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Prof. Dr. Antonio C. D. Panaino

Research Interests:

Avestan and generally Mazdean literatures; history of religions in Pre-Islamic Iran; the mutual influences between Byzantium and the Sasanian; Astronomy and Astrology in the ancient world; History of ancient philosophy in its intercultural connections between East and West with a special focus on the concept of Time; Ethno-linguistics of the Yaghnobi and of the Iranian area. Preservation of the ethno-cultural heritage in areas of crisis and conflict; History of games in antiquity.


Antonio Panaino is Full Professor of Iranian Studies at the University of Bologna. He studied Classics and Iranian Studies in Milan and received his Ph.D. in Iranian Studies from the University of Naples. He has published numerous articles and books on Iranian linguistics, the history of Iranian religions, and the history of ancient sciences, focusing on astronomy, astrology, cosmography, and calendrical problems in the intercultural framework of the Iranian pre-Islamic period. Prof. Panaino has also developed many research programs on ancient and oriental sciences and is a member of the Doctoral School of the University of Bologna.

Project Abstract

Time as an ontological category in ancient Iran

The concept of Time (Zurwân) has assumed a cen­tral importance in Ancient Iran, where the dis­tinction between eternal and limited time had the­o­logical (and liturgical) relevance. The present re­search focuses on three main problems: 1) The qua­li­tative distinction between eternity and human his­tory played a special role in the framework of the Mazdean millenarianism, whose development and impact on other cultures must be anew considered also with reference to Jewish and Chris­ti­an chiliasm. 2) Another related investigation con­cerns the possible interferences between the Ira­ni­an idea of Time and the Platonic concept of Aiôn as eter­nal time. 3) Time and motion. The motion of the astral bodies starts with Ahreman’s invasion, and in Avestan sources it is connected with an ac­tion played by the Fravashis (the feminine pre-exis­ting souls of the human beings). In later sour­ces in Pahlavi, its origin shows more intricate as­pects, sometimes attributed to Ahreman himself. The philosophical dimension of the origin of the as­tral motion in the Mazdean sources will be the sub­ject of this study.

Curriculum vitae

Since 2000

Full Professor of Iranian Studies, University of Bologna

1992 – 2000 

Associate Professor, University of Bologna

1989 – 1991 

 Postdoctoral Scholarship


 Ph.D., Iranian Studies, University of Naples

Selected Publications

2020. A Walk Through the Iranian Heavens: For a History of an Unpredictable Dialogue between Nonspherical and Spherical Models. Ancient Iran Series. Irvine: UCI Jordan Center for Persian Studies.

2020. “Mazdeans and Christians Facing the End of the World: Circulations and Exchanges of Concepts.” Entangled Religions 11 (2): 1-31.

2020. Old Iranian Cosmography: Debates and Perspectives. Iranica et Mediterranea. Milano: Mimesis Edizioni.

2020. “The Conceptual Image of the Planets in Ancient Iran and the Process of Their Demonization: Visual Materials and Models of Inclusion and Exclusion in Iranian History of Knowledge.” NTM Journal of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine 28: 359-389.

2019. “Il tempo e le sue ‘parti’ nel mondo iranico antico: Avestico yār- ‘anno’, aiiar-/aiian- e azan-/asn- ‘giorno’ [= Time and its 'parts' in the ancient Iranian world].” In Iranian Studies in Honour of Adriano V. Rossi, edited by G. P. Basello, 569-612. Neaples: University of Naples, L'Orientale.

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