Constructing Religious Identities in the Age of the Empires: Remarks on the “Imperial Religion(s)” of the Early Achaemenid Period

Recorded: February 18, 2020
Event: Contextualizing Iranian Religions in the Ancient World - 14th Melammu Symposium

by Salvatore Gaspa (University of Padua)

Constructing Religious Identities in the Age of the Empires: Remarks on the “Imperial Religion(s)” of the Early Achaemenid Period

Recent scholarship has shown that our understanding of the Achaemenid religious landscape requires not only a reassessment of the current knowledge of interactions between the Iranian world and the adjacent millennium-old civilizations of the Near East, but also a reconsideration of the methodological approach we follow to study processes of cultural interaction, assimilation, and differentiation. If previous studies on Achaemenid Persian religion predominantly followed a philological approach, couched in Indo-European linguistics, ongoing research of the last decades has shown the merits of investigating the imperial religion(s) of the early Achaemenids in light of the rich documentary evidence from the Achaemenid archives and in conjunction with the rich religious traditions of Assyria, Babylonia, and Elam. This presentation will address these topics in order to contribute to the current scholarly debate on the formation of early Achaemenid religion from the perspective of Mesopotamian and Elamite precedents.