Thomas Benfey


ERC Postdoctoral Researcher

Faculty / College Address:

Oriental Institute / St Antony’s College



I am a historian of the ancient and medieval Middle East, focusing especially on the intellectual and economic history of Sasanian and early Islamic Iran. I graduated from Princeton University with a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies in 2020. I am now a postdoctoral researcher in the Invisible East programme, primarily concentrating on the Middle Persian and Arabic documents from early Islamic Iran and Central Asia (ca. 7th-13th cent. CE), and what they have to tell us about the early Islamic economy.

My first book project, “The Scholars of Sasanian Iran and Their Islamic Heirs,” examines medicine, astral science, and philosophy in Sasanian Iran, and how the Sasanian legacy informed developments in these fields in the early Islamic world.

I am interested in the translation and translatability of texts and ideas across cultural and linguistic boundaries: how and why Indian astronomical theories might have made their way to Sasanian Iran; to what extent landowners on the Iranian plateau in the early Islamic period were interested in making a “profit,” as we would understand the term.

I hold an M.A. in Religion from the School of Oriental and African Studies, and a B.A. in Classics from Yale University.


“A Greek Source for the Treatise on the Composition of Man Attributed to Aḥūdemmeh Anṭīpaṭrōs?” Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies 22.1 (2019): 3-37.

Review of Eberhard Sauer (ed.), Sasanian Persia: Between Rome and the Steppes of Eurasia (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 2018), in Journal of Late Antiquity 13.1 (2020): 182-4.

Thomas Benfey