Journal of history of Iran)

Document Type : review paper


This study takes under close scrutiny the Old Iranian word āzāta, and traces back its evolution from the old period of Iranian languages through Middle-Western Iranian and up to the advent of New Persian. By producing and analyzing relevant sources from old (Avestan) and middle (Parthian and Middle Persian) Iranian languages, it aims to reconstruct the semantic evolution and expansion of this word. This study claims that āzād, meaning “free” and “unrestricted” – the meanings which usually overshadow other senses of the word, and lead to misinterpretations regarding āzādān’s (a group of Parthian and Persian nobility) origins in the Sassanid era – is in fact a secondary semantic development which has its roots in an old Iranian tradition according to which bandagān (clients), for certain reasons and under certain circumstances, were allowed to be integrated into their overlords family.