Rulership and Sovereignty at Akchakhan-kala in Chorasmia

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Starting from the fall of the Seleucid Empire, scholars have noted changes to the practice of kingship manifest in the emergence of what has been described as a ruler cult based on a blending of Iranian and Greek or Hellenistic practices. The mix of indigenous Iranian ideas of kingship and (“Zoroastrian”) religion with Greek and Hellenistic ideas is key to understanding the practice of Central Asian rulership after the arrival of Alexander the Great. Chorasmia has not traditionally been part of this conversation: here the issue of a post-Seleucid transformation of Iranian kingship is nuanced by the fact that Alexander never visited the region, and the remains of Hellenism are rather scant. Nevertheless, the most recent findings at the mid 1st century BC - mid 1st century AD Ceremonial Complex at Akchakhan-kala suggest new practices of rule also in this region. This paper examines these new ideas against the background of changing practices in kingship across eastern Iran, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-278
Number of pages28
JournalAncient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2018


  • Architecture
  • Chorasmia
  • Kingship
  • Sovereignty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Classics
  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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