The History of the Kings of the Persians in Three Arabic Chronicles

BookThe History of the Kings of the Persians in Three Arabic Chronicles

The History of the Kings of the Persians in Three Arabic Chronicles

The Transmission of the Iranian Past from Late Antiquity to Early Islam

Translated Texts for Historians, 69


July 4th, 2018

Access Token


Other Formats



This book translates the sections on pre-Islamic Persia in three Muslim Arabic chronicles, those of Ahmad al-Ya‘qubi (d. ca. 910), ‘Ali al-Mas‘udi (d. ca. 960) and Hamza al-Isfahani (d. ca. 960s). Their accounts, like those of many other Muslim historians on this topic, draw on texts that were composed in the period 750-850 bearing the title ‘The History of the Kings of the Persians’. These works served a growing audience of well-to-do Muslim bureaucrats and scholars of Persian ancestry, who were interested in their heritage and wished to make it part of the historical outlook of the new civilization that was emerging in the Middle East, namely Islamic civilization. This book explores the question of how knowledge about ancient Iran was transmitted to Muslim historians, in what forms it circulated and how it was shaped and refashioned for the new Perso-Muslim elite that served the early Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad, a city that was built only a short distance away from the old Persian capital of Seleucia-Ctesiphon.

'This is an important contribution to a reconstruction of sāsānid historiography.' (Translated from German.)
Tino Shahin, Plekos

Author Information

Robert G. Hoyland is Professor of Late Antique and Early Islamic Middle East History at the Institute for Study of the Ancient World of New York University. Previous publications include 'Theophilus of Edessa’s Chronicle and the Circulation of Historical Knowledge in Late Antiquity and Early Islam' (LUP, 2011).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Notes on Conventions12
1. Hamza al-Isfahani38
2. ‘Ali al-Mas‘udi92
3. Ahmad al-Ya‘qubi119
1. Ibn al-Muqaffa‘ and the ‘History of the Kings of the Persians’148
2. The Chronicle of Siirt and the ‘Book of Lords’157
3. Abu Ma‘shar and the Lost Books of Jay164
1. Reign lengths of Pishdadid, Kayanid and Arsacid kings179
2. Reign lengths of Sasanid kings181
3. Genealogy of the Sasanid Emperors (dates of some of the early rulers are tentative)183
4. Transmissions of key sources cited in this book185