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Late Antique Iran and the Arabs: The Case of al-Hira*

In: Journal of Persianate Studies
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  • 1 Freie Universität, Berlin
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Abstract

This article reevaluates our evidence for the interaction of Arab and Iranian elements in the Arab frontier-state of al-Hira, a state in late antiquity, which can be seen as a paradigmatic “third space” of special cultural dynamics. First, it sums up our evidence about the political and commercial ties connecting the Lakhmid principality and the Sasanian Empire; next, it focuses on the possible agents of cultural exchange between the two; finally, we direct our attention to the cultural spheres themselves and the issue of where and how Iranian-Arab transculturation as a process can be detected in the Hiran context. The article argues for a cautious reassessment of the material in light of current research in cultural studies. This is significant in its wider historical perspective, as such a process might have prepared the path for later developments in Islamic times, when the apogee of Arab-Iranian interaction is supposed to have taken place, i.e., in Abbasid Iraq.

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