Journal of history of Iran)

Document Type : review paper


Children clearly form an integrated part of human societies throughout history, however it is not always an easy task to re-identify their presence and roles through limited, vague and scattered survived historical textural and material evidence. Textual and iconographic documents that include references to children are one of the most important and maybe most frequent sources of information in this regard. As we come forward throughout history, such sources become richer and more diverse. A considerable body of material evidence has remained from the Sasanian period and a corpus of textual sources in the form of Pahlavi literature is attributed to this period. This paper aims to shed light on the subject of children and childhood in Sasanian Iran on the basis of information available in these two groups of sources. Accordingly, three groups of children were identified and examined as royal and aristocrat children, citizen children and mythological children. Relevant data from textural and material evidence were analyzed and compared, leading to certain deductions. Education was an important part of social growth and it was practiced with more depth and scope among royal children while the process of education for citizen children was limited mainly to religious teachings and vocational trainings. Some royal and aristocratic children are depicted in Sasanian rock reliefs in formal gestures while children on other mediums such as seals may refer to citizen children in different setting of playing or nurturing. Artistic representations also show children in symbolic and mythical roles in relation to Dionysus and Anahita myths as symbols of fertility and bliss.