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Ērān Tūrān Hrōm


Ērān Research Forum

West & Central Asia in the First Millennium CE

Université de Lille, 15-19 July 2024

Convenors: Ekaterina Nechaeva (Lille) and Khodadad Rezakhani (Leiden)

The study of the first millennium of the common era has enjoyed a healthy uptick in the last few decades, mainly due to the efforts of Roman and Byzantine historians who adopted and expanded the concept of Late Antiquity. These efforts have further percolated into the study of early Islam, chronologically, and the world outside the Mediterranean, including Iran but most prominently the Caucasus, and have benefited Sasanian and Syriac studies too. However, much of these studies tend to emphasise the Mediterranean and Roman world still, mainly due to the accessibility and the availability of sources. Despite many good faith efforts, however, the world east of the Euphrates has received less attention. Apart from the shortage of available sources, and lack of resources for their study, a part of the reason for this neglect is the shortage of coherent research groups and agendas that seriously consider and study Central and West Asia in this period from a larger, global viewpoint. Isolated studies of the region, in the context of Sasanian history and alike of course exist. However, a more connective, large picture, and parallel historical approach is largely lacking. The Iranian world is still almost totally absent from the story of the rise of Islam, in contradiction to ample evidence of the Islamic sources themselves. In fact, continued lopsided research on the same lines is running very close to canonising problematic narratives of cultural superiority, triumphalism, and religious disputes that result in dangerous derailment of scholarly endeavour. Consequently, the need for a global historical approach to the history of the first millennium which surpasses the chronological boundaries of “Pre-Islamic” and “Islamic” as well as the political-cultural boundaries of the Iranian, Central Asian, and Roman worlds is urgently needed.

The goal of this initial Research Forum is to partially remedy this absence, and initiate an effort toward creating research units, by bringing senior scholars of the field from across many disciplines together with junior scholars.. The idea is to create a context where already established, successful research agenda and results can be presented to junior scholars as both guidance and mentorship, while new trends and interests by younger scholars can be cultivated, presented, and critiqued. The Forum aims to create a network of senior and junior scholars, inspire a carefully considered interdisciplinary research agenda, and boost cooperation among scholars of different levels and fields.

This first Research Forum, concentrating more on the imperial Sasanian domains, is the initial attempt at creating such context and network. As such, we encourage junior scholars from neighbouring fields interested in the study of the Sasanian world to join the Research Forum in order to participate in creation of networks. The convenors hope that subsequent Forums engender a more connective, parallel, and global approaches to the study of the late antique world.