The Sasanian era (ca. 224-651 AD) was a period of unprecedented cultural, scientific and economic achievements in Iranian history. Ideologically, the Sasanian empire was founded upon the religion of Zoroastrianism, a main feature of which was the worship of the sacred Fire in dedicated fire temples. Many of these fire temples were extremely wealthy, and apart from being religious institutions they also played important roles in the everyday economy of the empire. This lecture will attempt to explain in an accessible manner the main features of the Zoroastrian fire temple economy in Sasanian Iran and highlight new insights in modern research regarding the role of money, commerce and profit in the Sasanian economy.
Aleksander Engeskaug was awarded a grant by the Society to help him finish his doctoral thesis at SOAS on this subject. He impressed us by his ability to make quite complex ideas easily accessible to a non-specialist audience.