Intangible spirits and graven images: the iconography of deities in the pre-Islamic Iranian world

Michael Shenkar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

46 Scopus citations


In 'Intangible Spirits and Graven Images', Michael Shenkar investigates the perception of ancient Iranian deities and their representation in the Iranian cults. This ground-breaking study traces the evolution of the images of these deities, analyses the origin of their iconography, and evaluates their significance. Shenkar also explores the perception of anthropomorphism and aniconism in ancient Iranian religious imagery, with reference to the material evidence and the written sources, and reassesses the value of the Avestan and Middle Persian texts that are traditionally employed to illuminate Iranian religious imagery. In doing so, this book provides important new insights into the religion and culture of ancient Iran prior to the Islamic conquest.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLeiden; Boston
Number of pages392
ISBN (Electronic)9789004281493, 9004281495
ISBN (Print)9789004281486, 9004281487, 9789004362345
StatePublished - 17 Sep 2014

Publication series

NameMagical and religious literature of late antiquity

Bibliographical note

Revision of the author's thesis--Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2013.


  • Achaemenian
  • Aniconism
  • Art
  • Asia
  • Bactria
  • Central
  • Idols
  • Iran
  • Kushan
  • Parthian
  • Persia
  • Pre-Islamic
  • Sasanian
  • Sogdian
  • Zoroastrianism


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