Shahnameh of Ferdowsi - In Our Time (BBC)

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Joshua J. Mark
by Terron Poole
published on 18 May 2020

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the epic poem the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, the 'Book of Kings', which has been at the heart of Persian culture for the past thousand years. The poem recounts a legendary history of Iran from the dawn of time to the fall of the Persian Empire in the 7th century and serves, in a sense, as a creation myth for the Persian nation.

The Shahnameh took Ferdowsi thirty years to write and, consisting of over 50,000 verses, is said to be the longest poem ever written by a single author. Laced with tragedy, Ferdowsi's epic chronicles battles, romances, family rifts and Man's interior struggle with himself. Although the stories may not always be true they have a profound resonance with Iranians even today, and the poem has been referred to as both the 'encyclopaedia of Iranian culture' and the identity card of the Persian people.


Narguess Farzad - Senior Fellow in Persian at SOAS, University of London

Charles Melville - Professor of Persian History at Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge

Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis - Curator of Middle Eastern Coins at the British Museum

Producer: Natalia Fernandez.

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Cite This Work

APA Style

Poole, T. (2020, May 18). Shahnameh of Ferdowsi - In Our Time (BBC). World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Poole, Terron. "Shahnameh of Ferdowsi - In Our Time (BBC)." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified May 18, 2020.

MLA Style

Poole, Terron. "Shahnameh of Ferdowsi - In Our Time (BBC)." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 18 May 2020. Web. 08 Feb 2023.