Work

  • A Companion to the Sasanian Empire. Co-edited with T. Daryaee. In preparation for the Wiley Blackwell Companion and Handbook Series.
  • Contextualizing Iranian Religions in the Ancient World: Proceedings of the 14th Melammu Conference Held at UCLA on February 18–20, 2020. In preparation for the Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (ÖAW).
  • Ancient Iran and the West: Proceedings of Joint Conferences Held at UCLA and the Getty Villa, April 25–26, 2018 and May 29–30, 2019. In preparation for Getty Publishers.
  • Iran and the Ancient World (University of California Press) (series editor; 2022–).

Encyclopaedia Entries

  • “Hormizd I.” Encyclopædia Iranica. Vol. 12, no. 5 (2004): 462–464.
  • “Hazārbed.” Encyclopædia Iranica. Vol. 12, no. 1 (2003): 93–95.
  • “Ḵosrow I Anōširavān.” Encyclopædia Iranica. In preparation.


  • Macuch, Maria. Rechtskasuistik and Gerichtspraxis zu Beginn des siebenten Jahrhunderts in Iran: Die Rechtssammlung des Farroḫmard i Wahrāmān. Edited by Maria Macuch. Iranica, Band 1. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1993, xiv, 807 S. In Orientalische Literaturzeitung 93 (1998): 230–234.
  • Wiesehöfer, Josef. Ancient Persia. London: I. B. Tauris, 1996. In Iranian Studies 33, 1-2 (2000): 238–240.
  • Tafazzoli, Ahmad. Sasanian Society: I. Warriors; II. Scribes; III. Dehqāns. Ehsan Yarshater Distinguished Lectures in Iranian Studies, No. 1. New York: Bibliotheca Persica Press, 2000, 71. In Journal of the American Oriental Society 132:1 (2012): 124–125.
  • Cantera, Alberto. Studien zur Pahlavi Übersetzung des Avesta. Edited by Maria Macuch. Iranica, Band 7. In Journal of the American Oriental Society 131:3 (2011): 504–506.


  • Achaemenid Civilization and Empire of Alexander
  • History of the Achaemenid Empire
  • History of the Arsacid (Parthian) Empire
  • History of the Sasanian Empire
  • Introduction to Western Middle Iranian (Pahlavi; Manichaean Middle Persian)
  • Religions of Ancient Iran (Zoroastrianism; Manichaeism; Mazdakism)
  • Early New Persian Epic Poetry and Prose
  • Old Persian Cuneiform
  • Avestan (Old and Younger)
  • Advanced Western Middle Iranian (Pahlavi; Manichaean Middle Persian and Parthian; Sasanian epigraphy)
  • Introduction to Eastern Middle Iranian (Sogdian; Bactrian)
  • Topics on Ancient Iranian History and Religions
  • Early Persian Prose and Poetry, including the Šāhnāme and popular romances and historiographical writings

Select Grants and Awards

  • Corresponding Member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (2022–).
  • Conférencier des 10èmes Conférences d’Études iraniennes Ehsan et Latifeh Yarshater à INALCO/Collège de France (November 2022).
  • Academia Europaea, Foreign Member to the Section of Classics and Oriental Studies (2019–present).
  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow (2013–2014).
  • Ehsan Yarshater Book Award (for Arsacids and Sasanians, Cambridge UP, 2011) by the International Society for Iranian Studies (2012).