Transmillenial Ecologies of Iranian Religion and Identity

Recorded: January 9, 2019
Event: Pourdavoud Center Lecture Series
Citation: Canepa, Matthew. "Transmillenial Ecologies of Iranian Religion and Identity," Pourdavoud Center Lecture Series. January 9, 2019.

by Matthew P. Canepa (University of California, Irvine)

Transmillenial Ecologies of Iranian Religion and Identity

This lecture explores continuities and changes in the formation of religious sites, structures, and practices in Persia and the wider ancient Iranian world. By ‘ecology’ this lecture focuses both on religion in the natural environment and, in a more metaphorical sense, the relationship of religious activities and sites to their physical surroundings across millennia. It considers the lingering impact and transformation of Persian heritage as well as Pārsa’s deeper Elamite history by briefly surveying problems in defining Iranian sacred architecture, and then focusing on the introduction of new types of religious architecture and simultaneous persistence of open-air sanctuaries and ritual activities at natural phenomena. This lecture, and the book from which it draws, investigates how traditions of Iranian identity and kingship developed. It emphasizes that, instead of naturally replicating traditions, most continuities in Persian kingship resulted from the active efforts and choices of sovereigns to curate or even fabricate them in response to contemporary struggles to gain legitimacy and dominance.

About the Speaker

Matthew P. Canepa (PhD, University of Chicago) is Professor of Art History and Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Presidential Chair in Art History and Archaeology of Ancient Iran at University of California, Irvine. His research focuses on the intersection of art, ritual, and power in the eastern Mediterranean, Persia, and the wider Iranian world. Professor Canepa’s most recent book is entitled The Iranian Expanse: Transforming Royal Identity through Landscape, Architecture, and the Built Environment (550 BCE – 642 CE) (University of California Press, 2018). It is a large-scale study of the transformation of Iranian cosmologies, landscapes, and architecture from the height of the Achaemenids to the coming of Islam.