ISAW PhD Candidate Alireza Khounani's recent talk published on Youtube

By Iris Fernandez

ISAW PhD Candidate Alireza Khounani recently presented a talk for the Sasanika: Late Antique Near East Project, which is now published on youtube (link below). His presentation is a synthesis of his forthcoming dissertation, The Magnitude of Small Change: The Role of Low-value Currencies in the Internal Economy of West Asian Empires (Achaemenid, Seleucid, Arsacid, and Sasanian Periods, 550 BCE–651 CE).

Presentation Recording: All that Glitters is not Gold: What did the Sasanians Use Bronze Coinage for?

The Sasanian empire is an example of a polity that, despite maintaining some degree of heterogeneity, is distinguished from earlier empires by its advocacy of a coherent political ideology through the unifying concept of Iranshahr, along with its religious ideology and vigorous propagation of Zoroastrianism. Such centralization is also demonstrated by the Sasanian monetary system, and this leads us to ponder how such unity and standardization was achieved over a vast region that comprised different cultural milieus. The weight of Sasanian coins, as well as their design, largely remained stable since the foundation of the empire by Ardashir I in 224; this resulted in a monetary boom unmatched in earlier periods. Was this coherence the result of ad hoc or revolutionary policies by early Sasanian rulers? Or was it the result of centuries, or rather millennia, of experimentations with weight standards and uncoined and coined currencies by a variety of institutions? What was the significance of silver coinage and its relationship to low-value base-metal coins? 

The Sasanika Speakers Series was launched by two PhD students at UC, Irvine (Layah Ziaii-Bigdeli and Mark Gradoni), in collaboration with the Samuel Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture. It is designed to highlight the work of current graduate students and early career scholars on Iranian antiquity. The organizers invited Mr. Khounani to give a presentation about his research on the financial management of the Sasanian Empire after they listened to his talk at ASOR 2021.