Additional Material
for Key Chapters

Chapter 2: On the Eve of Islam

Image of Achaemenid Tombs

Achaemenid Tombs at Naqsh-i Rustam, near Persepolis. The bas-relief in the lower left of the picture is the Roman emperor Valerian, who had been captured in battle (in 260) submitting ti to the Sasasian ruler Shapur. A clear image of this may be found on the internet at and at


Persepolis, the Great Stairway leading to the palace area. The figures on the right are people of various nations bearing tribute to the Shahanshah, il¬lustrating the claim to be king of kings. Acheaemid Iran may have been of the first empires to have a concept of a multi-ethnic empire.

Cave church in Ihlara

Cave church in the Ihlara Valley, Turkey. Looking into the dome with the Christos Pantokrator (Christ the Ruler of All). Below the figure of Christ are the Angels and below them human saints, reflecting the Christian Neo-Platonic view of reality.

Aya Sofia (Hagia Sophia). Mosaic of the Virgin Mary

Aya Sofia (Hagia Sophia). Mosaic of the Virgin Mary and child Jesus in the center. The letters in the circles beside the Virgin’s head are the abbreviations in Greek for “Mary Mother of God”. The figure to the left is Justinian with a model of the Hagia Sophia, and to the right is Constantine, under whom the Empire began to be¬come Christian. These pictures were plastered over when the Ottomans converted the cathedral to a mosque and were uncovered when it became a museum under Atatürk.

Byzantine coin, Tzimiskes. (needs to be rotated 50 percent)

Byzantine coin, John Tzimiskes (969–976 C.E.) or later. Obverse: Christ (as Pantokrator). Reverse: Cross and “Jesus Christ, King of Kings”. The coin reflects both piety and propaganda, and strikingly illustrates the close relation between religion and state (though coins depicting Christ were the exception, not the rule, among the Byzantines). An article on this type of coin may be found at:

(Marshall Hodgson, The Venture of Islam, Vol. I, p. 379 fn.)

© William Shepard

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