SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Seals and Sealing Practices in Sasanian Iran: New Evidence from Taxt-e Solaymān

The subject of this project is an extraordinary collection of 824 Sasanian clay bullae bearing almost 2,000 seal impressions and inscriptions. The collection was recovered by Dr Yousef Moradi at the World Heritage site of Taxt-e Solaymān (Western Azerbaijan Province of Iran), the religious complex of Ādur Gušnasp, or ‘Fire of the Warriors’, in 2002–2008 during seven seasons of excavations conducted under the auspices of the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization (ICHO). While most other Sasanian seals and sealings currently known are unprovenanced, the significance of this collection lies in the fact that it was recovered in a controlled archaeological excavation, with a specific provenance of the bullae. 
The project produces a full photographic documentation,  including images of the obverse, and a full catalogue of these bullae. It will also provide detailed studies of the selected seal impressions. Coming from one of the three most sacred Zoroastrian fire temples of the Sasanian Empire (224–651 CE), the project will reveal unprecedented insights into the economic role of this Zoroastrian fire temple and its priesthood, generating findings that will be of interest to scholars from a variety of disciplines, including linguistics, history, religious studies, art history, and archaeology.