Spring 2016 SEMINARS - March 9 2016

Seminar on Iranian Studies

Dear Iranian Studies Seminar Members and Guests,
The sixth meeting of the 28th consecutive year of Columbia University Seminar on
Iranian Studies for the academic year 2015-2016 will take place on:

Wednesday, March 9, 2016
at 5:30 pm in the
Faculty House of Columbia University
Our speaker will be

Dr. Karim Alizadeh
of Harvard University, Department of Anthropology
Who will lead the discussion on
Approaches to Borderland Security:
Lessons from the Sasanian Empire

We will gather in the lounge of Faculty House from 5:00-5:30.
Seminar will start at 5:30.
Please notify our Rapporteur, Josiah Bethards, at jjb2190@columbia.edu, if you will attend the lecture. (Please also specify if you will stay for dinner.)

We are looking forward to the pleasure of seeing you at the seminar.
Co-Chairs: Vahid Nowshirvani and Ahmad Ashraf

To reach the Faculty House:
Enter the Wien Hall Gate on 116th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive. Walk past Wien Hall, then turn right to the Faculty House.


One of the serious challenges to nation states and empires, in the ancient past as well as in the present, is the security of borders and borderlands. Results from recent archaeological researches in some of the areas that once were borderlands of the Sasanian Empire (224-651 CE) throw some light on its approach to borderland security. This presentation focuses on common ancient approaches to border security and on archaeological evidence for Sasanian borderland policies.  The implications of recent findings will be discussed as they relate to future survey work that may further research the perennial problem of the security of borderlands.

About the Speaker

Dr. Karim Alizadeh received his Ph.D. in archeological anthropology from Harvard University in 2015. Currently he serves as a fellow in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard. He has also served as a research fellow in Iranian Center for Archaeological Research from 2002 to 2008. His early research concentrated on the imperial landscapes of the Sasanian Empire in late antiquity. His studies included borderland economy and border policies. He is currently directing a team of researchers working at an Early Bronze Age site, “Köhne Shahar,” in Western Azerbaijan where he investigates the emergence of late prehistoric complex societies and urbanism on the highland fringes of the Near East.

His publications include: “Borderland Projects of Sasanian Empire: Intersection of Domestic and Foreign Policies,” Journal of Ancient History 2(2), 2014:93–115. “Review of Persia's imperial power in late antiquity: the Great Wall of Gorgan and the frontier landscapes of Sasanian Iran, eds. Eberhard W. Sauer, et al., Antiquity 88 (339), 2014:325-327. “Ultan Qalası: A Fortified Site in the Sasanian Borderlands (Mughan Steppe, Iranian Azerbaijan),” Iran 49, 2011:55-77. With Jason A. Ur, “Formation and Destruction of Pastoral and Irrigation Landscape on the Mughan Steppe, North-Western Iran,” Antiquity 81(311), 2007:148-160.

Josiah Bethards
JD candidate
Columbia Law School