The Khuzistan Chronicle

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GUIDI'S CHRONICLE, an anonymous, 7th-century chronicle of Nestorian Christians, known also as "the Khuzistan Chronicle," written in Syriac and covering the period from the reign of the Sasanian Hormizd/Hormoz IV (579-89) to the middle of the 7th century and the time of the early Arab conquests. It was discovered by Ignazio Guidi, who presented it at the Eighth International Congress of Orientalists in 1889 and published it with Latin translation in 1903. In view of the paucity of other sources for this period of late Sasanian history, the chronicle takes on a particular importance. The work consists of short narratives, arranged in rough chronological order, covering both secular and ecclesiastical matters. The title given to the text, "Episodes taken from Ecclesiastical and Secular Histories," indicates that it is just an excerpt from a larger work that has been incorporated into a large collection of East Syriac Canon Law, preserved in a 14th-century manuscript (Baghdad, Chaldean Monastery 509; olim Alqosh ms 169), as well as in a number of modern apographs in European libraries, from one of which Guidi's edition was made.

The author was clearly someone in high ecclesiastical office and generally well informed; he can hardly have been writing later than about 660 C.E. It has been suggested by Pierre Nautin that the author of much of the chronicle should be identified as Elias, the metropolitan of Marv, but this remains far from certain. Among the secular events covered in the chronicle are: the revolt of Bahra@m Ùo@bin (sec. 1; q.v.); the flight of K¨osrow II Par-ve@z and his return (secs. 2-3); the brothers Bendo@y and BestÂa@m (sec. 4, see BEST®AÚM o BENDOÚY); the revolt of Nisibis (sec. 7); Khosrow and No¿ma@n of H®ira (sec. 9); Phocas' revolt against the Byzantine emperor Maurice and the Persian capture of Da@ra@ (q.v.) in upper Mesopotamia (sec. 10); Khosrow's treasurer Yazdin (sec. 18); the Sasanian capture of Jerusalem and Alexandria (secs. 21-22); events during the Persian occupation of Palestine (secs. 23-25); Heraclius' campaigns (sec. 26); the revolt of ˆamtÂa@ and Ne@w Ormezd (sec. 27); the death of Khosrow II Parve@z (sec. 28); the reign of ˆe@ro@e and the fall of the Christian ˆamtÂa@, son of Yazdin (secs. 29-30), a major conspirator for the fall of K¨osrow II; the death of ˆe@ro@e and reigns of Ardaæir III and Farrokòa@n ˆahr Bara@z (secs. 33-34); the reign of Bo@ra@n and the embassy to Heraclius (sec. 35); the reign of Yazdegerd III (sec. 36); the early Arab conquests (sec. 37); the resistance to the Arabs put up by the Persian general Hormoza@n in Tostar, the old name of ˆuætar, in K¨uzesta@n, and its eventual fall (secs. 48-50); K¨a@led b. Walid's campaigns in the west (sec. 51); the death of Heraclius (sec. 52); some information on the Ka¿ba and certain Arab towns (secs. 54-55).

Bibliography: Editions and translations: Ignazio Guidi, "Un nuovo testo siriaco sulla storia degli ultimi Sassanidi," in Actes du Huitieàme Congreàs International des Orientalistes, tenu en 1899 aà Stockholm et aà Christiana I: Section se‚mitique (B), Leiden, 1893, pp. 3-36; repr., with Latin translation, as "Chronicom anonymum" in Chronica Minora I, CSCO 1-2, Paris 1903; repr. Louvain, 1955-60, pp. 15-39 (text), pp. 15-32 (translation). P. Haddad, Sharbe medem men qlisiastiqe wad-qosmostiqe, Baghdad, 1976, with Arab. translation; Theodor Nöldeke, "Die von Guidi herausgegebene syrische Chronik, übersetzt und commentiert" in Sitzungsberichte der kaiserlichen Akdemie der Wissenschaften, phil.-hist. Kl. 128, 9, Vienna, 1893, pp. 1-48 (Ger. tr. with comm.); Nina Victorovna Pigulevskaya, "Anonimnaya Siriiskaya khronika vremeni Sasanidov," Zapisk Istituta Vostokovedeniya 7 1939, pp. 55-78 (Russian tr. with comm.); Sebastian P. Brock, Lawrence I. Conrad and Michael Whitby, forthcoming (Eng. tr. with comm.; the section numbers given above follow this).


  • Robert Hoyland, "Seeing Islam as Others Saw it. A Survey and Evaluation of Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian Writings on Early Islam," Studies in Late Antiquity and Early Islam 13, Princeton, New Jersey, 1997, pp. 182-89.
  • Pierre Nautin, "L'auteur de la 'Chronique Anonyme de Guidi': Élie de Merw," Revue de l'Histoire des Religions 199, 1982, pp. 303-14.
  • Chase Robinson, "The Conquest of Khuzistan: A Historiographical Reassessment," in Lawrence I. Conrad, ed., History and Historiography in Early Islamic Times, Princeton, New Jersey (forthcoming).

(Sebastian P. Brock)