The Iranian Expanse explores how kings in the ancient Iranian world utilized the built and natural environment—everything from royal cities and paradise gardens to hunting enclosures and fire temples—to form and contest Iranian cultural memory, royal identity, and sacred cosmologies over a thousand years of history. Although scholars have often noted startling continuities between the traditions of the Achaemenids and the art and architecture of medieval or Early Modern Islam, the tumultuous millennium between Alexander and Islam has routinely been downplayed or omitted. The Iranian Expanse delves into this fascinating period, examining royal culture and identity as something built and shaped by strategic changes to architectonic and urban spaces and the landscape of Western Asia. Canepa shows how the Seleucids, Arsacids, and Sasanians played a transformative role in developing a new Iranian royal culture that deeply influenced not only early Islam, but also the wider Persianate world of the Il-Khans, Safavids, Timurids, and Mughals.
Matthew P. Canepa is Professor of Art History at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.
"In this innovative study, Matthew Canepa shows how local dynasties of the pre-Islamic Middle East articulated their claims to legitimacy through creative engagement with the material remains and ideological legacies of earlier empires. With characteristic clarity and insight, Canepa reveals how elites in Mesopotamia, Iran, Anatolia, and the Caucasus all tapped into the visual and narrative traditions of ancient Iran to forge their own technologies of power."—Joel Walker, Lawrence J. Roseman Endowed Associate Professor of History, University of Washington, Seattle
“This book is as expansive in scope as the phenomenon it explores. Never before have landscapes of power in Persia and the wider Iranian world received such exhaustive treatment. Canepa’s ambitious work will take its rightful place as a definitive text in the art, archaeology, and history of ancient Iran.”—Lori Khatchadourian, author of Imperial Matter: Ancient Persia and the Archaeology of Empires