Richard Payne

Neubauer Family Assistant Professor
Oriental Institute, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and the College 

Richard Payne is a historian of the Iranian world in late antiquity, ca. 200–800 CE. His research focuses primarily on the dynamics of Iranian imperialism, specifically how the Iranian (or Sasanian) Empire successfully integrated socially, culturally, and geographically disparate populations from Arabia to Afghanistan into enduring political networks and institutions. His current book project, “A State of Mixture: Christians, Zoroastrians, and the Making of the Iranian Empire,” explores the problem of religious diversity within the empire, showing how Syriac-writing Christians could create a place for themselves in a political culture not of their own making. 

Payne has authored numerous scholarly articles, the most recent of which was “Cosmology and the Expansion of the Iranian Empire, 502–628 CE,” published in Past and Present. He was co-editor of Visions of Community in the Post-Roman World: The West, Byzantium, and the Islamic World

Payne completed a doctorate in history at Princeton University. He was awarded the Bliss Prize from Dumbarton Oaks, the Crisp Fellowship from Phi Beta Kappa, a research fellowship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and a visiting research scholarship from the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University. He was elected a research fellow of Trinity College, University of Cambridge. 

Payne joined the University of Chicago faculty in 2013.

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